Stephen Colbert interviewed President Barack Obama in Lisner Auditorium on Monday for a special episode, “Stephen Colbert Presents: Mr. Colbert Goes to Washington D.C. Ya Later, Legislator: Partisan is Such Sweet Sorrow: A Colbert Victory Lap, ‘014.” Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer
When President Barack Obama sat down with Stephen Colbert for an interview at Lisner Auditorium on Monday, Colbert took no time to grill him on key political issues – immigration, the midterm elections and why Obama chose to “burn the Constitution.”
At the taping of one of the final episodes of “The Colbert Report,” Obama held his own against a bevy of pointed questions from Colbert, whose character is a self-proclaimed conservative “pundit.”
The political satirist opened the show poking fun at GW, claiming it was named after the first U.S. president, “George University.” He also did a special take on one of his most famous segments, “Better Know a District,” this time called “Better Know a America.”
“When visiting America, don’t miss out on its signature dish, food,” Colbert said.
Obama appeared on stage in the middle of Colbert’s opening and, greeted by a standing ovation, told Colbert that he could take over for the rest of the segment. He then talked about the Affordable Care Act, this time in character as Colbert.
“This guy is so arrogant, I bet he talks about himself in the third person,” Obama said, referring to himself.
Obama used the segment to talk about enrollment numbers for health coverage while poking fun at congressional Republicans, who have tried to repeal the law multiple times since it passed in 2010.
He also talked about the ways his office has looked to get “young people” to sign up for health care.
“Young people don’t watch real news shows like this one,” Obama said.
President Barack Obama talked immigration and the midterm elections with Stephen Colbert during one of the final tapings of the Colbert Report,, held in Lisner Auditorium, on November 8, 2014. Sam Hardgrove | Hatchet Staff Photographer
Students stood in line outside for hours before the doors opened at 1:30 p.m., braving low temperatures and wind before passing through tight security. Once inside, students took selfies with the Lisner stage in the background as they waited for the show to start.
Colbert filmed the episode, “Stephen Colbert Presents: Mr. Colbert Goes to Washington D.C. Ya Later, Legislator: Partisan is Such Sweet Sorrow: A Colbert Victory Lap, ‘014,” with an audience of nearly 1,500. While most regular episodes of “The Colbert Report” include segments with other correspondents or musical performances, Obama was Colbert’s only guest for this special.
During the interview, Colbert pushed Obama on the midterm elections, after Democrats lost 12 seats in the House of Representatives and their majority in the Senate.
“The election didn’t go as I would have liked,” Obama said.
Colbert then brought up the latest employment report, which found that over 320,000 jobs had been created in the past month.
“Why didn’t you fix the economy before the midterms?” Colbert asked.
Obama responded that even though there have been 57 months of job growth in a row, individual wages haven’t kept pace with the uptick in jobs. That meant the evidence that the economy was growing didn’t come until after Election Day, he said.
As photographers swarmed the stage during a break in the interview, Colbert and Obama spoke “pleasantly,” according to White House reporter Chris Johnson, and students took out their cellphones to snap pictures of the two. Before the show, the stage manager said the use of cell phones was prohibited, and students were frequently told by Secret Service agents to put away their phones.
Colbert also used his interview with the president to poke fun at the recent executive action Obama took on immigration.
“You realize you’re an emperor now,” Colbert said. “Why did you burn the Constitution?”
Obama said the executive action, which stops more than 4 million immigrants from facing deportation, came because Congress had passed laws on immigration but “left out things the president” wanted.
“Let’s focus on deporting felons and strengthening the border,” Obama said.
Obama and Colbert weren’t the only big names on Foggy Bottom on Monday. Prince William gave a speech at the World Bank condemning wildlife trafficking, after meeting with the president at the White House earlier in the day.
Obama last came to GW three years ago. In April 2011, he gave a speech on campus about the deficit and he returned in the fall for a World AIDS Day event. Colbert last spoke at the University in 2007 to talk about his book, “I Am America (And So Can You!),” in an interview with Tim Russert.
Colbert closed the interview, which was filmed in two segments and lasted about 20 minutes, by asking Obama to analyze his own time in office.
“Barack Obama: great president or greatest president?” Colbert said.
Obama said he’d leave judgment to the historians.
“I think I’m going to let someone else decide. Not you, but someone else,” Obama said.