Barack Obama silences Republicans with epic put-down

The president's ad-libbed line was partisan comedic timing at its best

Kiran Moodley
Wednesday 21 January 2015 10:01
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Barack Obama delivered his first State of the Union address in front of a Republican-controlled Congress last night - and made sure he got the upper hand with the ultimate presidential "burn".

Towards the end of the speech, the president delivered the line, "I have no more campaigns to run", eliciting at first silence in the chamber, before a smattering of sarcastic applause and jeering forced Obama to smirk slightly at the Republicans in the room.

With a straight face he ad-libbed, "I know because I won both of them", turning his head to the other side quickly, the ultimate put down executed to full effect.

The room erupted with cheers and laughs from the president's supporters, which lated for several minutes, with Obama winking back at the Republicans who had jeered him, evidently proud of his spontaneous "burn". Joe Biden, who didn't initially react to Obama's quip, soon smiled broadly as the room responded to the president's joke.

The camera cuts to a scene of the room and many prominent Democrats can be seen enjoying the moment: Elizabeth Warren is having a good grin while Eric Holder claps his approval. Several members of Congress stand up and cheer, notably John Lewis, who was one of the marchers at Selma in 1965. John Kerry is smiling while whispering to Jack Lew, and even Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, who was nominated by Obama, is seen giggling.

Obama won presidential elections in 2008 and 2012, beating John McCain and Mitt Romney respectively. You can forgive Obama for having a crack at the Republicans during one of his last State of the Union addresses: at his first one in 2009, Republican Joe Wilson famously shouted "liar" after Obama said illegal immigrants wouldn't be insured in his healthcare reform.

Of course, the internet enjoyed Obama's ad-lib mastery, with many mixing the joke with Obama dancing on the Ellen show; the comedian-in-chief revelling in his moment.

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