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Comedian-in-Chief Drops the Mic; Trump, Cruz Stumps Across Indiana; Protesters Remain Outside Iraqi Parliament. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 1, 2016 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:05] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Well, thanks for starting your morning with us

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: We've got much more ahead on the next hour of your NEW DAY, and it starts right now.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And with that, I just have two more words to say -- Obama out.


CABRERA: Welcome to your Sunday.

President Obama dropping the mike, as he delivered his final address. His last ever White House Correspondents Dinner in Washington, and we hope you're going to have some laughs this morning.

Good morning, and thanks for being here. I'm Ana Cabrera, in for Christi.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell.

And there's a good chance. If you're up with us at 7:00 Eastern, you weren't up last night watching it. So, you can see some of it this morning when the commander in chief became the comedian in chief. Politicians, journalists, Hollywood stars altogether Saturday for the annual Washington gala and he did not spare anyone, including himself.

CABRERA: That's right. President Obama cracking jokes at himself and just about everything from the media to the course, Donald Trump, a lot of anticipation to hear his lines against Trump. He even took some good natured shots at Democrats fighting to succeed him.

Here are just some of the highlights.


OBAMA: Eight years ago, I said it was time to change the tone of our politics. In hindsight, I clearly should have been more specific.

Eight years ago, I was a young man, full of idealism and vigor, and look at me now. I'm gray, grizzled, just counting down the days until my death panel.

Hillary once questioned whether I would be ready for a 3:00 a.m. phone call, now I'm awake any way, because I've got to go to the bathroom.

Meanwhile, Michelle has not aged a day. The only way you can date her in photos is by looking at me. Take a look.

Here we are in 2008.

Here we are a few years later.

And this one is from two weeks ago.

So time passes.

Just six short months, I'll be officially a lame duck. Which means Congress now will flat out reject my authority and Republican leaders won't take my phone calls.

And this is going to take some getting used to. It's really going to -- it is a curve ball. I don't know what to do with it.

Of course, in fact, four months now, congressional Republicans have been saying things I cannot do in my final year. Unfortunately, this dinner was not one of them. But on everything else, it's another story.

And you know who you are, Republicans. In fact, I think we've got Republican senators, Tim Scott and Cory Gardner. They're in the house, which reminds me, security, bar the doors. Judge Merrick Garland, come on out. We're going to do this right here, right now.


BLACKWELL: All right. So, the president did well last night it appeared.

Let's talk about it and bring in CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter, and CNN presidential historian Douglas Brinkley.

Brian, starting with you, you were in the room. Now, it appears from the cut a ways to the audience, he was well-received. How well did the president do last night?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, much, much better received than Larry Wilmore, the comedian who unfortunately had to follow the president. If we can all learn one thing about President Obama, is that he has very, very strong comic timing. In fact, I think he could teach some comedians a thing or would. He's really honed his performance in a room like this, where the audience is expecting him to make fun of himself, but also all of Washington. He definitely delivered last night.

[07:05:01] CABRERA: And, Douglas, on that note, President Obama is known for his oratory skills. Do you think what we saw last night fits into what could become part of his legacy? DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, absolutely. You

can already see some of these White House Correspondent Dinner tapes being played in the Barack Obama presidential library in Chicago. It puts the president at his best. He is relaxed, he is funny. He relates to people.

I mean, every year, I see it as a big ratings boost for the president. It reminds Americans what they liked about Barack Obama in the first place.

BLACKWELL: Douglas, let me stay with you. You said the president was relaxed there, he seemed to enjoy it, but he did make jokes about he and the first lady not wanting to come to this dinner year after year. Do presidents historically enjoy the dinner? Do not want to come to this dinner?

BRINKLEY: Well, it's also a standard joke to kind of say you don't want to be there, who wants to stand in front of a bunch reporter whose are spending a lot of time ripping into your administration's policy. I think President Obama really owns this event like no other president has done. I mean, just the way John F. Kennedy was the master of the press conference, I think every year when you hear these White House Correspondents Dinner, it's coming, you know that Obama is putting time, effort, getting joke writers, as Brian just said, his timing is perfect.

So, I think he has this down into an art form, when he dropped the mike, we realized we won't be seeing him again.

CABRERA: He spoke to a lot of cultural themes this year, and the presidential election, don't you think, Brian?

STELTER: Yes, I think that's -- you know, he really uses these events to say things he can't otherwise say. As Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary said to me ahead of time, you know, he uses humor to really get some really important truths, whether it's about what he believes is Republican obstructionism, whether it's media's coverage of controversy and conflict over in-depth issues. The president doesn't -- sometimes he isn't able to make these points in a serious way, so he uses humor in order to get them across. And we saw it again and again.

Also the way he took Donald Trump very unseriously. You know, Eric Trump was in the room, so were some of Trump supporters. I saw Scottie Nell Hughes, who's coming up later this hour, also working some of the party this weekend. So, there was sort of a Trump contingent here in Washington this weekend, but President Obama really wanted to mock and skewer Donald Trump's run for the White House in a way that he can't do when he is talking in a serious way.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's listen to the president here joking about his recent meeting with the royals.


OBAMA: Even some foreign leaders, they've been looking ahead, anticipating my departure. Last week, Prince George showed up to our meeting in his bathrobe. That was a slap in the face, a clear breach of protocol. Although while in England, I did have lunch with her majesty, the queen, took in a performance of Shakespeare, hit the links with David Cameron. Just in case anybody is still debating whether I'm black enough, I think that settles the debate.


BLACKWELL: You know, the president joked a little about race there, even at the top, saying he arrived on CP time, which stands that joke people can't make.

Brian, I wonder if that approach worked well versus the Larry Wilmore approach to jokes about race, because he is the president, or because they were self-deprecating.

STELTER: Yes, that's exactly what I mean. The president feels he can't say in a serious way. You know, he does feel, and for many years, been frustrated by the way he was portrayed as exotic or as the other, particularly by conservative media and by portraying himself in this light, in one point, he made a joke about Ted Cruz not referring to a basketball hoop the right way and people say I'm too exotic.

You know, that idea that he feels he's been misportrayed or miscommunicated about, he's able to address that head on.

Larry Wilmore on the other hand, very polarizing sort of speech. A lot of jokes that did not land in the room. I think he made people awkward and uncomfortable and I know some people, especially watching home TV, thought it was funny. It was an interesting divide with Larry Wilmore. Certainly the president though up staged him.

I sort of feel bad for Larry Wilmore. Maybe he should have been allowed to go first, and then the president could go last, because it's really, really hard to follow this president with humor.

CABRERA: And, Douglas, as far as, you know, history and these White House Correspondents Dinners, where does this one rank do you think?

BRINKLEY: Well, it's not as big as the one when he -- Donald Trump was in the he eviscerated him with humor, only to find out that was when the raid to kill Osama bin Laden had been given.

[07:10:03] And that was I think a very important moment in the biography of Barack Obama, but last night was good. It ranks I think after that one, as good as any of them. I mean, he pulled it off.

BLACKWELL: All right. Douglas Brinkley, Brian Stelter, the last time the president will deliver the jokes in that format and forum.

CABRERA: At least this president.

BLACKWELL: Yes, thanks for being with us.

CABRERA: Good to have you guys.

BLACKWELL: We've got a lot ahead coming up on your NEW DAY.


BLACKWELL: Hundreds of protesters stormed Iraq's parliament over government dissatisfaction. We'll tell you what is behind their anger, and is there a concern for the safety of Americans working there, especially those at the U.S. embassy?

CABRERA: Plus, looking ahead to Tuesday's Indiana's primary, the candidates rallying in the Hoosier State today, courting your vote. A look at what's at stake.

BLACKWELL: And much more from the presidential -- the president's rather final White House Correspondents Dinner.


OBAMA: Just look at the confusion over the invitations over tonight's dinner. Guests were asked whether they wanted steak or fish. But instead, a whole bunch of you wrote in Paul Ryan.




OBAMA: In my final year, my approval ratings keep going up. The last time I was this high, I was trying to decide on my major.

And here's the thing. I haven't really done anything differently. So it's odd. Even my aides can't explain the rising poll numbers.

[07:15:01] What has changed? Nobody can figure it out.


BLACKWELL: Yes, President Obama there, getting a few laughs at the expense of Republicans last night, taking in his final night at comedian in chief.

CABRERA: And no one was safe from the president's jabs. Not even his fellow Democrats.

CNN correspondent Chris Frates, he was there. Chris joining us now.

The president did get shots off at everybody. But I don't know. Did it seem like he went lighter on the Democrats perhaps?

CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he went a little lighter perhaps, but you know, he actually looked like he was having a good time this year, Ana. That's been different. You know, I've been lucky enough to go to a number of these dinners. This was kind of the funniest relaxed we've seen the president in a while.

Of course, it was his last dinner, he seemed to be enjoying himself more than usual. But to his credit, his zingers, they weren't just aimed at the Republicans, he took a few shots at Democrts, too. Just take a listen here.


OBAMA: We've got the bright new face of the Democratic Party tonight, Mr. Bernie Sanders.

Bernie, you look like a million bucks, or to put it in terms you'll understand, you look like 37,000 donations of $27 each.


FRATES: Now, he also poked a little fun at Hillary Clinton, saying you know that her appeal to young voters is kind of awkward. It's like when your relatives sign up for Facebook, and you know, he didn't spare John Kasich or Ted Cruz, either. Take a listen to what he had to say about Mr. Cruz.


OBAMA: And then there is Ted Cruz. Ted had a tough week. He went to Indiana, Hoosier Country. Stood on a basketball court, and called the hoop a basketball ring. What else is in his lexicon? Baseball sticks, football hats. But sure, I'm the foreign one.


FRATES: Now, the president also took a few jabs at Donald Trump.

But before he started in on Donald Trump, it sounded like he was wrapping up his remarks. He thanked the correspondents association, he went to his usual riff about the importance of the press, before saying, nah, I'm just kidding, guys. You know I have to talk about Trump.

So, the president showing off a little bit of his comedic timing, which, I don't know, guys, it seemed to have improved over the years.

CABRERA: He seemed like he was loose, like you said, as his final year came around.

Let's talk about the candidates on a serious side, because Indiana, the primary, this Tuesday, everybody is campaigning in that state today, except for John Kasich, because of his deal with Cruz. What are the expectations there?

FRATES: Well, it depends a little bit if you're Republican or Democratic side here, Ana.

But let's start with the Re -- with the Democrats. You know, Sanders, he's got a really tough hill to climb. He needs almost all the remaining delegates left in this contest to grab that nomination. Hillary Clinton needs just 20 percent to clinch it. So, a little bit tougher hill for Bernie Sanders there. Now, on the Republican side, the math is even tougher for anyone not named Trump. Cruz and Kasich, they can't even get to that magic number of 1,237 before they get to the convention in Cleveland. So the name of the game for those guys is to stop Trump from clinching.

To do that, you know, Cruz has to derail Trump in Indiana and win as many of the 57 delegates up for grabs as he can and he's running two ads in Indiana comparing Trump to Hillary Clinton. He's calling them both government liberals and two sides of the same coin.

Of course, both Cruz and Trump are on the trail in Indiana. So, we'll see what kind of jabs are thrown and how nasty Cruz gets with just two days to go until a very, very important election day. He needs to stop Donald Trump there on Tuesday to have a shot in Cleveland this summer, Ana.

CABRERA: The Cruz campaign really setting their own expectations very high. I mean, this is make-or-break they're saying for their campaign. So it will be interesting to see what comes in Indiana.

Chris Frates, thanks for staying on top of it for us.

FRATES: You're welcome.

Now, later this morning, we're going to hear from the candidates, watch "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper. He has an exclusive interview with Hillary Clinton. Also, Ted Cruz is on his show. Is his running mate big endorsement enough to stop Trump?

The candidates join Jake Tapper "STATE OF THE UNION" this morning, at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

BLACKWELL: And up next on NEW DAY, hundreds of demonstrators angry at the Iraqi government. They storm parliament.

[07:20:04] A live report on what's behind the tension and concerns over danger to the U.S. embassy there in Iraq.

Plus, for the first time in more than 50 years, a U.S. cruise ship, this one, will head from the U.S. to Cuba. Live pictures here this morning. We'll take a look at this voyage and the implications, next.


[07:23:52] BLACKWELL: Twenty-three minutes after the hour now.

New this morning, a police officer dead after a bomb blast in southeastern Turkey. Thirteen people injured, including nine police officers. Officials say a car bomb went off in front of the police headquarters, and at this point no one has claimed responsibility for the attack.


BLACKWELL: We've got new video of protesters outside of parliament building in Iraq. The Iraqi government declared a state of emergency, after demonstrators rushed into Baghdad's Green Zone. This is an area that is usually off-limits -- chanting for change.

CABRERA: This Green Zone is also home to various foreign embassies, including the U.S. embassy.

Let's bring in CNN senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman. He has reported extensively from that region.

Ben, let's talk about why these protesters are so angry.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're angry over the fact that corruption, which has been a perennial problem in Iraq for quite sometime is something the government simply cannot put an end to.

[07:25:05] There was supposed to be a cabinet or rather a vote on forming a new cabinet composed not members of parties based upon their religion or sectarian affiliation, but rather technocrats, people who actually deal with the problems of lack of electricity, of unemployment, of a crumbling infrastructure, but not enough lawmakers from the Iraqi parliament attended partially because they're opposed to such a cabinet.

And this really was a spark for anger that's been simmering for quite sometime. Iraq has been a country that for instance according to Transparency International, a group that monitors corruption around the world, Iraq in 2015 of 161 out 168 countries in terms of corruption, and despite mounting public pressure, corruption is rampant and nobody seems to be able to bring it under control. So, this is really why people are so angry at the Iraqi government.

CABRERA: And from what I understand, these protests, however, have remained fairly peaceful, right?

WEDEMAN: Yes, until now, there have been some pushing and shoving, the security forces did have to use teargas, but by and large, certainly by Iraqi standards, yes, relatively peaceful, and the protesters organizers have called upon people not to go near, for instance, the foreign embassies, the American embassies, also in the Green Zone.

So, until now, the anger very much focused on the government and not on the embassies within the Green Zone itself.

CABRERA: All right, good to hear. Ben Wedeman, our thanks to you.

BLACKWELL: And ahead on NEW DAY, supporters for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who attended last night's correspondents dinner, react to the roasts of their candidates.


OBAMA: You've got to admit it, though, Hillary trying to appeal to young voters is a little like your relative who just signed up for Facebook. Dear America --