Nobody owns the presidential podium like Bill Clinton, even in the Obama White House
The former president, who stopped by the White House on Friday to meet with the current president and endorse his tax cuts deal
with Republicans, held court for a half hour in the briefing room after President Barack Obama left to attend a holiday party in the residence.
Obama had barely left the room when Clinton rested his elbows on the podium and settled in. And once he was there he couldn’t get enough.
He fielded nearly a dozen questions, twice as many as Obama
took during his briefing room press conference on Tuesday. He knew the reporters by name
– calling out Ann Compton of ABC and George Condon of the National Journal with ease. Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, repeatedly tried in vain to rein him in
. (“Gibbs will call ‘last question,’” Obama informed reporters as he left for the party.)
“Oh, I had quite a good time governing,” Clinton [observed]. “I am happy to be here."
Obama seemed to convey just the opposite feeling
. He had met privately with Clinton in the Oval Office for over an hour before the two decided at the last minute to make an appearance in front of the cameras, but he stayed in the briefing room only about 90 seconds.
“I thought, given the fact that he presided over as good an economy as we've seen in our lifetimes, that it might useful for him to share some of his thoughts,” Obama said before turning the podium over to Clinton. “I'm going to let him speak very briefly
, and then I've actually got to go over and do some – just one more Christmas party
. So he may decide he wants to take some questions, but I wanted to make sure that you guys heard from him directly.”
“I've been keeping the first lady waiting for about half an hour, so I'm going to take off.”
“Well, I don't want to make her mad,” Clinton joked. “Please go
For a press corps obsessed this week with comparing Clinton and Obama, the contrast was right in front of them.