Obama makes jokes about Trump at journalists' dinner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama told jokes at the expense of real estate mogul Donald Trump Saturday night, mocking his possible presidential ambitions in remarks at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.

With Trump in the hotel ballroom audience of celebrities, politicians and journalists, Obama zeroed in on talk fueled by Trump that the president was not U.S.-born.

Obama Wednesday released a longer version of his birth certificate to answer some Republicans including Trump who claim he was not native born and therefore ineligible to be president, and blasted “carnival barkers” who refuse to let the issue die.

Trump has seized on the issue while testing the waters for a possible 2012 run for the Republican presidential nomination. Obama, a Democrat, is running for re-election next year.

“Donald Trump is here tonight. And I know that he’s taken some flak lately. But no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than ‘The Donald,’” Obama said, using Trump’s nickname.

“And that’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter. Like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?” Obama added, drawing laughs and applause,

Roswell refers to an incident in the vicinity of Roswell, New Mexico, where, according to some theories, an object that crashed in 1947 was an extra-terrestrial spacecraft carrying alien occupants. Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur were rap stars whose deaths are the subject of continuing controversy.

President Barack Obama speaks at the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner at a hotel in Washington April 30, 2011. REUTERS/Jason Reed


Obama suggested that Trump’s biggest decisions typically involve the trademark firings he routinely carries out on his reality television show “Celebrity Apprentice” such as when he dumped actor Gary Busey.

“These are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night,” Obama deadpanned. “Well handled, sir. Well handled.”

Trump grinned, pursing his lips and looking uncomfortable.

“I think we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience,” Obama said of Trump, drawing laughs.

“Say what you want about Mr. Trump,” the president added. “He certainly would bring change to the White House.”

Big video screens in the ballroom then flashed an image of what was labeled “Trump, The White House,” spoofing the famed businessman’s practice of naming buildings after himself.

It portrayed a hotel-casino-golf course with bikini-clad girls frolicking in the fountain that adorns a White House lawn and gold columns substituted at the front for white ones.

Trump has made a series of controversial comments as he mulls a presidential campaign and ripped Obama and other U.S. political leaders in a profanity-laced speech in Las Vegas this week, calling them “stupid.”

Also coming in for ribbing from Obama were Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman -- all potential Republican challengers for the White House in 2012.

Editing by Greg McCune and Will Dunham