Barack Obama appeared relaxed on the Jay Leno Show but gave Mitt Romney an opening when he quipped that he struggled with mathematics beyond the Seventh grade at the age of 13.
President Barack Obama was taking about helping his daughters with their maths homework when he said that “the math stuff I was fine with, up until 7th grade” but he was “pretty lost” after that.
In times of economic prosperity, the joke might have prompted hearty chuckles on both sides of the political aisle but with a $16 trillion deficit, a sputtering economy and unemployment only just under eight per cent, it was perhaps an unfortunate subject to joke about.
Barack Obama took a break from his heavy campaigning in swing states to appear on the Tonight Show Wednesday evening for an unprecedented fifth time, touching on everything from foreign policy to helping his daughters with homework.
He also joked about the origins of his rivalry with real estate billionaire Donald Trump, saying: “This all dates back to when we were growing up in Kenya. We had constant run-ins on the soccer field, he wasn’t very good.”
Donald Trump had Wednesday pledged to donate $5 million to the charity of Barack Obama’s choice if he released his college records.
Jay Leno questioned why the dislike existed between Barack Obama and Donald Trump, comparing it to the dislike between himself and CBS rival David Letterman.
Not missing a beat, Barack Obama said it dated back to their childhood rivalry in Kenya. In the past, Donald Trump was a high-profile member of the so-called “birther” movement, which professed that the president was born in Kenya and not the United States.
The end result eventually led to Barack Obama publishing his birth certificates, which confirmed, as he had always said, that he was born in Hawaii.
The president later added that he has never actually met Donald Trump.
Taking a break from levity, Jay Leno also touched on Mourdock’s controversial remarks, and referred to another Republican Senate hopeful, Todd Akin of Missouri.
Earlier in his campaign, Todd Akin, also an opponent of abortion, referred to “legitimate rape” when contending that women’s bodies are capable of preventing pregnancy after rape.
“Well, I don’t know how these guys come up with these ideas,” Barack Obama said.
“Let me make a very simple proposition. Rape is rape. It is a crime. And so these various distinctions about rape don’t make too much sense to me – don’t make any sense to me.”
The president continued: “This is exactly why you don’t want a bunch of politicians, mostly male, making decisions about women’s health care decisions. Women are capable of making these decisions in consultation with their partners, with their doctors.
“And for politicians to want to intrude in this stuff, oftentimes without any information, is a huge problem.
“And this is obviously part of what’s stake at this election.”
When Jay Leno asked Barack Obama if he was glad the presidential debates are over, the president responded: “You know, I was sort of getting the hang of it.”
Barack Obama, whose performance in the first debate was widely panned, said he didn’t do an effective job of energetically outlining the contrast of visions between him and Republican Mitt Romney.
Part of the problem with a debate, he said, is that it’s not a natural way of communicating – having an argument with someone as you sit next to him.
“Well, you’re married,” said Jay Leno.
The president fired back: “But the difference is, with Michelle, I just concede every point.”
Asked which team he was backing in the World Series, the Detroit Tigers or the San Francisco Giants, Barack Obama managed to get in a dig at Mitt Romney: “I will say, I’ve spent a lot of time in Detroit lately, and I didn’t want to let go Detroit go bankrupt. So in this particular World Series, I might be a little partial.”
In a final segment, Jay Leno asked the president a series of questions curated from Facebook, which the president had never seen before.
One person asked what Sasha and Malia were planning to be for Halloween. While Barack Obama said that he wasn’t sure what his daughters were planning, he did joke that, because of the election year, Michelle Obama would pass out “candy for everybody”.
Last year, Michelle Obama famously handed out fruit to trick-or-treating children at the White House.
Another person asked the president: “What is the cure for Romnesia?”
Without skipping a beat, Barack Obama responded: “Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions,” then adding, “The main cure is, make sure to vote.”