Amid desperate budget negotiations and a looming government shutdown, President Barack Obama came to New York City last night to speak at the twentieth-anniversary party for Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. At the gala, Obama focused on the issue of education inequality, but only after palling around with Sharpton, teasing him for getting skinny (“But he hasn’t lost his style.”) and giving him “a rousing slap on the back,” according to the New York Post. Then Obama got serious, speaking about his student loan reform. “Only a few years ago I was still paying off my student loans,” said Obama. “It’s true, I don’t pump gas now, but I remember what it was like pumping gas. I remember!”
Later, Obama said he remembers “the end of the month. I remember that.” He added, “We appreciate you all buying the book, Michelle and I. That’s the college fund right there. That was not a given.” His humility tends to be convincing, but he did make over $5 million in 2009.
The president, who was making his first trip since announcing his reelection campaign, was thought to be working up support from African-Americans by making this appearance, though his approval rating among the group already hovers around 90 percent.
“I think there are a lot of powerful supporters here. This is a good opportunity to speak directly to them,” said the African Channel executive VP Shirley Neal.
Obama then quickly hopped a plane back to D.C. to meet House Speaker John Boehner and Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, hoping to prevent the government-approved spread of anarchy.