5 things we learned from watching Obama on Leno

October 25, 2012

President Obama appeared on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" Wednesday, where he weighed in on a range of issues both serious and light, from Afghanistan and the economy, to Donald Trump and exercising. Here are five things we observed when watching the interview:

* Obama is funny: This isn't news, even to casual observers of the president. But it might have been for some undecided voters tuning in. During his tenure in the White House, Obama's earned praise for delivering his share of punchlines. On Wednesday, he demonstrated once again a knack for good comic timing and a willingness to poke fun at himself.

What's the deal with Obama and Donald Trump, Leno asked? It goes back to their relationship growing up in Kenya, joked Obama. Aren't debates similar to the discussions you have when you are married? "The difference is, with Michelle I just concede every point,” the president quipped. 

This is one of the reasons Obama's team isn't shy about sending him out to these types of appearances. (He stopped by CBS's "The Late Show with David Letterman" earlier this fall.)

* He made a direct pitch to women voters: When asked about GOP Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock's controversial remark about rape and pregnancy at a Tuesday debate, Obama said: "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."

He continued with a warning against the danger of politicians meddling on women's personal health decisions. "This is exactly why you don't want a bunch of politicians -- mostly male -- making decisions about women's health care," Obama said. 

VIDEO: Obama talks about women's health care on 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.'

* Obama's in his element when he's talking sports: Whether it was breaking down the Giants-Tigers in the World Series or the NHL lockout, the president flexed his knowledge as a sports fan. Many voters already know this about Obama. But among those learning it for the first time Wednesday night, it could boost the president's relatability

* His relationship with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appears to be strong: The praise Obama offered his former 2008 rival sounded very genuine. "Despite my begging, I suspect it's time for her to spend a little more time with her family," Obama said of his chief diplomat, who plans to step down next year. 

* There is a treadmill on Air Force One: We didn't know this!

VIDEO: A look back at the president's and first lady's late-night appearances.

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Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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Sean Sullivan · October 25, 2012