President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama appear on “The View.” (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

President Barack Obama brought a birthday basket of White House goodies for Barbara Walters, when he and First Lady Michelle Obama made their very first joint visit to “The View” Tuesday – so as to pre-empt the Romneys.

Barbara, the president notes, has said she “pilfers” things when she’s made her many visits to the White House, “so we decided that, for her birthday, rather than her having to steal matches, we would just go ahead and bring the stuff to her.”  

In addition to the White House paper napkins — “Which she usually takes” — he brought cloth White House napkins, White House M&M’s, playing cards, a bottle of White House beer, and a White House golf ball.

 Sherri Shepherd wants to know if the beer is open.

 Kisses with Obama exchanged, Babs signals the questioning is about to begin, noting “We’ve been accused of being sharp tongued.”

Man these Ladies of The View are thin-skinned. And, who knew that one of the biggest battlegrounds of this election would be “The View”?

Just last week, one day after GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s camp issued a statement saying that he and wife Ann would love to visit the daytime talk show in October, the show announced that the First Couple had agreed to stop by and chat today, beating the Romneys to the punch.

 Game on!

Earlier last week, Romney had been caught on tape calling “The View” a “high-risk” proposition because of its four “sharp-tongued” non-conservative co-hosts.”

 The next day, the ladies of “The View” had a spirited conversation about Romney’s description of their show, from a video that was secretly recorded at a private, $50,000-a-plate fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla.

“If you can’t handle four sharp-tongued women, how are you going to handle the country?” Sherri Shepherd had wondered at the time.

So here the First Couple sat, beating the Romneys to the punch.In a Tuesday interview, which was taped Monday. At which Sherri Shepherd’s first question to the President of the United States is to ask whether the beer bottle is open.

 Anyway, the ladies — who have come dressed in their Sunday finest: Babs in a black suit with some sort of distracting starburst-y brooch, Whoopi struggling with black and orange short boots with eight-inch heels — start off with softall questions. That includes some blah, blah, blah about the Obama celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary on Oct. 3, the plaque in Chicago that marks where the Obama’s first kissed, etc. And Whoopi is caught eating the White House M & M’s. the

 The president tells a cute story about how The First Daughters told their dad, as he was backstage with them getting ready to give his keynote speech at the DNC that it was “Just like in the Hannah Montana movie when she’s about to go out on stage and Billy Ray says ‘Go Get ‘em baby!’

 “And then I had to go out, thinking about Hannah Montana. That’s what was on my mind,” he says.

 Then Babs takes the wheel, and the questioning gets more serious – but not until they take a break to sell a little air freshener, snack food,  and women’s clothing.

 “This is a very close race still. What would be so terrible if Mitt Romney were elected?” Babs asks the president, after Elisabeth Hasselbeck — the show’s one non-sharp-tongued “conservative” Romney explained to campaign donors in that tape — assures him she really does like everyone, and asks him about the current unemployment rate, etc. and why anyone should vote for him, given all that.

 “He was Governor, he will probably be a little more moderate…My point is, would it be disastrous for the country if Mitt Romney were elected?” Babs wonders.

 “Well, you know I think America is so strong, and we’ve got so much going for us that we can survive a lot,” Obama responds.

 “But the American people don’t want to just survive, we want everyone to thrive.”

 Wild applause from the studio audience.

 “We want folks to have a shot at success, and so the question then just becomes, whose policies are more likely to lead us to where we want to go?”

 “I’ll give you a very clear example,” Obama continues.

 “Yesterday Governor Romney on ‘60 Minutes’ was asked, does he think it’s fair that he pays a lower tax rate than somebody who’s making $50,000 a year, and he said, ‘yes, I think it’s fair and I also think that’s the way you get economic growth, the notion being that if people at the top have more income, they’ll invest and they’ll create jobs.’

 “I’ve just got a different vision about how we grow an economy. I think, Barbara, that you grow an economy from the middle out, not from the top down, and that when the teacher and the bus driver and the receptionist and the office manager — when they’ve got a little money in their pockets, when they’re doing well, then that means business has more customers, that business makes more profits, they hire more workers,” Obama continues.

 “And that’s been the history of our country, we grow fastest when the middle class is doing well and when folks who are trying to get into the middle class have ladders of opportunity,” Obama continues some more.

 “So that’s a different vision about how we move the country forward, and ultimately it’s going to be up to the American people to make the decision about who’s got the better plan.”

 “I’m voting for him!” raves The First Lady, when her husband finally stops talking.

 More wild applause from the audience.

 A few questions — and more air freshener ads — later, Babs suggests Michelle Obama should run for office, though the First Lady has said she does not want to.

 “Look, I mean Michelle would be terrific, but temperamentally I just don’t think that’s something she — ” the president begins. 

 “No, it’s absolutely true,” the First Lady says over audience laughter. “It takes a lot of patience to be the President of the United States and I’m not that patient. You know, I am not.”

 A few more questions — and a lot more air freshener, and even a couple political ads later — Babs wonders what the president “is going to do with the rest of your life.”


 “Well, first things first here,” Obama says.

 Laughter, followed by wild applause.

 “We do have an election ahead and there are all kinds of things I want to do in a second term… Putting folks back to work and making sure our schools are up to snuff.

 “And then?” Babs interrupts, not willing to concede the cloth-headed-ness of the question.

 “And we’ve got another war to wrap up,” he says, giving her something to think about on her birthday.

 But, being a diplomat, he eventually goes ahead and answers her question:

 “In a post-presidency, the thing that I think I would enjoy most is spending time working with kids. I love teaching. I miss teaching and I’m not sure necessarily it will be in a classroom, but the idea to be able to go around to various cities and helping to create mentorships and apprenticeships and just giving young people the sense of possibility.”

 And that’s it. Up next: the Romneys. In October.