President Barack Obama along with First Lady Michelle Obama on Friday, Oct. 31, 2014 hosted trick-or-treaters at the White House, the treats however, were not as health conscious as the First Lady usually advocates. President Obama was so excited about celebrating Halloween at the White House, that it overshadowed the speech he delivered earlier on Friday morning at Rhode Island College about economic equality for women, equal pay for equal work. Afterwards, Obama indulged his sweet tooth ordering a chocolate cake at a local Rhode Island eatery and then hosted a cake party for the press. Later in the afternoon,
Each year the White House holds a celebration, where over 4,500 local kids and military families are invited for trick-or-treating, the White House is decorated outside with all ghoulishly, last year it was decorated “giant spiders, cobwebs, and glowed orange.” This year is no different; the Hill announced that there was “200 carved pumpkins” and topiaries shaped as the “First dogs” and mascots, Bo and Sunny dressed in clown costumes, they are also featured on baseball cards that were given out to children. The treats were not only healthy, Michelle usually hands out dried fruit, but the president and first lady handed out candy, butter cookies, but also apples. The Hill reported that includes “Hershey Kisses, black licorice, orange tangerine jelly beans, kettle corn and White House sweet dough butter cookies.”
Earlier in the day, Obama went to lunch at a local eatery, as he always does on the road. The president visited Gregg’s Restaurant and Pub in Providence, Rhode Island and ordered the 20-pound “Death by Chocolate” cake. At the restaurant, where many were dressed up for Halloween; Obama ordered his devilish cake from a devil. President Obama exclaimed as he ordered the 20 pound, $38.99 cake, “The word is that the chocolate-layer cake here is deadly and it’s devilish, and so for Halloween, this is the kind of sin that we want to commit.” Later Obama was still talking about how the rich chocolate cake, saying; “Death by chocolate. That’s kind of scary … yeah, that’s deadly.”
A server at the restaurant reminded him “Michelle’s not going to be happy about that,” to which Obama replied, “You know what, you don’t have to tell.” Obama however, revealed he is not planning to eat the cake by himself, but would be sharing it with the press aboard Air Force One. In fact, the president bribed them exchanging the daily press briefing from White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest for cake. One journalist recounted, the “President came back as we were boarding the plane. He said it’s halloween, can we give Josh the day off? How about no gaggle and you all get some cake?” It was a good idea, because the First Lady who is anti-Junk food, advocates for healthy food, and lunches for children and eating healthy snacks would never have approved if the president would have eaten the whole thing. Obama also ordered another unhealthy treat a burger topped with everything and fries.
The president also took photos with the patrons all dressed in their Halloween costumes, including as the Hill noted a nine-year-old boy who made nostalgic for when his daughters, Malia, 16 and Sasha 13 were young, which he lamented before in the opening of his economic speech at Rhode Island College. Obama recounted, “They always wanted to be princesses. Even when they were witches, they were witch princesses. And I was like, ‘You know what, you’ve got to be scary. Maybe some blood.'”
President Obama started his speech at Rhode Island College with some Halloween themed jokes, and began wishing the audience “Happy Halloween, everybody,” and telling them “I am not going to be too long. I’ve got to get back and trick-or-treat tonight with Michelle.” The president again was nostalgic for when his daughters were younger and enjoyed Halloween more, adding, “Although, Malia and Sasha are a little old.” To which the audience cooed, “Aww” Continuing his story he said, “It’s so sad. I used to be able to — we’d dress them up, and we still have the pictures. They’ll resent them later, but at the time they were fine with it. They were so cute.”
The president seemed a little excited about Halloween costumes making most of his jokes about that favorite Halloween tradition, first he joked, “I see a lot of you came as college students.” Then a little later in his speech he announced, “I have also brought some Halloween characters with me: Our Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez. They are all dressed up as really outstanding public servants.” President Obama also tempted the crowd with Presidential M&Ms, which have the presidential seal on them, telling them; “A good thing about being President is we never run out of Presidential M&Ms so we’re going to be giving those out.” An audience mistakenly thought he would be handing them out at the event, which Obama jokingly responded; “You want some? Is that what you said? Only to kids.”
The main purpose of Obama’s speech was to push his economic right before the midterm elections hoping to help the Democrats keep control of the Senate. The president has not been invited much on the campaign trail, as Democrats in tough races are trying to distance themselves from the unpopular president. Not being invited to campaign much this midterm season is apparently making President Obama quite sad, and when he spoke at a fundraiser in Maine on Thursday, Oct. 30, he lamented; “I’m not on the ballot this time and this is the last election cycle in which I’m involved as president. Look, it makes you a little wistful. Because I do like campaigning — it’s fun.” The president has held 64 Democratic fundraisers this year, but only 4 campaign rallies so far.
At his speech at Rhode Island College the president highlighted women’s issues in an attempt to rally women voters, and again outlined his economic agenda to help women which includes “paid family leave, day care, equal pay for men and women, and raising the minimum wage.” President Obama emphasized the importance of equal pay, explaining, “At a time when women are the primary breadwinners in more households than ever, that hurts the whole family if they’re not getting paid fairly.”
This past week, President Obama has appeared at few campaign rallies in Wisconsin and Maine. After Halloween, he plans to return to the campaign trail appearing at rallies Michigan, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, most are for governor races, but in Michigan, he will also campaign for the Democratic senate candidate. The president has been focusing on the fact that the economy has recovered, but that there is still work to be done especially to help the middle class, stating one of his favorite lines; “We’re better off than we were. But millions of Americans don’t yet feel the benefits.”
- Remarks by President Barack Obama on Women and the Economy — Providence, RI, Oct. 31, 2014
Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. She covers US, Canadian & Israeli politics, with a particular focus on the Obama presidency, Congress, domestic policy, and elections.