Obama shows up at Kennedy Center after Oval Office address on terrorism
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President Obama did a quick change on Sunday, slipping on a tuxedo to attend the Kennedy Center Honors less than an hour after delivering a speech on terrorism from the Oval Office.

The commander in chief arrived just after 8:30 p.m., during an intermission of the annual ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. The night’s host, Stephen Colbert, quipped to the audience that the owner of a green and white helicopter with “MARINE 1” tags “left your lights on.” Obama grinned as Colbert continued, "Thanks for joining us, Mr. President."


The White House had originally announced Obama would not be accompanying his wife, Michelle, at the night’s festivities due to a timing conflict with his Sunday night address before a national primetime audience. But late Sunday afternoon, the White House seemingly reversed course, saying Obama — who traditionally attends the Honors — would head to the gala following his remarks.

Among the 2015 honorees being lauded for their lifetime achievements: singer Carole King, actress Cicely Tyson, “Star Wars” filmmaker George Lucas, conductor Seiji Ozawa and singer and actress Rita Moreno.

“You know [Obama’s] not attending this evening because he has an important message to give to the United States,” Moreno told ITK on the red carpet ahead of the ceremony. The “West Side Story” star indicated she planned on watching Obama’s address later that night.

A few politically-themed zingers flew during the show, taped to air on Dec. 29 on CBS. “It’s the one night of the year both Democrats and Republicans come together for the same cause,” Colbert told the crowd, “to find out if their tuxedos still fit.”

Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryDemocrats have reason to worry after the last presidential debate Overnight Energy: Farmers say EPA reneged on ethanol deal | EPA scrubs senators' quotes from controversial ethanol announcement | Perry unsure if he'll comply with subpoena | John Kerry criticizes lack of climate talk at debate John Kerry calls out lack of climate questions at debate MORE heaped praise on honoree King, calling the “I Feel the Earth Move” singer a “neighbor” and “cherished friend.” Continuing to commend the 73-year-old songwriter, Kerry said with a grin, “And I don’t say that just because she did for me the greatest favor that one can do for another human being, and that is help me pay off my campaign debt.”

During a tribute to King by soul queen Aretha Franklin that included a rousing rendition of “(You Make me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” the president and Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaPoll shows Michelle Obama would lead in New Hampshire if she entered 2020 Democratic race Obamas' first Netflix project nominated for Critics' Choice Documentary Awards Maggie Rogers shares letter from 'huge fans' Barack and Michelle Obama MORE — wearing a black and blue Oscar de la Renta gown — were seen standing up (with the rest of the audience), clapping and mouthing the chorus of the 1967 hit.

All of the honorees, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said on the red carpet, “bring luster to the Honors by accepting this.” The California Democrat added, “I know most of them, so I’m personally thrilled for them.” 

Also eyed at the star-studded event: Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowRepublican challenger to Gary Peters in Michigan raises over million USDA nixes release of multiple reports over researcher exodus Schumer throws support behind Pelosi impeachment inquiry MORE (D-Mich.) getting her honorees fix, chatting up Ozawa and Franklin before snagging a pic posing with King and Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerHillicon Valley: Ocasio-Cortez clashes with former Dem senator over gig worker bill | Software engineer indicted over Capital One breach | Lawmakers push Amazon to remove unsafe products Ocasio-Cortez blasts former Dem senator for helping Lyft fight gig worker bill Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates MORE (D-Calif.) making her way through the crowd of black-tie attendees. 

Among the VIPs who were on-hand to mark the 38th annual Honors: directors Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorcese, country singer Miranda Lambert, Kerry Washington of "Scandal," "Jane the Virgin" star Gina Rodriguez, Tyler Perry (who sat directly behind the first lady), Rosie Perez, Gayle King and Charlie Rose of "CBS This Morning," "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, singer Janelle Monae, James Taylor, gospel singer CeCe Winans, actress Viola Davis, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and singer Sara Bareilles.