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 KerryOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Sanders-Biden climate task force calls for carbon-free power by 2035 | Park Police did not record radio transmissions during June 1 sweep of White House protesters | Court upholds protections for Yellowstone grizzly bears Biden-Sanders 'unity task force' rolls out platform recommendations Sanders-Biden climate task force calls for carbon-free power by 2035 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 ObamaPrinceton must finish what it started The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Justices rule Manhattan prosecutor, but not Congress, can have Trump tax records The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump takes on CDC over schools 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 StabenowACLU calls on Congress to approve COVID-19 testing for immigrants Senators press IRS chief on stimulus check pitfalls Democrats warn Biden against releasing SCOTUS list MORE (D-Mich.) getting her honorees fix, chatting up Ozawa and Franklin before snagging a pic posing with King and Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerBottom line Polls show big bounce to Biden ahead of Super Tuesday Sanders poised for big Super Tuesday 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.