Barack Obama on Woodward, White House tiff: ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’

Updated
 
President Barack Obama walks with Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, right, as they leave the Gridiron Dinner through a loading area at a hotel in Washington,...
President Barack Obama walks with Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, right, as they leave the Gridiron Dinner through a loading area at a hotel in Washington,...
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

President Barack Obama didn’t shy away from the recent dust-up between his White House and Washington Post columnist Bob Woodward at the Gridiron Dinner in Washington, D.C. Saturday.

Woodward had claimed that Obama administration official Gene Sperling threatened him in an email after he wrote a Post column criticizing the president’s role in the sequestration debacle. The reporter, who famously broke the Watergate break-in scandal that brought down the Nixon presidency, received heavy criticism after Politico published the email exchange and showed not a threat, but a cordial message from Sperling.

“You notice some folks couldn’t make it this  evening,” Obama said. “It’s been noted that Bob Woodward sends his regrets, which Gene Sperling predicted…I know that some folks think we responded to Woodward too aggressively, but hey, can anybody tell me when an administration has ever regretted picking a fight with Bob Woodward. What’s the worst that could happen?”

Obama also riffed on the Washington press corps and D.C. controversies—including sequestration and changes to the president’s staff.

“After a very public mix-up last week, my communications team has provided me with an easy way to distinguish between Star Trek and Star Wars,” he said. “Spock is what Maureen Dowd calls me. Darth Vader is what John Boehner calls me.”

Making a rare formal public appearance without First Lady Michelle Obama, the president acknowledged the person who “stands with me no matter what and gives me hope no matter how dark things seem.”

“So tonight, I want to publicly thank my rock, my foundation—thank you, Nate Silver,” Obama said.

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Barack Obama on Woodward, White House tiff: 'What's the worst that could happen?'

Updated