White House

Obama to Letterman: Let’s Get Starbucks and Chat Once We’re Both Retired

In his final visit to the “Late Show,” the president talked to David Letterman about recent rioting in Baltimore.

National Journal
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Priscilla Alvarez
May 5, 2015, 4:17 a.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama is already mak­ing plans for when he leaves the White House, and Dav­id Let­ter­man is part of them.

Dur­ing his eighth and fi­nal vis­it to the Late Show Monday night, the pres­id­ent joked with the long­time host that he’d be up to play some Dom­in­oes with Let­ter­man after he leaves the White House and maybe grab a cup of cof­fee.

“We could go to the loc­al Star­bucks, swap stor­ies,” Obama said, laugh­ing.

Obama re­cently al­luded to his post-pres­id­ency plans, say­ing he’ll fo­cus on bring­ing busi­nesses to com­munit­ies that need it and “try­ing to find ways to help people, help young people get edu­ca­tions, and help people get jobs.” But be­fore he can do any of that, he has to deal with Bal­timore.

“For far too long, for dec­ades, you have a situ­ation in which too many com­munit­ies don’t have a re­la­tion­ship or trust with po­lice,” Obama said Monday night, re­fer­ring to re­cent un­rest in the city fol­low­ing the death of 25-year-old Fred­die Gray, who died in po­lice cus­tody last month. “It cre­ates an en­vir­on­ment in the com­munity where they feel as if, rather than be­ing pro­tec­ted and served, they’re the tar­gets of ar­bit­rary ar­rests or stops.”

Gray’s death was ruled a hom­icide on Fri­day, and the Justice De­part­ment has launched a civil rights in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to the am­bigu­ous cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing his death.

Obama said that situ­ations like the one in Bal­timore are “not just a poli­cing prob­lem,” re­it­er­at­ing re­marks from his speech at Leh­man Col­lege earli­er in the day, where he in­tro­duced a new non­profit that in­vests in young minor­it­ies and com­munit­ies in hopes of re­du­cing the ra­cial gap in the eco­nomy.

“What you have is pock­ets of poverty, lack of edu­ca­tion, lack of op­por­tun­ity all across this coun­try,” Obama said. “Too of­ten we ig­nore those pock­ets un­til something hap­pens and then we act sur­prised.”

On wheth­er race re­la­tions are bet­ter today, Obama said they are, adding that “what’s happened is that we know more today than we did.” When asked if ra­cism is a factor in what has happened in Bal­timore, Fer­guson, and oth­er cit­ies, Obama said it’s a “re­sid­ual factor and buildup of his­tory” but that so­ci­ety has made “ex­traordin­ary” strides.

“I’m a test­a­ment to that,” he ad­ded.

Obama closed the show with praise for Let­ter­man, who leaves the show later this month. “The coun­try, I think, has after a tough day at the of­fice or com­ing home from work, know­ing you’ve been there to give us a little bit of joy, a little bit of laughter, it has meant so much,” he said. “You’re a part of all of us.”

Let­ter­man steps down as host of the Late Show on May 20 after more than 30 years in late-night tele­vi­sion. He’ll be re­placed by Com­edy Cent­ral funny­man Steph­en Col­bert. Over the years, guests have in­cluded sev­er­al former pres­id­ents, pres­id­en­tial can­did­ates, vice pres­id­ents, and first ladies. Obama was the first sit­ting pres­id­ent to ap­pear on the show, in 2009.


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