Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release November 30, 2016
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
IN MEETING WITH THE 2016 AMERICAN NOBEL PRIZE WINNERS
4:46 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Well, as we near the end of the year, as many of you know, I've spent a lot of time promoting science and trying to encourage young people to get involved in those disciplines that have driven American innovation and American progress, as well as driven human progress. And one of the best ways for us to be able to do that is to recognize the achievements of some Americans who have received an extraordinary honor. These are our American Nobel Prize winners for this year.
They have done amazing work that for laypersons are sometimes hard to explain. But they are delving into the deepest aspects of matter. They are exploring our ability to manipulate molecules. We also have an economist who is helping to make sure that our market system, our contracts are operating in ways that are fair and just and help us organize our economic system in ways that are more efficient but also produce good results for everybody.
So we are incredibly proud of them. And I think it's just a reminder that one of the things that makes America unique is our ability to attract talent from all around the world, to study at some of our greatest universities, and for us to have very practical, reasoned, fact-based empirical ways to figure out how we can make the world a slightly better place. And the work that's being done here is going to result in progress, some of which we can't anticipate yet, but will lead to new products, new materials, new technologies. And, most importantly, the work that these gentlemen have done are going to inspire whole a new generation of scholars and scientists and researchers so that we know that this will continue into future generations.
And I'm very, very proud of them. And I'm hopeful that they have a wonderful time at the ceremony. I want to thank the Nobel Committee and the Ambassador of Sweden and all that they do to help recognize outstanding human achievement, not just in our country, but around the world.
All right? Thank you, everybody.
I will see you guys at the Christmas Party, all right? So get ready. (Laughter.) Start jogging now. Thank you, guys.
END 4:49 P.M. EST
The lunch lid was lifted at 2 p.m. Following, there was not activity until 430, when pool was ushered into the East Room for the Kennedy Center Honorees reception. The room is festively decorated with ornate wreaths. It also smells of Christmas trees. More wonderfully, the East Room is currently littered with celebrities and artists, including television politician and actor Kevin Spacey, Laurence Fishburne, and the especially splendid Andra Day, whose rendition of Burn on the Hamilton Mixtape is a particular favorite of your pooler. Also seen in the East Room: Jeff Goldblum, Don Cheadle, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, and Stephen Colbert. On the political front, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi is in attendance. She was seated in front of Spacey. US Senator Barbara Boxer is also in attendance. All the aforementioned people were identified by members of the press pool and not confirmed with the White House. According to the President's weekend schedule, POTUS was to deliver remarks at the reception at approximately 5 p.m, though the ceremony appears to be running late. Another pool report will be sent after the arrival of POTUS, which will include excerpts of his remarks. If you need another reminder: this year's Kennedy Center honorees are as follows (in no particular order except Mavis Staples is first because her voice is the stuff of angels): Mavis Staples, The Eagles, Martha Argerich, James Taylor, and Al Pacino.
POTUS and FLOTUS arrived in the East Room at about 5:19. They entered to cheers and a standing ovation. Behind POTUS, the Kennedy Center honorees sat, donning their iconic Kennedy Center medals. Per a White House staffer, the order of the honorees were as follows, (listed from right to left behind POTUS): Joe Walsh, ?Timothy Schmit, Don Henley, James Taylor, Mavis Staples, Al Pacino, and Marth Argerich. The president began speaking immediately after he entered, highlighting he and FLOTUS' appreciation of the arts. One by one, POTUS spoke about each honoree and expressed excitement about the coming ceremony. The speech was carried live by the White House, and can be found on the official WH Twitter account, but here are a few quotes. He began his speech by recognizing the members of Congress in attendance and several descendants of John F. Kennedy. "For the past 8 years, Michelle and I have invited some of the best writers, musicians, actors, writers, dancers to share their gifts of the American people and to help tell the story of who we are," Obama said. And another: "These awards are not just about this reception or even the show we will have this evening...the Kennedy Center honors are about folks who spent their lives calling on us to think a little to harder and feel a little deeper and express ourselves bravely and maybe take it easy every once in a while." POTUS said the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony, is "one of the parts of the job that I will miss." POTUS spoke for about about 16 minutes. The line that drew the most applause was a tongue-in-cheek comment to notoriously rowdy Eagles guitarist, Joe Walsh. POTUS asked him not to trash the White House because he's leaving the home soon and wants his "security deposit" back. Speaking of back, the press corps returned from the East Room shortly before 6 p.m. The pool, and POTUS and FLOTUS, are scheduled to soon travel towards the Kennedy Center for tonight's ceremony. Per the previously released schedule, the motorcade will gather at about 6:30 p.m.
Presidential motorcade departed for the Kennedy Center at 7:03 EST. Arrived at 7:08. Traveling press was brought into the Kennedy Center hall at 7:10. At that time, the assembled crowd was enjoying a medley of tunes played by an orchestra. The orchestra's music seemed to represent each of the night's honorees.
POTUS and FLOTUS arrived to the hall, formally called the Opera House, at 7:19 p.m. EST. They entered after the honorees and were greeted with an extended standing ovation. POTUS waved his hand to acknowledge the crowd and later took his seat, after holding hands with FLOTUS. Mavis Staples, the legendary soul singer and one of the night's honorees, is seated next FLOTUS. Following the singing of the national anthem, traveling press were escorted to a holding room, to view the ceremony from a closed circuit television. Once arrived, your pooler observed comedian Stephen Colbert, the night's host, lead the crowd in another appreciation of the President. Barring unforseen events, your pooler will next update you once the motorcade leaves the hall. Any notable actions from POTUS and FLOTUS will be included in that update.
The Kennedy Center Honors ceremony, which will air for television audiences later this month, was a lively affair, featuring several memorable musical performances. It lasted more then 3 hours, though many other details remain under embargo. POTUS and FLOTUS, the latter of whom, according to a White House staffer, was wearing a green, off-shoulder dress designed by Gucci, also seemed to enjoy the performances. When on camera, both bobbed their head to the music and POTUS could be seen snapping his fingers. Your pooler, a former drummer, appreciated that POTUS snapped on beat. FLOTUS, when shown on camera, was often speaking to Mavis Staples, one of the night's honorees who was seated next to Mrs. Obama. Again, pool was not in the Opera Hall during the ceremony, but watched on closed circut television from a holding room. At 10:05 p.m., during one of the ceremony's final performances, pool was loaded into vans and transported back to the White House. Poolers then sat in vans from that time until the 10:39 p.m., when we joined the presidential motorcade and departed. The presidential motorcade left the Kennedy Center at 10:39 p.m. and arrived to the White House at 10:44 p.m. Following our arrival to the White House, a lid was called for the evening. The lid was called at 10:45 p.m.