WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama celebrated his own birthday Tuesday by leading the White House press corps in singing Happy Birthday to veteran reporter Helen Thomas.
Thomas and Obama share a birthday with the president turning 48 and the reporter turning 89.
Obama carried cupcakes into the room where reporters were gathered to quiz his chief spokesman, Robert Gibbs, at the daily briefing.
Thomas is a columnist with Hearst Newspapers.
Obama told her: “I will leave it up to you, Helen, how you want to distribute the cupcakes.”
Obama sat beside Thomas for a picture after she blew out one candle. The president said Thomas wished for peace and no prejudice in the world and – working in a plug for his agenda – a health care reform bill.
And then he left without taking questions about his own birthday plans or anything else.
Obama had just spent lunch with almost the entire Democratic Senate caucus. Leaders emerged promising to deliver the health care bill Obama wants.
“We’re ready to take on the world,” Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader said, offering a glowing assessment of Obama’s pep talk.
The president was born in 1961 in Hawaii, a fact state officials have confirmed again and again to address claims of so-called “birthers” who say the president was actually born outside the United States.
The White House said Obama did much of his birthday celebrating over the weekend, hanging out with friends and family at Camp David, the presidential retreat in the mountains north of Washington.