MANHATTAN — President Barack Obama mangled a shout-out to New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli Wednesday — then told him he was in an exclusive club when it came to mispronounced names.
During opening remarks to Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network in Midtown, the president hesitantly pronounced “Tom Duna-Na-Poli.” Quickly realizing his flub, Obama laughed it off, remembering how his now internationally known name used to cause confusion.
Remembering his first address to Sharpton’s network in 2007, he said, “Back then, I had few supporters.
“Most of you couldn’t pronounce my name, so Tom, don’t feel bad,” he joked, to laughter from the crowd at the New York Sheraton Hotel on Seventh Avenue.
The rest of the speech, which is available at NY1.com and transcribed on the NAN’s website, focused on the accomplishments of the Obama administration so far, including the healthcare package, Wall Street reform, the auto-recovery and Race to the Top.
“I’m not asking you to think about what we’ve already done so you can be satisfied with our progress,” Obama told the crowd. “But I am asking you to draw inspiration from the fact that we know change is possible. I am living testament that change is possible.”
The president also noted “the great work of [Harlem Children’s Zone founder] Geoffrey Canada” and referred to education as “the civil rights issue of our time.”
After the speech, which began at 6 p.m., Obama returned to Washington to meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House John Boehner in hopes of striking a budget deal, according to the New York Times.
It had been rumored that the president would have to cancel his visit to New York in order to deal with the ongoing negotiations.
The president’s address to the NAN fulfilled a promise he made to return during his first speech in 2007, the Times said.
For good measure, Obama brought Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Attorney General Eric Holder and top presidential advisor David Axelrod with him to the conference.
But not everyone was happy about the president’s visit to Manhattan.
“Obama … Please stop coming to Manhattan so that I can stop getting stuck in traffic !!” griped Twitter user Charell Lewis on Wednesday. Get over it or move out of the city…geez!
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