News / USA

Obama Celebrates 50th Birthday at White House

President Barack Obama turns with Col. Kenneth Rizer to listen to members of the media and crew sing him Happy Birthday on the tarmac as he arrives from Chicago on Air Force One, Aug. 4, 2011, at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland
President Barack Obama turns with Col. Kenneth Rizer to listen to members of the media and crew sing him Happy Birthday on the tarmac as he arrives from Chicago on Air Force One, Aug. 4, 2011, at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland

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Kent Klein

President Barack Obama marked his 50th birthday at the White House on Thursday. It was the second day of celebrations for the president.  

The aroma of barbecued chicken drifted through the White House grounds on Thursday, as chefs prepared for President Obama’s birthday parties.

Senior administration staff members held a brief toast for the president at midday, followed later by a reception for friends and family in the White House Rose Garden.

Mr. Obama’s birthday celebrations started on Wednesday night in his home city of Chicago, with about 2,400 people attending a fundraising event for his 2012 reelection campaign.  

“I could not have a better early birthday present than spending tonight with all of you," said President Obama. " [Audience member shouts “I love you!”]  I love you back! "

Supporters at the event were treated to music by jazz legend Herbie Hancock and singer Jennifer Hudson.

Those who paid almost $36,000 for the most expensive tickets were invited to a small, private dinner with the president.

Mr. Obama has been facing his milestone birthday with a sense of humor.  He told the crowd that as he gets older, he is paying more attention to social welfare programs for the elderly.

“And it is true that I turn 50 tomorrow, which means that by the time I wake up, I will have an email from AARP, asking me to call President Obama and tell him to protect Medicare," said Obama."

Joining the powerful senior citizens’ lobby AARP is almost a rite of passage for many Americans as they turn 50.

Mr. Obama is the fifth-youngest of the 44 U.S. presidents, and the seventh to celebrate his 50th birthday while in office.  Bill Clinton was the last, in 1996. 

Mr. Obama recently observed that his hair has turned considerably grayer in the 2.5 years since he became president.  But he said his wife, Michelle, still thinks he is “cute.”   

Related video by Kent Klein:

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