Obamas cheered at Kennedy Center gala

December 06, 2016
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, wave and applaud during the Kennedy Center Honors gala at the Kennedy Center in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016.

WASHINGTON (AP):

The longest, loudest standing ovation of the Kennedy Center Honors gala went to US President Barack Obama, attending his eighth and most likely last gala.

Politics was absent from the tributes to the performers who were recognised, but the arts community's affection for Obama and its nervousness about President-elect Donald Trump was obvious.

The Kennedy Center Honors are in their 39th year, a period that has included six presidents three Republicans, three Democrats and all have taken time to welcome the recipients.

But the 2016 election saw A-list performers lined up behind Obama and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Trump had relatively few celebrity endorsements.

"For the past eight years, the White House has given us a leader who's passionate, intelligent and dignified," said Stephen Colbert.

The crowd rose for another prolonged ovation, prompting Obama to stand and wave. Colbert joked: "Sir, I don't even know why you stood up. I was talking about Michelle."

Earlier, at the White House, Obama welcomed the honourees at a reception and said participating in the gala was "one of the perks of the job."

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