WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Barack Obama isn’t running for office in 2016, but he’s already jumping into his role as campaigner-in-chief with enthusiasm — likening the Republicans to “Grumpy Cat,” the Internet meme depicting the notoriously unhappy feline.
On Friday, Obama was fired up as he took the stage at the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Leadership Forum here, slamming Republican presidential candidates for their pessimistic rhetoric on the trail.
Citing “enormous progress” made during his presidency, Obama asked, “why is it that Republican politicians are so down on America?”
“I mean, they are — they are gloomy,” he added, eliciting laughter from crowd. “They’re like Grumpy Cat.”
The comparison was accompanied by an imitation of the Grumpy Cat frown — an image familiar to fans of the Internet meme that ultimately spawned a product line and a Christmas movie.
“I mean, I know it’s political season,” Obama continued, “but you listen to (the Republicans) and they’ve constructed this entire separate reality. It’s like the Twilight Zone.”
Several times during his 23-minute speech, Obama referred to Republicans’ statements as “crazy.”
“You’ve gotta feel bad for the fact-checkers for the Republicans,” Obama said at one point, “’cause they’ve got to spend hours trying to keep up with some of the crazy stuff that their candidates are claiming.”
In particular, Obama took issue with some Republican candidates’ skepticism about climate change — a key issue for the President’s administration.
“The way (Republicans) approach climate change is a good illustration of the problems that they’re having,” Obama said.
“Now, let’s just take an example: If you went to 100 doctors and 99 of them said you are really sick — you’ve got, let’s say, high cholesterol,” Obama hypothesized. “What would you do?”
“Would you say those 99 doctors are crazy and part of a wild-eyed socialist plot to prevent you from eating cheese?” he asked, again, eliciting raucous laughter. “Or would you say, you know what, I bet those doctors know what they’re talking about? I’ve got to modify my diet a little bit.”
The President referenced the Democratic presidential candidates as well, but none by name.
At one point, the audience held their collective breaths when a long pause by Obama seemed to be leading up to an endorsement.
“You’ve heard from some of our outstanding candidates,” he started. “I’m going to be supporting … whoever the nominee is. What are you laughing about?”
Obama did very briefly mention Vice President Joe Biden, who announced on Wednesday he would not be making a run for the White House.
“We should be talking about opening up new opportunity,” said Obama, “investing in our schools, rebuilding the infrastructure that creates jobs, investing in the research that alleviates hunger or cures cancer once and for all, like my Vice President Joe Biden said.”
While Obama has not publicly endorsed a candidate, Biden’s decision not to run has allowed him to avoid choosing between Hillary Clinton, his former secretary of state, who is leading in the polls, and a man he’s called “one of the finest vice presidents in history.”