President Barack Obama’s appearance on "Between Two Ferns" to promote his signature health care law has many people up in arms. Most Republican critics said that it was funny until he started plugging Obamacare. Others went even further to say it demeaned the office of the presidency.
While Obama is the only sitting-president to do such shows, a wide range of candidates have promoted themselves to younger audiences.
President Obama appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s late night comedy show in a recurring bit called “Slow Jamming the News” in April 2012. Obama entered the stage unannounced to a raucous crowd, saying, “I’m President Barack Obama and I too want to slow jam the news.”
It is worth noting that Obama is the only siting-president to appear on such a show.
In June 1960, then Senator Kennedy appeared on the show. He was asked a plethora of questions from why he went into politics to amusing things that have happened to him on the campaign trail. Kennedy used the show to plug the battle between the West and the Communists.
Nixon appeared on the show in 1968 only to say four words: “Sock it to me.” However short the appearance, Nixon credited the appearance in winning the presidency over Hubert Humphrey. According to the show's creator, “Humphrey later said that not doing it may have cost him the election.”
Reagan appeared on Carson’s show in March 1975, several months before he announced his candidacy for president. They mainly spoke about whether or not Reagan saw real leadership in the White House over the budget. Carson asked Reagan, “How do you balance the budget.” Reagan famously quipped, “You have to learn to say no.”
Then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton was a guest on "The Arsenio Hall Show" in 1992 where he played “Heartbreak Hotel” on the saxophone. The appearance was an important moment in Clinton’s run for the White House, which helped build massive popularity among young and minority voters. After Clinton played, Arsenio teased, “It's nice to see a Democrat blow something besides the election.”
Bush appeared on the show in March 2000 while he was running for the presidency. He delivered a Top Ten List that including things such as his brother, Jeb Bush, washing his car and making sure the White House library is equipped with picture books.
In March 2012, Mitt Romney appeared on Leno’s show in the run-up to the 2012 election against incumbent President Obama. They discussed issues ranging from his opponents in the GOP primaries to whether or not the U.S. should have published deadlines for troop withdraws.
President Obama appeared on The Daily Show with John Stewart in October 2012, just before the election against Republican Mitt Romney. He used the platform to make his case against the former governor and to attract younger voters.
Mitt Romney appeared on Letterman’s show in December 2011 while he was still involved in the GOP primaries. He delivered “the top ten things Mitt Romney would like to say to the American people.” Among others, he took the opportunity to jokingly suspect that “Canada is planning something” and to promote his new cologne “Mitt-stified.”
President Obama sat down with host Zach Galifianakis on "Between Two Ferns." It is a comedy show that specifically pokes fun at its guests. Obama used the opportunity to poke fun at himself and at the host while promoting his signature health care law.
Because of the interview Healthcare.gov received a huge spike in traffic.
You can watch the clip here.