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9 things we learned from Barack Obama's interview with GQ

The US President says he’s quit smoking

GQ’S 20TH MEN of the Year issue pretty much goes all the way to the top for its front cover.

Entering the final year of his presidency, US President Barack Obama sat down with journalist Bill Simmons and spoke about life inside the White House over the last seven years.

As well as speaking about some of the more serious issues he’s faced, here are some of the more left-field things we learnt from the interview.

He hasn’t smoked since Obamacare

President Obama was a smoker when taking charge in 2008 but he says that he hasn’t lit up in the last five years. He was asked how many he’s smoked in the White House:

Zero in the last five years. I made a promise that once health care passed, I would never have a cigarette again. And I have not.

He rates the Sandy Hook massacre among the worst days of his presidency

Before the second inauguration has even happened, [the school shooting at] Sandy Hook happens. Which remains, by the way, the worst few days of my presidency. I went up and visited with those families and—you know, Bill, you’ve still got small kids. These are 6-year-olds, right? And you have 20 of them who’ve been massacred.

There are five people he’d take a call from when out for dinner with his wife Michelle

Malia and Sasha. [laughs] And maybe my mother-in-law. My national security adviser, Susan Rice, and Denis McDonough, my chief of staff.

He has a virtual driving range inside the White House

Yeah, I mean, this is not like some super-fancy thing. But I can hit these Wiffle balls.

Sasha (14) is more into her smartphone than Malia (17)

There’s almost a mini-generational gap in terms of Sasha being so connected seamlessly to this smartphone in a way that Malia, who was already a little bit older when it really started to take, is not.

Nobody has come to the White House to take Malia on a date

No, but I’ve seen some folks glancing at her in ways that made me not happy.

He was reluctant to come out really strong on Ferguson because he says the facts weren’t clear

You have to build consensus. Expressing simple outrage without follow-up is often counterproductive.. I’m the attorney general’s boss. If I chime in with a strong opinion about what’s happened, not only do I stand to potentially damage subsequent law-enforcement cases, but immediately you get blowback and backlash that may make people less open to listening.

What was different in Charleston was the clarity of what happened—that allowed, I think, everybody to be open to it.

His favourite Game of Thrones character is Tyrion Lannister 

My favourite character is probably… the dwarf, what’s his name?….The problem with Game of Thrones, though, is that I don’t remember the names of any of the characters. I don’t, either. I remember the characters, so when I watch it, I know exactly what’s going on.

His children don’t really want to hang out with him any more

The golden age is between, say, 6, 7, and 12, and they’re your buddies and they just want to hang out…My understanding is, based on friends of mine who have older kids, is that with a little bit of luck, as long as you’re not so completely annoying during these teenage years, they’ll come back to you around 23, 24, and actually want to hang out with you. But that stretch is painful.

Read: He’s out: Joe Biden is NOT running for US president >

Read: Remember the kid arrested over a clock? He just paid a visit to the White House >

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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