Obama: Presidential Election Like ‘Dante’s Inferno’

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 18: U.S. President Barack Obama offers a toast to Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at a state dinner on the South Lawn of the White House October 18, 2016 in Washington DC. The president and first lady Michelle Obama will tonight host their final state dinner, …
Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

President Barack Obama joked that the presidential elections remind him of hell.

In a toast honoring the visit of the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Obama referred to the famous work of Italian literature.

“Some days our presidential campaigns can seem like something out of Dante’s Inferno,” he joked as the dinner attendees laughed.

This is Obama’s last state dinner before leaving office, but he spent time reflecting on his private tour of the Coliseum in Rome.

“One of the perks of being President is you can go to the Coliseum and nobody else is there,” Obama said, calling it “a humbling reminder of our place here on Earth.”

“In the grand sweep of time, each of us is here only for a brief moment,” he said, calling the political activities of the day “fleeting.”

“What matters in the end is what we build. What matters is what we leave behind — the things that will endure long after we are gone,” he said. “As the poet Virgil reminded us, ‘fortune favors the bold.’”

Prime Minister Renzi praised First Lady Michelle Obama’s gardening skills but also referred to her recent campaign speeches against Donald Trump.

“But after the last weeks, let me be very frank,” he said. “Your speeches are better than your tomatoes.”