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Video: Happy birthday! Obama turns 50

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    ANN CURRY, co-host: Well, President Obama does have one reason to celebrate. Today is his 50th birthday. Chuck Todd is NBC 's chief White House correspondent. Chuck , good morning.

    CHUCK TODD reporting: Good morning, Ann. Well, starting today, assuming he becomes an AARP member, the president can now get some discounts at the movies, at restaurants, at hotels. But unlike most people who turn 50, the birthday celebration was combined with a lavish campaign fundraiser in Chicago .

    President BARACK OBAMA: Hello, Chicago !

    TODD: It's been awhile since the president has seen so many friendly faces.

    Pres. OBAMA: We know we've still got a lot of work to do on the economy. Now, I hope we can avoid another self-inflicted wound like we just saw over the last couple of weeks.

    TODD: But Wednesday night, in front of 1500 friendly donors, the president attempted to turn the public's attention from the unpopular debt deal to the campaign and the economy.

    Pres. OBAMA: We don't have time to play these partisan games.

    TODD: Part business, part 50th birthday celebration, the event included a concert featuring such headliners as Herbie Hancock , OK Go and Jennifer Hudson , who sang " Happy Birthday " to the president.

    TODD: But it's an opening for Republican front -runner Mitt Romney . In a new Internet ad timed to coincide with the president's birthday festivities, Romney says Chicago unemployment has gone up 48 percent since the president took office. That attack caused the president's former chief of staff, now Chicago mayor , Rahm Emanuel , to swing back at Romney .

    Mayor RAHM EMANUEL: When he was governor, Massachusetts was 47th out of 50 in job production . In case he forgot that, I'd like to remind him of that.

    TODD: Romney is also taking heat from his right flank, criticism of his relative silence on the debt deal, including a jab from Sarah Palin .

    Former Governor SARAH PALIN: And bless his heart, I have respect for Mitt Romney , but I do not have respect for what he has done through this debt increase debate. He did this: He waited until it was a done deal.

    TODD: With nobody coming out ahead, Democrats are desperate to move away from the toxic debt debate.

    Representative NANCY PELOSI (Democrat, California): This is about how we go

    to the next step: jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs.

    TODD: Later this month, the president will use a bus tour to try to take that message to the campaign battleground of the Midwest .

    Mr. CHARLIE COOK (NBC News Political Analyst): American voters are increasingly just hating Washington . To the extent that he can get out and get away from Washington and be seen independent of Washington , then it could help him.

    TODD: So the celebrating continues for the president. Tonight there's a Rose Garden birthday party . But the White House is quick to note that it's not being paid for by the government. It's being paid for personally by the first

    family. Ann: All right, Chuck Todd this morning. Thanks. So now he joins the ranks of the rest of us who could actually sign up for AARP .

    CURRY: I'm a member. I'm a -- have my card. Let's get a check of the other top stories of the morning. Natalie 's on assignment. Tamron Hall 's over at the newsdesk. Tamron , good morning to you.

    MATT LAUER, co-host:

TODAY staff and wire
updated 8/1/2011 11:51:27 AM ET 2011-08-01T15:51:27

He may not get much relief from Republicans about the U.S. budget, but President Barack Obama, who turns 50 today and is now eligible to join AARP, could start getting relief in his personal budget from movie theaters, hotels and restaurants.

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But that's where the similarities to most people turning the big 5-0 end.

Obama celebrated his milestone birthday last night with a star-studded fundraiser in Chicago, featuring a performance by Herbie Hancock and OK Go. Jennifer Hudson even sang "Happy Birthday" to the president.

Around 1,000 tickets, at a minimum $50 donor fee, were made available to members of the public for the dual fundraiser-birthday party, while 100 high dollar donors dished out up to $35,800 for a private dinner taking place after the concert.

The president delivered a speech at the event defending his record and performance, a day after he signed the controversial debt ceiling bill into law.

Image: US President Obama listens as performers sing "Happy Birthday" to him
Larry Downing  /  Reuters
President Barack Obama listens as performers, including Jennifer Hudson, sing "Happy Birthday" to him in Chicago.

"When I said, 'Change you can believe in,' I didn't mean, change you can believe in tomorrow, or next week," he said. "We're not even halfway there yet," Obama said. "We knew this was going to take time, because we've got this big, messy tough democracy."

Obama expects to spend his birthday in Washington on Thursday, but the White House hasn't said how he and his family plan to celebrate.

Obama's one birthday wish came true days earlier.

Slideshow: The life of Barack Obama (on this page)

"What I really want right now is to, to get a debt-ceiling deal for my birthday," Obama told NPR recently. That came Tuesday after he signed a deal to avoid the first-ever default for the United States on its financial obligations.

So what does the president think about turning 50?

"I feel real good" he said. "I've gotten a little grayer since I took this job, but otherwise, I feel pretty good."

Obama added that his wife, Michelle, has told him that she still thinks "I'm cute."

"And I guess that's, that's all that matters, isn't?" he said.

Video: Happy birthday! Obama turns 50 (on this page)

'I've got dings and dents'
Obama was born in 1961 near the end of the baby boom years of 1946-1964. He'll join the more than 4.5 million other boomers who are turning 50 this year, according to AARP, citing U.S. Census figures.

"Now I'm gray," he says at campaign fundraisers. "I've got dings and dents," an apparent allusion to the bruising policy disputes he's had with Congress, including over the government's authority to borrow the money it needs to pay the bills.

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He told reporters at a White House news conference in mid-July that he was turning 50 in a week; his birthday actually was still three weeks away.

Slideshow: Celebrity men over 50 (on this page)

"So I'm starting to think a little bit more about Medicare eligibility," he said. "I'm going to get my AARP card soon — and the discounts." Not that he needs them. He has made millions from a best-selling memoir and earns $400,000 a year for running the country.

Gray  hair spurs family debate
The gray hair around Obama's temples is about the only obvious sign of aging.

The 6-foot-1 president is as lanky as he was when he took office. He's gained no noticeable amount of weight despite a level of job stress that would send most people to the refrigerator for relief on a nightly basis.

Powerwall: White House benchmark birthdays

He has stuck to a regimen of near daily exercise that includes treadmill runs, weight lifting and weekend games of pickup basketball, golf or substitute coaching daughter Sasha's basketball team.

"Many of you knew me before I had gray hair," Obama jokes at campaign fundraisers. He halted most travel in July, including fundraising appearances, due to the tense and intense negotiations with Congress.

Slideshow: Inside Obama's White House (on this page)

Of the gray hair, he says: "Malia and Sasha say it makes me look distinguished. Michelle says it makes me look old." The first lady also talks about seeing the "worry creasing his face."

Obama is due for another medical checkup soon. Doctors declared him in excellent health after his first exam in early 2010 although he had a borderline high cholesterol level of 209 that suggested room for improvement in his diet.

The president has a habit of sampling local greasy-spoon delicacies — whether it's burgers, chili dogs, pastries or all of them — on trips outside of Washington. He once said he and the first lady would have to figure out how to resist ordering the White House pastry chef's pie every night "because whatever pie you like, he will make it and it will be the best pie you have ever eaten."

Story: Obama: ‘There are days when I say one term is enough’

He also finally quit smoking, the first lady said.

Nationwide parties for his birthday
As part of Obama's birthday events, Democratic officials and campaign aides were fanning out across the country to raise money for Obama. The events included New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York City, Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod in Los Angeles, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz in Washington, former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs and deputy campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon in Boston, and White House adviser David Plouffe in Tampa, Fla. Other events with Democratic surrogates were being held in Austin, Texas and Oakland, Calif.

The AP contributed to this report.

© 2013 MSNBC Interactive

Photos: Celebrity men over 50

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  1. Tom Hanks

    Some things only get better with age, including these hot celebrities who are over 50. Check out these mature men who like wine, get better with age.

    Born: July 9, 1956

    Claim to fame: Hanks, who is best known for racking up Oscar nods, won two best actor Academy Awards back-to-back, one for "Philadelphia" and another for "Forrest Gump." (Daniel Deme / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. George Clooney

    Born: May 6, 1961

    Claim to fame: Clooney, best known for his role on the TV drama, "ER," has also won a supporting best-actor award for the movie "Syriana." His humanitarian work includes raising funds for victims of Hurricane Katrina and raising awareness about genocide in Darfur. (Michael Loccisano / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Sean Connery

    Born: Aug. 25, 1930

    Claim to fame: Best known for portraying the suave secret agent James Bond in the original 007 films, Connery was knighted in 2000 by Queen Elizabeth II. (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Gene Simmons

    Born: Aug. 25, 1949

    Claim to fame: The KISS member is still enjoying life in the spotlight, thanks to his reality TV show. He also boasts that he has slept with more than 4,600 women. (Ethan Miller / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Matt Lauer

    Born: Dec. 30, 1957

    Claim to fame: The father of two, husband and TODAY co-anchor has been charming morning viewers since he joined the team in 1994. (Edward M. Pio Roda / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Dennis Quaid

    Born: April 9, 1954

    Claim to fame: Actor's success catapulted when he starred in the film "The Big Easy." As a result of his newborn twins being given a near-fatal drug overdose, he and his wife have launched a foundation aimed at reducing medical mistakes (Peter Kramer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Paul McCartney

    Born: June 18, 1942

    Claim to fame: The former Beatles' bass guitarist, vocalist and songwriter is still a rock star. Despite a bitter divorce from his ex-wife Heather Mills, McCartney is still enjoying his time on the stage (Dave Hogan / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Prince

    Born: June 7, 1958

    Claim to fame: He can still make the ladies swoon -- from sexual songs like "Kiss" and "Little Red Corvette" to his tight, outlandish outfits and high-heeled shoes. (Mike Blake / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Warren Beatty

    Born: March 30, 1937

    Claim to fame: Actor was the 2008 recipient of the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award. Beatty put his long-standing playboy reputation to an end when he wed fellow actor Annette Bening. (Matt Sayles / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Chris Noth

    Born: Nov. 13, 1957

    Claim to fame: Best known as "Mr.Big," the emotionally distant man Carrie Bradshaw loved in the TV show "Sex and the City." Noth became a father to a baby boy in Jan. 2008. (Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Pierce Brosnan

    Born: May 16, 1953

    Claim to fame: Best known for portraying James Bond in four 007 films. (Franka Bruns / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Mikhail Baryshnikov

    Born: Jan. 27, 1948

    Claim to fame: Ballet dancer stole the hearts of America's women when he played Carrie Bradshaw's love interest in HBO's "Sex and the City." (Gary He / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Denzel Washington

    Born: Dec. 28, 1954

    Claim to fame: Actor has won two Oscars and was named "Sexiest Man Alive" by People magazine in 1996. (Getty Images / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Harrison Ford

    Born: July 13, 1942

    Claim to fame: Playing the archaeologist adventurer Indiana Jones in the series of films. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Andy Garcia

    Born: April 12, 1956

    Claim to fame: Sharing the big screen with Brad Pitt and George Clooney in the hit "Ocean's" movies. (Matt Sayles / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Sting

    Born: Oct. 2, 1951

    Claim to fame: The lead singer of the Police, with whom he went on tour in 2007. He is married to actress and film producer Trudie Styler. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Richard Gere

    Born: Aug. 31, 1949

    Claim to fame: Heating up the big screen as a leading man in such films as "American Gigolo" and "Pretty Woman." (Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Daniel Day-Lewis

    Born: April 29, 1957

    Claim to fame: Won Oscars for "My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown" in 1989 and "There Will Be Blood" in 2008. (Carlos Alvarez / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Bruce Springsteen

    Born: Sept. 23, 1949

    Claim to fame: The Boss helped to restore rock 'n' roll in the mid '70s. His 15th album, "Magic," was released in Oct. 2008. (Richard Drew / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Samuel L. Jackson

    Born: Dec. 21, 1948

    Claim to fame: Oscar-nominated actor has starred in such Hollywood blockbusters as "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace" and "Pulp Fiction." (Leon Neal / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Liam Neeson

    Born: June 7, 1952

    Claim to fame: Earned an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Oskar Schindler in the 1993 film "Schindler's List." (Evan Agostini / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Bill Paxton

    Born: May 17, 1955

    Claim to fame: Playing a polygamist plagued by family troubles in the hit HBO drama "Big Love." (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Jimmy Smits

    Born: July 9, 1955

    Claim to fame: Known for his roles on the long-running series "NYPD Blue" and "L.A. Law." (Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Bruce Willis

    Born: March 19, 1955

    Claim to fame: As David Addison on the television series "Moonlighting" and hero cop John McClane in the "Die Hard" films. (Stefan Zaklin / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Mamma Mia! - world film premiere
    Daniel Deme / EPA
    Above: Slideshow (24) Celebrity men over 50
  2. Ann Dunham, Barack Obama, Obama childhood mother
    Slideshow (25) The life of Barack Obama
  3. Image: First Lady Michelle Obama Hosts Talent Show At White House
    Alex Wong / Getty Images
    Slideshow (26) Michelle Obama's effortless style
  4. Image: NBC's Brian Williams looks out onto the Rose Garden from the West Wing's Palm Room. He was preparing for the president's arrival and the start of a day spent reporting a behind-the-scenes documentary at the White House
    Antoine Sanfuentes / NBC News
    Slideshow (17) Life inside the White House
  5. Pete Souza / The White House
    Slideshow (32) Inside Obama's White House


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