Obama on "Ellen": Washington can "be a little depressing"

President Obama speaks at an event honoring the 7th anniversary of the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act at the White House in Washington Jan. 29, 2016.

Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

Let's get the big, burning question out of the way first: No, President Obama did not break out in a dance number on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."

During his first in-studio "Ellen" appearance since being elected to the White House, the president opted to skip the usual entrance ritual and instead walked out to a soundtrack of "Hail to the Chief."

Compared to previous show guests (like Bernie Sanders or the first lady), Mr. Obama said he just "couldn't" compete with their dance moves.

"They set the bar too high," the president said.

During the interview taped Thursday, Mr. Obama touched on presidential politics, telling DeGeneres that "it's always good to get out of Washington, which can sometimes be a little depressing."

When pressed on whether he missed running for president, Mr. Obama said he did not miss the "silliness" of the campaign process but that he did miss the interactions with people.

"You get to meet a cross section of American people that probably no other job or process allows you to do," he said.

The president also returned to the themes from Thursday's speech in Springfield, Illinois, where he announced the launch of his 2008 presidential campaign: Eventually, the president said of the 2016 race, the "ship will be righted."

Keeping the interview light-hearted, Mr. Obama also mentioned that Air Force One did not employ a frequent flier program, repeated that he would be too torn up to speak at his daughter's graduation, and called Malia "one of my best friends."

The segment, taped ahead of Valentine's Day on Sunday, included a light-hearted valentine exchange with the first lady.

Michelle Obama had recorded a greeting that DeGeneres aired, and the president responded with a promise to bake his wife a loaf of zucchini bread and give her a massage.

On Thursday, the president chose not to watch his potential successors battle it out during the Democratic primary debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Instead, he attended a big-ticket fundraiser in Hollywood.