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State of the Union 2016: Obama’s joke on himself turns into a joke on 2016 candidates

President Obama opened his last State of the Union with what sounded like a gentle, self-deprecating joke: "For this final one, I'm going to try to make it a little shorter."

Congress laughed with him. They were in on the joke.

Until they weren't.

"I know some of you are antsy to get back to Iowa," Obama continued — a jab at the number of people, especially members of Congress, who are currently angling to take his job.

There are indeed a lot of people who had to choose between the State of the Union and campaigning for the presidential nomination: Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Bernie Sanders (independent-turned-D from Vermont). But only Sanders and (surprisingly, given his famous Senate absenteeism) Rubio bothered to show up to the State of the Union at all. Cruz and Paul are both absent.

Cruz was in New Hampshire, giving a speech that his campaign said would be a summary of the State of the Union address he would deliver in 2018.

Paul is, according to his campaign, "back on the campaign trail." But they didn't say where.

Maybe he's already heading back to Iowa.