With Obama’s re-election hinging on the state of the economy and congressional Republicans blocking his $447 billion package of tax cuts and spending, the administration invited stations from some key electoral states for interviews with the president and briefings with White House officials.
“What we need right now is Congress to go ahead and act,” he said in an interview with WTVT in Tampa, Florida. “They have been not acting in the interests of Floridians or the American people, we need to get moving.”
The president used the interviews to promote the plan that he introduced in September as he heads into an election year with the nation’s unemployment rate stalled at 9.1 percent. Senate Democrats are seeking action this week on two parts of his plan: a $60 billion measure funding infrastructure projects and a House-passed bill repealing a tax-withholding requirement for government contractors.
Tomorrow the president will make remarks at a bridge linking Washington with its suburbs in Virginia to highlight spending proposals for nation’s transportation system.
Obama blocked out an hour and twenty minutes in his schedule to tape nine five-minute television interviews with local stations including the Tampa outlet, Philadelphia’s WPVI; Minneapolis’s WCCO; Portsmouth, Virginia’s WAVY, and Denver’s KUSA. Florida, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Virginia and Colorado will be battleground states in the 2012 presidential election. He also was interviewed by KTRK in Houston, KSAZ in Phoenix, KETV in Omaha, Nebraska and KGW in Portland, Oregon.
Many of the questions focused on national issues with local significance. In his interview with WAVY in Virginia, Obama was asked about the congressional supercommittee charged with coming up with a deficit reduction plan and the impact of defense cuts in the Portsmouth area.
“There’s no reason why you have to see those kinds of draconian defense cuts as long as Congress does its job,” he said. “The way to do it is to have a balanced approach, the one that I advocated, which says you’ve got to not only reduce spending but you’ve also got to have additional revenues from the most fortunate.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney said the president is seeking to reach a broader audience.
“There are Americans all around the country in the many, many millions who get their news primarily through local television, local affiliates,” Carney said. “We need to reach Americans where they live, if you will, to communicate with them via the media that they consume.”
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