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'American Idol' host Ryan Seacrest to interview President Obama

The move draws disdain from the GOP, but the White House says that, in a new-media era, specialized programs are the best way to reach a variety of people.

November 01, 2010|By Michael A. Memoli, Tribune Washington Bureau

Reporting from Washington — The host of "American Idol" will be fielding a last-minute appeal for votes from President Obama in the latest intermingling of pop culture and politics.

An interview with Ryan Seacrest is one of several on Obama's call sheet on this day before the midterm elections. After a series of campaign appearances across the country, including four over the weekend, Obama had no public events on his schedule Monday.

Obama also was set to speak with Russ Parr, Michael Baisden and Steve Harvey, calls targeted to reach radio listeners across the country to encourage key constituencies to vote for Democratic candidates. According to the White House, the interviews would be recorded Monday for airing Tuesday.

"I'm interviewing President @BarackObama and want to ask him YOUR questions, political & otherwise," Seacrest tweeted Monday.

Such final appeals are not uncommon from candidates in the final hours before polls close, a time when turnout trumps persuasion. But Republicans mocked the news that Obama would speak with Seacrest in particular.

"Just when we thought lack of dignity in the Oval Office couldn't drop any lower," Republican National Committee spokesman Doug Heye said in an e-mail to reporters.

The White House has said that, in a new-media era, appearing on specialized programs is the best way to reach different audiences. It was for that reason that Obama appeared on "The Daily Show" last week, following presidential firsts with stops on "The Tonight Show" and "The View."

Monday night, the president also will be calling Democratic volunteers in key states: Florida, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Hawaii.

Two new polling firms offer gloomy estimates for Democrats on the eve of voters casting their ballots. Gallup's so-called generic ballot estimate found 55% of likely voters supporting a Republican candidate for the House, while 40% supported the Democrat. That translates to a GOP gain in the House of at least 60 seats, 20 more than they'd need to win the majority.

An Ipsos poll projected Republicans would land 231 seats in the new Congress, a net gain of 53 seats.

mmemoli@tribune.com

twitter.com/mikememoli

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