President Obama is interviewed at the White House by a Texas TV reporter. (WFAA-TV )
Texas, it appears, is messing with President Obama.
The White House has been making a concentrated effort to reach out to local media in key states in a bid to deliver its message more directly to the American people — and evade the hand-me-down coverage of the national press, which George W. Bush, a Texan, used to call “the filter.”
But on Monday, things did not go as scripted. Obama grew testy with a reporter from a Dallas-Fort Worth TV station who at one point reminded him that he lost in the state by more than 10 points in 2008, not the “few percentage points” he claimed during the interview.
The reporter, Brad Watson, also asked Obama why he “was so unpopular in Texas.”
Finally, Obama responded: "If what you're telling me is Texas is a conservative state, you're absolutely right."
As the interview ended, Obama admonished Watson, saying, “Let me finish my answers the next time we do an interview, all right?”
He also pushed back when pressed on whether the White House played a role in sending the space shuttle Endeavour to be exhibited in California, not Texas, which angered the Texas congressional delegation. Some accused Obama of playing politics with the move.
“That’s wrong. We had nothing to do with it,” Obama said. “The White House had nothing to do it.”
Obama conducted four interviews with the local press from around the country Monday as part of a weeklong campaign to sell his deficit-reduction plan to the American public. He'll also conduct town halls in Virginia, Nevada and California.
In the Dallas interview, he shot back at a frequent critic of his, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who may run for president.
"Gov. Perry helped balance his budget with about $6 billion worth of federal help -- which he happily took -- and then started blaming the members of Congress who had offered that help," Obama said.
Publicly, Democrats say they are bullish on Texas entering the 2012 cycle, despite little evidence that they have made any traction in the state. The Democratic Party is recruiting retired Army Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, to run for the open U.S. Senate seat .
Obama told Watson that he still had hope that he could win the state next year.
"I never write off any states," he said. "I love Texas."