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Stuck in Washington, Obama reaches voters on local news

July 20, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli
  • President Obama is interviewed in the Map Room of the White House on July 14.
President Obama is interviewed in the Map Room of the White House on July… (WhiteHouse.gov )

President Obama may be stuck in Washington during the debt ceiling debate, but that doesn't mean he's not reaching out to voters in key battleground states.

On Wednesday, the president will again sit down for interviews with local television reporters, something he’s done nearly a dozen times this year, according to a review of his daily schedule.

Aside from two weekend trips to Camp David, Obama hasn't left the nation's capital since June 30, just after he admonished Congress to get to work on a deal to avoid a potentially catastrophic default.

Though he's been a regular television presence of late -- with multiple news conferences and regular updates on negotiations from the White House -- his press office is using these local interviews to maximize his exposure in the places they're most focused on in 2012.

The latest round of interviewees includes the CBS affiliate in Columbus, Ohio, a key region in the all-important swing state. (Last weekend, the administration also leaked the announcement of Richard Cordray as the new head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to the city's largest newspaper, the Columbus Dispatch).

Obama will also sit down with KMBC in Kansas City, Mo., a state he narrowly lost to John McCain in 2008.

The third interview is with KABC in Los Angeles. California has been reliably Democratic in presidential races for two decades. But it just so happens that GOP candidateMitt Romney is in the city Wednesday.

Overall the president has been quizzed by reporters from local affiliates in 16 states since February, most of them key electoral prizes in the 2012 campaign.

Four stations each from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia have gotten these prized opportunities (the Virginia total includes an interview with Washington-based WRC-TV, which reaches millions of homes in the commonwealth).

Obama has done three interviews with North Carolina stations, and two each with outlets in Florida, Michigan, Texas and Wisconsin. The list also includes six interviews with Spanish-language outlets -- and just one with a local Fox station, out of about three dozen interviews.

White House aides have regularly stressed the need for the president to utilize a variety of platforms to get his message out in this new media age. He recently held the first-ever White House Twitter town hall meeting.

These interviews, often heavily promoted as “exclusives” by the local stations, are seen as a particularly effective technique.

On Friday, the president will leave Washington briefly for a more traditional town hall meeting, on the campus of the University of Maryland just outside the district boundary.

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