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Pregame interview continues Obama's Super Bowl tradition

February 03, 2012|By Michael A. Memoli
  • President Obama walks with NBC's Matt Lauer for an interview before the Super Bowl on Feb. 1, 2009.
President Obama walks with NBC's Matt Lauer for an interview before… (Pete Souza / White House )

Are you ready for some political football? For the fourth straight year President Obama will do a live interview on the network hosting the Super Bowl, offering him a chance to speak directly into the homes of tens of millions of Americans gathered to watch the big game.

His chat this year with NBC's Matt Lauer will air during the network's pregame show, about two hours before kickoff in the game between the New England Patriots and New York Giants.

Lauer also did the interview with Obama in 2009, barely more than a week into his presidency. That interview began as a discussion of some of the excitement that marked his first days in office and the transition for him and his family to life in the White House. But it was otherwise a mostly forward-looking discussion of the challenges ahead.

"How much worse is the economy going to get, Mr. President, before it gets better?" Lauer asked.

"I think we're going to be in for a tough several months," Obama said. "It's going to take a number of months before we stop falling, and then a little bit longer for us to get back on track."

An extended portion that aired the next day provided Obama's rivals, particularly Mitt Romney, with a soundbite that they hope will haunt him this year.

"I've got four years," Obama said. "A year from now I think people are going to see that we're starting to make some progress, but there's going to be some pain out there. If I don't have this done in three years, than this is going to be a one-term proposition."

Romney's stump speech of late quotes the president's prediction, with Romney adding that it's "time to collect."

Obama will have the chance Sunday to make his case to a huge audience that his policies have, indeed, begun to take hold. Bill O'Reilly's pre-Super Bowl interview with the president in 2011, when Fox broadcast the game, drew more than 17 million viewers.

Consider that 5.4 million viewers watched the last Republican presidential debate on CNN. Obama's State of the Union address last month was watched by nearly 38 million on a number of networks.

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