In the midst of a 48-hour swing-state blitz, President Obama took a brief detour into deep blue territory with a visit to "The Tonight Show" Wednesday. In contrast to his appearance on "The Daily Show" last week, Obama's chat with Jay Leno was a mix of serious policy talk and lighter moments. More than anything, though, it was a bid to certain key constituencies: namely, women and swing-state residents.
The president earned his biggest laughs with a dig at Donald Trump, whose latest publicity-mongering stunt fell flat Wednesday. "What's this thing with Trump and you?" Leno asked, comparing their relationship to his own rivalry with David Letterman.
"This all dates back to when we were growing up together in Kenya," Obama joked. "We had constant run-ins on the soccer field. He wasn't very good and resented it. When we finally moved to America, I thought it would be over."
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On more serious subjects, Obama addressed comments made by Indiana GOP senatorial candidate Richard Mourdock, the latest rape-related controversy to roil the Republican Party this campaign cycle.
"I don't know how these guys come up with these ideas ... rape is rape. It is a crime," the president said. "These various distinctions about rape don't make too much sense to me, don't make any sense to me."
Obama then tied the comments back to -- what else? -- the election. "This is exactly why you don’t want a bunch of politicians, mostly males, making women's healthcare decisions," he said, reminding voters that the winner of the election will likely appoint a few Supreme Court justices who could decide the fate of cases like Roe vs. Wade.
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It was hardly the first time the president has made such a hard pitch to female voters, and, in a tight race, it surely won’t be the last.
Obama’s "Tonight Show" appearance also included some discussion of less exhaustively covered stories, including an attempt to change voter ID laws in crucial swing states such as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
"We should be thinking about ways to make it easier for folks to vote, not make it harder for folks to vote,” Obama said, encouraging viewers to take advantage of early voting in states where it's available.
In a mild shake-up to the usual talk-show formula, Obama took questions from the audience and from Facebook for the last segment on the show. (Maybe he’s realized that he does better in the town hall format?)
Asked when he last drove a car on his own, Obama revealed a story about taking a brief joyride around the south lawn of the White House in a friend's Chevy Volt. Voters in Detroit, are you listening?
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