White House Cheat Sheet: Grading Obama's Media Blitz
President Obama's prime-time press conference last night concluded a whirlwind, multimedia blitz designed to quiet criticism over executive bonuses at AIG and sell his budget proposal to a skeptical Congress.
Starting with an ESPN appearance in which he filled out his NCAA men's basketball tournament bracket last Wednesday and continuing through two town halls, one-on-one interviews on the "Tonight Show" and "60 Minutes" and into last night's prime-time back-and-forth with reporters, Obama and his senior advisers have utilized virtually every medium available to a sitting president to reach the widest possible spectrum of voters, er, Americans.
"Think of Obama as the first President in high definition," said Joel Johnson, a Democratic consultant with the Glover Park Group. "He's the state of the art, and the public wants to see him in all these formats."
The strategy is reminiscent of the "play on all fields" approach adopted by Obama during the 2008 general election campaign as he used his massive fundraising edge over Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) to stretch the playing field and reach voters that Democrats hadn't talked to in years.
Obama's advantage now is not financial, but the bully pulpit he commands as the leader of the free world. No other politician can come anywhere near approximating the free media run that Obama has put together over the past six days.
Republicans believe that Obama runs the risk of overexposure, and have criticized his decision to appear on ESPN and the "Tonight Show" at a time of grave economic uncertainty.
One senior Democratic strategist, granted anonymity to speak candidly, expressed similar concerns about Obama's media blitz. "Polls show his personal ratings have held up so far, but at the same time more people are wondering if he is spending too much time on [public relations] and not enough time on the financial crisis."
The next month should be telling when it comes to grading the effectiveness of Obama's media tour. Is Obama's ever-presence on television seen a source of comfort for Americans who want to know their president is on the job during these tough times? Or is it regarded as a distraction from the nitty-gritty behind the scenes work that people feel needs to be done to bring us out of this economic crisis?
What to Watch For:
Wednesday's Whirlwind-Reads: NOTE: We will be moving our must-reads into the "Fix Picks" section at the top left of the blog over the next few days. So check them out there!
1. Obama meets the press. Part Deux.
2. Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter (R) deals a major blow to Democrats' hopes of passing the Employee Free Choice Act.
3. Whorunsgov's Greg Sargent reports on Republicans' strategy to attack President Obama for biting off too much on the policy front. And, the Democratic response.
4. Pay-Rod becomes a radio host -- at least for a day.
5. Is New Jersey a blue or a purple state?
DNC Rakes in Cash: President Obama will headline his first party fundraiser since being elected to the White House tonight to benefit the Democratic National Committee. There will be a pre-party, large-dollar event at the Women's Museum (tickets are sold out) and then a bigger fundraiser at the Warner Theater (only a few of the 2,000 seats remain). The high dollar limit for the event was $30,400 but Obama, hoping to keep low-dollar donors in the loop insisted that one-third of all the tickets be sold for donations of between $100 and $250, according to a party source. It still should be a very big night for the DNC -- which needs it after an only so-so Febuary fundraising showing.
Obama Up, Geithner Down Sez Gallup: Wondering how much of a hit President Obama has taken over the AIG bonuses furor? Not much of one, according to a new national poll conducted by USA Today and Gallup. Fifty four percent said they were satisfied with the way Obama had handled the matter while 39 percent said they were not satisfied. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner fared less well -- 28 percent said they were satisfied with his performance while 54 percent called themselves dissatisfied. There was some solace in the numbers for Geithner, however. Just 26 percent of the sample said they were satisfied with how Congress had handled itself in the AIG bonuses matter. Congress: forever bringing up the rear.
Click It!: Congressional Quarterly has made the Fix's day -- no, week -- with their new map that documents how President Obama and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) performed in each of the 435 congressional districts last fall. Obama won 242 districts including 34 that elected (or re-elected) a Republican Member of Congress on the same day. Bookmark this map.
Can Bloomberg Be Beaten? (Revised): Two months ago, we wrote a post wondering whether New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg could be beaten in his bid for a third term next year. Our answer? Probably not. But, a new Quinnipiac University poll shows some reason to doubt Bloomberg's impenetrable electoral appeal. Bloomberg still holds double digit leads over New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson (49 percent to 35 percent) and Rep. Anthony Weiner (46 percent to 36 percent) but voters' image of the mayor is not ideal. Bloomberg still enjoys a very healthy two-to-one favorable/unfavorable score but a majority (55 percent) describe him as "cold and businesslike" while 30 percent see him as "warm and friendly." That suggests that voters might be open to a populist "he's not one of us" message that uses Bloomberg's massive wealth and business successes against him. Howard Wolfson, communications director for Bloomberg's reelection bid said the poll numbers "reflect New Yorker's confidence in the Mayor's strong independent leadership."
The Gore-acle's Next Book: Al Gore will publish "Our Choice" -- a follow-up to his wildly successful "An Inconvenient Truth" -- on Nov. 3, 2009, his office announced Tuesday. "Our Choice" is the result of the more than two dozen "Solutions Summits" Gore has held over the past few years aimed at finding ways to solve the problem of global warming. The book will describe "how the bold choices necessary to save the earth's climate should be the foundations of policies worldwide to create new jobs and stimulate sustainable economic progress," according to the release. The proceeds from the book will go to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a non-profit organization for which Gore serves as the chairman of the board. As Mike Allen reported yesterday, the Alliance is planning to significantly ramp up its persuasion efforts over the coming months -- bringing on Steve Bouchard, who ran South Carolina for Hillary Clinton's presidential primary campaign and prior to that served as a senior political adviser for Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, to oversee the operations.
Say What?: "So you know where he stands." -- Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning (R), a frequent "Say What?" honoree, accuses Bluegrass State colleague Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) of taking away his campaign cash. Or something.
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