President Obama's appearance on NBC's Tonight Show With Jay Leno last night was part of a carefully crafted White House strategy to pitch Obama's economic plans to the American people and bolster his job-approval ratings.
Other parts of the strategy, which an Obama adviser described as a "package" of media moments, included two town-hall meetings over the past two days in California, an interview scheduled to be run on CBS's 60 Minutes Sunday night, and a prime-time news conference Tuesday night. Each is designed to target a different audience. For example, Leno would theoretically appeal to younger people, 60 Minutes to a more issue-oriented crowd, and the news conference to the general electorate.
"We want to put our message out there as aggressively as possible," a White House spokesman says, and appeal to as many different demographic groups as the president can.
Obama will focus on selling his controversial $3.6 trillion budget to the country and to Congress in the next week and a half. It will be a pivotal time for building momentum for the financial blueprint because the House of Representatives is now starting to consider the measure in earnest.
Building momentum is all the more important because White House strategists expect the full House to be debating the budget when the president is in Europe to meet with other world leaders at the end of March and in early April, meaning he won't be in town to personally court legislators.
Obama aides acknowledge that he has a major selling job to persuade the doubters to accept his priorities on healthcare, energy independence, and education as part of his overall plan for lifting the economy. "He will be making the case for how the budget fits in," says a senior White House adviser.
Republicans and some Democrats have criticized Obama's 2010 budget as too heavy on spending and government intervention, and they say his blueprint will run up vast deficits that future generations will have to pay for.
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