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Obama Takes New Approach to Rallying Public Support

President Barack Obama took part in an online town hall meeting Thursday, the latest in a blitz of public appearances aimed at boosting support for his economic policies. Analysts and historians offer insight on the president's outreach tactics.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And finally tonight, the president's many ways to get out his message. Jeffrey Brown has our Media Unit report.

    BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States: When I was running for president, I promised to open up the White House to the American people, and this event, which is being streamed live over the Internet, marks an important step towards achieving that goal.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    President Obama this morning, as he began his first-of-its-kind interactive online town hall meeting. The subject was the economic crisis.

  • QUESTIONER:

    When can we expect the jobs that have been outsourced to other countries to come back and be made available to the unemployed workers here in the United States?

  • BARACK OBAMA:

    I guess the answer to the question is, not all of these jobs are going to come back.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    The president spent an hour answering questions selected by his staff from the more than 100,000 that came in on the White House Web site.

  • BARACK OBAMA:

    We're going to have to be patient and persistent about job creation, because I don't think that we've lost all the jobs that we're going to lose in this recession.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Billed as an effort on the part of a White House that is, quote, "open for questions," today's event was just the latest in a recent blitz of public appearances by the president, as he's pushed his agenda for fixing the economy and passing his new budget.

    Last week, hundreds camped out in Los Angeles for a chance to attend this traditional town hall meeting with the president and pepper him with their concerns.

  • BARACK OBAMA:

    If the middle-class is doing well, if working people are doing well, then everybody does well.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    But while in L.A., President Obama did something no sitting president has ever done. He appeared on a late-night talk show.

    JAY LENO, Host, "The Tonight Show": What should they do, put their money in the bank? Should they be spending money? Should they hide it under their mattress?

  • BARACK OBAMA:

    Well, I — look, first of all, everybody should have complete confidence in the banks. Their deposits are protected. They shouldn't be putting it in their mattresses.

    I will leave it up to others to provide individual personal financial advice. But I will say this, that if you're working right now, obviously, you've got to be prudent and you've got to recognize that the economy has been in a tough way.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    The appearance with Jay Leno reached 12.8 million American homes. A few nights later, 16 million viewers tuned in to watch the president on the CBS news program "60 Minutes," his second appearance on that show since taking office.

    This Tuesday, it was back to Washington for a prime-time press conference…

  • BARACK OBAMA:

    Is Lourdes here?

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    … where the president notably called on reporters from a wider range of outlets than is typically the case.

    The recent blitz even included a nod to millions of fellow basketball fans when the president invited ESPN to the White House to watch him fill in his NCAA tournament bracket.

  • BARACK OBAMA:

    Now, for the Tar Heels that are watching, I picked you all last year. You let me down. This year, don't embarrass me in front of the nation, all right? I'm counting on you.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Despite a tough first round, the president's Final Four picks are all still in play.

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