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Americas

Obama to be guest on popular US variety show

Latest update : 2009-03-19

US President Barack Obama will appear on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on Thursday, a highly popular late-night US television programme, where he is expected to discuss the US economy.

AFP - President Barack Obama was Thursday acting as salesmen-in-chief to build support for his 3.55 trillion dollar budget with a rare appearance on the couch of an iconic late night chat show.
  
Obama will stop by the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and hold a town hall meeting in unemployment-blighted California, as he tries to shake off the political storm raging in Washington over huge AIG bonus payments.
  
"In the end, a budget is not merely numbers on a page or a laundry list of programs," Obama told a fired up crowd of 1,300 at a campaign-style rally in southern California on Wednesday night.
  
"It is about your lives, your families, and your dreams for the future. And you didn't send us to Washington to stand in the way of your aspirations.
  
"You didn't send us there to say no to change -- you sent us there to get things done."
  
The almost unprecedented presidential appearance on the wisecracking "Tonight Show" which is more often the haunt of Hollywood royalty, will dispense with the formality that normally marks a US leader's television appearances.
  
Aides say Obama will not necessarily try to be "funny" but will seek to address a much wider audience for his plans to rescue the crippled US economy, save the banking industry and restore long-term prosperity.
  
The president was to start his day with a tour of an Electric vehicle research center in southern California, which develops technology for plug-in and hybrid vehicles.
  
The stop is an attempt to highlight renewable energy provisions in both his 787 billion dollar economic stimulus plan, which has already passed Congress, and in his budget which lawmakers are beginning to take up.
  
Later, at a town-hall meeting in Los Angeles, Obama was set to appear alongside former action star and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, to stress the crisis requires all political sides to work together.
  
Republicans have complained that Obama's budget, which envisages wholesale reform in healthcare, education and energy policy, is too expensive and represents an attempt by the federal government to take over the economy.
  
The president is also trying bolster his political support, as his administration faces accusations that it did not do enough to stop insurance group AIG from paying out tens of millions of dollars in bonuses to employees after it was bailed out by the taxpayer.
  
Obama, who will continue his public relations blitz with a live televised press conference on Tuesday, is also seeking to build backing for his imminent plan to purge crippled banks of toxic assets, which will involve the unpopular political prescription of spending billions more taxpayer dollars.
  
At his town-hall meeting on Wednesday in Costa Mesa, Obama played some politics of his own.
  
He said he would rather be president and take on tough things for one term, than coast through eight years in power, perhaps calculating his words would make his critics look like rabid Washington partisans.
  
Voters could judge whether he deserved another four years in the White House after 2012 by living up to his vow to push through deep seated reforms on issues like energy, education and healthcare, he said.
  
"If I don't deliver on those things four years from now, then I think you will be answering that question of whether I run for reelection or not."
  

Date created : 2009-03-19

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