If you were driving around listening to “On-Air With Ryan Seacrest” on Tuesday morning (November 2), and you thought you heard him say he was about to talk to President Obama in between reports on Demi Lovato, the traffic and weather, you weren’t mistaken.
In the final push to get out the vote as midterm election balloting got under way across the nation, the president made a number of pre-taped appearances on mainstream morning radio shows, dropping in to chat with “American Idol” host Seacrest as well as popular urban radio personalities Russ Parr and Steve Harvey.
“This is such a critical election, because we’re living in a huge moment of change in this country,” the president said of the past two years, which he called the toughest since the Great Depression. “Despite that, I am optimistic about this country because of young people. Because of their energy, because of their enthusiasm, because of their ideas. But none of that will make a difference if they’re not participating.”
With pundits predicting that the Democratic Party could lose control of one, perhaps both, houses of Congress, the president steered clear of any partisan rhetoric while chatting with Seacrest, instead focusing on big picture topics like immigration reform, jobs, terrorism and his role as First Father while urging the wave of young voters who helped him get elected in 2008 not to stay home on election day.
“I just want to make sure that everybody who’s listening understands we need that same enthusiasm and interest on the part of young people in 2010,” he said. “Because of the issues of war and peace, the issues of the economy, making sure that we have good opportunity for young people. That they can afford to go to college, that they can find good jobs. Those issues are still on the table, and we’re going to need to make sure that we keep on making progress in the years to come.”
After being criticized last week for becoming the first sitting president to appear on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show,” which is considered by some Washington pundits as a lightweight entertainment show, Obama again faced barbs from the right for the broad pop-culture reach of his election-day radio messaging.
Rather than ask about Justin Bieber or Snooki, though, Seacrest kept the 10-minute chat mostly topical, quizzing the president about the negative tone of campaign ads and the revelation over the weekend that two bombs were found on cargo planes in what appears to have been an attempted terror attack.
In speaking to a young audience, Obama stressed the positive work his administration has done providing Pell Grants to students and encouraging them to make sure they do everything they can to maximize their education. “We live in a competitive global environment and the more we have the best trained young people in the world, not only will that be good for them, that will be good for the whole country,” he said.
And though he touched on the attempted plane bombings and urged citizens to remain alert to prevent terror attacks, Obama also faced a few lighter questions about being a dad in the White House.
“The truth is the girls are thriving,” Obama said about daughters Sasha and Malia. Because the press have kept up their promise to leave the first daughters alone, the president said his kids have adjusted well to school, made friends and are able to go to the mall, have sleepovers and go to the movies just like other grade-schoolers. They even got to go trick-or-treating on Sunday, with Malia dressing as a Sour Patch girl and Sasha donning a turkey costume.
The president also admitted that he never gets to hit the snooze button because of his hectic work schedule. When he tries, the White House operator has been instructed to keep calling until he wakes up. He also said he’d been called “much worse” than “dude,” which is how Stewart referred to him at one point last week during their interview.
“The main thing I want everyone to remember is you can’t shape your future if you don’t participate,” the president said. “Young people all across this country, they’re the ones who are going to make the difference, not just now but in the future.”