In his first visit to the Southland after being sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, President Barack Obama is in the midst of a two-day tour, which concludes Thursday March 19 with a town hall meeting in Los Angeles and a visit to “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
Sentinel sources have also indicated that President Obama might make a surprising visit to the Greater Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce dinner on Thursday, but that could not be confirmed.
The focus of this tour is to reassure Californians about the Administration’s plans to handle the current economic breakdown that has greatly devastated the nation and California, especially.
On Wednesday, Obama hit the ground running, landing at the Long Beach Airport and heading straight to the Orange County Fair Grounds & Event Center in Costa Mesa for a town hall meeting.
On Tuesday March 17, he will visited the Vehicle Electronics Manufacturing Plant in Pomona in a private event. From there, he will head to the Miguel Contreras Learning Center near Downtown for another town hall meeting. Attendees of this meeting were required to pre-register and were randomly selected through an online lottery system.
His last stop will be at “The Tonight Show,” which will mark the first time a sitting president on a late-night talk show. The only instance where a sitting White House official appeared in that format was in 1993 when then-Vice President Al Gore appeared on “The Late Show with David Letterman.”
Obama appeared on Leno’s show in December 2006 when he was still the junior senator from Illinois contemplating his White House bid.
Nearly 5 million people tune in every weeknight to see Leno host celebrities, musicians and the occasional political figure in a relaxed environment but given the times, this appearance will focus more on the seriousness of promoting his $3.6 trillion budget that he is attempting to pass through Congress.
The president has been criticized by some for trying to pass this budget instead of focusing on the banking crisis but on Tuesday, he addressed this by saying that Americans “don’t have the luxury” to just worry about one thing.
“They don’t have the luxury of choosing to pay their mortgage or their medical bills,” Obama said, “They don’t get to pick between paying their kids’ college tuition or saving enough money for retirement. They have to confront all these problems. And as a consequence, so do we.”
Tonight’s interview is the latest attempt for the president to reach the American people through non-traditional means after a campaign that saw him utilize public funding and the Internet.
This has already been an eventful week for the president as he has decried the $165 million in bonuses given to employees bailed-out insurance company American International Group. On Monday, he ordered that every legal avenue be pursued in reclaiming the money.
Obama made a few appearances in California last year during his campaign, including a Democratic primary debate with Sen. Hillary Clinton, but this is his first extended visit to the state and it comes at a time where the state’s resources are in decline
With California’s unemployment rate at 10.1% and Los Angeles at an even higher rate (10.5%) – not to mention other concerns such as massive teacher layoffs and the housing crisis – it feels appropriate that he would come to not just provide reassurance but speak plainly about how his stimulus plan will benefit the state’s sagging economy in addition to the rest of the nation.
According to a report by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, more African American men are losing jobs than at any time since World War II. With a severe housing and credit crisis and massive teacher layoffs, the state is anxiously waiting to see how Obama’s stimulus plan will regenerate the faulty economy.