New York Times White House reporter Jackie Calmes trailed the Obama campaign to the University of Virginia, "In College Town, Obama Jokes at G.O.P.’s Expense," where the president tried to convince adoring college students to vote by portraying Mitt Romney as a threat to their college loans.
Typically, Calmes praised Obama's "thoughtful" answer to a question he received during a website Q&A session, and became the latest Times reporter to defend Obama from Romney's charge that he gutted work requirements for welfare recipients. (Short answer: Obama did. Here's a longer answer, courtesy of journalist Mickey Kaus.)
President Obama on Wednesday provided counterprogramming for a second day to the Republican National Convention, mocking its proceedings and contrasting his agenda with what he called the “backward” positions of Mitt Romney.
“Pay a little attention to what’s happening in Tampa this week,” Mr. Obama told a boisterous crowd estimated at 6,500, many of them students at the University of Virginia here. When the audience loudly booed at the reference to the Republicans’ gathering, he said: “Don’t boo. Vote!”
While aides have said that Mr. Obama has not watched television coverage of the convention, in his speech he called it “a pretty entertaining show” with “wonderful things to say about me.” Citing a widely debunked Republican television ad claiming that Mr. Obama gutted work requirements for welfare recipients, the president said to laughter and applause, “Sometimes they just make things up.”
Calmes then lauded the president's "thoughtful and lengthy answer" to a question about the most difficult decision he's had to make. (The online version lacks the word "thoughtful.") As a bonus Calmes gave cover to Obama's left flank on his troop surge in Afghanistan.
After his speech, the president made a guest appearance on Reddit, the popular Web site, taking questions submitted by site members in a popular format known as Ask Me Anything, or A.M.A.
In advance of the president’s arrival on the site, members posted questions including “Is Internet freedom an issue you’d push to add to the Democratic Party’s 2012 platform?” and “Who’s your favorite basketball player?”
The president answered several questions about his administration’s position on Internet rights and the importance of space exploration. In response to a question about the most difficult decision he had had to make in office, he wrote a thoughtful and lengthy answer that began: “The decision to surge our forces in Afghanistan. Any time you send our brave men and women into battle, you know that not everyone will come home safely, and that necessarily weighs heavily on you.”
At one point, a counter on the Reddit A.M.A. site said that there were more than 30,000 people visiting the page. The site seemed to buckle under the load, with many people complaining on Twitter that they were unable to access it.