Seeking youth vote, Obama goes to MTV
Tuesday, October 5, 2010; 5:30 PM
First Rolling Stone, now MTV.
In a final push to excite his party's base before the Nov. 2 elections, President Obama is reaching out (and reaching out and reaching out) to young voters, a group that helped elect him two years ago. Democrats fear that many of them will sit out the midterms - part of the "enthusiasm gap" identified in surveys - so Obama has taken on the role of campaign scold to urge them to the polls.
MTV announced Tuesday morning in a news release, which was tweeted immediately by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, that Obama will host a "youth town hall" on Oct. 14.
"A Conversation With President Obama," as the hour-long afternoon event is being called, will air on MTV, MTVu, BET, Centric, TR3s and CMT at 4 p.m. It will also stream live on MTV.com, BET.com and CMT.com.
Obama last talked to MTV in 2007 as a candidate, participating in the MTV-MySpace "presidential dialogues."
This time, he'll take questions from the studio audience and via Twitter, hoping to reach the roughly 15 million people, many of them young, who voted for the first time in 2008. (He may not be preaching to the choir when it comes to the CMT - or Country Music Television - audience. That group probably skews more Republican than the MTV and BET viewers.)
The Democratic National Committee is spending $50 million this year to turn those new voters out again, but opinion polls show a drop in interest among the group.
So those attending the MTV event can expect a bracing message from Obama, who is hoping to prevent a landslide loss for his party (and preserve the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate) a few weeks from now.
His appearance follows a finger-wagging interview he gave to Rolling Stone, the magazine that several months ago published a piece that effectively ended the military career of his commanding general in Afghanistan, Stanley A. McChrystal.
No matter: The magazine and its Web site reach a demographic that the president is pursuing in earnest, including by rallying students at the University of Wisconsin last week.
"It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines this midterm election," Obama said in the Oval Office interview, which appears in the magazine's Oct. 15 edition. The writer notes that Obama is "repeatedly stabbing the air with his finger" as he delivers the scolding.
"The idea that we've got a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base, that people are sitting on their hands complaining, is just irresponsible," the president said.