Obama turns on the charm in Google+ "hangout"
President Obama had the rare opportunity to connect with voters one-on-one on Monday, discussing matters like education, unemployment, and even his upcoming 20th wedding anniversary in a nearly hour-long internet "hangout" sponsored by the social networking site Google Plus.
The chat, whose YouTube page had 6,123 "likes" and 1,635 "dislikes" shortly after it ended, gave five people the chance to ask Mr. Obama questions about his vision for America. They also conveyed to him their own personal struggles and concerns, while thousands of people watched live. The event also featured video questions submitted previously by other YouTube users.
One of the featured women, Jennifer, a mother of two from Fort Worth, Texas, talked about her husband's struggle with unemployment as an engineer, and wondered why the president continued to support H-1B Visas, which allow employers to temporarily hire foreign workers in specialty occupations.
Mr. Obama, after asking Jennifer questions about her husband's area of specialization, emphasized the demand for high-tech engineers in America and said he was "interested in finding out" more about why her husband was having trouble finding a job.
He promised to "follow up" on the matter, and invited Jennifer to send him her husband's resume.
Speaking to a group of high school students in Freemont, California, Mr. Obama also talked about the need for students to continue their educational pursuits beyond high school - even if he argued young people now have "a little bit more responsibility now to think ahead" about their futures while doing so.
"College is a big enough investment where you've gotta think ahead," he told Adam, one of the students, when addressing various ways young people can seek higher education without being overwhelmed by the burden of student debt.
When confronted with an Obama impersonator, apparently famous on YouTube, Mr. Obama laughed and noted that his imitator lacked the requisite gray hairs needed to accurately represent him.
The event was meant to give Americans a chance to ask questions related to Mr. Obama's State of the Union address, which he delivered last Tuesday. The president did emphasize a number of points he had made in that speech and others - particularly in reference to his plans for improving the economy and creating job through innovation and developments in high-tech manufacturing.
But he didn't shy away from answering questions that veered a little more personal. (He did, however, refuse to do a "jig," as one participant requested, citing his wife's superior skills in that arena.)
When asked what he and First Lady Michelle Obama planned to do for their 20th anniversary, on October 3, the president laughed: "I don't know how romantic a weekend we're actually gonna get," he said, noting that it would be a month before the presidential election. "
"We may have to defer the full celebration until later in November."
Christine, a mother from Evanston, Illinois, asked him the question because she was coming up on her own 20th wedding anniversary. Mr. Obama thanked her on behalf of husbands everywhere: "The fact that you guys put up with us for 20 years is pretty remarkable and I'm grateful for it every day."