Instant Analysis: The Obama News Conference

(AP)
Some thoughts on Tuesday evening's presidential news conference:

  • We're seeing a trend with these news conferences: President Obama has come into each with specific points he wants to make - fighting for his economic stimulus plan during his first one, and tonight pushing his budget blueprint. And he returns to these points almost regardless of what's asked. He even turned a question on Mideast peace into fixing the economy.

  • Based on what he repeated tonight, it was clear Mr. Obama wanted to make the point that including health care reform, an energy plan and education reform are keystones to helping fix the economy. In addition, he made it clear that this economic mess was something he "inherited" - a common refrain since he's taken office - and repeated that his "critics" don't have a budget blueprint of their own to counter his.

  • There are critics that suggest Mr. Obama is becoming overexposed with all of his high-profile events of late - Jay Leno, "60 Minutes," tonight's news conference. But this is a president whose approval numbers remain very strong and the obvious thinking is that he may as well take advantage of that. There's no better spokesperson for the president's agenda right now than the president himself.

  • In addition, this almost "perma-campaign" he's embarked on – press conferences, town meetings, etc. – marks a continuation of the behavior that swept him into the White House. It seems that the thinking is that the president selling his agenda directly to Americans is the most effective way to accomplish what he wants to get done. And until voters start complaining about his strategy, it's sure to continue.

  • One testy moment: His response to what he knew about the AIG bonuses and why it took him two days to say something about it. The one unanswered question lingering from this AIG flap is what, exactly, did the president know. The administration said he learned about the bonuses on March 12. But twice now, the president has not specifically answered questions about his exact timeline, perhaps understanding the political hot potato that the issue has turned into.

    Steve Chaggaris is CBS News' Political Director.
    • Steve Chaggaris

      Steve Chaggaris is CBSNews.com's Executive Editor, Washington.

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