Today in Elkhart, Indiana, however, the president answered to a typical American during the his first town hall meeting of his presidency.
(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
"You have come to our county and asked us to trust you but those that you have appointed to your cabinet are not trustworthy, can't handle their own budget and taxes," a female questioner said. She was immediately met with boos from the crowd.
President Obama silenced the booing, saying "no, no, this is a legitimate question."
"There are a couple who had problems before they came into my administration in terms of their taxes," the unfazed president said of the cabinet appointees in question. "Look, the uh, I think this is a legitimate criticism that people have made 'cause you can't expect one set of folks to not pay their taxes when everybody else is paying theirs. So, I think that is a legitimate concern."
He repeated his mantra from last week's network television interviews, "I made a mistake." But he also defended his appointees and his own vetting process.
"I will tell you that the individuals at issue here, I know them personally and I think these are honest mistakes and I made sure they were honest mistakes beforehand and one of the things i have discovered is if you are not going to appoint anyone who has ever made a mistake in their life then you are not going to have anyone taking your jobs," the president said.
"Understand though something that should also be mentioned is that we have set up an unprecedented set of ethics rules in my White House," Obama argued.
The questioner said she was "one of those" who thought the president should sit down for a beer with conservative talk show host Sean Hannity. President Obama responded to her suggestion by saying, "I did not know that he had invited me for a beer, you know, but, ah, I will take that under advisement."
He managed to close the potentially contentious interaction in his first town hall with a laugh.
"Generally, his opinion of me does not seem to be very high," Obama joked of Hannity, "but I am always good for a beer."