As a possible joust to the 2012 GOP contenders, President Obama is scheduled to address a joint session of congress on the same night as the next Republican debate set for September 7th. The White House has denied that the schedule was anything more than coincidence.
Report from ABC News:
President Obama has asked to address a joint session of Congress on September 7th at 8 p.m. (ET) to outline his much-anticipated jobs plan, the exact same time that Republican Presidential candidates are scheduled to participate in a televised debate. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today that the timing was purely “coincidental.”
“The president committed to speaking next week after the Labor Day holiday and immediately upon Congress’s return, and there are a lot of factors that go into scheduling a speech before Congress, a joint session speech,” Carney explained at today’s White House press briefing. “There is no perfect time.”
“Obviously, one debate of many that’s on one channel of many was not enough reason not to have the speech at the time that we decided to have it,” he added.
What’s the solution? “There are many channels, there are many opportunities for people to watch the president, and obviously an opportunity for people to watch the debate, and I believe that, you know, the network involved here can decide how it wants to deal,” Carney said.
That network would be NBC, which now has to decide whether to air the debate, which is being held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., or the president’s remarks. The debate, co-hosted by Politico, is slated to air live on MSNBC.
The real crux here is the broadcast on NBC, not just MSNBC and CNBC. Obviously being on a broadcast network opens up tens of millions of viewers compared to a cable channel of a few million. There are, however, 3 debates scheduled in September so I can’t see how blocking out one debate is going to help the President in the long run if he is hoping to drown criticism.
President Obama has now agreed to move his speech to Thursday, September 8th at 7pm.
Report from National Journal:
After consulting with President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner has invited him to address a joint session of Congress at 7 pm EDT on Sept. 8.—and Obama has accepted.
Boehner’s office said Obama requested the 7 p.m. time slot, which will solve one programming problem while creating a time zone problem. A 7 pm start will allow Obama to avoid competing with pre-game coverage of the first game of the 2011 NFL season. The opening contest pits the defending Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers against the New Orleans Saints, who won the Super Bowl the year before.
But the pre-prime time start on the East Coast puts Obama on TV sets at 4 p.m. on the West Coast, where millions will be at work, in traffic coming home from work or retrieving children from post-school activities.
It appears to me at least that President Obama has lost this round. He could simply have decided to address the country at any time from the Oval Office or any location if he wanted to. This could happen Monday, Tuesday or any day of the week. The crux here is assembling Congress which is part of the optics of this speech. President Obama is attempting to scold the legislating body on the topic of jobs so appearing in the House Chamber is crucial for him.