Obama Gets Testy in Not-So-Softball Texas Interview

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Four local TV news reporters to interview President Obama in the White House Map Room Monday to help sell the president's deficit-cutting proposals to swing state voters without going through the tougher Washington press corps.  The not-so-charitable interpretation of the strategy is that less-famous journalists will be so starstruck by the president that they'll ask softball questions. (President Clinton's aides called the move "dialing for dummies.") But one Dallas reporter was decidedly unimpressed, USA Today's David Jackson observes, prompting a frustrated Obama to say at the end of the interview, "Let me finish my answers the next time we do an interview, all right?"

Hours before the interviews began, Politico's Mike Allen explained the Obama team saw "these interviews as a way to cut through Beltway chatter... [They] also illustrate the tools an incumbent president has for accruing political benefits at the same time he’s doing his job." But they also illustrate the dangers of messing with Texas. WFAA-TV's Brad Watson asked Obama, "Why do you think you're so unpopular in Texas?" Later Watson and Obama argued over how many percentage points Sen. John McCain had beaten him by in Texas (Obama said a few points, Watson corrected him that it was "about 10.") Annoyed microexpressions flashed across Obama's face, and he eventually said, "If what you're telling me is that Texas is a conservative state, you're absolutely right."

Then there was this exchange, over whether Houston lost out on NASA shuttle orbiters in favor of more politically advantageous places:

Obama: "That's wrong."
Watson: "Was the shuttle not awarded to Houston because of politics?"
Obama: "I just said that was wrong. We had nothing to do with it; the White House had nothing to do with it. There was a whole commission, a whole process, that's how the decision was made."
Watson: "You weren't personally involved with the decision?"
Obama: "I just said that wasn't true."

Texas bloggers are showing a bit of homestate pride now that Watson has made national news--and even the lead item on the Drudge Report.

Watch Watson's news report:

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.