"Glad you called home," Tom Joyner told President Obama during an interview
Friday on the radio host's popular morning show. The warm welcome was followed by questions on the economy, education and why African-Americans voters should get to the polls in November.
With Democrats facing predictions of major losses in the midterm elections, Obama scheduled a televised press conference on Friday. Before facing the cameras, though, the president returned to one of his most loyal constituencies. Joyner's nationally syndicated show airs in more than 100 markets, reaching nearly 8 million listeners.
Obama acknowledged an unemployment rate that's "brutal," particularly among African-Americans, but continued to press his message that job growth, though slow, is moving in the right direction with eight consecutive months of increases in the private sector. He compared the economy to a convalescing patient that got hit by a Mack truck. "It can't run yet, but it's walking." As he has done in recent speeches, Obama reminded voters that Republicans are offering the same policies that "got us into this mess."
The president touted his administration's health care reform package, which he said will benefit millions, including seniors with large drug expenses and young people who will be covered on their parents' policies. He talked about financial reform, including a consumer financial protection agency to "make sure people are able to keep their money." And he made the case for his administration's education reform, accomplishing more "in the last two years than the last 20."
Joyner always returned to the issue of jobs, pointing to an unemployment rate that's higher among African-Americans. Obama said his plan for tax breaks for small businesses would benefit those most likely to hire, "true in the African-American community and every other community." He said a Republican congress would not be willing to move on plans to shore up infrastructure or to invest in the education system.
Voters "need to be fired up," Obama said when asked how to motivate voters when his name is not on the ballot. "There are a whole series of choices that are going to be forced upon us if we don't take this election seriously."
Joyner's show -- a mix of music, humor, banter and celebrity news -- also includes news and political commentary. The affiliated BlackAmericaWeb.com has more than 1.5 million registered users.