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President Obama's Local Station Strategy

The president is giving an extraordinary number of interviews to station reporters around the country, notes the Washington Post, all of them in key battleground states.

WSOC anchor Natalie Pasquarella interviews El Hefe.

The old adage about excessive end zone celebrations says to act like you’ve been there before–some advice that many of the station reporters might be wise to pay heed, based on their behavior in the White House.

One Miami reporter Obama recently invited to the White House was still so nervouswhen the interview was over that she stood to leave before removing the wired microphone from her lapel. Obama called out to stop her. “We don’t want a wardrobe malfunction,” he said.

An anchor from the ABC affiliate in Cincinnati swiped paper towels embossed with the presidential seal from a White House bathroom, “just to prove that I really was there.” Of course, she had additional proof of her visit: an interview with the president that aired on television. Nonetheless, she held up the towels for the camera in a live shot from the White House lawn.

Yet the interviews have been revealing as well, as the reporters bring their own local expertise to the interview, and also offer a perspective outside of the typical Beltway navel-gazing.

In some cases, Obama had a message he wanted to send directly to the people in particular states. It was during a Feb. 16 interview with the Milwaukee station that the public first learned of Obama’s view that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was launching an “assault” on public-sector unions.

He told the Miami reporter that Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) was “wrong” to cancel plans for a federally backed high-speed train in the state.

The Pittsburgh and Philadelphia stations made news when Obama told them that state lawmakers should be leery of adopting Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed education cuts.

Such statements might have been overlooked by White House reporters focused on the churn of Washington news. There was no chance of that happening with the local reporters, whose stations promote these presidential interviews as major news events, sometimes parceled out over several days.