Obama Kicks Off Social Media Campaign At Facebook

Apr 21, 2011
Originally published on April 21, 2011 10:37 am
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, Host:

NPR's Ari Shapiro is traveling with the president and filed this report.

ARI SHAPIRO: Social media has always been a key part of the Obama presidency, and this trip began with a town hall meeting at the social media bull's eye - Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California.

LOUISE KELLY: Sorry, I'm kind of nervous. We have the president of the United States here.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

SHAPIRO: That's Facebook's founder, Mark Zuckerberg, who gave up his trademark hooded sweatshirt for the occasion. But he still wore sneakers for the guest of honor.

SHAPIRO: My name is Barack Obama and I'm the guy who got Mark to wear a jacket and tie.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SHAPIRO: President Obama acknowledged several times that, as he put it, this is a pretty young crowd. When he explained his plan to cut deficits in part by raising taxes on the wealthy, the president actually seemed to be at a loss for words.

SHAPIRO: Keep in mind what we're talking about is going back to the rates that existed when Bill Clinton was president. Now, a lot of you were...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SHAPIRO: I'm trying to say this delicately - still in diapers at that time. But for those of you who recall, the economy was booming.

SHAPIRO: One Facebook employee named Lior Abraham asked about the deficit-cutting agenda that most congressional Republicans support.

LOUISE KELLY: The 2012 budget plan proposed by Paul Ryan has been praised by many in the media as bold or brave. Do you see this as a time that calls for boldness?

SHAPIRO: The president began his answer with an attack.

SHAPIRO: The Republican budget that was put forward I would say is fairly radical. I wouldn't call it particularly courageous.

SHAPIRO: He accused Republicans of making short-sighted cuts in education, infrastructure, and other areas that the president believes are key to economic recovery. And then he moved on to the Republican proposals for changing social welfare programs such as Medicare.

SHAPIRO: Nothing is easier than solving a problem on the backs of people who are poor or people who are powerless or don't have lobbyists or don't have clout.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SHAPIRO: I don't think that's particularly courageous.

SHAPIRO: At a private home in San Francisco's Pacific Heights neighborhood, donors paid more than $35,000 for dinner with the president. Then he rallied a larger crowd at the Nob Hill Masonic Center.

SHAPIRO: We are connected. We will rise and fall together.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

SHAPIRO: Ari Shapiro, NPR News, San Francisco. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.