Obama Points to 'Signs of Progress' in Economy

While on the West Coast, he dropped by "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," where he pitched his economic plans, talked about AIG and gave a glimpse of his family's new life in the White House. Obama also sat down in the Oval Office for an interview with "60 Minutes."

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs noted Monday that Obama's recent television appearances and travel allow him to "address directly with the American people the challenges that the country faces and the choices that he's working on with Congress to -- to put our economy back on track and put the nation back on firmer footing."

Obama used his first presidential press conference Feb. 9 to urge Congress to pass the stimulus plan and issued the harsh warning that a failure to act would worsen the economic crisis, calling it "not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill recession."

Nearly two months later, he has signed the stimulus legislation, has unveiled his plan to help homeowners, rolled out a program for small business loans and provided a more detailed plan for bailing out banks of those toxic assets -- all key elements of his overall economic strategy that he pointed to tonight.

In an ABC News/Washington Post poll from Feb. 22, Obama had a 68 percent approval rating and 60 percent of Americans approved of the way he was handling the economy.

But it is not an entirely rosy picture for the White House, which seemed to be caught flat-footed with the news of the AIG executive bonuses. A Gallup poll last week found that 59 percent of Americans were outraged about the bonuses, but 54 percent of those polled were satisfied with the way Obama has handled the controversy.

White House Aims for Eyeballs

The White House aimed to reach the maximum number of viewers tuning in to this evening's Q&A with reporters.

The decision to hold the press conference on a Tuesday night was almost certainly by design.

Tuesday is generally one of the biggest nights on television, with two of the week's Top 5 most-watched shows (Fox's "American Idol" and CBS' "NCIS") airing at 8 p.m., and ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" following at 9 p.m.

Obama has held both of his presidential news conferences in prime time, in stark contrast to his predecessor. Former President Bush held four press conferences in TV's prime-time hours, out of 47 total.

ABC News' Martha Raddatz and Peyton Craighill contributed to this report.

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