In February 2009, ABC News was first to report on the 10 letters from constituents that the president is given each day.
Culled from the thousands the White House Correspondence Office receives each day from Americans who have taken the time to sit down and write to their president,” the letters “help him focus on the real problems people are facing,” said then-senior adviser David Axelrod.
Some of these, maybe two or three each day, the President responds to in his own hand.
Then-White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told us that before two different economic speeches, the President “pulled letters he has gotten and distributed them to staff, to understand what people were going through.”
The White House is now cooperating with a book about those letters, written by the Washington Post’s Eli Saslow, who says that sometimes the president has written a check to help his correspondents. “A few times during his presidency, Obama admitted, he had written a personal check or made a phone call on the writer’s behalf, believing that it was his only way to ensure a fast result,” Saslow wrote in the Post.
“It’s not something I should advertise, but it has happened,” the president told Saslow. “Some of these letters you read and you say, ‘Gosh, I really want to help this person, and I may not have the tools to help them right now. And then you start thinking about the fact that for every one person that wrote describing their story, there might be another hundred thousand going through the same thing. So there are times when I’m reading the letters and I feel pained that I can’t do more, faster, to make a difference in their lives.”