In the administration’s latest attempt to connect with supporters through social media, President Obama participated in a virtual Google+ “hangout” this evening, answering video questions based on his State of the Union address.
While the president largely promoted his economic and domestic agenda, there was a point where the president’s view of the economic recovery collided with the reality of a family’s personal struggle.
Jennifer from Ft. Worth, Texas, asked the president why her husband, a semiconductor engineer who was laid off three years ago, is still struggling to find a job in his field. Obama, seemingly surprised, insisted that there’s evidence of a “huge demand for engineers.”
“We should get his resume and I’ll forward it to some of these companies that are telling me they can’t find enough engineers in this field,” he said.
Jennifer, however, was not convinced about the high demand the president mentioned.
“I understand that, but… we’re not getting that,” she said.
“It is interesting to me … and I meant what I said, if you send me your husband’s resume, I’d be interested in finding out exactly what’s happening right there, because the word we’re getting is that somebody in that kind of high-tech field, that kind of engineer, should be able to find something right away,” Obama said.
Despite the well-orchestrated and coordinated video “conversation,” there were also plenty of unscripted moments.
At the end of the “hangout,” the participants in the live discussion were encouraged to ask the president a personal question. Jennifer asked Obama to “give us a little jig, real quick.”
“Oh, no dancing,” Obama said, noting that he does “sing every once in a while.”
Then there were the moments of self-promotion. One young medical student offered to be Obama’s doctor, once he’s done with his training, and a technology expert volunteered his services to the president.
Getting in the last word of the event, one woman shouted “I wrote a book.”
Overall, the president spent roughly 45 minutes fielding questions submitted through YouTube and talking directly with people invited to “hang out” and participate in the live online conversation. The video chat capped a week of social media engagement that the White House planned around the State of the Union.