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President Obama, Potential Opponents (Will Not) Compete for Air Time (Updated)

Obama will unveil his jobs plan before a joint session of Congress on Sept. 7, the same night as an NBC/Politico Republican presidential candidate debate


Updated 9:30 p.m. PT:

After House Speaker John Boehner wrote President Barack Obama a letter requesting that Obama's speech to Congress unveiling his job plan be moved to Sept. 8, Obama assented.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney emailed a statement to the press Wednesday evening, part of which read as follows:

"We consulted with the Speaker about that date before the letter was released, but he determined Thursday would work better. The President is focused on the urgent need to create jobs and grow our economy, so he welcomes the opportunity to address a Joint Session of Congress on Thursday, September 8th and challenge our nation's leaders to start focusing 100% of their attention on doing whatever they can to help the American people."

Obama had previously scheduled the debate for Sept. 7, the same night as an NBC-Politico GOP presidential candidates' debate. Many viewed the move as political, and Boehner's response, which citied procedural issues  as an insurmountable hindrance, was seen as such as well. 

All told, it was a back and forth described by the Huffington Post as "pointless," Politico as "petty."

Needless to say, that did not stop any publication, including this website, from reporting on it.

Updated 2:39 P.T.:

Speaker of the House John Boehner has moved to prevent Obama from addressing the Congress on Wednesday Sept 7., asking for the speech to be delayed a day due to logisitical issues. Boehner wrote a letter to the president in which he said that because the House will not be in session until the day itself, and with a vote scheduled for 6:30 p.m., there will not be sufficient time for a thorough security sweep of the House chamber. 

“With the significant amount of time – typically more than three hours – that is required to allow for a security sweep of the House Chamber before receiving a President, it is my recommendation that your address be held on the following evening, when we can ensure there will be no parliamentary or logistical impediments that might detract from your remarks,” Boehner said.


Barack Obama does not yet know who his competition will be for the 2012 presidential election, but he is already going head-to-head for air time with his potential opponents.

Obama had previously told reporters that he would unveil a job plan shortly, and on Wednesday it was revealed that day would come on Sept. 7. Obama has called for a joint session of Congress to announce his plan, and the networks will air that.

However, that is also the night that NBC News and Politico partnered for a GOP presidential candidate debate at the Reagan Library.

Also read: And the Winner of the Republican Presidential Debate Is: Fox News

Politico has publicly reacted with delight, saying that his gives the debate participants even more to talk about.

"This turn of events offers a great opportunity for both the candidates and the audience of the debate,” said John F. Harris, Politico’s editor-in-chief and co-moderator for the debate. “It raises the profile of the whole evening and in many ways makes it the first general election debate of the 2012 cycle.”

Harris' co-founder and executive editor Jim VandeHei told MSNBC the debate would also continue after Obama's speech, potentially attracting more viewers.

Also read: Michele Bachmann Uses CNN GOP Debate to Announce Presidential Candidacy

However, others were more critical of Obama.

Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for George W. Bush, tweeted: "Big mistake by WH to pick GOP debate night for address to Congress. 'Coincidence' or not, it makes potus political."

White House spokesperson Jay Carney called the timing "coincidental."

While the debate is sponsored by NBC News, it will be carried on MSNBC. Both CNN and Fox News have seen strong ratings for their debate broadcasts this year, something MSNBC will be hoping for as well.

It remains to be seen whether Obama's decision will help or hurt that goal.