President Obama is bypassing the national media and will sit down with local television journalists Wednesday to press his case for Congress to avoid deep spending cuts set to kick in a week from Friday.
Mr. Obama will take questions from eight news anchors at television stations across the U.S. in an effort to get his message out about the dire consequences of lawmakers failing to reach a deal and the cuts hitting March 1, according to a White House official.
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Mr. Obama’s decision to speak directly with local stations comes in the middle of a fight between the White House press corps and the president’s handlers over access.
Over the weekend, national reporters who cover Mr. Obama’s daily activities complained about being kept at bay without even the customary photo-op during the president’s golf vacation with Tiger Woods in Florida.
During the sit-downs the president plans to call on House Republicans to pass a plan from congressional Democrats that would delay the cuts by 10 months and argue that the GOP would be blamed if both sides fail to reach a deal.
On Tuesday, Mr. Obama tried to use the power of the presidency and a slow news day with Congress out of town to make his case. With a group of 17 firemen and law enforcement officers as a backdrop, Mr. Obama said the so-called sequester cuts would hurt military readiness and cost the U.S. hundreds of thousands of jobs, including those who serve as first-responders in communities across the country.
“This is not an abstraction — people will lose their jobs,” Mr. Obama said Tuesday.
During the interviews with local stations, the president will provide more details about the $50 billion infrastructure spending proposal he mentioned in his State of the Union speech, the official said. Mr. Obama will announce a plan to cut federal review and permitting timelines for federal construction projects for highways, bridges, railways and ports.