Obama vs Romney: Talk Shows Actually Inform Voters

With less than two months until election day, it's become apparent that the fun of the conventions are over, and that both presidential nominees are knee-deep campaigning to sway the small percentage of undecided voters and increase their war chests.

President Obama will have a very busy day in New York Tuesday. In addition to appearing at two fundraisers -- one of which is a $40,000 per plate affair at the 40/40 Club being hosted by hip-hop’s most influential couple, Jay Z and Beyonce. The other is being held at the Waldorf-Astoria, where you can have your picture taken with the POTUS for $12,500. He will also make a guest appearance on the late night talk-show hosted by David Letterman on Tuesday night. 

While conservatives criticize the president for attending fundraisers and receiving the support of close celebrity friends rather than reassuring world leaders such as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, or tending to the crises that are affecting American prestige, our current two-party political system gives the presidential nominees no choice but to get out there and try to gain an edge over their opponent. This is made further complicated by ”low-information” voters that make their choices based on how they view the world and those around them. 

Presidential nominees have often used talk shows to elevate their standing with the public, especially since then President Clinton’s appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show. They need to distinguish and endear themselves to the public and show them of their "just like me" persona. President’s Clinton’s soulful playing with the saxophone made him seem hip and cool to voters that may have discounted them. 

President Obama’s appearance on The View, a female-centric talk show that deals with current events and issues and issues important to women, allowed him to be more accessible to voters.  Much like the "fireside chats" made popular by Franklin Roosevelt, talk shows today make us feel closer and likely to view the president in a more personal light.

Secondly, the president can use this forum to clarify issues. It’s no wonder that Mitt Romney is jumping on the talkshow bandwagon. Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann appeared on Live with Kelly and Michael show on Tuesday.

It’s no secret that Romney is having trouble resonating with his female voters. A new poll released today shows President Obama leading 2-1 among female voters. Making matters worse for Romney is his leaked video portraying him at a private fundraising event portraying him as uncaring.

The criticism that the president can’t balance between appearing at important social events and making important executive decisions isn't quite fair. We all remember how the president was able to balance appearing at the White House Correspondent Dinner in 2011, while simultaneously being briefed minute-by-minute on the conditions that led to the assassination of Osama bin Laden.  

At the end of a grueling day, the president -- given the constraints that he has: a divided Congress, an economy that's chugging along, it doesn't help that the rhetoric and the endless sound bites made on both sides have infiltrated the voter's decision making process. Voters should make themselves informed by doing their own homework. Maybe then, presidential nominees can get back to work on the important issues.  

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Alina Tsui

New York native. She is a political-science major at City College of New York and is interested in breaking social, political and cultural barriers by writing about these issues.

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