Here’s one change you can believe in: President Obama’s town hall meetings are carefully stacked with his political supporters.
While the online portion of last week’s town hall meeting was open to all comers, that was not the case for five of the participants the president called on in the East Room.
It appears they were carefully selected among 100 people in the audience. Indeed, the five are among Obama’s most ardent supporters. The Washington Post reports the group consisted of: A member of the Service Employees International Union, which endorsed Obama. A Virginia businessman who donated money to Obama’s 2008 campaign, as well as some $2,750 to Virginia Democrats last year, the Post reports. A member of the Democratic National Committee who also is active in Obama’s Organizing for America group. He even campaigned for Obama to turn out the Hispanic vote. A Democrat who ran for a state delegate seat in Virginia before endorsing Obama’s candidacy in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star. A leader of an American Federation of Teachers local in Philadelphia, who is also a member of the Facebook’s Pennsylvania for Obama page.
White House spokesman Nicholas S. Shapiro told the Post, “The White House reached out to a number of community groups, and the chamber of commerce and those groups invited their folks to come and participate.”
Shapiro did not indicate why only Obama supporters were called upon to ask questions in person. None of them mentioned their ties to Obama when they identified themselves, although one mentioned she was there “with my fellow nurses from SEIU.”
The White House declined to identify a sixth questioner, who gave her name only as “Elle.”
One questioner, Sergio Salmeron, told the Post he was invited to the event through an Organizing for America pledge drive.
“I got a call from this woman who has been working with me for the pledge drive,” he said. “You know, we’re trying to get support for the president’s agenda.”
The Atlantic.com has reported the president was not briefed on the questions in advance.
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