Hurricane Matthew kept President Barack Obama from traveling to Miami as planned Wednesday to campaign for Hillary Clinton. So instead, the president hopped on the phone with a friendly local radio station during afternoon drive-time — the second time he’s done so in as many months.
His political task was to urge voters — especially African Americans — to register ahead of the Tuesday deadline in Florida. But first things first: Obama couldn’t avoid a storm question.
“The one thing I want everybody to do is to make sure they’re listening to their local authorities,” he told host Felisha Monet, host of “The Afternoon Hustle” on WEDR-FL, better known as 99 Jamz. “I was supposed to be in Florida today, but I couldn’t do it because I didn’t want to take away assets as people are preparing.”
Monet noted the popular hip-hop station had canceled a voter-registration drive because of the storm.
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“Everybody who’s been paying attention to this campaign should know: We’ve got a big choice ahead of us. When I came into office, the country was in terrible shape,” Obama said, before pivoting to the upcoming election to say Donald Trump would “reverse” his legacy.
“Hillary Clinton would continue it,” Obama said. “So people need to make a decision about whether we’re going to continue on the progress that we’ve made.”
He then rattled off a list of issues: criminal justice, immigration, student loans.
“You can’t say that you care about that stuff or complain about police-community relations or anything else if you don’t even bother to vote,” he said. “You cannot stay on the sidelines on this one. The president is personally asking you to make sure that you are getting registered — and then, come November, that you’re actually going to the polls.”
Obama made a similar pitch Sept. 13 on Hot 105 radio, another station with a robust black audience. The president was supposed to grab local headlines at a Clinton rally Wednesday afternoon in Miami Gardens, but the event at Florida Memorial University was postponed because of the storm.
In addition to the nine-minute Miami interview, Obama went on radio Wednesday in Las Vegas, Philadelphia and Detroit, and on a nationally syndicated show. Clinton needs black voters to turn out in big numbers in swing states, even if African-American turnout doesn’t reach record Obama levels.
When Monet asked Obama about his biggest accomplishment in office, he said “saving the economy.”
“It’s really important for people to know that somebody in the White House is going to be thinking about them every day, not just thinking about the wealthiest among us, or the most powerful among us, or the biggest celebrities among us, but somebody who’s just working for regular folk who are out there hustling to make sure they’re looking after their family,” he said, without mentioning Trump.
Monet congratulated the president on his recent 24th wedding anniversary and got Obama to reiterate that First Lady Michelle Obama won’t run for office.
The interview wrapped with the most pressing question of all: Which 1990s TV show did President Obama prefer, “Fresh Prince” or “Martin.”
He didn’t pick a side.
“Maybe in between me thinking about what we’re going to do about jobs and Syria and all that stuff,” Obama said dryly, “I’ll see if I can check out some old episodes and get back to you.”