June 27th, 2014
12:33 PM ET
4 months ago

Obama’s ‘day in life’ offers opening to tout message and slam Republicans

Minneapolis (CNN) - Presidents don’t usually get to grab cheeseburgers at the corner dive.

But the normal restrictions placed on a commanders-in-chief don’t seem to hinder President Barack Obama recently, who’s continuing his effort to poke through the bubble and experience life as average Americans do – or at least an approximation of it.

This week that brought him here to Minnesota, where he met for lunch with a working mom who wrote him detailing her family’s economic challenges. Rebekah Erler, 36, said in a letter to Obama that her family had been hit hard by the economic downturn of the last decade.

It’s the first in a series of White House-planned “day-in-the-life” events spread over the summer meant to expose Obama, and by extension the rest of Washington, to the ways Americans live today. Participants are found in the stack of letters to Obama that arrive at the White House daily.

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“Day-in-the-life” may be a bit of an oversell on the White House’s part - it appeared at times Erler was living Obama’s life for a day rather than the other way around, and by her own account Erler was overwhelmed by the attention.

But Obama’s meeting with Erler, along with the accompanying build-up, did provide a way for the White House to tout their economic message, pegged to improving conditions for the middle class and raising the minimum wage, while slamming Republicans.

“They are not doing anything and then they are mad that I am doing something,” Obama said of GOP lawmakers at a lakeside bandshell on Friday, going on to use Erler as an example of the type of person who could benefit from Democrats’ proposed policies.

“Our agenda – what we’re fighting for every day – isn’t designed to solve every problem but to help a little bit,” he said, pointing to efforts to raise the federal minimum wage and enforce pay equity between men and women.

On Thursday, Obama met up with Erler at Matt’s Bar, a corner establishment packed with lunch-goers. He ordered the bar’s specialty (the “Jucy Lucy” burger that’s stuffed with cheese), sat with Erler in a booth and spent 20 minutes or so hearing her story.

Obama sits down for lunch in Matt's Bar with accountant Rebekah Erler on June 26, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Getty Images AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN)

Obama sits down for lunch in Matt's Bar with accountant Rebekah Erler on June 26, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Getty Images AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN)

The photo-op of Obama sitting in a booth with Erler seemed designed, at least in part, to show Obama living life as an ordinary American – something he said wasn’t a far cry from his own experience.

“The story (Erler) told me reminded Michelle and I of some of our own experiences when we were Rebekah and her husband’s age,” he said, adding later: “That’s how I came here. That’s how I got here. That’s how Michelle and I were able to succeed. And we haven’t forgotten.”

White House officials insisted Obama’s interactions with Erler weren’t overly produced, but rather a way for the President to glimpse life outside the presidential bubble.

“Our goal here is to give the President an authentic opportunity to see at least part of the world through the eyes of this one working mom in Minnesota,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Friday. “Frankly, we’d be ruining it if we were trying to stage-manage this whole thing.”

The excursion, if anything, gave Obama the opportunity to break the routine aides say is giving him a case of cabin fever.

“You know, I'm like a caged bear,” Obama said at a town hall event on Thursday, repeating a favorite catchphrase for his last-minute off-campus excursions. “And every once in a while I break loose. And I’m feeling super loose today.”


Filed under: Minnesota • President Obama • Uncategorized
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    He is doing this kind of stuff way too much. One has to begin to wonder if he isn't trying to look for trouble. The Secret Service cannot be too pleased about the frequency of these types of publicity stunts.

    June 27, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  2. sonny chapman

    At least he gets OUT OF THE BUBBLE that folks in Power get into & lose touch w/Middle Class America.

    June 27, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota

    I wouldn't mind lunch with the President of the United States. Heck, I'd sit down with GW if given the opportunity.

    June 27, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  4. Oshman

    That cage bear cr@p is hilarious. Who thought that one up? Can you imagine that meeting. Things are really bad lets come up with a that phrase to energize the blind followers. Just keep what you are doing and I think we will keep the kitten in the cage.

    June 27, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  5. Marty

    Great another new Reality Show. Then Real Occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

    June 27, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  6. Tony D

    “You know, I'm like a caged bear,” Obama said at a town hall event on Thursday, repeating a favorite catchphrase for his last-minute off-campus excursions. “And every once in a while I break loose. And I’m feeling super loose today.”
    --

    Yes, we've noticed. Sitting in your office and attending to your job has been almost impossible for you to do the last 6 years. I guess this is why you are always going out to campaign fund raise, attend celebrity events, go on vacation, go golfing, go give the same speech over and over, etc. It sounds like Obama had no clue on what the job of President actually entailed, ie. real hard work, tough decisions, leadership.

    June 27, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  7. barky

    Fiipping would be a job he could probably handle

    June 27, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  8. barky

    Flipping burgers is a job he could probably handle.

    June 27, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  9. ProudDem

    With all the hatred that he sees out there, every time he appears in public is an act of courage. With right wing media screaming every day that the President is single handedly destroying our American way of life I'm frankly shocked that some wingnut hasn't tried something. Perhaps they have of course, and we just never know about it. He's a brave man. Almost every day he proves that what he believes is right is more important to him that what's politically expedient. That's a leader.

    June 27, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  10. Kung Fu Kool

    Obama has a beer with real Americans like himself.
    Meanwhile, Tbags call for armed revolution.

    June 27, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  11. O'drama ya Mama

    Republicans want less government, they want the government to back off and let the country run itself UNTIL they see Obama doing things like this. Then they want him working for them. Go figure...

    June 27, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  12. Trade5foraDeserter

    After floundering about for 5 years and killing the former "most powerful economy in the world", Obama's solution is to hike up the minimum wage.
    Prices go up for everyone and everything = Everyone effectively gets a pay cut.

    Long term damage: companies don't hire because of Obamacare employee taxes and higher operations costs with the minimum wage hike. Companies move operation overseas.

    Obama "the Job Slayer": killing America a policy at a time.

    June 27, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  13. Dave

    "One has to begin to wonder if he's looking for trouble." Black guy out on the streets, he must be looking for trouble. Sometimes they don't even realize they're putting their racism on display. What kinda trouble is he looking for? Please enlighten us into what you "really meant."

    June 27, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  14. Michael MN

    But just wait – those on the far right will blast him no matter what

    BTW – the 5-8 is the place for Juicy Lucys

    June 27, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    The Obama Myth has died, it was erased along with the IRS hard drives !!

    June 27, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  16. Pandamonius

    Obama says he's just like a caged bear. Hmm, the Russians symbol is a bear... I knew it! He's a commie!!! COMMIE!!!!!!!!!

    Trying to think like a tea troll kinda makes my head hurt...

    June 27, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  17. Hector Slagg

    UH, Obama,
    It is mostly Republicans that start businesses, provide jobs and help the economy. You, on the other hand believe in biting the hand that feeds you. Your Signature Legislation, "Obama Care" has killed the Economy. We don't need more Comedians. You are beginning to sound like a broken record. Even the Left Wing Comedians can't stand you anymore. There is nothing funny about you. Now don't go away mad, just go away.

    June 27, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  18. Joe

    Good to see that he gets out every few years.

    June 27, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  19. MICK

    So, Obama wants to legalize millions of illegals... Anyone wonder where all those jobs are going to come from? Just curious if this guy works for America or Mexico?

    June 27, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  20. daviddavid

    worst POTUS ever, Jimmy Carter is smiling........

    June 27, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  21. Marie MD

    Just be careful. Too many haters out there.
    Glad that he feels that he has to vet out of the WH bubble though. It's got to be refreshing.

    June 27, 2014 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  22. jsmoulder

    "But the normal restrictions placed on a commanders-in-chief don’t seem to hinder President Barack Obama recently, who’s continuing his effort to poke through the bubble and experience life as average Americans do – or at least an approximation of it."
    This guy has never been in touch with the middle class. EVER.

    June 27, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  23. bill

    while Rome burns?????? get on TV????? one question: is there one country better off today than when obamanodecision took office????ONE???? Libya/Syria/russia/Ukraine/ iraq/iran/etc etc etc. AND OBAMA WILL NOT THE OIL AND GAS PEOPLE GET US TOTALLY INDEPENDENT OF THE MIDDLE EAST????? now, ask yourself why? also why did obama bow down to a muslim leader????

    June 27, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  24. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    Here's the difference between President Obama and his predecessors. This President is actually from a major metropolitan city. He's a city guy. Us city folks can't be shacked up in one place for too long. We like to get out and mingle.

    June 27, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  25. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Be safe Mr. President, be safe. Rush has a lot of psychotic gun toting followers.

    June 27, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
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