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Obama to take YouTube questions on State of the Union speech

By the CNN Wire Staff
President Obama is following up on his State of the Union speech with online and in-person appearances.
President Obama is following up on his State of the Union speech with online and in-person appearances.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The interview Thursday is part of a White House outreach to young Americans
  • Events this week made top administration officials available to answer questions
  • Vice President Biden also will answer public questions Thursday on Yahoo

Washington (CNN) -- As part of a White House offensive in support of this week's State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama will hold a YouTube interview Thursday to answer questions submitted by viewers.

The interview on YouTube at 2:30 p.m. ET is part of a series of events in which top administration officials are talking directly to Americans about administration policies set out in Tuesday's address to a joint session of Congress.

Obama spent Wednesday visiting solar and wind energy companies in Wisconsin to tout his push for increased government investment in clean energy as a growth industry of the future, a major theme of his speech the night before.

Later Wednesday, senior administration officials David Plouffe and Stephanie Cutter were holding a conference call to discuss a range of issues important to "young Americans," according to a White House web posting on the State of the Union speech.

Along with Obama's YouTube interview Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden will answer questions from the public in a Yahoo interview, and four top administration officials will participate in online discussions answering questions submitted via Facebook, the online social network.

Such access to top policymakers -- the president, vice president and top aides including Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Austan Goolsbee and Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough -- is generally unheard of and reflects the administration's desire to ensure its messages are heard by a core constituency.

"Throughout the week, we'll have plenty of ways for you to get involved and ask questions of President Obama and other senior administration officials about the State of the Union address," Plouffe said in an e-mail Tuesday announcing the outreach around the speech.

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The first event took place Tuesday night after the speech, when a panel of White House officials -- National Economic Council Deputy Director Brian Deese, Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy Roberto Rodriguez and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes -- answered questions submitted via Twitter, Facebook and a live audience of young adults.

In the hourlong session, which can be seen on a video posted at www.whitehouse.gov/SOTU, questions involved Obama's economic proposals, policy issues such as education and clean energy, Sudan, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, North Korea and other subjects.

Some questions were challenging, such as one that expressed skepticism at restoring the United States as a world leader in education, but in general, the inquiries indicated participants were supporters of the administration instead of ideological opponents.

When asked if the United States would remain engaged in Sudan following the recent secession referendum in South Sudan, Rhodes called the question a good one for the forum of young people.

He noted that the issue "simply would not have the attention it has" without pressure from young people, nongovernment organizations, religious groups and others.

"We see it as a kind of bottom-up activism that can help advance a more responsible foreign policy of the United States" while also helping the people of Sudan, Rhodes said.

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