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President Barack Obama on Thursday invited Americans to a Twitter press conference of sorts, taking seven questions on topics like how he aims to curb oil imports, boost job growth or help homeowners struggling with their mortgages. Leaving little to chance, the White House advertised the "#WHchat" hashtag for the online event several times throughout the day but only revealed that the president himself would answer the questions shortly before he got online.
As a result, most of the queries were made hours before Obama took to a laptop, his shirtsleeves rolled up, after a speech in the battleground state of Iowa.
The first question came from @asturtz, who had asked, "What are we doing to curb, better yet avoid, dependency on oil?"
Not all of the questions he chose to answer were friendly. @jwarner180 asked: "Fossil fuels are much much much cheaper and our economy is based on cheap energy. Why push Algae?"Obama was unfazed: ".@jwarner180 bio fuels, wind , solar all getting cheaper each year & oil getting more expensive. Why we need all-of-the-above strategy. -bo."
As is frequently the case, conservatives jumped into the public conversation.
Conservative writer Ben Domenech asked, "Do you believe in miracles? Other than you finding a way to win reelection?" If Obama saw the query among the flood of questions, he ignored it. (Domenech also had a play on the classic "boxers or briefs" question asked of President Bill Clinton during a 1994 "town hall" chat on MTV.) And the Republican National Committee hit the president on the swelling national debt.
Then, as quickly as it begin, the exchange was over, with Obama heading to Des Moines for a campaign rally where he was expected to assail his presumptive Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.
"off to des moines. thx for questions - keep em coming. remember we're not D's or R's but americans first! -bo" the president said.
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