Friendly Crowd Does Obama No Favors at Town Hall

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2009 6:04 AM CDT

(Newser) – President Obama was plainly itching for the chance to confront health reform critics at his town hall event in Montana yesterday but he was let down by a friendly audience that failed to ask enough tough questions, Michael D. Shear writes in the Washington Post. The president was only put on the spot twice, Shear notes, and neither time got the opportunity to publicly debunk some of the wilder claims about his reform plans.

The White House says it didn't load the event with an Obama-friendly audience, Shear writes, suggesting that folks who might have caused a ruckus at a congressional town hall were silenced by the "pomp and circumstance" surrounding the presidency. Analysts say that while intentionally seeking out a hostile crowd that will ask tough questions has obvious pitfalls, it may be the president's best shot at defeating misinformation. "If he really wants to turn the tide of the debate, he has to engage," one strategist says.