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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control: Mr. President, welcome to Spokane

After President Barack Obama stopped in a Seattle neighborhood for a “backyard conversation,” the Washington State Republican Party complained that this was nothing but a political event for which Sen. Patty Murray’s re-election campaign should be charged.

Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. The 35 or so folks gathered in the Wedgwood backyard were polite – “Seattle nice” was the phrase some local reporters used – and while several said their questions weren’t pre-approved by White House staff, many prefaced their remarks with praise for what he’s done or thanks for coming to town.

Plus, Murray was on the deck with him, and while Obama didn’t mention her opponent Dino Rossi, he did suggest folks be skeptical of people calling for big cuts in the federal budget without saying what they’d cut. (Technically, that criticism could be leveled at both candidates.)

There were no complaints from the GOP a few weeks ago when a woman at a similar gathering said she was tired of having to defend Obama’s policies, and wondering whether things would ever get better,

To avoid any complaints in the future, the president might want to think about holding his backyard conversation in Spokane the next time he comes to this Washington and having a random draw for seats on the lawn. It might go something like this:

First questioner: “Mr. President, why are you so all-fired determined to take away my guns?”

Obama: “I’m not. Really. I believe the Second Amendment – ”

First questioner: “Then why’d I have to leave my hunting rifle at the check-in table?”

Second questioner: “Mr. Obama. When are you going admit you’re a foreigner whose birth certificate is a phony?”

Obama: “It’s not. I was born in Hawaii. It’s on file and online.”

Second questioner: “Can’t trust anything on the Internet. I read it on Orly Taitz’s website.”

Third questioner: “Mr. President, a two-part question. When are you going to cut the horrendous federal deficit, and could you come up with about $100 million for Spokane to open a new medical school?”

Obama: “Well you realize those two things are mutually exclus– ”

Fourth questioner: “Mr. President, why do you want to tear down all the dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers, and why does the federal government continue to say salmon are an endangered species when I can buy it at Rosauers?”

Obama: “Well first of all we don’t want to – ”

Fourth questioner: “I’ve got a copy of the song ‘Save Our Dams’ you should take back to the White House and give a listen.”

Fifth questioner: “When are you going to take care of the tire ruts on Lincoln Street and make studded snow tires illegal?”

Obama: “Well I think streets are a local issue and tires would be a state – ”

Sixth questioner: “Every idiot knows that studded tires save lives.”

Obama: “OK, so that wasn’t a question but something to consider.”

Seventh questioner: “So, dude, about marijuana.”

Obama: “Regarding legalization or medical use?”

Seventh questioner: “No, like do you get the really good stuff because you’re president? Because the stuff around here right now is awful.”

Eighth questioner: “Mr. President, will you support a federal law banning laser tag and video games to protect our children from being militarized at a young age?”

Obama: “Interesting idea. I’d have to have staff study it.”

Ninth questioner: “Would you like to buy some wrapping paper to support my daughter’s junior high drill team?”

Obama: “I don’t carry cash, but I’ll have the staff get a couple rolls afterward.”

Eleventh questioner: “Would you like some zucchini to take back to Mrs. Obama? I have more than I can possibly eat this year and the neighbors won’t take any more.”

Obama: “Thanks. Oh, look at the time. We can take just one more. You sir, you look like you have a question.”

Twelfth questioner: “I was just looking to borrow Fred’s chain saw. You know where he put it?”

Spin Control, a weekly column by veteran reporter Jim Camden, also appears online with daily items, reader comments and videos at .
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