President Barack Obama asked to address Congress on his promised jobs program on Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 8 p.m., the same time as a scheduled Republican debate among presidential hopefuls. House Speaker John Boehner refused, and the president agreed to reschedule.
"It is coincidental," said White House press secretary Jay Carney at a press briefing. "There are a lot of factors that go into scheduling a joint session of Congress for a speech. You can never find a perfect time ... There are many channels, there are many opportunities for people to watch the president, and obviously for people to watch the debate."
The debate (to be co-moderated by Brian Williams on MSNBC) isn't the only thing the president was encroaching on. CBS plans to air a new episode of Big Brother, NBC has a new Minute to Win It, and Fox has its new series Buried Treasure.
Politico and others reported that Boehner, an Ohio Republican, rejected Obama's request, saying the next day would be better "so that we can ensure there will be no parliamentary or logistical impediments that might detract from your remarks."
What really might detract from the president's remarks, though, is that the next day has the annual Thursday prime-time opener for NBC's Sunday Night Football — the highest-rated program on broadcast television in the 2010-11 season's first half.
Late Wednesday, Obama said he would push the speech back a day. It wasn't immediately clear if the NFL would delay the 8:30 p.m. kickoff of the game between the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints. The Associated Press reported that the White House was working on the speech's exact time.