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Obama on MTV: Can he recapture a bit of his 2008 magic?

President Obama addressed young people at a town hall meeting broadcast online and on MTV and BET Thursday, hoping to motivate them for Election 2010.

By Staff writer / October 14, 2010

President Obama's hour-long town hall-style meeting with young people Thursday was broadcast live on the Web and three cable networks.

Charles Dharapak/AP

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President Obama returned to familiar territory Thursday in a "town hall" meeting for 250 young people, broadcast live across three cable networks – MTV, BET, and CMT – as well as streamed on the Web. The comes on the heels of a speech to students in Madison, Wis., and a meeting at George Washington University Tuesday night. These moves are an obvious strategy, given the high percentage of young people who turned out in 2008 to help propel him to the White House, but move has political strategists scratching their heads.

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Too little, too late, they say.

“I don’t know why he didn’t turn to this base much earlier,” says American University’s Jane Hall, who last week hosted an on-campus event, "Is Your Vote Up For Grabs?" Despite the fact that younger voters historically don’t turn out for midterm elections, she says, “President Obama is still extremely popular among younger people.”

While much of the audience Obama was trying to reach Thursday afternoon feels disappointed by the lack of change they felt promised in the 2008 campaign, she adds that there is a perhaps surprising lack of finger-pointing at the commander-in-chief. Rather, some are even turning increasingly to the idea that a third party may be the best solution to America’s political gridlock.

Jordan Sekulow, a former grassroots organizer for President Bush in 2004 and Mitt Romney in 2008, agrees that the President’s support among younger Americans is still strong, but says this is primarily because this cohort is typically most engaged in the big, presidential years – not the midterm cycles. He says this last-minute grab for younger hearts and minds is a bad sign.

“If Obama is spending his time in Madison, Wis., and a 'rock the vote' event, it is clear that Obama and his Democrats are in trouble,” he says via email, If Obama has to hit the base this hard, so close to the election, “it is a sign of desperation – trying to find a few votes."

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