I stopped in to see former Ventura County lawmaker Jack O'Connell today. As always, the state school superintendent had a few stories to tell -- including one that reveals a lot about the political and policy skills of President Obama.
O'Connell had gone to Washington, D.C., in early March for a meeting of state school superintendents with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Before the meeting began, Obama dropped in for an unscheduled presidential visit. He briefly circulated through the room for introductions with each of the 40 or so state education leaders, made a few remarks and then answered a question about the education assistance included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
About a week later, Obama came to Costa Mesa for a town hall meeting, after which he had a short, private meeting with about 10 California elected officials, including O'Connell. When he came to O'Connell, Obama remarked, "I've met you before."
O'Connell responded that, yes, it was at the meeting of state superintendents in Washington. "That's right, when I stopped it at Arne's meeting," Obama responded. "How did I do in answering that question about ARRA?"
A stunned O'Connell responded: "You answered it just fine, Mr. President."