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09.20.10

Obama's Velma Hart Problem

Monday at a D.C. town-hall session, an "exhausted" Obama supporter—Velma Hart, the CFO of AMVETS—told the president she was "deeply disappointed" in him. (Watch the video of her remarks below.) The Daily Beast’s Benjamin Sarlin, Shushannah Walshe, Mark McKinnon, and Tunku Varadarajan on why she represents Obama’s political challenges so well.

The Woman Who Shamed Obama
By Benjamin Sarlin

Who is Velma Hart, the woman who gained national attention for telling Obama he "exhausted" her? Benjamin Sarlin talks to friends and colleagues about what she wants from the president.

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Jesse Jackson: How Obama Can Win Velma Hart Back
By Shushannah Walshe

The woman who told the president she was “exhausted” of trying to defend him is like a canary in the mine who must be heard, the reverend says. He tells Shushannah Walshe how Obama can inspire her.

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The Velma Hart Bombshell
By Mark McKinnon

A veterans’ administrator cut Obama to the quick by announcing she was “exhausted” from defending him. Mark McKinnon on the political problem she symbolizes, and how the GOP will pounce.

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What Did Velma Hart Expect?
By Tunku Varadarajan

The middle-class town crier who spoke truth to Obama believed he could work miracles. Tunku Varadarajan on why she’s so disappointed—and who’s to blame.

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Velma Hart stole the show from the president Tuesday during his economic town hall in Washington, D.C. "I've been told that I voted for a man who said he's going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class,” Hart said during the meeting, broadcast on CNBC. “I'm one of those people, and I'm waiting, sir. I’m waiting. I don’t feel it yet." Hart said her family feels their middle-class lifestyle sliding away as they sink back toward the “hot dogs and beans” era of her life. "I'm exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for, and deeply disappointed with where we are right now,” Hart said. Hart is the chief financial officer of AMVETS, a veterans’ organization, and her husband is a facilities administrator at the Verizon Center in Washington. They have two kids in private school. Obama responded that times are tough for everyone, and that he understood Hart’s frustration. He called her the “bedrock of America,” saying, "The life you describe--one of responsibility, looking after your family, contributing back to your community--that's what we want to reward." But Hart said Obama didn’t answer her most troubling question: whether this economy is “the new reality.”

Click Below to Watch the Video

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'I Still Have Great Faith in This President'

On Tuesday, Velma Hart followed up her wave-making town hall appearance by going on CNN to say she still has "great faith" in Obama, and that "I think this is a moment of poker or something for me ... I wanna have a card to just slam on the table that just shuts the discussion" and silences the president's critics.

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