Relax football fans: Obama speech won't trump NFL

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 01, 2011 7:39 PM
Relax football fans: Obama speech won't trump NFL

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - American football fans can rest easy: President Barack Obama's nationally televised jobs speech to Congress will not conflict with the season-opening NFL game between the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints.

Obama agreed late on Wednesday to move his jobs address to a joint session of Congress back by a night from September 7 to September 8 to avoid overlapping with a debate by Republican presidential candidates on the first night.

But September 8 had its own problems: the season-opening National Football League matchup between the last two Super Bowl champions will air at 8:30 p.m. EDT on the NBC network that night.

Not to worry, the White House says. Obama's address will be finished before the game begins.

"I can assure you that, for all you football fans, that he will be completed before kickoff," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Thursday.

Carney noted that Obama, an avid sports fan himself, would also be able to tune in.

"It means that he'll have the opportunity to watch the game like millions of other Americans," he said.

John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, cited logistical and parliamentary impediments when asking Obama to move his address back by a day.

The two sides did not announce a time, however, once they agreed on the new date.

Late on Thursday, however, they agreed on 7:00 p.m. (2300 GMT), and both sides released short, polite statements, to say so.

"At his request, the Speaker has respectfully invited the President to address a Joint Session of Congress next Thursday at 7:00 p.m.," Brendan Buck, a Boehner spokesman, said in a statement.

"After consulting with the Speaker's office, the President has accepted an invitation to address a Joint Session of Congress at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 8th," Carney said in a statement shortly thereafter.

And that was the end of another chapter of political theater between Obama and congressional Republicans, at least until the debate over the contents of his speech starts in full next week.

(Editing by Eric Walsh)