Jarrett: Obama to spend more time outside of Washington in 2011

President Obama will spend more time outside of Washington, D.C., next year engaging with the public, according to a top White House adviser and close friend of the president.

One year before Obama faces reelection, he is expected to make a greater effort to connect with potential voters after facing charges being too aloof during his first two years in the Oval Office.

ADVERTISEMENT
The president's "biggest regret" was that because of economic turmoil — "He had to spend almost every waking hour in Washington working on solving that crisis," senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said during an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday. "And what he missed sorely was engagement with the American people."

"He said right before he left for vacation, 'When I get back, I really want to figure out a way where I can spend more time outside of Washington listening, learning and engaging with the American people,' " she added. "We're determined in the new year to make sure that his schedule reflects his priority."

Political observers have said that Obama must make a greater effort to connect with voters on a personal level the way he did during the 2008 campaign if he wants to be reelected in 2012.

The president faces the danger of losing independent voters to a Republican challenger, especially after the conservative Tea Party movement helped push the GOP to sweeping electoral gains in the 2010 midterm elections.

Obama was not completely fortified in D.C. during his first two years as president. He made campaign stops for Democrats in tough races around the country and held several economic events in key presidential election states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Jarrett did not detail what type of events Obama will hold in the next year, but she said that he is not overly concerned with politics at this point.

"Politics will take care of themselves," she said. "The American people expect him to lead."