On Wednesday night, President Obama will appear as a guest on the Tonight Show With Jay Leno. Besides experiencing the snarling Los Angeles traffic, it'll also be a chance for Obama to connect with voters that don't really pay attention to politics. In other words, this interview will be all pomp and no politics. Well, maybe some politics; Leno has asked a few tough questions before, and it may work to Obama's advantage to land a few zingers on Romney or tout up his record for this audience of usually disengaged potential voters.
This will be Obama's fifth time appearing on the Tonight Show, the third time as president. Most interviews with politicians on late night talk shows consist of speaking and joking about the awkward and silly situations a president finds himself, and with it being so late in the month, will probably see some Halloween humor thrown in. However, with the race being so close to election time there may be moments of actual political discussion.
In a previous interview, Leno questioned Obama on the killing of Gaddafi and the GOP primary. While Obama addressed the killing of Gaddafi rather straightforwardly; he skirted his opinions on the GOP primary campaign, saying he would wait to see who the “last one on the island” was. However, now Romney is clearly the last one on the island so if asked about his opponent there will be no reason to skirt the question.
But just because Obama will be talking about his opponent doesn't mean the interview will be filled with politics instead of jokes and banter. This interview is happening after all three presidential debates so after Obama does his obligatory “Voters have a choice for two very different paths...” monologue, there will be ample opportunity to make numerous jokes at Mitts expense. We can expect to hear many jokes about horses, bayonets, and binders full of women.
But will any of this have an effect on the election? If it does it will be minute. But it is a worthwhile trip for Obama. It shows him as humanizing and fun to a large amount of voters who are otherwise tuned out of politics. It is also an opportunity for him to cast Romney as naïve, gaffe-prone, and out of his element. Now the only question is whether Romney will appear on another late night talkshow to show off his own lighter side.