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Obama media strategy expands into long-form conversations

FILE – In this Sept. 14, 2015, file photo, President Barack Obama, accompanied by Pulitzer Prize-winning Iowa writer Marilynne Robinson, arrives at the State Library of Iowa in Des Moines. Robinson tossed out phrases like “religious humanism” and “the sinister other.” The interviewer asked her about her upbringing and writing process. At an hour and 7,000 thoughtful words, the discussion sounded like a college seminar or an independent bookstore reading. But this was part of the White House’s new media strategy. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has held a series of “conversations” with figures in arts, letters and entertainment as the White House experiments with ways to reconnect Americans to the president before they say goodbye to him.

The sit-downs are leisurely paced, personal and nearly divorced from the daily news. And they offer a glimpse of the president’s interests and thinking as he looks at that next chapter.

A conversation between Obama and writer Marilynne Robinson covered topics such as Christianity, fear and politics.

The White House invited David Simon, writer of “The Wire” and urban dramas, to discuss criminal justice.

British naturalist Sir David Attenborough and Obama discussed climate change, although the conversation veered into talk of a mutual love of coral reefs and a rare reference to Obama’s Kenyan father.

 if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.
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