Obama to appear on ‘Tonight Show’

President Obama calls on an audience member during a town hall meeting Wednesday in Costa Mesa, California.
Guests on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" usually appear to promote a movie, TV show, book or album, but President Obama will visit the NBC show Thursday to make the case for his financial rescue plans.

While presidential candidates — as far back as Richard Nixon’s performance on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” in 1968 — have used comedy shows for campaigning, Obama becomes the first sitting president to appear. “We don’t look at it as the process of demonstrating the president’s sense of humor,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. “We look at it as a way of discussing the economic situation that we find ourselves in.” Obama will tape the show Thursday afternoon during a two-day swing through the Los Angeles area for town hall meetings focusing on the economy, Gibbs said. There’s some political risk for Obama, according to Washington Post media columnist Howard Kurtz, who also hosts CNN’s “Reliable Sources.” AC360 blog: Laughing through the pain “He has to be very careful about his tone, because if he yuks it up too much and seems to be having too good a time, it will be quite a contrast there with the pain the people are feeling with the crumbling economy,” Kurtz said.