Have you sent a letter to President Obama? Several thousand Americans have -- and now we've learned that the President receives a purple folder every day, filled with ten letters. It's a representative distillation; the President answers a handful.
Some recent examples? A letter from a small business owner, afraid that he will ahve to lay off ten percent of his work force; a divorced senior citizen wrote to say she is raising a grandchild on a fixed income, including Social Security; a realtor urged the president to do something about the large number of foreclosed properties.
A woman from Arizona wrote Mr. Obama to say her husband had lost his job. He was able to find work, but at one-third the pay, leaving the family cash-strapped and struggling to make their mortgage payments. That particular letter struck a chord, at least according to presidential adviser David Axelrod. "She said they had made all their mortage payments, but were running out of money," Axelrod said. "And they were told they could not renegotiate unless they were delinquent in their payments."
President Obama had copies of the letter made, distributed to senior aides and then staff on Air Force One. "He had been struck by how powerful the story was," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. "He wanted us as we were creating policy to make sure that we were listening and hearing these examples as well."
"They help him focus on the real problems people are facing," says Axelrod. "He really a absorbs these letters, and often shares then with us."
Aides say the President answers two or three of the letters himself.