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Kicking Off Social Media Campaign, Obama Hosts Facebook Town Hall

Starting at 4:45 p.m. ET, President Barack Obama will host an online town hall from the offices of Facebook. As ABC News, puts it, the event reconnects the president with the social-media savvy constituency that put him the White House:

The visit, part of a three-day West Coast trip to sell his deficit-reduction plan, is the first by a sitting president to the world's largest social media network.

Obama's trip to Facebook also signals his belief in the growing value of social media to spread his message, organize supporters and raise money as his reelection campaign kicks into gear.

"It would make our jobs a lot easier, if these were the days when a vast majority of the American audience tuned into Walter Cronkite at night and we could just talk to 'Uncle Walter' and get our message out there," White House press secretary Jay Carney said. "That's just not the case anymore."

Obama will share the stage with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The Washington Post has a bit on the politics of it all:

For all the talk of the administration's close ties with Google, he's going to Facebook's headquarters to stump for his message on reducing the deficit and the importance of the Internet economy for new jobs and global competitiveness.

Obama has only deepened his ties with high-tech executives since his last run. In February, he attended a private dinner hosted by Kleiner Perkins venture capitalist John Doerr at his Woodside, Calif., home. Attending the dinner were Zuckerberg, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, among others.

As Wired explains it, users can participate in two ways: They can "like" the White House page on Facebook and submit questions and comments there or if you're Facebook-averse, people can submit questions through the White House website.

We'll keep an eye on town hall when it happens and we'll update this post:

Update at 6:05 p.m. ET. A Tough Final Question:

The town hall ended with a simple, but surprisingly tough question: What was the presidents biggest mistake?

First he said it was all the little things put together. Then he turned to healthcare reform. He said that at the end of the process, Americans thought the debate had turned to typical Washington bickering.

He wonder, if they could have "gotten it done quicker and with Americans less frustrated."

Obama then flipped to campaign mode and essentially laid out the agenda for what's left of his term:

Get defecits and debt under control.

Pass immigration reform.

And try to solve the country's energy problems.

Update at 5:36 p.m. ET. Obama On Ryan's Budget Plan:

The town hall very quickly turned serious. Obama was asked by one Facebook employee if he thought the economic blueprint architected by Paul Ryan (R-WI) was courageous and bold.

"I wouldn't call it particularly courageous," Obama said. "What he and other Republicans want to do is change our fundamental compact... I would call it short sighted.

"Nothing," he added, "is easier than fixing a problem on the backs of people who are poor" and "powerless."

Update at 4:57 p.m. ET: "Sorry, I'm kinda nervous," said Mark Zuckerberg, while introducing President Obama. Zuckerberg will be moderating the Facebook Live chat. We'll note that Zuckerberg did not wear the flip-flops that he's notorious for wearing.

The president noticed: "I'm Barack Obama," he said, the guy who got Mark to wear a suit and tie.

Update at 4:31 p.m. ET: We've embedded live video of the event at the top of this post.

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