WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama may have inadvertently stolen an author's thunder on Tuesday when he told the country that someone is working on a book about the 10 letters from regular Americans that he reads every night.
Obama has been receiving a folder full of the letters every day of his presidency, chosen from the thousands that the White House Correspondence Office receives every day. The letters reflect the viewpoints from Americans concerned enough about various issues -- or problems in their own lives -- that they take the time to write to the president.
Aides say Obama reads the letters as a way to stay in touch with the public -- to get outside what he calls "the bubble" that is life within the White House.
On Tuesday, he was asked during a news conference about whether he feels the pain of Americans who are suffering the economic downturn, and who may be hit hard by cutbacks in social services programs including in his newly announced budget proposal.
"Somebody is doing a book about the 10 letters that I get every day, and they came by to talk to me yesterday," Obama said at a news conference televised nationally -- and internationally.
A White House spokesman said Eli Saslow, a reporter with The Washington Post, is writing the book.
"What I told them is I'm so inspired by the strength and resilience of the American people, but sometimes I'm also just frustrated by the number of people out there who are struggling, and you want to help every single one individually," he continued, either sharing the author's secret -- or providing an unexpected burst of publicity for the upcoming book.
Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, editing by Greg McCune