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Obama's challenge tonight: answer CNBC's Rick Santelli

February 24, 2009 | 10:25 am

CNBC's Rick Santelli rants at President Obama's mortgage bailout plan

Perhaps President Obama's biggest challenge in his address to Congress tonight is to answer Rick Santelli.

The CNBC reporter and former derivatives trader issued a tirade on the air last week against Obama's $75-billion home mortgage reform plan. When he ranted on the air that "the government is promoting bad behavior" by bailing out "the losers" who took out irresponsible mortgages and accused the Obama administration of turning America into Cuba, Santelli unleashed a spontaneous explosion of anger.

Traders on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade erupted in spontaneous cheers for Santelli. The YouTube posting, seen below, became a viral phenomenon on the Web. The conservative National Review suggested a Palin-Santelli ticket in 2012. And White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs responded that "Mr. Santelli doesn't know what he's talking about."

Now, on the eve of his first major address to Congress, pundits are saying that Obama has to counter Santelli, has to convince Americans that, as the New York Times' David Sanger put it, "they cannot save themselves without first saving the banks that let greed blot out prudence, the car makers who ignored competitive reality for a quarter-century, and the homeowners who somehow persuaded themselves that housing prices only move up."

And, said Sanger, Obama knows he has to be a whole lot more convincing about it than he was last week when Santelli read the pulse of the country better than the White House did.

-- Johanna Neuman

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Photo: CNBC

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