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TV nets plead for Clinton's return; his first speech outdrew Obama's

February 25, 2009 |  6:14 pm

President Barack Obama speaks to a joint session of Congress Feb. 24 2009 drawing not as many viewers as Bill Clinton 16 years ago

As The Ticket reported in its morning-after analysis here earlier today, President Obama sure is a good talker.

The text of his speech is available here and the Republican response of Gov. Bobby Jindal is over here. We also have a brief news video below.

For his maiden congressional address, Obama cleaned President Bush's clock in terms of TV viewers willing to watch him speak to a bunch of stuffed congressional suits in the House chamber. Which isn't saying much. But it is something for a new president to cling to, especially when you're otherwise up against the sleuths of "NCIS."

Obama got 52.4 million viewers last night (rounded off for those visiting the bathroom) in 37.2 million homes for a 49 share and 32.5 rating. In his last joint address in 2008 GWB got 37.5 million in 27.7 million homes for a 38 share and 24.7 rating. Bush did top Obama in 2003 with 62 million and a 56 share and we didn't even have the Iraq reality show going then. (But it was coming.)

Bush's first joint session appearance drew nearly 39.8 million and a 42 share.

However, Obama still lags the audience-drawing power of one President Bill Clinton. Sixteen years ago this week, when there were millions fewer Americans, Big Bill drew nearly 15 million more viewers -- 66.9 million for his first congressional speech in 44.2 million homes for a 44.3 rating.

No wonder No. 42 gets paid so much money for his speeches. For his part, over on Greg Sargent's Plum Line today the secretary of State's husband pronounced Obama's speech "terrific" and "a real success" that struck "the right balance."

--Andrew Malcolm

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Photo credit: Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty Images

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