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Posted: January 24, 2017

Barack Obama read 10 letters a day during presidency

A Look Back on Obama's Presidency

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            Barack Obama read 10 letters a day during presidency
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: U.S. President Barack Obama arrives on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

By Elizabeth Vale

Former president Barack Obama took to Twitter on Friday, the day Donald Trump was officially sworn in as the 45th president, to tell the American people that he and Michelle Obama plan to rest a bit before getting back to work. 

>> Barack, Michelle Obama discuss post-White House plans

Besides posting two links to more information about the Obama Foundation, Obama, who is currently vacationing in the Virgin Islands, issued another message. In one post he linked to a New York Times article that gives insight into how he conducted his time in the White House when it came to constituents' mail.

According to the article, Obama had a system set in place; when he was at the White House, he would read 10 letters every day.

When asked why chose 10, he said: "By the time I got to the White House and somebody informed me that we were going to get 40,000-or-whatever-it-was pieces of mail a day, I was trying to figure out, 'How do I in some way duplicate that experience I had during the campaign?' And I think this was the idea that struck me as realistic. Ten a day, I figured I could do."

Obama, who said he liked to read the mail after dinner, also shared which types of letters he appreciated the most. He said he enjoyed letters that made "a connection."

"There are those kinds of letters ... that shape your attitudes," he said.

He gave an example: 

"Somebody just recently wrote me a letter about when they were growing up. Their mom always used to use the N-word and was derogatory about African-Americans, but was also an unbelievably great mom who worked three jobs to put the kids through school, and how … sort of both troubling and proud — how troubling this woman saw her mother’s prejudice, but how proud she was of her mom as a person,” he said. “And how, toward the end of her life, her attitudes changed, and she ended up announcing she was going to vote for the black guy. She had now passed away, but she thought I should know that. You know, there are those kinds of letters, I think, that — shape your attitudes."

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Obama said that he when he first started reading letters during his first term, he "didn't understand ... how meaningful it would end up being." 

When asked how he'd advise Trump on what to do with constituents' mail, Obama said: "You know what, this is a great habit. But ... I think it worked for me because it wasn't something I did for anyone else. I did it because it sustained me. So maybe it will sustain others in the future."

Read more at The New York Times


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