U.S. President Barack Obama was in the American southwest Thursday, taking questions at a community meeting in the state of New Mexico. These so-called "town hall" meetings have become the president's favorite communication tool.
The president makes no secret about the fact that he likes to leave the politics of the nation's capital behind, and travel around the country to find out what the American people are really thinking.
"It is always nice to get out of Washington for a while and come to places like Rio Rancho!," he said.
For over an hour, he met at a local school with members of this small community not far from Albuquerque, the state's biggest city.
On this day, almost all the questions he was asked dealt with so-called "kitchen table" issues - the everyday concerns facing most American families.
They ranged from the high cost of health care, to the plight of family-owned businesses hurt by the current economic recession.
President Obama used the occasion to campaign for public support for his reform efforts - particularly his plan to reform the credit card industry.
He said changing the way credit card companies bill customers is crucial to fixing the economy.
The president said action is needed now. "We need durable and successful flows of credit in our economy, but we can't tolerate profits that depend on misleading working families. Those days are over," he said.
Mr. Obama said millions of card owners have seen their interest rates jump with no warning, and have been hit with fees they did not expect.
"This is America and we do not begrudge a company's success when that success is based on honest dealings with consumers," said the president. "But some of these dealings are not honest."
Credit card reform legislation is now pending in the U.S. Congress. The president said he would like to see lawmakers complete action on the measure before they break for the Memorial Day holiday at the end of the month.