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Late-night laughs: Obama, yes; Romney, not so much

Though Mitt Romney has largely steered clear of late-night shows throughout the campaign, President Obama has never shied away.
Barack Obama appearing on SNL in 2008. (NBCU Photobank)
Barack Obama appearing on SNL in 2008.

Though Mitt Romney has largely steered clear of late-night shows throughout the campaign, President Obama has never shied away. Thursday night, Obama will appear on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. His appearance follows a controversial booking on Late Show with David Letterman, occurring while the U.N. was meeting in New York. The president was criticized--mostly by conservatives--for not meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but making time for Letterman.

Thursday's appearance on Stewart is risky for the president.  Stewart was merciless in his criticism of Obama during the first debate. "There is no red America. There is no blue America. There is only the America that can't believe how bad this guy did in the debate," Stewart proclaimed. Luckily for the president, he had a much better second debate; still, don't put it past Stewart to rub some salt in the wounds of the President about his performance in Denver.

The president has also appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. One of the more memorable moments in the Fallon appearance was a segment where the president slow-jammed the news, something Jimmy had only done in the past with Brian Williams.

In contrast, Mitt Romney has pretty much steered clear of late-night television, even cancelling an appearance this week on The View, citing scheduling conflicts.

Romney did do Jay Leno's program in March of this year, but that's pretty much it. The infamous 47 percent video might provide some insight into why Romney is so wary of late-night comedy shows. In that video, Romney said that Letterman hates him because he went on rival Leno's show more times than Late Show. In the same video, Romney said an appearance on Saturday Night Live might make him look "slapstick" and "not presidential." It will be interesting to see if Obama or Romney go on Saturday Night Live before election day; during the 2008 campaign, both Senator John McCain and then-Senator Barack Obama went on SNL, as did McCain running mate Sarah Palin.

So, we're down to the last few weeks of the campaign, and the bookers  for all shows--not just the late-night ones--are begging both candidates to come on their programs. It's risky for the candidates but in a race this close, it could make a difference.  Stay tuned.