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Mail to the chief

White House still receives many letters

White House staffers read letters sent to the president. Image: The New York Times

Mail continues to play an important role at the White House, where President Obama receives about 7,000 letters a day.

Staffers sort through the correspondence each afternoon and forward 10 letters to the president, who often incorporates the messages into his speeches. Although most letters are emailed, many are handwritten.

“I haven’t lived everybody’s life, and neither has the president,” speechwriter Cody Keenan told The New York Times this week. “The letters can give us a flavor of somebody else’s life.”

In January, the president spoke in Detroit and cited Brianna Leathers, a Sterling Heights, MI, community college student who wrote to him to express concerns about the future of the automobile industry.

Leathers’ message was written in round, bubbly print on lined notebook paper, the Times noted.

In Milwaukee, Obama mentioned a letter from Brent Brown, who wrote to him about health care.

The White House also has introduced a Tumblr site to highlight presidential correspondence, and Obama has invited some writers to state dinners and other events.

Nevertheless, everyone expresses surprise when their mail gets noticed.

“This is like writing Santa,” Brown said. “You’re certainly not expecting a response.”

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