President-elect Obama sets record for media face time

Jake Turcotte

When President-elect Barack Obama meets the press Wednesday morning, he will set a new record in post-election accessibility to the media.The press conference will be Mr. Obama’s fifth since his election November 4.  That is far more face time with the press than other newly elected presidents of recent times.

The most elusive newly elected president was Ronald Reagan.  He called one press conference after his election in 1980 to announce the members of his cabinet.  And then Mr. Reagan failed to show up for the crowded session at a Washington hotel.

Instead, as Time Magazine reported then, when the moment came to announce the team that would run the government, Reagan stayed in Blair House, the presidential guest quarters on Pennsylvania Avenue.  Reagan sent spokesman Jim Brady to introduce cabinet nominees to the 350 reporters who had turned up expecting face time with the incoming commander-in-chief.

In 1988, George H.W. Bush met the press just once after he was elected and before he was sworn in.  In 1992, Bill Clinton held three pre-inauguration press conferences.  The current president met the press just once in 2000. Mr. Bush waited until December 19 because of the dispute over election results that year.  (The Washington Times first dug out these dates.)

During the flight home to Chicago Tuesday after meeting in Philadelphia with the nation’s governors, Obama came back to the press section of his chartered plane for a three minute chat with reporters.

According to a pool report, Obama said, it was “kind of like old times but not really.”  Referring to campaign travels with the press, he said, "It doesn't have that breathless pace ... just one city a day!"

Asked about future cabinet selections, the president-elect pantomimed a zipped lip.

As his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, came back to join the president-elect with the reporters, introducing himself as "Rahm," Obama laughed.  "My minder here is getting nervous," Obama said, snacking on a handful of nuts.

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