Frustrated by Limited Access, McCain Press Acts Out

By Nitya

Sep 23, 2008 11:48am

ABC News’ Ron Claiborne reports: It was like a miniature mutiny. Reporters frustrated by weeks of limited access to Republican presidential nominee John McCain shouted questions at him during a photo opportunity event near Cleveland this morning.

After accepting the endorsement by Local 18 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, McCain spoke briefly and then began shaking hands with some of the construction workers.

Several reporters shouted out questions from 10 to 20 feet away, asking about the financial crisis. McCain ignored them.

As he turned to head toward his bus emblazoned with the logo Straight Talk Express, he passed the camera riser and reporters. Two more questions were tossed out. McCain kept striding. Finally, Ed Chen of Bloomberg blurted out, "Is this now the No Talk Express?" Chen claimed later he detected a smile on McCain’s face. Others missed it. McCain said nary a word.

The shouted question has almost never occurred during McCain’s long presidential quest; in fact, the Arizona senator was rarely unwilling to talk to the press covering him. For the simple reason that it wasn’t necessary — until this summer, when a new regimen of message discipline was imposed.

McCain has not held a press conference since Aug. 13. He no longer ventures to the press section of his campaign plane to talk to reporters. The rolling bull sessions on the bus are a thing of the past.

McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, has not held a press conference since being named to the ticket on Aug. 29.

Reporters were kept away from Palin’s meetings with world leaders. (Palin is scheduled to meet Afghan President Karzai and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, among others.) Though the McCain campaign will allow a producer and camera crew to cover the event for the news networks, originally they only permitted a camera — with no editorial presence — inside the meetings. In protest of the McCain camp’s original edict to refuse to allow editorial presence in the room, the networks had voted to ban use of photographs/video of Palin’s meetings.

Coincidentally or not, after the press uprising, the McCain campaign announced that McCain would take questions — a few — at a campaign stop later in the day in Saginaw, Mich.

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