Oh, how things change.
In the first few weeks after Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., named Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., as his running mate, the Democratic vice presidential nominee immediately became the most accessible of the four candidates.
Biden would field questions from audience members at nearly every event.
He came to the back of the plane to speak with reporters a bunch of times during his first ten days on the trail.
He held multiple press avails, including one in a Pittsburgh park.
But that has all changed.
The Delaware lawmaker has not fielded questions from supporters since a Sept. 10 rally in Nashua, N.H., at which he said that Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., might have been a better vice presidential pick than him.
And he has not held an arranged press avail since a Sept. 7 flight to Kalispell, Mont.
It might not be hard to imagine why this has happened. Biden’s proclivity to speak his mind has provided much fodder for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Republicans — as happened this week, when Biden told contributors at a Seattle fundraiser that America’s enemies would "test" a new, young President Barack Obama.
Conversely, while Biden has an apparent embargo against fielding questions from his traveling press corps — and from his supporters — his once-reclusive Republican counterpart, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, has become increasingly accessible, perhaps more so than any of the four candidates.
In the last two weeks, Palin has fielded questions twice from the Palin traveling press corps on board the campaign plane, and on Sunday night, Palin took impromptu questions from reporters on the airport tarmac in Colorado Springs, Colo., on issues ranging from her thoughts on Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama to the role of robocalls in the election.
An hour later, she took questions again from the press pool during an unscheduled stop for ice cream before returning to her hotel for the night.
Palin has also become increasingly accessible to local and national media. Since the vice presidential debate, she’s participated in multiple interviews with local television stations across the country, and this week she gives interviews to CNN and NBC News. She has particularly embraced conservative media outlets — in the last week, she has called into Rush Limbaugh’s and Dr. James Dobson’s radio programs, while also speaking on camera with Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody.
Biden spokesman David Wade argued that, as of Oct. 21, the senator has conducted over 141 media interviews in his two months as Obama’s running mate. "The notion that he isn’t responding to questions from the media is mighty laughable," Wade told ABC News. "Especially when I reckon could count Governor Palin’s interviews on my ten fingers without even having to resort to counting my toes."
That may be true, but in terms of general availability to their traveling press corps, Biden’s and Palin’s roles are switching.
– Jake Tapper, Matt Jaffe, and Imtiyaz Delawala