Republicans are taking President Obama to task for evading public questioning by the White House press corps for more than eight weeks, while instead granting a series of interviews to entertainment media outlets with whom he discussed largely frivolous subjects.
A new web video by the Republican National Committee asks, "why is Obama avoiding the White House press corps?" It features a clip of Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt insisting that the president has fielded substantive questions during interviews with local media on his swings through battleground states.
"I wouldn't assume that if he's in a local market that the reporters' questions will be any less serious," LaBolt says.
Cue the KOB-FM radio interview with Obama that aired this morning in Albuquerque, N.M.
The president fielded no substantive questions on news of the day or matters of policy. Instead, he discussed his favorite type of chili, iPod playlist, a desired superpower, and Carly Rae Jepsen's hit single, "Call Me Maybe."
An on-screen graphic in the RNC ad reads: "THIS IS NOT A PARODY."
Asked about Obama's streak of lighter interviews, including sit-downs with Entertainment Tonight and People Magazine, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said today that the president has also been accessible to members of the local and national press, including at an official Oval Office bill signing in the past week.
"The president has spent a lot of time answering questions from journalists all across the country. The president's spent a lot of time talking publicly about the issues that he thinks are at stake in this election and are worthy of an important political debate about the future of the country. And that is something that he feels a responsibility to do," he said.
As for whether the interviews risk making the president appear out of touch with the nation's serious economic issues, Earnest dismissed the notion.
"Anybody who has listened to what the president has said on the - on the campaign trail - the president over the course of this week has done three and four events a day where he's talking about issues that he thinks are at the top of the political agenda, that are so critical to the future of this country," he said.
Obama last took questions from the White House press corps at a news conference during the G20 summit in Chicago in June. His last formal White House news conference was on March 6.