Fact Check: Romney Press Availabilities

TAMPA — Hounded by reporters wanting their questions answered today on the ropeline after an event in Tampa, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney refused to engage, telling the reporters, “Guys, we have press avails or press conferences almost every day and that’s when I answer the questions.”

Not quite.

Romney’s last press conference was nearly a week ago, on November 23 in Des Moines, Iowa, where he took just four questions before an aide yelled “last question!”

The one before that?

November 19 in New Hampshire.

And a full week before that Romney held a press conference in Mauldin, S.C, on November 11. And in October, he held just three press availabilities total.

Today, Romney went on to explain why he doesn’t like to take questions on the rope line — despite having done so earlier in the day at a Miami event.

“When I’m meeting people it’s not a good time to answer questions that are important and require good attention and a thorough answer,” said Romney.

At an October campaign event in Hookset, New Hampshire, a similar incident occurred, but that time Romney got noticeably irritated at a reporter who wouldn’t stop asking him questions.

“Here’s the story. Hold on. I do media avails. And I answer questions that are important questions in the length that I want to do it. But what I don’t do is in a group like this stop and rattle off questions as we walk along because that way you don’t to hear the full answer I’d like to give,” said Romney.

The reporter had been asking Romney whether he thought Eric Holder should resign.

During that exchange, Romney gave an answer similar to the one he gave in Tampa Tuesday.

“I’d be happy to address them at the press avail or the town hall in a bit,” Romney said. “But at events like these I don’t take press questions because it doesn’t give you or me a chance to have a discussion of the topic when particularly it’s an important one.”

When one reporter asked him today why he is “only talking to Fox News,” Romney laughed, but did not answer.

Romney’s pre-taped interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier aired Tuesday evening. Last week, Romney and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte did an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity.