Republicans knock President Obama for avoiding questions from the press

Republicans are hammering President Obama for not talking to the press.

In a new Web ad released Friday, the Republican National Committee criticizes the president for finding the time to sit down with soft-news outlets like People magazine and “Entertainment Tonight” while not holding a press conference with Washington reporters.

“Why is Obama avoiding the White House press corps,” the ad begins.

It then mocks the president for finding the time to talk to reporters who ask Obama about his favorite soul food restaurant in Chicago and what his superpower would be if he was a superhero. Onscreen text reads, “This is not a parody. Actual interview with President Obama.”

{mosads}Obama last held a press conference at the White House on June 8, when he said the private sector was “doing fine,” setting off a round of criticism from Republicans. He also took questions from reporters in June at the G-20 summit, and has also held a few one-on-one interviews in the ensuing months.

Many Washington observers expect Obama to hold a press conference next week. With the Republican National Convention set to begin the following week, a White House press conference next week would allow Obama to get his message out before Republicans dominate the media coverage the following week.

Reporters at the White House on Friday asked spokesman Josh Earnest about the lack of an official Obama press conference. They also complained that while Obama has done a series of interviews, he has mostly fielded softball questions from outlets like People.

Earnest said he didn’t have any scheduling announcements but argued that Obama has “spent a lot of time answering questions from reporters all over the country,” including a “wide range of outlets.”

The RNC ad, titled “Serious Questions,” begins with a clip of Ben LaBolt, the Obama campaign’s press secretary, fielding a question from MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, who asks LaBolt when President Obama will meet with the press outlets “other than … People magazine or ‘Entertainment Tonight’?”

LaBolt responds that he “wouldn’t assume that if [Obama] is in a local market, that the questions would be any less serious.”

The ad then moves to a still shot of Obama with his feet resting on top of his desk in the Oval Office, talking on the phone, while audio from his phone interview with KOBFM 93.3, a pop radio station in Albuquerque, N.M. Superimposed text reads, “This is not a parody.”

During the ad, the hosts of the “Morning Mayhem” program ask the president a variety of questions and the ad includes some of Obama’s answers. The DJs ask the president “red or green?,” what his favorite New Mexican food is, his recommendation for a good soul food place in Chicago, his favorite workout song, and, if he had a superpower, what it would be.

“I think the whole flying thing is pretty good,” Obama said. “You can’t beat just swooping around.”

After the hosts express their appreciation to the president for phoning in, the female host, Kiki, jokes that she and the president have a dinner date.

The final audio clip comes after Obama has hung up; Kiki declares that she “just flirted with the United States of America!”

The onscreen text then reads, “Mr. President … where are the jobs?”

While Republicans are ramping up criticism of Obama for not talking to reporters, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has also come under criticism.

Mitt Romney also has faced criticism for his lack of press availability, especially during his recent trip through Europe and Israel.

During that six-day trip, reporters traveling with Romney said he took only three questions from them.

Tensions boiled over when frustrated reporters began shouting questions to Romney during a trip to Warsaw’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Romney’s traveling press secretary, Rick Gorka, responded by yelling and cursing at the reporters.

“Kiss my a–,” Gorka said. “This is a holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect.”
Shortly thereafter, Gorka told a second reporter to “shove it.”

Gorka later called the reporters to apologize, and the Romney campaign subsequently said it would become more media friendly.

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