The Democratic National Committee on Wednesday is launching a “McCain Press Watch” – a counter showing the number of days, minutes and hours since the last news conference by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
Currently, it’s at 34 days and counting.
“John McCain once prided himself on running an open and transparent campaign, saying he could not curb his accessibility to reporters because ‘that destroys credibility,’” the DNC page says. “McCain even promised to hold weekly press conferences if elected. … John McCain hasn't done a media availability with national reporters in more than a month. His last news conference was on August 13 in Birmingham, MI.”
Politico’s Amie Parnes reported on Tuesday: “[W]hen Straight Talk Air departed Tampa today, a dozen reporters chanted,’ Bring Mac back! Bring Mac back!’ … The chanting lasted under a minute as staffers in the business cabin smiled and then promptly closed the curtain between business and coach.”
DNC spokesman Damien LaVera said: “[I]t's easy to see why he doesn't want to be held accountable to the people or to his own promises.”
The DNC is calling attention to the issue by delivering a gift bag of reports and other items to the regulars in the McCain press corps, ostensibly to keep them occupied until the next media availability.
Politico has asked the Republican National Committee and McCain campaign for a response and will add it when it comes.
Here's some research the DNC plans to release on Wednesday:
John McCain: Curbing Access to Reporters: "Destroys Credibility." "As the JetBlue charter from Michigan touched down in South Carolina, I strolled up to John McCain's front-row seat — none of his aides batted an eye — and asked if he would continue to chat with reporters around the clock if he won the Republican nomination. Most candidates, after all, grow more cautious around the media mob as the stakes get higher. McCain said he couldn't stop, because 'that destroys credibility.' And besides, he said, 'I enjoy it a lot. It keeps me intellectually stimulated, it keeps me thinking about issues, and it keeps me associated with a lower level of human being than I otherwise would be.'"[Washington Post, 1/21/08]
McCain: "I will hold weekly press conferences." [McCain speech, Columbus, OH, 5/15/08]
McCain, 2008: Ducking the Media. "He used to be the most accessible presidential candidate in modern American history, and he prided himself on that. No longer. The last time he took questions from his press corps was on Aug. 13." [ABCNews, 9/11/08]
Fox News: McCain Skips Media Avails for Staged Rallies. "Today marks the four-week anniversary since McCain held his last press conference (8/13 in Birmingham, MI) and three weeks since his last public town hall meeting (8/20 in Las Cruces, NM)." [Foxnews.com, 9/10/08]
MSNBC: McCain Hasn't Spoken to Reporters Since August 13. "McCain has not spoken to the press since August 13 in Birmingham, MI — the day his wife sprained her wrist at a fundraiser." [MSNBC.com, 8/25/08]
Campaign Uses Promise of Availability to Lure Reporters to Campaign Event. "The strange scene was enough to distract reporters from the fact they believed they would be covering a 'press conference' this morning, as the McCain schedule had advertised. McCain, who has been at his Sedona cabin for several days working on his convention speech and readying the announcement of his VP pick, has not taken questions from his traveling press corps since Aug. 13 when he visited Michigan." [Newsweek, 8/25/08]