Press corps musical chairs on Obama plane
WASHINGTON – What a popular guy.
Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama is so popular that some “tough decisions” had to be made about which members of the press corps would fly on his plane during the final days of the campaign.
Off the plane this weekend will be the Dallas Morning News, New York Post and Washington Times. Among those taking seats will be staffers from the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune, according to a campaign official.
Flying with the candidate is crucial because it expedites getting to campaign events, eliminating the hassles of commercial travel, as well as provides access to the candidate or other officials on the plane.
“Unfortunately, demand for seats on the plane during this final weekend has far exceeded supply, and because of logistical issues we made the decision not to add a second plane,” said Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
“This means we’ve had to make hard and unpleasant for all concerned decisions about limiting some news organizations and in some cases not being in a position to offer space to news organizations altogether,” she said.
A campaign official said adding a second plane would have cut a city a day from the schedule and that also larger news outlets were facing new limits on the number of seats on the plane, such as for columnists and extra correspondents.
Conservative outlet DrudgeReport highlighted the fact that all three newspapers losing their spots on the plane endorsed Republican rival John McCain for president.
The Dallas Morning News said it had no evidence of a connection to its endorsement, blogging its explanation here. The New York Post wrote its response here, suggesting it was not in the news business to be “liked”. The Washington Times said it was unhappy with the decision which it noted came two days after it endorsed McCain. A campaign official said the Times was told before it made its endorsement.
Psaki said the campaign would still help correspondents not on the plane with hotel reservations, space on the buses and ensuring they receive the information that is given to the reporters on the plane.
– Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick
– Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed (luggage and equipment belonging to the press corps is laid out for a security sweep)