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Kerry not taking reporters’ questions

Sun., Sept. 12, 2004

John Kerry continues to be elusive to the media contingent traveling with him on his charter jet. Not that anyone is focused on this much, but regular reporters on the plane say that the Democratic presidential nominee has not had a formal news conference since Aug. 9. On Aug. 2, he took two questions from the media in Grand Rapids. On Aug. 14, during a flight from Portland to Idaho, he came back to chat about windsurfing.

Since then – nothing. Reporters who sit 20 feet from him only see him with a cast of thousands at rallies.

On Wednesday, traveling journalists got excited when he walked up to the assembled horde on the tarmac near Cincinnati. But after making a brief statement marking “the tragic milestone” of the 1,000 dead U.S. troops in Iraq, he walked off, ignoring shouted questions.

The campaign further raised reporters’ ire Thursday by moving the news media back from Kerry as he bounded down the stairs from the plane.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Jodi Wilgoren, who covers Kerry for the New York Times. “There are a lot of things happening in the country and the world, and the public has legitimate questions they’d like to ask. I don’t know what he’s afraid of. He’s criticized the president for not giving enough press conferences. And now we face daily arm-wrestling to ask a question.”

Privately, campaign aides say the campaign is trying to keep Kerry “on message” and does not want to run the risk that he might make other news.

Spokesman David Wade said that Kerry has been “dramatically more accessible than the incumbent president of the United States.”


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