WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, likely Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama slammed GOP rival Sen. John McCain for holding a fund-raiser with President Bush with “no reporters” around. Today, Michelle Obama is headlining a fund-raiser in California for Hollywood elites that the campaign did not announce.
Obama has long been saying that electing McCain would be tantamount to giving Bush a third term. McCain moved his Phoenix fund-raiser with Bush to a private home, a maneuver that let McCain invoke the Bush rule of keeping home fund-raisers off-limits to the press — denying his foes with fresh pictures of him and the president. Bush does allow reporters to cover his fund-raisers held in public venues. McCain does not.
“And we all know why. Senator McCain doesn’t want to be seen, hat-in-hand, with the president, whose failed policies he promises to continue for another four years,” Obama said in Las Vegas.
“Our policy is for fund-raising events to be closed press,” said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds, no matter what the venue.
Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said, “Michelle Obama is not the candidate and she is not fund-raising with the president of the United States. Our campaign has hosted fund-raisers that are open to the entire press corps, and we open all of Barack Obama’s fund-raisers that take place in public spaces to a pool reporter.”
Obama and McCain each put limits on what the public is entitled to know about their fund-raising events. In contrast to McCain, Obama has a much more open and transparent policy, with some important limits.
Obama’s campaign allows a pool reporter — picked by the campaign — to attend fund-raisers held in public places. A pool reporter is not allowed in events at private homes, not even to record just what Obama says.
McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said McCain “is the most accessible candidate to the media in this campaign” who spends “hours and hours” each day with reporters, including almost daily press conferences. McCain prefers to “interact with his supporters off the record” because “it provides a nice atmosphere” for him because he is on the record so much. “That stands in stark contrast to our opponents.”
Obama rarely mingles with his traveling press corps. Michelle Obama’s public events — and some fund-raisers, but not all — are put out on a campaign schedule.