Press corps to Obama: Call us, maybe

The press corps is getting restless, as President Obama hasn't held a news conference since June.

Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters today that he had nothing to add on that front, except to say that "you've actually heard quite a bit from the president." Meanwhile, Obama is sitting down for softball questions like, "What's your favorite song to work out to?" and "I know your real favorite song has got to be 'Call Me Maybe.' You can tell us. It's okay."

"We fully expect that President Obama will submit himself to questions from the D.C.  press corps," Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz told Andrea Mitchell today.

The full back-and-forth between Earnest and an antsy press corps is below the jump. (UPDATE: Here's the audio.)

Q: — why haven't we heard from the president in over two months?

Mr. Earnest: Well, I think you've actually heard quite a bit from the president. Anybody that was on the bus tour heard from the president three or four times a day.

Q: But he hasn't —

Mr. Earnest: And he certainly is talking to a number of reporters — he's certainly talking to a number of reporters, all of which you've seen, which I think you actually probably heard in your broadcast. So —

Q: He didn't talk to —

(Cross talk, laughter.)

Q: (Off mic.)

Mr. Earnest: Right. But you had an opportunity to broadcast those comments on your, on your network. The president did a bill signing in the Oval Office at the beginning of last week, in which one of your colleagues asked a question and the president answered it.

So, again, I don't have any — I don't have any announcements to make in terms of what kind of timing we would have.

Q: But Josh, do they —

Mr. Earnest: But the president — the president has spent a lot of time answering questions from journalists all across the country. The president's spent a lot of time talking publicly about the issues that he thinks are at stake in this election and are worthy of an important political debate about the future of the country. And that is something that he feels a responsibility to do.

Q: But Josh, today, he was asked questions about what superhero he would want to be, what he thinks of the latest Carly Rae Jepsen song. I mean, doesn't he risk looking dismissive of some of these larger issues that have been discussed this week — Medicare, the issues that — the comments that Vice President Biden brought up this week that came under so much scrutiny — by not addressing the press corps, the journalists who follow him every day?

Mr. Earnest: Again, anybody who has listened to what the president has said on the — on the campaign trail — the president over the course of this week has done three and four events a day where he's talking about issues that he thinks are at the top of the political agenda, that are so critical to the future of this country.

So from issues ranging from dealing with the drought conditions — you know, a disaster emergency has been declared for more than half the counties all across the country. Congress has stood in the way. I should be precise about that: House Republicans have stood in the way of passing a bipartisan farm bill that was passed through the Senate that would offer additional tools for us to deal with the challenges of the drought.

The president spent extensive time talking about the production tax credit. This is a tax credit that supports the growing wind industry in this country. As I pointed out earlier, the — renewable energy production has more — has doubled since President Obama took office. We're making important gains in it. But there are also jobs at stake. Thirty-seven thousand jobs could be put at risk if the production tax credit is not extended. This is something that a lot of Democrats support. This is also something that a lot of Republicans support, but yet it's something that hasn't passed the Congress and is steadfastly opposed by the president's Republican opponent.

These are the kinds of issues — these are the issues that the president has been talking about. This is what he spends his time talking about. He also spends his time talking to reporters from a wide range of outlets. And he does his best to answer those questions when they come up.

Q: I know you don't have an exact date, but will the president address the White House press corps within the next week, the next two weeks? Can you give us a rough —

Mr. Earnest: You want to plan your own schedule around it? (Chuckles.) I don't — I don't have any — I don't have any guidance to offer you now. But as the president did last week when he — when he took a question from one of your colleagues in the Oval Office, I have no doubt that the president will continue to take questions from the august body of journalists that are gathered in this room.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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