White House spokesman Larry M. Speakes said yesterday that "he had confidence" that President Reagan will hold more frequent news conferences in his second term than he did in his first.
Responding to criticism that Reagan has not been accessible enough to the media, Speakes said he anticipated that the president would hold formal news conferences in the East Room every six weeks or so for a total of nine next year. Reagan held 26 such news conferences in his first term, fewer than any modern president.
President Jimmy Carter held 58 news conferences during his four years in office.
However, Reagan also has held several shorter and less formal meetings with the media, called "mini news conferences" by the White House. He has also given 194 interviews during his first term. Speakes said no further news conferences are contemplated until January.
Speakes, the principal deputy press secretary, made his pledge of greater presidential accessiblity in response to questions at the daily White House midday briefing. He told reporters, "You will be probably seeing" the president at news conferences at a regular interval of less than two months and more than one month.
"You will see him, some of you will see him, in an interview situation, if I have my way, at least once a week or so," Speakes continued. "That is my goal. It always has been. I hope I am more successful in the second term than I was in the first term. But that is what I would like to do."
When he was asked whether he thought he would be more successful, Speakes replied: "I have every confidence that I will."
The subject of Reagan's accessibility came up in more facetious form at Speakes' early morning briefing yesterday.
Speakes was asked whether he could "guarantee that Ronald Reagan is still alive and mobile."
"He was playing with the dog in the garden when he came over to work this morning," Speakes replied.