McCain Handlers to Press: Get Out, Lest Someone Say Something Nice
A nugget contained in a pool report from one of Sen. John McCain’s campaign stops at a periodontal clinic in Altamonte Springs, Fla., illustrates just how silly and counterproductive the campaign’s hyper-control of its traveling press can be:
[Periodontist Gary W.] Coatoam went on to say that he’d heard McCain was a maverick, but it didn’t do him justice. “You’re the closest candidate I’ve ever seen that is non-partisan,” he said. “There are so many of us, Democrats and Republicans, dismayed by the way this country has been run.”
Seeing as he was in the midst of saying nice things about McCain, your pool was ushered out of the room to the parking lot. We were readmitted at 11:28 a.m., where we found McCain, [Flordian Gov. Charlie] Crist and [Sen. Mel] Martinez all huddled with Dr. Coatoam and his staff, as if for a group picture.
Reporters were then treated to comments by McCain and Coatoam that sounded scripted.
It’s impossible to get inside the heads of McCain’s staff, who often herd the press in and out of events. But a reasonable explanation is that the campaign is so concerned that somebody who doesn’t officially work for the campaign may say something unhelpful that it doesn’t even allow reporters to be present when a regular person — a doctor, no less — gushes over its candidate.
Reporters love quotes — particularly unscripted ones from people who aren’t paid to talk up the candidate.
And who knows? Maybe reporters would include such favorable quotes in their stories – if they were allowed to hear them.