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McCain’s New M.O.?

HUNTINGTON, W. Va. — As we reported yesterday, Sen. John McCain gave a statement to the press at the Fermi Nuclear Generating Station near Detroit — but did not take questions from the press. Today, McCain begins a two-day bus tour of Ohio. After a brief visit with the Marshall University football team — of "We Are Marshall" fame — to take in a practice, McCain’s only scheduled interaction with the traveling press today will be another statement. This one is to be delivered at Merillat Industries, a cabinet manufacturer, in Jackson, Ohio. Again, McCain is not expected to take questions.

This may be the new standard operating procedure for the McCain campaign. When it held press conferences more frequently, the complaint from pundits and strategists was that the campaign was unable to consistently deliver its message for an entire day, let alone a week. Last week, the campaign did not take any questions from the traveling press until late in the day Friday — and it still managed to drive the coverage all week, for better or worse, with its TV ads. (Note my colleague Sridhar’s piece.)

McCain’s reliance on prepared remarks allows the campaign to push its desired theme for as long as it wants, and it sends an unmistakable message to reporters: "We have the upper hand because you have to write something about what we’re doing. This is what we want you to talk about. We know you want more, but tough luck. If we feel like it, we’ll throw you a bone with an end-of-week press conference." Nonetheless, the lack of access, which seems to worsen daily — we are slated to spend almost all day today on the press bus or in holding rooms – is not sitting well with the traveling press corps.

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