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McCain's Straight Talk Express Less Talkative
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McCain's Straight Talk Express Less Talkative

Election 2008

McCain's Straight Talk Express Less Talkative

McCain's Straight Talk Express Less Talkative
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John McCain made news Tuesday by taking questions from the media. It's a big change from the days when the Republican presidential nominee was known for his straight talk express.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Yesterday marked a milestone for John McCain. For the first time in 41 days he took questions from the reporters who travel with him. McCain was once known for telling reporters so much that some journalists joked about getting off his bus for a break. It was considered one of McCain's great strengths. Whatever you think of the media, they're among the few citizens in position to question a candidate, and by taking questions until reporters couldn't think of anymore, McCain also romanced the press, which helped to make his reputation. Now his campaign is attacking the media, and McCain takes a different approach. NPR's David Greene reports.

DAVID GREENE: The tone for this week was set early on a Monday morning conference call with reporters. This is McCain's senior adviser Steve Schmidt responding to a question about a story in The New York Times.

Mr. STEVE SCHMIDT (Chief Operating Officer, McCain Campaign): Whatever The New York Times once was, it is today, not by any standard, a journalistic organization. It is a pro-Obama advocacy organization that every day attacks the McCain campaign, attacks Senator McCain, attacks Governor Palin, and excuses Senator Obama.

GREENE: For some weeks now, McCain advisers have been pointing to what they see as unfair coverage in the national media, even as McCain himself keeps his distance. Yesterday in Cleveland, most of the media were left at an airport hotel while a small pool of reporters went with McCain to a construction site.

Senator JOHN MCCAIN (Republican, Arizona; Republican Presidential Nominee): I want to assure you that we're going to bring economic recovery and jobs to Ohio.

GREENE: When McCain wrapped up, those few reporters did their best to get the senator's attention.

Unidentified Reporter #1: Senator, how concerned are you that delay in Congress means more turmoil in the markets?

GREENE: McCain smiled and kept walking to his bus, which is still known as the Straight Talk Express.

Unidentified Reporter #2: Has your bus become the No Talk Express?

GREENE: The campaign, of course, got what it wanted yesterday.

(Soundbite of television broadcast)

Unidentified Announcer #1: Senator John McCain has landed in Mid-Michigan at MBS Airport just a short time ago.

Unidentified Announcer #3: Tonight John McCain in Mid-Michigan. It's McCain's first visit to Mid-Michigan in what has become a tight race for the White House.

GREENE: Plenty of local news coverage in two swing states, and no interference from the national media. Until late in the day when...

Senator MCCAIN: Good afternoon.

GREENE: The campaign added what it called a media availability at a factory in Michigan. McCain spoke about the situation on Wall Street.

Senator MCCAIN: History will be our judge, and it will judge us harshly if we don't put our country first in this crisis.

GREENE: And then...

Senator MCCAIN: I'd like to take two or three questions.

GREENE: The last time this happened was August 13, when McCain took questions for 26 minutes. As for yesterday...

Senator MCCAIN: I thank you all very much. Thank you.

GREENE: Just seven minutes. David Greene, NPR News, traveling with the McCain campaign.

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