February 9th, 2009
07:44 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama ready for first face-off with White House press corps

Robert Gibbs said Monday that President Obama actually did very little preparation to get ready for his first prime-time news conference in the East Room.
Robert Gibbs said Monday that President Obama actually did very little preparation to get ready for his first prime-time news conference in the East Room.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - When Robert Gibbs was getting ready to face the White House press corps for his first official briefing, his colleagues spent a couple of weeks during the presidential transition putting him through a boot camp of sorts.

Gibbs recalled that there were "at least eight" mock briefings where fellow Obama aides - as well as former Clinton White House press secretaries like Joe Lockhart - pretended to be reporters firing questions at him so he would be ready.

A sign of a White House that leaves little to chance, but Gibbs said Monday that President Obama actually did very little preparation to get ready for his first prime-time news conference in the East Room.

"The best prep was getting questions from real people," Gibbs said of the President's town hall meeting earlier in the day in Elkhart, Indiana.

The president did assemble top aides at the White House on Sunday evening to "go over topics" for a little refresher, according to Gibbs. The press secretary noted the President is ready for all the key topics because he covered a lot of the same ground - topics like the economy, health care, Iraq, Afghanistan - for nearly two years on the presidential campaign trail.

Gibbs said the president will start his first formal news conference with an opening statement of 8-10 minutes that will be entirely devoted to the economy and financial crisis. He added that aides have allotted 40-45 minutes for questions from reporters, which Gibbs noted may be the longest time the President has ever stood consecutively for one press conference.

While Gibbs is willing to take multiple questions from each correspondent in the daily briefing, he suggested the president will try to shut that down to keep the press conference moving.

"Unlike me," Gibbs said with a laugh, "he won't accept four questions per reporter."


Filed under: Obama press conference
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