St. Petersburg, Florida (CNN) - Hours after a kerfuffle that had reporters up in arms over a lack of access to Mitt Romney, the candidate himself sought to defuse rising tensions.
Romney chatted briefly with reporters Wednesday on a charter plane shared by the press and campaign staffers - an arrangement Romney's team has infrequently made available to news organizations in recent months.
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The presumptive GOP nominee demurred when asked if he had directed his campaign to block reporters from approaching him as he shook hands with voters after a speech that morning in St. Petersburg.
"Just watching, just watching," he said of the confrontation between reporters and several staffers anxious to keep them from approaching Romney.
The prank-loving politician joked about his campaign's reputation for shielding him from the press corps that trails him across the country.
"Rick [Gorka] is about to pass out," he quipped about his traveling press secretary, who was also on board as Romney talked with reporters.
The candidate did not answer a question about attacks from Vice President Joe Biden over Romney's business career. Romney said he had not seen the vice president's speech.
Then he wrapped up his visit with a playful admonition he often offers his press corps, telling them to eat up. At different points in the campaign, Romney has offered reporters pastries, cookies, cake, chips and submarine sandwiches.
As he picked up a package of Grandma's Vanilla Cream sandwiches Wednesday, Romney pointed to a basket of snacks and said: "You have some work to do here."