When it comes to the Clinton campaign’s press calls, she’s got the fastest fingers in the biz:
The Clinton calls — longer and looser than the Obama campaign’s version — are also a campaign subculture of their own, a disembodied “Cheers,” where everybody knows your voice, if not your face, and a space with its own rituals and its own set of regulars.
There’s your barkeep, the even-tempered if hard-edged Wolfson. There’s the voice of collegial authority in Fox News’ Major Garrett. There’s BusinessWeek’s combative David Kiley, who regularly gets in early with a lengthy challenge to some campaign argument he sees as “sideways.” There’s Slate’s subtly challenging John Dickerson. There’s even a running gag: those wacky Canadians, who, whatever the news of the day, always want to talk about NAFTA.
Most regular of all, there’s NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, who speaks in the warm tones of private conversation, and who is always first.
“I think the other reporters would love to know your secrets for pushing the correct buttons,” Wolfson told Mitchell after she hit the *1 keys fast enough to, once again, ask the first question on one recent call.
“Quick fingers,” she replied.
Lynn Sweet isn’t as lucky:
Obama’s aides also exert more technical control over the calls, blocking follow-up questions by muting reporters’ lines.
“Do not put the mute on, in case I have a follow-up — whoever is the moderator,” Chicago Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet demanded during Thursday’s call.
The moderator promptly muted her line.