We told you earlier about the White House press corps’ frustration with President Bush’s lack of availability and then we found this nugget from yesterday’s WH press briefing with Dana Perino:
Q The President, I don’t think, has had a news conference in about two months. Does he feel that kind of forum doesn’t really have much use for him now to communicate his ideas, especially on the financial developments?
MS. PERINO: I’m sure he misses you all greatly, but — (laughter) — look, I think we have to be realistic —
Q We miss him.
MS. PERINO: — that if you guys had him in here, almost everything would be geared towards the election, and he is cognizant of that. He wants to make sure that this election remains fully focused on the two candidates. He’s not on the ballot. This is about John McCain and Senator Obama and how those two present themselves to the American people. And the President is reluctant to be in a place where there’s going to be a lot of competition for questions that get him involved in the 2008 campaign —
Q How about if we keep it to the he economy?
Q So no press conferences for the next 48 days?
MS. PERINO: Not — I didn’t say that. I just said that I’m telling you that one of the reasons that we haven’t — I mean, every time that I would think about maybe having a press conference, the news of the day would be such that we might be talking about lipstick on a pig, and the President is just not going to get involved in it.
Q Well, but in fairness, Dana, right now you’ve had an unprecedented week of economic financial news. He still is President of the United States —
MS. PERINO: I hear you on that.
Q — through January 20th at noon.
MS. PERINO: No, I hear you on that and I will update you as soon as possible as to when you would hear from the President on the economy again.
Q But he just doesn’t feel it useful at this point to discuss some —
MS. PERINO: Look, he’s talked to — he takes questions from the press, he’s done individual questions. He hasn’t had a press conference, but he does — he has been talking to other individuals, or when we have pool at the bottom, two-and-two. But it’s been — I grant you that it’s been a while and I understand that people want to hear from the President during this time. You heard from him Monday and I will update you as soon as I can as to when you’ll hear from him again.
Q Are you suggesting that we might hear from him in the next, say, few days or five days or so?
Q Few minutes?
MS. PERINO: Not the next few minutes, but — (laughter) — well, yes, you will on Petraeus, but not on the economy. I don’t know yet, Roger.
ALSO: If you want video of yesterday’s “incident” with AP’s Deb Reichmann, see below. AND: Politico’s Mike Allen and Carrie Budoff Brown report that, on the McCain/Obama campaign trail, reporters are getting sidelined.