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March 4, 2008
Obama Meltdown at Presser on Rezko, NAFTAgate
It was a very uncomfortable 15 minutes for the candidate.
Participating in only his second "avail"(shorthand for "candidate availability" to the press) since Thursday, Barack Obama was deluged with questions about the NAFTA scandal involving the Canadian government being told that the candidate wasn't serious about his protectionist rhetoric as well as inquiries by a cadre of Chicago reporters who had been following the Obama-Rezko story for years.
The exchanges got very testy after a while:
"Guys," said Obama, who is campaigning on a platform that there should be more government transparency. "I mean come on. I just answered like eight questions," he said as he waved and left to a chorus of shouted questions. Every question about Rezko was deflected by the candidate who seemed quite irritated at the Chicago reporters. He did not come off well at all and displayed a short fuse - something he better learn to control quickly. Press conferences from now on will be filled with questions about his relationship with Rezko who went on trial for fraud this week in Chicago.
I could see why Obama wanted to wrap it up. On the day before crucial votes in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont that could make him the Democratic presidential nominee, Obama, for the first time in his campaign, was facing two potential landmines.
It was just Obama's luck that by coincidence on this particular day he had a contingent of Chicago journalists to deal with who are not, well, shy because we have covered Obama for years. I was there, as well as Sun-Times political columnist Carol Marin and CBS2 political reporter Mike Flannery.
For more on the press conference and Obama's dilemma, I posted on the topic this morning.