Obama chats up media in air


POSTED: Wednesday, February 11, 2009

WASHINGTON >> President Obama has most of Air Force One’s 4,000 square feet at his disposal, including a roomy executive suite. Call it first class-plus.

Yet, the chatty president can’t seem to help but wander back to the much smaller and more confined media quarters.

Obama has made three trips aboard his sleek light blue and white Boeing 747-200B series aircraft, and on each flight he has popped in to say hello to the few scribes and photographers traveling with him.

He sneaked up on the startled group through the back entrance of the media cabin yesterday before taking off to Fort Myers, Fla. He greeted reporters individually and gave one reporter from Hawaii a shaka. He joked that he fielded some “tough questions” during his first full-fledged news conference Monday night, pointed at two reporters and teased: “These two grilled me.”

He also paraded through the cabin with nine members of Congress who were traveling with him — all fellow Democrats. He joked that he couldn’t find any Republicans who wanted to join him.

The frequent visits are yet another stark contrast to his predecessor — former President George W. Bush — in a young Democratic presidency full of them.

If Bush wanted to talk to the press while in the air, he called reporters up to his suite; he rarely came to the press.