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December 13, 2010

Obama fatigue? Press room half empty for president

The White House Briefing Room was half empty when President Barack Obama delivered a statement Monday afternoon on a Senate vote related to the tax cuts legislation he's pushing.

Reporters filled the first three rows for the president's appearance -- though a few were taking vacant seats. And almost every seat in the back four rows was empty.

That kind of sparse attendance for a president's personal appearance is unusual, particularly for a president in his first term and one engaged in a high stales tax debate with Congress.

Perhaps it was the short notice and late hour. The wire services and networks keep people at the White House all the time, but many newspapers and websites come only when there's a briefing scheduled.

And maybe it was Obama fatigue. Normally a stranger to the briefing room, he made two appearances last week, once for a hastily called news conference to talk about the tax deal and once to introduce former President Bill Clinton, who endorsed the tax cut deal.

After delivering his brief statement, Obama left without responding to shouted questions.



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He called this news conference in an attempt to eclipse the national memory of him turning the presidential podium over to Clinton.

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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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