Monday, November 8, 2010
Diplomacy: BHO Admin Style
Gibbs threatens to pull Obama from India talks after press dispute
By Michael Calderone
Mon Nov 8, 9:01 am ET
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs is known for sparring with White House reporters, making for what often seems an antagonistic mood in the press briefing room.
But during President Obama's trip to India, Gibbs assumed the role of press advocate and threatened to pull Obama out of bilateral talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh because three U.S. reporters were blocked from covering the meeting.
Indian officials would let only five reporters into Hyderabad House in New Delhi instead of the agreed-upon eight.
The Washington Post's Scott Wilson—who was on White House pool duty Monday and filed the report for the White House press corps—wrote that "Gibbs announced loudly and persistently on steps of Hyderabad House that he would pull" President Obama out of the meeting "unless 'the White House 8,' as we've come to be known, were all allowed in."
As the discussion continued, Gibbs grew more animated.
"At one point, Gibbs literally had his foot lodged in the closing front door, asking if the Indian security officials pushing hard to shut it were going to break his foot," Wilson continued. "More angry words ensued, and after Gibbs convinced them, through high volume and repetition, that he was serious" about pulling Obama, the press secretary had the security retinue's full attention.
Gibbs' intervention worked: The Indian officials eventually allowed the full American press delegation into the event, along with a larger group of Indian reporters.
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