Before Mitt Romney appeared via satellite on an Ohio TV station WHIO Thursday, his campaign told a reporter it would prefer Romney did not get questions about Todd Akin. Fortunately for the Romney campaign, Akin wasn’t on the WHIO agenda.
“They were chatting and it came up and I believe [a Romney staffer’s] wording was that they prefer not to talk about it,” assistant news director Tim Wolff told TPM. “But we didn’t care because we were going to talk about Ohio stuff.”
The WHIO interview was one of four satellite appearances Romney made on local TV stations Thursday. Per common practice, campaign officials fished around for topics and questions that might come up prior to the taping. In at least two of those interviews, the Romney campaign tried to shut down questions about Akin, whose continuing Senate campaign in Missouri is ensuring that abortion stays at the center of the presidential campaign narrative.
In Colorado, a Romney spokesperson set a no-Akin-questions policy as a precondition for getting access to the candidate.
The Romney campaign said such formal stipulations are not standard procedure.
“This is not how we operate,” a campaign official told TPM. “The matter is being addressed.”
Two other stations that interviewed Romney via satellite Thursday told TPM the Romney campaign didn’t say anything about steering clear of Akin. But that could be because neither station suggested Akin as a potential interview topic.
“We talked about possible subjects,” Dave Price, the reporter at WHO-TV in Iowa who interviewed Romney, told TPM. “There wasn’t a stipulation for us.” But Price said he didn’t raise abortion or Akin as a possible topic. “We didn’t [raise it]” he said. “Maybe we would have done it had we had more than five minutes.”
Price added that if they had tried to limit the interview topics, he would not have agreed to those stipulations.
It was the same story at KVVU in Las Vegas.
“Our reporter didn’t even mention the Akin situation,” newsroom staffer Nicole Poretto said. “They didn’t specify what questions we could and couldn’t ask, but that just wasn’t one of the topics we discussed.”