The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus reports that President Bush has actually had more press availabilities this year — by far — than Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

She writes, “Through the end of September, the president had given 25 news conferences this year and answered questions from reporters in 19 less-extensive sessions, according to statistics compiled by Towson University political scientist Martha Joynt Kumar.

By contrast, Clinton and Obama have only occasionally held the kind of “press avail” that for other candidates, and in previous years, has been a common, often daily, occurrence.”

Marcus adds, “I’d argue that this isn’t just a matter of keeping a grumpy press corps occupied (or feeling important). Yes, candidates answer questions from real people — actual voters — and that is critical. But it is, as Bill Clinton would say, a false choice between the two types of questioning — both are necessary, achievable and mutually reinforcing. What Hillary Clinton derides as a game of reporters playing “gotcha” can help illuminate candidates’ thinking on issues and sharpen differences among them.”

Rudy Giuliani does to regular press availabilities. And Clinton and Obama have been granting more one-on-one interviews with reporters lately.

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