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« RGA Polling In NH | Blog Home Page | FL Back Atop The News »

McCain And The AZ Press

John McCain has enjoyed great relations with the national press in recent years, thanks largely to his accessibility. But the candidate who spends hours a day riding along with journalists, always on the record, and even invites them to his ranch house in Sedona, Arizona, does not have great relations with the home-town media, Politico's Michael Calderone writes.

While national reporters get unfettered access, reporters with the Arizona Republic have not always had cozy relations with their senior senator. After a scandal involving savings and loan figure Charles Keating, which ensnared McCain, and after the paper wrote on Cindy McCain's battle with a prescription drug addiction, McCain's relations with the paper reached an all-time low.

It's not only the Republic, though. This writer, who has the privilege of covering Arizona members of Congress for the Arizona Capitol Times on occasion, has heard complaints from writers and editors about a lack of access as well. At a recent press conference in Phoenix, the day after barbecuing for journalists in Sedona, few local reporters were in attendance, and many, we heard later, hadn't even gotten word of the event.

Still, McCain has been treated largely with kid gloves during this year's primaries, JMart observes. Barack Obama has had to deal with Lynn Sweet and tough Tribune scribes, Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani have had to endure countless New York Post and Daily News headers and the New York Times' investigating teams, and Mitt Romney had to endure a Boston press corps that never goes lightly on its home-town candidates.

Even Mike Huckabee has had journalists from his home state on his back. Arkansas journalists, hardened by years following Bill Clinton (an adventure which gave rise to such experienced scribes as AP's Ron Fournier), know how to cover their candidates as well. The Republic, and other Arizona papers, haven't given McCain the same scrutiny that other states have given their candidates.

By most accounts, the relationship between Arizona papers and McCain has now grown cordial, but distant. That could work to McCain's favor in November, when Clinton or Obama have to face the hard-hitting hacks who know them best.