Through spokesman, Romney nudges attorney general toward the door

David Martosko Executive Editor
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HANOVER, N.H. — Closing the loop on what ABC News called a “testy exchange” Monday afternoon, Mitt Romney’s camp answered a question after Tuesday night’s economic debate that the former Massachusetts governor dodged — at length — in Hooksett, N.H., the day before.

In the post-debate “spin room,” Romney traveling press secretary Eric Fehrnstrom tackled a question from The Daily Caller about whether U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder should resign in the wake of the “Operation Fast and Furious” gun-walking scandal.

“Look,” said Fehrnstrom. “If Eric Holder — if it’s determined that Eric Holder deliberately misled Congress, then yes, he should resign.”

His comments came after the debate sponsored by Bloomberg TV and The Washington Post. It was held on the campus of Dartmouth College.

Monday in Hooksett, Romney himself lectured TheDC for 35 seconds about why that simple yes-or-no question was too complicated to answer on the spot and in a time-limited format.

Fehrnstrom, his press aide, answered the question without batting an eye, and in less than seven seconds.

Asked why Romney wasn’t able — or willing — to answer the question the previous day, Ferhnstrom said his boss “prefers [press] availabilities like this, where his thinking is more organized, as opposed to whatever he may have been doing at the time — working a crowd, I’m not quite sure, I wasn’t there — and answering questions on the fly. He doesn’t think that’s conducive to a good conversation.”

TheDC challenged the Romney spokesman on whether a U.S. president should be able to answer policy questions on the spur of the moment, without dissembling or complaining about it.

Fehrnstrom countered that Romney “is happy to interact with citizens all the time [but] he prefers formal availabilities with the press, as opposed to answering questions on the fly.”

During his first year in office, President Obama held 27 press conferences, 11 of them solo.

University of Minnesota researcher Eric Ostermeier wrote in 2010 that former President George H. W. Bush held 29 solo press conferences during his first year in office. Bill Clinton held 14. Former President George W. Bush held just 5.

David is The Daily Caller’s executive editor and a Dartmouth alumnus. Follow him on Twitter