Obama wants interview, plea for Iowa endorsement to be kept hidden (UPDATED)

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama wants the Des Moines Register to endorse his 2012 bid, but he also wants his interview with the newspaper’s top staff to be kept hidden from the public.

The newspaper’s editor, Rick Green, is now openly asking the president to put his 30-minute Oct. 23 interview on the record so that it can be seen by Iowa’s voters.

“The conference call [with Obama] lasted nearly 30 minutes and was an incredibly informative exchange of questions, answers and an insightful glimpse into the president’s vision for a second term,” Green wrote in an Oct. 23 article asking the Obama campaign to let the interview go public.

Green’s column includes the text of a plea that he sent to the Obama campaign.

“What the President shared with us this morning — and the manner, depth and quality of his presentation – would have been well-received by not only his base, but also undecideds,” Green wrote.

In contrast, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney allowed his nearly hour-long audio-taped interview with the top editor of Iowa’s main newspaper to be posted on the paper’s website.

Green insisted, however, that the Obama campaign’s response to his plea will not influence the paper’s endorsement decision.

“The White House’s decision won’t play a factor in our board’s final endorsement decision. That would be petty and ridiculous. We take far too seriously what’s at stake this election and what our endorsement should say,” he declared.

The newspaper is set to announce its endorsement Oct. 27. Judging by Green’s effusive language, the paper will probably endorse Obama.

Green’s description of the longer Romney interview on Oct. 9 was comparatively bland and tepid.

“We had a wide-ranging conversation in a little under an hour of access. … [and] the audio was digitally recorded and posted on DesMoinesRegister.com,” Green wrote.

The Des Moines Register endorsed Obama in 2008. The battleground state overwhelmingly went to Obama in that election.

“Obama has earned the Register’s endorsement for the presidency because of his steadfastness in the face of uncertainty, his clear-eyed vision for a more just America and his potential for rallying the country to do great things,” the paper said four years ago.

Green’s column prompted some jeers from the Republican National Committee.

“Two weeks out from an election concealing this interview from Iowa voters both raises questions about what [Obama] was hiding and betrays the President’s lack of confidence about his failed record and lack of a vision for a 2nd term,” said a statement from RNC spokesman Tim Miller.

“In short, President Obama is telling Iowans that if they want to hear him answer some tough qs before Election Day, they’ll have to hope for a rerun of ‘The View.’”

UPDATE: The Obama campaign has now released the interview for publication.

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Neil Munro