White House improvising Obama’s schedule during government shutdown

President Obama and Vice President Biden talk to the media outside a restaurant after walking from the White House for lunch.
(Pool / Getty Images)

WASHINGTON -- Count one more casualty of the shutdown: President Obama’s once-predictable and predetermined schedule.

In just over a week, Obama has popped out for lunch and shown up in the White House briefing room at short notice. On Monday, he headed over to the FEMA office to chat with workers there. At each stop, he has found a way to work in some jabs at Republicans.

Then, this morning, the White House announced a previously unscheduled news conference.

For those familiar with the steady slog of a White House schedule, the week has seen an unusual amount of improvisation for a White House that tends to keep to a regimen.


The explanation is both political and logistical and stems from the frozen state of affairs in Washington. White House officials want to ensure that Obama has a daily platform to repeat his message: He won’t negotiate with Republicans until they hold a vote to reopen the government and take a possible federal default off the table.

FULL COVERAGE: The U.S. government shutdown

But with many White House staff members furloughed, including some of the people who stage the president’s events, the White House is limited in its options. The situation is aggravated by the fact that Obama had nothing on his White House schedule this week. He was supposed to be on a trip through Asia -- another casualty of the shutdown.

And so Obama is finding easy, low-effort ways to get in front of the cameras. In addition to the sandwich walk and the FEMA office visit, Obama sat for two interviews last week, including a rare session with a print outlet, the Associated Press. Now the news conference in the White House briefing room.

A press corps could get used to this kind of access.

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