Rob McKenna has decided to stop hosting weekly conference calls with reporters due to a lack of coverage and a number of questions seemingly derived from his opponent’s talking points, according to a campaign spokesman.
McKenna, a Republican and the state’s attorney general, has been holding the half-hour calls with reporters on Tuesdays since Aug. 21, although he canceled last week’s due to a scheduling conflict.
But instead of announcing a time for this week’s call, campaign spokesman Charles McCray said in an email this morning that the “experiment … does not seem to be generating enough interest from our media list or news for your readers/viewers to make them worthwhile to continue.”
A second weekly call, with campaign manager Randy Pepple, was also discontinued.
Instead, the campaign will handle questions as they come in via telephone or email — the same procedure used by McKenna’s Democratic opponent, former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee.
McCray, the McKenna spokesman, called it a time management issue, especially because the calls necessitated preparations and debriefings. But he said the campaign was disappointed with a lack of coverage and poor question quality.
“We were answering questions that could have been asked by the Inslee campaign,” McCray said, adding, “We can still talk about those things. We can still talk about those conversations whenever you want to have them. Just give us a call.”
The conference calls have occasionally generated news, but it has not been particularly positive for McKenna. Instead, he has repeatedly been pressed about releasing his tax returns and his thoughts on national Republican issues such as the selection of vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan and controversy over Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin’s comments about rape and abortion.
The Inslee campaign has also tried to control the narrative on the days of the calls, most notably by releasing Inslee’s tax returns within minutes of the end of McKenna’s first call.
Inslee has not held conference calls with reporters. But his campaign has sent out regular calendars of campaign events, something the McKenna campaign only started after the Aug. 7 primary.