Obama Keeps Interview with Des Moines Register Off the Record (Updated: Now It Will Be On The Record)

Iowa is one of the swing states, and in Iowa the Des Moines Register is probably the most influential newspaper. President Obama sought the paper's endorsement this week, but with a catch: His conversation with the paper's editors had to remain off the record. No recording could be released and the paper could not characterize its conversation with the president. Editor Rick Green is concerned:

Just four days before the Register’s presidential endorsement is released, Laura Hollingsworth and I received a phone call from the president. He was calling from Florida, on the heels of a morning campaign appearance and about 14 hours after his debate with GOP nominee Mitt Romney at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.

The conference call 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. He made a genuine and passionate case for our endorsement and for reelection.

Just two weeks before Election Day, the discussion, I believe, would have been valuable to all voters, but especially those in Iowa and around the country who have yet to decide between the incumbent Democrat and his Republican opponent.

Unfortunately, what we discussed was off-the-record. It was a condition, we were told, set by the White House.

The Register's editors got just under an hour with Romney, and he allowed the paper to record the conversation and release the recording. It's at the link above. The Register will announce its endorsement on Sunday.

Obama's behavior here is kind of strange, no? The president will be on both Leno and MTV this week, and both of those interviews are very much on the record. He has made a habit of doing soft interviews with radio DJs and The View but, lately, has shied away from doing interviews with mainstream media. I'm certainly no advocate for granting the mainstream media any special favors, but Obama's pattern of behavior raises questions. What did he say to the Register that he doesn't want us to hear?

Update: Now the paper says the president is allowing the interview to go on the record. The appearance created is that he either bowed to pressure (again) or he manipulated the paper into hyping the interview before allowing it to be placed on the record.