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Obama on his state senate records

From NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan
JOHNSTON, IA -- Obama said that he didn't know where his papers from his eight years in the Illinois State House were at a press conference in Johnston, Iowa, this morning after he taped an appearance on Iowa Press.

When asked about why he hadn't released his papers, Obama said that he had only one staff person assigned to him during his years in the senate and simply did not have the resources to keep archival records.

"I don't have archivists in the state senate," he said. "I don't have the Barack Obama state senate library available to me. I do not have a whole bunch of records from those years."

Obama had been asked the question by Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times, who pressed the senator on the question, saying that she wasn't requesting specific papers. Instead, she just wanted to know where the papers were.

"You know I'm not certain, Lynn," Obama said. "I didn't have the resources to ensure that all this sutff was archived in some way; it could have been thrown out. I haven't been in the state senate now for some time. I'm not sure, Lynn. I don't know."

Obama also said why he had said that Clinton had switched sides on a bankruptcy bill that offered stronger protections for consumers at an roundtable on pension security in Ottumwa yesterday.

"We were on the same side in 2005," Obama said. "I brought this up, in part, because apparently she suggested that I had not voted for one amendment that had gone through committee that suggested that I hadn't been on the right side of the issue consistently. In fact she had been the person who was originally in favor of a credit card company bankruptcy bill and then switched."

Obama also disputed the notion that the public had tired of him after his splashy debut at the Democratic Convention in 2004. "You know, I still I think got it, brother," Obama said. "I do think that having come onto the scene nationally in that convention, people think that maybe every time I speak I'm going to make them cry."

Obama has been reaching out to the media lately, doing appearances on Saturday Night Live and Ellen. The normally media-shy campaign gave numerous interviews yesterday to print and television outlets and even did an interview with the the Christian Broadcasting Network's 700 Club that aired today. When asked why he was putting on "a charm offensive," Obama laughed off the question and said that people were paying more attention now and the campaign was trying to reach them in as many venues as possible.

Obama also took a question on whether he was not taking enough opportunities to differentiate himself form Clinton. "I'm not interested in taking pot shots just for the sake of taking pot shots," Obama said. "If I've had a serious difference with Senator Clinton I've made that difference absolutely clear, and I will continue to do so."

He added he was still committed to running a campaign that attempted to rise above the back and forth of what he has deemed "textbook" politics from Washington. But the most notable exchange in the press conference came when Obama was about to walk off stage after taking just four questions. Sweet and David Wright from ABC News protested loudly that the Senator was not making himself more available to the media.

"If transparency is a big part of the campaign, why are the availabilities so few and far between and so short?" Wright asked Obama.

Obama ignored his question, but came back to both Sweet and Wright afterward, taking questions on his Illinois state senate records and why he didn't take more opportunities to attack Clinton. Since Sept. 10, this was the second press conference the campaign has organized that was open to all press. Obama also took questions from New Hampshire reporters after he filed for the presidency there, a tradition organized by the New Hampshire Secretary of State's office. He has also had two other media availabilities -- one in Iowa and one in South Carolina.

In a town hall in Dover, N.H., several weeks ago, Obama said he that he would hold regular press conferences and "not just call on my four favorite reporters."