From NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan
SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Led by the Chicago press corps that has covered Obama for years, the candidate today faced a barrage of questions in what turned out to be a contentious news conference.
Questions centered on why his campaign had denied that a meeting occurred between his chief economic advisor and Canadian officials as well as questions on his relationship with Tony Rezko, a Chicago land developer and fast food magnate, now on trial for corruption charges.
Obama claimed that when he had first denied the meeting between Austan Goolsbee and any members of the Canadian administration he provided "the information that [he] had at the time."
He added, "Nobody reached out to the Canadians to try to reassure them. They reached out, unbeknownst to the rest of us; They reached out to Mr. Goolsbee, who provided them with a tangible conversation and repeated what we've said on the campaign trail."
When did the meeting take place? Why did the Canadian officials reach out? Did Goolsbee not come forward right away and admit the meeting to Campaign Manager David Plouffe and Obama when both denied it last week? These are questions that went unanswered as the press conference was cut short.
Much of the back and forth, though, between reporters and Obama was about his relationship with Tony Rezko, with reporters demanding to know why new details were emerging from the case though Obama and his staff had claimed they had been forthright with all the details.
Obama and Carol Marin, political editor at NBC5 in Chicago and columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times, tangled over how up front Obama had been about Rezko. Obama cut off her line of questioning, saying that Marin's questions were personally motivated.
"Carol, can I just say I have to really dispute this," Obama said. "It is true that you wanted an individual sit down, but I don't think that's fair to speak for the entire Chicago press corps because on this -- Let me finish," he interjected as she tried to interrupt.
"Before you were reporting on these issues I had an avail," Obama said, pointing to members of the Chicago press corps who were present, "where I literally stood there and took every question people could think of."
Lynn Sweet from the Chicago Sun-Times then jumped in and told Obama that he may have answered questions for the Chicago press, but many other reporters hadn't had a chance to hear him on the issue.
"I just want to make that point an issue," Obama said. "You may still have questions, which I'm happy to answer, but I don't think it's fair to suggest somehow that we've been trying to hide the ball on this. There have been more attacks. There have been several hundred stories written on this issue. The fact of the matter remains unchallenged."
Obama went on to detail his relationship with Rezko, repeating that the land deal had been a "bone-headed" move.
"On the other hand, there have been no allegations that I betrayed the public trust," he argued. "There have been no allegations that I did him any favors."
A third reporter followed, asking Obama why information about fundraisers or other details had not been answered by the campaign. He raised the issue of how details were emerging in the case, like the fact that Obama and Rezko had toured the property that resulted in the questionable land deal between the two men.
Obama continued to say that reporters' interest was due to the fact this was "a hot story."
He claimed that his campaign would be happy to provide the details, but when asked why the campaign hadn't been forthcoming, he said, "What happens is these requests I think can go on forever, and, at some point, we've tried to respond to what's pertinent to the question that's been raised."
He added, "There's no question that he raised money for us, and there's no dispute that we've tried to get rid of that money."
Toward the end of the press conference, the question of Goolsbee's meeting was raised again. Obama answered curtly and then walked out after a staffer called last question. The press erupted with shouts, but Obama continued to walk out.
He paused only to say, "Come on guys; I answered like eight questions. We're running late."
On the flight from San Antonio to Dallas, Obama, unsurprisingly, did not wander back to make small talk with the traveling press corps.