President Obama strayed from his normal routine Wednesday and made a surprise visit to the press cabin aboard Air Force One upon his return from Quincy, Illinois where he wrapped up a two-day swing through the Midwest.
He told reporters he was pleased that the Senate agreed to move forward on financial reform legislation, calling it the "right thing to do."
It was rare for reporters traveling with the president to have this kind of access to Mr. Obama, who has become notoriously inaccessible to the press.
In the first year of his presidency he had 47 informal, brief question and answer encounters with the press corps. President Bush had 147, and President Clinton had 252, according to statistics collected by Towson University Political Science Professor Martha Joynt Kumar .
"He's taking few questions from individual reporters in a setting where he has to respond to the issues that reporters want to talk about," Kumar told Fox in February.
But in his first year in office, Mr. Obama granted more one-on-one interviews than Bush and Clinton.
"He's very interested in explaining things, and that's one of the reasons he gravitates towards interviews because in them he can talk at length about particular issues," says Kumar.
The president has been increasingly called out for his relationship with the media. As other media outlets have recently noted, Mr. Obama -- who was an early favorite of some news organizations because of the historic nature of his candidacy -- has often chided the people who cover him every day. In essence, the honeymoon isn't only over, it ended awhile ago, according to observers.
Maybe the president took the recent press coverage... of press coverage... to heart. Or perhaps he was inspired to talk to the traveling press corps Wednesday evening after Senate Republicans dropped their procedural delay designed to further prolong debate on financial regulatory reform. Or maybe he was just energized by the two days spent on the road, criss-crossing states that helped him get to the Oval Office.
It's no secret that Mr. Obama enjoys getting out of the White House and meeting with the voters who got him there. "People are genuinely concerned about jobs, they've got serious questions about how the new health care bill is going to work or what's happening with immigration or other issues," Mr. Obama said of the trip. He told reporters he had fun getting out of D.C. "It took me back to when I started politics."
Indeed, with the president taking time out to talk to reporters on his plane, it did seem more like a campaign trip than a presidential one. Mr. Obama frequently held impromptu press conferences with reporters as a candidate.