January 11th, 2012
06:56 PM ET
Even as the GOP presidential primary season gets well under way, the White House continues to insist President Obama has yet to focus on his own reelection bid.
It may come as no surprise then that when Obama made an unannounced visit to his campaign headquarters in Chicago Wednesday night, members of the traveling press corps were kept far away.
To be sure, images of Obama giving high fives and back slaps to his campaign staff would surely contradict the notion that the president has yet to give any significant thought to the effort ahead.
Speaking with members of the press shortly before the visit, deputy press sectary Josh Earnest said that Obama merely wanted to “say hello and thank the people in Chicago who are working hard on his reelection campaign.”
Still, Earnest quickly repeated what White House officials have said for months: while his campaign operation is in full gear, “the president himself and the staff at the White House have been focused on the critical priorities and the items on his agenda as the President of the United States.”
Earnest wouldn’t provide a specific reason why the press was not allowed to cover the visit. Later he put out a short statement describing the event.
“[Obama] stood at one end of the large, open bullpen area at the center of the 6th floor of the bldg,” the statement read. "He spoke for less than ten minutes to a few hundred members of his campaign staff. He talked about coming to Chicago for the first time as a young man and reminisced about the early days of his campaign for the senate. He both thanked his staffers for their hard works and encouraged those saying that he hoped to run 'a campaign that embodies the values we're fighting for'. On the way out, he shook many, many hands.”
After the visit to the headquarters, Obama will attend three fundraisers for his reelection campaign and the Democratic Party. Television cameras are allowed into one of those.