(WASHINGTON) — President Obama faces the press on Wednesday for the first time since his re-election amid the sexual scandal surrounding former CIA Director David Petraeus. And with the clock ticking toward the looming “fiscal cliff,” both topics are expected to take center stage.
Wednesday will mark Obama’s 20th formal solo White House news conference — his first since March.
Since then, however, the president has fielded questions in a variety of other capacities. He last took questions from the White House press corps at an impromptu press conference in the briefing room in August, when the bulk of the questions revolved around the heated presidential campaign.
Before that, Obama answered a handful of reporters’ questions following a briefing room statement on the economy in June, when he said “the private sector is doing fine” and set off a brief ruckus on the campaign trail. Later that month, at the G20 summit in Mexico, the president answered six questions from three reporters on the European debt crisis, the conflict in Syria and the notion of politics stopping at the water’s edge.
The president has also responded to the occasional shouted question from a White House reporter. Last month, after delivering a statement on Hurricane Sandy, the president answered a question about how the storm was affecting the election.
In the run-up to the election, the president gave interviews to talk shows and entertainment magazines, including US Weekly, Jay Leno, MTV and Rolling Stone.
Before he opens it up for questions Wednesday, the president is expected to deliver a brief opening statement on his efforts to reach a bipartisan agreement to reduce the deficit and prevent the economy from going over the “fiscal cliff” of spending cuts and tax increases set to take effect on Jan 1.
The president has said he wants to preserve tax breaks for the middle class but has vowed to veto any bill that extends the Bush-era tax cuts for the top 2 percent of income earners.
Obama, who has said he is “open to compromise,” is expected to urge House Republicans to pass the Senate bill that would extend tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans.
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