Just as the White House press corps gathers at Andrews Air Force Base and steels itself for a month in the Texas heat pulling “Crawford duty,” it appears a lucky print reporter might (just MIGHT!) get to travel with the Vice President’s delegation to Saudi Arabia.
The VP’s office has gone out of its way to make the offer attractive. Here’s the memo from White House Correspondents Association chief AP Radio’s Mark Smith, who you might note isn’t exactly jumping at the opportunity:
The vice president’s press office has asked the White House Correspondents’ Association for a print pooler to cover his trip to Saudi Arabia. As has been publicly announced, Cheney is heading the delegation that’s going over to pay a condolence call on the Saudis and meet with the new king.
However, the VP’s people warn me that the Saudis are not allowing any coverage of those meetings. Not even stills. In fact, most of the brief time on the ground in Saudi Arabia will be spent holding at the U.S. Embassy. In addition, they tell me there’ll be no access to Cheney on either the outbound or the return trip. Filing after the meetings, if any, would be from the U.S. air base near Riyadh where Cheney’s landing. Plus there’s this added attraction — it’s expected that whoever volunteers for this trip will land his/her news organization with the airfare for the trip, and any other expenses.
If you’re willing to volunteer on that basis, please drop me a line as soon as possible — 4 p.m. Eastern at the latest. If I get more than one volunteer, I’ll draw names from a hat.
Let’s see, roughly two days spent on a plane with no access for the bargain price of only a few thousand dollars? Make sure to get your name in now — that lottery is going to fill up fast.