Secret Service: "Mr. President-elect, you'll have to surrender your Blackberry." Obama: "Nope"
Despite legal and security hurdles, president-elect Barack Obama says he has a plan to retain his beloved Blackberry once he moves into the White House next week. Interviewed by CNN Friday, Obama said the smartphone was among the tools that he would use to stay in touch with real Americans and avoid becoming trapped inside the presidential "bubble."
"I think we're going to be able to hang on to one of these. My working assumption, and this is not new, is that anything I write on an email could end up being on CNN," he said.
"So I make sure to think before I press 'send'," he said of his Blackberry, which was an ever-present fixture on his belt or in his hand on the campaign trail.
Obama did not divulge just how he will overcome legal constraints, given the requirement of the post-Watergate Presidential Records Act of 1978 to keep a record of every White House communication.
Nor did he say how he would persuade his Secret Service protectors that the Blackberry does not pose a security risk, for instance if it is hacked over the air.
But Obama, who succeeds the unpopular George W. Bush on Tuesday, said the phone was a valuable part of a wider strategy to escape the White House fishbowl.
"It's just one tool among a number of tools that I'm trying to use, to break out of the bubble, to make sure that people can still reach me," he said.
"If I'm doing something stupid, somebody in Chicago can send me an email and say, 'What are you doing?'
"I want to be able to have voices, other than the people who are immediately working for me, be able to reach out and send me a message about what's happening in America."
The mobile device dilemma may have inadvertently been solved on Friday, as Obama's Blackberry tumbled from his belt as he got out of his limousine and onto his plane in Washington.
A Secret Service agent hurried to pick up the pieces, gathering the Blackberry and battery off the frigid tarmac.