Obama changes mind on daughters' TV interview

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Barack Obama has spent days rejecting charges of flip-flopping on Iraq, but the presidential contender on Wednesday owned up to changing positions on another issue -- letting his daughters be interviewed on television.

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama shares a light moment with his daughters Malia (L) and Shasha during a picnic with hundreds of participants in Fort Wayne, Indiana, May 4, 2008. REUTERS/Jason Reed

“We wouldn’t do it again, and we won’t be doing it again,” Obama told NBC’s “Today” show after “Access Hollywood” aired an interview with the Obama family, including their usually sheltered daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7.

The interview -- with a syndicated celebrity news show -- created a stir in news media circles, where journalists have long agreed to campaign ground rules that keep the Obama daughters off limits to press traveling with the Democratic candidate.

That’s not unusual. Other presidential contenders with young children have worked to keep them out of the limelight. Chelsea Clinton was off limits in the Bill Clinton White House, and President George W. Bush has guarded the privacy of his twin daughters.

But the Obama family interview came as the Democratic candidate has been trying to reintroduce himself to U.S. voters in preparation for the November 4 presidential election against Republican John McCain, an Arizona senator.

The daughters complained about dad’s fashion sense and his tendency to leave campaign suitcases where they are tripped over, bringing the image of Obama as a regular dad into focus.

But the interview made it seem like the candidate was trying to have it both ways: on the one hand demanding privacy for his daughters and, on the other, putting them out front in his campaign.

Obama made the rounds of U.S. morning talk shows on Wednesday with a well-rehearsed response for those critical of the interview: we got carried away, went too far, it won’t happen again.

“We had a unique situation in Montana where it was Malia’s birthday, and all of us, I think, got caught up in the festivities and so they had a chance to be their adorable selves on TV,” Obama told CBS’s “Early Show.”

Acknowledging he and wife, Michelle Obama, had been protective of the girls in the past, he added, “In retrospect, I think, you know, if you’d ask me ... we wouldn’t do it again.”

“Everybody was having a good time, and I think we got carried away a little bit,” he told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “Generally what makes them so charming is the fact that they’re not spending a lot of time worrying about TV cameras or politics, and we want to keep it that way.”

“We got carried away in the moment. We were having a birthday party and everybody was laughing, and suddenly this thing cropped up. And I didn’t catch it quickly enough,” he told the “Today” show, part of the NBC network that produces “Access Hollywood.”

Editing by David Wiessler