Obama Stunned When Leader Has "Nothing to Add"

At the White House photo-op at the end of President Obama's summit with the leaders of the European Union, he was taken aback when each of the leaders had plenty to say – except one.

"Obviously we'll have to give you more training," Mr. Obama said to EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana (at left), who said he had "nothing to add" after the president and two EU leaders made substantial statements to reporters.

The president made it clear that's not the way it's done on this side of the Atlantic.

"You should understand that the rule in Washington is: even if you don't have anything to say – you should take a long time to say it," said the president to Solana, with tongue-in-cheek.

Mr. Obama also got to demonstrate another rule of the road in Washington: how to decline answering a pointed question from a reporter.

"Are today's elections a referendum on your presidency," asked CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Chip Reid as the photo op was coming to an end.

"Thank you very much," said Pres. Obama – ignoring the question – but not entirely.

"Good try, Chip," he told Reid as White House press wranglers led reporters out of the room.

It was a question repeatedly put earlier in the day to White House spokesman Robert Gibbs – who was also able to avoid giving a direct answer to it.

Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow him on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/markknoller.
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    Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.