With spontaneity and a smile. This is how Isabel Rodríguez weathered her first press conference as spokesperson for the coalition government. She will be the face of the Executive of Pedro Sánchez in his new stage, a decision with which the president intends to launch a message of renewal of the Council of Ministers. Without even forming a team with which to face his new stage also as head of Territorial Policy, Rodríguez has arrived at that table with the lesson learned: not to go off the script and not to step on puddles. Neither Cuba, nor Miquel Iceta’s opinion on Catalonia, nor the discrepancies with minority partners. He has avoided them all. Of course, with a smile.
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“I hope to be at the height of the circumstances,” Rodríguez said as soon as he sat down in that chair where every Tuesday the government spokesman submits himself to questions from journalists. She has admitted the nervousness of the ministers who, like her, have joined the Council of Ministers. One of them, Pilar Alegría, the head of Education and Vocational Training, was also at his side debuting while to his left was already one of the veterans, Reyes Maroto, at the head of Industry and Tourism since the first term of the socialist leader.
Rodríguez has made his declaration of intent clear in his initial speech, remembering his “great teacher”, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba. “An anecdote to relax even myself,” he said before recounting that when he was spokesman for the Government of Castilla-La Mancha, Rubalcaba, whom he has defined as “the best spokesman this country has had”, visited then-President José María Barreda and took the opportunity to give advice to her, who was then a “young spokesperson.” “He left me a decalogue of the good spokesperson that I still have. The first point of that decalogue was: don’t give a headline, rather give the headline that you want to give.” I know it will cost me but I am going to try “, he said before going into the matter.
The allusion to the former vice president is another symptom of the change in the Council of Ministers in which Sánchez has given for definitively closed the scar that remained in the PSOE since the battle of the 2017 primaries in which neither Rodríguez nor Alegría supported him. In front of her, nodding at her premiere, was Sánchez’s new chief of staff, Óscar López, with whom she has definitely reconciled.
The spokeswoman was clear about the message that Sánchez wants to convey with this “renewed team”: “face a new stage.” “The roadmap is clear. The objective was to renew the team to take the reins of a new project that is economic recovery, an investment plan and reforms that guarantee the future development of our country,” he summarized.
Rodriguez has been less forceful in the answers. Of course, he has stuck to the script especially on the thorniest issue for the Government in that press conference: the situation in Cuba due to the protests in which a Spanish journalist has been arrested and the discrepancy expressed by United We Can, which has assured that this country “is not a dictatorship.” The spokeswoman has avoided answering the question of whether or not Cuba seems to be a dictatorship and has limited herself to answering what she had previously prepared with the Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares.
“There is no doubt that Spain is a full democracy that defends rights and freedoms. I cannot be more emphatic. That is the position of your Government. In relation to the situation that the Cuban people are experiencing, they have been able to see the statement Ministry of Foreign Affairs is following very exhaustively everything that is happening, “said Rodríguez, who specifically referred to the situation of journalists:” They are working and following up to take the appropriate measures to be taken in this matter. in relation to journalists in our country so that information rights are guaranteed, “he explained.
And asked why Foreign Affairs plans to take measures, Rodríguez has spontaneously approached the Secretary of State for Communication, Miguel Ángel Oliver, who will still be in the transition for a few days after the remodeling, to ask him if there is no coverage in the press room because he was trying to see if Albares had sent him some updated information.
Neither about Catalonia, which is its framework of action, has it wanted to delve beyond ensuring that it will follow the roadmap set by Sánchez and has defended that the “tools” that have emerged to solve the problem should be used. He has not even delved into his specific position when asked if he shared Miquel Iceta’s roadmap and has assured that he will not value the positions of his colleagues but will limit himself to giving an account of the Government’s agreements and fixing the political position of the entire coalition. In its premiere, it has lowered the tone towards the PP with respect to its predecessor, María Jesús Montero. “An intelligent opposition should know that there are agreements that compute electorally,” he recommended.
As his predecessors did in the past, Rodríguez has shown an outstretched hand to journalists. “I value your work a lot – he has started -. They have me at their disposal. Those who have tried cantes with me know it: I am 24/7. Sometimes we have worked after hours”. “They will have me very close not only in this room, in the solemn appointment every Tuesday, but also on other occasions I will try to be available. I hope you find that close interlocution in me, I accept the challenge with the humility and affection that I feel for you. I hope nothing remains unanswered, “concluded the spokeswoman, who for now has about 800 unanswered WhatsApp messages, some of the journalists who today attended their debut in that room in Moncloa.