It used to be that a daily scrum with reporters was an almost daily staple for any candidate running for President, but as of today, Hillary Clinton has now gone nine months without doing a news conference of any type. Yes, she has done interviews with the press, but her last encounter with multiple reporters was December 5 of last year – after a campaign stop in Iowa.
While the scoreboard shows a big lead for Donald Trump on news conferences – he has repeatedly attacked Clinton for not making herself available – Trump has himself become much less accessible to reporters of late.
The Wall Street broke down the numbers last week this way on Trump news conferences:
January – 2
February – 3
March – 5
April – 2
May – 2
June – 1
July – 1
August – 1
But that’s still a much better record than that of Clinton.
Yes, there is no law that says a candidate for President must allow reporters to ask questions each day, week or month of a campaign for President.
But as a reporter, I can certainly close my eyes and think back to various trips on the campaign trail where reporters would get a quick crack at the candidate.
It’s not hard to go back into the files of C-SPAN to find a few examples of candidates meeting reporters on the trail:
George H.W. Bush – VP Bush in Nashua, New Hampshire.
Bill Clinton – 1992 in New Hampshire (I think I was at this one).
George W. Bush – From March of 2000.
Barack Obama – From October of 2008.
Hillary Clinton – From mid-March of 2008.
Mitt Romney – From April 2012.
Sometimes a news conference can be used to go on the attack against your opponent – or other times, to defend yourself about a story that’s in the news that day.
Hillary Clinton has had a lot of those opportunities since last December, but she has not opened herself up to reporters on the campaign trail since then.
As a reporter, I understand that as we get closer to Election Day, we are not as likely to have open and free wheeling news conferences with the candidates.
But to have none of those press availabilities at all in an election year – that’s not how things have worked in a race for President while I’ve been covering politics for the last thirty plus years.
We’ll see how things change – for both candidates – as we now enter the Labor Day to Election Day run.