WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 (UPI) — Falling in line with a tradition followed by previous nominees of both parties, Hillary Clinton will begin allowing her traveling press corps onto her official campaign airplane, allowing for greater access to a candidate who has been criticized for ducking reporters’ questions.
To this point, the traveling press corps has been confined to chartered planes that shadow the candidates. Clinton has used a small private jet to ferry her and her traveling campaign staff between events. Donald Trump continues to use his own private 747 to crisscross the country and members of the press are generally not allowed to travel on it.
On Wednesday, the candidate infuriated reporters when his plane landed in Los Angeles to continue on a trip to Mexico, when the press plane was diverted to Phoenix, the site of his next U.S. campaign stop. Reporters and their news agencies were left to scramble to arrange transportation to and from Mexico City.
Starting Monday, Clinton will begin leasing a larger plane that allows for the traveling press to fly with the candidate.
Presidential nominees have generally coordinated with major news outlets on travel logistics and dedicated reporters from major news networks and publications have been offered the courtesy — at their own expense — of a seat on the candidate’s airplane. Sitting presidents have always allowed members of the White House press corps to travel on Air Force One.
Beyond keeping with tradition, there are also practical reasons for members of the press to travel with candidates. The many hours of downtime in the air can lead to conversations between reporters, the candidate and campaign staff. These conversations, even if off-the-record, often have the effect of forming personal relationships that can influence how news is reported when the cameras are live and the tape recorders are rolling.
It remains unclear, however, if greater proximity to the press will lead to greater on-the-record access to Clinton, who critics point out has not held a press conference in nearly nine months. Instead, Clinton has given periodic one-on-one interviews that her press team can more tightly control than an unscripted, wide-ranging press conference where reporters can ask about virtually any topic they want.