For more than nine months, Hillary Clinton kept the press corps on a starvation diet of campaign releases, second-hand twitter remarks, surrogates, televised commercials and public speeches. This week she broke the media’s prolonged information fast by twice offering reporters a few morsels.
The response was something less than a feeding frenzy.
In the first session, which took place on Monday in the press section of Clinton’s new campaign plane, journalists used their unexpected access to ask how the candidate had enjoyed her Labor Day weekend (she had, very much), and wondered if she had a Labor Day message to the voters. “Oh, I do,” she responded. “If you want more happy Labor Days, you’ll know who to vote for.”
The following day, Clinton held a more formal press opportunity at the White Plains airport. This time she devoted about ten minutes to Q and A. The Q’s were more revealing than the A’s.
Two of the reporters asked variations of the question: Are you held to a double standard by the media because you are a woman? Since this is a Clinton talking point, the candidate had no trouble answering in the affirmative.
Another reporter, citing increasingly tight poll numbers, asked why on earth Clinton wasn’t “wasn’t running away” with the election? Secretary Clinton responded that she feels she is in a strong position and encouraged her supporters to turn out on Election Day.
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Clinton was then asked about the GOP charge that she and Obama and Clinton gave birth to ISIS by prematurely pulling out of Iraq (a Trumpian talking-point). The candidate countered by insisting that ISIS is endorsing Trump (a Clintonian talking point). There was no follow-up.
Among the softballs, one serious question was thrown: Is it prudent for Clinton to declare, as she recently has, that, if elected, she will not send ground forces to Iraq? And did such a statement ignore the fact that there are already US forces fighting in Iraq and Syria? The candidate forthrightly repeated that she would fight ISIS without sending ground troops but dodged the second part of the question. Again, no one asked for clarification.
Clinton repaid the kindness of her interviewers with good-natured banter. She expressed admiration for NBC’s Andrea Mitchell (“my kind of woman”) and bantered with a male reporter who was wearing an old hat for the first time. “Shopping in your closet?” she said. “I do a lot of that, too.”
Sure she does.
Still, it is good that Secretary Clinton has begun talking to reporters, especially since Donald Trump seems less and less inclined to do so. Unlike her opponent, Clinton is fully capable of speaking in complete sentences and giving coherent answers to easy questions. Hopefully, as the campaign progresses, we’ll get a chance to see how she does with the hard ones.
Zev Chafets is a Fox News contributor. His latest book is “Remembering Who We Are: A Treasury of Conservative Commencement Addresses” (Sentinel 2015).