President Trump was 20 words into his recent interview with the New York Times when he raised a topic that he seemingly can’t resist: Hillary Clinton.
“Hi fellas, how you doing?” he said to the three Times reporters, two of whom were fellas. Then, asked about his meeting on health care with Republican senators, he continued. “It was good. We are very close. It’s a tough — you know, health care. Look, Hillary Clinton worked eight years in the White House with her husband as president and having majorities and couldn’t get it done. Smart people, tough people — couldn’t get it done.”
Clinton is Trump’s eternal foil, the person who, Trump seems to think, can always be identified as the unpopular yang to his yin, the looming reminder to his supporters of What Could Have Been. Whatever Trump does or doesn’t do, he’s always willing to point out what Clinton did or didn’t do that’s worse.
So she comes up in his interviews a lot. In fact, in 19 interviews that he’s conducted since becoming president, we found that Clinton tended to be mentioned much earlier than a number of Trump’s other favorite topics: The 2016 election, the votes he received, the electoral college and Barack Obama. Tallying the first appearance of each word in those 19 interviews, we figured out how far into an interview Trump first made mention of them, on average. (Making it 100 percent into the interview means he never mentioned it at all.)
In 17 of 19 of his interviews, Clinton came up, on average about 36 percent of the way in. That’s more frequently and earlier than his mentions of Obama, who made it into only 16 interviews, about 43 percent of the way in.
The two interviews in which Trump didn’t mention Hillary came, interestingly, at the beginning of his time in office. The second was his Super Bowl interview with Bill O’Reilly. His introduction of the subject in that Times interview released this week was the earliest she’d come up.
While Trump mentioned Obama immediately after Clinton in that interview, he’s still mentioned his predecessor earlier in other past interviews. (These percentages are the first appearance of the word relative to the total number of characters in the transcript of Trump’s comments from the interview.)
Surprisingly, Trump has mentioned the electoral college or vote in only about a third of the interviews we looked at.
But the election and the vote have come up in 14 of 19 (though not the same 14).
How much does Trump like to raise the subject of Hillary Clinton? He even mentions her more frequently and sooner than his other favorite opponent: the press.
We’ve come up in only 14 of his interviews, about 53 percent of the way in, on average.
But, as with his one-time and eternal political opponent, it’s a safe bet we’ll come up.
The interviews included above: ABC News, Jan. 25; CBN, Jan. 29; Fox News, Feb. 5; Time, March 23; New York Times, April 5; Fox Business, April 11; CBS News, April 20; AP, April 23; Reuters, April 27; Examiner, April 28; Economist, May 11; NBC News, May 11; Fox News, May 13; Fox News, June 23; Fox News, June 25; Reuters, July 12; CBN, July 12; New York Times, July 19 and a July 12 pooled interview distributed by the White House.