Welcome to day 29 of the Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign!
In those 29 days – including April 12, the day she announced, and today – Clinton has taken a total of eight questions from the press. That breaks out to roughly one question every 3.6 days. Of late, she's taken even fewer questions than that. According to media reports, the last day Clinton answered a question was April 21 in New Hampshire; that means that she hasn't taken a question from the media in 20 straight days.
Carly Fiorina, one of the many newly minted Republicans running for president, is doing everything she can to shine a light on Clinton's close-mouthed approach with the press. This came from Fiorina deputy campaign manager Sasha Isgur Flores this morning:
In the last eight days, Carly has been interviewed almost 30 times and answered well over 300 questions. She continues to impress voters, pundits, and reporters alike with her willingness to share her thoughts and ideas – and to answer any question, from whether she likes hot dogs to how she would tackle the crisis in the Middle East. ... This is in stark contrast to many other candidates – and most especially to Hillary Clinton.
And it's not just the Republican candidates attacking Clinton on her silence. The New York Times posted an item on its "First Draft" blog last week titled "Questions for Hillary Clinton: Immigration" in which Amy Chozick wrote: "This is the first installment of a regular First Draft feature in which The Times will publish questions we would have asked Mrs. Clinton had we had the opportunity." And, late last month, I offered up seven questions Clinton should answer.
The Clinton campaign's response to all of this? Blah. Reporters whining – like they always do. And, as every Clinton staffer is quick to note, she has answered questions from lots of regular people during her first month as a candidate – holding roundtables in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. They are also quick to note that she makes opening statements at these roundtables.
— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) May 6, 2015
She's taking questions from voters! She's talking about policy! You guys just don't like it because she's not falling all over herself to jump through your hoops!
So, for roughly the billionth time, let me make two points in response to that way of thinking.
1. Making policy statements/opening statements does not remove the need to answer actual questions from reporters.
2. While answering questions from hand-picked audience members is not without value, no one could possibly think it is the equivalent of answering questions from the working press.
As I have written before, Clinton needs the media at this point in the campaign far less than someone like Carly Fiorina does. Clinton is not only universally known but also has a huge primary lead and is ahead of all Republican contenders in general election matchups as well. Fiorina, on the other hand, is known by roughly no one, and to the extent anyone does know her, it's for the way she left HP.
Still, this is the new Clinton campaign, right? The one where she and the people around her pledged to deal differently with the press? Little did we know that "different" in this case meant "next to not at all."
Yes, we are one month into the campaign. And yes, Clinton and her team wanted to start very low-profile this time around – to avoid making the mistakes she made in 2008. So, it's possible things could change. But if past is prologue, I wouldn't bet on it.