Trump and Clinton sharing a strategy: avoiding news interviews

clinton trump press

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are talking to voters in the final days of the race -- but not to reporters.

Both candidates are treading lightly, for reasons that make political sense but stoke resentment within the press corps. Trump hasn't held a formal press conference since July. Clinton hasn't given a national TV news interview since September.

Each campaign argues that their candidate is more accessible than the other side. But the bottom line is that journalists have many questions for Trump and Clinton that aren't getting answered.

Trump hasn't even appeared on his favored network, Fox News, this week.

"In Trump's case, it is entirely understandable," said former Obama chief strategist David Axelrod, now a CNN political commentator. "His team wants him to stick to the script, which he can never do in interviews."

Indeed, Trump has shown an unusual degree of message discipline in recent days.

Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told CNNMoney that this will continue through Election Day, with no TV news interviews planned. She even rebuffed speculation about one last Trump sit-down with Fox host Sean Hannity.

Clinton, meanwhile, has been saying yes to entertainment show interviews and People magazine, but not to news anchors.

Axelrod said Clinton aides "may fear getting dragged into an endless series of email questions that would obscure her imperative to put the focus back on Trump's character and temperament."

Clinton appeared on a Univision talk show, "El Gordo y La Flaca," last week, and chatted with J Lo on "Extra."

She has also been calling into local and national radio shows.

As CNN's Dan Merica reported last week, "the conversations with local radio hosts are lighter than most of her interviews. Hosts regularly ask questions about topics that Clinton is comfortable with, like police brutality, voter turnout and immigration reform, all issues she speaks about at events."

Both candidates have had an allergy to news interviews at various stages in the campaign, and it's back now.

Trump lambasted Clinton over the summer for not holding press conferences. In recent months, Clinton has held more than a dozen Q&A sessions with groups of journalists, sometimes on her campaign plane.

But she hasn't done that since last Friday, when she briefly addressed FBI director James Comey's letter about the discovery of emails belonging to her aide Huma Abedin on the computer of her estranged husband Anthony Weiner.

Trump has been even less accessible to his traveling press corps.

Trump's last full-fledged press conference was on July 27. Since then, he has only held a couple of Q&A sessions, plus a few laps in the spin room after the first presidential debate.

However, he did grant several interviews last week, to outlets like CNN, ABC, and Bloomberg.

Clinton hasn't given a national TV interview since September 12, when she called into CNN to reassure people about her health, one day after nearly collapsing while leaving a 9/11 anniversary ceremony.

Axelrod, who was a political journalist before becoming a strategist, sympathizes with reporters who want more access.

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"To the journalists, I say, your mandate is different than that of the campaigns, whose mission in the final days is to win," he said. "They will do what they deem necessary."


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