Hillary Clinton may not have held a formal news conference in six months, but the press always wants more regardless of what they get, says the Democratic front-runner’s top strategist.
“As a former reporter, I can tell you that I’ve never been in a press corps or heard a press corps that didn’t complain they weren’t getting more of the candidate,” chief strategist and pollster Joel Benenson told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “New Day.”
Voters, Benenson went on to say, “want to hear from the candidate directly.”
“They love town halls, they love when they’re out there meeting with voters and hear real people asking questions,” Benenson said, adding that “books have been written about the kinds of questions, by the way, that voters ask as opposed to what reporters ask.” One such book, he said, is James Fallows’ 1996 work “Breaking the News.”
“And what they looked at is that voters asked questions that are about their lives and reporters ask questions that are all about the process. And what voters want to hear is the questions that are going to affect them, which candidate is going to do more to make a difference in their lives,” Benenson said. “Because that’s what they’re voting on.”
Benenson’s comments come after Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon told CNN’s Brian Stelter on Sunday’s episode of “Reliable Sources” that there is “no reluctance” on the part of the Clinton campaign to make their candidate available for questions.
“I think that oftentimes we will do an event at the end of the day. We’ll do an avail, what would be known as an avail to the people in your business, where she informally comes out after an event has concluded, after she’s taken some photos and some selfies, and she’ll literally stand there for 15, 20 minutes and answer questions from her traveling press corps, including the embeds from the various networks,” Fallon said.
“In terms of a definition of calling something an availability versus a press conference, oftentimes it’s just defined by whether you have a banner behind you or a podium in front of you. But the reality, bottom line is she’s answering questions from reporters covering her day to day.”
Reporters covering Clinton’s campaign contested those assertions Sunday, with one pointing out that Clinton’s last informal gaggle with the press came May 9 in Stone Ridge, Virginia, that lasted all of two and a half minutes.