Hillary Clinton took yet another step on Thursday in opening up to the media: a 16-minute formal press conference during which she slammed Donald Trump for suggesting Russian President Vladimir Putin is a better leader than Barack Obama.
Though the event was similar to the two “gaggles” she held on her plane with reporters earlier in the week, Clinton took the extra step Thursday of giving the media a half-hour warning before answering questions on live video at a podium on the tarmac in White Plains, N.Y. With the event, Clinton effectively ended the months-long standoff with her press corps, which led Trump to brand her “Hiding Hillary.”
Before she took questions, Clinton blasted the GOP nominee for his praise of Putin at Wednesday’s “Commander-in-Chief Forum,” where Trump said the authoritarian president of Russia is a better leader than Obama. Among other things, Trump cited Putin’s high approval rating in his country. “That is not just unpatriotic and insulting to the people of our country as well as to our commander in chief, it is scary,” Clinton said Thursday. “Because it suggests he will do whatever Putin wants to do, and then make excuses for him.”
Clinton also suggested former presidents would be rolling in their graves at the comment. “I was just thinking about all of the presidents that would just be looking at one another in total astonishment. What would Ronald Reagan say about a Republican nominee who attacks America’s generals and heaps praise on Russia’s president? I think we know the answer,” she said. (Trump had said that America’s generals had been “reduced to rubble.”)
She also announced she would be convening a Friday meeting of bipartisan national security experts, including former Secretaries of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano, to discuss the best way to find and kill ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
As she took questions, Clinton continued her new charm offensive with the media she had previously kept at arm’s length. She asked one reporter if he went “shopping in your closet” for a new hat. And she told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell that she was “my kind of woman” for insisting on getting her question answered. “I love you Andrea…You’re indefatigable,” she said.
Clinton’s media reset began on Monday, when her campaign allowed the press on her new, larger plane for the first time this election cycle — far later than candidates have welcomed the media in the past. (Trump quickly followed suit, inviting a smaller press pool to travel with him for a leg of his journey on Monday as well.)
Clinton told reporters she was “happy” to have them on her plane with her. Some members of the media laughed, given the 275-day standoff during which the candidate had not held a press conference with them. “No, really,” she insisted.
Later that day, she again walked to the back of the plane brandishing a copy of her book “Stronger Together” and then took more than 10 questions from reporters for nearly a half hour. She held another gaggle Tuesday, answering more questions at the back of her plane and taking a tarmac photo with the print photographers who have covered her candidacy.
Trump’s campaign released a statement calling her Thursday press conference “desperate.” Trump held a gaggle with reporters on Monday but hasn’t had a formal press conference since the end of July.