’Scary’ Trump & friendly media: Clinton’s first press event

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton © Brian Snyder
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton held her first press conference in 278 days, blasting her Republican rival Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, while taking friendly questions from the assembled reporters.

Standing outside her airplane at the airport in Westchester, New York, Clinton gave a five-minute statement denouncing Trump, then took about six or so questions over the next ten minutes. None of the questions were adversarial, and Clinton even bantered with one of the reporters about his choice of headwear.

It was Clinton’s first proper press event since December 2015. The reporters mostly wondered why she wasn’t winning outright, and if Clinton was being treated unfairly because she’s a woman. The press conference followed Wednesday’s first televised confrontation with Trump at the ‘Commander-in-Chief Forum’ hosted by NBC’s Matt Lauer.

“I’ve always thought this was going to be a close election,” Clinton said, deflecting the first question about why she’s not far ahead of Trump in the polls.

Another question gave Clinton the pretext to repeat her position on fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and Syria. That was followed by a reporter wondering if the Republicans were being sexist for noting Clinton didn’t smile during Wednesday night’s discussion.

“I think there will be a lot of PhD theses and popular journalism writing on that subject for years to come,” Clinton replied, smiling. She was using the limited time to discuss serious issues, she said, while Trump “chose to talk about his deep admiration and support for Vladimir Putin. Maybe he did it with a smile.”

It was the second time Clinton brought up Trump’s “admiration” for the Russian president, which she called “not just unpatriotic and insulting… it is scary” in the opening statement.

To a follow-up question about Trump’s comments on the intelligence briefings given to both candidates, Clinton called them “totally inappropriate and undisciplined.”

Clinton said she was “heartened” by recent articles pointing out the “disparate treatment of Trump’s campaign compared to ours” by the media, implying that her campaign was receiving far more scrutiny from the press.

The last question was from NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, who brought up a recent article by a former government official who said that IS had effectively endorsed Trump.

“I love you Andrea,” Clinton laughed. “You’re my kind of woman.” She then spoke about Matt Olsen, “the very distinguished and effective former director of the National Counterterrorism Center,” who quoted “very clear statements by ISIS leaders” apparently supporting Trump’s election in a Time magazine article published Wednesday

Olsen, who also served as general counsel for the National Security Agency, fundraised for Clinton in Virginia and is the co-founder of IronNet Cybersecurity with former NSA chief Keith Alexander.

“These are the desperate attacks of a flailing campaign sinking in the polls,” Trump’s spokesman Jason Miller said Thursday. Trump himself tweeted shortly thereafter, calling Clinton’s news conference “disastrous.”