The last press conference Hillary Clinton held was some 237 days ago on December 4, 2015, when she answered just seven questions from the press. By contrast, her opponent Donald Trump seems to be willing to have one just about anywhere and anytime.
The Washington Post is running a count of the time since Hillary last gave a press conference down to the minute. As of the afternoon of July 28, here’s the count:
237.1 days or 341,450.9 minutes
The issue of her lack of press conferences is becoming an increasingly sore point with the media. When CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Mrs. Clinton about her lack of press conferences, she responded that she had given over 300 interviews in 2016 alone. While that number is no doubt correct, a controlled interview with pre-vetted questions is not a substitute for a freewheeling press conference open to all reporters to ask whatever questions they wish.
"The candidate, famously opaque, answered a grand total of seven questions [in Iowa] on Dec. 4, 2015. Since then, although she’s given individual interviews, she hasn’t made herself available for general media questioning."
— Margaret Sullivan – The Washington Post
It appears fairly obvious that the reason Hillary is avoiding press conferences is that she doesn’t want the press to set the agenda for what may be uncomfortable questions about her personal emails and other topics that Camp Clinton is hoping the voters will lose interest in. But that is unrealistic. In this age of voter distrust of Congress and politicians, avoiding answering the tough questions is simply not going to cut it.
Going to become an issue for the campaign
Sooner rather than later Hillary’s avoidance of a news conference is going to become an issue for her campaign. Americans have a reasonable expectation that candidates aspiring to become President be willing to answer questions even if it’s an uncomfortable experience.
Hillary has often stated that one of her role models is President Franklin D. Roosevelt. FDR held 998 press conferences during his time as President and never shied away from engaging the press. Perhaps Hillary should seek to emulate FDR and simply sit down with the media for an open and wide-ranging news conference. As Roosevelt famously said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
There are three debates scheduled between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton with the first one being held on Monday, September 26 at Hofstra University in New York. It’s a sure bet that Donald Trump will not hold back on his attacks on Hillary, and Mrs. Clinton would do well to get some of those uncomfortable questions out of the way sooner rather than later.