Monday marked another day and another dodge for Hillary Clinton, who is increasingly coming under attack for not answering questions on the campaign trail.
The numbers are in dispute, but the rough estimate is that Clinton has only fielded 13 questions from the press during the first 37 days of her official candidacy for the White House.
During a swing through northern Iowa on Monday, she again sidestepped the national press at the Mason City home of Dean Genth and Gary Swenson, backers of then-senator Barack Obama in 2008. She largely stuck to outlining the pillars of her campaign, including campaign finance reform, and took no questions from reporters during or after the event.
Republicans have in recent days resurrected their attack line that Clinton is “hiding,” a popular description for the former secretary of state among her critics while she was winding down her paid speaking career and gearing up to announce her candidacy earlier this year. And some GOP presidential hopefuls have themselves gotten in on the action, both by drawing contrasts and by explicitly criticizing her.
Jeb Bush, for example, told an audience in Iowa this weekend he had “asked someone to kind of add up the questions that I’ve been asked by people who can ask whatever they want, and, of course, the press that follows me around from time to time,” according to the Washington Examiner. “And we’re probably around 800 to 900 questions asked and hopefully answered.”
“Hillary Clinton has been a presidential candidate for a month maybe, and she’s had 13 questions asked by press,” he added.
Clinton’s allies have started hitting back, while her campaign itself has remained largely silent on the topic. The pro-Clinton group Correct The Record on Monday emailed reporters pointing out that Clinton has taken 20 questions from “everyday Americans,” while posing 117 questions of her own to them.
“While other candidates are using the media to further their own agendas and attack each other, Hillary Clinton is displaying the qualities of a true leader by meeting with the people she hopes to champion as the next President of the United States,” the group wrote.
Genth, one of Clinton’s hosts on Monday, told the print pool reporter that he was not concerned about Clinton’s lack of press interactions.
“We all know she is going to get grilled time and time again throughout campaign season,” he said. “If you want to know what she thinks, read [her book] Hard Choices.”
During the event, Clinton pushed again for campaign finance reform, saying that as president she would seek to appoint Supreme Court justices who oppose the Citizens United v FEC decision that paved the way for super PACs.
“I will do everything I can to appoint Supreme Court justices who will protect the right to vote and not allow billionaires to buy elections,” Clinton said. She also told the group of supporters at the organizing house party that she had been surprised by the number of drug abuse and mental health problems she had heard about in the early days of her candidacy, and she spoke of the importance of making college affordable, as she has in previous public events.
She went on to defend Obama’s Affordable Care Act, noting that she doesn’t “hear my friends on the other side of the aisle talking about getting rid of the Affordable Care Act as much as they used to.”
But she took no questions from reporters during or after the event.