Hillary Clinton held a press conference Thursday morning, standing on an airport tarmac in White Plains, New York, her campaign plane behind her. You hear me? She had a press conference! It only took hundreds of days, relentless criticism of her evasiveness with the press from the press, and a disastrous presidential forum where Trump was shown outrageous favoritism over her, but she did it.
While Clinton has had interactions with the press during this campaign, they haven’t typically resembled traditional press conferences. But this morning, after Matt Lauer spent last night letting Donald Trump say and do whatever he wanted for several hours during a presidential forum, Clinton popped a lectern on that tarmac and went in.
Trump, she began is “temperamentally unfit and totally unqualified to be Commander in Chief.” And she pointed out that, once again, he spent his time in public praising Vladimir Putin: “Bizarrely, once again he praised Russia’s strongman Vladimir Putin, even taking the astonishing step of suggesting he prefers the Russian president to our American president. That’s not just unpatriotic and insulting to the people of our country and Commander in Chief, it is scary. It suggests he will let Putin do whatever Putin wants to do and then make excuses for him.”
She also criticized Trump’s vague suggestion that we go “take oil” from other countries: “The United States of America doesn’t invade other countries to plunder and pillage. We don’t send our great men and women around the world to steal oil, and that’s not even getting into the absurdity of what it would involve.”
Every Republican in America seeking office, she added “should be asked if they agree with Donald Trump about these statements.”
The press conference also served as a time for Clinton to remind everyone that she is extremely, extremely hawklike on national security and foreign intervention, although she stopped short of saying she supports a ground mission to defeat ISIS. (That’s what ISIS wants, so it would be a really bad idea.) And she added pointedly, a few moments later while taking questions, that the forum gave her “a very short window of time” to talk about her proposed policies against ISIS, a nice reminder that Matt Lauer spent much of last night fixated on her emails.
Clinton also wove her support for the military together with a reminder that it’s almost the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, and that she was New York’s senator at that time. The 9/11 families are never far from her mind, she said, including when she and the rest of the Obama administration killed Bin Laden dead, remember that: “That’s who I was thinking of ten years later in the White House situation room when the decision was made with President Obama to bring Bin Laden to justice.”
Clinton also got a chance, via a reporter’s question, to respond to Reince Preibus and the RNC, who literally criticized her for not smiling during the presidential forum last night:
A reporter asked if Clinton senses a “double standard” in how she’s discussed, because she’s a woman.
“I’m going to let all of you ponder that last question,” Clinton responded. “I think there will be a lot of PhD theses and popular journalism writing on that subject from years to come. But I don’t take my advice and I don’t take anything seriously that comes from the RNC.”
Clinton even did her best to banter with a press she clearly doesn’t much like or care for: “I like the hat,” she told one man. “Is this a new look?” And to Andrea Mitchell from NBC, who was trying to ask her something inaudible as Clinton was ready to stop: “I love you, Andrea. You are indefatigable. You’re my kind of woman.”