Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonJordan calls Pelosi accusing Trump of bribery 'ridiculous' DOJ watchdog won't let witnesses submit written feedback on investigation into Russia probe: report What are Republicans going to do after Donald Trump leaves office? MORE held her first formal press conference in nearly 10 months on Thursday, taking six questions over 15 minutes from the tarmac of an airport in White Plains, N.Y. 

Here are five takeaways from the event.

Clinton is coming out of hiding

The press conference is just the latest sign of a more upfront Clinton on display since Labor Day, the traditional starting point for the fall campaign season.

ADVERTISEMENT

Critics and members of the media alike have ripped Clinton's approach to the press. Before Thursday, it had been 278 days since the Democratic presidential nominee last held a formal press conference, a statistic Republicans have been glad to highlight. 

Before the press event, Clinton had already invited reporters on to her plane to travel with her. On Monday, she walked to the back of the plane to take questions on camera.

But she can be awkward on camera, something that couldn’t be ignored in her dealings with reporters on the plane or at Thursday’s press conference. Her attempts at humor don’t always land well, nor do her statements of admiration for some reporters.

At the same time, getting Clinton in front of the cameras could help her this fall. especially with Republicans arguing she is trying to coast to the presidency by running out the clock.

Clinton spent almost all of August off the campaign trail at swanky fundraisers or holed up with briefing materials in preparation for this month’s debate.


The lack of a press conference was becoming a distraction, angering the media and appearing troublesome to some Democrats as Clinton’s favorability numbers plunged in her absence and polls of the presidential race tightened significantly.

Thursday’s press conference was another sign that the Clinton team is making a deliberate attempt to rework its relationship with the media.

Clinton is seeking to change the way the media covers her

The press is getting more access to Clinton than it has in months, but there are strings attached.

Clinton and her campaign are clearly seeking to influence the way she and Republican nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Kavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation MORE are covered.

Clinton’s campaign warned reporters this week about covering rumors about her health problems and the coughing fits that have at times plagued her on the campaign trail.

There was also criticism Wednesday of NBC “Today” show anchor Matt Lauer, who moderated that night's military and veterans forum with Clinton and Trump.

Lauer asked tough questions to Clinton about her handling of classified information and at times sought to rush her answers. He failed to challenge Trump’s assertion that he was opposed to the Iraq War.

On Thursday, Clinton vented about how she believes Trump is receiving more favorable coverage than he should be getting.

“I find it frustrating but it’s part of the landscape we live in and we keep forging ahead,” Clinton said.

Democrats have been angered by the heightened scrutiny of Clinton’s email and foundation scandals, believing they’re being blown out of proportion by the press and come at the expense of stories that could be warning about the danger Trump presents to the nation.

Clinton picked up that narrative and ran with it on Thursday.

The media didn't ask about her emails

The most extraordinary thing about Clinton's press conference was what was left unsaid.

Clinton fielded questions on narrowing polls, the media’s coverage of her campaign, and whether she thought Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus’s remarks about her style at a forum on Wednesday night were sexist.

But less than a week after the FBI released notes from its interview with Clinton — part of the agency's yearlong investigation of her use of a private email setup when she was secretary of State — no reporter asked her about the issue.

The FBI revealed that Clinton used 13 smartphones during her tenure, that an aide destroyed one phone with a hammer, and that Clinton's computer specialist wiped the archive of emails from her private server even after Congress requested that all documents be preserved.

The press also didn’t ask about the controversy over the Clinton Foundation's  ties to the State Department. Democrats believe those issues have been beaten to death, but the media will surely be criticized for declining to follow up.

It will give Trump and Republicans reason to argue the media isn’t being hard enough on Clinton — even as Democrats question whether Trump is getting unfairly hands-off treatment. 

Clinton wants the race to be about Trump

The chief reason Clinton held the press conference was because she wanted to bash Trump's temperament before a nationally televised audience. 

Before taking questions from reporters, Clinton read from a prepared statement, arguing that Trump's responses at Wednesday night's military-themed forum on MSNBC proved he was “temperamentally unfit and totally unqualified to be commander in chief.”

She hammered Trump for being cozy with Russian President Vladimir Putin, for trash talking U.S. generals and for refusing to reveal his plan to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

This is part of Clinton's macro strategy.

Clinton and her pollster well know that her favorability numbers are historically bad for a Democratic nominee, but they also know that her biggest asset is her opponent, who is disliked by an even larger percentage of voters. 

If Clinton turns the race into a referendum on Trump and his temperament — rather than a debate about her own shortcomings, particularly perceptions about her honesty and trustworthiness — she's more likely to win. 

She’s not committed to ‘leaning in’ yet

Political watchers fully expected Clinton to embrace the historic nature of being the first woman to be a major party’s nominee.

She’s done that to an extent, and on Thursday expressed common cause with a top female journalist, MSNBC reporter Andrea Mitchell.

“I love you, Andrea, you're indefatigable, you’re my kind of a woman,” Clinton said.

But Clinton also passed on a moment where she could have blasted her critics as sexist.

Twitter churned on Wednesday night when the Priebus said that Clinton looked “angry,” “defensive,” “uncomfortable,” and said that she didn’t smile during the presidential forum.

Clinton was asked whether that was sexist, and whether she was concerned about a double-standard based on her gender.

Clinton passed.

“I’m going to let all of you ponder that last question, I’m sure there will be a lot of Ph.D. theses and pop journalism writing on that subject for years to come,” she said.