In an interview with Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine on Thursday, the hosts of CBS This Morning actually grilled the Virgnia senator over Hillary Clinton refusing to talk to the press. Fill-in co-host Demarco Morgan lead off the contentious exchange: “Senator, this was Donald Trump's first meeting with a head of state as the nominee and he immediately opened up the floor to reporters for questions. When will we see Hillary open up the floor and take questions from reporters at any event?”
Kaine laughably argued: “Well, you see Hillary take questions from reporters every day. She does – she talks to the press everywhere she goes.” Incredulous co-host Norah O’Donnell could be heard replying: “Really?” Kaine continued: “...she did a press conference when she was at the recent meeting of the African-American and Hispanic newspaper publishers.” Morgan pushed back: “But that was the first time in a long time, Senator. She doesn't do it that often.”
The veep candidate struggled to defend Clinton: “Well, look. I don't see what the massive difference is between a press conference and talking to the press everywhere you go. She talks to the press a lot and I've been with her when she’s talked to the press.” O’Donnell corrected him: “But just to set the record straight, it has been 272 days since she has had a formal news conference.”
Moments later, she pressed:
The New York Times recently reported – and this is true and I’ve covered – that unlike any other presidential nominee in history, she is not allowing journalists to accompany her on the plane – the campaign plane. This is something that has been standard since I’ve covered presidential campaigns. Why is that the case? Do you believe in transparency? Do you think this will change?
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Kaine feebly suggested it was a merely a matter of logistics: “I travel in a small plane and the press travels in a plane with me. We’re not on the plane together....And I think that’s fairly common during campaigns, that you often fly in small planes and then you get in to the end and you start flying in larger planes.”
Wrapping up the segment, fill-in co-host Josh Elliott took one final jab: “Well, we look forward to that next press conference. Senator Tim Kaine, we appreciate the time this morning.”
On Wednesday, the morning show similarly hit Clinton for a lack of press conferences, with an on-screen headline declaring: “No Questions, Please; Clinton Criticized for Having Few News Conferences.”
In contrast to CBS’s substantive questioning of Kaine, NBC’s Today could only get tough with VP nominee when asking horse race political questions. Co-host Savannah Guthrie fretted over Clinton not “putting away” the race:
Senator, let's talk about the state of the race. Because most national polls, we're seeing some battleground polls, show a tightening race. That's the trend. And if you look into some of those polls, what you see really is – it's more a matter of Hillary Clinton's favorability ratings actually going down. The question to you is, if Trump is as weak a candidate as you portray, why isn't she putting it away?
ABC’s Good Morning America similarly focused on political strategy over issues. Co-host George Stephanopoulos wondered:
Meanwhile, Trump does appear to be closing the gap in some of these national polls right now. They are tightening. And our new poll shows that secretary Clinton is now as unpopular as Donald Trump. You see her at 59% unfavorable. He's at 60% unfavorable. How do you explain it and how do you fix it?
At the end of the exchange, Stephanopoulos threw Kaine a softball about NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick disrespecting the National Anthem, but edited out the football player also labeling Clinton a criminal.
Here is a full transcript of the September 1 interview with Kaine on CBS This Morning:
7:32 AM ET
JOSH ELLIOTT: And The New York Times reports on angry reaction in Mexico to the country’s president meeting with Donald Trump. Some scholars in Mexico City called it a “historic mistake” and a “giant farce.” The controversial meeting made headlines in Mexico this morning. Some picked up on the Mexican President Pena Nieto calling Trump's policy a “huge threat.” The Mexican government, in fact, described the meeting as a success.
NORAH O’DONNELL: Donald Trump said last night he’ll deport dangerous immigrants, quote, “who have evaded justice, just like Hillary Clinton.” But he blasted his opponent's immigration plan, saying it will make the problem worse.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Trump Doubles Down; Candidate Promises Wall and Deportations in Speech]
DONALD TRUMP: Hillary Clinton, for instance, talks constantly about her fears that families will be separated. But she’s not talking about the American families who have been permanently separated from their loved ones because of a preventible homicide, because of a preventible death, because of murder. She doesn't know what she’s doing, except open borders and let everybody come in. And destroy our country, by the way. Just ask the border patrol about Hillary Clinton. You won't like what you’re hearing. The result will be millions more illegal immigrants, thousands of more violent horrible crimes, and total chaos and lawlessness. That’s what’s going to happen, as sure as you're standing there.
O’DONNELL: The Democratic nominee for vice president, Senator Tim Kaine, is with us from Boston. Senator, good morning. Thank you for joining us.
TIM KAINE: Glad to be with you guys.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Kaine’s Case; Clinton Running Mate on Trump Speech & Mexico Trip]
O’DONNELL: Let me ask you to address Donald Trump's characterization of Hillary Clinton and her plan. What is Clinton's plan?
TIM KAINE: Well, first – and this was a dark and disturbing speech, and, Norah, it’s the same kind of language that people like Donald Trump have used against every immigrant group that’s come to this country. There were “No Irish Need Apply” signs. People were against Jews coming from eastern Europe or Italians coming. This is the kind of anti-immigrant language that’s always had a tiny fringe support in this country. But it was a speech that’s not worthy of a president and he completely misrepresented Secretary Clinton's position.
Hillary's position is we need comprehensive reform. The basic pillars of reform are quite clear. We’ve got to do things, first, to make sure that employers can verify the immigration status of people who are here. We’ve got to keep families together, that is a key priority. We’ve got to create a path for people who follow the laws and pay taxes over a long period of time to earn their way to citizenship. A very vigorous –
O’DONNELL: So, Senator, would you grant –
KAINE: ...and difficult path. And – and we have to do border security. These were the things that the Senate did in a bipartisan way in 2013. And for Donald Trump to say that’s just open borders shows that he hasn't even read the first thing about this bipartisan reform. Hillary is committed to doing a reform with those basic pillars.
O’DONNELL: So does that mean you’d grant work Visas to these 11 million undocumented workers?
KAINE: The basic principles are these. That if people are here and they’re paying taxes and they’re following the law, and they’re willing to work and basically come in into the light and follow all of the laws of this country and pay taxes, that over a period of a very long time, they could earn a path to citizenship. And that is an important thing, similar to what President Reagan did in 1986. These are the basic principles of the plan we’d put in place. And, again, we did it in a bipartisan way in the Senate three years ago, including funding for border security. But as you know, the Republicans in the House would not even take up the bill. We could have done this a long time ago. And we’ll push it in the first 100 days of a Clinton administration.
ELLIOTT: Senator, I'd like to ask you about the visit that Donald Trump made to Mexico yesterday. He said that the Secretary was invited to Mexico but didn't go. In fact, suggested that she didn't have the strength or the stamina for it, very specifically. What did you make of that characterization?
KAINE: Well, you know where Hillary Clinton was yesterday? She was speaking to the American Legion in Ohio, one of the nation's most prominent veterans groups, and she was talking about the role of America in the world. When Hillary was doing that, Donald Trump paid a little, you know, fly-by to Mexico. He walked into a meeting with the Mexican president and after saying for months “We’re going to build a wall and Mexico’s going to pay for it,” he just forgot to bring that up? No. He didn't have the guts to look the Mexican president in the eye and bring up the central position in his campaign. It was a diplomatic embarrassment and it shows that the guy’s not ready for primetime.
DEMARCO MORGAN: Senator, this was Donald Trump's first meeting with a head of state as the nominee and he immediately opened up the floor to reporters for questions. When will we see Hillary open up the floor and take questions from reporters at any event?
KAINE: Well, you see Hillary take questions from reporters every day. She does – she talks to the press everywhere she goes. She did a press conference when she was...
KAINE: ...at a recent – she did a press conference when she was at the recent meeting of the African-American and Hispanic newspaper publishers.
MORGAN: But that was the first time in a long time, Senator.
KAINE: She talks to the press all the time.
MORGAN: She doesn't do it that often.
KAINE: Well, look. I don't see what the massive difference is between a press conference and talking to the press everywhere you go. She talks to the press a lot and I've been with her when she’s talked to the press.
O’DONNELL: But just to set the record straight, it has been 272 days since she has had a formal news conference. I want to also ask you, Senator, it has been the case, I've covered –
KAINE: But again, I think she did a news conference with the publishers of the nation’s African-American and Hispanic newspapers within the last month, and that counts. They’re a legitimate group...
MORGAN: It’s a small group.
KAINE: ...and a press conference with them counts.
O’DONNELL: The New York Times recently reported – and this is true and I’ve covered – that unlike any other presidential nominee in history, she is not allowing journalists to accompany her on the plane – the campaign plane. This is something that has been standard since I’ve covered presidential campaigns. Why is that the case? Do you believe in transparency? Do you think this will change?
KAINE: Well, I mean, just – I'm going to use my own example. I'm traveling too, and I travel in a small plane and the press travels in a plane with me. We’re not on the plane together. But that’s going to change in about a week. And I think that’s fairly common during campaigns, that you often fly in small planes and then you get in to the end and you start flying in larger planes. So I think that is something that, yeah, as we get into the thick of the campaign and Labor Day, that is going to change. I don't even think Donald Trump allowed the press – American press – to go with him yesterday when he went to Mexico, which was highly unusual.
ELLIOTT: Well, we look forward to that next press conference. Senator Tim Kaine, we appreciate the time this morning.
KAINE: Great. Good to be with you guys. Thanks.