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Trump, Clinton Mix Things Up On The Campaign Trail In Ohio


Labor Day is the traditional launch of the final campaign sprint towards Election Day. And even in this most unconventional campaign, both candidates are in traditional Labor Day mode in ways they haven't been before. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton crossed paths in Ohio with Trump sitting down face-to-face with small groups of voters and Hillary Clinton coming face-to-face with reporters in a way she hasn't very much this campaign season.

NPR's Scott Detrow And Tamara Keith are covering those campaigns, and they join us now. And Tam, I want to start with you because Hillary Clinton has been relatively quiet these last few weeks. But now she's been mixing it up with the press a bit - right? - in a way she hadn't been before.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Well, so today is the first day that Hillary Clinton has her campaign plane with the press corps onboard, and she - just not long ago, she came back on the plane and took questions from reporters. And this was not a short gaggle. She took questions for about 22 minutes. There were follow-up questions. It was a lengthy discussion with the press.

One topic that came up quite a bit was Russian hacking of the DNC and whether Russia is trying to interfere in the U.S. election.


HILLARY CLINTON: We have to be doubly on guard to protect our electoral system at all levels, and we have to make it clear that we're not going to let anyone interfere with decisions of the American people.

KEITH: She was also asked about her emails, about the Clinton Foundation, about whether her daughter, Chelsea, should remain on the Clinton Foundation board. And I tossed in a question about the Trans-Pacific trade Partnership.

CORNISH: Now, Scott, I mentioned that Donald Trump's also had a bit of a change of pace on the campaign trail, right? What's been happening?

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Yeah, so his day today was the type of day that you typically see on Hillary Clinton's schedule, and that's, you know, talking to small groups of voters in tightly controlled settings, doing one-on-one campaigning in diners, at the fair. Typically Trump has ignored this type of retail politics and focused on big, huge rallies.

But over the last few weeks, we've seen Trump run more and more of a traditional campaign, having a message of a day, sticking on script, being kind of a typical presidential candidate. And a schedule like this indicates that maybe over the last two months of the campaign, Donald Trump, who's been outside of the box from day one, is going to be focusing on a very traditional message and approach to winning the White House.

CORNISH: Now, Scott, I know Donald Trump was also asked today about debate prep, right? I mean the candidates are preparing to face each other for the first time in a debate later this month. What did he have to say?

DETROW: Well, Trump said that he was looking forward to taking part in the debates this fall. And typically that's not a surprise. It's what you'd expect. But because of a lot of complaints that Donald Trump has registered about the fall debates, like the fact that two of them go up against NFL games and the fact that he skipped a debate during the primaries right on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, there was a lot of questions about whether or not Trump would participate in the debates. But talking to reporters today, he said that's something he does plan on doing.


DONALD TRUMP: I think it's an important element of what we're doing. I think you have an obligation to do the debates. I did them with the other - you know, the other cases. We had I guess 11 debates. No, I look forward to the debates.

DETROW: And you know, Audie, Trump is trailing in most of the polls nationally in key swing states. This is a moment where millions of people are going to be tuned in. It could be one of his last moments to really shake things up and get back in this race in the polls.

CORNISH: Tamara Keith, one thing I want to ask about - how unusual was it to have both of these candidates in Ohio at the same time?

KEITH: Well, it is Ohio, and Ohio is the center of the political universe. That's where they both were earlier today. At one point I was at the airport in Cleveland, and you could see a Trump plane, a Trump-Pence plane and then also the Hillary Clinton campaign plane. There was even a - it was something of a traffic jam on the tarmac basically.

DETROW: And actually, Audie, at one point, I was in a bus with other reporters, covering Trump, and we had to pull over because Hillary Clinton's motorcade zipped by us so. So that's how close these campaigns were today, and that's how much of a key state Ohio is.

CORNISH: Tamara Keith and Scott Detrow literally crossing paths in Ohio - the Clinton and Trump campaigns. Thanks so much to you both.

KEITH: You're welcome.

DETROW: Anytime. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.
Scott Detrow is a White House correspondent for NPR and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.
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