The Post’s Jenna Johnson has spent a past year-plus on a highway covering Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. I’ve reached out to her from time to time to locate a glance of what her life with The Donald is like. I sought Jenna out again on Monday — in a arise of Trump’s decidedly peculiar (even for him) eventuality in Manheim, Pa., over a weekend, in that he impersonated Hillary Clinton’s eventuality during a Sept. 11 commemorative use and indicted her of being prejudiced to her husband, Bill. Our conversation, conducted around email and easily edited, is below.
FIX: You’ve been with Trump given (almost) a beginning. Have we beheld any change in how he acts/speaks/behaves during his rallies over a past month or so as a ubiquitous choosing gets closer and closer? If so, what?
Johnson: Compared with a year ago, he is display many more control during (most) rallies. Since August, he has been reading scripted speeches off a teleprompter, and he has stopped regulating difference that we have to lurch out in stories. These speeches tend to enclose some-more process sum [and] some-more approach attacks on Hillary Clinton instead of usually insults, and a some-more judicious flow. For months and months, those tighten to him have been propelling him to do these things, though it wasn’t until he fell in a polls this summer that he listened to them. Some of his speeches are even, brave we contend this, a small boring. But Trump is Trump, and when he feels like he has been wronged or pounded or misunderstood, he punches behind — as we saw during a initial discuss final week and during a convene on Saturday night.
FIX: On Saturday night in Manheim, Pa., Trump went way, approach off script. Describe that eventuality for us and what we were meditative covering it?
Johnson: This was the final convene of a really long, burdensome week. So we was prepared to watch his comments, file a discerning story and afterwards nap on a craft behind to New York. Maybe even have a potion of wine. The campaign sent an mention from a discuss — 9 sentences aggressive Clinton for comments that she finished months ago about some of Bernie Sanders’s millennial supporters, that flush a night before and generated a lot of Twitter buzz. we figured that would be a title out of a night, and we pre-wrote a story that we could tell as shortly as he review a statement.
Reporters got to a convene about an hour early, and we went by a throng articulate with people, including a wrestler-turned-stand-up-comic, a man who grilled me on media coverage of Trump and many people who gathering in from a Philly suburbs, waited for an hour or dual in a sleet and were so pumped to be there.
And afterwards we waited. And waited. And waited. Trump was some-more than an hour and 40 mins late given of the complicated haze — and we knew that he would expected be undone when he took a stage. When we spend many of your waking hours following a candidate, we learn so many about that chairman that we can mostly envision how he competence act. we knew he was already undone by all that had happened that week — a discuss with a cryptic mic, a vicious pundits, a argument with a former Miss Universe, a late-night tweeting, the discuss over the “sex tape,” the nasty mainstay from Maureen Dowd — and that this check would supplement to that frustration. At that point, we didn’t know the New York Times was about to tell an bomb square about Trump’s 1995 taxation return.
Sure enough, Trump took a theatre undone and prepared to lash out. He started reading that matter about Clinton’s comments on millennials but he kept going off on tangents. It took him scarcely 25 mins to get by all 9 sentences, and he sounded like a Trump we got to know a year ago, observant one outlandish thing after another. At one point, Ben Jacobs from a Guardian asked if we had seen a New York Times story that usually went adult about Trump’s taxes. we pulled it adult and started reading, while stability to listen to Trump.
Before a discuss ended, we deleted a strange story that we wrote. That was no longer a headline. we fast wrote dual posts: One about Trump propelling his vastly white assembly to go to “certain areas” on Election Day and “watch.” And another about his attacks on Clinton, including mimicking her stumbling to her outpost during a hitch of pneumonia final month and accusing her of not being “loyal” to her husband.
I knew this discuss would turn one of Trump’s many memorable, and we wanted to constraint this impulse in story that we had usually watched. So on a train to a airport, a craft to New York and another train to a hotel, we started transcribing quotes. Back during a hotel, we pulled adult video from a convene and re-watched a whole speech. Suddenly it was after 4 a.m. we filed a story and went to bed, environment my alarm for 8 a.m. so that we could get adult and watch a Sunday morning news shows.
FIX: What is a altogether mood of Trumpworld these days? They — and he — insist all is well. But reports of inner misunderstanding are everywhere. Which is right?
Johnson: It seems to change day to day as they rebound between small victories and frustrating controversy. For staffers who have been with Trump for a prolonged time, nothing of this is new, though for those who are newer to a campaign, we have to consider that it’s forever aggravating to spend so many time environment a claimant adult for success, usually to hear him make not-so-well-worded comments in interviews or watch him lash out on Twitter. we consider a lot of people are watchful to see how a subsequent discuss goes. And remember how behind in Aug many pundits said that he was finished and had no possibility to win? We have 5 weeks to go, and those who trust in him trust that he can win.
FIX: Trump hasn’t hold a news conference of any arrange given Jul 27. Is there any reason for that? And what’s his ubiquitous communication with his roving press — if any?
Johnson: The usually communication that we have with him is when he stands on a convene theatre and accuses us of being dishonest, call his crowds to disapprove and bother us. There is no full explanation for because he is not holding press conferences anymore — especially after spending so many months slamming Clinton for not holding press conferences. He has also severely reduced a series of interviews that he does, mostly tying himself to Fox News and internal radio stations. And he has refused to transport on a same craft as a press, as is a tradition for presidential nominees. My theory for because this is: He and his staff don’t wish to be exposed to questions that he doesn’t wish to answer.
FIX: Finish this sentence: “Donald Trump is happiest in this discuss when _______________.” Now, explain.
Johnson: “… he’s station before a large rally crowd and everybody is chanting his name.” Like any good showman, Trump takes his cues from a throng and feeds off their energy. These crowds season each word that he says and egg him on to contend argumentative things. I consider a assembly is one of a reasons that he struggled during a initial discuss — he was personification to a throng of Republicans and Democrats who had been asked to not clap, hearten or respond to what was function on stage.