- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hillary Clinton has spent more time with celebrities including Cher and Justin Timberlake than with voters over the past week, and her presidential campaign is embracing a low-profile strategy that is short on making real news and long on letting Donald Trump — and his penchant for creating controversy on an almost daily basis — have the limelight.

Mrs. Clinton has shown her distaste for dealing with reporters, having gone more than 260 days without holding a full, formal press conference. But with about 10 weeks until Election Day, her under-the-radar approach has reached a new level and is, to some degree, extending beyond the media to average voters.

The former first lady hasn’t held a campaign rally since Thursday and instead has let her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine, speak to voters in battleground states.

Mrs. Clinton, meanwhile, has headlined high-dollar, closed-door fundraisers with top celebrities — including Tuesday night’s gala with Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel — and stopped by late-night TV programs such as Monday night’s appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

Her next formal speech is scheduled for Thursday.

Her campaign has pulled advertising off the air in key states such as Virginia and Colorado, confident that Mrs. Clinton’s big leads in polls will hold until November and content to let Mr. Trump have the airwaves to himself.

SEE ALSO: Clinton campaign: Report on foundation donors, meetings a ‘massive’ misrepresentation

Political strategists say those examples demonstrate that the Clinton campaign is in no hurry to make news or drive the public conversation beyond the daily criticism of everything that comes out of Mr. Trump’s mouth.

Aside from her ongoing scandals over email discoveries and Clinton Foundation donations, which the campaign cannot control, Mrs. Clinton seems eager to let Mr. Trump dominate the news cycle.

The strategy, analysts say, is sound and is partly why Mrs. Clinton has opened a significant lead over Mr. Trump in virtually all polls.

“This is the right thing to do, which is pull to back. You don’t need to make news every day. What you should focus on are the things that matter, and the thing that matters is fundraising,” said Lara Brown, a political science professor at George Washington University. “It’s appropriate not to be trying to capture the limelight right now. To a certain degree, it is foolish, I think, to have your loudest volume effort going on right now. They’re better off when the media are focusing on their opponent rather than themselves. If I were Hillary Clinton, I’d stay quiet.”

Indeed, fundraising seems to be Mrs. Clinton’s top priority. The campaign will hold more than 40 fundraisers in 14 states over the next two weeks, according to a schedule obtained by The Associated Press. The campaign aims to raise at least $1 billion and is about halfway there, the AP reported.

As Mrs. Clinton handles fundraising, Mr. Kaine has remained on the campaign trail. He delivered two speeches in Las Vegas on Monday and met with small-business leaders in Colorado on Tuesday.

But Mr. Kaine, who has described himself as “boring,” does not attract the level of media attention that Mrs. Clinton does, and his appearances on the stump rarely make headlines.

For the former secretary of state, staying out of the spotlight as much as possible is wise, especially when her Republican opponent spends much of his time mired in self-created controversy.

“The Trump campaign is focusing all their efforts on damage control, a challenging strategy with some 80 days to go. The Clinton campaign has wisely let the Trump campaign’s dirty laundry air out while they invest in key places with visits and advertising,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston who studies presidential politics. “Clinton’s low profile has allowed her to limit her vulnerabilities on her email scandal and the Clinton Foundation financial issues where, in a normal election cycle, she’d have to play defense more aggressively.”

But aspects of Mrs. Clinton’s approach have opened her to criticism. Mr. Trump has hammered his opponent for failing to hold a full press conference in more than 260 days.

Although Mrs. Clinton did answer reporters’ questions at a black and Hispanic journalists conference this month and sits down for TV interviews on a regular basis, she has held far fewer press conferences than has Mr. Trump over the past year.

The Trump campaign even has a section on its website titled “Hiding Hillary Watch,” in which it poses a new question to the former secretary of state each day.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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