Vacationing with Hillary Clinton at Mount Rushmore


From CBS News' Fernando Suarez:

RAPID CITY, S.D. -- During a visit to Mount Rushmore this morning, Hillary Clinton saw an opportunity to play tourist, while an eager press corps hoped to gather some news, since Clinton has not held a press conference in nearly two weeks.

As she walked along the granite walkway guided by a park ranger, Clinton eyed the monument with great appreciation, while the press scurried to try to get a good shot of her as she looked on. One staffer, however, blocked the press corps view of Clinton, prompting some in the traveling press to ask the staffer to step aside. The staffer ignored the request, prompting more calls from the press. Clinton, hearing the commotion, turned toward the press and said this was "a tourist occasion" and that we should move closer to listen to the park ranger explain the intricacies of the monument.

The comment caught some in the press by surprise, as the purpose of traveling with Clinton is to cover her as a presidential candidate, not consider the visit as a vacation moment. At one point, a reporter asked Clinton jokingly if she could envision herself added to the monument, but she brushed the question off with a dismissive grin. Another reporter asked Clinton if she could see her husband's image carved into the mountain, which prompted a visibly annoyed Clinton to say, "Why don't you learn something about the monument?" Clinton soon walked away from the press to greet actual tourists.

As she maneuvered her way through the monument site and away from the press, another reporter asked Clinton if she had any reaction to the new book by former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan. Clinton ignored the question despite clearly hearing it.

The visit is a reminder that Clinton's view of the press has seemingly come full circle from the days in Iowa where the press seemed invisible to Clinton, to the days when she paraded to the back of the airplane armed with a goblet of wine to shoot the breeze, to now, where she rarely engages the press. Some in her staff are frustrated with the press following the coverage of Clinton's comments on Robert F. Kennedy's assassination last week, and Clinton clearly has taken it to heart, choosing instead to stay with her staff at the front of the airplane and limiting her interactions with the press.

But the race is not over yet. After her visit to South Dakota, Clinton will head to Puerto Rico and campaign on the island over the weekend. If the visit there is anything like her trip to Mount Rushmore, then perhaps the itinerary will include a day at the beach.