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Hillary Bans Reporters from ALL Events... 'Scared to Death About the Benghazi and Health Care Climate'...

Hillary Bans Reporters from ALL Events... 'Scared to Death About the Benghazi and Health Care Climate'...

(SFGate) -- Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has stared down world leaders, taken heat from Congress and gone toe-to-toe withBarack Obama on the campaign trail - but in what increasingly looks like a 2016 run for president, she's drawing the line at putting up with the press.

Clinton's moves to bar mainstream and social media coverage at major speeches in three cities, including one in San Francisco this weekend, are drawing attention and criticism that could have ripple effects all the way to 2016, experts say.

"This is a person who is the center of voluminous speculation about a candidacy," said political science Professor Larry Gerston of San Jose State University. "My guess is her team is doing all they can to make her events as sanitized as possible so there will not be any kind of accidental developments," such as a YouTube moment or headline-making remark.

Clinton's media blackout - which includes bans on photos and cell-phone videos - will be in effect at two events in San Francisco on Saturday.

S.F. speech, fundraiser

The first is her headline speech to the National Association of Realtors convention at the Moscone Center. Organizers told reporters that although they can cover most of the convention, which is expected to draw 22,000 people, they will not be allowed in the main hall when Clinton gives her afternoon address.

Later on Saturday, Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, will be the stars of a fundraiser at the Regency Ballroom for the Clinton Foundation's Millennial Network, an event aimed at voters younger than 30. Reporters aren't welcome.

Clinton's representatives have not responded to questions to explain why media members are being kept away from the San Francisco events.

One longtime ally, former White House spokesman and Democratic strategist Chris Lehane, said, "I think she is making the decision she believes is in her best interest at this moment."

The Democratic bastion of San Francisco is just the latest in a list of cities where Clinton's team has locked out the media.

At a recent Miami appearance before thousands of travel agents, not only were reporters banned, but attendees were ordered not to take photos or video of Clinton's speech. One convention-goer told the Washington Post that a security guard confiscated his cell phone after he took photos to show to his children.

Reporters were also barred from covering Clinton's speech Oct. 15 in Atlanta at the National Association of Convenience Stores convention, forcing the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to piece together accounts of her address from people who were there. By their telling, Clinton did indeed make news, saying potential 2016 opponent Vice President Joe Biden had opposed the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, while she had been among its strongest proponents.

The Whitman look

Politics watchers alert for weak spots in a potential Clinton candidacy point to the experience of 2010 Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman in California to illustrate the dangers in the former first lady's strategy.

Whitman dodged the press for months, giving almost no one-on-one interviews and routinely keeping reporters far from her tightly scripted appearances. She paid a high price, as the media made her evasiveness an issue.

"If you're giving the perception that you have something to hide, then maybe you have something to hide," GOP strategist Mitch Zak, a Whitman adviser in 2010, said of Clinton's strategy.

The Clinton press blackouts, he said, "tell me they're scared to death about the climate. You have health care, you have Benghazi, and maybe they don't trust the candidate at this point to handle" the questions.

Alex Carey, a veteran Republican strategist and former spokesman for 2012 GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, said Clinton has "always been criticized for positioning herself. ... But I can't fathom what their strategy is. Continue reading via SFGate...

 

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