In less than a month, voters will cast a ballot for president of the United States. The Washington Post gets information for some of those stories by travelling with each candidate. If Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton or Republican nominee Donald Trump decides to hold a rally in Kansas or California, a reporter will travel with them - usually on the same plane or on a plane just for the media.

Abby Phillip and Jenna Johnson are two of the reporters travelling with the candidates for the Washington Post. For more than a year, Johnson has been covering Trump and Phillip has been covering Clinton.

What is a day like following your candidate?
Abby Phillip: Most days for reporters begin a couple of hours before we see Hillary Clinton. We arrive at a meeting place early for the Secret Service agents to check our bags. Then, Clinton arrives, and we all board the campaign plane to leave for our first campaign stop. Most days involve attending campaign rallies, talking to voters, and writing blog posts and stories. On some days, we might travel to two or three cities in one day. And usually, we return to New York, where Hillary Clinton lives.

Jenna Johnson: Each day is a long day. Political reporters have to keep track of everything a candidate says and does, and then share that information with our readers as quickly as possible. Donald Trump likes to send tweets late at night and early in the morning, plus he's often on early-morning or late-night television news shows. He also holds at least one rally a day - and sometimes there are several rallies in different states all in one day. At these rallies, I talk with people about why they plan to vote for Trump and what changes they want to see the government make.

Advertisement

How many stories, posts, tweets do you typically write each day?
Johnson: I usually write at least one article each day, but sometimes it's as many as five. I also share news with readers on Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat.

Phillip: Usually, I might write one story a day. (This might be something that we publish in the newspaper.) But in that same day, I might write a blog post or two as well. We tweet constantly! During rallies, I'll tweet out interesting or new comments from Clinton. I try to tweet pictures and videos of what I see and hear. So at the end of the day, I might have tweeted 40 or 50 times - if not more!

Jenna Johnson, seen here at Trump Tower in New York in May. Photo / Marcus DiPaola
Jenna Johnson, seen here at Trump Tower in New York in May. Photo / Marcus DiPaola

How often do you get to talk to the candidate?

Phillip

: Since Clinton got a campaign plane after the Democratic National Convention, we have talked to her at least once, sometimes twice a week. She may come to the back of the plane where all the journalists sit and say hello. Or, she might have a news conference, where she stands at a lectern and takes questions. Other than that, we aren't usually allowed to get close enough to her to talk with her.

Johnson: Not very often. Trump used to regularly talk with the reporters who cover him, but he has been doing fewer and fewer interviews. The last time he had a formal news conference was July 27.

What has been the biggest challenge in covering the candidate?
Johnson: Trying to write an article while running to a bus to catch the next flight to the next rally.

Phillip: The biggest challenge in covering Clinton is lack of access. One of the most important things we can do as journalists is ask candidates questions on behalf of voters. Until recently, we haven't been able to do that very often. That is changing a bit, and I think it has been a big improvement.

Ruby Cramer of BuzzFeed, left, Dan Merica of CNN and Abby Phillip of the Washington Post on Hillary Clinton's campaign plane. Photo / Abby Phillip
Ruby Cramer of BuzzFeed, left, Dan Merica of CNN and Abby Phillip of the Washington Post on Hillary Clinton's campaign plane. Photo / Abby Phillip

What's the funniest thing you have seen or experienced on the campaign trail?

Phillip

: At a stop in Pennsylvania recently, one of the campaign volunteers who drove a van in Hillary Clinton's motorcade had a familiar name: Bill Clinton. The man was born almost at the same time as Hillary Clinton's husband, and his real name is William Joseph Clinton. Pretty similar to former President William Jefferson Clinton. Hillary Clinton took a photo with the van driver, and when he told her his name, she said, "You're kidding me!"

Johnson: In the (northern) spring, we followed Trump to Scotland, where he attended a ribbon-cutting for a new luxury hotel - and we quickly had to learn how to drive on the left side of the road.

What's something people probably don't know about your candidate that would interest them?
Johnson: Trump flies around the country in a customised Boeing 757 jet that has several bedrooms, leather seats and 24-karat-gold-plated seat belts.

Phillip: Hillary Clinton is a hot-sauce fanatic. She likes to carry around hot sauce on the campaign trail and says that eating spicy food is really good for her health!