CBS News’ Nancy Cordes: ‘Trump’s an Entertainer, But He’s Also the GOP Frontrunner’

By Brian Flood 

The election is still 15 months away and CBS News’ Nancy Cordes has already been to Texas, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Iowa, Kentucky, Arkansas, Florida, Ohio and New York while covering the campaign trail. We caught up with Cordes for 5 Questions to discuss covering multiple candidates, Donald Trump‘s hair and the craziest thing she’s witnessed on the campaign trail (so far).

TVNewser: A lot of rival networks would have you embedded with a particular candidate, but you’ve been with everyone from Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush to Trump. How do you decide when and where to go? Also, do you find it more effective to cover multiple candidates?

Cordes: I love bouncing around, especially at this early stage. I’m used to covering Capitol Hill where you’re talking to different lawmakers all the time. Covering a variety of candidates gives you a great feel for the variety in their personal styles, the strength of their campaign organizations, and the energy of their supporters. I’m sure I’ll have to narrow my focus to one or two candidates sometime soon, but the opportunity to spend time with their adversaries will have been invaluable. Nobody runs for president in a vacuum. They are always judged against the relative strengths and weaknesses of their opponents.


Logistically, though, bouncing around can be a challenge! Sometimes I feel like my producer John Nolen and I are on a never-ending episode of the Amazing Race. How do we make it from a CBS Evening News live shot in Derry, New Hampshire about Jeb Bush to a Hillary Clinton event in Las Vegas the next morning? The only hotel for miles around is sold out, what do we do? Can we file for our digital channel CBSN after the event, or will we miss our flight?  A CBS This Morning producer named Philly Bubaris had a brilliant idea recently when I was trying to send her my script for the next morning from a plane that was sitting on the tarmac in Houston with no wi-fi. She told me to use my phone to take a picture of my computer screen with the script on it, then text her the picture. Genius! I’ve used that trick twice since.

TVNewser:  What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen (so far) while covering the campaign trail?

Cordes: Visiting the border with Donald Trump in Laredo, TX is a memory I will carry with me forever. From the press conference outside the women’s room…to the border patrol union backing out of his visit…to the now-famous Make America Great Again white cap, it was truly a surreal campaign swing for the ages. He talked a lot about the danger he was facing by touring Laredo, but the primary danger he faced was the possibility of being knocked over by the horde of overeager reporters who followed him everywhere.

Trump hat

TVNewser:  How do you feel about the Huffington Posts’ decision to cover Trump as an entertainer, as opposed to an actual presidential candidate?

Cordes: They made that decision early on, when a lot of smart people thought he would be a flash in the pan. I don’t think they would make the same decision now. Trump’s an entertainer, but he’s also the GOP frontrunner. We have to take him seriously as a contender. Besides, he makes enough news to fill up both the politics page and the entertainment page!

TVNewser:  You’ve obviously seen Trump’s hair up close. Can you walk me through that experience?

Cordes: I actually find the caps as fascinating as the hair itself. If it’s an outdoor event, the cap goes on. Ever since he mentioned that people are mean to him about his hair, I’ve become much more reluctant to joke about it. We all have something about ourselves we wish we could change.

TVNewser:  You grew up in Hawaii, went to school on the East Coast and travel the nation for work. What’s your favorite meal? Specific restaurant and exact order, please.

Cordes: A plate lunch from Koloa Fish Market on the south shore of Kauai: shoyu poke, seaweed salad, Kalua pork, chicken long rice. A freshly picked avocado from my parents’ garden, sliced, with fresh lemon squeezed on top and a little salt. Lappert’s Kauai Pie ice cream in a waffle cone for dessert. Heaven.