By Sarah Pyo | Editor-in-Chief
CNN’s political producer Ashley Killough, a Baylor graduate, made many sacrifices to cover the 2016 republican presidential race, an experience she will never forget. She hit the road January 2015, marking the start of one of the most historical presidential races in history.
Killough was assigned coverage of republican presidential nominees Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio at the start of the campaign trail and then assigned to President-elect Donald Trump before his election.
As a political producer, she was required to travel with each presidential nominee, following each candidate to rallies, conducting interviews and flagging new or significant quotes that the candidates have said and sending it to the network.
“You’re always on the trail. I haven’t been home. I haven’t had an apartment since February,” Killough said. “You’re the eyes and ears at these events.”
During her undergraduate years, Killough was first exposed to presidential news coverage when she was given the chance to travel to Washington D.C. as a staff writer for the Baylor Lariat to cover President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009. Four years later, she had the opportunity to help cover President Obama’s second run for office as an employee for CNN.
“Ashley was kind of like the Lariat legend at the time,” said Sommer Ingram, Baylor alumna and former Lariat staff writer. “She’s a great reporter with every sense of the word. She’s a strong writer and she has great instincts.”
Killough first started writing stories for the political ticker for CNN before becoming a political producer. Physically following the campaign trail is a lot different and harder than most imagine, Killough said. During the primaries, Killough worked either by herself or with a partner, traveling to all the events hosted by the nominees she was assigned to, logging notes and keeping up with all their movements, essentially becoming a database of knowledge for that particular candidate.
“When I was covering Bush, it was just myself and going to all of his events and shooting all of his events with my tripod,” Killough said. “I enjoyed that. I felt like I had a much better sense of who he was and how his campaign functioned than I did with Trump, because we had a lot or other people and splitting up the roles.”
During the coverage of Trump’s presidential race, Killough and the press frequently dealt with crowds that were hostile towards the media. In addition, press access to Trump was very limited, especially while traveling, which showed his relationship with the press.
“Normally presidential nominees travel with the press on their planes, but with Trump there was an accommodation. We travelled in a plane that followed his, like a chase plane.” Killough said.
Now that Trump has been elected to be the next president, Killough and her team will be looking forward to upcoming events. Since not a lot of people were expecting the results, she said, CNN is focusing more on his transition into presidency.
“I always thought CNN was my dream and my end goal, so I was surprised that I would actually start here.” Killough said.