Former Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton released her memoir, What Happened. The book is a description of her personal journey through the Democratic primary, the 2016 election, and how she navigated the aftermath of losing the presidency to Donald Trump. In the book, Clinton didn’t hold back. Hillary talked her relationship with former-President Obama, her email scandal, and several other topics that have captivated the American voter.
She’s one of the most controversial politicians in recent history, so we just couldn’t stop ourselves from diving in and finding out what HRC would say about where she — and others — went so wrong last November. We took a look at what Clinton had to say about Trump, Bernie Sanders, her biggest mistake, and several other interesting excerpts from her book.
On Trump in the debates
Do you stay calm, keep smiling and carry on as if he weren’t repeatedly invading your space? Or do you turn, look him in the eye, and say loudly and clearly, “back up you creep. Get away from me. I know you love to intimidate women, but you can’t intimidate me so back up.”
This is an excerpt from the book about the time that Trump appeared to be stalking Clinton on stage during the debates. Plenty of discussion took place on cable news channels about what Trump was actually trying to accomplish. Was it a strategic plan to stay on camera during her time to speak? Or was it actually an attempt to intimidate the former First Lady?
The whole thing came just days after tapes were released in which Trump claimed he could grab women by their private parts, and that led Clinton to wonder if she would’ve been better off actually calling him out during the debate for his creepy behavior. Trump later apologized for the comments, but also dismissed them as merely “locker-room talk.”
On Trump being for real
It wasn’t until I saw him dominate a debate with a crowded field of talented Republican candidates — not with brilliant ideas or powerful arguments but with ugly attacks that drew gasps — that I realized he might be for real.
To be honest, Clinton echoes what many were feeling at the time. Most didn’t take Trump seriously until the Republican primary, when he went on stage and antagonized fellow candidates, talked about the size of his hands — among other body parts — and turned the whole thing into a sideshow. It still seemed like a major long-shot that Trump could win the general election, with his hateful rhetoric and easily disproved lies being aimed at what was seemingly a small demographic, but here we are.
On election night reaction
Bill was watching Trump’s speech on television. He couldn’t believe it. Neither could I. Eventually everyone left, and it was just us. I hadn’t cried yet, wasn’t sure if I would. But I felt deeply and thoroughly exhausted, like I hadn’t slept in 10 years. We lay down on the bed and stared at the ceiling. Bill took my hand, and we just lay there.
This was an interesting peek into the night where Bill and Hillary learned that they would not be back in the White House. Although there weren’t any gory details of HRC sobbing uncontrollably, or any specific moment where it hit her like a sack of bricks, the moment she lays out in the book is extremely human. As she describes her husband holding her hand, laying there in silence, you get a strong sense of the heartbreak that losing the election caused.
On her biggest mistake
I regret handing Trump a political gift with my “deplorables” comment. I know that a lot of well-intentioned people were insulted because they misunderstood me to be criticizing all Trump voters. I’m sorry about that.
This is probably the most heavily scrutinized moment of the campaign for Clinton. While speaking at a fundraiser in September of 2016, she made a comment that half of Trump’s supporters belong in a “basket of deplorables.” She took major heat for what many called divisive, trying to demonize those that would support her opponent.
While she apologizes for the comment in What Happened, she does go on to explain herself in greater detail. Clinton wrote that she still believes that a large portion of Trump’s base do hold views that, in her eyes, are deplorable.
On Bernie Sanders
Bernie routinely portrayed me as a corrupt corporatist who couldn’t be trusted. His clear implication was that because I accepted campaign donations from people on Wall Street — just as President Obama had done — I was “bought and paid for.”
His attacks caused lasting damage, making it harder to unify progressives in the general election and paving the way for Trump’s “Crooked Hillary” campaign.
One of the most criticized aspects of Clinton’s book is the blame she lays on Senator Bernie Sanders for her loss in the general election. Sanders ran a spirited campaign in the Democratic primary. He consolidated heavy support from Independents and left-leaning Democrats, and drew massive crowds at his rallies. His angle on Clinton was her ties to Wall Street, which was (and remains) a serious concern for many voters. The American people were concerned that special interests would take precedent with Clinton.
Clinton goes on to also criticize Sanders for taking too long to formally endorse her after it was clear that he would not win the party nomination. There was no mention of how the Democratic National Committee and long-time Clinton friend, the now-ousted former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, conspired against the Sanders campaign in favor of Clinton.
On Trump and Russia
The press treated our warnings about Russia like it was spin we’d cooked up to distract from embarrassing revelations — a view actively encouraged by the Trump campaign … Now that the Russians have infected us and seen how weak our defenses are, they’ll keep at it. This should concern all Americans — Republicans, Democrats, Independents, everyone.
Clinton describes in her book how the media refused to believe that something shady could be going on between the Trump campaign and Russia. Hindsight, of course, is 20/20. While the FBI has been consistently investigating the role that Russia had in the 2016 election, we may never know the full extent to which Trump himself — or his surrogates — were involved.
Clinton is dead-on in this part of the message, though. The fact that a hostile foreign entity tampered with an American presidential election should concern everyone, whether they supported or voted for Trump or not.
On being the ‘woman candidate’
I didn’t want people to see me as the “woman candidate,” which I find limiting, but rather as the best candidate whose experience as a woman in a male-dominated culture made her sharper, tougher, and more competent. That’s a hard distinction to draw, and I wasn’t confident that I had the dexterity to pull it off … But the biggest reason I shied away from embracing this narrative is that storytelling requires a receptive audience, and I’ve never felt like the American electorate was receptive to this one.
Clinton dedicated an entire chapter to being the “woman candidate,” and her response on the topic is sure to be somewhat disappointing to some of her supporters. While many voted for her specifically because they wanted to see a woman in the White House, Clinton pushed hard against that angle as an official campaign message. She wanted to be viewed as the most competent candidate, regardless of gender.
But she may have been right. While much of her base was extremely receptive to the message of the “woman candidate,” both outright and internal misogyny still run rampant in society. In the end, it played a massive part in how an inexperienced hotel mogul known for his abhorrent version of “locker-room talk” won the Electoral College.
All information via What Happened.
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