While peddling her tell-all book before a packed house at the Warner Theater in Washington, D.C., on Monday night, Hillary Clinton kicked off her book tour by expressing her regret at not having found better ways to communicate with voters during the 2016 campaign.
Clinton sat down with friend and former speechwriter Lissa Muscatine to discuss her new memoir, “What Happened,” before an attentive crowd at the D.C. bookstore Politics and Prose, which is owned by Muscatine. Clinton carried nearly 91 percent of the vote in Washington, with supporters and many former campaign staff attending. The event was her first stop on a 15-city tour.
The failed 2016 presidential candidate recalled that her campaign team often focused on perfecting policy points, which led them to miss the bigger picture. Clinton further noted that she failed to make the necessary changes to reach voters.
“I was not as adept or as quick to try and figure what is a better way for me to communicate,” she said, adding, “You think you’re running one kind of campaign and you realize that the press is not covering the policy you’re putting out every day. They’re covering an empty podium.”
In her new book, her sixth, Clinton has blamed her loss on a variety of factors, including Russia’s election interference, former FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the probe into her personal email server, the media, fellow Democrats, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), her rival in the primary.
Clinton spoke about the crucial last month of the election, which saw Comey reopen the email investigation.
“All of a sudden people are being told you know what, something’s going on, they’re gonna investigate her again. We could see that a lot of women, in particular, were discouraged,” Clinton recounted.
In the last month, WikiLeaks also released a trove of stolen campaign emails, including from campaign chairman John Podesta. But Clinton brushed aside Podesta’s emails, preferring instead to point fingers at the Russians and their allies, adding snidely, “Whoever they turn out to be.”
Clinton said she wished she had done more to challenge Trump’s statements and plans for the country because having lost to a “normal Republican candidate” would have been easier to accept.
“If I had lost to another Republican candidate, I would have felt bad, but I wouldn’t have worried about the fundamental future of our country, our institutions, our rule of law,” said Clinton. “You can disagree about policies, but you can’t begin to chip away at the basis of our government’s functioning and our democratic norms without paying a very big price.”
She saved her toughest punches for President Trump, urging Republicans not to disregard facts on the “altar of partisanship.”
She also said she fears for federal workers in the Trump administration, saying the president had shown “total disregard” to the sector.
“I know people I worked with at the State Department just really being frozen out, demeaned, mistreated,” she said.
Clinton expressed her hopes that her book has shared the lessons she learned from her campaign.
“I wrote it not just to say what happened, but what we need to do to make sure what happened doesn’t happen again,” Clinton said to applause.
Clinton’s next stop on the book tour is in Toronto.
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