In “What Happened,” her chronicle of a surprisingly unsuccessful presidential campaign, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSteve Harvey: My wife told me not to meet with Trump, I should have listened Senate Judiciary to meet with Trump Jr. on Thursday Hillary Clinton to sit down with CBS’s Jane Pauley on Sunday MORE repeatedly wishes she could hit the rewind button on 2016.
Clinton, the former Democratic presidential nominee, time and again expresses pangs of regret about her loss to Republican Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSean Spicer to speak at gas industry conference Ex-World Bank president: Congress must crack down on Trump’s trade policies Hillary Clinton to sit down with CBS’s Jane Pauley on Sunday MORE.
And she hits herself for not being more aggressive in attacking the hypocrisy and double standards she feels she endured from the media, Republicans and even some Democrats who have criticized what they call a lackluster campaign.
“I’ve spent part of nearly every day since November 8, 2016, wrestling with a single question: Why did I lose? Sometimes it’s hard to focus on anything else,” Clinton wrote.
“I go back over my own shortcomings and the mistakes we made,” she said. “I take responsibility for all them.”
Clinton’s takes in the book are likely to be appreciated by her supporters, many of whom feel aggrieved themselves by an election they feel Clinton should have won.
Clinton herself noted in her author’s note that she soundly defeated Trump in the popular vote, winning 65,844,610 votes — nearly 3 million more than her opponent.
“More votes than any candidate for president has ever received, other than Barack ObamaBarack ObamaOPINION | Bill O’Reilly: Harvey, Sandy, Katrina — A tale of three superstorms Week ahead: Tech mobilizes on DACA | House panel looks at Uber economy Trump asked aides for ‘a way out’ on DACA: report MORE,” Clinton wrote.
Clinton at times appears to be aiming for that audience in a book that seems destined for the bestseller list.
The Democratic nominee put much of the blame for her loss on Russia, former FBI Director James Comey and even her primary battle with Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersHillary Clinton to sit down with CBS’s Jane Pauley on Sunday Dem lawmaker on Clinton criticizing Sanders in new book: ‘Don’t go there’ Publisher pulls book from Clinton’s pastor over plagiarism MORE (I-Vt.) — as early leaks about her book made clear.
But she also acknowledged she could have had a stronger message — and spent more time in battleground states.
“I suppose it is possible that a few more trips to Saginaw or a few more ads on the air in Waukesha could have tipped a couple thousand votes here and there,” she acknowledged in references to Michigan and Wisconsin, which were both shocking wins for Trump on election night.
Clinton never traveled to Wisconsin, which was won by the Republican presidential nominee for the first time since 1984. But Clinton suggested she didn’t see the loss coming.
“We had 133 staff on the ground and spent nearly $3 million on TV but if our data (or anyone else’s) had shown we were in danger of course we would have invested more,” she wrote. “I would have torn up my schedule, which was designed based on the best information we had, and camped out there.”
One frequent target of Clinton’s is the media, which she feels repeatedly treated her unfairly.
At NBC’s “Commander in Chief Forum,” where she and Trump both did separate interviews with moderator Matt Lauer, she blasts the news anchor for his focus on her email controversy, while doing a “soft-pedal” on Trump.
“Trump should have reported his performance as an in-kind contribution,” Clinton wrote about Lauer.
“Later there were rumors ginned up by fake news reports that I was so mad at him I stormed off stage, threw a tantrum, and shattered a water glass. While I didn’t do any of that, I can’t say I didn’t fantasize about shaking some sense into Lauer while I was out there.”
Clinton used the Lauer episode to highlight the media’s fixation with her email debacle from her time using a private email server as secretary of State.
“I made a mistake with my emails. I apologized, I explained, I explained and apologized some more,” she wrote in the book. “Yet, here we were, after all these months, and after the FBI finished its work, at a forum supposed to be about the security of our country, and to balance the fact that Trump was going to have a hard time answering even the most straightforward questions, we were spending our time on emails.”
Clinton doesn’t blame over-confidence for her loss. And she doesn’t put blame on her staff.
“I’ve been a part of a lot of campaigns going all the way back to 1968, and this was the most collegial and collaborative I’ve seen,” she wrote. “So how did it go? Well, we didn’t win. But I can say with zero equivocation that my team made me enormously proud.”
She does sneer at Democrats like former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenIt’s time to build the wall and fix our immigration system Obama team’s 2020 signals spark chatter among Dems The Hill’s 12:30 Report MORE, who has been critical of her on the heels of the campaign, saying the party “did not talk about what it always stood for—and that was how to maintain a burgeoning middle class.”
“I find this fairly remarkable, considering that Joe himself campaigned for me all over the Midwest and talked plenty about the middle class,” Clinton says in the book. “Also, it’s just not true. Not even close.”
She also acknowledges the campaign’s struggle to stay on message — a “piece of advice that President Obama gave me throughout the campaign was that we needed more message discipline, and he was right.”
“My advisers had to deal with a candidate — me — who often wanted something new to say, as opposed to repeating the same stump speech over and over,” she wrote. “In addition, more than in any race I can remember, we were constantly buffeted by events from the email controversy, to WikiLeaks to mass shootings and terrorist attacks.”
Clinton’s loss will always be tied to Russia’s interference in the election, which is now a subject dominating the Trump presidency and the subject of a federal probe by special counsel Robert Mueller. And Comey will also always be a character given his decision days before the election to briefly reopen an investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server.
Perhaps knowing that some will criticize her focus on Russian President Vladimir Putin and Comey, Clinton offered a defense for why she keeps discussing them.
“Many in the political media don’t want to hear about how these things happened and how these things tipped the election in the final days. They say their beef is that I’m not taking responsibility for my mistakes—but I have and I do again throughout this book,” she wrote.
“Their real problem is they can’t bear to face their own role in helping elect Trump, from providing him free airtime to giving my emails three times more coverage than all the issues affecting people’s lives combined.”
“If it’s all my fault, then the media doesn’t need to do any soul searching,” she wrote. “Republicans can say Putin’s meddling had no consequences. Democrats don’t need to question their own assumptions and prescriptions. Everyone can just move on. I wish it were that easy but it’s not.”
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