In her first extended TV interview since losing the 2016 presidential election, former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton said she has no plans to run for elected office again but plans to remain active in politics because of her grave concern that “our country’s future is at stake.”
Clinton told Jane Pauley on “CBS Sunday Morning” that she was “gobsmacked” by Donald Trump’s upset victory after the hard-fought 2016 presidential race. The interview is the kick off of Clinton’s promo campaign for her forthcoming book “What Happened,” to be released Tuesday by CBS’ Simon & Schuster imprint.
“I just felt this enormous letdown, just kind of loss of feeling and direction and sadness,” Clinton said in the interview that aired Sunday. “And, you know, Bill (Clinton) just kept saying, “Oh, you know, that was a terrific speech,” tryin’ to just kinda bolster me a little bit. Off I went, into a frenzy of closet cleaning, and long walks in the woods, playing with my dogs, and, as I write– yoga, alternate nostril breathing, which I highly recommend, tryin’ to calm myself down. And — you know, my share of Chardonnay. It was a very hard transition. I really struggled. I couldn’t feel, I couldn’t think. I was just gobsmacked, wiped out.”
Clinton described what she called an “out-of-body experience” when she attended Trump’s inauguration in January out of respect for tradition that former presidents and first ladies participate to underscore the democratic elective process. She called Trump’s fiery speech “a cry from the white nationalist gut” and said he missed the moment to try to unify the country.
“What an opportunity to say, ‘OK, I’m proud of my supporters, but I’m the president of all Americans.’ That’s not what we heard at all,” she said.
Clinton was also critical of former FBI chief James Comey for raising the specter of wrongdoing on her part in connection with her handling of email during her time as Secretary of State. Corey’s announcement 11 days before the Nov. 8 election that more of Clinton’s personal emails had surfaced on an unsecured computer was a severe blow to her campaign.
“It just stopped my momentum,” Clinton said. She also questioned why Comey did not disclose the fact that the Trump campaign was part of the nascent probe into Russian interference in the election. “At the same time he does that about a closed investigation (into Clinton emails), there’s an open investigation into the Trump campaign and their connections with Russia. You never hear a word about it. And when asked later, he goes, ‘Well, it was too close to the election.’ Now, help me make sense of that. I can’t understand it.”
Clinton told Pauley that she did not believe her candid comment that half of Trump’s supporters could be described as being part of a “basket of deplorables” was not a significant factor in her loss. “I don’t think it was determinative,” she said, because Trump’s ardent supporters would never have voted for her anyway. But she did regret “giving him a political gift of any kind” as Trump champions seized on the “deplorables” tag.
Clinton did acknowledge that major flaw of her campaign was the relative lack of anger that she voiced about the state of the economy.
“I understood that there were many Americans who, because of the financial crash, there was anger. And there was resentment. I knew that. But I believed that it was my responsibility to try to offer answers to it, not to fan it,” she said. “I think that it was a mistake because a lot of people didn’t wanna hear my plans. They wanted me to share their anger. And I should’ve done a better job of demonstrating ‘I get it.’ ”