Clinton campaign dogged by infighting, overconfidence

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFBI’s top lawyer believed Hillary Clinton should face charges, but was talked out of it Harris adds key Clinton aide, women of color to 2020 campaign: report Democrats more likely Trump's foil, than to foil Trump MORE’s 2016 campaign was dogged by power struggles and overly optimistic expectations on its way to a surprise defeat by President Trump, according to a newly released book on Clinton’s failed run.

“Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign,” by Sidewire’s Jonathan Allen and The Hill’s Amie Parnes, chronicles the inner workings of the Clinton campaign. The book follows repeated missteps from Clinton, her staff and Democratic allies, nearly all of whom expected Clinton to handily win the Oval Office in November.


The book goes through the night of Clinton’s defeat in the 2016 presidential election, which was widely expected to be a victory for the former Democratic presidential nominee. But as the results continued to come in, that outcome started to look less and less likely.

“Shattered” includes three momentous calls Clinton took on the night of the election. In the first, with former President Obama, Obama urged Clinton to concede to her rival.

Then Clinton called Trump, conceding the race to him and ending her campaign.

After acknowledging her defeat, according to the book, Clinton took a call from Obama and apologized for losing.

When Clinton received the call, handed to her by aide Huma Abedin, she realized how many people she had let down by botching the race.

“Mr. President,” Clinton said when she got on the phone with Obama. “I’m sorry.”

Clinton’s eventual defeat came after a series of internal campaign blunders.

“Shattered” depicts Clinton as still agonizing over her failed 2008 presidential bid, sifting through top campaign staffers’ emails to figure out what went wrong.

Clinton had one of her aides download the emails of her top campaign staff to find leakers from the 2008 campaign, a source told the authors of the book.

“She had a mosaic pieced together that if you read a transcript of it, you would have thought it was someone who had sat at headquarters every day, and it was remarkably accurate,” a Clinton aide told the authors. “She just had it pegged.”

When Clinton again chose to run in the 2016 race, she was met with an unexpectedly tough primary rival: Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersBernie Sanders to sign pledge affirming he will run as a Democrat Overnight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Drug pricing fight centers on insulin | Florida governor working with Trump to import cheaper drugs | Dems blast proposed ObamaCare changes Hillicon Valley: Microsoft reveals new Russian hack attempts | Google failed to disclose hidden microphone | Booker makes late HQ2 bid | Conservative group targets Ocasio-Cortez over Amazon MORE (I-Vt.).

The Vermont senator had policy differences with Clinton and didn’t want to let her run on her more moderate economic ideas unchallenged, according to the book.

“His feelings about her, which were less than positive, revolved around policy differences and revolved around her allegiance to an old form of campaigning relying on big money and the people who raise it for you,” said one Sanders confidant.

When speaking in April 2014 with liberal radio talk show host Bill Press, who is also a columnist for The Hill, Sanders said he had been thinking about running for president. He said he wanted to ensure progressive issues were “front and center in the 2016 campaign.”

“Hillary’s not going to raise them on her own,” he reportedly said. “Somebody’s got to do it.”

The Vermont senator “couldn’t stand the idea of Hillary pulling the country back into the Clinton White House years,” according to the book.

Sanders launched his campaign shortly after Clinton in early 2015. After a long primary competition that saw Sanders end up being a competitive challenger, the progressive Vermont senator endorsed his Democratic rival.

But even after conceding, Sanders wouldn’t totally walk the Clinton campaign line. In September, members of the Clinton campaign contacted Sanders aides and shared a script of an ad they wanted Sanders to record.

At the end of the script for the ad — which would have Sanders touting Clinton for certain policy positions — Sanders was expected to use one of the campaign’s slogans: “I’m with her.”

But Sanders objected.

“It’s so phony!” he said. “I don’t want to say that.”

The Vermont senator didn’t use the slogan in the recorded ad, which never ended up running on television after focus groups found Sanders’s endorsement insincere.

“People didn’t feel that it was an authentic pitch for her and what she wanted to do,” said one Clinton aide familiar with focus group responses. “It even had some backlash in folks saying that he’s not really supporting her.”

Clinton faced another growing challenge throughout her run: the controversy over her use of a private server while serving as secretary of State.

Former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonHoward Schultz must run as a Democrat for chance in 2020 Trump says he never told McCabe his wife was 'a loser' Harris off to best start among Dems in race, say strategists, donors MORE originally did not want his wife to apologize for her use of a private email server, even as many of Hillary Clinton’s top advisers told her to apologize and get past the issue.

But the former president said his wife, rather than apologize, should explain what she was thinking and why she “didn’t see anything wrong with it,” according to the book.

In August 2015, during a visit to Iowa, Hillary Clinton took responsibility for her decision, saying it “clearly wasn’t the best choice” and noting that she should have used two email accounts instead. The issue lingered.

During a later interview, Clinton went even further and apologized.

“That was a mistake,” she said. “I’m sorry about that. I take responsibility.”

Obama thought Clinton badly mishandled the controversy over her email server, according to the book.

“He couldn’t understand what possessed Hillary to set up the private e-mail server, and her handling of the scandal — obfuscate, deny, and evade — amounted to political malpractice,” the authors wrote.

Still, Obama felt good about her chances. Campaigning against Trump, Obama boasted that it was “too easy” and assured one financier that Clinton had the race in the bag.

That was despite campaign shake-ups that saw campaign manager Robby Mook sidelined, with the candidate frequently lamenting that she lacked a clear message. Clinton’s kick-off speech was considered so directionless, according to the book, that Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau quit working on it and refused to be paid — a move that also kept his name off of campaign finance filings.

On the night of her defeat, Clinton pushed for a conciliatory concession speech.

“Look, I really just want to concede gracefully, wish him the best, thank everybody, and get off the stage,” she said. “This is not a moment for me to do more than that.”

But aides urged her to use the speech to take a more combative stance against the new president.

“Everything you said, we’re going to do in the speech,” chief campaign strategist Jake Sullivan said, according to the book.

“But you have been saying for many months that he’s temperamentally unfit and that he would be dangerous, and if you meant it, you should say it,” he told her.

“And you made a case that all these people’s rights and safety are in danger — if you meant that, you should say it.”

Clinton responded that it wasn’t her “job” anymore to come out against Trump.

“Other people will criticize him. That’s their job. I have done it. I just lost, and that is that,” she continued.

“That was my last race.”