Clinton takes some responsibility for loss

Clinton takes some responsibility for loss
© Greg Nash

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP lawmaker defends Chelsea Clinton after confrontation over New Zealand attacks Klobuchar: Race, gender should not be litmus tests for 2020 Dem nominee Kirsten Gillibrand officially announces White House run MORE said Tuesday that she takes responsibility for her 2016 presidential election loss but added that she would have won if not for FBI Director James Comey, Russian hackers and WikiLeaks.

“If the election had been on Oct. 27, I would be your president,” she told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour at a Women for Women event in New York Tuesday, referencing the day before Comey sent a letter informing Congress that the FBI had discovered new emails that appeared pertinent to an investigation into Clinton’s handling of classified material.

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“It wasn’t a perfect campaign — there is no such thing — but I was on the way to winning until a combination of Jim Comey’s letter on Oct. 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me and got scared off.”

Clinton also said misogyny played a role in her loss.

“Yes, I do think it played a role. I think other things did as well. Every day that goes by, we find out more about the unprecedented inference, including from a foreign power whose leader is not a member of my fan club,” Clinton said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “It is real; it is very much a part of the landscape, politically and socially and economically.”

Clinton pointed out multiple times that she won the popular vote over President Trump despite losing the Electoral College and hence the White House.

Clinton also suggested the possibility of coordination between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government, now the subject of multiple FBI and congressional investigations.

“If you chart my opponent and his campaign’s statements, they quite coordinated with the goals that that leader, who shall remain nameless, had,” she said, referring to Putin.

Tuesday’s interview became Clinton’s most comprehensive public accounting of what she believes led to her stunning Election Day defeat — although she said she’s working on a book about the campaign with a fuller explanation.

Clinton noted the timing of WikiLeaks’ release of hacked emails obtained from campaign chairman John Podesta’s email account, which were published shortly after the 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape in which Trump boasts about groping women without consent came to light.

“Within an hour or two of the Hollywood Access tape being made public, the Russian theft of John Podesta’s emails hit WikiLeaks,” Clinton said.

So while Clinton admitted that both she and the campaign made mistakes, she said that those missteps had far less of an impact than Russia and Comey did.

“The reason why I believe we lost were the intervening events in the last 10 days. You can see I was leading in the early vote,” she said, pointing to FiveThirtyEight elections analyst Nate Silver’s statement that she would have won if the election were held before the publication of the Comey letter.

It’s a view shared by Clinton allies and staffers, many of whom are still livid about the FBI director’s decision to inform Congress less than two weeks before the election about the newly discovered emails.

Days before the election, Comey sent another letter that said that those emails did not contain any substantial new information. But in the minds of Clinton’s allies, the damage was already done as Republicans seized on the revelations as ammunition to tar Clinton as corrupt and a magnet for scandal.

Democrats were also frustrated by the March revelations during Comey’s House Intelligence Committee testimony that the FBI is investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, a fact that Comey did not disclose in the run-up to the election.

For many Democrats and political analysts, though, the impact of Comey’s letter and the Russian hacking is far from the only factor that led to Trump’s victory.

Clinton fared poorly in the Rust Belt with white, working-class voters who made up crucial constituencies in once reliably blue states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as swing states such as Ohio. And Clinton failed to appear at all in parts of the so-called blue wall, never traveling to Wisconsin during the general election.

That’s led to Democrats, including former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenBeto could give Biden and Bernie a run for their money Biden: 'I have the most progressive record of anybody running ... anybody who would run' H.R. 1 falls short of real reform MORE, blasting the party for ignoring working-class voters and to sniping between Clinton supporters and those who backed Democratic primary rival Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersO'Rourke faces pressure from left on 'Medicare for all' O'Rourke says he won't use 'f-word' on campaign trail O'Rourke not planning, but not ruling out big fundraisers MORE (I-Vt.) — with Clinton allies blaming Sanders for tearing her down and Sanders supporters saying that Sanders’s message would have resonated better with the working-class voters who left Democrats for Trump.

For the first time in decades, Clinton sits outside of politics with no clear path forward and little hunger within her party for her to remain as its public face. 

Clinton spent the first few months after the election in the shadows, with pictures of her on walks in suburban New York forests serving as her only appearances.

While she made private remarks to donors and supporters about the election after her defeat, those remarks remained largely behind closed doors.

As she inched back into the spotlight, Clinton has focused more of her public remarks on pushing back at the Trump administration instead of re-litigating the election.

But the April publication of “Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign,” written by The Hill’s Amie Parnes and Sidewire’s Jonathan Allen, created a new round of tough press for Clinton.

The book details a campaign plagued by internal power struggles and overly optimistic expectations that came crashing down when Trump upset Clinton, reporting that inspired new stories about Clinton campaign dysfunction on cable news. And it raised new questions about how Clinton, whose staff repeatedly ignored warnings about a Trump victory, lost an election she had been expected to win.

The book’s reports of campaign infighting prompted significant public pushback from Clinton’s former campaign staff, many of whom took to Twitter to post happy pictures from the campaign trail to dispute the book’s portrayal of rampant backbiting.

Clinton didn’t address the book during her Tuesday interview, but she said her own book would be both “confession and my absolution.”

Clinton nodded at the groundswell of Democratic opposition to Trump.

“I’m now back to being an activist citizen and part of the resistance,” Clinton said.