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Alexia Fernandez
December 03, 2017 08:33 AM

Hillary Clinton‘s would-be response to Donald Trump during their second presidential debate in October 2016 was on the tip of her tongue, she says.

The former secretary of state admitted to black-ish actress Yara Shahidi — who moderated a conversation with the 70-year-old on Saturday — that she wanted to call out Trump as the then-Republican presidential nominee followed her around onstage at the Washington University-held debate. Clinton said she held back, though, because she knew “there is a double standard” when “you’re the first woman to be nominated to the presidency by a major party” and “you have no margin for error.”

“When we were preparing for this debate, I prepared to be composed, and calm no matter what he said or did,” Clinton said at Saturday’s Teen Vogue Summit in Playa Vista, California. “I knew he would be desperate since the Hollywood Access tapes had come out, in which he basically confesses to sexual assault.”

Clinton continued, “I thought, ‘Okay, I have to be really calm here.’ And he stalked and sort of loomed over me and made faces. But I maintained my composure.”

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at the town hall debate in October 2016 at Washington University in St. Louis.
Rick Wilking-Pool/Getty

Despite keeping a level head during the debate — which sparked memes of Trump following Clinton around — she revealed how she would have liked to respond in the moment.

“Now, afterward, I thought about that. I thought, ‘What would have happened if I had sort of spun around and said, “You love to intimidate women but back up you creep,” ‘ ” Clinton explained. “I think it really would have been satisfying but I also think given the way women are covered, [people would have said] ‘Oh, she can’t take that. How can she be president? Oh, she’s showing aggressive behavior on stage. Or oh she got so angry and the last thing we want is an angry woman in the Oval Office.’ ”

Watch: Natasha Stoynoff Breaks Silence, Accuses Donald Trump of Sexual Assault

The former first lady recounted Trump’s actions toward her, saying, “He called me names in all those debates. He was nasty — remember when he called me a ‘nasty woman for questioning him? All of that stuff that he did, it didn’t end up hurting him that much because men are given a much broader range of emotions in order to demonstrate their ‘authentic feelings.’ ”

Clinton wrote about the moment in her book, What Happened, an excerpt of which was published on MSNBC’s Morning Joe in August.

“This is not okay, I thought. It was the second presidential debate and Donald Trump was looming behind me,” she wrote. “Two days before the world heard about him groping women. Now we were on a small stage and no matter where I walked, he followed me closely — staring at me, making faces.”

While wrote that she gripped the microphone “extra hard,” Clinton added that she is curious about what might have happened had she spoken out against his intimidation tactics.

“I wonder, though, whether I should have chosen option B,” Clinton wrote. “It sure would have made for better TV. Maybe I have over-learned the lesson of staying clam, biting my tongue, digging my fingernails into a clenched fist — smiling all the while, determined to present a composed face to the world.”

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