Hillary Clinton considered telling Donald Trump to "Back up, you creep!" as the then-Republican presidential nominee followed her around during the second 2016 presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis

By Dave Quinn
August 23, 2017 09:31 AM
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Hillary Clinton considered telling Donald Trump to “Back up, you creep!” as the then-Republican presidential nominee followed her around during the second 2016 presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis.

In an except from her forthcoming memoir What Happened, Clinton opens up about Trump’s intimidation techniques in the October town hall debate — which came just two days after the now-president’s infamous Access Hollywood hot mic tape made headlines.

“This is not okay, I thought,” Clinton, 69, writes in the book, an excerpt of which was published on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Wednesday. “It was the second presidential debate and Donald Trump was looming behind me. 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.”

“It was incredibly uncomfortable,” the former Democratic presidential candidate explains. “He was literally breathing down my neck. My skin crawled. It was one of those moments where you wish you could hit pause and ask everyone watching, ‘Well, what would you do?’ Do you stay calm, keep smiling and carry on as if he weren’t repeatedly invading in your space? Or do you turn, look him in the eye, and say loudly and clearly, ‘Back up you creep. Get away from me. I know you love to intimidate women, but you can’t intimidate me so back up.’ ”

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at the town hall debate in October 2016
| Credit: Rick Wilking-Pool/Getty

Of course, Clinton chose the second option — a decision she said was “aided by a lifetime of dealing with difficult men trying to throw [her] off.” And though she kept her cool and gripped the microphone “extra hard,” she looks back at the moment curious about the path not taken.

“I wonder, though, whether I should have chosen option B,” Clinton says. “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.”

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at the town hall debate in October 2016
| Credit: Patrick Semansky/AP

It’s insights like that into Clinton’s thought process that fans can expect from the memoir.

“I don’t have all the answers and this isn’t a comprehensive account of the 2016 race,” she says in the book. “That’s not for me to write. I have too little distance and too great a stake in it. Instead, this is my story. I want to pull back the curtain on an experience that was exhilarating, joyful, humbling, infuriating, and just plain baffling.”

She adds, “In this book, I write about moments from the campaign that I wish I could go back and do over. If the Russians could hack my subconscious, they’d find a long list. I also capture some moments I want to remember forever. Like when my tiny granddaughter raced into the room while I was practicing my convention speech. And what it was like hours later to step on stage to deliver that speech, as the first woman ever nominated by a major political party for President of the United States.”

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The experience — even after the nearly 10 months that have passed since she lost the election — is a challenge for Clinton.

“Writing this wasn’t easy,” she says. “Every day that I was a candidate for president, I knew that millions of people were counting on me and I couldn’t bear the idea of letting them down. But I did. I couldn’t get the job done. And I’ll have to live with that for the rest of my life.”

What Happened hits bookstores Sept. 12.