Hillary Clinton took a break Tuesday from work on her upcoming new book to talk world peace — and muse at length and out loud about the reasons why she lost last fall’s presidential election to Donald Trump.
Repeating asserting she’s made since the shocking defeat, the former secretary of state said during a luncheon speech in New York that “I was on the way to winning until a combination of Jim Comey’s letter on Oct. 28th and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but got scared off.”
Comey’s renewed inquiry, publicly announced less than two weeks before the election, ultimately turned up nothing.
“If the election had been on Oct. 27, I would be your president,” Clinton said Tuesday, calling herself “part of the resistance” to President Trump.
Clinton spoke in a question-and-answer session with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour at a luncheon that raised more than $1 million for Women for Women International’s work serving women survivors of war. In response to Amanpour’s questions about last year’s election, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee mostly demurred, saying all her “excruciating” analysis would be laid out in the book she is writing for release this fall.
“It’s a painful process reliving the campaign,” Clinton said.
As for who she blames for her campaign’s failure, Clinton said she takes “absolute personal responsibility,” even as she acknowledges her frustrations during the final stretch of the campaign.
“Within an hour or two of the Hollywood Access tape being made public, the Russian theft of John Podesta’s emails hit WikiLeaks. What a coincidence! So, I mean, you just can’t make this stuff up. So did we make mistakes? Of course we did. Did I make mistakes? Oh my gosh, yes. You know, you’ll read my confession and my request for absolution.”
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The former candidate also reminded attendees that she still managed to defeat President Trump in the popular vote — even though his Electoral College win provided a path to victory.
“The reason why I believe we lost were the intervening events in the last 10 days. And I think you can see I was leading in the early vote, I had a very strong — and not just our polling and data analysis — but a very strong assessment going on across the country about where I was in terms of, you know, the necessary both votes and electoral votes. And remember: I did win more than 3 million votes than my opponent.”
The former Secretary of State also spoke out about some of President Trump’s foreign policy decisions, revealing that she did approve of his decision to bomb Syrian airfields last month in response to that country’s nerve-gas attack on its own civilians. “I did support it,” Clinton said with a slight pause of hesitation. “I didn’t do so publicly … because it wasn’t my role.”
But, she cautioned, she is not convinced Trump has a broader strategy in Syria. “If all [the bombing] was a one-off, I expect it’s not going to have much of an effect.”
Clinton also chided Trump for saying he would be “honored” to meet with North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un. Clinton, who was a U.S. senator before she was President Obama’s Secretary of State, said Trump should only offer a meeting to a nuclear-aspiring tyrant “as part of a broader strategic framework … to bring him to the table.”
“And not just throw up a tweet some morning like, ‘Hey, let’s get together!’ “
She was greeted at the New York City event by a whopping standing ovation from the mostly female audience of about 250 people, including Oscar-winning actress and activist Meryl Streep, who was tucked into a table in the middle of the room.
Women for Women International board member Debbie Harmon introduced Clinton saying, “Even though she’s been working for decades, she’s nowhere near finished.”