"I take responsibility for every decision I made, but that's not why I lost"
Hillary Clinton may not run for office again, but she’s not staying silent — especially about the 2016 election.
Speaking at Recode’s 2017 Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., Clinton gave an unfiltered assessment of the 2016 campaign that ended with her unexpected loss to Donald Trump.
“I take responsibility for every decision I made, but that’s not why I lost,” she said. “I think it’s important we learn the real lessons of this last campaign.”
She lost, she told Recode’s Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, because of unfair media coverage, an “unprecedented” campaign waged against her by a foreign adversary, James Comey’s decision to re-open her email probe, criticism of her candidacy that she claimed bordered on misogyny, and a prevailing sentiment that she would be victorious, which hampered voter turnout.
Here’s a look at what exactly she said about the factors that contributed to her loss:
Russia’s Attempts at Sabotage
Clinton noted that she had no control of the Russians, which she said “weaponized” technology against her. She cited the deluge of false articles that circulated on Facebook in the months preceding the election that were “connected to the 1000 Russian agents,” and WikiLeaks, which spent the month before the election releasing a daily trove of emails from her campaign Chairman John Podesta. Google searches for WikiLeaks, she said, were highest in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, swing states crucial to her victory that she narrowly lost.
But, she said, the Russians couldn’t have acted unilaterally; they had to have had support from Americans.
“How did they know what messages to deliver?” she asked about the Russians. “Who told them? Who were they colluding with?”
Media Coverage of Her Private Email Server
Although Clinton acknowledged that she wouldn’t have used a private email server when she was Secretary of State if she were given a do-over, she said the coverage surrounding the server and the investigation were relentless and damaging. “[The media] covered it like Pearl Harbor,”she said of her emails. “I didn’t break any rule; nobody said don’t do this. I was very responsible, and not at all careless. You end up with a situation that was exploited.”
Ultimately, Clinton said, the emails were what she called a big “nothing burger” — one that she said her campaign was able to “put to bed” in July when former FBI Director’s James Comey declined to press charges. But the coverage, she argued, combined with decision to re-open the email probe on October 28th, doomed her candidacy.
Media Coverage of Her Goldman Sachs Speeches
Both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump criticized Clinton’s decision to give paid speeches to Goldman Sachs after she ended her tenure as Secretary of State, decrying that she embodied the establishment and would need to answer to Wall Street as President.
But Clinton defended her decision to give the speeches, explaining that they were among the many speeches she gave to multiple groups, and pointing out that Swisher and Mossberg had Goldman Sachs at the conference she was currently speaking at.
“Why do you have them [Goldman Sachs] here?” she asked Swisher.
Swisher responded that the bank had paid.
“They paid me,” said Clinton. “Men got paid for the speeches they made. I got paid for the speeches I made. It was used and I thought it was unfairly used but it was part of the background music.”
The Democratic National Committee Had Bad Data
Not even members of her own party were immune from Clinton’s criticism. She complained that when she became the Democratic nominee, she inherited a data machine from the Democratic National Committee that she described as “bankrupt” and “on the verge of insolvency.”
“I inherited nothing from the Democratic Party,” she said.
By contrast, Clinton noted, her opponent had access to the resources and data of the Republican National Committee — a sentiment the RNC immediately took note of and began circulating:
Everyone Thought She Would Win No Matter What
Clinton said one of the problems with her candidacy was that everyone thought she would win. Although she initially said she was more skeptical than most people, she told an audience member that she eventually did think her victory was assured.