With the upcoming release of a new documentary series about her life and career, Hillary Clinton is speaking candidly about her successes, her failures and everything in between.
In a recent interview with New York magazine’s Vulture, the former presidential candidate and secretary of state looked back at her 2016 face-off with Donald Trump, which he narrowly won at the ballot box.
“It was hard to compete with the overwhelming reality-TV performance of Trump,” said Clinton, 72. “They wouldn’t show my speech, but they’d show an empty podium waiting for him. Because he was exciting. He was good for ratings. He was good for profits. You never knew what he was going to say. Who would he insult?”
Clinton’s press tour, which includes a lengthy interview with Variety, comes about a month away from the release of the four-part Hulu documentary Hillary, which traces her career, including her tenure as first lady with President Bill Clinton and her surprising defeat in the 2016 election.
While Clinton told Vulture she “gave a lot of other good speeches,” she felt the media frenzy surrounding her unpredictable Republican rival led to her campaign often getting ignored. (She’s not alone: CNN head Jeff Zucker has said the network made a “mistake” in airing so many of Trump’s campaign rallies.)
“I’d get up and give this boring speech about how we’re going to get health care for everybody. The press wasn’t interested in that,” Clinton said to Vulture.
“Policy’s not important, personality is important, which is one of the messes we’ve got ourselves in when it comes to our politics — because it really does matter what people stand for, what they say they’re going to do, and whether they can deliver,” Clinton said. “I saw this in real time, and it was very tough to compete with that.”
Trump political career has been built on his divisive and inflammatory style: He called Mexicans criminals and “rapists” in his campaign announcement in 2015, then later mocked a reporter with a physical disability, has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than a dozen women (which he denies) and he bragged about groping women in a leaked Access Hollywood tape weeks before the election.
In her Variety interview, Clinton said “the most important responsibility we all have is to retire Donald Trump.”
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Clinton had received backlash for comments about current presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, saying on the Hulu series, “Nobody likes him.” (Sanders mounted a strong challenge to Clinton’s 2016 campaign but was ultimately unsuccessful.)
She has since walked back her criticism of Sanders and told Variety “we did that interview about a year and a half ago.”
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“I wasn’t thinking about the election by any means,” Clinton said. “I’ve said I’m going to support the nominee. But I do think it’s important to look at somebody’s record and look at what they’ve gotten done and see whether you agree with that or not. I think that’s what every voter paying attention should do.”
She also admitted she does still have campaigning on the brain, in a way.
Asked by Variety if she “ever feel[s] the urge to think: ‘I could beat Donald Trump if I were running,’ ” she replied that she did.
“I certainly feel the urge because I feel the 2016 election was a really odd time and an odd outcome,” she said. “And the more we learn, the more that seems to be the case. But I’m going to support the people who are running now and do everything I can to help elect the Democratic nominee.”