In a candid and angry new book, Hillary Clinton relives her stunning defeat to Donald Trump, admitting to personal mistakes and defending campaign strategy even as her return to the stage refocuses attention on a race Democrats still can’t believe they lost.
Clinton is unsparing in her criticism of Trump and also lays out some of the factors she believes contributed to her loss: interference from Russian hackers, accusations leveled at her by former FBI Director James Comey, a divisive primary battle with Bernie Sanders, even her gender. She also addresses common criticisms of her campaign, including the idea that she didn’t have a compelling narrative for seeking the presidency and that she ignored Midwestern turf where Trump picked up enough white working-class voters to win several battleground states.
“Some critics have said that everything hinged on me not campaigning enough in the Midwest,” Clinton writes in the book “What Happened.” ”And I suppose it is possible that a few more trips to Saginaw or a few more ads on the air in Waukesha could have tipped a couple of thousand voters here or there.”
“But let’s set the record straight: we always knew that the industrial Midwest was crucial to our success, just as it had been for Democrats for decades, and contrary to the popular narrative, we didn’t ignore those states,” she wrote.
Clinton already is taking some criticism — complete with mockery from late-night television hosts — for planning book-tour stops in the Great Lakes and Midwestern states that ultimately cost her the election. But she writes that her campaign had more staff and spent more on advertising in both Michigan and Pennsylvania, two states she lost, than President Barack Obama did when he won them in 2012.
She acknowledges that “if there’s one place where we were caught by surprise, it was Wisconsin,” saying that polls showed her ahead until the end. But while she did not visit the state in the fall, she noted that her surrogates blanketed the state.
In Wisconsin, Democratic pollster Paul Maslin called it a “bitter irony” that Clinton is now trying to reach voters — or consumers — in states he believes her campaign mostly ignored. But he said it’s ultimately a side show from a has-been.
“Let her do whatever she’s going to do for whatever reason she’s doing it, but it doesn’t matter. There’s just so much else happening every day with Trump,” Maslin said. He said he hopes Clinton understands that “most Democrats are…