The first excerpts from Hillary Clinton’s forthcoming campaign memoir What Happened have been released, delving into her performance, and reaction to her opponent’s, at the first presidential debate following the release of the horrifying Access Hollywood tape.
That tape, which featured now-President Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault and adultery, broke mere days before the second of Clinton and Trump’s three debates. During the town hall-style discussion, Trump occasionally lurked menacingly behind Clinton, who made no comment at the time. But she has plenty to say about it now:
This is not OK, I thought. It was the second presidential debate and Donald Trump was looming behind me. Two days before, the world heard him brag about 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. 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 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.’
In the excerpt, released this morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Clinton details the thought process behind her non-reaction. “I chose option A. I kept my cool, aided by a lifetime of dealing with difficult men trying to throw me off. I did, however, grip the microphone extra hard,” she writes. “I wonder, though, whether I should have chosen option B. It certainly would have been better TV. Maybe I have overlearned the lesson of staying calm, biting my tongue, digging my fingernails into a clenched fist, smiling all the while, determined to present a composed face to the world.”
In another, more upsetting excerpt, Clinton acknowledges the stakes of the campaign, and of its fallout. “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,” she writes. “I couldn’t get the job done and I’ll have to live with that for the rest of my life.”
What Happened is out September 12, and sorry, every time we hear the title, we think of this: