Even some of Clinton’s own former aides and surrogates say the former Democratic presidential nominee should back away from the discussion about her failed campaign because it’s harmful to the party.
During a conference in India this weekend, Clinton called states that supported her in the election more economically advanced than the states that backed Trump.The remarks reminded many of the former secretary of State’s comments in 2016 that some of Trump’s supporters fit in a “basket of deplorables,” a line the Republican then used against her repeatedly during the final stretch of the campaign.
She also insinuated that women who voted for Trump were motivated by “ongoing pressure to vote the way that your husband, your boss, your son, whoever, believes you should.”
In interviews with The Hill on Tuesday, even the staunchest Clinton allies as well as longtime advisers say the comments were cringeworthy and ultimately detrimental to Democrats.
“She put herself in a position where [Democrats] from states that Trump won will have to distance themselves from her even more,” said one former senior Clinton aide. “That’s a lot of states.”
Another Clinton surrogate questioned the decisionmaking behind Clinton’s remarks. For months, some Democrats have been arguing that Clinton’s sentiments have been counterproductive to the party’s rebuilding efforts. And some have told her she should emulate former President Obama’s model to only make statements when it’s essential.
Even before she launched her book tour last fall for “What Happened,” party strategists have said Clinton should lay low.
“She’s annoying me. She’s annoying everyone, as far as I can tell,” said one 2016 Clinton surrogate. “Who lets her say these things?”
One former senior Obama White House aide added, “If these statements are a form of catharsis, it would be in the Democratic Party’s best interest for her to get these out of her system soon.”
“We need leaders like her to look forward to 2020 and how to unify the party, not continue to re-litigate the past.”
The Republican National Committee (RNC) also pounced on Clinton’s remarks.
On Monday, Mike Reed, the deputy communications director at the RNC, emailed reporters to pile on.
“At the RNC, we try not to continue to focus on Hillary Clinton. We really do try very hard,” Reed said. “But this one is impossible to ignore.”
Reed criticized Clinton for saying that she won all the areas in the country with high gross domestic product, but also zeroed in on her comments that Trump won areas inhabited by voters who don’t “like black people getting rights” and “don’t like women getting jobs.”
“Putting aside how absurd and wrong she is, rhetoric like this is the reason Sen. [Jon] Tester (D-Mont.) was forced to release an ad today, 8 months before Election Day, attempting to highlight areas of agreement with President Trump,” the RNC spokesman said. “The Democrat brand is isolated, elitist, and as out-of-touch as it ever has been.”
A Clinton spokesman did not comment on the former secretary of State’s remarks.
On Saturday, after Trump campaigned for Republican House candidate Rick Saccone in Pennsylvania, Clinton’s longtime communications adviser, Philippe Reines, said he understands “why that man won in 2016.”
“And I understand — I’m not terrified — but I understand why he may win again in 2020,” Reines said.
At the same time, one thing remained clear to some supporters of the former Democratic nominee.
“I think the party has moved on from Hillary Clinton,” the former senior Clinton aide said.