Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said the Democratic wave in last week’s elections was a sign that the “fever is breaking and the tide is turning” after her stunning defeat by Republican Donald Trump.
Clinton said Monday that the Democratic victories in statewide elections in New Jersey and Virginia, along with down-ballot gains in Georgia and elsewhere, were a “resounding affirmation of America’s best values.”
“None of that would have happened if people got discouraged and decided to give up on politics last November,” she said during her stop in Atlanta as part of a 16-city nationwide book tour.
“You’ve got some important elections next year in Georgia,” she said. “Get involved in whatever way feels right for you. But don’t give up.”
The crowd of more than 4,000 welcomed Clinton with a roar of applause, and it cheered even louder when she said her days of being guarded about what she says in public “are over.”
“I am still really proud of the campaign we ran,” she said. “Writing this both was often painful, but ultimately cathartic. These days when people ask me how I’m doing, I say: ‘As a person, I’m OK. But as an American, I’m really worried.’ ”
Her discussion, moderated by Agnes Scott College President Elizabeth Kiss, was a mix of self-deprecating humor and bruising attacks on Republicans.
Of the GOP promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, she said Republicans were “the proverbial dog that catches the car — they have no idea what to do.” She called the GOP tax overhaul “nothing but a budget-busting, debt-increasing giveaway to the wealthiest Americans.” And she said voters made clear last week that “hope beat hate.”
She also spoke in detail about the letter sent by then-FBI Director James Comey that reopened an investigation into her use of a private email server days before the election, calling it an “unprecedented” move.
And she said Russia worked actively to “foment fear and hatred” targeting undecided voters and some of her supporters to back her third-party opponent or stay home.
“The Russians are still playing on anything or everything they can to turn us against each other,” she said, adding: “We have to do everything we can to confront this urgent threat to our nation and our democracy.”
The book, “What Happened,” details Clinton’s campaign to become the nation’s first female president, the factors that led to her loss and her life after the November vote.
It was Clinton’s first formal visit to Atlanta since a late February 2016 trip where she campaigned at City Hall and the Georgia Capitol days before the March presidential primary. She easily defeated Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in that vote but lost Georgia by 5 points in the general election.
Asked what she’ll do next in her public life, Clinton said she plans to immerse herself in her book tour the rest of this year and then focus on boosting Democratic candidates in next year’s midterm elections.
“I’m going to spend a lot of 2018 doing everything I can to help elect Democrats, and in particular to help elect a majority in the House and in the Senate. It will be a lot of work,” she said, but she said she won nearly two dozen congressional districts held by the GOP.
“If we can fight to keep this on a level playing field,” she said, “we can win.”