The first excerpts from Hillary Clinton’s forthcoming book about the 2016 presidential election, What Happened, were broadcast Wednesday morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. In the excerpts, Clinton says that she chose to write the book — which will be published on September 12 by Simon & Schuster — to share her side of the story, and also addresses the October presidential debate during which Donald Trump continually loomed behind her.
On writing the book:
“I don’t have all the answers and this isn’t a comprehensive account of the 2016 race. That isn’t for me to write. I have too little distance and too great a stake in it. Instead, this is my story. I want to pull back the curtain on an experience that was exhilarating, joyful, humbling, infuriating and just plain baffling. Writing this wasn’t easy. 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. I couldn’t get the job done. And I’ll have to live with that for the rest of my life.”
“In this book, I write about moments from the campaign that I wish I could go back and do over. If the Russians could hack my subconscious, they’d find a long list. I also capture some moments I want to remember forever. Like when my tiny granddaughter raced into the room while I was practicing my convention speech and what it was like hours later to step on stage to deliver that speech as the first woman ever nominated by a major political party for president of the United States.”
“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.’”
“I chose option A. I kept my cool, aided by a lifetime of difficult men trying to throw me off. I did, however, grip the microphone extra hard. 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.”
Full Disclosure: New York Media has a four-book publishing deal with Simon & Schuster.