[Vision2020] 5 min. ago NYTimes: "Hillary Clinton Blames F.B.I. Director for Election Loss"

Ted Moffett starbliss at gmail.com
Sat Nov 12 17:27:41 PST 2016


Hillary Clinton Blames F.B.I. Director for Election Loss

By AMY CHOZICK <http://www.nytimes.com/by/amy-chozick> NOV. 12, 2012

Hillary Clinton
on Saturday cast blame for her surprise election loss on the announcement
by the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, days before the election that he
had revived the inquiry into her use of a private email server.

In her most extensive remarks since she conceded the race to Donald J.
Trump early Wednesday, Mrs. Clinton told donors on a 30-minute conference
call that Mr. Comey’s decision to send a letter to Congress about the
inquiry 11 days before Election Day had thrust the controversy back into
the news and had prevented her from ending the campaign with an optimistic
closing argument.

“There are lots of reasons why an election like this is not successful,”
Mrs. Clinton said, according to a donor who relayed the remarks. But, she
added, “our analysis is that Comey’s letter raising doubts that were
groundless, baseless, proven to be, stopped our momentum.”

Mrs. Clinton said a second letter from Mr. Comey, clearing her once
again, which
came two days before Election Day
had been even more damaging. In that letter, Mr. Comey said an examination
of a new trove of emails, which had been found on the computer of Anthony
D. Weiner, the estranged husband of one of her top aides, had not caused
him to change his earlier conclusion that Mrs. Clinton should face no
charges over her handling of classified information.

Her campaign said the seemingly positive outcome had only hurt it with
voters who did not trust Mrs. Clinton and were receptive to Mr. Trump’s
claims of a “rigged system.” In particular, white suburban women who had
been on the fence were reminded of the email imbroglio and broke decidedly
in Mr. Trump’s favor, aides said.
After leading in polls in many battleground states, Mrs. Clinton told the
donors on Saturday, “we dropped, and we had to keep really pushing to
regain our advantage, which going into last weekend we had.”

“We were once again up in all but two of the battleground states, and we
were up considerably in some that we ended up losing,” Mrs. Clinton said.
“And we were feeling like we had to put it back together.”

Presidential candidates have a long history of blaming forces outside their
control for their losses. In 2004, John Kerry linked his defeat
<http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2004/nov/19/20041119-110514-1240r/> to
a videotape of Osama bin Laden that appeared days before the election,
stoking fears about terrorism. In 2012, Mitt Romney told donors he had lost
because President Obama had vowed to bestow “gifts” on Democratic special
interests groups, namely African-Americans, Hispanics and young people.

Mrs. Clinton’s contention appears to be more rooted in reality — and hard
data. An internal campaign memo
with polling data said that “there is no question that a week from Election
Day, Secretary Clinton was poised for a historic win,” but that, in the
end, “late-breaking developments in the race proved one hurdle too many for
us to overcome.”

Mrs. Clinton lost narrowly in several battleground states, and by the time
all ballots are counted, she appears poised to win
the popular vote by more than two million votes.

Still, Mrs. Clinton’s instinct to shun any personal responsibility angered
some Democrats. Several donors on the call, while deeply bitter about Mr.
Comey’s actions, said they believed that Mrs. Clinton and her campaign had
suffered avoidable missteps that handed the election to an unacceptable
opponent. They pointed to the campaign’s lack of a compelling message for
white working-class voters and to decisions years ago by Mrs. Clinton to
use a private email address at the State Department and to accept millions
of dollars for speeches to Wall Street.

“There is a special place in hell for Clinton staff, allegedly including
Cheryl Mills, that okayed the email server setup,” Jim Manley, a Democratic
strategist and former senior aide to Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, wrote on
Sidewire <http://sdw.re/db0642>, a social media site, referring to a
longtime aide and lawyer to Mrs. Clinton.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign was so confident in her victory that her aides
popped open Champagne on the campaign plane early Tuesday. But that
conviction, aides would later learn, was based largely on erroneous data
showing that young, black and Latino voters and suburban women who had been
turned off by Mr. Trump’s comments but viewed Mrs. Clinton unfavorably
would turn out for her in higher numbers than they ultimately did.

Exit polls conducted by Edison Research found that among people who said
they had decided in the final week before Election Day, 47 percent voted
for Mr. Trump and 42 percent for Mrs. Clinton.

As early as Wednesday morning, aides began to explain to Democrats shaken
by the loss that the campaign’s sophisticated data modeling had not taken
into account the bombshell F.B.I. announcement.

Mr. Comey’s letters to Congress went against the F.B.I.’s longstanding
tradition of avoiding decisions that could affect elections, but he told
aides that he felt he had no choice because he had already weighed in on
the case so publicly. In July, he had taken the unusual step of publicly
announcing that the F.B.I. would not charge Mrs. Clinton.

At the time, she believed she had finally put the issue to rest. And after
the final debate on Oct. 19 in Las Vegas, she emerged in such a strong
position that she began to focus on campaigning for down-ballot Democrats
and planned a campaign stop in traditionally Republican Arizona.

“We felt so good about where we were,” Mrs. Clinton told donors. Before Mr.
Comey’s first letter to Congress, she added, “we just had a real wind at
our back.”

Mr. Trump seized on the letter, telling voters in Nevada the Saturday
before Election Day that “the F.B.I. has reopened its criminal
investigation into Hillary Clinton,” and that the matter “would grind
government to a halt” should Mrs. Clinton win the White House. The F.B.I.’s
examination of the new emails did not in fact reopen the investigation.

Democratic pollsters attributed Mr. Trump’s laser-thin victories in
Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — states that President Obama had won
— largely to a drifting of college-educated suburban women to the
Republican nominee at the last minute, because of the renewed focus on Mrs.
Clinton’s email server.

“We lost with college-educated whites after leading with them all summer,”
a Clinton spokesman, Brian Fallon, said on Wednesday. “Five more days of
reminders about Comey, and they gravitated back to Trump.”

Before Mrs. Clinton spoke on Saturday, her finance director, Dennis Cheng,
thanked the donors on the call, each of whom had raised at least $100,000.
The campaign brought in nearly $1 billion to spend heavily on data efforts,
to disperse hundreds of staff members to battleground states, and to air
television advertisements — only to fall short to Mr. Trump’s upstart
Donors conceded that, ultimately, no amount of money could match Mr.
Trump’s crisp pitch, aimed at the economically downtrodden, to “make
America great again.”

“You can have the greatest field program, and we did — he had nothing,”
said Jay S. Jacobs, a prominent New York Democrat and donor to Mrs.
Clinton. “You can have better ads, paid for by greater funds, and we did.
Unfortunately, Trump had the winning argument.”

Mrs. Clinton has kept a low profile since her concession speech at a
Midtown Manhattan hotel on Wednesday. On Thursday, a young mother with her
13-month-old daughter spotted Mrs. Clinton walking her dogs near her home
in Chappaqua, N.Y., posting a photo of the defeated candidate on Facebook
quickly went viral along with the hashtag #ImStillWithHer.

On Friday night, Mrs. Clinton thanked volunteers on a nationwide conference
call. “Look, I’m not going to sugarcoat it,” she said, sighing. “These have
been very, very tough days.”


Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett

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