Clin­ton tells sup­port­ers to have open mind

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Lisa Lerer and Ken Thomas

NEW YORK>> Gone was the ball­room with a soar­ing glass ceil­ing, the con­fetti and the celebrity guest stars. In­stead, Hil­lary Clin­ton looked out to a group of grief-stricken aides and tear­ful sup­port­ers, as she ac­knowl­edged her stun­ning loss of the pres­i­dency to Don­ald Trump.

Clin­ton’s voice crack­led with emo­tion as she said: “This is painful, and it will be for a long time.” But she told her faith­ful to ac­cept Trump and the elec­tion re­sults, urg­ing them to give him “an open mind and a chance to lead.”

Be­fore Clin­ton took the stage at a New York City ho­tel, top aides filed in, eyes red and shoul­ders slumped, as they tried to process the celebrity busi­ness­man’s shock­ing win af­ter a cam­paign that ap­peared poised un­til Elec­tion Day to make Clin­ton the first woman elected U.S. pres­i­dent.

Clin­ton, who twice sought the pres­i­dency, told women that noth­ing had made her “prouder to be your cham­pion,” adding, “I know we have still not shat­tered that high­est and hard­est glass ceil­ing. But some­day, some­one will and hope­fully sooner than we might think right now.” Her re­marks brought to mind her 2008 con­ces­sion speech af­ter the Demo­cratic pri­maries in which she spoke of putting “18 mil­lion cracks” in the glass ceil­ing.

“To all the lit­tle girls who are watch­ing this, never doubt that you are valu­able and pow­er­ful and de­serv­ing of ev­ery chance and op­por­tu­nity in the world to pur­sue and achieve your own dreams,” she said.

Pro­ject­ing an im­age of unity, Clin­ton wore a pur­ple blouse and a dark blazer with a pur­ple lapel while her hus­band, for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, stood wist­fully by her side, ap­plaud­ing dur­ing her re­marks.

It may have been the fi­nal pub­lic act for the en­dur­ing po­lit­i­cal part­ner­ship of the Clin­tons, who ap­peared on the verge of re­turn­ing to power af­ter 16 years. If Clin­ton had won the elec­tion, it would have marked the first time a for­mer first lady was elected U.S. pres­i­dent.

Clin­ton’s cam­paign was try­ing to make sense of a dra­matic elec­tion night in which Trump cap­tured bat­tle­ground states like Florida, North Carolina and Ohio and de­mol­ished a long­stand­ing “blue wall” of states in the Up­per Mid­west that had backed ev­ery Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date since Clin­ton’s hus­band won the pres­i­dency in 1992.

As Democrats were left won­der­ing how they had mis­read their coun­try so com­pletely, mourn­ful Clin­ton back­ers gath­ered out­side the ho­tel Wed­nes­day.

“I was dev­as­tated. Shocked. Still am,” said Shirley Rite­nour, 64, a mu­si­cian from Brook­lyn. “When I came in on the sub­way this morn­ing there were a lot of peo­ple cry­ing. A lot of peo­ple are very up­set.”

Flanked by her hus­band, daugh­ter Chelsea Clin­ton and run­ning mate Vir­ginia Sen. Tim Kaine, Clin­ton said she had of­fered to work with Trump on be­half of a coun­try that she ac­knowl­edged was “more deeply di­vided than we thought.”

The re­sults were star­tling to Clin­ton and her aides, who had ended their cam­paign with a whirl­wind tour of bat­tle­ground states and had pro­jected op­ti­mism that she would main­tain the di­verse coali­tion as­sem­bled by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama in the past two elec­tions.

On the fi­nal day of the cam­paign, Clin­ton lit­er­ally fol­lowed Obama to stand be­hind a podium with a pres­i­den­tial seal at a mas­sive rally out­side In­de­pen­dence Hall in Philadel­phia. As she walked up to the lectern, the pres­i­dent bent down to pull out a small stool so the shorter Clin­ton could ad­dress the tens of thou­sands gath­ered on the mall. Be­fore leav­ing the stage, Obama leaned over to whis­per a mes­sage in Clin­ton’s ear: “We’ll have to make this per­ma­nent.”

The dev­as­tat­ing loss for the party, which will no longer hold the White House and will be in the minority of both cham­bers of Congress, was cer­tain to open painful soul-search­ing among Democrats, who had en­dured a lengthy pri­mary be­tween Clin­ton and Ver­mont Sen. Bernie Sanders. The so-called demo­cratic so­cial­ist drew strong sup­port among lib­er­als amid an elec­torate call­ing for change but had joined with other lib­eral stal­warts such as Mas­sachusetts Sen. El­iz­a­beth War­ren in back­ing Clin­ton’s gen­eral elec­tion bid.

The tu­mul­tuous pres­i­den­tial cy­cle be­queathed a se­ries of po­lit­i­cal gifts for Clin­ton’s GOP ri­val: An FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Clin­ton’s use of a pri­vate email server, ques­tions of pay for-play in­volv­ing her family’s char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion, Sanders’ pri­mary chal­lenge and FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey’s late Oc­to­ber an­nounce­ment that in­ves­ti­ga­tors had un­cov­ered emails po­ten­tially rel­e­vant to her email case.

Yet her team spent the bulk of their time fo­cused on at­tack­ing Trump, while fail­ing to ad­e­quately ad­dress Clin­ton’s deep li­a­bil­i­ties — or the wave of frus­tra­tion roil­ing the na­tion.

Ev­ery time the race fo­cused on Clin­ton, her num­bers dropped, even­tu­ally mak­ing her one of the least­liked pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nees in his­tory. And she of­fered an anx­ious elec­torate a mes­sage of break­ing bar­ri­ers and the strength of di­ver­sity — hardly a ral­ly­ing cry — leav­ing her ad­vis­ers de­bat­ing the cen­tral point of her can­di­dacy late into the pri­mary race.

Clin­ton’s cam­paign was in­fu­ri­ated by a late Oc­to­ber an­nounce­ment by Comey that in­ves­ti­ga­tors had un­cov­ered emails that may have been per­ti­nent to the dor­mant in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Clin­ton’s use of pri­vate emails while sec­re­tary of state. On the Sun­day be­fore the elec­tion, Comey told law­mak­ers that the bureau had found no ev­i­dence in its hur­ried re­view of the newly dis­cov­ered emails to war­rant crim­i­nal charges against Clin­ton.

But the an­nounce­ment may have dam­aged Clin­ton while her cam­paign tried to gen­er­ate sup­port in early vot­ing in bat­tle­ground states like Florida and North Carolina. In the nine days be­tween Comey’s ini­tial state­ment and his “all clear” an­nounce­ment, nearly 24 mil­lion peo­ple cast early bal­lots. That was about 18 per­cent of the ex­pected to­tal votes for pres­i­dent.

MATT ROURKE—THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton walks off the stage af­ter speak­ing in New York, Wed­nes­day.

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