Hillary Clinton's new memoir, What Happened, is the first time the former secretary of state has had the freedom to truly speak out, without the restraints that come with a future run for office. The book, which is fiery and defensive but also vulnerable and reflective, gives an honest look at her perspective on the 2016 campaign. Here are excerpts from some of the book's biggest revelations, and she does not hold back when it comes to some of her worst critics.
She wanted to call Trump a "creep" for standing too close to her during a debate.
"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? 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 dealing with 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. May I have over learned 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."
She agrees that Trump's inauguration was "some weird shit."
"'That was some weird shit,' George W. Bush reportedly said with characteristic Texas bluntness. I couldn't have agreed more."
And at the inauguration, she mistook one of her harshest critics for the head of the RNC.
"I saw a man off to the side who I thought was Reince Priebus, head of the Republican National Committee and incoming White House Chief of Staff. As I passed by, we shook hands and exchanged small talk. Later I realized it hadn't been Priebus at all. It was Jason Chaffetz, the then-Utah Congressman and wannabe Javert who made endless political hay out of my emails and the 2012 tragedy in Benghazi, Libya. Later, Chaffetz posted a picture of our handshake with the caption 'So pleased she is not the President. I thanked her for her service and wished her luck. The investigation continues.' What a class act! I came this close to tweeting back, 'To be honest, thought you were Reince.'"
Her aide, Huma Abedin, broke down in tears after her husband, Anthony Weiner, was caught allegedly sexting minors.
"When we heard this, Huma looked stricken. Anthony had already caused so much heartache. And now this. 'This man is going to be the death of me,' she said, bursting into tears. […] In the days that followed, some people thought I should fire Huma or 'distance myself.' Not a chance. She had done nothing wrong and was an invaluable member of my team. I stuck by her the same way she has always stuck by me."
She said Bernie Sanders painted her into a corner by proposing unrealistic ideas.
"No matter how bold and progressive my policy proposals were—and they were significantly bolder and more progressive than anything President Obama or I had proposed in 2008—Bernie would come out with something even bigger, loftier, and leftier, regardless of whether it was realistic or not. That left me to play the unenviable role of spoilsport schoolmarm, pointing out that there was no way Bernie could keep his promises or deliver real results."
She calls out Bernie for not reining in his supporters from sexist attacks.
"Because we agreed on so much, Bernie couldn't make an argument against me in this area on policy, so he had to resort to innuendo and impugning my character. Some of his supporters, the so-called Bernie Bros, took to harassing my supporters online. It got ugly and more than a little sexist. When I finally challenged Bernie during a debate to name a single time I changed a position or a vote because of a financial contribution, he couldn't come up with anything. Nonetheless, his attacks caused lasting damage, making it harder to unify progressives in the general election and paving the way for Trump's 'Crooked Hillary' campaign. I don't know if that bothered Bernie or not."
She's tired of people speculating about her marriage.
"I know some people wonder why we're still together. I heard it again in the 2016 campaign: that 'we must have an arrangement' (we do, it's called a marriage); that I helped him become President and then stayed so he could help me become President (no); that we lead completely separate lives, and it's just a marriage on paper (he is reading this over my shoulder in our kitchen with our dogs underfoot, and in a minute he will reorganize our bookshelves for the millionth time, which means I will not be able to find any of my books, and once I learn the new system, he'll just redo it again, but I don't mind because he really loves to organize those bookshelves.)"
But there were times she doubted its future.
"We've certainly had dark days in our marriage. You know all about them—and please consider for a moment what it would be like for the whole world to know about the worst moments in your relationship. There were times that I was deeply unsure about whether our marriage could or should survive. But on those days, I asked myself the questions that mattered most to me: Do I still love him? And can I still be in this marriage without becoming unrecognizable to myself—twisted by anger, resentment, or remoteness? The answers were always yes. So I kept going."
The question of "authenticity" always bothers her.
"I've been asked over and over again by reporters and skeptical voters, 'Who are you really?' It's kind of a funny question when you think about it. I'm…Hillary. You've seen me in the papers and on your screens for more than twenty-five years. I'll bet you know more about my private life than you do about some of your closest friends. You've read my emails, for heaven's sake." What more do you need? What could I do to be 'more real?' Dance on a table? Swear a blue streak? Break down sobbing? That's not me. And if I had done any of those things, what would have happened? I'd have been ripped to pieces."
It hurt her horribly to be called untrustworthy.
"[My team is] also called divisive, untrustworthy, unlikable, and inauthentic. Those words ring powerfully for me. As the campaign went on, polls showed that a significant number of Americans questioned my authenticity and trustworthiness. A lot of people said they just didn't like me. I write that matter-of-factly, but believe me, it's devastating."
She thinks Obama didn't get criticized for traits he has in common with her.
"President Obama is just as controlled as I am, maybe even more so. He speaks with a great deal of care; takes his time, weighs his words. This is generally and correctly taken as evidence of his intellectual heft and rigor. He's a serious person talking about serious things. So am I. And yet, for me, it's often experienced as a negative."
She sought voice training after people critiqued how she spoke.
"After hearing repeatedly that some people didn't like my voice, I enlisted the help of a linguistic expert. He said I needed to focus on my deep breathing and try to keep something happy and peaceful in mind when I went onstage...Men get to shout back to their heart's content but not women. Okay, I told this expert, I'm game to try. But out of curiosity, can you give me an example of a woman in public life who has pulled this off successfully—who has met the energy of a crowd while keeping her voice soft and low? He could not."
She compared herself to Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones.
"Crowds at Trump rallies called for my imprisonment more times than I can count. They shouted 'Guilty! Guilty!' like the religious zealots in Game of Thrones chanting 'Shame! Shame!' while Cersei Lannister walked back to the Red Keep. […] It's not easy for any woman in politics, but I think it's fair to say I got a whole other level of vitriol flung my way."