Hillary Clinton's much-anticipated new memoir, What Happened, landed on bookstore shelves Sept. 12. Readers who haven’t already gotten an early glimpse are undoubtedly eager for answers to the question that HRC herself has probably been asking since Nov. 8 of last year: what did actually happen during the 2016 election? In a country that is still, in many ways, reeling from the results of that tumultuous election season, readers might take comfort in the fact that whatever feelings we’re still processing, Clinton is grappling with right alongside us, in this memoir.
In What Happened, Clinton describes the post-election phone call she made to President Obama, and her recounting of that call, and the moments leading up to it, is totally heartbreaking.
First, Clinton writes, that after 1:00 A.M. on Nov. 9 she asked then-campaign chairman John Podesta to request all of Clinton's supporters — still waiting for the campaign's victory party in New York City’s Javits Center — to go home and get some rest. Then, under the recommendation of President Obama, Clinton made what must have been the most difficult phone call of her life: her concession phone call to Donald Trump — a call Clinton describes in her memoir as "perfectly nice", “weirdly ordinary” and “one of the strangest moments of [her] life.” She then made a second, though perhaps equally difficult phone call: to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, to speak with President Obama.
“I’m sorry for letting you down,” Clinton remembers telling the then-President, in a rare moment of outward vulnerability. Obama, of course, responded with his signature, measured grace. Clinton writes:
My throat tightened. The President said everything right. He told me I’d run a strong campaign, that I had done a great deal for our country, that he was proud of me. He told me there was life after losing and that he and Michelle would be there for me. I hung up and sat quietly for a few moments. I was numb. It was all so shocking.
At 2:29 A.M., the AP called Wisconsin and the election for Donald Trump. He went on TV not long afterward to declare victory.
Believe me, HRC, we remember those feelings of numb and shock too.
To read about the 2016 presidential campaign and election, from the woman who lived it all, check out What Happened, available now from Simon & Schuster.