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Her book “What Happened” was released Tuesday with considerable fanfare in Manhattan – hundreds of supporters lined up around the block outside the Barnes & Noble in Union Square, where the former Democratic presidential nominee was signing copies of her tell-all.
Supporters at the signing talked to Business Insider about their own explanations for why Clinton lost.
They talked about Russia’s involvement in the election, Clinton’s mismanagement of her email controversy, and the Democratic primary battle between the former secretary of state and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont – all of which Clinton mentioned in her book as contributing factors to her stunning defeat.
Boris Enqvist, who’s from Sweden and now lives in New York City, told Business Insider that he hoped Clinton explained why she didn’t select Sanders as her running mate.
“Because then they would’ve won the election,” Enqvist said. “It’s a mysterious thing for me.”
Enqvist said that Clinton “made some mistakes” and that the current political climate is heavily focused on how politicians are “not listening too much to the ordinary people and to the young people.” He added that the democratic problem in the world today was “how to attract young people to politics and make politics attractive and fun.”
“You must do it more funly than it is,” he said. “She made some mistakes, as many politicians today have. And Trump, he had the fortune to use these mistakes.”
Brian LeBlanc, who lined up outside of the bookstore at about 7 a.m. for the 11 a.m. signing, also mentioned Sanders as a reason for Clinton’s loss – but not because she didn’t select him as her running mate.
He expressed surprise that some had acted astonished that Clinton took shots at Sanders in the book, adding that her feelings about Sanders were “obvious.”
“I do think Bernie Sanders knew the game was over for him and he did not leave, so he was doing a scorched-earth campaign,” he said. “For people to not add that to the equation for what happened, I think that’s just stupid.”
LeBlanc said Clinton had had “25 years for people to hate her, and that worked,” adding that he felt that a lot of Sanders’ supporters stayed home to protest Clinton’s “‘horrible’ Goldman Sachs speeches.”
“She was painted as a demon by Bernie Sanders,” he said.
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LeBlanc acknowledged, though, that Clinton and her team could’ve done a much better job handling both the controversy over her use of a private email server as secretary of state – the problem that dogged her for the entirety of the campaign – and the release of hacked campaign emails by WikiLeaks.
“I mean, with Hillary Clinton I think it’s never the crime – it’s always the cover-up,” LeBlanc said. “So if her staff had just owned up to all of the WikiLeaks stuff coming out, they would’ve been fine. They were on TV pretending that this stuff isn’t verified yet. I was like, ‘Oh my God, you’re giving it away.'”
He seemed baffled that the campaign “at no point” could have “found a good explanation for the emails.”
“I mean, Colin Powell did it,” he said. “There are no emails on record from the Bush-Cheney back-and-forth. And we don’t care.”
He continued: “Her whole thing was ‘I’m not going to talk about the emails.’ No, just be honest. Say it was stupid but don’t pretend … I don’t know. She was too guarded, and she ended up not making some decisions that were probably her instinct to do.”
“They couldn’t think of a one-sentence email explanation?” he later added. “Because that never went away. And she never seemed, like, comfortable about it. It was always like: ‘Ha ha ha, my emails! I have said tirelessly that I won’t do it again.’ But you’re not answering anything.”
Both LeBlanc and Ryan Ross, who stood alongside him in line, said Clinton could have surrounded herself with a better staff. They both questioned several staff moves, such as the handling of both the WikiLeaks release and the email controversy.
“She has a campaign manager, and she can’t control them and their actions, but she can control hers,” Ross said. “So I think she did the best she could but did not get the greatest guidance.”
Ross said she hoped that when the history books are written, the email saga is not the thing most closely connected with Clinton.
“Now that will be used against her for the rest of her life,” she said. “That will be the stigma. I just hope it’s not in textbooks for our future children, grandchildren, whatever. It was all about the emails.”
Pointing to Clinton’s tenures as a first lady, a secretary of state, and a senator, Ross said she wanted Clinton’s “whole foundation” of helping children to be “more well-known than the scandals.”
“Look at how much she’s done for our entire world and our nation,” she said.
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Much like Clinton, her supporters pointed to Russia as a major catalyst – if not the main one – for the Democratic presidential nominee’s defeat.
Susan Toomey, who got in line at about 9 a.m., said she fully believed Russia was “responsible for what happened,” adding that Clinton “won the popular vote, hugely.”
She said she was sure that “Trump knew what was going on” regarding Russians boosting his campaign, and that the second presidential debate was when Trump “knew he was going to be the next president.”
“He was so cocky, like he knew,” she said, adding, “He knew what was going on with Russia.”
“Russia, it was a known fact they didn’t want her,” she continued. “What, do you think she was going to side with Russia to go into the Ukraine and take the Ukraine? Yeah, sure. I mean, Donald Trump would start – ‘where’s the Ukraine?’ I don’t think he even knew about the Ukraine.”
J.C. DeMaria, who arrived at the event at 6:30 a.m. and said he had supported Clinton since he was 7, pointed to Russia as the explanation for what happened.
“It had something to do with the Russians,” he said. “When she was secretary of state, she really took a firm stance against Putin, contrary to President Obama. And I think that is one of the most prevalent causes of why she lost. I mean, you can’t deny – the Russians have been doing this all over the world. And I think that is the main reason she didn’t win this election.”
Enqvist didn’t seem quite as sure about Russia, offering up a “maybe” when asked whether Russia’s interference cost Clinton the election.
“This is a new phenomenon, that powerful nations can start to interrupt processes in different countries,” he said. “So maybe.”
For Enqvist, “a lot of strange things” happened with Clinton’s campaign. He called the FBI’s decision in late October to reopen the email investigation “very, very astonishing” and said the email controversy was “absurd,” though it was “a mistake” and “a problem for her.”
“But it was a crazy debate and political situation,” he said. “So I’m sorry for her.”