Hillary Clinton talks book, election loss at Chicago event


Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at an event to promote her new book, “What Happened.” In the book, Clinton ruminates on her loss to Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

Kristina Karisch, Web Editor

CHICAGO — Hillary Clinton said she has always counted former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt as one of her personal heroes.

So, when Roosevelt University president Ali Malekzadeh surprised the former Secretary of State with the inaugural Eleanor Roosevelt Social Justice Award on Monday, Clinton couldn’t stop thanking him.

The award recognized Clinton’s lifelong commitment to public service and advocacy, despite her 2016 election defeat.

“I always thought that I would be an advocate,” Clinton said. “I was interested in politics as a means to help solve problems and help people’s lives.”

More than 3,500 people gathered at the university’s Auditorium Theatre, 50 East Congress Pkwy., to watch Clinton accept the honor and listen to her reminisce about the election. The event was part of a promotional tour for her new memoir, “What Happened,” which details her loss to President Donald Trump.

Clinton blamed herself for part of what led to the defeat, but also attributed the results to a “perfect storm” of events beyond anyone’s control. She spoke of the media’s focus on her emails, former FBI Director James Comey’s last-minute letter, Trump’s unpredictable campaign strategy and the alleged Russian interference.

However, Clinton also emphasized the historic nature of her campaign; she was the first female presidential nominee of any major party and received more votes than any white male candidate before her.

“By the way, that includes Trump,” she said.

Clinton told audience members that over the past four decades in the public eye, she never forgot one of Roosevelt’s quotes: “Every woman in public life needs to develop skin as tough as rhinoceros hide.” As a first lady, New York senator, cabinet secretary and two-time presidential candidate, Clinton said that’s exactly what she did.

The former Secretary of State touched on her experiences with sexism and misogyny during the election. Although she had been exposed to similar treatment throughout her career, Clinton said, she was surprised by Trump’s overt sexism.

Clinton said that, during the campaign, Trump spoke about her and other women in demeaning ways — judging candidates and television presenters by their looks and bragging about acts that constitute sexual assault.

“We must refuse to be silenced in the face of racism, sexism, bigotry and misogyny,” Clinton said. “We must have the courage to stand up for human rights and democracy.”

Going forward, Clinton said she hopes her campaign has and will continue to inspire young women to run for public office.

Fiona Asokacitta, a Medill freshman who attended the event, said she sees Clinton as an inspiration and role model for girls everywhere.

“It was time for her to be really real with people and express feelings a lot of us have been feeling,” Asokacitta said. “College students … need to scrutinize this election and see what we as a generation need to do in the future.”

Malekzadeh, who handed Clinton her award, said Clinton’s actions and commitment to public service embody the school’s values. He added that Roosevelt dedicated the university “to the enlightenment of the human spirit,” and Clinton has proven herself.

“(Her) life’s work resonates with Eleanor Roosevelt’s statement that, ‘We must be able to show people that democracy is not about words, but action,’” Malekzadeh said.

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