Bill and Hillary Clinton Worry Trump Will Win in 2020
While Trump was in Wisconsin Saturday night—specifically to counter-program the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, which he was boycotting—Barack Obama was a few blocks away from the Clintons in Washington. The 44th president spoke at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, warning that “leaders who feed fear typically are also ones who avoid facts.” Meanwhile, a large contingency of the political reporters in town were in the basement ballroom of the Capital Hilton for a subdued Correspondents’ Dinner, listening to a lecture by the historian Ron Chernow, and then later, at an after party hosted by MSNBC at the Italian embassy, which happens to be literally down the block from the Clintons’ D.C. home.
But on Saturday they stood before a crowd of their super fans who’d pay for tickets to sit and listen to them talk. The room wasn’t quite sold out, but it did include more than one person who started cheering that Hillary should run again in 2020. “I think what everyone is hoping for is a nominee who will win both the popular vote and the Electoral College,” Hillary said, while declining to say anything specific about the field other than that “it’s really, really early in the process, and there’s so much that is yet to be revealed about each of the candidates. But we have so many very exciting, energetic candidates.” There was, however, a pointed mention later in the night about how much better she felt her own record on gun control was than that of her “primary opponent” in 2016—a reference to Bernie Sanders, who’s running again after having shifted on this issue, which was a major line of attack for Clinton in the last campaign.
After wandering through several other topics, from Bill’s funding of programs in Africa to what to do about gun violence now, they kept making their way back to 2020. Americans know better now, they said. Journalists know better now, social-media companies know better now, Democrats know better now, they insisted, blending spotty optimism for the future with resentment over everything from former FBI Director Jim Comey to the The New York Times. Looking up at a screen projecting the famous photo of Obama and Hillary and others watching the bin Laden raid, Bill described the call he got from Obama the next day, before the news went public.
“We got him,” Obama said.
“Who?” Clinton remembered responding.
“Hillary didn’t tell you?” Obama said, figuring that she had been keeping her husband quietly informed along the way.
That’s an example, Bill said, of why it “galled” him when people accused Hillary of being loose with national-security information, as in the email-server scandal. So get it together, they urged the crowd as they finished, because there’s still a chance of preventing Trump’s reelection. “Do not grow weary,” Hillary said at the end of the night, admitting that she sometimes can’t bear keeping up with the news herself. Bill added: “There are no permanent victories and defeats in politics, and if you think about it, we are repeatedly called upon in new and different circumstances to refight battles with our oldest demons which lurk inside all our hearts.”
People are scared, and they feel like the world is changing and they’ve been left behind, Clinton said, and he understands that from the people he knows back in Arkansas. He said he gets why that leads people around the world to follow leaders like Trump, who play up the divisions. But, he said, “If you want to save democracy, you have to save the core idea that we are all created equal.”
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