By Jonathan Capehart
"When in trouble in the Congress or the Russian investigation, his go-to targets are President Obama and me, and African Americans."
Hillary Rodham Clinton was talking about President Donald Trump's favorite verbal punching bags. And when it comes to his focus on her, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee is clear on why she thinks that is.
"He's a little obsessed with me," Clinton told me in the latest episode of Cape Up, "but I think it's partly his own ego because he knows I got more votes and he knows that there are questions about the election that deserve answers."
Clinton and I got together last week in one of the dining rooms at Crabtree's Kittle House, not far from her home in Chappaqua, New York. Our conversation centred around What Happened, her book on the presidential election and how she coped with losing. During the 34-minute interview, there were three areas of raw honesty in her recounting that I zeroed in on. (Read the full transcript of our conversation below.)
For the first time, the former Secretary of State talked openly about why she wanted to be president.
"I'm a, by nature, a reserved person. I knew that I was ready to do the job, I felt I was qualified, that my experience really gave me the tools that were needed for our country at this point in our history, but I confess I'm not as sure that I conveyed that as strongly as I wish I had."
The former senator from New York addressed coming to terms with the fact that people don't like her.
"I had to accept that, and I wanted in this book to not only state that, but maybe unpack it a little bit.
"When I am in a job, people like me. I left the State Department with a 69 per cent approval rating. I was reelected resoundingly as senator from New York. I had the experience of being in service to others that corresponded with people accepting and approving of that, but as a woman, when you come out and say, okay, now I want to serve, all kinds of complex gender-linked attitudes start to generate."
This led to a discussion of sexism and misogyny: how the former is an attitude that can affect women in subtle ways and how the latter is a deep-seated hatred of women, "a very systemic denigrating of women," Clinton said.
The most interesting part of this conversation was when I tied it to the current national outrage over sexual assault and sexual harassment. Notice how quickly Clinton pivots when I ask her about the political names in the mix, including her husband, former president Bill Clinton, and how that will impact this important cultural moment.
Capehart: Does it help what you're saying that it is now, one of the professions, it's politics and it's gotten very political, and there are lot of names in this hopper, whether it's Franken or Moore, or Trump or Clinton, or who — you name it. Does that make it harder or easier to not have it be a blip? Just a cultural moment instead of a cultural change?
Clinton: Well, I think it's important to notice it's also in the media. It's in corporate America. We've had a number of stories come out in both those areas of our economy and society. So, I don't think it's — if you're a high-profile person, whether you're Bill O'Reilly [chuckle] in the media or a politician, it's going to be a story. And it's important that there be a recognition that this happens everywhere. Because right now, Jonathan, we're still dealing with women who have some sense of empowerment. Think about all the women working the overnight shift in factories, or late-night in restaurants, or cocktail lounges, or just minding their own business in their own neighbourhood. And those women don't have household names. And that's what we're seeing with Roy Moore. These are not famous women. These are women who basically have said, "Hey, this is unacceptable. I wasn't able to talk about it a long time ago, but now others are coming forward. I'm willing to do that." The same with the large number of women accusing Trump of sexual assault and his own confession to it on the "Hollywood Access" tape.
The former First Lady of the United States was withering in her opinions of Trump.
"[W]hat he told people was a fraud. It's in keeping with his bankruptcies and his Trump University. He is a con artist, and that's what Mike Bloomberg called him at our convention and every day that goes by seems to prove that. So what is the tax reform meant to do? It's meant to put money into the pockets of him and his family. It's meant to save his estate and therefore his children from having to pay taxes on whatever it is he's worth. It's meant as a gift to billionaires who he pays more attention to than the folks who put their faith in him during this election."
And I asked Clinton why she felt it was important to address the issue of race head-on during the campaign.
"I saw from the beginning of Trump's campaign, really before, when he signed on to the "birther" lie about President Obama, that he was willing to use the dog whistle to attract people who had racial animosity, bigotry, prejudice. And throughout the campaign, he continued that. He was kind of an equal opportunity bigot. He went after immigrants and foreigners and he was very sexist and homophobic, and he was obviously Islamophobic. But he kept coming back to race and he was really stirring up a lot of feelings and rhetoric that you began to see online and as the Ku Klux Kan and white supremacy groups began throwing their support to him, I knew they were hearing that dog whistle. And I just didn't think it was acceptable to stand by and hope for the best."
Listen to the podcast to hear Clinton discuss all these topics in full and to find out why we are going to continue to see a more assertive side to her. "Look, I always have been reserved and had my guard up, and those days are over," she told me. "I'm not going anywhere."