“I’m back to being an activist citizen and part of the resistance,” said Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.
Clinton was the featured speaker at the Women for Women International luncheon and was interviewed by Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s chief international correspondent and anchor of “Amanpour.”
Meryl Streep, Donna Karan, Billie Jean King and Sophie Turner were among the 650 women who attended the luncheon at 583 Park Avenue. The event succeeded in raising $1.2 million for the programs that improve women’s lives in countries affected by conflict and war.
Among the topics Clinton and Amanpour addressed were the work Women for Women has done in conflict zones and post-conflict zones; the fact that the Trump administration is not doing enough for women’s rights; a distinct lack of women at the security and defense tables; how misogyny and Russian president Vladimir Putin played a role in the 2016 presidential election, and what Clinton makes of President Trump, who said he’d be “honored” to meet with North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un. “How much time do we have?” asked Clinton.
“Negotiations are critical, but they have to be part of a broader strategy, not just thrown up as part of a tweet one morning to say ‘Hey, let’s get together, see if we can’t get along,” she said.
Amanpour asked Clinton what kind of message it would have sent to women had she been elected president.
“I think it would have been a really big deal,” said Clinton, who’s writing a book about the election that will come out this fall. “It’s a painful process reliving the campaign,” she said. She feels that her election would have sent an important message to not only the daughters and sons and granddaughters in the U.S., but internationally as well.
Clinton said she has traveled the world and has met a variety of people, from leaders in palaces to women living in rural areas whom Women for Women International is trying to help. “There is still so much inequality, so much unfairness, so much disrespect and discrimination toward women and girls,” she said. “So have we made progress? Yes, we have. But have we made enough? No we haven’t.
“Women’s rights are the unfinished business of the 21st century,” said Clinton. “There is no more important, larger issue that has to be addressed.”
Her conversation also veered toward Russia and the role Putin played in her losing the election. She said that every day we learn more about the “unprecedented interference of a country whose leader is not a member of my fan club.” She said that Putin certainly interfered in the election “to hurt me and help my opponent.”
Asked if she takes responsibility for losing the election, Clinton said, “I take absolute responsibility. I was the candidate. I was on the ballot.” She said she is aware of the “challenges, the problems, the shortfalls that we had,” but feels like she likely would have won the election if it were not for the actions of the Russians and FBI Director James Comey. She said the combination of Comey’s letter and WikiLeaks’ dump “raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but got scared off.”
“Did we make mistakes? Of course we did. Did I make mistakes? Oh my gosh, yes,” she said. “But the reason I believe we lost were the intervening events in the last 10 days.”
Clinton said that health care is complicated and so is foreign policy. “If it’s easy, it doesn’t get to the president’s desk,” she said. Clinton said that her message of building on the progress of what President Obama accomplished wasn’t as “exciting” as Donald Trump’s message of “throwing it all out and starting all over again.”
During the campaign, Clinton said she kept waiting for the moment when someone would ask Trump, “Exactly how are you going to create more jobs?” She said the country needs to make investments in more competitive jobs training and education to stay ahead of the technology wave. “You can’t do it with massive tax cuts. The debt will explode and investments will shrink. You need a strategy.”
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