Democrats Brace for Clinton's Campaign Book: 'There Is a Collective Groan'

Staffers and supporters react as Hillary Clinton concedes 2016 presidential election / Getty
September 7, 2017

Democrats are experiencing "a collective groan" leading up to the release of and book tour for Hillary Clinton's 2016 election memoir What Happened.

Several Democrats, including Sens. Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.), as well as anonymous Democratic operatives, have had a variety of negative reactions to the looming book release, Politico reported Thursday. While some officials have taken the tour as a chance to discuss why Clinton's decision to re-litigate the election will damage the Democratic cause, others do not want to talk about it.

"I've always been a looking forward kind of a guy," Wyden said when asked whether he was excited about the book tour. "I think I'll leave it at that."

McCaskill was asked the same question and responded with, "Beg your pardon?" When a reporter repeated the question, McCaskill only shook her head and walked away.

In her book, Clinton seeks to tell the story of the 2016 election from her perspective, and that includes blaming her defeat on outside factors such as sexism—and her fellow Democrats. She points the finger at primary foe Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) for setting up Trump's "Crooked Hillary" line of attack and also blames Barack Obama for not addressing the nation about alleged Russian efforts against her.

The book also includes swipes at the media as well as Democrats outside the election, such as Joe Biden, who criticized her campaign tactics after she lost. Other Democrats have openly questioned the wisdom of releasing a book that may further set back the party's endeavor to move forward after a historic defeat.

"There is a collective groan whenever there's another news cycle about this," Rep. Jared Huffman (D., Calif.) said.

"Maybe at the worst possible time, as we are fighting some of the most high-stakes policy and institutional battles we may ever see, at a time when we're trying to bring the party together so we can all move the party forward—stronger, stronger together," Huffman added. "She's got every right to tell her story. Who am I to say she shouldn't, or how she should tell it? But it is difficult for some of us, even like myself who've supported her, to play out all these media cycles about the blame game, and the excuses."

Clinton's approval rating sits at an all-time low of 30 percent, according to an NBC News poll, and critics have mocked her book tour's pricey "VIP Platinum" tickets as reminiscent of her high-paying speeches at places like Goldman Sachs. But her loyal fans do not see any reason for her to step back from public life amid ongoing intraparty debates.

"Her book and her tour is not just important for history, it's so important for now," Democratic National Committee member Robert Zimmerman said. "It's a very healthy conversation to have, and it's important to put the internal party issues in perspective. If we're going to move forward as a party, and if we're going to move forward as a country, Hillary Clinton's experiences, her insight, is essential."

Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) reacted with sarcasm to a question about the book tour.

"I look forward to going to every place where she appears," McCain said. He also offered his opinion about how to handle a presidential election defeat, as he experienced in 2008.

"I respect and admire and am a friend of Hillary's," McCain said. "But with these kind of things that happen in life, you've got to move on. You've got to quickly move on."

Many inside the Democratic Party wish she followed McCain's advice but have accepted that she is charting her own course.

"I think she should just zip it, but she's not going to," one top Democratic donor said.