The election that wouldn’t end will, in fact, never end.
America has two ex-candidates, the victorious Donald Trump and the vanquished Hillary Clinton who just can’t let it lie.
In a stunning interview Tuesday, Clinton, the former Democratic nominee, vented her still raw emotions and blazing bitterness over her defeat by Trump – pointing to Russia and FBI Chief James Comey as the key drivers of her loss.
Trump, for his part, rarely lets more than a few days go by without boasting about his outsider win. Then, remarkably for a victor, he disputes the result – claiming without evidence that millions of illegal voters handed Clinton a popular vote triumph.
The prospect of regurgitating the most bitter election on record must horrify Americans who were forced to live through it for roughly two years.
But given Clinton’s public anger over her loss and Trump’s unwillingness to move on, a long-range rhetorical rematch is inevitable, especially since Clinton has a book coming in the fall.
The President is extraordinarily touchy about the merest suggestion that his victory is not totally authentic. Clinton has now given her supporters, many of whom believe she was cheated out of breaking the highest, hardest glass ceiling in politics, even more reasons to view Trump as illegitimate.
And the President is unlikely to take a pass at Clinton’s unflattering description of his performance, including her renewal of her claim that he was unprepared for office.
He’s already taken to Twitter to respond to Clinton’s claims.
“FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds! The phony Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election. Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign?”
Clinton’s interview was so interesting because it was so unusual.
She was unplugged, candid and unvarnished, ditching the cautious, stilted political speak that has constrained her public persona for decades, seemingly now at a point of her life where she does not care what people think.
It was a side of Clinton that friends know well but has not often been much in evidence in her public life, as she has fought claims she is inauthentic and calculating.
“If the election had been on October 27, I would be your president,” Clinton said, thrusting herself back into the public spotlight before an audience watching the interview conducted by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour at the Women for Women International summit in New York.
“I was on the way to winning until a combination of (FBI Director) Jim Comey’s letter on October 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me and got scared off,” she said.
“The evidence for that intervening event is, I think, compelling, persuasive, and so we overcame a lot in the campaign,” Clinton said, also adding that she believed misogyny played a role in her defeat.
Clinton’s comments were so visceral and politically electrifying that it seems impossible that Trump can resist returning fire.
In fact, she seemed positively to be goading the President.