Hillary Clinton is defending controversial comments she made in India last week about female voters who supported President Trump during the 2016 election, saying it’s “not that crazy” to suggest that many of them were likely swayed politically by the men in their lives.
Speaking at a conference in Mumbai, the former secretary of state said that Democrats typically perform poorly with white men and married, white women, in part, because of the “ongoing pressure to vote the way that your husband, your boss, your son, whoever, believes you should.”
“I won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product,” Mrs. Clintonsaid during the conference. “So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward. And his whole campaign, ‘Make America Great Again,’ was looking backwards.”
“You know, ‘You didn’t like black people getting rights? You don’t like women, you know, getting jobs? You don’t want to, you know, see that Indian American succeeding more than you are? Whatever your problem is — I’m going to solve it,’” she said.
In a Facebook post Saturday evening, Mrs. Clinton addressed the backlash she’s received in recent days over the comments, saying she “meant no disrespect to any individual or group” but nevertheless meant what she said.
“I said that places doing better economically typically lean Democratic, and places where there is less optimism about the future lean Republican,” she wrote. “That doesn’t mean the coasts versus the heartland, it doesn’t even mean entire states. In fact, it more often captures the divisions between more dynamic urban areas and less prosperous small towns within states. As I said throughout the campaign, Trump’s message was dark and backwards looking. I don’t need to list the reasons, but the foundation of his message, ‘Make America Great AGAIN’ suggests that to be great we have to go back to something we are no longer. I never accepted that and never will.
“I also mentioned something in passing that’s gotten a lot of negative attention: that there is anecdotal evidence and some research to suggest that women are unfortunately more swayed by men than the other way around,” she continued. “As much as I hate the possibility, and hate saying it, it’s not that crazy when you think about our ongoing struggle to reach gender balance – even within the same household. I did not realize how hard it would hit many who heard it. I was out there having a conversation, and this was one piece of a larger point about how Democrats need to do better with white women, because I know in my heart that Democrats have much more to offer them.
“Do I believe that some women look at a powerful woman and question whether she can lead, maybe voting for the man their husband is voting for instead? It may not be universally true or easy to hear, but yes, it’s a dynamic still at play in our society,” she said. “I know this because even I spent parts of my life wondering if I could achieve the same as male leaders, and a lot of that insecurity stemmed from my gender and how society views women. When I was serving in various roles in public life, I was always more popular when I was working for or defending a man then when I was out there on my own. That’s the point I was making, in an effort to explain to an audience some of the many dynamics that have gone into these tumultuous last few years.”
Mrs. Clinton went on to apologize that her comments were so widely “misinterpreted,” writing, “I meant no disrespect to any individual or group. And I want to look to the future as much as anybody.”
“So to those upset or offended by what I said last week, I hope this explanation helps to explain the point I was trying to make,” she wrote. “And I hope now that we can get back to the real business before us: Protecting our democracy and building a future we can all share.”
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