Hillary Clinton considered telling Donald Trump: “Back up, you creep!” during one of the presidential debates, adding, in the first extract from her new book, that “my skin crawled” when he invaded her personal space.
In the comments, broadcast by MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Wednesday, the former Democratic presidential nominee recounts how uncomfortable she felt being on stage with the future president just two days after his infamous “pussy-grabbing” tape had been made public.
“This is not OK, I thought,” Clinton writes. “It was the second presidential debate, and Donald Trump was looming behind me. Two days before, the world heard him brag about groping women. Now we were on a small stage and no matter where I walked, he followed me closely, staring at me, making faces. It was incredibly uncomfortable. He was literally breathing down my neck. My skin crawled.”
Clinton continues: “It was one of those moments where you wish you could hit pause and ask everyone watching: ‘Well, what would you do?’ Do you stay calm, keep smiling and carry on as if he weren’t repeatedly invading your space? Or do you turn, look him in the eye, and say loudly and clearly: ‘Back up, you creep, get away from me! I know you love to intimidate women, but you can’t intimidate me, so back up.’”
Instead, she describes how, “aided by a lifetime of dealing with difficult men trying to throw me off”, she chose to stay calm, “biting my tongue, digging my fingernails into a clenched fist, smiling all the while determined to present a composed face to the world”.
In another passage from What Happened, which will be published on 12 September, Clinton explains that the book is not intended to be a comprehensive account of the 2016 race.
Instead, she writes, “I want to pull back the curtain on an experience that was exhilarating, joyful, humbling, infuriating and just plain baffling. Writing this wasn’t easy. Every day that I was a candidate for president, I knew that millions of people were counting on me and I couldn’t bear the idea of letting them down. But I did. I couldn’t get the job done. And I’ll have to live with that for the rest of my life.”
Clinton’s last tome, Hard Choices (2014), was a recap of her years of service in the State Department.
Kirkus called it a “standard-issue political memoir, with its nods to ‘adorable students’, ‘important partners’, the ‘rich history and culture’ of every nation on the planet, and the difficulty of eating and exercising sensibly while logging thousands of hours in flight and in conference rooms.”
The review publication added that it was “unsurprising but perfectly competent and seamlessly of a piece with her Living History (2003).” After eight years as first lady, Clinton also wrote It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us.
Last month, Clinton’s publishers Simon & Schuster promised the new memoir would offer unprecedented candor and insight into the 2016 race.
“In the past, for reasons I try to explain, I’ve often felt I had to be careful in public, like I was up on a wire without a net,” Clinton writes in a foreword. “Now I’m letting my guard down.”
In June, she spoke at a publishing industry event, BookExpo America, and described how she consoled herself after the election with long walks in the woods. At the event, she refrained from lengthy criticism that is evidently coming next month. Her observation regarding Trump was mild: “We are living in such an abnormal time in the way this White House is acting.”