“Back Up, You Creep!”: Hillary Clinton Ponders What Might Have Been

A split-second political calculation, maybe, or what the French calll’esprit d’escalier – “staircase wit,” or that perfect retort that popped into your head too late. In either case, Hillary Clinton now wonders what would have happened had she called out then-GOP candidate Donald Trump when he bizarrely stalked her on that debate stage last year.

Though she went high, Clinton, writing in her new campaign memoir What Happened, had other options during the Oct. 10, 2016 televised debate. An exclusive excerpt of the audio book, read by Clinton herself, was unveiled on MSNBC’s Morning Joe today.

In the excerpt, Clinton notes that writing the book “wasn’t easy,” and that during the campaign she “couldn’t bear” the idea of letting down “millions of people – but I did.”

“I couldn’t get the job done,” Clinton narrates, “and I’ll have to live with that for the rest of my life.”

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Here’s a partial transcript of the debate anecdote:

The “groping” comment references the immediately infamous Access Hollywood hot-mic recordings of Trump bragging to host Billy Bush about grabbing women by the genitals and getting away with it because he’s famous.

Clinton goes on to explain, and question, her own response to Trump’s weird stage antics. “I wonder though whether I should have chosen Option B? It certainly would have been better TV. Maybe I have over-learned the lesson of staying calm, biting my tongue, digging my fingernails into a clenched fist, smiling all the while, determined to present a composed face to the world.”

What Happened will be published onSept. 12.

Here’s a tweet that links to the Morning Joe segment.

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