Following the publication of her book What Happened, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stopped in Atlanta last night as part of her book tour. The event, moderated by Agnes Scott’s own President Elizabeth Kiss, began with opening remarks by Clinton which were followed by a Q&A-style conversation between Kiss and the former presidential candidate. The questions, a mix of Kiss’ own and some from the audience, covered Clinton’s advice to women and girls interested in politics, her thoughts on political compromise, and her plans for the future.
Photo courtesy of Agnes Scott College/Robert Hill
Clinton’s image was inescapable at the venue as hundreds of viewers crowded excitedly into the theater, with their copies of What Happened tucked under arms or poking out of purses, Clinton’s frozen image smiling warmly from the back of the dust jackets. Some attendees even held multiple copies, as a copy of the book was included with the ticket.
While the occasion was technically a book event, the mood frequently verged on that of a rally. Many people sported their “I’m with Her” and “nasty woman” t-shirts. Upon Clinton’s entrance to the Fox Theatre main stage where the conversation took place, audience members stood for close to two minutes in a standing ovation. Often, both Clinton and Kiss were interrupted by enormous bouts of applause and raised fists, as well as chants of “Hill-a-ry” from the audience following particularly strong or pointed remarks.
Clinton’s words throughout the night echoed the sentiment of her book, in which she reflects on her experience during the presidential campaign but also on where the country is headed. “This isn’t just about what happened,” she said. “This is about what’s happening right now.” In What Happened, Clinton offers readers a deeply personal account of what she believes to be her biggest mistakes, as well as her favorite moments during her presidential campaign and shares what it was like to run against Donald Trump, the role of Russian interference, and the particular challenges that she faced as a female candidate. In a reflection on the American political system, she also provides her thoughts on what Americans need to understand about protecting democracy and the future of the country.
She was also not shy about poking fun at Donald Trump, frequently making pointed remarks about his latest actions and adding a few off-the-cuff jokes about his “baffling” behavior. Following her loss in 2016, Clinton has let her guard down and speaks candidly about her thoughts and experiences. Her attitude during the event was frank and loose, a departure from her usually stiff, tactful demeanor on the campaign trail.
The results of last Tuesday’s general elections came up frequently in her answers to President Kiss’ questions. “I honestly believe that the fever is breaking and the tides are turning,” Clinton explained in reference to the high number of Democratic and minority candidate wins last week. She referred to the results as a “resounding affirmation of America’s best values.”
In her last question, President Kiss asked the question that many audience members had submitted before the show: what’s next? In response to pressures to re-run in 2020, Clinton definitively said that she will not be running again. Instead, she plans on spending 2018 working on getting Democrats elected, with the particular goal of electing a Democratic majority to the House. “Let’s win in 2018,” she said, “and then in 2020.”