Hillary Clinton said late Saturday that she “meant no disrespect” when she insulted a large swath of America as an economic wasteland because it voted for Donald Trump instead of her.
Clinton was roundly criticized for saying in an interview in India last week that the states she won in the 2016 race are “moving forward” while Trump’s campaign attracted people because it was “looking backwards.”
“If you look at the map of the United States, there is all that red in the middle, places where Trump won,” she said. “What that map doesn’t show you is that I won the places that own two thirds of America’s gross domestic product. I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward. And his whole campaign, Make America Great Again, was looking backwards.”
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, called the remarks “wrong” and “not helpful.” The Republican Party also pounced on Clinton’s remarks, blasting video of the appearance out to reporters.
Clinton responded in a lengthy Facebook post, which said in part:
I said that places doing better economically typically lean Democratic, and places where there is less optimism about the future lean Republican. 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 understand how some of what I said upset people and can be misinterpreted. I meant no disrespect to any individual or group. And I want to look to the future as much as anybody.
But our future requires us to learn from 2016. We need to protect our election systems from intrusion by Russia or anyone else. We need to combat voter suppression and the propagation of fake and misleading news. I fear we are not doing anywhere near enough on those fronts, and I know we can do better.
If anything, Clinton’s comments were yet another window into how little she’s learned from 2016—and how desperately the Democrats need to move past her as the midterms draw closer.