In Depth

Hillary Clinton ‘in f***-laden Trump tirade during mock debate’

Journalist’s memoir describes how unconventional rival ‘threw Clinton off-message’

Hillary Clinton launched into a “f***-laced fusillade” during a practice session for her televised debate with Donald Trump in the run-up to the 2016 election, according to a journalist who followed her 2016 presidential bid.

In her new book, Chasing Hillary, New York Times journalist Amy Chozick, who covered Clinton’s political career for a decade, sheds light on the inner workings of a campaign which ended in shocking defeat.

In one passage, she describes a practice debate in which Clinton reportedly cried “You want authentic, here it is!”, followed by “a f***-laced fusillade about what a ‘disgusting’ human being Trump was and how he didn’t deserve to even be in the arena”.

Trump was played in the mock debates by longtime Clinton aide Philippe Reines, the New York Times reported at the time. Reines was chosen for the part due to his familiarity with Clinton’s “personal and political vulnerabilities”, enabling him to “throw any number of embarrassing comments in her face” as he imitated her outspoken Republican rival.

Chozick’s memoir of ten years on the campaign trail also offers other insights into Clinton’s struggle to deal with Trump’s unorthodox approach. His bombastic style and disdain for policy detail threw Clinton off-message, she writes: “Trump had made her as devoid of substance as he was.”

That struggle is evident in a three-page section of Chasing Hillary entirely devoted to “listing 84 possible slogans the campaign considered but discarded”, says The Guardian. “Rejects included ‘You’ve earned a fair chance’, ‘A new bargain we can count on’ and the succinct ‘No quit’.”

The book offers a “searing” account of election night inside the Clinton camp, says The Washington Post, as analysts realised their predictions of victory were failing to materialise.

When told that an almost totally unforeseen defeat was on the cards, Clinton reportedly said: “I knew it. I knew this would happen to me. They were never going to let me be president.”

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