A weary-looking Hillary Clinton said Wednesday evening at her first public appearance since she conceded to Donald Trump that she considered canceling her speech to the children’s advocacy group but kept the commitment out of respect for her mentor.
‘I will admit coming here tonight wasn’t the easiest thing for me,’ she said at the Children’s Defense Fund’s gala in Washington, D.C.
The failed presidential candidate added: ‘There have been a few times this past week when all I wanted to do is just to curl up with a good book or our dogs and never leave the house again.’
Clinton arrived and left the event at the Newseum through a private entrance and didn’t stick around to be hounded by her traveling press corps.
They had been invited to cover the event by campaign staff, several of whom were with her last night. One said they’re still on the payroll through the end of this week.
Quoting the organization’s founder, Marian Wright Edelman, Clinton said, ‘Service is the rent we pay for living.’
‘You don’t get to stop paying rent just because things don’t go your way’, Clinton said.
Clinton said she drew inspiration from Edelman as she prepared for the speaking engagement she agreed to before her stunning defeat in the presidential election.
‘If there’s anyone who knows how to pick yourself up, and get back on your feet and get to work, it is Marian,’ Clinton said. ‘She has been doing it all of her life, and she has been helping the rest of us do it, too.’
Clinton interned for Edelman during law school. She came back to work for her at the newly formed, Massachusetts-based non-profit, the Children’s Defense Fund when she graduated.
Edelman and others in the room last night reminded her that when ‘you get knocked down, you get back up,’ Clinton said.
The arc of moral universe can ‘feel awfully long,’ said Clinton, reciting Martin Luther King, Jr’s famed observation that it ‘bends toward justice.’
‘Believe me – I would know,’ she said to laughter.
Clinton told attendees, ‘I know many of you are deeply disappointed about the results of the election. I am too, more than I can ever express.
‘Our campaign was never about one person or even one election – it was about the country that we love and about building an America that is hopeful inclusive and big-hearted.’
In spite of her defeat at the ballot box, Clinton said, ‘We have work to do.’
‘I ask you to stay engaged, stay engaged on every level,’ she said. ‘We need you. America needs you, your energy, your ambition, your talent. That’s how we get through this. That’s how we help to make our contributions to bend the arc of the moral universe towards justice.’
Clinton told them, frankly, ‘I know this isn’t easy. I know that over the past week a lot of people have asked themselves whether America is the country we thought it was.
‘The divisions laid bare by this election run deep. But please listen to me when I say this: America is worth it. Our children are worth it. Believe in our country, fight for our values, and never, ever give up.’