Every four years Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government hosts aides from opposing campaigns for a frank postmortem of the presidential election. Harvard has been doing this since 1972 and usually the discussions are respectful. But according to the Washington Post, that’s not the case this year. When Trump’s team praised Steve Bannon, former Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri lashed out.
“If providing a platform for white supremacists makes me a brilliant tactician, I am proud to have lost,” she said. “I would rather lose than win the way you guys did.”
Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, fumed: “Do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform?”
“You did, Kellyanne. You did,” interjected Palmieri, who choked up at various points of the session.
“Do you think you could have just had a decent message for white, working-class voters?” Conway continued. “How about, it’s Hillary Clinton, she doesn’t connect with people? How about, they have nothing in common with her? How about, she doesn’t have an economic message?”
Joel Benenson, another Clinton strategist said, “There were dog whistles sent out to people.. . .Look at your rallies. He delivered it.” Conway responded, “Guys, I can tell you are angry, but wow.” She added, “Hashtag he’s your president. How’s that? Will you ever accept the election results? Will you tell your protesters that he’s their president, too?”
You can listen to the heated exchange below. The argument over Bannon really begins around 1:36:00 and really gets heated around 1:40:30.
Here’s a transcript of the blow-up by Palmieri and Conway’s response:
David Bossie: It’s ridiculous and to be candid with you the guy is an unbelievably brilliant strategist who is really a terrific guy who, as Kellyanne just said, a guy who has a Harvard pedigree and is getting attacked by people who have no idea who he is…Listen he gets held to a standard that none of these other folks are held to.
Jennifer Palmieri: Dan, If providing a platform for white supremacists makes me a brilliant stra…a brilliant tactician, I am glad to have lost. And when Hill…Give me a minute, David. I am more proud of Hillary Clinton’s alt-right speech than any other moment on the campaign because she had the courage to stand up. I would rather lose than win the way you guys did.
Kellyanne Conway: No you wouldn’t.
Conway: No you wouldn’t.
Palmieri: Yes, yes.
Conway: That’s very clear to me. No you wouldn’t, respectfully. I’m sorry, how exactly did we win? No, go for it, Jen, how exactly did we win? I’d like to know because I sacrificed the last four months of my life to do it, excuse me. And we did it. And we did it by looking at the schedule and looking at, yes, the electoral map of 270 because that’s how you win the presidency. And we went places and we were either ignored or mocked roundly by most of the people in this room but I have a smile on my face at all times and we did it by focusing with Steve Bannon and Dave Bossie and everybody you see here…
The Post also says the Clinton team did a lot of complaining about how their candidate was treated:
Clinton’s campaign insisted, again and again, that their candidate had been held to a different standard than the other contenders — as evidenced by the controversy over her use of a private email system while secretary of state.
Palmieri contended that many political journalists had a personal dislike for the Democratic nominee, and predicted that the email issue will go down in history as “the most grossly overrated, over-covered and most destructive story in all of presidential politics.”
The Associated Press agreed that the Clinton team seemed to blame everyone but themselves:
Clinton’s team attributed their devastating defeat to a lot of factors — just few self-inflicted. Aides argued that FBI director James Comey’s investigation, media coverage, the hacking of Democratic email accounts, gender bias and even Clinton’s personal penchant for privacy and policy were to blame for her defeat.
It was a bitter campaign and clearly the bitterness hasn’t faded for some members of the Clinton camp.