Hillary Clinton Tuesday accepted responsibility for her November loss but also said that misogyny, Russian interference and questionable decisions by FBI Director James Comey helped Republican Donald Trump win the White House.
"I take absolute personal responsibility," the former Democratic contender told Christiane Amanpour of CNN International in an interview at the Women for Women International Conference in New York. "I was the candidate.
"I was the person who was on the ballot," she added. "I am very aware of the challenges, the problems, the shortfalls that we had.
"If the election had been on Oct. 27, I would be your president.
"It wasn't a perfect campaign. There is no such thing.
"But I was on the way to winning until a combination of Jim Comey's letter on Oct. 28 – and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but got scared off.
"The evidence for that intervening event is compelling, persuasive – and so we overcame a lot in the campaign," Clinton said. "We overcame an enormous barrage of negativity, of false equivalency, and so much else."
In an interview that touched on a wide range of subjects, Clinton said that "there was a lot of funny business going on" around the final weeks of the campaign.
These included the "coincidence" of the surfacing of the 2005 "Access Hollywood" tape of Trump's lewd comments about groping women and the publishing of the hacked emails of her campaign chairman, John Podesta, by WikiLeaks.
"Within an hour or two of the 'Access Hollywood' tape being made public, the Russian theft of e-mails hit WikiLeaks," Clinton said. "What a coincidence.
"You just can't make this stuff up.
"So did we make mistakes?" she asked. "Of course we did. Did I make mistakes? Oh, my gosh, yes.
"But the reason why I believe we lost were the intervening events in the last 10 days.
"You can see that I was leading in the early vote," she said before referring to her popular vote tally: "I did win more than three million votes than my opponent."
Clinton, who is writing a book about the campaign, also agreed that misogyny played a role in her loss.
"Yes, I do think it played a role," she told Amanpour. "Other things did as well.
"Every day that goes by, we find out more about the unprecedented inference, including from a foreign power whose leader is not a member of my fan club," Clinton said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"It is real, it is very much a part of the landscape, political and socially and economically."
Turning to global affairs, the former secretary of state said that North Korea must be "incentivized" to under that "it will pay a much bigger price regionally, primarily from China, if it pursues this reckless policy of nuclear weapons development" that ultimately could reach the United States.
"I take this threat very seriously."
But Clinton cautioned that any talks with North Korea must be careful to not "to elevate their status and their position" in the world.
"We should be very careful about giving that away," she added. "You should not offer that in the absence of a broader strategic framework to try to get China, Japan, Russia, South Korea to put the kind of pressure on the regime that will finally bring them to the negotiating table with some kind of realistic prospect for change."
Clinton said that she also supported President Trump's decision last month to strike Syria in response to President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons.
"Yes, I did support it," she told Amanpour. "I didn't publicly support it because that wasn't my role, but I did support it.
"But I am not convinced that it really made much of a difference. I don't know what kind of potentially back-room deals were made with the Russians."
Clinton noted later news reports that the Trump officials had warned Russian military personnel on the ground that the 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles would be fired.
"There's a lot we really don't fully know about what was part of that strike," she said. "If all it was a one-off effort, it's not going to have much of a lasting effect."
On efforts to improve conditions for women in the U.S. and globally, Clinton praised former Republican first lady Laura Bush for her work on behalf of women in Afghanistan.
"I want to give a shout-out to Laura Bush, who was very active on behalf of Afghan women," Clinton said. "She and I co-chaired that effort."
More broadly, however, she declared that she would publicly insist that the Trump administration "not end our efforts making women's rights and opportunities central to American, foreign policy and national security.
"It is critical to our national security," Clinton added. "You look at places where women's rights are being stripped away. There are the places most likely to either create lies or protect terrorism or create ideologies that are critical to women's lives and futures.
"It's not an accident.
"Part of what I really believe is that women's rights is the unfinished business of the 21st century," Clinton said. "There is no more important larger issue that has to be addressed."
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