On October 9, 2016, then-candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump faced off during the second presidential debate. Throughout the night, Trump seemed to follow Clinton wherever she went on the stage, his 6'2" build towering over her 5'4" frame.
In her new memoir What Happened, set to be released in September, Clinton describes her experience during the 2016 presidential campaign. An excerpt of the audiobook, read by the former candidate herself, was released today. In the following excerpt, Clinton describes her inner monologue during the debate, which took place just two days after the infamous Access Hollywood tape was released.
"This is not okay," I thought.
It was the second presidential debate, and Donald Trump was looming behind me. Two days before, the world heard him brag about groping women. Now we were on a small stage, and no matter where I walked, he followed me closely, staring at me, making faces. It was incredibly uncomfortable. He was literally breathing down my neck. My skin crawled.
It was one of those moments where you wish you could hit pause and ask everyone watching, "Well? What would you do?"
Do you stay calm, keep smiling, and carry on as if he weren’t repeatedly invading your space?
Or do you turn, look him in the eye, and say loudly and clearly, "Back up, you creep, get away from me, I know you love to intimidate women but you can’t intimidate me, so back up."
I chose option A. I kept my cool, aided by a lifetime of dealing with difficult men trying to throw me off. I did, however, grip the microphone extra hard.
I wonder, though, whether I should have chosen option B. It certainly would have been better TV. Maybe I have overlearned the lesson of staying calm—biting my tongue, digging my fingernails into a clenched fist, smiling all the while, determined to present a composed face to the world.