In new book, Clinton defends attention paid to Michigan

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

In her latest, much-anticipated book, former presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton strongly defends the amount of time spent in and attention paid to Michigan during her grueling general election battle with Donald Trump.

Clinton’s book, “What Happened,” released this week, is largely a dissertation on how she went from an early heavy favorite to a stunning loser to Trump.

Clinton places plenty of blame on then-FBI director James Coney, Russian interference and of course, Trump himself, but also uses plenty of opportunities to blame herself. She defended her campaign schedule, specifically when it came to Michigan and Pennsylvania, two long-blue states that she lost in Election Day stunners.

“In Michigan, where polls showed us ahead but not by as much as we’d like, we had nearly 140 more staff on the ground than (President) Obama did in 2012, and spent 166 percent more on television,” Clinton writes. “I visited seven times during the general election.

“We lost both states (Michigan and Pennsylvania), but no one can say we weren’t doing everything possible to compete and win.

“Here’s the bottom line: I campaigned heavily across Pennsylvania, had an aggressive ground game and lots of advertising, and still lost by 44,000 votes, more than the margin in Wisconsin and Michigan combined. So it’s just not credible that the best explanation for the outcome in those states — and therefore the election — was where I held rallies.”

Clinton conceded that Wisconsin caught her by surprise, since she polled extremely well there until Election Day. She didn’t visit Wisconsin during the fall run-up to the election.

The so-called blue wall — no Republican had won in Wisconsin or Pennsylvania since Ronald Reagan in 1984, and in Michigan since George H.W. Bush in 1988 — came crashing down, along with it the election for the Democrats. She lost Michigan by 10,704 votes, Wisconsin by 22,748 and Pennsylvania by 44,292, or 77,744 votes in all, less than the capacity of Michigan Stadium.

“Some critics have said that everything hinged on me campaigning enough in the Midwest,” Clinton wrote. “And I suppose it is possible that a few more trips to Saginaw or a few more ads on the air in Waukesha (Wis.) could have tipped a couple thousand votes here and there. But let’s set the record straight.

"We always knew that the industrial Midwest was crucial to our success.”

Clinton pointed out that Obama held a rally in Ann Arbor shortly before the election, and that she stopped in Grand Rapids the day before the election.

Trump ended up winning Michigan in the final week-and-a-half as the campaign bombarded the state with visits from Trump and his adult children: Donald Jr., Ivanka, Eric and Tiffany. Running mate Mike Pence made four campaign appearances in the last five days of the campaign in the socially conservative GOP stronghold of west Michigan.

Trump even made sure he had the last word in Michigan, speaking after midnight on Election Day in a sold-out Grand Rapids arena.

Also in the book, Clinton talks extensively about the Flint water crisis, briefly touches on her surprise loss to Bernie Sanders in the Michigan primary, and on a lighter note, mentioned enjoying takeout from a Middle Eastern restaurant (albeit unnamed) in Detroit.

Clinton, 69, will bring her book tour to Hill Auditorium on the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus on Oct. 24. Tickets are in the $200 range and can be ordered online through Ticketmaster.