She walked on stage first, he followed; and, with that, Bill and Hillary Clinton had a Philly crowd on their feet Saturday night at The Met, the latest stop on a speaking circuit for the former president and former Secretary of State.
The moderator — actor and former Eagles player Nnamdi Asomugha — got the loss out of the way early. “How do you bounce back from that?” he asked. It was a question for both, and she let her husband take the first crack at it. And then Hillary said she’s still unpacking what happened, “not because I want to look back,” she said, but with a nod to the future, and to a recent report on Russian election meddling from the FBI.
“I think some of the factors that were at work in that election are still at work,” Hillary said. She referenced a multiagency report from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, which surfaced publicly late last month, saying that Russia conducted reconnaissance on voting systems in all 50 states ahead of the 2016 election.
But, she said, “We have a government that doesn’t seem to want find out.”
Hillary also said she believed that defeated Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who called out voting irregularities in a race against Georgia’s then secretary of state, was the real winner.
“I personally believe that she won that election in Georgia,” Hillary said, adding: “All the games they played really stole the election.”
Both Clintons focused on the current information “environment.” Bill called it “wacky,” and he called on Democrats to pay more attention to the 40 Dems who flipped Republican Congressional seats in the midterms, “why they won, how they won, and what they’re doing now.”
Hillary lamented the consumption of just “snippets" of information these days: “You rarely get a sustained amount of coverage” about policy and policy differences, she said.
“It’s going to take all of us" to win, she told the not-quite-a-sellout crowd, and no, she did not say she was running.
The Clintons kicked off their speaking circuit last fall, and made stops earlier in the week in New York — where Hillary addressed the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (“He has to answer for what he has done”) — and in Detroit, where actor Ben Stiller moderated (“Was being president fun?” he asked. The short answer from Bill: Yes).
In Philly, one heckler was escorted out of the theater within the first 20 minutes of the event.
But the Clintons drew an audience of those who didn’t necessarily agree with them but were curious; who felt increasingly jaded now, but also nostalgic; or who still viewed them as having a chance to reenter public office.
Therenthia Boddie, 63, came with her sister and her 92-year-old mother, who’s afraid of ever entering a hospital again because of the possibility of high medical bills. Of the Clintons, she said: “They have answers. They have ideas that we need to solve problems today.”
Josh Hoffman, a 25-year-old member of the Green Party who came by a free ticket to the event, said he was intrigued by the Clintons. But at the same time, “I feel like they take the morally obvious stance,” he said, “as opposed to the morally courageous stance on things.”