Former President Bill Clinton surveyed in real time the wreckage of his wife Hillary’s 2016 campaign, telling a confidant at the time that the “egghead” staffers advising her “could not sell p**** on a troop train.”
The remark first came to light in a new book by The Intercept’s Ryan Grim titled, “The Squad: AOC and the Hope of a Political Revolution,” which examines the Democratic party’s fall in 2016 and resurgence among progressives like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Hillary Clinton, who that year largely dismissed campaigning in Midwest states she felt confident winning against then-candidate Donald Trump, suffered in her husband’s mind from staffers who didn’t understand the value of in-person campaigning.
“Former president Bill Clinton, surveying the landscape and the ham-handed efforts at identity politics, was bereft, lamenting to a longtime friend in the fall of 2016 that Hillary’s campaign ‘could not sell p—- on a troop train,'” Grim wrote in the book, a portion which was obtained by Fox News.
When President Clinton lobbied the staff to focus on Midwestern states like Michigan, the requests “fell on deaf ears,” ABC News previously reported. Trump went on to win the swing state by less than half a percentage point, or roughly 11,000 votes out of more than 4.5 million cast that year.
The new, explicit summation by President Clinton mirrors previously reported complaints by journalists Amie Parnes and Jonathan Allen in their 2017 book “Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign” which received heavy pushback from Hillary staffers at the time.
“He thought, these eggheads don’t really know politics. They don’t understand persuasion,” Allen told an ABC News podcaster at the time, saying it was important that his wife campaign in suburban or rural areas even if her team did not expect her to win those parts of the swing states.
“He knew there was some power just in showing up,” Allen said.
Despite her historic loss, Hillary has been tapped to aid President Joe Biden’s reelection effort. She has already held a fundraiser in her Georgetown home that raised close to $1 million for the president’s campaign, and her following of women and other parts of the Democratic base is considered a critical asset for Biden, who is bleeding support across the board.
The latest polls show President Biden may be on track to repeat Hillary’s 2016 loss in Michigan where he currently trails former President Donald Trump by 10 points. Previous polls have shown him falling badly behind the Republican leader in six other swing states as well as independent and Black voters flee Biden in favor of Trump.