Thursday night, Hillary Clinton told a roomful of top campaign donors that she lost the Presidential election because of Vladimir Putin and James Comey — but the donors don’t appear to be buying her story of woe.
Clinton’s ritzy donor “thank you party,” was held in the Grand Ballroom of New York’s Plaza hotel and had a guest list of luminaries, including Vogue‘s Anna Wintour, former campaign chair John Podesta, and former Veep candidate Tim Kaine. The affair was designed to reward those bundlers who collected more than a million dollars in donations for Clinton’s failed Presidential campaign
But when Secretary Clinton took the stage to give her speech, her tone wasn’t one of consolation for her dinner guests. The Democratic Presidential nominee blamed Russian hackers — who reportedly broke into the DNC’s private server and may be responsible for the phishing attack that left Podesta’s email vulnerable — and FBI director James Comey for her loss.
“Putin publicly blamed me for the outpouring of outrage by his own people, and that is the direct line between what he said back then and what he did in this election,” Ms. Clinton told her audience.
The explanations might make Clinton feel better — after all, who wants to remind her that she never stepped foot in swing state Wisconsin — but the donors she feted at her NYC pity party aren’t sold.
Just as the first guests were walking in the door, a call went out from some of Clinton’s biggest backers for a “campaign autopsy,” that would lay bare Clinton’s entire operation, and help Democrats understand how an election that looked like it was in the bag slipped through their fingers.
Donors, most importantly, want to know where Clinton spent the nearly $1.5 billion in campaign resources she collected in the closing months. They especially want introspection, or what they’re calling a “dispassionate, centralized analysis,” of how Clinton failed to read the mood in swing states, and how her Brooklyn-centric operation so badly misread polling data.
Unless Clinton’s own campaign strategy was attacked by Russian hackers, forcing her to misfire on messaging and buy ads in bizarre places like Arizona, they’re sure Putin isn’t the only explanation for her failure.
“There’s a lot of people expressing the feeling that the campaign had not been run as well as it could be, but I have a different approach,” Clinton friend Alan Patricof told POLITICO. “There’s always a Monday morning quarterback: She should have gone to Wisconsin, she should have done this, she should have done that.”
At least one major fundraiser says he and his fellow fundraisers are cutting off donations until the Democratic Party figures out what ails them. “A lot of people are saying, ‘I’m not putting another fucking dime in until someone tells me what just happened,'” he noted.
Clinton allies have promised that they will collect and analyze their own data and are planning to present a “campaign autopsy” at a gathering in Florida the week of Donald Trump’s inauguration — though it may just be a convenient way of getting out of DC on a very disappointing weekend.