Hillary Clinton now claims that she was "creeped out" by Donald Trump during their town hall-style debate, and that it took every ounce of her willpower not to chide Trump for "breathing down her neck" as she answered audience questions.
In her forthcoming book, What Happened, which Clinton claims will help explain why she feel short in the 2016 presidential election, the former secretary of state says Trump made her "skin crawl," and that she felt completely intimidated by the Republican presidential nominee.
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."
This is the first time Clinton has spoken publicly about Trump's stage machinations, but it's just the latest in a string of excuses Clinton has used to explain away her loss to Trump in November. In excerpts and previews from the book, due out in stores in September, Clinton has blamed everyone from an incompetent staff to an absent Democratic National Committee for her second failure at obtaining the nation's highest office.
MSNBC's Morning Joe played a clip from the audio version of Clinton's book, with Clinton herself reading an excerpt. In it she claims that she desperately wanted to tell her Republican opponent to "back up, you creep, get away from me," and that she gripped the microphone "extra hard" in order to keep her emotions in check.
In retrospect, though, she says she believed it would have been better to call Trump out for his behavior, especially since the debate happened just days after an Access Hollywood tape leaked, and Trump was already in trouble for using profane language to refer to a woman he was attracted to.
It certainly would have been better TV. Maybe I have over-learned 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.
The clip ended shortly thereafter, but no doubt, deeper into the chapter, Clinton blames the high expectations placed on women in the public square for her decision to bite her tongue, taking the feminist line that any time a woman expresses emotion, she's viewed as weak and hyper-sensitive. Because while Clinton is certain to devote hundreds of pages to the myriad ways in which deep-seeded prejudices turned Americans agains her, it's unlikely she'll admit to actually making a mistake.