Playing in front of just over 3,000 people in an arena that can seat about six times that number in Toronto Tuesday evening, Bill and Hillary Clinton found a variety of ways to slam the sitting President of the United States, whose reign is so awful, his vanquished presidential opponent suggested, that she was considering moving to Canada to restart her political career as a member of parliament.
The event was hosted by one of the reluctant “stars” of the politically damaging Clinton Foundation expose by Peter Schweizer “Clinton Cash,” Frank McKenna, a former Canadian ambassador and current deputy chair of the Toronto-Dominion Bank who Schweizer describes as having “paid Bill more than any other financial institution for lectures,” amounting to some $1.8 million for ten speeches over just two years, which Schweizer suggests is related to the Keystone Pipeline battle.
The Daily Mail, which reported at length on the event, the first of 13 such engagements, notes that, as one might expect, McKenna didn’t bother asking many hard questions of the power couple. “McKenna touched on hot topics and blasts from the past, but rarely challenged his subjects,” the Mail notes.
The tone was set early in his first big question addressing “the elephant in the room”: Are they up in Canada because we’re going to get to see a Hillary presidential campaign 3.0? Are they there “because you guys just want to hang out together, or is it because you’re testing the waters for a run of being president of the United States?” asked McKenna.
“Actually Frank I’m thinking about standing for parliament here in Canada,” joked Hillary.
Over the course of the evening, Hillary took a variety of shots at Trump, hitting him particularly hard for his alleged complicity in the “cover-up” of the Khashoggi murder, which Hillary suggested was ultimately connected to Trump’s business interests.
“We have a president who is part of the cover up as to what happened in that consulate or embassy when Mr. Khashoggi was murdered. And we have a president and those closest to him who have their own personal commercial interests,” said Hillary, CNN reports.
“What makes this so troubling is how much commercial interest both the president’s family and business and his son in law’s family and business have with the kingdom,” she said, referencing Saudi Arabia.
Another moment highlighted by the Mail was McKenna offering Hillary a chance to riff on the issue of Russian election meddling, which she has consistently blamed as one of the key reasons she lost what was supposed to be a landslide victory for the former First Lady.
“It seems almost offensive to ask you, but why does Putin hate you so much?” McKenna asked, adding, “You seem like a very nice person.”
“I think he saw me as someone who had stood up to him and would stand up to him,” said Hillary, a take she’s given a number of times, even after the Trump administration has demonstrated its willingness to punish the regime multiple times.
Hillary also slammed Trump for attacking former Special Forces commander Adm. William McRaven, who was in charge of the Osama bin Laden raid and who has been critical of Trump.
“It just absolutely dumfounds me,” she said. “I’ve never ever imagined that you would have a president personally attacking people who’ve put their lives on the line year after year after year, for no cause.”
Bill did his part in bashing Trump as well, even going so far as apologizing for his harsh treatment of left-wing Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, part of what the former president described as Trump’s undermining of America’s moral leadership on the world stage.
As for the attendance of the event, the Mail learned that the venue, which can hold 19,000 at full capacity, only saw about 3,300 of its seats filled, floor row seats going for $325, regular seats selling for $83, but StubHub offering seats for as low as $6.55 Canadian.
Even CNN felt compelled to note just how disappointing the turnout for the event was. “The event was also not sold out. Organizers cut the Scotiabank Arena in half and blocked off the upper level, but as the show got underway there were sections of seats unoccupied,” CNN reports.
The speaking tour, CNN notes, “comes at a tenuous time for the Clintons: Not only is their standing in the Democratic Party in question after neither was particularly prolific during the midterms, but the event comes amid a renewed focus on Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, a moment in history that has gained more attention recently because of a multi-part series on the affair on A&E and other retrospectives.”
The Mail and other outlets have also noted that at one point Hillary broke into one of her coughing fits that increasingly plagued her on the campaign trail, with her husband offering her water and attempting to “filibuster” for awhile until she could regain her voice. Video of the moment has begun circulating online:
This article has been updated to add more details about the event.