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Clinton Campaign Members Relive Stunning Election Night: ‘We Were Waiting for the Coronation’

Hillary Clinton campaign alumni relived a brutal election night as part of an oral history of Nov. 8, 2016, compiled by Esquire, showing they initially felt strong confidence that was soon replaced by the shock of losing to Donald Trump.

“We were waiting for the coronation. I was planning my Instagram caption,” Clinton campaign spokeswoman Zara Rahim said.

“I am normally a glass-half-empty guy when it comes to expectations on election days. This was the first big election where I was absolutely certain we were going to win,” Clinton senior adviser Jim Margolis said.

Clinton national press secretary Brian Fallon said he had confidence after seeing polls putting his camp up in enough states to win 270 electoral votes.

“There had been a battleground tracking poll our team had done over the weekend that had us up 4 [points],” he said. “We were up in more than enough states to win, taking us over 270. The public polls all showed a similar outlook.”

He added that he was hearing from people throughout his life who were anticipating a Clinton victory and thanking him for taking on Trump.

“Everybody is conveying thanks for taking on Trump,” Fallon said. “It was going to be a cathartic experience of him getting his comeuppance after months of representing something that was so egregious in the eyes of so many people.”

Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.), Clinton’s running mate, said that for a brief period, he thought she would win and he would become vice president when he saw promising returns in Virginia.

“This was a huge feeling given all the work that Anne and I have done for 30-plus years to help make Virginia more progressive. It struck me for the first time, ‘I will probably be vice president.’ That feeling lasted about 90 minutes,” he said.

Clinton did win Virginia, her only southern state victory, by one more point than Barack Obama did against Mitt Romney in 2012.

As the night progressed, however, and returns showed Trump moving toward victory, the campaign tone darkened.

“A member of senior leadership came, and I’ll never forget him looking at us and saying, essentially, ‘If she doesn’t win Michigan and Wisconsin, Donald Trump will be president-elect.’ That was the first time I heard those words,” Rahim said.

By the wee hours of Nov. 9, Trump’s victory looked assured, even though the Associated Press would not call the election for him until around 2:30 a.m. Trump wound up winning in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Florida, all states Obama won in 2008 and 2012.

Fallon revealed that the Javits Center in New York City, where Clinton hoped to give a victory speech that night, needed everyone out of the building by 3 a.m., leading campaign chairman John Podesta to give brief remarks shortly after 2 a.m. to tell everyone to go home.

News broke almost immediately after Podesta’s comments that Clinton had called Trump to concede the race.

“I was on with [campaign manager] Robby [Mook], who was in the room with her when she did the concession call to Trump. It was surreal. It was beyond my imagination that we would be in this position with this person being elected president,” Margolis said.

Soon after, Trump addressed the nation for the first time as president-elect, saying it was time for the country to unite.

“I stayed in Brooklyn throughout the campaign, but that night I got a hotel in Midtown, close to the Peninsula,” Fallon said. “I actually walked past his hotel. I saw all the red hats that were still milling about outside of his victory party. It was pretty surreal.”



  1. Pendit1

    November 7, 2017 at 11:27 pm

    Candidate DJT’s Victory proved that prayers can be answered, IMHO.

  2. Ty Raddue

    November 7, 2017 at 11:28 pm


  3. Laura Combs

    November 7, 2017 at 11:29 pm

    She did win the popular vote by a landslide. The Electoral Collage should be abolished. My vote ended up not counting…so unfair. She should be our president. Such a sad time in history!!!

  4. Kimberly Brokaw

    November 7, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    I remember crying thinking that the head cheerleader for NAFTA was going to win the election. We had been told for months how she was leading in the polls and all the news stations were pro-Clinton. All I could think about were all our friends and neighbors that had lost so much due to NAFTA – and then the state calls starting coming in. We held our breath for one after another even though we were sure he was going to take OH as we didn’t know anyone who wasn’t voting for him. As the states were called one by one we had the first glimmer of hope. When FL was called we were jumping up and down. Our whole lives we have viewed MI as a rival because of our Buckeyes, but we were rooting for MI like no tomorrow. I woke everyone up crying “He did it, we won”.

  5. Barbara Welch

    November 7, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    Yes even with the unnion machinnes making every vote for her even those the illegal and muslim faud votes million of them [proven by court cases after the election] yes it was set up for a sure win but God, Jesus, had a different idea…. As my dad used to say man plans God laughs. What a wonderful night that was Amen

    • Kitty Kumher

      November 8, 2017 at 12:04 am

      Yes, our prayers were answered.Ifear what would happened should she had won.

  6. Shirley Freeland

    November 7, 2017 at 11:38 pm

    Real Americans came together because we knew that it was do or die for our great Country. I give so much credit for making this happen to Dr. Benjamin Carson who traveled the Country meeting and speaking to people telling them that the 2016 election was the most important one in our history. He encouraged people to get out and vote and he succeeded. There were those who voted in the 2016 election who had never ever voted in an election before. We owe a huge gratitude to Dr. Carson for making people aware of the importance of the 2016 election. God bless Dr. Ben Carson!!!!

  7. Holly

    November 7, 2017 at 11:41 pm

    thank Goodness Hillary did not win. Can you imagine how things would be today. thank goodness for Trump.

  8. Sal belardo

    November 8, 2017 at 12:12 am

    Oh the poor, poor losers! They had to relive that horrible night that their horrible, pathological liar, felon of a candidate lost! I feel so bad! Ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,haaaaaaaaaaaa!

  9. Phyllis White

    November 8, 2017 at 12:13 am

    Kudos to our brilliant President!

  10. Dolores Fabian

    November 8, 2017 at 12:55 am

    They forgot the saying: It ain’t over till the fat lady sings!

  11. Nick Carter

    November 8, 2017 at 1:48 am

    It was clear to me a citizen of South Africa that Trump had won hands down. What struck me about this election is the desperation to remove Trump led to the Democrats throwing away very principle they ought to fight for in the bin. By failing to fight for policies that increased American jobs, they lost Americans. By trying to impeach Trump through allegations that Trump is unstable, an idiot and a liar, they have painted themselves into a corner. The fact that Trump’s policies have driven the NYSE to all time highs and resulted in massive diplomatic break through in the ME in the was against ISIS has brought the Democrats works fear to life, namely Republicans under Trumps will get rid of RINOS and probably take at least another four seats during 2018.

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