The day after her 2016 presidential opponent was acquitted by the Senate in his impeachment trial, Hillary Clinton went on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and began by explaining why she was “disappointed” but not “surprised” by the outcome.
“The evidence was really clear,” the former secretary of state said. “There was no doubt by the time it was all presented that actually the president had done what he was accused of. In fact, he admitted that he’d done what he was accused of. He just didn’t think anybody would hold him accountable.”
Clinton said it was now up to voters to hold President Donald Trump “accountable” in the 2020 election. And she had some advice for those who are yet to make up their mind about who to nominate against him.
“I say two things,” she said. “I say, vote for the person who you believe can actually win in November. And the person who you think can govern our country. Because somebody has to get in there and try to bring our country together and put us on the right track into the future and restore our democracy and our standing in the world.”
Clinton urged voters to ask themselves, “Who do you think can win? Because if you don’t win, you can’t govern. And who can best govern at a very difficult time in American history.”
If this sounded like an implicit critique of her other big 2016 rival, Bernie Sanders, that notion was enforced when DeGeneres added, “It seems to me, more than ever, that we need somebody who’s going to go in and be able to steer this ship in the right direction instead of going to the extreme.”
Asked directly who she wanted to be the Democratic nominee, Clinton declined to name names and returned to the issue of electability against Trump, stressing from personal experience the importance of winning the Electoral College and not just the popular vote.
“You’ve got to be very clear-minded about who can win,” she said, without offering any specifics about what that often nebulous notion means or acknowledging the fact that she was considered by many to be the more “electable” candidate over Sanders in 2016.
Later in the interview, DeGeneres pressed Clinton to explain the controversial criticism she expressed about Sanders in and around the upcoming Hulu documentary about her life and career. “Nobody likes him,” Clinton infamously says in the film, “nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done. He was a career politician.”
“Well, it’s from the film, which was probably filmed about a year-and-a-half ago or so,” Clinton said in her defense. “So it wasn’t in the midst of the election.” But at the same time, she doubled down by saying she has a “clear perspective about what it’s going to take to win.”
“People can have their own opinions about anybody in public life, that’s a free country, you get to do that,” Clinton added, before continuing the critique. “You’ve got to be responsible for what you say and what you say you’re going to do,” she said. “And if you promise the moon and you can’t deliver the moon, then that’s going to be one more indicator of how we just can’t trust each other.”
“I just want everybody to understand how high the stakes are and to hold every candidate and every public office holder accountable for what they do or don’t do,” Clinton said.
DeGeneres ended the interview by asking Clinton if she would accept the vice presidential role if the eventual Democratic nominee asked her to.
Laughing, she replied, “Well, that’s not going to happen.”
But after explaining that she turned down President Barack Obama’s secretary of state offer twice before she ultimately said yes, Clinton added, “I never say never, because I do believe in serving my country. But it’s not going to happen.”