After every presidential election since 1972, Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government has sponsored a two-day forum where the key players from all sides come together to dissect and discuss their campaigns for the historical record. The tone is usually civil, but like everything else that happened in 2016, this year's event was different.
As top strategists and aides to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump sat down next to each other on Thursday to go over the past 18 months, pent-up rage bubbled over, The Washington Post reports. Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton's communications director, spoke out against Trump's campaign chief executive, Steve Bannon, running the hard-right website Breitbart. "If providing a platform for white supremacists makes me a brilliant tactician, I am proud to have lost," she said. "I would rather lose than win the way you guys did." Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, responded by asking, "Do you think I ran a campaign where supremacists had a platform?" Palmieri quickly shot back, "You did, Kellyanne. You did."
Conway said Clinton didn't have a "decent message for white, working-class voters," and she accused the Clinton team of being "angry," adding: "Hashtag he's your president. How's that? Will you ever accept the election results?" Clinton consultant Mandy Grunwald retorted that fake news was everywhere during the campaign, falsely claiming Clinton was in poor health or about to be sent to prison. "I hear this heroic story of [Trump] connecting with voters," she said. "But there was a very impressive gassing of her." Clinton's chief strategist, Joel Benenson, said it was "clear" that Trump won, but added, "let's be honest. Don't act as if you have a popular mandate for your message. The fact of the matter is that more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump." (As of Thursday night, Clinton leads Trump in the popular vote by 2.5 million votes).
In the night's most jaw-dropping moment, Corey Lewandowski, Trump's first campaign manager and CNN contributor, proclaimed that the "problem with the media" was they "took everything that Donald Trump said so literally. The American people didn't. They understood it. They understood that sometimes — when you have a conversation with people, whether it's around the dinner table or at a bar — you're going to say things, and sometimes you don't have all the facts to back it up."
You can listen to the discussion below. Catherine Garcia