Hillary Clinton has expressed regret about not explicitly labelling Donald Trump a “creep” during one of the presidential debates.
President Trump stoked controversy for closely following the former US presidential hopeful around the stage during their second presidential debate.
The former Secretary of State, who is currently on a tour of the UK, has now reflected on the incident and the presidential race at large. She said she thought it was important to keep her composure during the fiercely divisive presidential race but in retrospect she should have perhaps played Mr Trump at his own game.
During an appearance on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Ms Clinton was asked whether the election could have had a different outcome if she had directly branded President Trump a “creep” on stage.
“I believed that keeping your calm and being composed is part of the job of being president. What turned out to be an entertainment contest – and he was quite good at that – maybe should have engendered a different response from me but it was a game I had not played and it was a game I did not think presidents should play,” she told Marr on Sunday.
She continued: ”I had prepared for that debate and I knew he would be disruptive and difficult. I had concluded in the preparation that the best thing for me to do was to not get sucked into it. But maybe there would have been a moment of confrontation that would have worked to my advantage.”
In her new book What Happened, Ms Clinton said her “skin crawled” as the former reality TV star stalked behind her at a presidential debate in St Louis. She said she wished she had been able to press pause and ask America, “Well, what would you do?”
President Trump’s behaviour on stage took place just days after the now infamous tape of himself boasting about sexual assault was released. In the 2005 leaked Access Hollywood tape, the Republican could be heard bragging about groping and making unwanted advances on women and saying he was such a “star” that he could grab women “by the p***y”.
“It was the second presidential debate and Donald Trump was looming behind me,” Ms Clinton writes. “Two days before, the world heard him brag about groping women. Now we were on a small stage and no matter where I walked, he followed me closely, staring at me, making faces.”
Ms Clinton, who uses the book to “pull back the curtain” on her losing the presidential race, reveals that although she chose not to call out Trump’s behaviour on stage, she now wonders whether she should have addressed it.
“Do you stay calm and 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,” she writes.
“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.”
On Friday, Ms Clinton classed President Trump in the same category as disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and argued the issue of sexual assault is pervasive.
“Look, we just elected someone who admitted sexual assault to the presidency,” she told Channel 4 News. “So there’s a lot of other issues that are swirling around these kinds of behaviours that need to be addressed. I think it’s important that we stay focused, and shine a bright spotlight and try to get people to understand how damaging this is.”