In her new memoir, Hillary Clinton tells how she spent the hours after losing the 2016 election.

What do you do when you feel like you let down millions of people who placed their hopes and lives on your shoulders? How do you face the world again?

In an excerpt from her campaign memoir, What Happened, Hillary Clinton details how she spent the hours and days after losing the 2016 US Presidential election to Donald Trump.

Reflecting on what got her through one of the darkest times of her life, the former Democratic candidate provides an insight into what she felt during those moments she so famously handled with grace and humility.

“Losing is hard for everyone, but losing a race you thought you would win is devastating,” the 69-year-old says.

“The morning after the election, Bill and I both wore purple. It was a nod to bipartisanship (blue plus red equals purple). The night before, I had hoped to thank the country wearing white—the color (sic) of the suffragettes—while standing on a stage cut into the shape of the United States under a vast glass ceiling. Instead, the white suit stayed in the garment bag.”

Despite spending years of her life spent preparing to take America’s top job, Clinton reflects on the new role the loss forced her to assume, stoic in defeat while her supporters mourned for what could have been.

“After I delivered my concession speech, I hugged as many people in the ballroom as possible… many of their faces wet with tears. I was dry-eyed and felt calm and clear,” she says.

Once they drove away, however, Clinton felt she “could finally let my smile drain away”.

“We were mostly quiet. Every few minutes, Bill would repeat what he had been saying all morning: ‘I’m so proud of you.’ To that he now added, ‘That was a great speech. History will remember it.'”


“My job was to smile, be strong for everyone, and show America that life went on and our republic would endure. I wear my composure like a suit of armor (sic), for better or worse. In some ways, it felt like I had been training for this latest feat of self-control for decades.”

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While it’s easy to forget Clinton, having achieved so much, is human, it was the ordinary, day-to-day things we’ve all turned to that brought her comfort during that time.

“I’ll confess that I don’t remember much about the rest of that day. I put on yoga pants and a fleece. Our two sweet dogs followed me from room to room, and at one point, I took them outside and just breathed the cold, rainy air. The question blaring in my head was “How did this happen?”,” she says.

“At some point, we ate dinner. We FaceTimed with our grandchildren… after sleeping hardly at all the night before, I climbed into our bed at midday for a nice, long nap. I also went to bed early that night and slept in the next morning. I could finally do that.

“I avoided the phone and email that first day. I suspected, correctly, that I was receiving a virtual avalanche of messages, and I couldn’t quite handle it—couldn’t handle everyone’s kindness and sorrow, their bewilderment and their theories for where and why we had fallen short.

“Eventually, I’d dive in. But for now, Bill and I kept the rest of the world out. I was grateful for the one billionth time that I had a husband who was good company not just in happy times but sad ones as well.”

You can read the full extract on