WASHINGTON • Mrs Hillary Clinton has returned to the public eye, a week after her loss in the US presidential election, with a message for her supporters: Keep fighting.
"I ask you to stay engaged. Stay engaged on every level. We need you. America needs you. Your energy, your ambition, your talent. That's how we get through this," she said at a Washington gala on Wednesday for the Children's Defence Fund, where she worked after law school more than four decades ago.
In her first public remarks since conceding to President-elect Donald Trump last week, Mrs Clinton told the crowd that she was struggling to recover from the unexpected defeat.
"I will admit coming here tonight wasn't the easiest thing for me," she said. "There have been a few times this past week when all I wanted to do is just to curl up with a good book, or our dogs, and never leave the house again."
Introduced by Children's Defence Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman as "the people's president" and the first woman to win the popular vote, Mrs Clinton said she had to overcome deep sorrow to keep her commitment to attend the event.
"I know many of you are deeply disappointed about the results of the election. I am too, more than I can ever express," she said. "I know this isn't easy. I know that over the past week a lot of people have asked themselves whether America was the country we thought it was."
DOWN BUT NOT GIVING UP
I know many of you are deeply disappointed about the results of the election. I am too, more than I can ever express.
She implored her supporters, however, to "believe in our country, fight for our values and never give up".
There have been a few times this past week when all I wanted to do is just to curl up with a good book, or our dogs, and never leave the house again.
Mrs Clinton had stayed out of the public eye since the day after the election, but, in a private call with donors at the weekend, she cast blame for her loss on the announcement by FBI director James Comey that he was reviving the inquiry into her use of a private e-mail server as secretary of state.
America is worth it. Our children are worth it. Believe in our country, fight for our values and never, ever give up.
She said that decision, by thrusting the e-mail controversy back into the news 11 days before the election, had halted her momentum in the crucial closing days of the race and prevented her from ending her campaign with an optimistic argument to voters.
On Wednesday, though, there was no talk of opportunities missed or messages muddled. Instead, Mrs Clinton was regretful and the slightest bit defiant.
She said she wished she could go back in time and tell her mother, abandoned at a young age, not to despair.
"Look at me and listen," Mrs Clinton said she would tell her mother, her voice thick with emotion.
"You will survive. You will have a family of your own, three children, and as hard as it might be to imagine, your daughter will grow up to be a United States senator, represent our country as secretary of state and win more than 62 million votes" in her campaign for the presidency.
Democrats, stunned and dejected over last week's electoral losses, are struggling to rebuild their party, re-energise supporters and determine what lessons to draw from their defeat.
President Barack Obama told supporters in a call on Monday afternoon that he expected to be a part of that debate, starting in January when he leaves office. But it is not clear what role, if any, Mrs Clinton plans to play.
The event on Wednesday, a Beat The Odds gala honouring at-risk children who have found success, was in some sense a capstone to Mrs Clinton's life in national politics. The same event in 1992 was the first public appearance she and her husband, Mr Bill Clinton, made after he won the presidency.
Mrs Clinton delivers her first major speech since her defeat, http://str.sg/4Mcz