WASHINGTON (AFP) - In her first public appearance since conceding to Mr Donald Trump, Mrs Hillary Clinton on Wednesday (Nov 17) said the US presidential vote has exposed deep divisions in the “greatest country in the world”.
“Over the past week, a lot of people have asked themselves whether America is the country we thought it was,” the former Democratic candidate told an evening benefit event in Washington. “The divisions laid bare by this election run deep, but please listen to me when I say this: America is worth it.”
She added that it wasn't easy for her after the election loss, saying she just wanted "to curl up with a good book... and never leave the house again”.
She was addressing donors and other guests at an event for the Children’s Defence Fund, a non-profit advocacy group for underprivileged children.
The event honoured Mrs Clinton for her contributions to the organisation, for which she first worked as a young lawyer in the 1970s before later serving as chair of the board of directors.
“I will admit coming here tonight wasn’t the easiest thing for me,” she told an auditorium of several hundred people. “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.”
Many in the audience were deeply disappointed about the results of the election, she said.
“I am too, more than I can ever express,” she said to wistful laughter. “But as I said last week, our campaign was never about one person or even one election. It was about the country we love and about building an America that is hopeful, inclusive and big-hearted. I didn’t get into public service to hold high office.”
Urging the audience to continue supporting disadvantaged children, she alluded to one of Mr Trump’s major campaign promises – to deport millions of undocumented immigrants – without mentioning her former Republican rival by name.
“There are also children who are afraid today, like the little girl I met in Nevada who started to cry when she told me how scared she was that her parents would be taken away from her and be deported,” she said. “No child should have to live with fear like that.”
Despite progress made under President Obama, she added, more than 31 million children still live at or near poverty in the United States.
“I hoped to have had the opportunity to build on the progress that President Obama has made because I know that we are stronger together when we are lifting each other up,” she said. “So I urge you please don’t give up on the values we share.”
With the final election results still trickling in, Mrs Clinton remains ahead of Mr Trump in the popular vote by more than one million.
However, Mr Trump decisively won the election – decided by indirect voting – by winning the electoral vote by 290 to Mrs Clinton’s 232.
“America is still the greatest country in the world,” Mrs Clinton said. “This is still the place where anyone can beat the odds.”