Hillary Clinton’s campaign team still has no idea why she lost the election.
This became clear in a very heated exchange Thursday between Mrs. Clinton’s top staffers and Donald Trump’s top brass at the Harvard Institute of Politics Campaign Managers Conference.
In what is supposed to be a civil affair — where the winners set the tone — the losers were particularly bitter, blaming white supremacists and the like for Mr. Trump’s win.
“I am more proud of Hillary Clinton’s alt-right speech than any other moment on the campaign, because she had the courage to stand up,” said Clinton campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri, choking back tears. “I would rather lose than win the way you guys did.”
Kellyanne Conway, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, then asked: “I’m sorry, how exactly did we win? No, go for it, Jen. How exactly did we win? I’d like to know, because I’ve sacrificed the last four months of my life to do it.”
Ms. Conway continued, “Do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform? Are you going to look me in the face and tell me that?”
Ms. Palmieri boldly replied: “It did, Kellyanne. It did.”
Then Ms. Conway delivered the death blow — the dose of reality that the Clinton team still hasn’t wrapped their head around.
“Do you think you could have just had a decent message for the white working-class voters?” she asked, continuing after considerable cross-talk. “How about it’s Hillary Clinton — she doesn’t connect with people? How about they have nothing in common with her? How about you had no economic message?”
Democrats — who have long seen themselves as the champion of the working-class and downtrodden — abandoned Middle America in favor of the coastal elites and in the process lost the presidency.
Mrs. Clinton — literally — never stepped foot in Wisconsin during the entire general election. Michigan and Ohio seemed like afterthoughts because they were. Scrambling in the last few days before the election, her team sent some high-level surrogates there.
Mr. Trump, on the other hand, made his entire campaign about the working class and delivering jobs. He spoke to the flyover country and gave them a face and a voice — one they used Nov. 8.
How did Mr. Trump win?
“We did it by looking at the schedule and looking at, yes, the electoral map of 270, because that’s how you win the presidency,” Ms. Conway said. “And we went places and we were either ignored or mocked roundly by most of the people in this room. But I have a smile on my face at all times.”
And she did.
Even as the Clinton team continued with their low blows.