Hillary Clinton Touts New Doc, Talks 2020 Election: "This Is No Ordinary Time"

Hillary Clinton - Getty - H 2019
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“It wasn’t so long ago that we didn’t wake up to a president who made us worry in the morning.”

Hillary Rodham Clinton began the promotional push for her upcoming documentary, Hulu’s Hillary, on Friday morning — and it doesn’t appear lost on the former Secretary of State that the story of her ill-fated 2016 run is arriving as the field of Democratic presidential hopefuls finally narrows.

Clinton, whose four-hour documentary serves as both a deep-dive on the last presidential election and a biography, stressed that members of her party (and Americans not on board with the current administration) need to rally behind whoever they think can win the election.

“I am on the side of an inclusive, openhearted generous country,” said Clinton. “And we are in a real struggle with a form of politics that is incredibly negative, exclusive, mean-spirited. It’s going to be up to every voter. This is no ordinary time. For the voters, try to vote for the person most likely to win — and not just the popular vote, the electoral college.”

The end of that comment earned Clinton quite a few laughs.

Joined by filmmaker Nanette Burstein, Clinton was in Pasadena on Friday morning to tout her new documentary to members of the Television Critics Association ahead of its official debut at the Sundance Film Festival. Hillary then rolls out on Hulu on March 6, after the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire primary.

“Look, by the time this runs, it will be in the thick of Super Tuesday,” she said. “You’ll have the first four contests behind you. Maybe by that time, the field will have clarified.”

Clinton, who spoke at length about her motivations to participate in the project that demanded 35 hours of interview time with Burstein, was noticeably careful not to name any names during the half-hour panel — none of the current Democratic primary field nor her 2016 opponent were specifically mentioned. But Clinton’s cautions about the current president peppered her dialogue with press.

“Parts of world are joyfully celebrating our difficulties,” she said, drawing parallels between the current administration and the start of other authoritarian regimes. “There are a number of countries and leaders out there who could not be happier watching what’s happening with this country.”

None of her comments about the state of the union came as a surprise. Where Clinton seemed to break new ground was in her assessment of herself and the vitriol that’s seemed to follow her since she first became a public figure. “I became a kind of Rorschach test for women and women’s roles as soon as I burst on the public scene when Bill was running for president,” she said. “You know, I lived for more than 40 years before that and I had no real understanding of what it really meant to be thrust into this highest, brightest platform and try to live your life and kind of go along with what you’ve always done.”

Speaking about her detractors, Clinton did not seem to take it personally. “Part of it was the timing I came on the national scene, what I chose to do — which was extremely controversial,” she said, pointing to her 1990s push for universal health care. “I think it was more rooted in the time we were in and the kind of challenging impression that people had of me at that time — who I was and what I cared about and what I did.”

Clinton is giving the documentary her full support, taking it to both Sundance and the Berlin Film Festival, but she did not come out and say that she necessarily enjoyed the experience. “It’s really hard watching yourself for four hours,” she said. “Thank god it was only four hours.”

When asked what she hoped viewers would take away from the experience of watching, outside of a deeper understanding of her, Clinton again went back to voting.

“I don’t mean to be overly simplistic, but please vote,” Clinton said. “It is almost a truism to say we can look at what’s happening politically in our country right now and be so frustrated and disgusted that it just turns you off. It wasn’t so long ago that we didn’t wake up to a president who made us worry in the morning.”