ABC News(WASHINGTON) — At Hillary Clinton’s first public appearance Wednesday since making a concession speech one week ago in New York City, she was candid about her post-election state of mind and encouraged Americans to remain defiant following her defeat.
Speaking at the Children’s Defense Fund’s 26th annual Beat the Odds Celebration in Washington, D.C., Clinton 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. The divisions laid bare by this election run deep. But please listen to me when I say this: America is worth it. Our children are worth it. Believe in our country, fight for our values and never ever give up.”
Clinton, who was honored at the gala for her dedication and contributions to the organization and child advocacy throughout her career, admitted, “coming here tonight wasn’t the easiest for me. There have been a few times this past week that all I wanted to curl up with a good book, or our dogs, and never leave the house again. But if there is anyone who knows who pick yourself up and get back on your feet and get back to work it is [CDF founder and president] Marian [Wright Edelman.]”
When Clinton spoke about the struggles her late mother, Dorothy Howell Rodham, endured as a child, she became noticeably emotional. “I dream of going up to her,” Clinton said, “and sitting next to her and taking her in my arms and saying ‘Look, look at me and listen: 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 as president of the United States.'”
She continued, “America is still the greatest country in the world. This is still the place where anyone can beat the odds. It’s up to each and every one of us to keep working to make America better and stronger and fairer.”
Clinton’s speech highlighted an issue she made a central theme of her campaign: helping children. And this may provide a hint about her future plans.
The CDF is a nonprofit advocacy group that has worked for more than 40 years to champion programs for underprivileged children, including efforts to combat poverty, prevent abuse and neglect, and provide access to health care and education. When she graduated from law school, Clinton went to work for the CDF and touted her commitment to the organization in the early stages of her campaign. She even included the group in her nomination acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.
“Never has there been a more urgent time for all of us to help bind our wounds and heal our divisions and work for a nation and world where all children are respected and protected,” Marian Wright Edelman, president of the CDF, said in a statement. “We thank Hillary who has been a tireless voice for children from the Children’s Defense Fund’s beginning as a young staff attorney, then board member and board chair.”
The event also highlighted the stories of five high-achieving students who have overcome adversity to excel academically and give back to their communities. Each of the high school seniors was given a $10,000 scholarship and a laptop computer to help them navigate the college admissions process.
Clinton’s loss to now-President-elect Donald Trump surprised many because most polls leading into Election Day showed her in the lead. But exit polls showed voters were looking for an outsider who could shake up Washington, and for many, Trump fit that mold better than Clinton.
As the last of the election results continue to trickle in, Clinton is actually ahead of Trump in the popular vote by more than 1 million. However, Trump sealed his victory last week by winning the electoral vote 290 to 232 over Clinton.
In the wake of that loss, Clinton’s staff has said she will continue her “commitment to the causes and values that have always motivated her work as an advocate and public servant.”
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