John Podesta talked about his time as chairman of Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign in an interview with Politico. In this particular portion, he is asked by Politico's Susan Glasser about campaign infighting and the loss of the all-important 'blue wall' states -- Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
"I think, you know, if those 70,000 votes had gone differently in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, that we would have all been geniuses, and they would have written a very different book," Podesta said of the campaign.
Podesta spoke about his relationship with campaign manager Robby Mook.
"I actually think we got along pretty well, and I think if you—and as the book was—as other reporters talked to people inside the campaign, you know, it’s not like there’s not—there’s always sort of like little grains of truth in this," Podesta said of Mook. "And sometimes, Robby and I disagreed about strategy."
"But, you know, I think he’s an extraordinarily talented person who did what I think was a heroic task of putting together a massive campaign across the country. And our fights were always contained inside the building, and we usually worked them out, and he and I remain friends," he said.
Transcript, via Politico:
Glasser: Amazing how much we’re doing both Kremlinology, and Trumpology these days, when we talk about Washington. You’ve had a long and very distinguished career here in Washington; what is next for you? If Hillary Clinton is not running again, is John Podesta running again in some way?
Podesta: Running to the West Coast to live with more like-minded people. You know, I’ve had a good run in politics. I think that I’m obviously heartbroken that she’s not president of the United States, but you know, I’m thankful for the fact that I had the chance to render public service to two great presidents, and I’m—when I went back to work for President Obama, as you know, Susan, I was trying to ensure that he was successful on the—particularly with respect to climate and energy transformation toward a cleaner energy system. So, I’m spending some time just in my capacity as a private citizen, trying to push back on the excesses that this administration has shown toward ignoring climate change, appointing a climate denier to head the EPA, the wrecking ball that they’ve taken to the environment. So, I’m, again, I’m a kind of citizen activist, and I’m trying to deal from that perspective.
Glasser: And do you talk much with Mrs. Clinton or President Clinton these days? What would you say their mood is?
Podesta: You know, I talk to both of them. They’re in New York; I’m here, so I see them less frequently, obviously. Talk to them on the phone. I had dinner with him recently. Look, I think they’re both—they’ve devoted their entire lives, as I said, to try to improve the conditions for people here, and around the world, and I think they’re trying to figure out what their contribution is going to be going forward. The president, I think, is re-engaged with the foundation and trying to find ways in which he can use his voice and his presence to, you know, tackle issues around global poverty, around health care, around the world, as he’s done, and here at home, to try to be a positive voice for change. He’s been very engaged in the fight against childhood obesity, and I’m sure he’s going to find important ways for him to remain active and present. I think the same thing is true of Hillary. I think as she now is back out and talking to people, I think people are encouraging her to do what she’s always done, which is to make a positive difference for people. If I had to speculate—this is based more on what—because I know her more—
Glasser: I would say, it would be informed speculation.
Podesta: Than what she said. I think she’s working on a book. She’s trying to figure out what platform that she will use to make change happen, but I am quite confident, as she’s done all her life, to—that the fight for a more peaceful world, more equality, for—to lift up women and girls around the world will be her mission, and you know, we need her out there, because she does good things when she’s engaged.
Glasser: You’ve been in a lot of campaigns in your life. If this was your last campaign, there’s been an account that’s come out that said this was, you know, a very dysfunctional campaign, lots of infighting between you and the campaign manager, Robby Mook. Was it really more dysfunctional than other campaigns you’ve been in?
Podesta: No, I think, you know, if those 70,000 votes had gone differently in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, that we would have all been geniuses, and they would have written a very different book. I think it was a—you know, it was a moment that they captured. I actually think we got along pretty well, and I think if you—and as the book was—as other reporters talked to people inside the campaign, you know, it’s not like there’s not—there’s always sort of like little grains of truth in this, and sometimes, Robby and I disagreed about strategy or—
Glasser: Well, you just pointed out, you wanted to be more in Wisconsin, for example.
Podesta: But, you know, I think he’s an extraordinarily talented person who did what I think was a heroic task of putting together a massive campaign across the country. And our fights were always contained inside the building, and we usually worked them out, and he and I remain friends, and I think that I didn’t really—I have to say, first of all, I didn’t read the book, but as I read accounts of the book, I don’t recognize the campaign that they described. Was there arm-wrestling? There is in every campaign, but I think this was one where, you know, people tried to stay in harness, and I think they believed in the cause, and were proud of what we were able to do. So, I’ll let others be the judge of whether that bears any resemblance to internal reality.