Robert Gibbs: It Wasn’t Racism, Hillary Lost Because She Had No Economic Message

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump wait for the candidate to walk the line after speaking to a rally at Macomb Community College, Friday, March 4, 2016, in Warren, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

President Barack Obama’s former press secretary Robert Gibbs faulted Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign for failing to have a dynamic economic message that applied to working class voters, and ridiculed the suggestion that voters voted for Donald Trump because they were racists.

“The truth is, the party didn’t have an economic message,” Gibbs said. “The party didn’t fight in places that it should have.”

Gibbs, who now works for McDonalds as the Global Chief Communications officer, explained that his biggest surprise was that Clinton failed so badly in Michigan, pointing out that Obama won the state by 16 points in 2008 and 10 points in 2012.

“We have a lot of people that are going through economic strife and turmoil and the truth is we were going to elect a president who was going to represent all of those people so you got to go to those places,” Gibbs said.

He made his remarks as part of an ongoing post-election therapy session held by former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau and former senior adviser Dan Pfieffer on their Keepin’ it 1600 podcast.

Gibbs cited Bay County, Michigan — a county that was 95 percent white with a median household income of $45,000 and only four out of five people didn’t have a college degree. He reminded the audience that Obama won the country by 3,000 votes in 2008, but that Clinton lost the county by 7,000 votes.

“There’s all this kind of, I think, commentary devoid of real reality that somehow there’s this big racist vote that came out for Donald Trump,” Gibbs said. “You talk about a 95 percent white county that voted twice for Barack Hussein Obama. They didn’t become racist in the last four years.”


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