Hillary Clinton just delivered the commencement address at Wellesley College, her alma mater.
During her speech on Friday morning, Clinton spent a significant chunk of time criticizing President Donald Trump, at one point comparing him to Richard Nixon. She recalled what life was like back in 1969 when she last spoke at Wellesley College, using a description which applies to Nixon but which she was also clearly applying to Donald Trump.
“We were furious about the past presidential election of a man whose presidency would eventually end in disgrace with his impeachment for obstruction of justice after firing the person running the investigation into him at the Department of Justice,” Clinton said.
Clinton also criticized Trump for his recent budget proposal, which she called a “trillion dollar mathematical lie,” “a con,” and “an attack of unimaginable cruelty.”
In addition, she said that the Trump Administration’s denial of reality and use of “alternative” facts could lead to an authoritarian regime.
“When people in power invent their own facts and attack those who question them, it can mark the beginning of the end of a free society,” Clinton said. “That is not hyperbole. It is what authoritarian regimes throughout history have done. They attempt to control reality.”
Speaking directly to the students of Wellesley, Clinton challenged them to stand up for what they believe in over these next four years, and maybe to even run for office themselves, even if they are called names along the way.
“In the years to come, there will be trolls galore, online and in person,” Clinton said. “They may even call you a nasty woman.”
Hillary Clinton graduated from Wellesley College in 1969, majoring in political science. During this time, she was the president of Wellesley’s Young Republicans club, though she would later say that she changed her political views following the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement. Clinton cited this time as a young Republican during her commencement today, encouraging students to engage with those they disagree with politically.
In 1969, Hillary Clinton delivered the commencement address at Wellesley College, becoming the first student to do so. A guest speaker at that commencement ceremony was Republican Senator Edward Brooke, who spoke out against the idea of protesting. Clinton in her speech took on Brooke, breaking from her prepared remarks to do so.
“This has to be very quick because I do have a little speech to give,” Clinton said, according to NPR. “Part of the problem with just empathy with professed goals is that empathy doesn’t do us anything. We’ve had lots of empathy; we’ve had lots of sympathy, but we feel that for too long our leaders have viewed politics as the art of the possible. And the challenge now is to practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible possible.”
Clinton received a standing ovation for her speech, and the remarks made national news, being covered in The New York Times and The Washington Post. The school administrators, however, were not happy that she criticized a guest speaker. Clinton has not spoke at Wellesley College since then.
Hillary Clinton has only made a few public appearances since losing the November election, the most recent before today being a Women for Women International event earlier this month. During that event, Clinton said that she believes she lost the election in part due to James Comey’s letter to Congress at the end of October. However, she did take some personal responsibility for the loss.
“Of course, I take absolute personal responsibility,” Clinton said. “I was the candidate. I was the person who was on the ballot. I am very aware of the challenges, the problems, the shortfalls that we had.”
She also said that misogyny played a role in her loss.
“It is real, it is very much a part of the landscape, politically, socially and economically…” Clinton said of misogyny. “…Yes, it was a role in this election.”