GQ: Mark Penn On Why She Lost

Umm, Bosnian snipers? Bosnia hurt. I think that it was, again, just an example of the mistakes she made as a candidate. I think it eventually died. Remember, see, this is why, when you come back to moments—even New Hampshire—that made a difference for her, they're not about weakness, they're about inner strength. And so I think that, at the end of the campaign, she has broken through here on this question of inauthenticity, and they see her as a true champion for causes that she's fought for. And it took them a long time to see that.

But how do you explain the snipers thing? And not just saying it once, but saying it a few more times? I think she just made a mistake. Look, she clearly remembered something, right? She remembered that there had been a threat. And sometimes I'm astounded by the number of things that she has to remember right. She has to remember every policy, everything she's ever done. I mean, look, it's easy when you— When you don't have a thirty-five-year record, you don't have to remember much. When you've got a thirty-five-year record, you can be held accountable for every single second.

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When you talk about the media and the treatment of her, you know, part of it—in the beginning of the campaign, back when it seemed like she was the inevitable nominee—she was really distant from the press. Don't you think that had something to do with the fact that the press fell in love with Obama? Well…no. [laughs] The press fell in love with him, period.

Why? The press always falls in love with the new cool intellectual candidate. You know, he is their kind of candidate. Go back through history. They didn't like Al Gore. They loved Gary Hart. They love those kinds of candidates, always have. But—but—but look, I think that he was the first African-American, you know, credible presidential candidate was a factor behind how much the press was enthusiastic about him. But she was also the first woman candidate. But the standard… You know, the microscope that they put her under, that they did not put her opponent and opponents under, was just incredible. I don't think anybody has ever been put under this kind of microscope running for president. There were certain times early in the campaign where she would try to be…do what people tell her, and say, "Hey, I'll be more relaxed, I'll tell a little joke." But every time she told the joke, it became a, you know, a federal case. Her words are parsed. Every single word is parsed. By the right, by the left, by the press. In a way that makes it kind of…difficult to just, quote, go out there and let it all hang out. And so she is naturally careful and precise in the things she goes on to say. But I think that during that same time, there were a lot of off-the-record sessions with the press, a lot of behind-the-scenes work she was doing. And over time she gave, you know, she did a lot more going back to the press, and she was great. See, if you go back to some of the myths of the campaign, I'm sure, if you check, that she has far more availabilities than Obama's had. That she has been far more accessible to the press, overall. So the question is who had the impression of who's accessible.

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