'I never wanted to leave the house': Clinton makes first speech since crushing defeat to Trump

Beaten Democratic candidate takes to the stage for first public appearance since election at the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington, D.C., encouraging supporters not to lose hope

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Hillary Clinton has told her supporters to never give up on making a lasting impact in politics.

In her first post-election appearance since her crushing defeat at the hands of Donald Trump, the former Secretary of State admitted at times she felt like never leaving the house again.

“I will admit, coming here tonight wasn’t the easiest thing for me,” she said at a charity gala for the Children’s Defence Fund in Washington, DC. “There have been a few times this past week where all I wanted to do was just to curl up with a good book and our dogs and never leave the house again.”

She acknowledged her supporters’ disappointment and admitted that it was one of the hardest public appearances she’d have to make over the year.

But she told them: “We need you. America needs your energy.”

Ms Clinton’s surprising loss threw her party into a period of intense soul-searching, with an ascendant liberal wing blaming Ms Clinton’s campaign for failing to embrace a more populist economic message. In private calls with donors and Democratic officials, Ms Clinton has largely attributed her defeat to the decision by the FBI to re-examine her use of a private server as secretary of state. 

In her remarks, Ms Clinton offered no accounting for any failures she may have made during her presidential campaign, though she admitted that the past week hadn’t been easy. 

She chose friendly ground to make her first public appearance since her emotional concession speech in New York City last Wednesday. Her first job out of law school in the 1970s was for Children’s Defence Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman. She later became a staff attorney and chairman of the group’s board. 

Throughout her campaign, she cited her work for the group as her “north star”, sparking her interest in standing up against injustice towards children and families. 

The group, which helps disadvantaged children, tried to return some of the affection on Wednesday night. 

“We love her and we appreciate all the hard work she has done and say it’s not going to be for naught,” said Edelman, in her introductory remarks. “We’re going to say that she is the people’s president.” 

Still, in a sign of Ms Clinton’s new life as a private citizen, the event lacked many of the trappings of her presidential campaign. Security was light and she travelled with only a handful of aides. 

Sprinkled throughout the small theatre where she addressed donors and supporters were a handful of empty seats.