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Clinton's Defeat Is An Opportunity To Go Back To The Drawing Board

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We are waiting this morning to hear from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who did not deliver a concession speech overnight but is expected to talk in the next little while. Donald Trump has won the Electoral College and the presidency, as he was able to proclaim in a victory speech early this morning. Clinton does lead in the popular vote, which has no legal effect but would have a political one if that is the final result. Let's talk now with Leslie Wimes of the Democratic African-American Women's Caucus in Florida. Welcome back to the program.

LESLIE WIMES: Hi Steve. Thanks for having me.

INSKEEP: Some weeks ago, we had you on the program and you said very forcefully you didn't think that Hillary Clinton was doing enough to reach out to African-American voters in Florida. Did anything change after we talked?

WIMES: Nothing changed after we talked. She and her campaign did not do as I suggested and get into the African-American community and engage. What they did was they continued with the surrogates. President Obama made several more trips to Florida, to Orlando, to South Florida. Other surrogates came, and, as you can see, Hillary Clinton did not win Florida.

INSKEEP: Well, tell me then. Are you saying that this was, all along, a winnable election - that the campaign just didn't get the the technical aspects of it right?

WIMES: No question about it. She could have blown Donald Trump away if she had engaged her most faithful demographic voting bloc, the African-Americans. And it actually extends beyond Florida, as you can see - Pennsylvania, Michigan. You know, all she needed to do was engage the community, and she did not do that. And as you can see, we have a President Donald Trump.

INSKEEP: Although, what do you make of people who've said all morning long that the public seemed to want change, or a large part of the country seemed to want change, and Trump was able to sell himself as the change that was available and even people who didn't necessarily think he was qualified seemed to have voted for him?

WIMES: Well, I agree with that. When you look - when you go back to the primary and you look at Bernie Sanders, he was definitely for change, and you see all of the people that that really resonated with his - or, his message resonated with. With Donald Trump, it was a similar thing. And Hillary Clinton represented the establishment in a climate where people really wanted change. And we see now that President Trump, President-elect Trump is what we have. So I agree with that. I agree that people wanted change, but for Hillary Clinton, if she wanted to overcome that she needed to do a lot more, and she didn't do that so...

INSKEEP: How big a defeat is this for Democrats and for you, for people that you care about?

WIMES: It is a huge defeat, but I think that it's an opportunity to go back to the drawing board. I think that there's a lot of housecleaning that needs to be done. For me, as a Florida resident, particularly with the Florida Democratic Party, I think we have a chair. We have an executive director. We need to clean house totally. I mean I don't - I'm not going to put the complete blame on the Hillary campaign because, you know, our chair and our director, they knew the climate and they could have directed her and they did not do that so I think that in addition to her defeat, we need to clean house here.

INSKEEP: Let me just have - we've just got a few seconds here but I'd like to know - there were about 8 percent of African-Americans who voted for Donald Trump. Not a large number, but a number. And he says he wants to be a president for everyone. In a few seconds, do you think there's something good that you could get out of this presidency?

WIMES: I think that's the African-Americans telling the Democratic Party to stop taking our vote for granted. I think that's the African-Americans telling the Democratic Party that you have to court our vote and that we're tired of you just assuming that because you're Democrats and we're Democrats that you can count on us and you don't have to address our issues.

INSKEEP: Leslie Wimes, of the Democratic African-American Women Caucus in Florida, thanks very much again.

WIMES: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.