If you were a supporter of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign, chances are you don’t want to spend a lot of time reliving it all. By any measure, Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump ranks as one of the most significant and unexpected events in American political history, and on so many levels, it still feels like it couldn’t have happened. But it did! However, not all flashbacks to the Clinton campaign are sad and somber ― like this video of Hillary Clinton’s debate prep, posted by her former adviser and Trump stand-in, Philippe Reines.
Reines, a longtime Clinton aide with a reportedly sharp disposition, really got into the act when it came time to portray then-candidate Trump in debate prep. As Annie Karni detailed in a sprawling profile for Politico, this included hammering down Trump’s posture, mannerisms, distinct hand gestures, and even wearing shoes with three-inch lifts to ape the GOP nominee’s height.
In short, he went all-in for a period of three months, trying to prepare Clinton for any trick Trump might pull in the debate. As he revealed in a tweet on Friday afternoon, that included what to do if Trump tried to give her one of his awkward, jerking, half-handshake hugs. And as the video from the prep session shows, Clinton was having none of it.
Not easy to avoid the unwanted Trump hug, sometimes it even takes practice…
A favorite moment from debate prep (9/24/16): pic.twitter.com/JAAHaqKFoa
— Philippe Reines (@PhilippeReines) May 19, 2017
When Reines goes in for the hug, Clinton reacts with what one might consider an appropriate amount of revulsion, slapping Reines on the hand and trying to dart past him. Reines doesn’t let her escape, however ― he tracks her down from behind, hugs her, and appears to plant a kiss on the back of her head, as her aides can be heard laughing in the background.
Reines’ tweet was met with delight on social media. Later in the day, Clinton herself responded with a retweet, saying it made her “burst out laughing.”
It’s the kind of light, unscripted moment that people often think politicians should show more of to the public. That’s certainly true in Clinton’s case, who struggled with low popularity ratings, and was frequently criticized for the tightly controlled nature of her political persona. Behind the scenes, people close to the former Democratic nominee have sometimes characterized her as a warm, funny, and sharp-witted person, perhaps part of the reason she instills such fierce loyalty in the people close to her.
But whether it was because she wasn’t comfortable campaigning that way, or whether the campaign concluded the voters wouldn’t take to it, it wasn’t so much on public display. But if you’ve got 20 seconds, and want to watch her desperately try to dodge an excruciatingly awkward hug just the way you might if somebody ambushed you, now’s the time to do it.