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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Campaign Update

Kristina Schake, Deputy Communications Director, Hillary for America
Philadelphia, PA
July 28, 2016

Date: 07/28/2016 Location: Philadelphia, PA Description: Kristina Schake, Deputy Communications Director, Hillary for America, briefs foreign journalists at the Foreign Press Center briefing center at the 2016 Democratic National Convention - State Dept Image

2:00 P.M. EDT


MODERATOR: (In progress) briefing room at the Democratic National Convention. I’m very pleased today to have an update from the Hilary for America Campaign. We are pleased to welcome today Kristina Schake, who is deputy director of communications for Hillary for America. Previously, Ms. Schake served as communications director to First Lady Michelle Obama. As with all briefings this week, remarks by Ms. Schake do not reflect the views of the State Department.

Without further ado, Ms. Schake. Thank you.

MS SCHAKE: Hi. Hi, good afternoon. I thought I’d give you just a little update and then I’m happy to answer any of your questions. So – oh, can you not hear me? Is that better? Okay.

So Hillary Clinton is still working on her remarks for tonight. She has been spending several weeks thinking about what she wants to say tonight and then working on them with her speechwriters and also with her husband. He knows her voice extremely well, having spent years by her side, and so he’s helping her craft the message that she wants to give tonight to the American people.

We are so thrilled with this Democratic convention. She has had quite a setup to her historic acceptance tonightof the nomination as the first woman ever to be president of the United States. We started this week with First Lady Michelle Obama, who gave a phenomenal speech, and she really focused on why she is supporting Hillary. She talked about the important role that the president of the United States has as a role model for American children and why she feels so confident in Hillary as the choice to be the president of the United States for her own daughters. Michelle Obama has made work on behalf of children the center of her life’s work, as has Hillary, and so she talked a lot about Hillary’s record of fighting for America’s children.

We also had that night Senator Warren. Senator Sanders gave an incredibly enthusiastic endorsement of Hillary Clinton. And we were really proud on Tuesday night to hear from President Clinton, who spoke about who Hillary is as a person, what she’s fought for her entire life, her values. They met in the spring of 1971, and he talked about his years of watching her be just an incredible change maker for American families.

So last night, as you saw, we had an extraordinary evening here, with Vice President Biden really making the case for Hillary Clinton, someone he has fought alongside of for years, and really vouched for her and talked about why she needs to be the president of the United States.

We had the introduction of Senator Kaine, who is Hillary’s choice to be our vice president, who gave an incredible speech about his own background. A week ago, Senator Kaine was a senator from Virginia, and he really has had an introduction to the United States, to all of its voters, in the last week – less than a week, actually. And last night, people heard about his compelling story, how he’s always been drawn to public service, his work – missionary work in Honduras as a young man, his work as a civil rights attorney, and then as governor and senator from Virginia.

And then, of course, we had the magnificent speech by President Obama. And last night, our theme was really about leadership, and we had a number of different speakers talking about why Hillary Clinton is the right choice to be president of the United States and also making really compelling contrasts to who Donald Trump is and his vision for this country. So she’s had an incredible setup. Tonight is going to be a very personal speech for her. We’ve heard a lot of people vouching for her, talking about who she is, her values, what she’s fought for, and tonight you’re going to hear her do that in her own words.

What she’s also going to do is talk about what she would do as president of the United States. Hillary has a very old-fashioned idea that when you’re running for American president you owe it to people to talk about what you would actually do, what your real plans are. That’s, of course, in direct contrast to Donald Trump, who really hasn’t laid out any plans for this country in terms of how to create jobs or how to make college more affordable. And the plans that he has laid out are actually quite dangerous, like how he’s talked about how we wouldn’t stand by our European allies.

So she’s going to draw a contrast to him, and we’re expecting to have just an extraordinary end to our Democratic convention here. And it’s really in contrast to what you saw last week in Cleveland, and President Obama talked about that last night. In Cleveland, Donald Trump – the vision that he has for this country is one where Americans turn on each other and don’t stand by our allies. And that is not the country that President Obama said he knows, and it’s certainly not the country that Hillary Clinton will lead. That is not her vision for this country. And so you’re going to see her lay that out this evening.

So with that, I will take any questions. Yes.

QUESTION: Hello. Thank you for being here. My name is Olivier O’Mahony with Paris Match, French magazine. You didn’t mention Chelsea. What is she going to – she’s going to introduce her mother. How is she preparing herself to do that, and what is she going to talk about tonight?

MS SCHAKE: I’m so glad you asked. So Chelsea is going to introduce her mother tonight. This is going to be a very heartfelt speech. She is going to talk about her mom and how proud she is of her, and she’s also going to talk about herself as a mother and why it’s so important for her own two children that people support Hillary Clinton for president. So it’s going to be a very heartfelt, very personal introduction. Chelsea’s been working on it for several weeks.

And this is a real moment. As Americans and as the rest of the world, we have watched Chelsea grow up before our eyes. She moved into the White House as a young girl. We’ve seen her just blossom into an incredible young woman. And she’s going to talk tonight as the daughter of Hillary Clinton but also as a mother and why this election is so important to her.

Chelsea’s done more than a hundred events across this country campaigning for her mother. She’s spoken to thousands of Americans about their concerns, the issues that they care about, and really shared with them her mother’s values and what her mother would do as president to really make a difference in their lives. And so she’s going to bring that experience of campaigning all across the country and really speak to our nation tonightabout who her mom is.

Okay. Other questions for me? Yes.

QUESTION: Do you think that Hillary Clinton – sorry, Juliano Basile, Valor Economico, Brazilian newspaper. Do you think that Hillary Clinton is going to get high numbers in the polls just after the convention, because this happened to Donald Trump also?

MS SCHAKE: Yes. What paper did you say you’re from?

QUESTION: It’s a Brazilian financial newspaper, Valor Economico.

MS SCHAKE: Right. Great. Okay. Thank you for being here. It’s going to be interesting. I think we’ve had record numbers of viewers this week, as a lot of Americans have tuned in to watch this convention. And we expect people to really respond to what they saw here, which was a very positive view of where America is and if we work together what we can do, and so is in direct contrast to what you saw the Republicans offer the American people last week in Cleveland. We hope that people really respond to her message of, as Americans, we are stronger when we stand together, when we respect each other, and when we stand by our allies.

And so it’s different in American politics than it used to be years ago. You don’t see as much of a bounce coming out of conventions, partly because just the media has changed over the years, people have been paying more attention for longer. It’s a little bit different than the way it used to be. But we’re really proud of the convention that we put on this week, and we think we have had a really important, positive message for the American people.

And also I’ll say we’re going to – Hillary is going to be doing a big rally with Tim Kaine tomorrow in front of Independence Hall here in Philadelphia, and then they’re going to kick off a bus tour, where they are going to campaign through Pennsylvania and Ohio for the next few days, really reaching out to voters to talk about their plans to create jobs in this country.

Yeah. Sorry. Oh, okay. Right there.

QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Silvia. I work for Radio France International, for the Spanish service. So I have three questions, but they are all about the speech tonight.

MS SCHAKE: Yes, please.

QUESTION: So they are related.


QUESTION: So you said that it’s going to be a personal speech. So is one of the reasons the fact that actually she seems to be struggling a little bit of how people see her, like not very warm, or this is what usually, you know, is said about her. Second question is you mentioned that it’s going to be also a contrast with Donald Trump. Is she going to mention Donald Trump during her speech? And third, is she going to call for unity in her speech, especially having seen that there are still some opposition from some Bernie Sanders followers? Thank you.

MS SCHAKE: Sure. Okay. I’ll start with the unity question. We are Democrats so we’re a very passionate party. So you saw that this week. And people who are here, the delegates who are here, are the strongest supporters for each candidates. They’re the people who’ve gotten out there and worked and campaigned for over a year. So we saw a lot of that passion here this week. But our campaigns have worked very closely together to unify our party, and we’re incredibly grateful to Senator Sanders for doing that. He gave her such an enthusiastic endorsement on Monday, and he’s worked so closely with our team to bring our two campaigns together.

And we – these are two candidates – Hillary actually mathematically won the nomination long before it was over. But out of respect for the voters in every state, these are two candidates who took the primary all the way to the end, with the final primary in Washington, D.C. And last night, you saw that we did a roll call – actuallyon Tuesday night you saw we did a roll call where we called on all the states, because Hillary really wanted to respect every delegate who’s here.

So we are working very hard to unify our party. I know that there’s a small group of people who’ve been pretty vocal. I think you’ve seen it here in opposition to certain policies. But the truth is we agree on 99 percent, and together we put together the boldest, most progressive platform the Democratic Party’s ever had. So we’re really proud of how our two campaigns have come together. And I think it’s been an exceptional week of us really working together to talk about the stakes of this election and why it’s so important to elect Hillary Clinton. Senator Sanders said that himself time and again, that he is going to campaign from coast to coast in this country to make sure she is elected president of the United States. So we’re really proud of that.

On your question about Donald Trump, she’s finishing the speech right now, so sorry, I haven’t seen the final. But she is certainly going to draw a contrast to who this man really is. I mean, this a person, as President Obama said last night, who’s 70 years old and is saying he’s going to be the champion of everyday working Americans. But if you actually look at his track record, he has never been out for anybody but himself. I mean, he has left a trail of bankruptcies and unpaid bills to small businesses and un-kept promises to students who actually invested in his university, which he didn’t deliver. And that was actually incredibly sad because it preyed on really vulnerable Americans – senior citizens, single mothers – to get them to invest in an education and try to improve their lives, and he just didn’t deliver.

So we’re certainly going to make that contrast, that this is a person who’s never stood up for working Americans and now is asking to be your champion when there’s nothing in his background that shows that he’s ever done that. And also that he has – very erratic, unsteady man who does dangerous plans for this country, both economically and in terms of foreign policy. And economically, we had John McCain’s former economic adviser saying that if you look at the plans that he’s actually proposed so far, it would result in a lengthy recession for the United States, it would cost us 3.5 million American jobs, and it would explode our national debt. And in terms of foreign policy, you’ve even had prominent Republicans come forward and say these are dangerous and wrong policies for the United States. So we’re certainly going to make that case.

And on your first question, Hillary has been in the public eye for a very long time. And I travel with her a lot, and I’m always surprised when I’m out on the road with her. When you talk to people about her, they certainly know the prominent role she’s played for this country as our secretary of state, as a New York senator, as first lady. But a lot of Americans, especially younger Americans, don’t know a lot about her life before that. They don’t actually know that she got into public service to be a children’s advocate and the work that she’s done her entire life fighting for vulnerable children.

So we spent a lot of time this week really talking to Americans about that, and I think President Clinton talked about this on Tuesday night in a really meaningful way. But Hillary’s always been on the forefront of change. She’s been fighting for universal health care for decades. She’s been fighting for equal pay for women. She’s been fighting for vulnerable children. And when you’re at the vanguard of change you’re always attacked, and she certainly has the bumps and bruises to show that. But it’s important for us to get out there and talk to people about her values, what she’s done, how she’s really delivered for the American people. And she knows she has some work to do in terms of people trusting her, and she’s going to get out there and work her heart out to earn people’s vote.


QUESTION: Thanks a lot for this. Tolga Tanis with Hurriyet Turkish daily. Despite all the differences in Turkish politics, Turkish Americans seem very unified until the leadership – under the leadership of Madam Secretary until recently. But after the coup, there’s a debate right now among the Turkish Americans here as well.

MS SCHAKE: I am so sorry. I can’t – it’s so loud in here, I can’t hear you very well. Sorry.

QUESTION: My question is about the tendency of the Turkish Americans living in the U.S. and their support to Hillary campaign.


QUESTION: Until recently, Madam Secretary was actually – had unified the Turkish Americans here in United States, despite all their differences. AKP supporters, seculars, other groups were supporting Hillary as a majority among the Turkish Americans. But after the coup, there is a debate among the Turkish Americans as well, since there are high-level Gulenists in the campaign, as in high-level officials who are working in the campaign.

So my question is – Madam Secretary actually clarified our position on this, but how do you see this debate triggered in between U.S. and Turkey, especially Mr. Fethullah Gulen, who’s living in Pennsylvania? And are you on the same page with the Administration’s stance on this issue? And anything that you would like to add.

MS SCHAKE: You know what? I’m not sure I have anything to add beyond what Hillary’s statements have been, which it’s so important to stand with our allies and respect the rule of law. She had really strong statements after the coup, and I don’t know that I have anything else to add, except to say that I think at a time like this, at such a complex and dangerous time in the world, with things happening like what happened in Turkey and what we’ve seen certainly in France, how important it is to have steady leadership and to have someone with the knowledge and understanding of world affairs and the relationships with world leaders to be able to lead us through this time.

And that’s something she’s going to talk about tonight. She was incredibly proud to serve in President Obama’s Administration, to serve as secretary of state. And as he said last night, that she is the most qualified person ever to run for president, including more qualified than he was and more qualified than her husband was, and it’s partly because of her experience as secretary of state.


QUESTION: Hello. I’m Daniel Krugman* from FFM Liberty African Diaspora Radio.

MS SCHAKE: Thank you for being here.

QUESTION: My pleasure. What African immigrants should expect from Hillary’s speech tonight? And also, in order to convince them, those who still undecided about voting?

And my second question will be: If she’s elected as the president, is she going to have a strong relationship like the way Obama did with the African leader?

MS SCHAKE: As I said, Hillary was so proud to serve as our nation’s secretary of state and traveled all over the world, including extensively through Africa, to represent this country and really build strong relationships with other world leaders and with other world communities. I think what you’re going to hear her say tonight is she’s going to talk about herself and her values and what she’s fought for, including standing up for women and girls all over the world. And she’s also going to talk about America’s important role as a global leader and how we have to stand by our allies and build relationships; that we can’t be, as Americans, divided against each other, but we also cannot isolate ourselves from the world, and really, really have to stand with our allies and build strong relationships.

So you’re going to see her do that tonight. She’s going to lay out her plans extensively of what she would do here in the United States to create jobs and raise incomes. As I said, Hillary really has an old-fashioned belief that when you run for president, you owe it to the American people to talk about what you would do as president. You’re going to see her do that tonight where she’s going to talk about what she would do here, but the kind of leader she would be representing America and the world.

QUESTION: Jose Carreno with Excelsior in Mexico City.


QUESTION: Everything you said and Mrs. Clinton say is rational, solid, reliable, et cetera. Well, how would you go face to face with somebody who is willing and wishing and hoping to be trashy? I mean, there was a --

MS SCHAKE: Somebody who’s willing to be what?


MS SCHAKE: Trashy, yeah.

QUESTION: Yeah. How do you – I mean, the guy is like Don Rickles or playing Don Rickles in politics.


QUESTION: And how do you face somebody willing to go there and speaking to the feelings of a group with rationality?

MS SCHAKE: Yes. It’s such a good question and I would say, as a campaign, we follow Hillary’s lead, as she is a person who has dealt with attacks, she’s dealt with inaccuracies, people saying things about her that aren’t true and are wrong her entire life. And her response to this in running against Trump is she will not stoop to his level. She will not do it. We saw in the Republican primary it was really a race to the bottom in terms of insulting each other. That’s not who she is. That’s not who she is as a woman and it’s certainly not who she is as a leader.

And so what she has said is he can do that all he wants. She’s tough enough to take it. But she is going to focus on what she would do for the United States of America as our president, and what she’s more concerned about is the people he attacks – hardworking immigrants, Muslim Americans, women, disabled Americans. She’s in this fight to stand up for them, so she’s tough enough to take it. He can do whatever he wants, but she’s really going to focus on what she would do for the American people.

QUESTION: Hey, my name is Paul Middlehoff. I’m with ZeitOnline, a German news website. I was wondering, how worried are you guys about Trump being actually ahead in the recent polls?

MS SCHAKE: We always knew this was going to be a tough and tight election. We knew that from the beginning, no matter who the Republican nominee was. That’s how American elections have been. And we have prepared for that. We are building a campaign all across this country to fight for every vote in every state. We’re really proud of the campaign that we’ve built. You’ve seen here in Pennsylvania the incredible organizers that we have already on the ground.

But Hillary goes into this eyes wide open. She knows this is going to be a tough fight and she’s going to get out there and work her heart out and we really take nothing for granted.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS SCHAKE: We did expect it to be like this. This is just the way American elections go now in terms of the division within our country, in terms of voting Democratic or Republican. So we have, from day one, when she launched this campaign last summer, no matter who the Republican nominee was going to be, we expected it to be this tight. And that’s why she has really built a campaign in all 50 states, really proud of the campaign that we’ve built. We’re going to have hundreds of people on the ground in states like Pennsylvania fighting for every vote and you’re going to see her. She’s going to start tomorrow, Friday, on a bus tour through Pennsylvania and Ohio, really working. She’s going to be in parts of the state that a lot of people consider Republican country, places where they don’t expect her to win. It’s Hillary’s nature to get in there and fight for every vote, and so she’s going to be out there making her case of why her presidency is right for working Americans and how she has real plans to make a difference in their lives.

QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Bingru Wang with Hong Kong Phoenix TV. Yesterday on the stage, a few Asian American congressmen were on the stage supporting Secretary Clinton, and they also mentioned in those swing states, Asian voters actually matter. So I wonder, what’s the – what role does Asian voters play in your strategy? Thank you.

MS SCHAKE: A very important role. I say that Hillary in the primaries was very proud that she is the only candidate who built a broad, strong coalition. She was strongly supported by African Americans, Asian Pacific Islanders, Latinos, seniors, women. She put together a coalition that really reflected the diversity of the United States. And Asian American voters are going to be very important to us, especially in some key swing states. We’re really proud of the leadership you saw yesterday on the stage of the leaders who have come forth to endorse her, and we’re going to work really hard for their vote.

Anything else?

MODERATOR: No questions?

MS SCHAKE: All right.

MODERATOR: Okay. Well, if we don’t have any additional questions, I’d like to thank you very much again, Ms. Schake, for joining us.

MS SCHAKE: Thank you. Thank you all for being here. I really appreciate you coming to cover this. This is such an important election for us and it’s clearly an important election for the world. Hillary really believes that. So I’m just so impressed and grateful that you all made the trip to cover this convention. Thank you.

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