Hillary Clinton called on her supporters to continue their work building a better, stronger, and fairer America in her first public remarks since conceding the presidential election.
"I know many of you are deeply disappointed about the results of the election. I am too, more than I can ever express," Clinton said Wednesday night. "But our campaign was never about one person or one election. It was about the country we love and building an America that is hopeful, that is inclusive, that is big-hearted."
Clinton spoke at an event held by the Children's Defense Fund, the nonprofit organization where she once served as a staff attorney, then later as a board member. Speaking publicly was not easy, Clinton said, but she was inspired by the people she had met through the organization who had overcome poverty and other challenges.
"Coming here tonight wasn’t the easiest thing for me," Clinton said. "There have been a few times this past week when all I wanted to do was just curl up with a good book and our dogs and never leave the house again."
But, Clinton said she was inspired by the people she had met through the organization, including young adults who were succeeding in school in spite of poverty and other challenges in their lives.
"You refuse to stop pushing, and when you get knocked down, you get back up," she said.
To her supporters in the crowd, Clinton emphasized the continued importance of working to end child poverty.
"This isn't someone else's problem," she said. "These aren't someone else's children. This is America's problem because they are America's children."
When she started her career in public service, Clinton said she never considered the possibility of holding the office of president.
"I did decide to be an activist, to use my law degree to help kids," she said. "Every child deserves to have the opportunity to live up to his or her God-given potential. As we move forward into a new, and in many ways uncertain future, that must be the test for America, and for ourselves."
Clinton urged the crowd to hold on to their values and look for common ground across party lines. The 2016 campaign, after all, had brought the issues of child care and family leave into the national spotlight within both parties, she said.
"We have work to do, and for the sake of our children and our families and our country, I ask you to stay engaged," she said. "Stay engaged at every level. We need you. America needs you."
Clinton acknowledged the deep divide within the US revealed by the election, and she told the audience to not lose heart.
"America is worth it. Our children are worth it," she said. "Believe in our country, fight for our values, and never, ever give up."
Claudia Koerner is a national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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