Hillary Clinton, making an emotional plea, urged supporters “not to give up” and to “stay engaged” in politics at a charity gala in Washington D.C. Wednesday night.
The appearance, which aides say was planned long before last week’s stunning loss, marked Clinton’s first public remarks since conceding the election to President-elect Donald Trump.
“I know many of you are deeply disappointed about the results of the election,” she said to the crowd at a Children’s Defense Fund gala. “I am too, more than I can ever express.”
Clinton said appearing in public wasn’t the easiest thing for her.
“There have been a few times this past week when all I wanted to do is just to curl up with a good book or our dogs and never leave the house again,” the former presidential nominee said.
Nevertheless, she attempted to inspire her audience and emphasized a line of Martin Luther King Jr. that is oft quoted by President Barack Obama throughout her speech: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
During the rest of her speech, she emphasized bipartisanship, advocacy, volunteerism and investing in the children of the United States — no matter their race, religion or immigration status.
“America is worth it. Our children are worth it,” she said. “Believe in our country, fight for our values and never, ever give up.”
The event itself was rather fitting: Clinton was honored by the Children’s Defense Fund for “a lifetime of service.”
And the idea of service was integral to her speech.
“Service is the rent we pay for living,” Clinton told the crowd. “You don’t get to stop paying rent just because things didn’t go your way.”
Clinton also said she wanted to go back in time and tell her own mother of all her accomplishments:
“I dream of going up to her and sitting next to her and taking her in my arms and saying, ‘Look, look at me and listen. You will survive. You will have a family of your own: three children. And as hard as it might be to imagine, your daughter will grow up to be a United States Senator, represent our country as Secretary of State and win more than 62 million votes for president of the United States.'”
Clinton mentioned her time at the organization, but said there was still work to do, citing the more than 31 million children still living at or near the poverty line.
She was introduced by Marian Wright Edelman, a longtime friend and mentor who founded the Children’s Defense Fund in 1973.
“I am so proud of her in so many ways,” Wright Edelman said, before noting that Clinton is leading in the popular vote. “So we’re going to say she’s the people’s president.”
Clinton discussed how influential Edelman was in her life, considering Edelman’s important work during the Civil Rights era, before discussing their work together from the 1970s to present day.
In some ways, the charity gala felt like a standard election season event: Clinton staffers littered the auditorium, members of her press corps reassembled and the campaign videographer filmed the entire event.
After the brief trip to Washington, Clinton was set to return to New York. She has no further public events on her immediate calendar.