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Trump and Clinton staffers shout at each other about white supremacy at Harvard event

Clinton aides: The Trump campaign gave racism a platform. Trump aides: We won.

Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri and Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway
Joe Kohen/WireImage/Getty, Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty
Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts — Staffers from the Trump and Clinton campaigns gathered at a post-campaign conference at Harvard that devolved into a furious round of shouting and condemnations Thursday afternoon.

Several aides who worked on the Clinton campaign accused the Trump campaign and incoming White House chief strategist Steve Bannon of promoting racism, demagoguery, and white supremacy during a panel.

Responding to a Trump aide’s praise of Bannon as a “brilliant strategist,” Jennifer Palmieri, who was the communications director for the Clinton campaign, said: “If providing a platform for white supremacists makes me a brilliant tactician, I am glad to have lost.” She added: “I would rather lose than win the way you guys did.”

“No, you wouldn’t,” Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway responded, with disdain in her voice.

Conway went on to argue that any criticism of Trump or Bannon’s views or rhetoric on race were either untrue or sour grapes from the losing side.

“Do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacy had a platform? Are you gonna look me in the face and tell me that?” she asked indignantly.

“It did! Kellyanne, it did!” Palmieri responded.

Clinton spokesperson Karen Finney argued that “part of what Donald Trump did in this campaign was to mainstream the alt-right,” which she called “now part of the mainstream of our politics.” She added: “They see Donald Trump as their standard-bearer.”

And Joel Benenson, a pollster for Clinton, quoted Bannon’s own words that his conservative news site Breitbart was “the platform for the alt-right,” and alluded to the recent incident in Washington, DC, where white nationalist Richard Spencer spoke praising Trump and some of his followers gave him Nazi salutes.

“I’m waiting for someone to tell me who you’re taking the country back from,” Benenson asked Conway. “Is it my parents who came here two generations ago? I’m trying to figure out who that message was for.”

“You tried all that,” Conway answered back. “You’re not being nice, and you’re sure not being analytical.”

Finney then suggested that “Make America Safe Again,” the theme of the first night of the Republican convention, was bigoted fearmongering. “Make America safe again from Muslim Americans and immigrants to this country?” she asked.

“Guys, I can tell you’re angry, but wow,” Conway responded. “Hashtag ‘he’s your president,’ how’s that?” She added, mockingly: “Will you ever accept the election results?”

Finney answered: “Hashtag, if he’s going to be my president then he needs to show me that white supremacy is not acceptable.”

“He’s done that many times; now you’re just lying,” Conway complained.

Earlier, Palmieri said that she was “more proud of Hillary Clinton’s alt-right speech” — the August address in which Clinton accused Trump of promoting bigotry — “than any other moment on the campaign.”

“Wow,” Conway responded sarcastically.

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