By Rachel Stoltzfoos, DCNF
Breathing exercises in the Rose Garden and a steady stream of booze got the White House through election night, a communications staffer wrote in a story recounting his experience watching Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton lose.
Pat Cunnane had been so confident Clinton would win that when he penciled in plans for former President Barack Obama to meet the president-elect that week, he wrote down her name in his calendar. A few days later, he found himself “ugly crying” in the Oval Office as Obama gave the White House staff a pep talk about President Donald Trump’s stunning victory.
“The beer and bourbon flowed,” he wrote in The New Yorker.
As the early returns came in looking promising for Trump, Cunnane was a little “disturbed” to see the check mark next to Trump’s name signifying he was ahead in the electoral college. But he brushed the feeling aside and joked about the possibility of Trump’s win with other staffers. “Oh no, we’re losing!” he said.
But as the bad news kept coming in, he and the other staffers had to work a little harder to stay optimistic, so they did some breathing exercises. “We did what any sports fan does when he needs to regain the mojo,” he wrote. “We switched positions. Around 9 p.m., a group of us went into the Rose Garden and did breathing exercises.”
The next morning, everyone knew it was over. Cunnane overheard one White House staffer joking darkly in the basement of the West Wing with a counterterrorism aide: “Please tell me it was the Russians.
Later that day, as Obama was giving a private pep talk in the Oval, Cunnane lost his composure. “I was full-blown ugly crying in the Oval Office as the President gave us a pep talk,” he wrote. “I had to turn away and try to get it together.”
He had been so confident she would win. “For more than two years, I’d referred to Hillary Clinton as the ‘President-in-Waiting,’” he explained. “I’m a worrier by nature, but it was always clear to me that she would succeed President Obama.”
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