Presidential campaigns clash at Harvard forum

The post-mortem forum has been a staple of every campaign since 1972

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The presidential election is over, but not all of the wounds have healed yet.

Members of the Trump and Clinton campaigns went toe to toe in a forum at the Harvard Kennedy School. There were shouting matches and personal insults flung.

The Clinton team bluntly accusing the Trump campaign of fueling racism to help win the White House.

“If providing a platform for white supremacists makes me a brilliant tactician, I am glad to have lost. I would rather lose than win the way you guys did,” said Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton Campaign Communications Director.

“No you wouldn’t. No you wouldn’t. That’s very clear today that no you wouldn’t, respectfully,” said Kellyanne Conway, Trump Campaign Manager.

Clinton Communications Director Palmieri and Trump Campaign Manager Conway tangling over Steve Bannon, Trump’s Chief Strategist and former Executive of Breitbart News, a web site popular with the alt-right movement.

“And it is a very, very important moment, in our history of our country. and I think as his presidency goes forward I’m going to be very glad to be part of the campaign that tried to stop him,” said Palmieri.

“Hey Jen, do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform? Are you going to look me in the face and tell me that?” said Conway.

“It did, Kellyanne, it did,” said Palmieri.

“Do you think you guys could have had a decent message for the white working class voters? Do you think this woman who has nothing in common with anybody?” said Conway.

A post-mortem on the presidential race, a staple of every campaign since 1972, erupted in a series of extraordinary exchanges at the institute of politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy school of government.

The advisers looked one another squarely in the eye, across a table, as they argued about Clinton winning the popular vote and Trump, the Electoral College.

“It’s hard to say we lost the popular vote, so that means we didn’t do as well,” said Brad Parscale, Trump Digital Director.

“And there was nothing that said the road to popular vote anywhere, it’s the road to 270,” said Conway.

“I premised my statement by saying that,” said Brad Parscale.

“Hey guys, we won, you don’t have to respond. I mean seriously, hold on, why is there no mandate? You’ve lost 60 congressional seats since President Obama got there, you lost more than a dozen senators, a dozen governors, 1,000 state legislatures….you just re-elected a guy who represents liberal New York, and a woman who represents San Francisco as your — as your leaders. You learned nothing from this election,” said Conway.

The forum, a civil, academic exercise in most elections, is intended to write a first-draft of history of the campaign. Amid the shouting, the conversation offered a window into why Trump aides believe he won despite a string of offensive comments.

“One thing that was missed all along in this election, is something which we noticed early on, which is there’s a difference to voters between what offends you and what affects you,” said Conway.

And why Clinton Aides acknowledged struggling.

“Voters overwhelmingly wanted change. And we – we saw that, I think anybody looking at the race saw that. And obviously that did create some headwinds for Hillary,” said Robby Mook, Clinton Adviser.