Hillary Clinton Returns to D.C., Praises Reid's Legacy, Condemns Fake News

Chelsea Bailey and Monica Alba
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton makes her concession speech, after being defeated by Republican president-elect Donald Trump.
Jewel Samad | AFP | Getty Images

After nearly a month away from the spotlight, Hillary Clinton on Thursday returned to Capitol Hill for the first time since the election, albeit not in the way she planned.

"This is not exactly the speech at the Capitol I hoped to be giving after the election," Clinton admitted in a speech in the Senate's Kennedy Caucus Room. "But after a few weeks of taking selfies in the woods, I thought it would be a good idea to come out."

Members of Congress welcomed Clinton back to the Hill with a standing ovation, as she took to the podium to honor Senate minority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., at his retirement ceremony. Clinton thanked Reid for his 30 years of public service and lauded his efforts to fight on behalf of working families in Nevada and across America.

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"Today, we are hanging Harry's portrait here in the Capitol, but the more fitting portrait of him will be the one that goes in the dictionary next to the word 'fighter,'" she said. "No matter how high he rose here in Washington, he never lost touch with the people and values he grew up with."

Clinton said Reid's leadership bolstered her throughout her campaign for the White House and charged members of Congress to carry on his legacy by working to protect our democracy.

"Harry and Joe (Biden) may be stepping back from the daily scrum of politics, but I know I speak for them — as well as tens of millions of Americans — when I say that we are all counting on those of you who remain; counting on you to defend this institution that all three of us love so much, and the democratic values that it embodies."

Before closing her speech, Clinton paused to address an issue that she said should concern all Americans: the spread of fake news. Clinton called the trend an "epidemic" and urged leaders in both the public and the private sector to protect "our democracy and innocent lives."

"It's now clear that so-called fake news can have real-world consequences," she said, referring to the armed gunman who attacked Comet Ping Pong, a Washington, D.C. pizza store, after being goaded by a fake conspiracy story.

"This isn't about politics or partisanship - lives are at risk," Clinton said. "It's a danger that must be addressed and addressed quickly."

A Clinton senior official said she chose to highlight the issue after speaking with the owners of Comet Ping Pong, the Washington, D.C. pizza shop.

Following the speech, Clinton greeted supporters on the Hill before having dinner with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-N.Y., at the Capitol.