In a high-stakes appearance this weekend on Saturday Night Live, Hillary Clinton played in a skit the very role that her campaign has sought for months to cast her as: a real person.
Clinton’s appearance was one in a string of national interviews and entertainment shows Clinton has booked in recent weeks as she seeks to connect with a wider audience. Clinton, still the favorite to win the Democratic primary, has slipped rapidly in polls, hurt by voters who view her as untrustworthy.
Clinton, who has sometimes struggled on the stump to be relatable, plays a convincing bartender who seems to have a knack for consoling her customers—and doing an uncanny impression of Donald Trump.
The scene opens with Kate McKinnon playing a downtrodden and boozed-up Clinton, slouched over a bar and angst-ridden about her chances of being president.
“Oh, Huma,” McKinnon says to an actress playing her close aide, Huma Abedin. “Why won’t the people just let me lead? Just give me the hammer and the nails and let me fix it all!”
McKinnon then orders a drink from a bartender named Val, who is none other than the real Hillary Clinton, and comforts her caricature and imitates Trump. (“Donald Trump,” Clinton’s character says, continuing in a guttural Trump-voice, “Isn’t he the one who’s like, ‘You’re all losers’?”)
Clinton’s bartender character is sympathetic and won hearty laughs from the live studio audience, and contrasted with McKinnon’s histrionic performance as the ambitious but down-and-out presidential candidate.
The sketch incisively raises Clinton’s relatively late opposition to the Keystone Pipeline and support of gay marriage, the latter an issue likely to resonate with Saturday Night Live’s audience. Clinton announced she was in favor of legalizing gay marriage in 2013, after President Obama.
“It really is great how long you’ve supported gay marriage,” says bartender Clinton to McKinnon.
“Could have done it sooner,” says McKinnon, rapping the table.
“Well, you did it pretty soon,” says Clinton.
“Could have been sooner,” says McKinnon with a wink.
“Fair point,” says Clinton to laughs.
Clinton often thrives in more intimate settings. Early on in her campaign, Clinton hosted a series of roundtables when she spoke with Americans across the early primary states, a sort of re-introduction into politics and an informal poll of key issues to voters. The SNL appearance poked fun at the problems that have nagged Clinton the most during her campaign, and highlighted some of her candidate’s strengths.
This year, Clinton has stressed the importance of her mother’s influence on her life, and focused more on her personal background than in previous elections.
McKinnon, who is an avowed Hillary Clinton supporter, broke out at the end into a rendition of “Lean on Me,” and Clinton sings along with gusto, arm-in-arm.
“You know, you are really easy to talk to, Val,” says McKinnon.
“You know, thanks. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard that,” Clinton says.
“Oh Val, Val. I wish you could be president.”
“Me too,” says Clinton.