Hillary Clinton says all she wanted to do was 'curl up with her dogs and never leave the house again'

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Hillary Clinton has been reflecting on her US election defeat and in doing so has become even more relatable than she already was to millions of people.

In her first public appearance since her emotional concession speech in New York last Wednesday, the defeated Democratic presidential candidate admitted the past week has been tough.

She said: "There have been a few times this past week when all I wanted to do was just to curl up with a good book or our dogs and never leave the house again."

And she wasn't the only one.

She urged the crowd in Washington to persevere through the Donald Trump era, saying: "I know this isn't easy. I know that over the past week a lot of people have asked themselves whether America is the country we thought it was.

"But please listen to me when I say this: America is worth it."

Hillary Clinton addresses the crowd (Cliff Owen/AP)
(Cliff Owen/AP)

Clinton never referred to President-elect Trump by name in her remarks, making only an oblique reference to the controversial policies which fuelled his rise to the White House.

Instead, she focused on the future, asking her backers to "stay engaged on every level".

"We need you. America needs your energy," she said.

In her remarks, Clinton did not address any personal failures during her presidential campaign.

But in private calls with donors and Democratic officials, she has largely attributed her defeat to the decision by the FBI to re-examine her use of a private email server during her time as US secretary of state.

Hillary Clinton hugs Marian Wright Edelman (Cliff Owen/AP)
(Cliff Owen/AP)

She spoke at the annual gala of child advocacy body the Children's Defence Fund, which is where Clinton started her legal career.

Her first job out of law school in the 1970s was for the fund's founder Marian Wright Edelman. She later became a staff attorney and chairman of the group's board.

Throughout her campaign, Clinton cited her work for the group as her "north star", sparking her interest in standing up against injustice towards children and families. The group, which helps disadvantaged children, tried to return some of that affection on Wednesday night.

"We love her and we appreciate all the hard work she has done and say it's not going to be for naught," said Edelman in her introductory remarks. "We're going to say that she is the people's president."