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Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton takes part in the Women for Women International Luncheon in New York City, New York, U.S., May 2, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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By John Whitesides

(Reuters) - Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday she was on the path to victory in the 2016 presidential election until late interference by Russian hackers and FBI Director James Comey scared off some potential supporters.

In her most extensive public comments on the Nov. 8 election, Clinton told a New York conference she was derailed by Comey's Oct. 28 letter informing Congress the FBI had reopened the probe of her use of a private email server and by the Wikileaks release of campaign chairman John Podesta's emails, allegedly stolen by Russian hackers.

"If the election had been on October 27, I would be your president," she told a women's conference in New York moderated by CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

"It wasn't a perfect campaign, but I was on the way to winning until a combination of Comey's letter and Russian Wikileaks," the Democrat said of the White House loss to Republican Donald Trump. "The reason why I believe we lost were the intervening events in the last 10 days."

Clinton, who said she is going through the "painful process" of writing a book dealing in part with the election, also said misogyny played a role in her defeat. She took personal responsibility for the campaign's mistakes, but did not question her strategy and praised her staff.

"I was the candidate, I was the person who was on the ballot. I am very aware of the challenges, the problems, the shortfalls that we had," Clinton said.

She also said she had no doubt that Russian President Vladimir Putin had tried to influence the election in support of Trump. "He certainly interfered in our election and it was clear he interfered to hurt me and help our opponent," she said.

Clinton offered some criticisms of the new president, saying he should tweet less and focus on his job more. She said she would stay active in public affairs.

"I’m back to being an activist citizen — and part of the resistance," she said.

On foreign policy, Clinton said broader negotiations involving China and other countries in the region were critical for convincing North Korea to rein in its nuclear programme.

She questioned Trump's recent suggestion that he would be willing to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un under the right circumstances.

"You should not offer that in the absence of a broader strategic framework to try to get China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, to put the kind of pressure on the regime that will finally bring them to the negotiating table," Clinton said.

(Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

Reuters

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