Brazile dis­sects Clin­ton’s 2016 loss

Elic­it­ing anger and some laughs, for­mer DNC leader can­didly talks about mis­takes.

Los Angeles Times - - CITY & STATE - By Phil Wil­lon phil.wil­lon@la­

SAN FRAN­CISCO — Af­ter pub­lish­ing an un­fet­tered mem­oir cri­tiquing Hil­lary Clin­ton’s failed pres­i­den­tial bid, for­mer Demo­cratic Party leader Donna Brazile on Thurs­day dou­bled down on her crit­i­cism of the nom­i­nee be­fore a re­cep­tive au­di­ence in deep­est-left Cal­i­for­nia.

Brazile’s tell-all book has re­vived sour Elec­tion Day mem­o­ries for Democrats, in­clud­ing her claim that the party gamed the nom­i­na­tion process in Clin­ton’s fa­vor.

In one of the most jar­ring bomb­shells, Brazile wrote that she found the Clin­ton cam­paign so in­ept, and the for­mer sec­re­tary of State’s health so con­cern­ing af­ter she fainted, that she con­sid­ered hav­ing then-Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den take over as the White House nom­i­nee.

“My Demo­cratic friends are mad at me. So what? No gumbo for them,” Brazile said, prompt­ing a laugh at a sold-out book tour event Thurs­day night at the Com­mon­wealth Club in San Fran­cisco.

For most of the evening, Brazile fo­cused on the ex­tent to which the party and Clin­ton cam­paign were hand­i­capped by the Rus­sian cy­ber­hack­ing that hi­jacked party emails and usurped so­cial me­dia plat­forms to smear Clin­ton, say­ing she wrote the book as a warn­ing that Amer­i­can democ­racy was un­der at­tack. The threat still ex­ists, she said, be­cause of the in­dif­fer­ence of a pres­i­dent who re­fuses to ac­knowl­edge it hap­pened, let alone take mea­sures to pre­vent it.

The au­di­ence of close to 300, for­mer Assem­bly speaker and San Fran­cisco Mayor Wil­lie Brown among them, was re­galed by Brazile’s be­hind-the-scenes tales of the de­mo­li­tion­derby of a cam­paign, and the costly mis­takes made by Clin­ton’s staff.

The rev­e­la­tions in Brazile’s book come on the one-year an­niver­sary of Clin­ton’s up­set loss to Repub­li­can Don­ald Trump, rekin­dling the an­i­mos­ity that still burns among many loy­al­ists for Sen. Bernie San­ders who have ac­cused the party of work­ing fever­ishly to un­der­cut his pop­ulist cam­paign.

More than 100 Clin­ton cam­paign aides signed a let­ter fir­ing back at Brazile, most force­fully over her ques­tion­ing whether Clin­ton was fit to be the nom­i­nee af­ter she col­lapsed out­side a Sept. 11 com­mem­o­ra­tion cer­e­mony in New York City. They ac­cused Brazile of buying into “false Rus­sia-fu­eled pro­pa­ganda.”

The book by the long­time Demo­cratic in­sider, “Hacks: The In­side Story of the Break-ins and Break­downs That Put Don­ald Trump in the White House,” was pub­lished Tues­day and caused a stir al­most im­me­di­ately af­ter the first ex­cerpts went pub­lic.

Dur­ing her stop in San Fran­cisco, Brazile de­scribed Clin­ton’s cam­paign ad­vi­sors as heavy-handed and con­de­scend­ing. They were en­am­ored with met­rics and mi­cro-tar­get­ing and largely saw Brazile, a vet­eran of on­the-ground, re­tail cam­paign­ing, as a relic from pol­i­tics past, she said.

“Let’s give Don­ald Trump some credit. I know you’re all go­ing to boo me. He cracked the blue wall. He saw ev­ery day what we saw. He saw Hil­lary’s cam­paign fly­ing over Michi­gan and Wis­con­sin,” said Brazile, re­fer­ring to two piv­otal states Clin­ton lost.

Given the out­come, vet­eran Demo­cratic po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tant Ace Smith said Democrats would be wise to take a deep breath and study what Brazile has to say.

“Donna Brazile is one of the truly bril­liant minds in the Demo­cratic Party, and she’s vent­ing her frus­tra­tion on the way she was treated and frankly she has ev­ery right to do so,” said Smith, who worked for Clin­ton’s 2008 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. “And frankly peo­ple should sit up, take notes and change things in­stead of carp­ing about it.”

In the book, Brazile writes that the Clin­ton cam­paign in essence took over the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee, dic­tat­ing staffing moves, com­pletely con­trol­ling the purse strings of the party and craft­ing a fundrais­ing agree­ment be­tween her cam­paign and the DNC that was piv­otal in keep­ing the party afloat fi­nan­cially.

“They’re mad at me be­cause I said we should never have a cam­paign where one can­di­date chooses how to spend money for a po­lit­i­cal party be­fore [she is] the nom­i­nee,” Brazile said.

Brazile took the reigns of the DNC in July 2016 af­ter its chair­woman, Deb­bie Wasser­man Schultz, re­signed when in­ter­nal DNC emails were leaked show­ing that party staffers were dis­cussing tac­tics to douse the San­ders cam­paign.

Brazile her­self faced al­le­ga­tions of fa­voritism to­ward Clin­ton when she worked as a CNN po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst. Ad­di­tional leaked emails re­vealed that, be­fore a CNN town hall in March 2016, Brazile pro­vided Clin­ton with ques­tions that would be asked dur­ing the event. As a re­sult, the ca­ble net­work fired Brazile.

Mar­cio Jose Sanchez As­so­ci­ated Press

FOR­MER DEMO­CRATIC Party leader Donna Brazile speaks to a sold-out crowd of about 300 peo­ple Thurs­day night at the Com­mon­wealth Club in San Fran­cisco.

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