Former Democratic National Committee head Donna Brazile writes in a new book that she seriously contemplated replacing Hillary Clinton as the party’s 2016 presidential nominee with then-Vice President Biden in the aftermath of Clinton’s fainting spell, in part because Clinton’s campaign was “anemic” and had taken on “the odor of failure.”
.. Brazile writes that she considered a dozen combinations to replace the nominees and settled on Biden and Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.), the duo she felt most certain would win over enough working-class voters
.. Brazile paints a scathing portrait of Clinton as a well-intentioned, historic candidate whose campaign was badly mismanaged, took minority constituencies for granted and made blunders with “stiff” and “stupid” messages.
.. Brazile alleges that Clinton’s top aides routinely disrespected her and put the DNC on a “starvation diet,” depriving it of funding for voter turnout operations.
.. Perhaps not since George Stephanopoulos wrote “All Too Human,” a 1999 memoir of his years working for former president Bill Clinton, has a political strategist penned such a blistering tell-all.
.. Brazile reveals how fissures of race, gender and age tore at the heart of the operation — even as Clinton was campaigning on a message of inclusiveness and trying to assemble a rainbow coalition under the banner of “Stronger Together.”
.. Brazile abruptly and, she writes, reluctantly took over in July 2016 for chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
.. Brazile describes her mounting anxiety about Russia’s theft of emails and other data from DNC servers, the slow process of discovering the full extent of the cyberattacks and the personal fallout. She likens the feeling to having rats in your basement: “You take measures to get rid of them, but knowing they are there, or have been there, means you never feel truly at peace.”
.. Brazile writes that she was haunted by the still-unsolved murder of DNC data staffer Seth Rich and feared for her own life, shutting the blinds to her office window so snipers could not see her and installing surveillance cameras at her home. She wonders whether Russians had placed a listening device in plants in the DNC executive suite.
.. top Democratic officials were “encouraging us not to talk about it.” But she says a wake-up moment came when she visited the White House in August 2016, for President Obama’s 55th birthday party. National security adviser Susan E. Rice and former attorney general Eric Holder separately pulled her aside to urge her to take the Russian hacking seriously, which she did, she writes.
That fall, Brazile says she tried to persuade her Republican counterparts to agree to a joint statement condemning Russian interference but that they ignored her messages and calls... Backstage at a debate, she writes, she approached Sean Spicer, then-chief strategist for the Republican National Committee, but “I could see his eyes dart away like this was the last thing he wanted to talk to me about.” She asked RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, too, but “I got that special D.C. frost where the person smiles when he sees you but immediately looks past you trying to find someone in the room to come right over and interrupt the conversation.”
.. The WikiLeaks releases included an email in which Brazile, a paid CNN contributor at the time, shared potential topics and questions for a CNN town hall in advance with the Clinton campaign. She claims in her book that she did not recall sending the email and could not find it in her computer archives.. Whenever Brazile got frustrated with Clinton’s aides, she writes, she would remind them that the DNC charter empowered her to initiate the replacement of the nominee. If a nominee became disabled, she explains, the party chair would oversee a complicated process of filling the vacancy that would include a meeting of the full DNC... The morning of Sept. 12, Brazile got a call from Biden’s chief of staff saying the vice president wanted to speak with her. She recalls thinking, “Gee, I wonder what he wanted to talk to me about?” Jeff Weaver, campaign manager for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), called, too, to set up a call with his boss, and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley sent her an email... Brazile writes that she inherited a national party in disarray, in part because President Obama, Clinton and Wasserman Schultz were “three titanic egos” who had “stripped the party to a shell for their own purposes.”.. In her first few days on the job, Brazile writes that she also discovered the DNC was $2 million in debt and that the payroll was stacked with “hangers-on and sycophants.” For instance, Wasserman Schultz kept two consulting firms — SKDKnickerbocker and Precision Strategies — each on $25,000-a-month retainers, and one of Obama’s pollsters was still being paid $180,000 a year... Brazile also details how Clinton effectively took control of the DNC in August 2015, before the primaries began, with a joint fundraising agreement between the party and the Clinton campaign.She said the deal gave Clinton control over the DNC’s finances, strategy and staff decisions — disadvantaging other candidates, including Sanders. “This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity,”
.. Brazile writes that Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook and his lieutenants were so obsessed with voter data and predictive analytics that they “missed the big picture.”
“They knew how to size up voters not by meeting them and finding out what they cared about, what moved their hearts and stirred their souls, but by analyzing their habits,” she writes. “You might be able to persuade a handful of Real Simple magazine readers who drink gin and tonics to change their vote to Hillary, but you had not necessarily made them enthusiastic enough to want to get up off the couch and go to the polls.”