Donna Brazile: “I Considered Replacing Hillary With Joe Biden”, Felt Like A “Slave”
Donna Brazile’s campaign to embarrass the powerful Democrats who disrespected her during her short-lived tenure as interim chairwoman of the DNC last year is going better than anybody – other than Brazile and her publisher – could’ve possibly imagined.
After Brazile published the first of what appears to be a series of damning indictments of the incompetence, collusion and arrogance of both the Clinton campaign and Hillary herself – a news-cycle dominating bombshell about how the Clinton campaign and former DNC Chairwoman deliberately pushed the national party to the edge of financial collapse to leave it financially reliant upon and beholden to, the Clintons – Brazile is back with another astonishing revelation courtesy of the Washington Post.
In a report that paradoxically validates concerns about Clinton’s health raised by conservative media – which were readily dismissed as sexist and “alt-right fake news” by the unabashedly pro-Clinton mainstream media – the Post reported that Brazile contemplated removing Hillary as the party’s candidate after Clinton fainted during a ceremony at the 9/11 Memorial and, as the WaPo adds, “Brazile blasts the campaign’s initial efforts to shroud details of her health as “shameful.”
Clinton later said she had pneumonia.
Brazile says she came close to replacing Clinton and Kaine with Vice President Joseph Biden and Sen. Corey Booker, but decided against it after she “thought of Hillary, and all the women in the country who were so proud of and excited about her. I could not do this to them.” Of course, Brazile’s private concerns about her ally and friend’s campaign didn’t stop her from sharing debate questions and town hall topics with the Clinton campaign.
But that’s hardly the only tantalizing insider detail revealed in the excerpts from Brazile’s new book published by the post (the book hits shelves on Tuesday).
Just like the electorate at large, “the campaign was so lacking in passion for the candidate, she writes, that its New York headquarters felt like a sterile hospital ward where “someone had died.”
In another detail that was somehow overlooked by the mainstream media’s panoptical scrutiny of the competing campaigns (remember all those stories about the Trump campaign being a shambolic, dysfunctional mess?), Brazile says she knew something was deeply wrong at Clinton HQ when she came to the uncomfortable realization that the staffers weren’t, well, fucking each other.
Brazile describes the 10th floor of Clinton’s Brooklyn headquarters, where senior staff worked: “Calm and antiseptic, like a hospital. It had that techno-hush, as if someone had died. I felt like I should whisper. Everybody’s fingers were on their keyboards, and no one was looking at anyone else. You half-expected to see someone in a lab coat walk by.”
During one visit, she writes, she thought of a question former Democratic congressman Tony Coelho used to ask her about campaigns: “Are the kids having sex? Are they having fun? If not, let’s create something to get that going, or otherwise we’re not going to win.”
“I didn’t sense much fun or [having sex] in Brooklyn,” she deadpans.
Then there was this disturbing account of how party officials routinely demeaned and disrespected Brazile, going so far as accusing top Clinton operatives of being racist
As one of her party’s most prominent black strategists, Brazile also recounts fiery disagreements with Clinton’s staffers — including a conference call in which she told three senior campaign officials, Charlie Baker, Marlon Marshall and Dennis Cheng, that she was being treated like a slave.
“I’m not Patsey the slave,” Brazile recalls telling them, a reference to the character played by Lupita Nyong’o in the film, “12 Years a Slave.” “Y’all keep whipping me and whipping me and you never give me any money or any way to do my damn job. I am not going to be your whipping girl!”
Brazile abruptly and – she says – reluctantly took over in July 2016 for chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The Florida congresswoman was ousted from the DNC on the eve of the party convention after WikiLeaks released stolen emails among her and her advisers that showed favoritism for Clinton during the competitive primaries.
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.”
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.
Sensing the threat that Brazile was becoming, the Clinton campaign took steps to minimize her influence and publicly humiliate her after Wikileaks revealed that she leaked questions to the Clinton camp. Brazile admitted she did so to avoid harming her reputation, but says she has no recollection of sending the email, and that she couldn’t find it on her computer.
Brazile was apparently witness to more than one episode where Hillary’s deteriorating health was on display during her campaign season bout with pneumonia. And after the incident at the 9/11 memorial, Biden and Martin O’Malley called Brazile as buzz mounted among party insiders that she might move to replace Clinton as the candidate.
Brazile describes in wrenching detail Clinton’s bout with pneumonia. On Sept. 9, she saw the nominee backstage at a Manhattan gala and she seemed “wobbly on her feet” and had a “rattled cough.” Brazile recommended Clinton see an acupuncturist.
Two days later, Clinton collapsed as she left a Sept. 11 memorial service at Ground Zero in New York. Brazile blasts the campaign’s initial efforts to shroud details of her health as “shameful.”
Whenever Brazile got frustrated with Clinton’s aides, she writes, she would remind them that the DNC charter empowered her to replace the nominee. If a nominee became disabled, she explains, the party chair would oversee the process of filling the vacancy.
After Clinton’s fainting spell, some Democratic insiders were abuzz with talk of replacing her — and Brazile says she was giving it considerable thought.
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 also was paid a surprise visit in her DNC office by Baker, who, she writes, was dispatched by the Clinton campaign “to make sure that Donna didn’t do anything crazy.”
“Again and again I thought about Joe Biden,” Brazile writes. But, she adds, “No matter my doubts and my fears about the election and Hillary as a candidate, I could not make good on that threat to replace her.”
As the campaign rolled into its final months, Brazile said she tried to warn Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook about the alarming lack of enthusiasm for their candidate among minorities. Not only was she ignored, she says, but the campaign essentially sent a spy to the DNC to monitor her and report back.
As she traveled the country, Brazile writes, she detected an alarming lack of enthusiasm for Clinton. On black radio stations, few people defended the nominee. In Hispanic neighborhoods, the only Clinton signs she saw were at the campaign field offices.
But at headquarters in New York, the mood was one of “self-satisfaction and inevitability,” and Brazile’s early reports of trouble were dismissed with “a condescending tone.”
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.”
Brazile describes Mook, in his mid-30s, as overseeing a patriarchy. “They were all men in his inner circle,” she writes, adding: “He had this habit of nodding when you are talking, leaving you with the impression that he has listened to you, but then never seeming to follow up on what you thought you had agreed on.”
Brazile’s criticisms were not reserved for Mook. After Clinton campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri challenged Brazile’s plan for Kaine to deliver a pep talk to DNC staff at the party convention in Philadelphia,
Brazile writes, “I was thinking, If that b—- ever does anything like that to me again, I’m gonna walk.”
Brazile writes with particular disdain about Brandon Davis, a Mook protege who worked as a liaison between the DNC and the Clinton campaign. She describes him as a spy, saying he treated her like “a crazy, senile old auntie and couldn’t wait to tell all his friends the nutty things she said.”
The Post’s report appears to be a rather exhaustive summary of the allegations contained in Brazile’s book, but given that there are still a few days left until it hits the shelves, it is safe to assume that Brazile’s unconventional guerilla marketing campaign still has a few bombshells left to drop. We’ll certainly be keeping an eye out.