Donna Brazile, former head of the Democratic National Committee, released her tell-all, insider view of the 2016 election. Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House focuses on the 2016 primaries, her view of the party’s missteps, and the aftermath of the election.
According to an interview with MSNBC, Brazile hopes her book, “contributes to ‘the healing of’ the Democratic Party,” however so far it has only seemed to spark controversy. These are the five shocking things Brazile’s book reveals about the party.
Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign left the party in debt
According to Brazile’s book, President Obama paid more attention to his rival group, Organizing for America, than he did the DNC’s finances. Her excerpt published in POLITICO Magazine revealed that Obama left the party $24 million in debt; $15 million in bank debt and over $8 million owed to vendors following the 2012 campaign. Obama’s campaign wasn’t scheduled to pay off this debt until 2016.
Upon calling Gary Gensler, the chief financial officer of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Brazile reveals she was taken aback by news of the party’s debt. When Gensler told her the party was in $2 million debt and Clinton’s campaign had arranged a way to assuage the issue, she wrote that she replied, “That can’t be true! The party cannot take out a loan without the unanimous agreement of all of the officers.”
Hillary Clinton “put the DNC on a starvation diet”
According to an excerpt from the book, Hillary for America, the campaign’s name, and the Hillary Victory Fund, its joint fundraising vehicle with the DNC, had arranged a way to deal with the debt. They had taken care of about $10 million of the leftover debt in 2016 and placed the party on an allowance.
“As Hillary’s campaign gained momentum, she resolved the party’s debt and put it on a starvation diet. It had become dependent on her campaign for survival, for which she expected to wield control of its operations,” Brazile wrote. When Brazile asked Gensler how this had occurred without her knowing, Gensler said he didn’t know how Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Brazile’s predecessor, “relates to the officers.”
Brazile never called the nomination “rigged”
Facing speculation from party leaders, Brazile has supported her side of the story. There remains controversy to this day over whether or not the 2016 primaries were set up in Clinton’s favor, rather than Bernie Sanders. Brazile writes that in her conversation with Gensler, she points out that the victory fund was supposed to be for whoever was the nominee, but Clinton was controlling it even before she was nominated.
In an interview with NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro, Brazile says, “What I said … was that in exchange for bailing out the party, which was broke, the Clinton campaign would get control over certain decisions and aspects of the DNC that made it difficult, if not impossible for me to do my job. I call it unethical, but the primary itself was not rigged.”
Brazile called Barack Obama’s ego “titanic”
Brazile accused Obama of many things, among them caring “deeply about his image” and using the committee to act as a bank for his personal political expenses. She wrote that she knew Obama, along with Clinton and Schultz, sincerely loved the party and weren’t intentionally harmful with their actions.
However, it was Obama, Clinton, and Schultz’s “titanic egos” that Brazile claimed were to blame for the state of the Democratic Party. She wrote that “… they had leeched it of its vitality and were continuing to do so.”
She considered replacing Hillary Clinton with Joe Biden
A Washington Post report revealed another little-known headline to come out of Brazile’s book; while serving as interim Democratic National Committee chair, Brazile considered replacing Clinton with Joe Biden for the 2016 ticket. She began to compile combinations of nominees after Clinton collapsed at a 9/11 memorial service.
Brazile wrote that she had settled on Biden and U.S. senator Cory Booker, but it was thoughts of Clinton that kept her from making the decision. “I 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.” Brazile still described the Clinton campaign as badly mismanaged and spiritless.
The Democrats are divisive in what they believe
According to the Chicago Tribune, “Questions about whether the party’s fairness — or lack of it — to Sanders,” were resurrected by Brazile’s memoir. Democratic leaders are mainly divided on Clinton’s nomination over Sanders and the integrity of the matter.
Current DNC chair Tom Perez agreed with Brazile that the nomination wasn’t “rigged.” He pointed out that Sanders tended to lose primary elections (controlled by the states), but won caucuses (run by the DNC). Senator Elizabeth Warren took the opposing view, answering “Yes” when CNN asked her if she believed the race was “rigged” for Clinton.
One thing is for sure: the party is pleading we focus on 2020
While a Politico headline states, “Democrats shaken and angered by Brazile book,” there seems to be a more uniform Democratic message. Party leaders urge the media and country alike to put 2016 behind us and focus on the 2020 election.
Former DNC chairman and Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell offered his opinion on the book and its aftermath. “The timing couldn’t have been worse. It does us no good to hash out all this stuff. At this point, we should be looking to the future — what’s done is done.”