One year after the Democrats lost the White House to President Donald J. Trump, they are still grappling with “What Happened.”
Thursday, Donna Brazile, who was the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee for the last four months of the campaign posted some of her recollections about the campaign on her blog and in Politico.
The post was based on the narrative Brazile developed for her book Hacks: The inside story of the break-ins and breakdowns that put Donald Trump in the White House.
In her recollection, Brazile said soon after taking over from Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D.-Fla.) in last week of July, as emails leaked from inside the Democratic National Committee exposed the congresswoman and her team as favoring former first lady Hillary R. Clinton over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I.-Vt.) in the fight for the Democratic nomination for president, she learned that the DNC was broke.
I knew that Debbie had outsourced a lot of the management of the party and had not been the greatest at fundraising. I would not be that kind of chair, even if I was only an interim chair. Did they think I would just be a surrogate for them, get on the road and rouse up the crowds? I was going to manage this party the best I could and try to make it better, even if Brooklyn did not like this. It would be weeks before I would fully understand the financial shenanigans that were keeping the party on life support.
The financial shenanigans included fundraising arrangements that allowed “Brooklyn,” or the Clinton campaign based in that borough, to exploit joint fundraising committees to raise more money then they could by themselves, in exchange for subsidies to the DNC, Brazile said.
Brooklyn also took over decision-making for senior personnel hiring and for approval of DNC media statements, she said.
In a related interview, Brazile told The Washington Post said that after Clinton hasty exit from the Sept. 11 ceremony at Ground Zero and her subsequent rag doll collapse on the sidewalk, the chairwoman considered replacing Clinton on the ticket.
Her deliberations were serious enough that word leaked out and she fielded calls from proxies from Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Sanders, she said.
The response from Brooklyn staffers was swift.
Jesse Ferguson, former spokesman at Hillary for America and deputy executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, published a Nov. 4 open letter on behalf of the HFA team pushing back on Donna Brazile’s stories from her stint as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee in the last months of the 2016 presidential campaign:
We were shocked to learn the news that Donna Brazile actively considered overturning the will of the Democratic voters by attempting to replace Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine as the Democratic Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees. It is particularly troubling and puzzling that she would seemingly buy into false Russian-fueled propaganda, spread by both the Russians and our opponent, about our candidate’s health.
Donna came in to take over the DNC at a very difficult time. We were grateful to her for doing so. She is a longtime friend and colleague of many of us and has been an important leader in our party. But we do not recognize the campaign she portrays in the book.
The 2016 presidential campaign was unlike any in our history. It was very difficult for our candidates and our staff. We are very proud that throughout the campaign and the aftermath the staff stuck together, worked as a team, and did the best we could for both Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine. We did this for the simple reason that we thought Hillary Clinton would make the best President for the country we all love. We have now, as we did throughout the campaign, enormous love and pride for our candidate, Hillary Clinton. She, more than any of us, persevered through an incredibly difficult campaign and her commitment and stamina inspired us every day. We are very proud of the effort she and the campaign made in both the primary and the general election.
The general election loss was devastating for us all and something we live with every day. And while frustrating that the general election vote total did not change the outcome of the election, we remain proud that Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine received nearly 3 million more votes in the general election than their opponents.
Finally, we are pretty tired of people who were not part of our campaign telling the world what it was like to be on the inside of our campaign and how we felt about it. We loved our candidate and each other and it remains our honor to have been part of the effort to make Hillary Clinton the 45th President of the United States.
All Democrats should be doing everything they can — canvassing, phone banking, etc. — to help our candidates for Governor of Virginia and New Jersey and the other races around the country next Tuesday.
Nearly 100 members of Team Hillary signed onto the letter, including Jake Sullivan, national security aide; Robby Mook, the campaign manager; John Podesta, the campaign chairman; Jennifer Palmieri, the communications director; Nick Merrill, the press secretary and Clinton’s close confidante Huma Abedin.
Not signing? Campaign pollster Joel Benenson and consulting campaign pollster Stanley Greenberg.
Brazile’s response: “I’m not Patsey the slave,” Brazile told The Washington Post, channeling the character from the film “12 Years a Slave.”
Then, the Louisiana native quoted from the film: “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!”