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'My Democratic friends are mad at me': Donna Brazile explains herself in deep-left San Francisco

Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

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 demolition-derby 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 on Tuesday and caused a stir almost immediately after the first excerpts went public.

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

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