The Democratic party was “leeched it of its vitality” by Former President Barack Obama and others in the lead-up to the 2016 election campaign, according to Donna Brazile, former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee.
“We had three Democratic parties: The party of Barack Obama, the party of Hillary Clinton, and this weak little vestige of a party led by [Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz] that was doing a very poor job getting people who were not president elected,” Brazile writes in her new book “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House,” released Tuesday.
Many of the revelations in Brazile’s book revolve around the deep debt the Democratic party was facing at the end of Obama’s presidency and the lengths it had to go to to survive a national presidential race. Obama’s use of party funds for private pollsters and focus groups drained the party, and Wasserman Schultz’s leadership as party chairman failed to address the problem. Clinton then bailed out the party in order to gain control of it, according to Brazile.
“This was not working to strengthen the party. He left it in debt. Hillary bailed it out so that she could control it, and Debbie went along with all of this because she liked the power and perks of being a chair but not the responsibilities,” Brazile said.
Obama, who swept the 2008 Democratic presidential primary away from then-senator Clinton, didn’t have the same connection to the DNC that other party leaders had.
“Barack never had seen himself as connected to the party. He had not come up through it the way Joe Biden and Hillary had, but had sprung up almost on his own and never had any trouble raising money for his campaigns,” Brazile wrote.
Obama “used the party to provide for political expenses like gifts to donors, and political travel.” Because he “also cared deeply about his image,” he used DNC funds for “his pollster and focus groups” late into his second term, even though he couldn’t run for president, Brazile said.
Paying of the party’s debt made the DNC beholden to Clinton and her the de facto head of the party, Brazile wrote. Most decisions had to be run through Clinton’s Brooklyn, N.Y., headquarters. Brazile referred to it as the “high command of Brooklyn” on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos Sunday.
Despite blaming Obama, Clinton and Wasserman Schultz for the party’s troubles, she admitted that the three do love the Democratic party.
“I knew that these three did not do this with malice. I knew if you woke any of them up in the middle of the night to ask them how they felt about the Democratic Party they would answer with sincerity that they loved this party and all it had done for the country and for them. Yet they had leeched it of its vitality and were continuing to do so,” Brazile said.
Brazile, who took over as interim chair of the DNC after Wasserman Schultz stepped down in scandal just before the Democratic National Convention in 2016, has been criticized for turning against her own in recent months.
“As I saw it, these three titanic egos–Barack, Hillary, and Debbie–had stripped the party to a shell for their own purposes,” Brazile wrote.