Miami Book Fair

Bill Clinton’s accusers deserved to be heard, Donna Brazile says during Miami visit

Apostate Democrat Donna Brazile continued to torch her own party during a talk at the Miami Book Fair Wednesday night, with harsh words for Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Hillary Clinton campaign and even the sexual transgressions of Bill Clinton.

Brazile called Wasserman Schultz a spendthrift who unleashed a “cancer” on the party during her term as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, accused Hillary Clinton of planting the seeds of her own campaign’s destruction with an arrogant disdain for advice and suggested however gently that the women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual improprieties should have gotten a more respectful reception.

“It was brave of them to come forward,” she said of the former president’s accusers, noting that going public with their stories placed them “in the middle of a political circus.”

“The point we should be making at this time is that we should have zero tolerance on sexual harassment, whether it’s Roy Moore, Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein — you fill in the blank,” Brazile said. “We should have a zero tolerance policy. No woman — or man — should be faced with inappropriate behavior or conduct.”

Brazile’s remarks — some of them to reporters before her book fair appearance, some on stage before the audience — were the latest chapter in a very public quarrel with her own party ignited by her book, “Hacks,” a critique of the Democrats’ disastrous loss to Donald Trump in 2016.

Her mildest comments were about Bill Clinton, whose behavior toward women has come under new scrutiny — this time from Democrats themselves in response to the tidal wave of disclosures about sexual harassment from Washington to Hollywood.

“Remember, Bill Clinton paid a price for it. He was impeached. What price has Donald Trump paid? And what price will Roy Moore?”

Her harshest were directed at Wasserman Schultz, the congresswoman from Weston, who Brazile said spent too much money, took too little responsibility and made fundraising deals that were unethical even if legal during her troubled reign over the Democratic National Committee.

Brazile, who followed Wasserman Schultz into the DNC chairmanship, said a deal Wasserman Schultz signed that gave Hillary Clinton’s campaign almost total control over DNC spending while Clinton was still locked in a battle with Bernie Sanders for the party’s presidential nomination was “a cancer” and “I think Debbie has to take ownership of that.”

And, she added, the DNC took two years to take countermeasures to Russian hacking of its computers, and “Debbie has got to take responsibility for that.”

Brazile’s charges echoed — but in more explicit terms, and more importantly, in the Weston congresswoman’s backyard — those she has already made against Wasserman Schultz in her book.

Wasserman Schultz’s five-year tenure at the DNC ended disastrously when she resigned after being booed off the stage at last year’s Democratic party convention following the disclosure of hacked emails that seemed to suggest that Wasserman Schultz and her staff had been throwing the party machinery behind Clinton during her campaign against Sanders in party primaries.

The extraordinary public takedown of one former DNC chairwoman by another — Brazile held the position before Wasserman Schultz was appointed and assumed it again after she was dumped — has badly damaged a party already in disarray over the startling loss of a presidential election that seemed a dead solid lock.

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Donna Brazile, right, shown speaking Wednesday with Ana Navarro at the Miami Book Fair, said that when she took over as party chairman during the campaign, she was astonished at the number of expensive inside-the-Beltway consultants who visited the office only to collect their hefty paychecks. ‘I’m sorry,’ Brazile said. ‘Who makes $25,000 a month, and doesn’t show up at work, and doesn’t issue a report, and doesn’t answer the phone?’ PEDRO PORTAL pportal@elnuevoherald.com

Wasserman Schultz has maintained a stony silence since Brazile’s accusations surfaced in an advance excerpt of her book two weeks ago. Many other Democrats, however, have bitterly attacked Brazile over the book, which also reams the Clinton presidential campaign as chilly, impersonal and ineffective. Brazile even wrote that she considered appealing to senior party officials to pull Clinton off the ticket just two months before the election.

Brazile offered no apologies on Wednesday. “We need to have these discussions within the party,” she declared. “If not now, when?”

Republicans held a post-mortem on their party’s presidential campaign to see where things went wrong after Mitt Romney was defeated by President Barack Obama in 2012, Brazile said, and she begged Clinton campaign officials to do the same in the months just after the election.

“I asked them, ‘Are you going to write the autopsy? The definitive story of what happened?’ They just blew me off, like they blew me off during the campaign,” she told the book fair crowd. So she wrote her book, she said, to get the discussion started.

And she found no shortage of things to criticize, starting with Wasserman Schultz, who she said was running a big-spending DNC at a time when the party was broke.

Brazile said that when she took over from Wasserman Schultz, she was astonished at the number of expensive inside-the-Beltway consultants who visited the office only to collect their hefty paychecks.

“I’m sorry,” Brazile said. “Who makes $25,000 a month, and doesn’t show up at work, and doesn’t issue a report, and doesn’t answer the phone?” Wasserman Schultz, she added, was “strong-willed, but when it came to tell people no when it came to spending money, she was not so strong.”

The Clinton campaign may have been more fiscally responsible than Wasserman Schultz’s DNC, Brazile said, but it was even more out of touch. She began to realize something was seriously wrong on a trip to Florida, when local party leaders — particularly the black and Hispanic ones — told her they weren’t even being supplied with campaign literature to distribute to voters.

“The campaign was at 37,000 feet, and they needed to get on the ground,” Brazile said. “It was a top-down campaign and they needed a ground-up campaign.”

Her warnings went unheeded by Clinton’s inner circle of advisers, she said, who were so arrogantly convinced they had already won that they didn’t even do any polling during the final three months of the campaign. That arrogance, Brazile said, persisted even in the final hours of Election Day, when she advised them of troubling accounts of voter turnout in presumed Democratic strongholds like Philadelphia and Durham, N.C.

“I was panicking, and they were not,” she recounted. ‘Madame Chairman, have you seen the exit polls?’ I don’t believe in exit polls [I told them]. Remember Florida?”

Brazile said her book has cost her plenty of friends among Democrats. But it’s won her some new, if not totally welcome, fans. President Trump has been gleefully tweeting anecdotes from the book.

“He’s liking you,” said Ana Navarro, a former Republican strategist who counter-intuitively became friends with Brazile when they were both working as commentators on CNN and conducted a nominal interview onstage during the book fair appearance. “He’s calling you ‘Donna B.’ 

“What does the B stand for?” replied Brazile as the audience dissolved in laughter.

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