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Brazile defends book in SF appearance

by Sari Staver

Donna Brazile, the former chair of the Democratic National Committee, is urging Democrats to bring in new blood if they expect to regain power.

Speaking to a sold-out audience of some 550 people at the Commonwealth Club Thursday, November 9, Brazile - who has worked on every presidential campaign from 1976 through 2000, when she served as Al Gore's campaign manager - said the suggestion applies to California.

"I don't want the Dianne Feinsteins and the Nancy Pelosis of the world to leave the room. I want them to just scoot over" and make room for new people, she said.

Both Feinstein and Pelosi are up for re-election next year, to the Senate and House, respectively. Feinstein has drawn a challenge from state Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) and Alison Hartson, the national director of political action committee Wolf Pac.

On the defensive after many of her former colleagues criticized her controversial new book, "Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House," Brazile is fighting back.

"I have always stirred the pots," she conceded.

Interviewed by San Francisco Chronicle editor in chief Audrey Cooper, Brazile spoke for almost 90 minutes, lashing back at her former colleagues, who said the author's claim that the primary had been rigged for Hillary Clinton was simply untrue.

"No gumbo for them," Brazile, 57, said of people who criticize her.

Brazile said people like Robby Mook, the Clinton campaign manager for the 2016 election, recently "dismissed me" when she went to visit him at his office at Harvard University, where both are currently lecturing. Mook's dismissive attitude, said Brazile, was similar to how he treated her during the campaign, she said.

But President Donald Trump tweeted his congratulations to her, contending that her book proves that the primary was "bought and paid for by Crooked H."

Brazile asked the president to "go back to attacking me, please," explaining that she feels it's much better to be "hated than loved" by Trump.

But in her talk at the Commonwealth Club, Brazile denied that she had claimed that the primary had been "rigged" for Clinton, only that she had found evidence that the Clinton campaign was in control of certain parts of the DNC before the nomination was won.

Brazile said the Clinton campaign was disorganized and said she was frustrated that its staff ignored her concerns that swing states like Michigan and Wisconsin needed additional resources. Clinton's headquarters staff were "so condescending that I used to scream" she said.

But both political parties, said Brazile, have become increasingly irrelevant. "They have become ATMs for special interests," she said.

In fact, she said the recent Democratic election victories in Virginia, New Jersey, and other states were the result of "bottom up grassroots activism."

Brazile urged Democratic activists to buy her book, calling it "important to read" to become aware of the need to "protect our democracy."

Also, she said, the book details ways the Democrats "can win again."

Brazile said the Russians who hacked into the DNC's computer system, "corrupted our data and got into our voter files" in order to use "weapons of mass disinformation" to discredit Clinton.

"It was like someone breaking into your home while you were there," said Brazile.
And, "it could happen again in 2018," she said.

There is no question that "the Russians will be coming back" to make additional attempts to hack into the system.

"The current occupant of the White House has not taken any steps to protect us," she said.

When asked about the criticism that Democrats "were bad about giving up the reins to the next generation," Brazile said the issue was "the most important challenge facing the party."

"The bench will continue to shrink" if the Democrats don't expand the number of people brought to the table, she added.

On the other hand, said Brazile, Republicans have a history of "training people after their first election," she said, while Democrats "discard people and say goodbye."

"I wanted to see a woman in the White House but also [see] that Bernie [Sanders] had every chance to compete," she said of last year's campaign.

In the future, she said, the U.S. can have "a woman, a Hispanic, and an openly gay president," she predicted.

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