Donna Brazile - What Democrats Got Wrong in the 2016 Election - Extended Interview

March 16, 2017 - Donna Brazile 03/16/2017 Views: 77,755

Former DNC Chair Donna Brazile explains why she gave Hillary Clinton presidential debate questions in advance and describes how Democrats can rebuild after the 2016 election. (18:09)

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Please welcome Donna Brazile!

(applause and cheering)

-Wow.-Welcome to the show, Donna.

Oh, I mean, what took so long?You lost my number? You...

What do you mean,what took so long?

You should have put my numberon the bottom of your shoe.

I've never lost your number,Donna Brazile.

-Baby, you still have my number?-(laughter)

-You've-you've... -Born a Crime?

I mean, Born a Crime? What's...?

-You're not born a crime.-I...

-You are blessing.-Well, thank you, Donna.

-Okay. -Thank you very much.I appreciate that.

-I want to read the book now.-That's... I appreciate that.

-All right. -This isthe Donna that I've missed.

I haven't seen you for a while.

I saw you at the RepublicanNational Convention

and the DemocraticNational Convention,

saw you for a little biton TV, and then,

Donna Brazile has been gone.

For many people,people have been asking,

where is Donna Brazile?

Well, first of all,I'm not pregnant, so...


Let's get that out of the way.

-And by the way, we were at theRepublican Convention... -Yes.

...because you were covering it,and I was trying to recover.

So, um, I've been busy.

-First of all, I went homefor Mardi Gras. -Yeah.

(applause and cheering)

Uh, saw my family.

Um, I wentto the NBA All-Star game,

so don't get jealous.

I filled out my bracket,and I home Maryland wins,

but I know Kansasand North Carolina, so...

I don't want to competewith President Obama,

because, quite honestly,

I really want him to come backand run The White House.

(applause and cheering)

Which cannot happen.

-But I...-Just so we're on the same page.

-That cannot happen.-I know! -(laughter)

I always say to people,be careful.

Barack Obama is half African.

Do not encourage him to servefor longer than he intends.

-(laughter)-Oh. -Don't encourage that.

-You are...-I miss him. I miss him.

-I miss Barack Obama,I miss Michelle. -Yes.

I miss... I miss everything

about having a competentpresident in The White House.

Okay, I got it out of my system.I'm done.

-(applause and cheering) -I'm done. I'm done, okay?

-I'm done. -I don't thinkyou're the only one.

I honestly don't thinkyou're the only one.

You were somebody who wasactively involved

in the campaign.

-Yes.-You've always been a Democrat.

You've always been an activist.

Let's talk a little bitabout what happened

-in and around the DNC.-Yeah.

Because you were servingas the acting chair

after Debbie Wasserman Schultzleft the DNC.

-That is... what seems like...-A thankless job.

-Yes.-A thankless job. Let's...

Second time.

Okay, the first timeI was chair...

-Yeah. was,like, over the Easter break.

And it was really nice.

But this time,it was over the break from hell,

because the Russians invaded us.

They hacked what, you know,your e-mails, and...

They're interruptedour campaign.

Yes. When that was happening,

I mean, the DNC is tryingto run a campaign.

You find out that the Russianshave hacked you.

Did you know that it wasthe Russians at that time,

or did you just knowyou'd been hacked?

I was told initiallythat we were hacked

-by a hostile foreign power.-Yeah.

And I'm, like, okay, who?

And then later,when I received my briefing,

I receiveda really thorough view

and picture of what wasgoing on, and it really...

At one point, I was just fearfulbecause, think about it.

-I mean, I've gone upagainst Republicans. -Yeah.

I've gone up againstLibertarians, Independents,

but I've never gone up againsta hostile military force.

And how do you run a campaignwhen you have somebody,

not only goinginto your e-mails,

but ripping throughall of your files,

harassing your donors,harassing your staff every day?

And let me justtell you something.

I am a grateful for,not just the staff work,

but also the donorsand everybody who stood by us,

because it was a really toughcampaign to try to navigate.

Now, remember,Hillary Clinton was our nominee.

We had a contested primary.

Um, but, at the end of the day,

Bernie and Hillary came togetherafter the convention, and then,

all of a sudden, you startseeing all these WikiLeaks

-and all this... this drama.-Yeah.

It was drama and one of thethings that hurts a lot

-of Democrats, especially youngvoters, Bernie fans, -Yeah.

uh, and Hillary fans,alike, really,

was when it felt like the DNC

was not running itself

-like a democratic organization.-Right.

You are someone who's beeninvolved for a long time.

Just, like, on the real,

would you say that theDemocratic Party

was trying to sabotageBernie Sanders?

Would you saythe Democratic Party,

before he entered the race,was-was an organization

that said, hey,Hillary's our person.

We don't care who elsejoins the race?

Well, first of all,the Democratic Party

is a party composed of peoplelike you and me,

and everybody in this room.

So the people who make upthe Democratic Party

are the activists.

They're the peoplewho go out there

and, you know, get folksto sign petitions,

get people to register to vote.

So when you saythe Democratic Party,

the Democratic Partyallowed Bernie Sanders

to run as a Democrat.

He became a super delegate,

and he wasa very good candidate.

He energized the party.

He brought new, fresh peopleinto the party.

He brought good ideasinto the party.

But, as you well know,to win the nomination,

you must have delegates,and Bernie fell short.

That's the simple equation.

Now, let me just tell youone thing.

Some people would arguethat he fell short

because he wasn't given thesupport that Hillary was.

Hillary has been involvedin the party for 25 years.

There are peoplewho have known her

-for most of her adult life.-Yeah.

And they supported her,but look,

I would not, I would notsell Bernie short.

-What Bernie didwas revolutionary. -Yes.

I mean, to walk into a partythat he's never,

you know, been a member of...

He votes with the Democrats--

uh, well, he caucused with theDemocrats in the Senate,

but he walked into the party,and essentially said,

I want to be a part of this.

He brought in new ideas.

Look, we were not talking aboutincome inequality.

We were not talking aboutWall Street reform.

We were not talking aboutmaking college more affordable.

Bernie brought a lot of issues,

and a lot of new peopleto the table, and for that,

I think we need to applaudBernie Sanders,

because he was a net plusto the process.

Let's talk aboutsome of those promises, then.


It seems as thoughthe Democratic Party

in its current state does notreally know who it is anymore.

You see the oppositionto Donald Trump.

Everyone knowsthat the Democrats

-are opposed to Donald Trump,-The resistance.

but it feels like a lotof people don't know

what the Democrats are,beyond the resistance.

It feels like the Democratsare just that, the resistance.

The questions are,are the Democrats

still actively going to goafter, you know,

cheapo, even free education?

Are the Democratsactively looking

at health care solutionsthat cover all people?

Or are the Democrats now going,

"Oh, maybe our focus should be

the white working class voters"?

What does the partystand for now?

Well, first of all, we had anelection for new offices,

and Tom Perez is the chairof the party.

Keith Ellison was namedthe deputy chair.

We have some great people.

Karen Carter, Jason Rae, uh,Michael Blake.

We have some new energy,new vision in the party.

The party needs that.Look, I've been

a Democratic Party activistsince the age of nine.

I know, that's, you know, alittle young for your taste,

but, um, this is an opportunityfor the party

to turn a new page,to have a fresh start.

And I do believe that we needmore people to run for office.

And look, I look around thisroom right now.

There are so many peoplein this room

who are not only qualified,but eligible to run.

And we need them,and I say, why you?

Because there's no one better.

And why now? Because tomorrow'snot soon enough.

We need more people to run.

We should not hold electionswhen people feel like there,

there nobody on the ballotthat they like.

So I think this is a good,a good opportunity

for the Democratic Partyto start fresh.

And look, criticizingDonald Trump all the time,

I mean, it only benefitsDonald Trump.

Donald Trump loves attention.

In fact, I was trying to spendan entire evening

not talking about Trump.

-And I spoiled that?-You spoiled it, baby.

I mean, now I'm gonnahave to go home

and wash my mouth outwith Cheetos.

-Bu... -Um, not Russian vodka.Dr-Drink the Tito's, okay?

-But-but what you...-Get off that Russian stuff.

That's funny. That's funny.Uh...

But what you...what-what you're saying...

but what you're saying...

you know, has-has truthbelow the surface,

in that peopleshouldn't be in a place

where they have to choosebetween two candidates

that they don't like.

-When you look back...-Yeah.

When you look at the campaign,you know...

A lot of people don't know thisabout Donna Brazile--

you know, people seeDonna Brazile, they saw you

talking on CNN, they saw youon news panels, they're like,

"Oh, Donna Brazile,she's a talking head."

A lot of people don't knowDonna Brazile the academic,

Donna Brazilewho teaches politics,

Donna Brazile who wasnot just an activist

but the firstAfrican-American woman

to run a presidential campaignin America's history.

That is the Donna Brazile...

-that I'm talking to now.-(cheering, applause)

When I talk to thatDonna Brazile, I go...

looking at Hilary's campaign,

where do you thinkit went wrong?

How-how does it get to a placewhere people

are looking at Hilary and Trumpand saying these two people

-Yeah.-are exactly the same?

Something went wrong on thatside. I understand Trump's...

Trump's arguments, but somethingdefinitely went wrong.

-What do you think went wrong?-You know, the...

First of all, this was a...the year of disruption.

And Donald Trump wasa perfect candidate for a year

when voters are basicallytired of Washington, they're...

they hate the establishment.Remember, there's a lot

of people out therewho are suffering, who...

Uh, they haven't recoveredfrom the recession.

They want someonewho will fight for them,

and Donald Trumpis the perfect boxer--

somebody who comes from,you know,

what I ca...Well, I'm gonna be nice.

-Someone who comes from nowhere.-Yes.

Meaning, in the political world.And he's a celebrity.

And he used that to basicallyconvince what I believe...

a large portion of the Americanpeople that he has their back.


-Boy. Whew.-(cheering, applause)

Oh... I mean, normally, when I'mon cable, I can't say that word.

-Oh, you can say it. -Can I sayit one more time? (bleep).

-(bleep) Let it out, Donna.-I mean, just a lot of (bleep).

-Let it out. -(bleep).I mean, he just... I mean...

And all you have to dois look at his budget.

This budget is not a skinnybudget, it's a starvation budget

for those who wanthope and opportunity.

I mean, when you take awaythe school lunch program,

when you take awayafterschool programs,

when you basicallykill Big Bird-- come on.

-Come on.-Do you... Come on-- Big Bird.

I mean, what did Big Bird do?

I mean, Big Bird has beena-a model, a role model.

I... My little godsoneven watches Big Bird,

and he's nine months.And Kai's sitting there...

And Don-Donald Trump now says

-Big Bird has to go 'cause we-And go-gonna take Big Bird.

-need a military. -And nowhe's gonna have to look at

the other big bird.

-Oh, man. -No, but let mejust say this, Trevor,

because I think everyone know...needs to know this:

we fell short.We shouldn't sugarcoat it. Um...

there's no question,in my judgment,

we could haverun a better campaign.

We took the 18 statesand the District of Columbia--

242 electoral votes for granted.

We barely won Minnesota,we came up short in Michigan.

Not just Michigan,but in... but in-in Motown.

I mean, to-to look atthe results in Michigan and...

Barack Obama had,like, 590,000 votes.

Hilary had 518,00 votes.

And remember,we lost it by 10,000 votes.

He picked the lock.

Because we left the door open,and it was easy for him.

We didn't go and competefor those votes.

We assumed that they would vote.

And also, for millennials...

Well, but you-you know what,you...

-I love y'all.-You-you...

It's easy-it's easy to side-eyethe millennials, though,

but then I'll-I will ask youa question that many...

many millennials were asking.And that was, Donna Brazile,

if I'm a millennial voter,

I wa-was on the Internet,

I saw some of the WikiLeaks,

-I saw some of the hacking,-Yup, I agree.

and I know that it was illegal,

but I happenedto come across an e-mail

where you weregiving Hilary Clinton

-the answers to a town hallor a debate. -No, no,

-not the answers. Come on, son.-No, the questions.

-Please, please.-Okay.

I get enough trouble.

And, you know,this is the season of Lent,

so you know I can dosome confession here.

-Do it, Donna. Let's do it.-Y-You really want to be...

-Bless me, Father.I have sinned. -Let's be real.

-I promise not to do it again.-Let's do it.

Okay, well... first of all,

-I didn't have my handsin the cookie jar. -Mm-hmm.

I'm a... I'm an operative.I'm a strategist.

And part of what my role was,

in addition to beinga "political pundit,"

was to help advance the cause

of justice and equality, okay?

So think about...We have six debates.

I started to fightfor more debates.

I started to fight to ensurethat Bernie and Hillary

-had an opportunity to talkabout these issues, -Yeah.

talk about, you know,the Flint water crisis,

talk about, um,criminal justice reform.

And that was my role.Now, the WikiLeaks version

is the Russian version.My own version is that,

had you saw my e-mailsto Bernie,

you would've known thatI was communicating with Bernie

just as much as I wascommunicating with Hillary,

with Martin O'Malley.Because that's what you do.

-I am a Democratic strategist.-But I get... I get that.

I get that for the Democrats.But you realize, inadvertently,

Donald Trump has...he's never let this go.

I'm sure you've seen him.He goes on TV and he says,

"Folks, the Democrats... I mean,CNN-- fake news, fake news.

"They gave Hillary the questionsbefore...

Can you imagine if they did thatwith me? Can you imagine?"

Like, you can't... you can'tdeny it. Donald Trump, because

-of that, he has something.-Oh, man, if you gave him the...

-No, but he has something,-Oh.

-you have to admit.-What-what does he have?

-Well, he has the factthat it wasn't fair. -He has...

No, no. He... What he has ishe has, on July 27,

uh, a statementwhere he encouraged the Russians

-to hack us and to put out moreinformation. -No, but that...

-but that is separate...-He has... No, no, but that...

-that's very important.-No, but I get... I... That's...

-Okay, okay. -I'm sayingthat's between Donald Trump

-and his god. I'm talkingto you right now. -Oh, oh.

-You want to get back to meand my priest? -No, I'm talking

-to you and... Just-just me andyou right now. -Well, Priest,

I've already... I've alreadytold you what the deal was.

But there was no...Look, it's very difficult.

-Can I use this piece of paper?-You can use anything.

Okay, so if this is...I'm not... You're my priest,

-so I can't make youanything else. -Let's do this.

-So you took my e-mails,brother, okay, -Yes.

and then now you want meto tell you about this one.

You only have this.You don't even have my e-mails--

you have someone else's e-mailsyou stole.

So, first of all, this is thetruth you-you're runnin' with.

But this is the...But to get the real truth,

you got to come to me,'cause I know the truth.

So you gonna write a book?

Hell yeah.

(laughter, applause)

'Cause we want the truth.

-Everybody... Every... No, no,no. -Well, look, but-but...

-But every... Look, everybody...-But the truth... the truth is

-is that politicsis-is a hard-fought game. -Yes.

And when you're in the battleof fighting

to make surethat you have inclusion,

to make sure you have diversity,to make sure

that you have the kind ofnot just communication

but the kind of conversationwith voters,

you want to make surethat those questions,

those topics, that is out there.

But the questionthat you raise with me,

although you didn't raise itthe way that, you know,

my boo would do it, you know?

-'Cause you're trying to bemy priest. -And I'm sorry.

-I'm sorry. I was trying to beyour priest. -Okay. All right.

Sister, did you give outsomething?

No, baby, I ain't gave nothin'.

I didn't have nothin'to give you.

But what I did stirwas something

that you could cook with. And,baby, what you could cook with

was burnin' all over the stove.

And the reason why you tooka piece of it

is because it smelled so good

that all you could do was dipyour finger and want mo'.

-(laughing)-(cheering and applause)

Let me, um... let me...let me ask you this.

All right, let me ask you thisbefore I let you go.

Before I let you go, let me...let me ask you this.

Uh, as much as the Republicansand Donald Trump

have their own journey to go on,the Democrats

-have a long road ahead of them.They have to build. -We do.

You know, President Barack Obamasaid he neglected the party,

he neglected the grass roots.

Tom Perez and Keith Ellisonhave come out and said

-united they'll stand, andthey will work -That's right.

to get, uh, the votes out again.

From somebody who has shownrepeatedly to be 100% committed

-to the cause,let me ask you this, -I am.

what do you thinkthe Democrats can say?

And I know you're out of the-theparty structure itself now,

but, in your heart, I feel likeyou will always be a progressive

and-and a Democrat.

So what would you sayto young people, in saying...

How do you thinkthe Democratic Party

will re... regain their trust?

How do you thinkthe Democrats will show

that they can go beyond justbeing the party of, you know...

-W-We're...-opposing Donald Trump.

No, and we're not just a partyof opposing Donald Trump.

We're the party of opportunity.

We're the partyof, of, of Franklin Roosevelt,

who brought about the New Dealand Medicare

and Social Security--Lyndon Johnson.

We're the party that had a planto get to the Moon.

We're the party-- Barack Obama--

that gave over 20 millionAmericans health care.

And we're gonna fightto insure every American...

We're not gonna allowthe Republicans

to take away our health care.

Yes, we're going to fightthe Republicans,

but we're going to goto the American people,

and we're gonna come upwith our own jobs plan.

We're gonna come up...We're gonna continue to fight,

um, for free college tuition.

We're gonna continue to fightfor climate change,

as Donald Trump is going todestroy these programs and EPA.

-Yeah.-We're gonna continue to fight.

So we're gonna be the partyof opportunity

and prosperity for all people.

But most of all,

we need to be the partywhere millennials can turn to

and say, "You know what?That's my party.

"That's the partythat will allow me

to have a future I believe in."

So I need more millennialsto run for office.

That's whyI've been on college campuses

over the last couple weeks.

I have not taken a break,and you know why?

I know I need to take a break.

But I want to encourage

the next generationto run for office.

Trevor, if, you know...You can run.

-You know, look at that house.-(cheers and applause)

-Oh, I...-Okay?

No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

-I can't...-You see, you...

No, I'm talkingabout Congress, baby.

-Okay, uh-uh-uh.-Oh, 'cause I was like,

I've gotan African birth certificate.

-No, no, no, no, no, no. I'm...-I don't know.

-That might be... -We-we do knowabout your birth certificate.


-Donna Brazile...-We know...

-We know your birth.-I hope you will join us...

But I want you to run.

I want youto encourage others to run,

and then I'm...I will come out of retirement.

And, baby, remember.

When the sauce get hot,

and when it start boiling over,

you know you're cookingwith grease.

-I hope you will join us again-Yes.

and again and again and again.

Donna Brazile, everybody.