Donna Brazile, the erstwhile interim head of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), had considered replacing 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton with vice-president Joe Biden due to concerns about her health after she collapsed at a 9/11 memorial service, an upcoming book by the American political strategist says.
Brazile considered a dozen combinations before settling on Biden, with African American senator Cory Booker as his running mate, according to a Washington Post report on the book ‘Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House’. She also believed Biden and Booker would better connect with working class voters, a constituency not sold on Clinton.
But she didn’t go through with it. “I thought of Hillary and all the women in the country who were so proud and excited about her. I could not do this to them,” she writes in the book.
Clinton had collapsed as she was leaving the memorial service, and the sequence of events was captured on video by a bystander. After being taken to daughter Chelsea Clinton’s apartment, she later emerged to pose for a picture with a girl in a weak attempt to allay fears about her health. Clinton said she was feeling great.
Not many were convinced, especially not Brazile. She had seen signs before. On September 9, Brazile saw Clinton looking “wobbly on her feet” backstage at a Manhattan gala and she seemed to have a “rattled cough”. She urged Clinton to consult an acupuncturist.
“Again and again, I thought about Joe Biden,” Brazile writes. “No matter what my doubts and fears were about the election and Hillary as a candidate, I could not make good on that threat to replace her.”
Biden was widely expected to run, until he decided not to.
However, doubts have been raised since the publication of the account if she could indeed have gone through with the process. The Washington Post said that Brazile, as interim chair, did not have the authority to replace the nominee unilaterally.
Hours after the publication of her account, 100 Clinton campaign issued a joint statement expressing concern. “It is particularly troubling and puzzling that she would seemingly buy into false Russian-fueled propaganda, spread by both the Russians and our opponent, about our candidate’s health.”
They went on to add that they did not recognise the campaign as portrayed by Brazile, who was not part of the team, in her book: “We are pretty tired of people who were not part of our campaign telling the world what it was like to be on the inside of our campaign and how we felt about it”.
Brazile, who headed the DNC from July 2016 to February 2017, said the campaign was too focused on data and had lost touch with voters. “They knew how to size up voters not by meeting them and finding out what they cared about, what moved their hearts and stirred their souls, but by analysing their habits.”
She called the campaign “anaemic” and said it had taken on the “odour of failure”.