Hillary campaign needs a scapegoat; David Brock a leading candidate
As Hillary Clinton’s polls collapse and the prospect of losing the Nevada caucuses looms this weekend, it is time for some soul-searching at the Hillary campaign. Amoie Parness of The Hill summarizes the gloomy prospects:
A new CNN/ORC poll released Wednesday found Clinton with a narrow one-point lead in Nevada, which hosts its caucuses on Saturday. That’s a huge change from the 23-point lead Clinton enjoyed in a late December poll by Gravis. (snip)
Team Clinton maintains confidence that its lead in South Carolina will hold, but the potential loss in Nevada has put people on edge about a possible “domino effect” in which states could fall one by one to Sanders as the Vermont Independent gains momentum.
“It’s hard to feel confident about South Carolina if you lose Nevada,” the former aide said.
It is a given that the fault cannot lie with Hillary herself. No staffer would dare suggest that there is anything at all wrong with her. The voters may be to blame (not “ready for its first female president”), but alas, they cannot be fired. So it is time to find a scapegoat.
Internally, both Bill and Hillary Clinton have voiced their displeasure with various aspects of the campaign, particularly on messaging and organizing, according to sources. Those involved with the campaign increasingly a reshuffling will take place, especially if Clinton suffers a loss in Nevada.
“The shit will hit the fan,” one longtime friend of the Clintons predicted. “No doubt about it.”
Who will play the role of the fan? Probably not Huma Abedin, she of the constant companionship and matching outfits.
No, the buzzards are circling David Brock, who went from leading Hillary attack dog critic to leading attack dog Hillary defender. A nasty piece of work in both roles, he has few friends. Jonathan Swan of The Hill is reading the smoke signals:
Key Democratic players are worried that Hillary Clinton’s super-PAC ally David Brock could be hurting her image and hampering her chances of winning the presidency.
In interviews over the past month, Clinton donors, fundraisers and operatives have told The Hill that the concerns about Brock’s comments, particularly some of his attacks on Bernie Sanders, stretch all the way to the top of Clinton’s political machinery.
A big part of the problem is that the criticisms Brock is making of Sanders could be turned against Hillary herself:
One Brock comment that drew backlash regarded his plans to raise questions about the 74-year-old Sanders’s health, seen by many as a low blow at the Senator’s age and one that left Clinton vulnerable given attempts by conservatives to portray her as being in fragile health.
After news reports emerged that Brock was going to raise the issue of Sanders not having released his health records, Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta shot off an unusual tweet on Jan. 17 to Brock: “Chill out. We're fighting on who would make a better President, not on who has a better Physical Fitness Test.”
Brock backed off from running a public campaign to pressure the Vermont senator to release his health records, but even talk of it was enough to exasperate Guy Cecil, who runs Priorities USA Action, the main super-PAC supporting the former secretary of State’s campaign.
Then there is race. The very white Hillary can affect a black accent, but at bottom, she is a rich, haughty white woman.
Another comment of Brock’s that was seen as unhelpful in Clinton’s donor network was when he said in late January that “it seems black lives don't matter much to Bernie Sanders” because the Sanders campaign had used mostly white talent in a commercial.
And Brock has his own baggage. Media Matters, which he has headed, has been heavily funded by George Soros and other left-wing billionaires:
But some of Clinton’s major donors worry that Brock is giving the Sanders campaign an opening – which it gleefully took – to smear the candidate for her association to Brock and his super-PAC. This is a particular vulnerability given Sanders is running a populist campaign against Wall Street and the corrupt campaign finance system.
“[Clinton] should be ashamed of her association with Brock,” said Sanders’ campaign spokesman Michael Briggs.
However, it must be kept in mind that Brock has access to a lot of negative information and isn’t afraid to use it. This makes it risky to drive a bus over him. He has trained his fire on Hillary in the past, and who knows? He has already switched sides once.