Political News

Brazile's message to her critics and why it's inopportune timing for the Democrats

Posted November 5, 2017 9:00 a.m. EST

— An Election Day test for health care, two legacy questions for President Trump, a security scare for a GOP senator and a heated Democratic debate over a new book that offers a stinging rebuke of the Hillary Clinton campaign -- it's all a part of our Inside Politics forecast, where you get a glimpse of tomorrow's headlines today.

1) Brazile faces blowback from Clinton allies, but stands by blockbuster book account of 2016 debacle

Donna Brazile is a rare breed in American politics: a one-time Jesse Jackson insurgent who became an important member of the Democratic Party's national leadership, often playing big roles in bridging differences between competing factions.

Now, she faces criticism that she is stoking a divide at the worst possible moment -- as Democrats try to win key elections this week and deal with the broader challenge of choosing a course, and a message, heading into 2018 and beyond.

At issue is Brazile's new book, a personal memoir that includes some blockbuster stuff: her view that the Clinton campaign had too much influence over the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential primaries, complaints she was mistreated after she became interim party chairwoman for the back half of 2016, and an eye-popping account of how Brazile says she considered using her power as chairwoman to try to replace Clinton and her running mate, Tim Kaine, with Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Cory Booker.

People who have called Brazile a friend for 30 years or more are furious. Some say she twists facts in her book. Others say she is being disloyal by spilling in public things best kept private. Even some Brazile allies say the timing is horrible because Democrats need big turnout in Virginia and elsewhere this week and cannot afford bad blood or distractions.

Brazile acknowledges fierce blowback but says she is at peace with her decision.

"Read the book. Make your own conclusion," she said in one exchange in recent days, responding to complaints from Clinton staffers who challenge her account of a campaign Brazile says lacked passion and often lied to her. She said her in-box was helping her "define real love versus sour grapes."

So does this longtime inside player worry about being cast now as disloyal and destructive?

This in an email to CNN: "After what the country went through, I'm not afraid."

Then this on ABC on Sunday, to her critics: "Go to hell. I'm going to tell my story."

2) It's election day on Tuesday -- and Maine may send a message

Most of the national attention on this week's Election Day is focused on the Virginia governor's race.

That's understandable: The race is close and Virginia is considered a national bellwether. It's a big statewide contest and a big test of the "Trump effect" one year after the 2016 vote and as the parties gear up for the 2018 midterms.

But CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson says keep an eye on Maine, too, because its voters will be weighing in on an issue that factors big-time in the national debate over Obamacare.

"People should pay attention to Maine, a referendum on the ballot there on whether or not to expand Medicaid. Gov. Paul LePage has vetoed that attempt by the Legislature to expand Medicaid five times. He says it's too expensive. He likens it to welfare," Henderson explains. "Proponents of expanding Medicaid say it will help rural hospitals, it will help rural residents, it would bring jobs. ... Two states probably looking at this in particular: activists in Utah and Idaho also trying to put expanding medicaid on the ballot in 2018."

3) A December DACA Deal? A White House meeting to set strategy

President Trump says he wants to cut a deal with Congress to protect the so called Dreamers, younger undocumented workers who were brought into the United States when they were too young to understand they were committing an illegal act. And as the clock ticks down on 2017, one way to get that done would be to add legislative language to the year-end spending bill Congress needs to pass to keep the government open.

But that prospect worries a lot of conservatives, who want the issue treated separately so they can maximize their leverage in seeking conservative immigration changes in exchange for any so-called DACA fix.

Michael Shear of The New York Times shared reporting on a White House meeting this past week in which President Trump agreed the issue should not be tacked onto the year-end spending plan.

But that doesn't completely close the book on that idea.

"I talked to a very senior Democratic senator last week who said he thinks that's largely posturing," Shear says. "And, [the source says] there's still a possibility that the President, who has expressed some interest in doing something for these kids, and the two parties in Congress might still be able to work something out at the end of the year."

4) No big legislative wins -- but some important Trump legacy gains in the Senate

It is a fact that more than nine months after taking office, President Trump has no major big-ticket legislative victories.

But it is also a fact that one important Trump legacy test is advancing in a major way.

Just this past week: Four Trump nominees to serve as federal appeals court judges were confirmed by the Senate, the latest step in a Trump judicial makeover that is a major rallying cry for conservatives.

CNN's Phil Mattingly reports it is also a way for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to rebut conservative criticism of his performance.

"They slammed through four circuit court judges in a single week. That brings it to eight they have done so far," Mattingly reports. "There are still two dozen other openings waiting for them. And next week they also have several agency-level, very prominent, very kind of complicated nominations that they're going to push through. ... If you want a conservative imprint to last, not just for a couple of years, but for decades, they failed on the legislative side, at least so far. On the side of personnel, [Republicans] are doing pretty well."

5) Sen. Rand Paul assaulted at home -- a reminder of rising security concerns

One of the weekend's more startling headlines was news of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul being assaulted at his home in Bowling Green.

The senator's injuries are described as minor, and Kentucky State Police say a suspect is in custody and facing one count of fourth-degree assault.

Mary Katharine Ham of The Federalist noted that such incidents are on the rise, and took a moment to thank those who rarely make the news but work in a difficult environment.

"This is the second violent attack on Paul himself this year. The earlier one, the congressional baseball shooting attempted assassination that left Steve Scalise injured, who is now back in Congress," Ham says. "Congressional security is running down more threats than usual and researching them."