As Interim DNC Chair, Donna Brazile Is Rediscovering Her Roots


Donna Brazile spent several days recently knocking on doors in a West Orlando, Fla., neighborhood and pitching residents on the importance of registering to vote.

Two days later she was in Aurora, Colo., working a phone bank.

The Louisiana native’s schedule has been a whirlwind since she was tapped in July to be interim chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. In the month she’s been on the job, Brazile has visited Louisiana twice, including a trip back home to New Orleans to talk to Baptist leaders.

Her new role has taken her back to her beginnings in old-school retail politics —“back to being Donna,” she says.

“It really puts into focus what you’re doing as chair of the party,” Brazile said of her return to grassroots campaigning. “You have to up your game.”

With two months until Election Day, Brazile is focused on helping Hillary Clinton win the White House and putting Democrats back in charge in the Senate. She even dares to dream that her party might win a majority in the House (a long shot).

The DNC also is backing candidates in state and local races.

“Our plan is from the courthouse to the White House,” Brazile said. “We want to make sure if you’re running for sheriff, if you’re running for county commissioner, if you’re running as a Democrat — that the Democratic Party has your back.”

A veteran Democratic strategist, Brazile, 56, replaced Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., as DNC chairwoman in July. Wasserman resigned in the wake of leaked emails showing the committee had worked to undermine Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign against Clinton for the party’s presidential nomination.

Brazile, who has a consulting business in Washington, suspended her contract as a contributor with CNN and ABC to temporarily helm the DNC — for no pay.

Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League and a former New Orleans mayor, said no one is more prepared or qualified to lead the party.

“Donna is a classic and classy steel magnolia,” Morial said.

He said Louisiana residents take a “great deal of pride” in Brazile’s accomplishments.

“Donna has paid considerable dues in Democratic politics,” he said.

Brazile, who served as the DNC’s vice chairwoman of voter registration, has been in politics for more than four decades and managed former Vice President Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign. She was the first African-American woman to run a major presidential campaign.

She also briefly served as interim DNC chair in 2011.

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Source: USA Today | Deborah Barfield Berry