–David Brock’s hardball tactics worry Clinton supporters–47fh.,b43
Key Democratic players are worried that Hillary Clinton 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.
Said donors he associates with would like to put Brock “back in the can.” “I have heard people express concern that what he does could be harmful generally” to the campaign, the donor said. Longtime Clinton fundraiser Bill Brandt, an Illinois-based businessman and personal friend of Bill Clinton, said of Brock, “David is well meaning but I think perhaps like a zealot. He should keep it in check a bit. I don’t think this needs to be about tearing Bernie down. … It’s getting nasty and it doesn’t need to be.”
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 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.”
He has since become their fiercest defender, now running a menagerie of allied liberal groups including Correct the Record, which provides opposition research and rapid response. Clinton supporters are pleased about Brock’s conversion but worry that his hardball tactics risk doing more harm than good. Clinton donors, allied strategists and fundraisers also concede that Brock’s volatility needs to be weighed against his value, which is considerable. Brock is known as a prolific fundraiser, skilled opposition researcher and a fearless counter-puncher.
“He’s always been a controversial character and people grouse about him, but he produces great research, so there’s a balance,” said Tony Podesta, the chairman of Podesta Group, a top lobbying firm he co-founded with his brother John, Clinton’s campaign chair.
“He’s very effective and he now and then swings and misses … so I mean he doesn’t hit a home run every time but that would be true of Babe Ruth.” Brock would agree. He thinks Democrats play too gently and cede the offensive too willingly to Republicans. He also freely admits that he says and does things that give some in Clintonland the jitters.
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 what he claims is a corrupt campaign finance system.
“He rubs people up the wrong way,” the mega-donor said of Brock. Asked whether the Clinton campaign worries that some of Brock’s comments could hurt the campaign, deputy communications director Christina Reynolds said, “Throughout this campaign, Correct the Record has done a great job defending Hillary Clinton’s record and we are grateful for their tireless work defining the Republicans as extreme and out-of-date.”
Clinton donors Michael Kempner and Kenneth Jarin both offered unsolicited praise for Brock, saying he was an essential countervailing force against brutal attacks on Clinton. “We are in the midst of a spirited Democratic primary campaign and a Supreme Court nomination looms in the near future that will have a lifetime of importance. “It would seem to me we need to be very realistic about the stakes here in this election and bedwetting Democrats worried about surrogate intensity should simmer down just a tad.”
source-the hill, jonathan swan, david brock, bill bandt, guy cecil, priorities usa action, american bridge 21st century, correct the record, michael briggs, christina reynolds, michael kemper, kenneth jarin