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Brazile, Donna

Donna Brazile

1959—

Political strategist, commentator, educator

In the fall of 1999 Vice President Al Gore named veteran Democratic Party organizer Donna Brazile as his campaign manager for the 2000 presidential campaign. She became the first African-American woman to achieve such a prestigious—and difficult—position in national party politics. Brazile, however, had long been a fixture in Democratic circles, known for her formidable grassroots organizing skills. In 1987 the Wall Street Journal named her one of "the powers that (might) be" in national politics in the year 2000. The Journal's prediction proved uncannily accurate. "I'm obsessed with the thought of making things happen…. Ultimately, I do it because I'm scared," confessed Brazile about her career choice to Washington Post reporter Donna Britt. "I don't ever, ever, ever want to be poor again. And the best way to insure that won't happen is to organize, to fight for our lives." Since the 2000 election, which Gore lost in controversial fashion to George W. Bush, Brazile has remained one of the nation's top political strategists and a towering figure in Democratic circles.

Brazile was born in a New Orleans charity hospital on December 15, 1959, and grew up in nearby Kenner, Louisiana. Her father, Lionel, was a Korean War veteran who, at various points in his life, had been run over by a truck, suffered a broken back, and even had a heart attack while riding on a city bus. On that occasion he simply got off and checked himself into a hospital. There were nine children in the Brazile family, and their father's income as a janitor was not always sufficient, so he often moonlighted or worked double shifts. Brazile's mother also worked, as a domestic servant, and the children's grandmother lived with them as well. Brazile used to read the morning paper to her grandmother, which helped foster her interest in politics.

Became a Youthful Activist

Brazile has often stressed that she grew up in an impoverished household, and remembering the hardships of her youth inspired her to become active in politics. "There still are poor people," Brazile told Robin Givhan in the Washington Post about her long commitment to Democratic politics. "There still are people struggling to live off $5.15 an hour." Federal minimum-wage laws, civil-rights bills, affirmative action programs, Medicare, Head Start preschool funding, and numerous other pieces of social legislation have all originated with Democratic legislators and were signed into law by Democratic presidents.

In Brazile's childhood neighborhood, there were no playground facilities. At the age of nine Brazile learned that a candidate for city council was promising to have one built. She volunteered for the campaign and passed out leaflets in her neighborhood. The candidate won the election and Brazile's neighborhood received a new playground. She later organized the first female baseball team in her community.

In 1975 Brazile's grandmother suffered a stroke and became disabled. She still lived with the family, and Brazile and her sisters helped take care of her. Brazile would forever associate the smell of roses—her grandmother's favorite scent—with a premonition of death. In 1976, although she was not yet old enough to vote, she volunteered for the Democratic presidential campaign of Georgia governor Jimmy Carter. Brazile stuffed envelopes at her local headquarters for the Carter-Mondale ticket.

Became a DC Lobbyist

Brazile financed her college education at Louisiana State University with student loans and financial aid. After earning a degree in industrial psychology, she found work as a lobbyist for the National Student Education Fund in Washington, DC. From there she was hired by Coretta Scott King to work on the planning and reenactment of Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous 1963 civil rights march on the nation's capital. Brazile's work for the King foundation coincided with the successful drive to make the slain civil-rights leader's birthday a national holiday.

In 1984 Brazile became involved with the Rev. Jesse Jackson's presidential campaign, serving as mobilization director, and she also worked with the Rainbow Coalition. The same year, Brazile worked on Walter Mondale's unsuccessful campaign for the White House. In 1987 she was hired as national field director for Dick Gephardt, a Missouri senator making a bid for the Democratic Party nomination. Brazile made history by becoming the first African American to hold such a post for a mainstream white candidate. "She has the ability to walk into a room of Southern white male politicians and get results," a colleague in the Gephardt campaign office told the Wall Street Journal. When Gephardt won the Iowa caucuses early in 1988, Brazile's organizational skills were cited as a primary reason for the victory.

At a Glance …

Born on December 15, 1959, in New Orleans, LA; daughter of a Lionel (a janitor) and Jean (a domestic worker) Brazile. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Roman Catholic. Education: Earned degree in industrial psychology from Louisiana State University.

Career: National Student Education Fund, Washington, DC, lobbyist, early 1980s; 20th Anniversary March on Washington, national director, 1983; worked for the Rev. Jesse Jackson's presidential campaign, and for the Mondale-Ferraro Democratic ticket, both 1984; Gephardt for President, national field director, 1987; Michael Dukakis for President campaign, national field director, 1988; affiliated with Community for Creative Non-Violence (an advocate group for the homeless), Washington, DC, 1989; chief of staff for Eleanor Holmes Norton (delegate from the District of Columbia in the U.S. House of Representatives), 1990-99; head of Voter/Campaign Assessment Program for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, 1998; Al Gore for President 2000 Campaign, began as deputy campaign manager and national political director, May of 1999, became campaign manager, October of 1999; Institute of Politics, Harvard University, fellow, 2001; Brazile and Associates, LLC, founder and managing director, 2002—; Georgetown University women's studies program, lecturer; CNN political commentator.

Memberships: National Political Congress of Black Women, cofounder, first executive director; Democratic National Committee's Voting Rights Institute, chair.

Awards: Named one of 100 Most Powerful Women in Washington, DC, by Washington Magazine; named one of 50 Most Powerful Women in America by Essence.

Addresses: Office—Brazile & Associates LLC, 1001 G St. NW, Ste. 1001, Washington, DC 20001.

Endured Dukakis Debacle

When Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis defeated Gephardt for the Democratic presidential nomination in the summer of 1988, Brazile was hired by his campaign organization for the same post that she had held on Gephardt's senior staff—organizing the "field," which involved marshaling votes by setting up and running efficient, dedicated local efforts, such as phone banks. Republican front-runner George H. W. Bush, however, waged a bitter, divisive campaign against Dukakis that reached its lowest point with the airing of a notorious television campaign ad featuring the face of an angry-looking African-American male. The man in the ad was Willie Horton, a Massachusetts resident who was convicted of a crime and then released from prison on a furlough that had been signed by Dukakis. Following his release from prison, Horton committed rape and murder. The campaign ad was both offensive and effective, and many African-American leaders strongly protested. For her part, Brazile was incensed that the Dukakis staff had failed to effectively counter the attack.

Dukakis's campaign was also hindered by the fact that Dukakis rarely campaigned in African-American neighborhoods. Strategies and statements released from the Dukakis camp alienated Brazile and other prominent African Americans within the Democratic Party. Brazile grew increasingly dismayed, and even endured racism herself on one occasion. As Brazile recounted to Britt, a midwestern farmer walked up to her during a campaign stop and announced, "You're a Willie Horton n—." Not one to shrink from a fight, she strongly chastised the farmer before heading back to the campaign bus.

The tension between the Bush and Dukakis camps continued to build. One day, while speaking with reporters, Brazile mentioned the oft-repeated rumors that Bush had committed adultery. She urged the reporters to investigate the charges against the Republican candidate. Later, Brazile publicly denounced the Bush campaign's racist tactics, and denounced him as a philanderer. Realizing that the frustrations of her job had sparked her inflammatory words, she submitted her resignation. The campaign manager to whom Brazile's resignation was submitted, Susan Estrich, told Givhan in the Washington Post interview that she herself had joked with Brazile that "if I could have figured out a way to get fired, I'd have done it, too." Dukakis went on to lose the election after fielding one of the most poorly organized presidential campaigns in history.

Encountered More Hardship

Following her resignation from the Dukakis campaign, Brazile found herself without a job. She was also certain that her career in politics was over. To make matters worse, her mother was admitted to a charity hospital. "I kept telling myself, ‘She's okay, she's okay,’" Brazile said in the Post interview with Britt in 1989. "This was the most intense period of my life. I was trying to figure out, ‘What did I say?’ I needed time to become a human being again, to withdraw. Then I smelled the roses and I froze." Brazile's mother died soon after at the age of fifty-three. Brazile used her last paycheck from the Dukakis campaign to pay for the funeral costs.

During her late twenties Brazile reevaluated her life. She gave up smoking and red meat, began exercising, and quickly shed forty-five pounds. She contemplated attending law school, and landed a new job in Washington as an associate for Mitch Snyder, a well-known advocate for the homeless. For almost a year Brazile lived at Snyder's Community for Creative Non-Violence, the shelter where her office was located. Under Brazile's direction, the Community for Creative Non-Violence coordinated Washington, DC's Housing Now! march in the fall of 1989.

In 1990 Brazile became chief of staff for Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the District of Columbia as a nonvoting member of the U.S. House of Representatives, a job she held for the next several years. She also continued working within the Democratic Party. In 1996 Brazile served as local director for the District of Columbia during the Clinton/Gore presidential campaign. During the 1998 midterm elections she ran the Voter/Campaign Assessment Program, an effort organized by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to bring more African Americans to the polls. The program was a great success, and a solid number of Democratic candidates were elected to Congress that year.

Received a Historic Promotion

Brazile began working for the Gore for President campaign in the spring of 1999 when its offices were still on K Street, also called "Lobbyists' Row," in the heart of Washington, DC. Initially she served as Gore's national political director and deputy campaign manager. In October of 1999 Brazile was late for a staff meeting at which Gore was scheduled to make an important announcement. When the elevator doors opened, her colleagues accosted her, telling her that Gore wanted to meet with her privately. She assumed she was about to be fired again. Gore, however, offered her a promotion to campaign manager. By accepting the position, Brazile became the first African-American woman to head a presidential campaign.

"She is the heart of grassroots activism and political leadership and she'll be a great leader for our national campaign," Gore said in announcing the appointment, which also coincided with the revelation that his campaign headquarters would relocate to his home state of Tennessee. "Her more than twenty years of experience in local and national campaigns across the country is a terrific benefit to our effort. I look forward to working with her in her new capacity and I know she will fight hard to bring this campaign closer to the working families of America," Gore remarked. Upon learning of Brazile's promotion, the press was quick to point out that Brazile had been fired from the Dukakis campaign several years earlier. As Katharine E. Seelye wrote in the New York Times, however, "Gore's appointment of her indicates he has little concern about it [the 1988 firing over the George Bush fracas]. As one aide back in Washington sarcastically put it: ‘Spreading rumors? Holy smokes! In this town?’"

The appointment of Brazile as campaign manager sent the message that Gore—unlike some of his predecessors—realized that what is termed "the black vote" does not automatically go to the Democratic candidate. "Brazile has been important in shoring up Gore's support among the Democrats' traditional constituencies," noted James Bennet in the New York Times, referring to the working poor, African Americans, and organized labor.

Brazile was also charged with the task of cutting campaign spending. One of her first duties as campaign manager was "an examination of what she called ‘Goreworld,’" explained Bennet in the New York Times, "the results of which revolted her. Consultants were getting paid as much as $15,000 monthly; paid advisers were rendering opinions on what kind of paper the headquarters should use." Brazile immediately slashed the salaries of some staffers, a move that was based, in part, on the fact that living costs in Tennessee were much lower than in the District of Columbia.

Tackled a Tough Job

The principal focus of Brazile's job was to develop strategies that would help Gore win the White House. To help accomplish this task, she worked closely with campaign chairman Tony Coelho and Gore 2000 media advisers Carter Eskew and Bob Shrum. In the New York Times report, Bennet explained the nature of the job of Brazile, who had sketched for the reporter a triangle diagram: three phrases on each point read "proven leader," "principled fighter," and "experience that matters." She then explained to Bennet that every statement made by Gore or his campaign staff, in the effort to win voters, needed to touch upon those points. "Every conversation—no matter how it starts off—it's got to go into this box," she told Bennet.

During her first months on the job in Nashville, Brazile continued to commute back and forth to the Washington, DC, area to teach a class, "African American Participation in American Politics," at University of Maryland's College Park campus. Throughout the campaign, Brazile contended that the current state of political campaigns, with their reliance on polls and highly paid consultants, was ineffective in bringing together voters on the issues. She believed it was all about grassroots organizing, and the candidates' commitment to their principles. "I put my energy, voice and spirit into fighting for anybody who wants to speak their voice," she told Givhan. "I don't care what the right wing, the left wing or the chicken wing has to say."

Became Top Political Commentator

Gore lost the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush in one of the closest races in history, the outcome hinging on a Supreme Court decision regarding the handling of ballots cast in Florida. While the 2000 election was a defeat for Brazile, it did nothing to slow the ascent of her political stardom. In the wake of the election she accepted a lecturer position at Harvard, and later another at Georgetown. During the 2002 midterm election season, she traveled to more than half of the states to help train Democratic activists. After the elections she worked for a period of time for Senator Mary Landrieu, a Democrat from Louisiana, as a media consultant and organizer. She founded her own consulting firm, Brazile & Associates, which trains people in grassroots advocacy and other political tactics such as media relations and legislative outreach. In 2004 she enjoyed the publication of her book, Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics, in which she recounted the story of her rise from poor Louisiana girl to the very pinnacle of American power.

Brazile also began appearing regularly on several of the most popular political television talk shows. She is a weekly contributor and political commentator on CNN's American Morning and Inside Politics. She is also a regular on MSNBC's Hardball and Fox's Hannity and Colmes. The 2008 Democratic presidential primary put Brazile in an interesting position: Should she support the potential first woman president or the potential first Black president? As a highly visible member of the party machinery, she opted to endorse neither candidate before the nomination was decided. But that did not stop her from making her voice heard loud and clear throughout the campaign. She was particularly harsh in her criticism of the media on its handling of both race and gender matters. Election outcomes aside, Brazile's voice will likely be a prominent one in the Democratic chorus for years to come.

Selected works

Books

Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics, Simon & Schuster, 2004.

Sources

Periodicals

Black Enterprise, February 1996, p. 22.

Essence, August 2004, p. 216.

Ms., Spring 2008.

National Review, February 7, 2000, pp. 17-18.

New York Times, October 7, 1999; October 11, 1999; January 7, 2000.

New York Times Magazine, December 12, 1999; January 23, 2000.

St. Petersburg Times (St. Petersburg, FL), June 27, 2004, p. 4P.

U.S. News & World Report, October 15, 2007, p. 16.

Wall Street Journal, December 4, 1987.

Washington Post, October 7, 1989, p. C1; November 16, 1999, p. C1.

Online

"About," Brazile & Associates LLC: Official Web site of Donna Brazile, http://www.donnabrazile.com/page.cfm?id=2 (accessed August 7, 2008).

Acosta, Jim, "Democrats Dreading a Drawn-Out, Costly Battle for Nomination," CNNPolitics, February 8, 2008, http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/02/07/dem.delegates/ (accessed August 7, 2008).

"Donna Brazile Cuts Loose on 2008 Campaign," PoliticsWest (Denver Post), February 29, 2008, http://www.politicswest.com/node/20993 (accessed August 7, 2008).

"Sister Surge! Black Women and Politics: What We Want & How We're Going to Get It," Brazile & Associates LLC: Official Web site of Donna Brazile, http://donnabrazile.com/viewNews.cfm?id=117 (accessed August 7, 2008).

Other

"Brazile: I'll Quit DNC Position over Superdelegates," News & Notes, National Public Radio, February 11, 2008, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18882087&sc=emaf (accessed August 7, 2008).

—Carol Brennan and Bob Jacobson

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Brazile, Donna 1959–

Donna Brazile 1959

Campaign manager

Became a Youthful Activist

Became a D.C. Lobbyist

The Dukakis Debacie

Endured More Hardship

Signed on with Gore 2000

Received a Historic Promotion

Tackled a Tough Job

Sources

In the fall of 1999, Vice President Al Gore named veteran Democratic Party organizer Donna Brazile as his campaign manager for the 2000 presidential campaign. She became the first African American woman to achieve such a prestigiousand difficultposition in national party politics. Brazile, however, had long been a fixture in Democratic circles, known for her formidable grass-roots organizing skills. In 1987, the Wall Street Journal named her one of the powers that (might) be in national politics in the year 2000. Im obsessed with the thought of making things happen. Ultimately, I do it because Im scared, confessed Brazile about her career choice to Washington Post reporter Donna Britt. I dont ever, ever, ever want to be poor again. And the best way to insure that wont happen is to organize, to fight for our lives.

Brazile was born in a New Orleans charity hospital on December 15, 1959, and grew up in nearby Kenner, Louisiana. Her father, Lionel, was a Korean War veteran who, at various points in his life, had been run over by a truck, suffered a broken back, and even had a heart attack while riding on a city bus. On that occasion, he simply got off and checked himself into a hospital. There were nine children in the Brazile family, and their fathers income as a janitor was not always sufficient, so he often moonlighted or worked double shifts. Braziles mother also worked as a domestic servant, and the childrens grandmother lived with them as well Brazile used to read the morning paper to her, which helped to foster her interest in politics.

Became a Youthful Activist

Brazile has often stressed that she grew up in an impoverished household, and remembering the hardships from her youth inspired her to become active in politics. There still are poor people, Brazile told Robin Givhan in the Washington Post about her long commitment to Democratic politics. There still are people struggling to live off 5.15 an hour. Federal minimum-wage laws, civil-rights bills, affirmative action programs, Medicare, Head Start preschool funding, and numerous other pieces of social legislation have all originated with Democratic legislators and were signed into law by Democratic presidents.

In Braziles childhood neighborhood, there were no playground facilities. At the age of nine, Brazile learned that a candidate for city council was promising to have

At a Glance

Born December 15, 1959. in New Orleans, LA, daughter of a Lionel (a janitor) and Jean (a domestic worker) Brazile. Education: Earned degree in industrial psychology from Louisiana State University. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Roman Catholic.

Career: National Student Education Fund, Washington, D.C. lobbyist, early 1980s; 20th Anniversary March on Washington, national director, 1983; worked for the Rev. Jessejacksons presidential campaign, and for the (Walter) Mondale (Geraldine; FerrarolDemocratic ticket, both 1984; Gephardt for President, national field director, 1987; MichaelDukakis for President campaign, national field director, 1988; affiliated with Community for Creative Non-Violence (an advocate group for he homeless), Washington, D. C, 1989; chief ofstaff for Eleanor Holmes Norton (delegate from the District of Columbia in the U.S. House ofRepresentatives), 199099: head of Voter\Campaign Assessment Program for the Democrati Congressional Campaign Committee, 1998; Al Gore for President 2000 Campaign, began asdeputy campaign manager and national political director. May, 1999, became campaign manager, October, 1999. Also an adjunct professor of political science, University of Maryland, CollegePark, MD.

Member: National Political Congress ofBlack Women, co-founder, first execulivedirector.

Addresses: Office GORE2000, 2410 Charlotte Ave., Nashville, TN37203.

one built. She volunteered for the campaign and passed out leaflets in her neighborhood. The candidate won the election and Braziles neighborhood received a new playground. She later organized the first female baseball team in her community.

In 1975, Braziles grandmother suffered a stroke and became disabled. She still lived with the family, and Brazile and her sisters helped to take care of her. Brazile would forever associate the smell of rosesher grandmothers favorite scentwith a premonition of death. In 1976, although she was not yet old enough to vote, she volunteered for the Democratic presidential campaign of Georgia governor Jimmy Carter. Brazile stuffed envelopes at her local headquarters for the Carter-Mondale ticket.

Became a D.C. Lobbyist

Brazile financed her college education at Louisiana State University with student loans and financial aid. After earning a degree in industrial psychology, she found work as a lobbyist for the National Student Education Fund in Washington, D.C. From there, she was hired by Coretta Scott King to work on the planning and re-enactment of Martin Luther King Jr.s famous 1963 civil rights march on the nations capital. Braziles work for the King foundation coincided with the successful drive to make the slain civil-rights leaders birthday a national holiday.

In 1984, Brazile became involved with the Rev. Jesse Jacksons presidential campaign, serving as mobilization director and director of the Rainbow Coalition. In both cases, however, she was replaced by a white associate. That same year, Brazile worked on Walter Mondales unsuccessful campaign for the White House. In 1987, she was hired as National Field Director for a Missouri senator making a bid for the Democratic Party nomination, Dick Gephardt. Brazile made history by becoming the first African American to hold such a post for a mainstream white candidate. She has the ability to walk into a room of southern white male politicians and get results, a colleague in the Gephardt campaign office told the Wall Street Journal. When Gephardt won the Iowa caucuses early in 1988, Braziles organizational skills were cited as a primary reason for the victory.

The Dukakis Debacie

When Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis defeated Gephardt for the Democratic presidential nomination in the summer of 1988, Brazile was hired by his campaign organization for the same post that she had held on Gephardts senior staff: organizing the field, which involved marshaling votes by setting up and running efficient, dedicated local efforts, such as phone banks. However, Republican front-runner George Bush waged a bitter, divisive campaign against Dukakis that reached its lowest point with the airing of a notorious television campaign ad featuring the face of an angry-looking African American male. The man in the ad was Willie Horton, a Massachusetts resident who was convicted of a crime and then released from prison on a furlough that had been signed by Dukakis. Following his release from prison, Horton committed rape and murder. The campaign ad was both offensive and effective, and many African American leaders strongly protested. For her part, Brazile was incensed that the Dukakis staff had failed to effectively counter the attack.

Dukakiss campaign was also hindered by the fact that Dukakis rarely campaigned in African American neighborhoods. Strategies and statements released from the Dukakis camp alienated Brazile and other prominent African Americans within the Democratic party. Brazile grew increasingly dismayed, and even endured racism herself on one occasion. As Brazile recounted to Britt, a Midwestern farmer walked up to her during a campaign stop and announced, Youre a Willie Horton n. Not one to shrink from a fight, she strongly chastised the farmer before heading back to the campaign bus.

The tension between the Bush and Dukakis camps continued to build. One day, while speaking with reporters, Brazile mentioned the oft-repeated rumors that Bush had committed adultery. She urged the reporters to investigate the charges against the Republican candidate. Later, Brazile publicly denounced the Bush campaigns racist tactics, and denounced him as a philanderer. Realizing that the frustrations of her job had sparked her inflammatory words, she submitted her resignation. The campaign manager to whom Braziles resignation was submitted, Susan Estrich, told Givhan in the Washington Post interview that she herself had joked with Brazile that if I could have figured out a way to get fired, Id have done it, too. Dukakis went on to lose the election after fielding one of the most poorly organized presidential campaigns in history.

Endured More Hardship

Following her resignation from the Dukakis campaign, Brazile found herself without a job. She was also certain that her career in politics was over. To make matters worse, her mother was admitted to a charity hospital. I kept telling myself, Shes okay, shes okay, Brazile said in the Post interview with Britt in 1989. This was the most intense period of my life. I was trying to figure out, What did I say? I needed time to become a human being again, to withdraw. Then I smelled the roses and I froze. Braziles mother died soon after at the age of 53. Because her mother did not have health insurance, Brazile used her last paycheck from the Dukakis campaign to pay for the funeral costs.

During her late twenties, Brazile reevaluated her life. She gave up smoking and red meat, began exercising, and quickly shed 45 pounds. She contemplated attending law school, and landed a new job in Washington as an associate for Mitch Snyder, a well-known advocate for the homeless. For almost a year, Brazile lived at Snyders Community for Creative Non-Violence, the shelter where her office was located. Under Braziles direction, the Community for Creative Non-Violence coordinated Washington, D.C.s Housing Now! march in the fall of 1989.

Signed on with Gore 2000

In 1990, Brazile became chief of staff for Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the District of Columbia as a non-voting member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and held the job for the next several years. She also continued working within the Democratic Party. In 1996, Brazile served as local director for the District of Columbia during the Clinton\Gore presidential campaign. During the 1998 midterm elections, she ran the Voter\Campaign Assessment Program, an effort organized by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to bring more African Americans to the polls. The program was a great success, and a solid number of Democratic candidates was elected to Congress that year.

Brazile began working for the Gore for President campaign in the spring of 1999 when its offices were still on K Street, also called Lobbyists Row, in the heart of Washington, D.C. Initially, she served as Gores national political director and deputy campaign manager. In October of 1999, Brazile was late for a staff meeting at which Gore was scheduled to make an important announcement. When the elevator doors opened, her colleagues accosted her, and she learned that Gore wanted to meet with her privately. She assumed she was about the be fired again. However, Gore offered her a promotion to campaign manager. By accepting the position, Brazile became the first African American woman to head a presidential campaign.

Received a Historic Promotion

She is the heart of grassroots activism and political leadership and shell be a great leader for our national campaign, Gore said in announcing the appointment, which also coincided with the revelation that his campaign headquarters would relocate to his home state of Tennessee. Her more than twenty years of experience in local and national campaigns across the country is a terrific benefit to our effort. I look forward to working with her in her new capacity and I know she will fight hard to bring this campaign closer to the working families of America, Gore remarked. Upon learning of Braziles promotion, the press was quick to point out that Brazile had been fired from the Dukakis campaign several years earlier. However, as Katharine E. Seelye wrote in the New York Times, Gores appointment of her indicates he has little concern about it [the 1988 firing over the George Bush fracas]. As one aide back in Washington put it: Spreading rumors? Holy smokes! In this town?

The appointment of Brazile as campaign manager was viewed as a positive development. It also sent the message that Goreunlike some of his predecessorsrealized that what is termed the black vote does not automatically go to the Democratic candidate. Brazile has been important in shoring up Gores support among the Democrats traditional constituencies, noted James Bennet in the New York Times, referring to the working poor, African Americans, and organized labor.

Brazile was also charged with the task of cutting campaign spending. One of her first duties as campaign manager was an examination of what she called Goreworld, explained Bennet in the New York Times, the results of which revolted her. Consultants were getting paid as much as 15,000 monthly; paid advisers were rendering opinions on what kind of paper the headquarters should use. Brazile immediately slashed the salaries of some staffers, a move that was based, in part, on the fact that living expenses in Tennessee were far more reasonable than in the District of Columbia.

Tackled a Tough Job

The principal focus of Braziles job was to develop strategies that would help Gore win the White House. To help accomplish this task, she worked closely with campaign chairman Tony Coelho and Gore 2000 media advisors Carter Eskew and Bob Shrum. In the New York Times report, Bennet explained the nature of Braziles job: she had sketched for the reporter a triangle diagram: three phrases on each point read proven leader, principled fighter, and experience that matters. She then explained to Bennet that every statement made by Gore or his campaign staff, in the effort to win voters, needed to touch upon those points. Every conversationno matter how it starts off its got to go into this box, she told Bennet.

During her first months on the job in Nashville, Brazile continued to commute back and forth to the Washington D.C. area to teach a class, African American Participation in American Politics, at University of Marylands College Park campus. It is Braziles contention that the current state of political campaigns, with their reliance on polls and highly paid consultants, is ineffective in bringing together voters on the issues. Braziles wealth of field experience at the grassroots level helped to make her the ideal person to train staffers and volunteers for Gore. I put my energy, voice and spirit into fighting for anybody who wants to speak their voice, she told Givhan. I dont care what the right wing, the left wing or the chicken wing has to say.

Sources

Black Enterprise, February 1996, p. 22.

National Review, February 7, 2000, pp. 1718.

New York Times, October 7, 1999; October 11, 1999; January 7, 2000;

New York Times Magazine, December 12, 1999; January 23, 2000.

Wall Street Journal, December 4, 1987.

Washington Post, October 7, 1989, p. CI; November 16, 1999, p. C1.

Other

Additional information for this profile was provided by http://www.algore2000.org.

Carol Brennan

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"Brazile, Donna 1959–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 29 May. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Brazile, Donna 1959–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved May 29, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/brazile-donna-1959