Donna Brazile

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Donna Brazile
Donna Brazile 1.JPG
Chair of the Democratic National Committee
Assumed office
July 28, 2016
Preceded by Debbie Wasserman Schultz
In office
April 5, 2011 – May 4, 2011
Preceded by Tim Kaine
Succeeded by Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Personal details
Born Donna Lease Brazile
(1959-12-15) December 15, 1959 (age 56)
Kenner, Louisiana, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
Religion Roman Catholicism[1]
Website Official website

Donna Lease Brazile[2] (/brəˈzɪl/; born December 15, 1959)[3] is an American author and political analyst. She is a member of the Democratic Party and became interim chairperson of the Democratic National Committee in July 2016. She briefly served as the interim chairperson for the DNC in the spring of 2011 and summer 2016.

She was the first African American to direct a major presidential campaign, acting as campaign manager for Vice President Al Gore in 2000. She has also worked on several presidential campaigns for Democratic candidates, including Jesse Jackson and Walter MondaleGeraldine Ferraro in 1984, and for Dick Gephardt in the 1988 Democratic primary.

Early life[edit]

Brazile was born in Kenner, Louisiana, the daughter of Jean Marie (Brown) and Lionel Joseph Brazile,[2][4]1 the third of nine children. Her family's surname was "Braswell" several generations back.[2] Brazile became interested in politics at the age of nine when a local candidate for office promised to build a neighborhood playground. She participated in a TRIO Upward Bound program while in high school. Brazile earned a bachelor's degree in industrial psychology from Louisiana State University in 1981, and is a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. After graduating from Louisiana State University, Brazile worked for several advocacy groups in Washington, D.C., and was instrumental in the successful campaign to make Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday a federal holiday.[5]

Brazile volunteered for the Jimmy CarterWalter Mondale presidential campaigns in 1976 and 1980 as a teenager.[5]

Political strategist[edit]

Brazile has worked on several presidential campaigns for Democratic candidates, including Jesse Jackson in 1984, Walter Mondale–Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, and for Richard Gephardt in the 1988 Democratic primary.

After Gephardt lost the primary in 1988, Brazile served as deputy field director of the Michael Dukakis general election campaign. On October 20, 1988, she made headlines by telling a group of reporters that George H. W. Bush needed to "fess up" about unsubstantiated rumors of an extramarital affair.

Said Brazile, "The American people have every right to know if Barbara Bush will share that bed with him in the White House."[6][7] The Dukakis campaign immediately disavowed her remarks and Dukakis fired her from his campaign staff shortly after the story broke.[8] Four years later, the same issue, the relationship of George H.W. Bush and Jennifer Fitzgerald, would be briefly rehashed during the 1992 campaign against Bill Clinton, who had his own extramarital affair rumors.

In the 1990s, Brazile served as chief of staff and press secretary to Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia, where she helped guide the District's budget and local legislation on Capitol Hill. She also served as an advisor for Bill Clinton's campaign for the presidency in 1992 and for re-election in 1996.

In 1999, Brazile was appointed deputy campaign manager and was later promoted to campaign manager of the 2000 presidential campaign of Vice-President Al Gore, becoming the first African-American woman to manage a major party presidential campaign.

After the Hurricane Katrina disaster, Brazile was appointed as a member of the board of directors of the Louisiana Recovery Authority by Kathleen Blanco from 2005 to 2009.

Democratic National Committee service[edit]

After the post-election fight over votes in the 2000 United States presidential election in Florida, Brazile was appointed chair of the Democratic National Committee's Voting Rights Institute.

2008 presidential election[edit]

In the 2008 election, she served as a superdelegate for her work for Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

As a delegate for the Democratic National Convention, Brazile consistently refrained from declaring her preferred Democratic presidential candidate. In an interview with political satirist Stephen Colbert, Brazile stated, "Look, I'm a woman, so I like Hillary. I'm black; I like Obama. But I'm also grumpy, so I like John McCain."[9][10]

The 2008 Democratic presidential primaries in Florida and Michigan initially caused the delegates from these two states to be disqualified from being seated at the Democratic Convention due to the states moving their primaries against DNC Party rules.[11][12] Brazile stated, "We need to send a message that you can't defy the rules," adding, "I have pissed off just about every state in my career."[13]

At the Rules Committee meeting to decide on the final allocations for these states she was quoted: "My momma taught me to play by the rules and respect those rules. My mother taught me, and I'm sure your mother taught you, that when you decide to change the rules, middle of the game, end of the game, that is referred to as cheating." [14]

She was strongly critical of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which places limits on taxpayer-funded abortions in the context of the November 2009 Affordable Health Care for America Act.[15]

2012 presidential election[edit]

For several weeks in the spring of 2011, she served as interim chair of the Democratic National Committee. As vice-chair of the DNC, she led the organization during the transition between outgoing chair Tim Kaine, who resigned to run for the U.S. Senate, and his successor, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was not permitted to ascend to the post until at least fifteen days after being nominated on April 5, 2011.[16] Following Wasserman Schultz' installation as DNC chair, Brazile returned to her post as vice-chair.

2016 presidential election[edit]

Brazile campaigns for Hillary Clinton at Nashua Community College in New Hampshire, October 7, 2016.

On July 24, 2016, the DNC announced Wasserman Schultz would step down and Brazile would serve as interim chair, due to revelations by WikiLeaks of multiple alleged indiscretions by Wasserman Schultz concerning candidate Sanders.[17] On October 11, 2016, a WikiLeaks email dump included an e-mail Brazile sent on March 12th to Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri with the subject header "From time to time I get questions in advance."[18] In the email, Brazile discussed her concern of Clinton's ability to field a question regarding the death penalty, and in a CNN town hall debate the following day, Clinton received a question about the death penalty in the town hall, but one which was different than the one in the email. Brazile has since denied receiving or furnishing the Clinton campaign with any town hall questions.[19]

University teaching and affiliations[edit]

Brazile also served as a lecturer at the University of Maryland, College Park, a fellow at Harvard University's Institute of Politics, and is an Adjunct Professor of Women and Gender Studies at Georgetown University. She is member of the advisory board of the Washington & Lee University Mock Convention.

Commentator and author[edit]

Brazile is a weekly contributor and political commentator on CNN's The Situation Room and appeared on American Morning and its successor, New Day, and has regularly appeared on CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, and is a frequent member of Anderson Cooper's guest panel of political experts on CNN's Election Night Coverage. In addition, she is a contributing writer for Ms. Magazine and was a columnist for Roll Call. Brazile is also founder and managing director of Brazile and Associates and a contributor to NPR's Political Corner and ABC News. In 2004, Simon & Schuster published Cooking With Grease, Brazile's memoir of her life and work in politics. However, it was announced that Brazile had agreed mutually with both CNN and ABC to cut ties with the networks in order to serve as interim chair of the DNC.[20] It has yet to be determined if she will return to either network once her term as interim chair expires.[20]


Brazile donated her papers to the Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections in the Louisiana State University Libraries Special Collections, located in Hill Memorial Library.[21]


Brazile is a member of Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and has guest-starred as herself in three episodes of the CBS drama The Good Wife and one episode of the Netflix drama House of Cards.[22]



  1. ^ (subscription required).


  1. ^ Rosenthal, Elisabeth (May 31, 2004). "The Fine Arts of Food and Politics, From a Gore Veteran". The New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company. Retrieved March 4, 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Executive producer; Head writer) (January 5, 2016). "The Stories We Tell". Finding Your Roots. Season 3. Episode 1. United States: U.S. Government. PBS. Retrieved October 17, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Donna Brazile: Born for politics". USA Today. McLean, Virginia: Gannett Company. May 23, 2000. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  4. ^ PBS Staff (January 7, 2016). "Donna Brazile's Interactive Family Tree". PBS. United States: U.S. Government. Retrieved October 17, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Harris, Janelle (October 27, 2010). "So What Do You Do, Donna Brazile, Political Commentator and Strategist?". Mediabistro. United States: Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  6. ^ Germond 2005, p. 144.
  7. ^ Drogin, Bob (October 21, 1988). "Aide's Remarks Prompt Dukakis Apology to Bush". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles: Times-Mirror Company (1988–2000) Tribune Company (2000–08) Tronc, Inc. (2008–present). Retrieved October 17, 2016. 
  8. ^ Sanders, Joshunda (July 4, 2004). "State's Dems still hope for a bit of suspense / A contested primary is viewed as a plus for party". San Francisco Chronicle. San Francisco: Hearst Corporation. 
  9. ^ Traister 2011, p. 127.
  10. ^ Eisenstadt, Martin (2009). I Am Martin Eisenstadt: One Man's (Wildly Inappropriate) Adventures with the Last Republicans. New York City: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-0865479142. 
  11. ^ Ambinder, Marc (December 1, 2007). "The DNC Strips Michigan of Delegates". The Atlantic. Washington, D.C.: Atlantic Media. Retrieved September 5, 2008. 
  12. ^ Shear, Michael D. (August 26, 2007). "DNC Strips Florida of 2008 Delegates". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: Nash Holdings LLC. Retrieved September 5, 2008. 
  13. ^ "Donna Brazile cuts loose on 2008 campaign". PoliticsWest. February 29, 2008. Retrieved September 5, 2008. 
  14. ^ "Quote of the day". MSNBC. New York City: NBCUniversal. Retrieved July 24, 2016. 
  15. ^ Stephanopoulos, George (November 8, 2009). "Brazile: Stupak Amendment: 'Outlaws Abortion'". ABC News. New York City: ABC. Retrieved October 17, 2016. 
  16. ^ Cillizza, Chris (April 6, 2010). "Donna Brazile to serve as interim DNC chair". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: Nash Holdings LLC. Retrieved April 6, 2010. 
  17. ^ Phillip, Abby; Gearan, Anne (July 24, 2016). "Wasserman Schultz announced Sunday she will resign in aftermath of email controversy". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: Nash Holdings LLC. Retrieved July 24, 2016. 
  18. ^ Wemple, Erik (2016-10-11). "Then-CNN contributor Donna Brazile to Clinton camp: Sometimes 'I get the questions in advance'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-10-19. 
  19. ^ Levy, Gabrielle (2016-10-11). "DNC's Donna Brazile Denies Giving Hillary Clinton Early Access to Town Hall Question". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2016-10-19. 
  20. ^ a b Gold, Hadas (July 24, 2016). "CNN, ABC cut ties with Donna Brazile, freeing her up for DNC job". The Politico. Arlington County, Virginia. Retrieved October 17, 2016. 
  21. ^ Laver, Tara (September 26, 2014). "Political Strategist Donna Brazile donates her papers to LSU". Louisiana State University. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Blogger. Retrieved October 17, 2016. 
  22. ^ Hale, Mike (October 1, 2014). "Political Cameos on 'The Good Wife'? Donna Brazile Likes Them.". The New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company. Retrieved February 6, 2015. 


External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Tim Kaine
Chair of the Democratic National Committee

Succeeded by
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Preceded by
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Chair of the Democratic National Committee