Mass. Dems spin on DNC’s rocky start, Brazile sees more emails coming

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PHILADELPHIA — Before boarding an evening cruise on the Delaware River, Massachusetts Democrats praised their party chairwoman’s decision to step aside, hoping the move would calm the faction of the party loyal to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz had been a target of Sanders throughout the campaign, as the candidate claimed the party was tipping the scales toward establishment favorite Hillary Clinton.

Late last week, Wikileaks released a trove of emails from within the party, which showed in one instance a party official suggesting questions about Sanders’s faith – the idea being that he is a non-believing atheist rather than an adherent to the Jewish faith of his heritage.

On the program “This Week,” Sanders called for Wasserman Schultz to resign, and later in the day news broke that she would step aside and Donna Brazile, who ran Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign, would take over on an interim basis.

“She absolutely did the right thing. I think she did it quickly,” Steve Grossman, the former state treasurer who led the Democratic National Committee during the presidency of Bill Clinton, told the News Service. He said, “Leadership is about taking responsibility for anything and everything that happens on your watch.”

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey predicted that Sanders’s expected endorsement of Hillary Clinton on the convention stage Monday would eclipse the turmoil caused by the disclosure of the emails.

“Bernie Sanders is making it clear that Donald Trump is the single most unqualified person to be president in his lifetime. And I think that message from Bernie Sanders to every Sanders supporter is going to be all that is remembered by this coming Thursday night,” said Markey, who called the incident “unfortunate.” He said, “She got it out of the way before the convention has even started.”

Brazile told CNN Sunday night that she was apologizing to Sanders’ team for the “insensitivity and tone” and “toxic words” in the emails. While impressing that she’s awaiting a full briefing, she said she has heard that “there is some degree of culpability by Russian hackers.”

“Initially everyone thought that they were just stealing all of the research information pertaining to Donald Trump and now we find out that they were stirring up a little bit more,” Brazile said.

And Brazile said she expects additional emails might lead to more disclosures.

“More emails are coming,” she told CNN. “This is just the first of probably many thousands of emails. They went in and stole the entire email database of the staff. And I want to know how much information was removed or stolen because really we have a lot of intellectual property and we want to protect it.”

The Massachusetts Democrats who spoke to the news media by the docks, where the Spirit of Philadelphia lay waiting for them, contrasted the uproar within the Democratic party with the divisions that Trump’s nomination has caused within the Republican party.

“Not necessarily the way you want to start a convention,” said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. He said, “I don’t think we’re anywhere near as fractured as the Republican party.”

Grossman compared Wasserman Schultz’s resignation with the response the Trump campaign gave once the public learned portions of the candidate’s wife’s speech had been plagiarized from the convention address First Lady Michelle Obama gave eight years ago. The Trump campaign first rejected the plagiarism charges, before a statement from staffer Meredith McIver took the blame for including the purloined phrasing.

Grossman also allowed that from what he had read in the email trove it appeared Sanders has a case that the scales were tipped in Clinton’s favor.

“To the extent that the emails appeared to indicate that the playing field was not a level one, and to the extent that the DNC charter requires a level playing field, then obviously it shouldn’t have happened,” Grossman said. “And when you’re the leader you take responsibility for what happens. You don’t blame someone else.”

The resignation will give Sanders delegates some acknowledgement that wrongs were made, Grossman said.

“I am delighted that she did it. I recognize how painful it must have been,” said Grossman, who said he has known Wasserman Schultz for years.

Walsh said Sanders has a responsibility to help unify the party, noting the Sanders campaign garb worn by some at the Sheraton Society Hill where the Massachusetts delegation is staying.

“There’s a lot of Bernie Sanders T-shirts and buttons going on, and I think it’s time we come together,” Walsh said. He said he was “a little shocked” at the lack of mention Trump received in the Republican National Convention speech by runner-up Sen. Ted Cruz, who was booed off the stage after declining to endorse the nominee.

— Written by Andy Metzger and Michael Norton

Copyright State House News Service