Donna Brazile Blames Clinton's Health for 'Basket of Deplorables' Remark

Former DNC chair slams Clinton campaign's handling of her health in new book

Hillary Clinton gets in her car while leaving her daughter's apartment building after resting on September 11, 2016, in New York / Getty Images
November 7, 2017

Former DNC chairman Donna Brazile says she doesn't think Hillary Clinton would have remarked that half of Donald Trump's supporters belong in a "basket of deplorables" if she was in "better health."

Brazile reveals in her just-released book Hacked that she saw Clinton right before she made the "basket of deplorables" comment, and it was the first time she noticed "Hillary did not look well."

Brazile "noticed her face was puffy," "her skin looked pale and papery," and "her eyes were glazed." She approached Clinton about her health before the speech and observed her to be "wobbly on her feet" with a "rattled cough" so bad Brazile suggested medical attention.

It was after this conversation that Clinton labeled Trump supporters "deplorables"—Brazile says the comment came because of her health.

"A short time later, I was seated in the audience at the Cipriani when [Clinton] strode up to the stage with her usual strong steps," Brazile wrote. "Then she said something that, had she been in better health, I don't think she would have said."

Brazile slams the comment in her book, questioning whether Clinton realized she was speaking at a public event.

"When she said 'basket of deplorables' I knew that no matter what she said in the rest of her remarks, this would be the comment that made it on to the evening news," she wrote. "Did she not understand where she was? This was a public event … not one of those cozy little backyard fundraisers where I'd heard her speak freely knowing that her statements were not likely to leak outside that gathering."

Two days later on September 11 Brazile's fears about Clinton's health were confirmed when Clinton was caught on camera collapsing in New York City.

Brazile complains in the book that she was kept out of the loop that morning and slammed the Clinton campaign's attempt to lie about why Clinton fell by saying she was "overheated."

"What? Who thought that up?" Brazile wrote. "They made her sound menopausal, which was unlikely in a woman at the age of sixty-seven."

Brazile goes on to call it a "stupid explanation" and "huge blunder."

"When reporters started calling trying to find out what was wrong after she left the memorial, the campaign had not returned their calls for an hour," she wrote. "When they did, they offered up this 'overheated' nonsense that sounded like a lie."

Brazile writes that she became "as anxious as anyone in the country about the state of her health," and that the next explanation from the campaign—that Clinton had allergies that made her cough and now had pneumonia, and then went to her daughter's house where there were little children—made "matters worse."

"Allergies do not cause pneumonia," she wrote. "And who was going to believe that a grandma with pneumonia would go to her daughter's house to recover with two vulnerable little ones around? The situation had to be pretty dangerous for her to risk exposing the grandbabies."

"The whole story stank, and the way the campaign handled it just made matters worse."

It was following this instance Brazile says she considered replacing Clinton as the party's candidate—not just because of Clinton's health but also because of her "anemic campaign." She ultimately decided against attempting to replace Clinton because it would be "divisive" and the "campaign was already torn apart."

"Even if Hillary was ill and the campaign had its weaknesses, the effort to replace her would be divisive," she wrote.

Former Clinton staffers have lashed out at Brazile due to her suggestion in the book that she considered replacing Clinton with Joe Biden, writing in an open letter to Brazile that she fell for "false Russian-fueled propaganda" about Clinton’s health.

Brazile responded by saying critics of her book can "go to hell."