Edward Rendell, former Pennsylvania governor and a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton, admitted recently that the former secretary of state’s presidential campaign has handled the controversy surrounding her private email system "atrociously."
"They’ve handled the email issue poorly—maybe atrociously, certainly horribly," Rendell, who also chaired the Democratic National Committee during the 2000 election, told the New York Times in an interview.
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"The campaign has been incredibly tone-deaf, not seeing this as a more serious issue," he continued. "She should have turned over the email server at the start, because they should have known they’d be forced to give it up. But at this point, there’s nothing they can do to kill the issue—they’re left just playing defense."
Rendell has consistently been supportive of Clinton, donating $2,700 to her presidential campaign in May, according to data from the Federal Election Commission. Rendell has even defended Clinton for her use of private email on television.
Nevertheless, Rendell is one of multiple Democratic leaders who have grown frustrated with the email scandal and Clinton’s attempt to laugh off questions regarding her allegedly wiped-clean server.
"Instead of flippant and smart-aleck comments, it would just be better to come clean in a straightforward way," North Carolina Democratic national committeewoman Pat Cotham told the Times in a separate interview. "People don’t expect you to be perfect, but they just want to know what the deal is."
Clinton, who will speak before party leaders at the DNC summer meeting in Minneapolis on Friday, faces an uphill battle convincing American voters of her honesty amid the scandal.
A Quinnipiac University national poll released this week indicates that more than 60 percent of voters view Clinton as not trustworthy, representing her worst honesty score ever. Meanwhile, Clinton has lost 10 percent of the vote among likely Democratic primary voters in less than a month.
As Clinton’s numbers decline, suspicion continues to mount around the possibility of Vice President Joe Biden running for the Democratic nomination in 2016. While Biden has not publicly made a decision, he has discussed launching a White House bid with political advisers and has also reached out to longtime donors.
The Clinton campaign is reportedly trying to discourage Biden for running for president, Hillary herself even making calls to donors who have openly demonstrated support for the vice president.
Rendell’s remarks come weeks after Clinton handed her private server over to the Department of Justice as the FBI probes the security of the email system she used while working in the Obama administration.
Multiple emails held on the system have been flagged for containing classified information, and two were deemed by the intelligence community inspector general as "top secret." If discovered to have knowingly sent, stored or received classified information in a location unauthorized by the government, Clinton could face prosecution.
Clinton and her campaign have insisted repeatedly that she never used her email to send or receive classified information.