Hacked emails from the personal account of Hillary Clinton’s top campaign official show some of the attention her team paid to courting black voters.
There were worries about Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ appeal to that historically Democratic voter group. There was angst over whether Clinton should give a speech on race relations. Meanwhile, a South Carolina Democratic Party official voiced concerns that Clinton hadn’t visited a particular region of the state.
The emails were among hundreds released Saturday by WikiLeaks. The notes were stolen from the email account of John Podesta, the Clinton campaign’s chairman, as part of a series of high-profile computer hacks of Democratic targets that U.S. intelligence officials say were orchestrated by Russia, with the intent to influence the Nov. 8 election.
It was impossible to authenticate each hacked email that WikiLeaks published, but Democrats have openly acknowledged they were hacked and have not pointed to any specific case where an email was altered to inflict political damage.
SPEECH ON RACE
Clinton’s campaign debated whether she should give a speech on race.
Her chief speechwriter, Dan Schwerin, emailed Podesta, communications director Jennifer Palmieri and others in February 2016 to say that, as conceived, the speech would demonstrate Clinton’s “sustained and comprehensive commitment” to improving race relations and her lifelong sympathy toward the plight of minorities in the U.S.
Both Bill Clinton and candidate Clinton were clear that the speech shouldn’t be “a big mea culpa,” but the former president also said “we shouldn’t try to defend the indefensible.”
Schwerin went on to say that adviser Minyon Moore had raised tough questions about the wisdom of making the speech because it could “unintentionally end up elevating questions that aren’t yet being widely asked and introduce new damaging information, especially super predator, to a lot more voters.”
In a 1996 speech about Bill Clinton’s crime bill when she was first lady, Hillary Clinton described young people in gangs as “super-predators.”
Some blacks find the term offensive and have sought during the campaign to hold her accountable for it. Hillary Clinton has said she regrets using the term.
After a “gut check” conversation with Moore and subsequent talks with policy advisers Jake Sullivan and Maya Harris, Schwerin says in the email that the campaign hierarchy is “mostly persuaded” by Moore’s concerns. Instead, a decision to push the Supreme Court nomination issue could replace the race speech.
Schwerin ultimately closes his memo with the idea that “if we’re slipping fast, maybe it’s worth rolling the dice and doing the speech. If we’re holding relatively steady, maybe we see if we can ride this out without doing the speech.”