Political opinion writer Brent Budowsky told Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman he was writing “friendly and positive pieces” about Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders as a ruse to ultimately have more credibility to urge Sanders’ supporters to vote for Clinton after the primaries.
Budowsky, a self-described “HRC supporter” who has written commentary pieces about Sanders for The Huffington Post and The Hill, corresponded with Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta on July 1, 2015, in an email with the subject “Campaign money and negative ads.” In the email, released as part of a dump of Podesta’s emails Saturday from WikiLeaks, Budowsky offered Podesta his thoughts on how Clinton could “offer leadership for a better kind of politics.”
“When the time is right I will have money in the bank with him and his people as a liberal to urge them to come out in force to vote for HRC.”
This leadership, the opinion writer suggested, would be a call for the Democratic presidential candidates to refrain from running negative ads against one another as a spin on a “version of Reagan’s 11 commandment of Republicans not attacking each other.”
“[Clinton] would get credit with voters for trying, Bernie would almost certainly agree and [Martin] O’Malley doesn’t matter at this point and probably won’t,” Budowsky wrote. “HRC could then spend money running positive ads about herself, juxtaposed against Republicans, which helps her favorable and trust numbers, draws a nice contrast between her and Republicans, and when she has to go negative when Republicans do, she has a strong foundation of having campaigned for a higher standard of politics which voters want.”
Then Budowsky outlined his plan to curry favor with Sanders backers in order to ultimately steer them to Clinton.
“We are going to need [Sanders] voters to turn out in November for HRC, [because] he won’t be nominated,” Budowsky wrote to Podesta. “I am doing the opposite, repeatedly writing friendly and positive pieces about Bernie as an HRC supporter, and when the time is right I will have money in the bank with him and his people as a liberal to urge them to come out in force to vote for HRC … which is not a given, and we won’t have much margin for error in a close election.”
Sure enough, Budowsky had written “friendly and positive pieces” about Sanders and his bid for the presidency in the months preceding and succeeding his email to Podesta.
On June 30, 2015, Budowsky dubbed Sanders “the surprise early star of the 2016 campaign” in a piece for The Hill. On July 8, 2015, Budowsky wrote a piece for The Hill titled “A Bernie Sanders Summer.” In that article, Budowsky commended Sanders for his “surge of support” that represented a “progressive populist wave growing across America.”
“The rise of Sanders and the challenges and opportunities it creates for Hillary Clinton are the great story in presidential politics, while a gaggle of GOP candidates competes to move America backward,” Budowsky wrote. “The prospect of this new era of new thinking from a new populism of a new left, following the Gilded Age corruptions of the last financial crash and the revolving door corruptions of Washington, is driving the surprise surge for Sanders and posing the dramatic test for Clinton.”