Hillary Clinton had few defenders extra ferocious than Peter Daou in 2016. The previous Clinton aide called Bernie Sanders’ movement “a hate mission towards one lady.” He brawled with, and blocked, Sanders fans on social media with abandon. His devotion to Clinton was such that he co-founded “Hillary Men,” a website aimed toward making a “protected area” for her male fans.
Fast-forward to the 2020 main: Daou has appeared on the Sanders campaign’s official podcast, praised the Vermont senator to his almost 300,000 social media followers, and passionately railed towards the Democratic institution.
The radicalization of Daou, a digital political marketing consultant who refers to his change of heart as his “metamorphosis,” is considered one of probably the most sudden and intriguing subplots of the presidential race.
“I used to be a vocal Hillary Clinton supporter and now I've moved to a position the place I feel that the Democratic Social gathering institution needs to vary,” Daou advised POLITICO. “Bernie Sanders is the sole candidate advocating for systemic change — democratic socialism, actually questioning the capitalist system, questioning your complete establishment.”
Daou, who spent his childhood in Lebanon and made a dwelling in the 1990s as an electronic musician, started his political profession within the anti-Iraq Struggle liberal blogosphere. When Clinton first employed Daou in 2006 to boost her image amongst on-line progressives, he was described as “one of the most prominent political bloggers in the nation.” He served as director of online speedy response and blog outreach for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, and Web director for Clinton’s 2008 bid.
Throughout Clinton’s second run for the White Home, Daou didn’t immediately work for Clinton but nonetheless defended her honor every day on social media. In the eyes of Sanders’ allies, he was a ruthless mercenary: Daou called the Vermont senator’s fans "belligerent” and "self-righteous,” and said Sanders had “absolutely no business determining the course of the Democratic Social gathering after the hurt he did to us.”
Clinton opponents labeled him a “hack,” “shill” and “sell-out” right again, according to Daou.
Within the years since President Donald Trump was elected, although, Daou has grown highly skeptical of the Democratic establishment. He stated in an interview that he does not consider the celebration’s elites are outfitted to take on the GOP, or have achieved enough to push for change when in energy. He faulted them for permitting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to “steal” a Supreme Courtroom seat, forfeiting greater than 1,000 state- and federal-level positions, and pursuing average and even conservative policies throughout Barack Obama’s presidency.
“Beneath Obama, Democrats lost ground to the far right. We had the Home, the Senate, and the Supreme Courtroom was extra balanced than it is at present, and yet youngsters have been caged on the border,” he stated. “We ended up with a Mitt Romney health care system with the Reasonably priced Care Act. I’m not knocking all of it. What I’m saying is this was not meaningful change.”
He now believes the simplest option to accomplish real change is thru movement politics, which is partly why he praises his former foe: "Sanders is the one candidate who has sparked a real movement." He is additionally consulting for 3 Democratic congressional candidates who are difficult incumbents of their own social gathering.
Daou discussed his transformation last week on an episode of “Hear the Bern” with host Briahna Pleasure Grey, Sanders’ nationwide press secretary, whom he had brawled with in 2016. “I simply took it too far,” he informed her of that marketing campaign. “After 2017, 2018, I assumed, ‘I have to take duty for a way toxic things turned. I can’t put it on everyone else and simply maintain blaming others.’”
Sanders sometimes has not made a lot of an effort to win over former Clinton voters. But Daou’s look on the podcast is one among a handful of current strikes by the Sanders workforce that appear aimed toward expanding his base. Faiz Shakir, Sanders’ campaign manager, informed Sanders followers final week in a video that “a motion that wins is a motion that grows.”
Shakir additionally learn excerpts of an op-ed by a Clinton-turned-Sanders supporter, who stated that the “nastiness” of some of Sanders’ 2016 voters had turned her away. The lady ultimately got here around, she stated, because of a respectful fan. In the meantime, Sanders himself has referred to as for his supporters to “battle for somebody you don’t know” at current rallies, and the campaign has run a web-based ad highlighting the similar message. Shakir stated he hopes “to maintain the momentum going.”
Daou’s evolution can also be a sign that the Democratic Social gathering’s transfer leftward shouldn't be limited to activists and the presidential campaigns: It’s occurring to prime aides, too. One other former Clinton staffer, Brian Fallon, just lately co-founded the progressive group Demand Justice, which has referred to as out Democratic senators for voting for Trump’s judicial appointments.
As with Fallon, Daou’s anti-establishment streak has irked some of his previous pals. Neera Tanden, a former prime Clinton adviser and president of the Middle for American Progress, blocked Daou on Twitter. “Not because I would like uncritical allegiance to anybody but because Peter dunks on Hillary, a person he claimed to admire,” she wrote online.
David Brock, a Clinton ally who worked with Daou on the now-defunct liberal news website ShareBlue, stated, “I truthfully don’t know what to make of it. I haven’t talked to him in three years, and I wouldn’t need to speculate.”
Some progressives have questioned the authenticity of Daou’s about-face on-line. He stated he understands that individuals are “conditioned to be very cynical of anyone in politics,” but stated, “I've the suitable to vary my thoughts.”
Not everybody from his former life has been crucial. Howard Wolfson, a senior adviser to Michael Bloomberg who labored alongside Daou on Clinton’s 2008 campaign, advised POLITICO, “I’m an enormous fan of Peter’s and the work he did” that yr.
“He's a sincere and passionate man who goes all in when he believes in something,” he added.
In some ways, Daou stated, he's simply coming again house: He all the time felt like an outsider within the Beltway — the liberal blogger brought into the Democratic institution to build bridges between the two worlds — and had appeared up to Sanders in his early activist years.
He simply lost perspective in 2016, he stated. His recommendation for Democrats in this main who need to avoid taking place that path: “Give attention to the motion, not necessarily the person candidate.”
Article initially revealed on POLITICO Magazine