A leading liberal group is firing back at a top Hillary Clinton ally after he dismissed their effort to draft Sen. Elizabeth Warren into the 2016 presidential as a cynical fundraising ploy that could help Republicans in his new book.
David Brock, the former conservative journalist who switched sides to found an archipelago of leading Democratic groups, including two PACs supporting Clinton, devotes most of his new book “Killing the Messenger” to the media and the “right-wing plot to derail Hillary.”
But he also offers a brief defense of Clinton from the left. He takes particular issue with the progressive group MoveOn, which spent six months trying to draft Warren into the race, along with another group.
“And then there are those like the leaders of the online activist group MoveOn who rather cynically see the opportunity to build their e-mail lists and make some money by backing ‘a more progressive alternative,’” Brock writes. “MoveOn joined forces with a PAC that was trying to draft Elizabeth Warren for president, despite the fact that she said emphatically she wasn’t interested and even signed a letter with her fellow women senators urging Hillary to run."
“It was all part of a misinformed campaign by some of the left, unwittingly serving the interests of the right and enabled at every turn by a press corps that always favors conflict,” Brock continues.
The draft effort threw in the towel in June after it became clear Warren had no plans to run and many liberals gravitated towards Bernie Sanders. Clinton allies watched Warren's moves closely and were more concerned about a challenge from her than Sanders.
Brock and MoveOn, which began in the late 1990s to defend Bill Clinton from impeachment but endorsed Barack Obama in 2008, come from different wings of the Democratic Party. The two have had little apparent interaction in the past, but MoveOn responded aggressively to Brock’s comments.
“Doesn't David Brock have something better to spend his time on than driving a wedge between grassroots progressives and Hillary Clinton?” MoveOn spokesperson Nick Berning said in an email to msnbc. “I'd bet there are lots of folks in the Clinton campaign who are livid at him for lashing out at progressives like this. She needs progressive support if she wants to win.”
Berning went on to knock Brock, who has raised tens of millions of dollars for his groups, sometimes controversially. “First, it's pretty rich for David Brock of all people to accuse others of being motivated by a desire to raise money," he said.
And Berning said that MoveOn made no money off their “Run Warren Run” campaign, insisting the group reinvested “every penny” in the campaign. “We are proud of the campaign and its impact,” he said.
MoveOn and other liberal groups have sought to push Clinton to the left on key policy issues through a variety of different pressure tactics, including the campaign to draft Warren.
But in an email to msnbc, Brock said he was just trying to make the point in his book that Clinton has been a progressive Democrat her entire life. “That's the context of my remark that fomenting a primary challenge by Elizabeth Warren who had made clear she wasn't interested was superfluous. Others have strong feelings to the contrary and I respect that,” he wrote.
Brock elaborated on the thought while discussing Sanders in an interview with Bloomberg Tuesday evening: “I don’t necessarily see so much logic in a significant primary challenger to her, because she’s been [on the progressive side] on these issues.”
Brock's book also mentions by name Adam Green, the cofounder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which he writes “frequently hectors Democrats from the left.” The PCCC did not join the effort to draft Warren, but has alternatively worked privately with Clinton and pressured her publicly.
In response to Brock, Green said only that he appreciated that “Clinton has commendably moved towards the Elizabeth Warren wing of American politics” in recent months, and predicted the move would be a political success.