Sweet: The inside story of Duckworth and Clinton from WikiLeaks

SHARE Sweet: The inside story of Duckworth and Clinton from WikiLeaks

U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., visits Manny’s Deli, 1141 S. Jefferson on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. | Brian Jackson/For the Sun-Times

Follow @lynnsweetWASHINGTON — A new batch of Wikileaks’ hacked emails, released on Monday, reveal the backstory of Hillary Clinton’s “endorsement” of Senate contender Tammy Duckworth and how Clinton loyalists fumed about comments from David Axelrod.

The hacked John Podesta emails span about 10 years, providing a trove of usually impossible to obtain information from a circle of people in the orbit of Podesta, who plays key roles in the Obama and Clinton worlds.


In 2015, Duckworth, a House member in her second term, was locked in a Democratic primary in which her main rival was attorney Andrea Zopp.

Bill Daley, who was Bill Clinton’s Commerce secretary and a chief of staff for President Barack Obama, was backing Zopp, who would ultimately be defeated by Duckworth in the March 2016 Illinois primary.

Duckworth is now in a November battle with Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.


Follow @lynnsweetOn Oct. 5, 2015, Daley tapped out a message on his iPad to Podesta, the chairman of Clinton’s campaign:

“John the sun times is reporting that HRC endorsed duckworth in Ill senate primary can u have someone confirm that for me or let me know truth. Thanks iam helping Andy Zopp opponent, AA women former head of urban league.”

I understand why Daley was puzzled.

So was I, when word drifted to me that Clinton was backing Duckworth. It did not make sense to me on several levels.

Clinton didn’t need to get in the middle of an Illinois Democratic Senate primary and get folks mad at her when she would need them in March.

Second, a Clinton primary endorsement was a very very big deal. Why keep it quiet from the Illinois media?

Clinton seems to have slipped up. She wasn’t supposed to jump in a contentious Illinois primary fight. So her backing was kept quiet.

Eventually, a video of Clinton’s late September comments made during a Quad Cities stop, surfaced.

“Let’s really do the right thing by getting everybody talk to your friends, your neighbors, your family, about people you work with about Tammy Duckworth and why she should be the next senator of lllinois,” Clinton said at a Quad Cities event.

Clinton was stumping in the Illinois side of the Quad Cities in advance of the Iowa primary. Duckworth was also at the event.

“I cannot imagine anybody who can better represent the dreams and aspirations of the people of Illinois. . . . So please, before you leave today, commit to doing everything you can to making her the next senator.”

Clinton was backing Duckworth, even if she did not say the magic word “endorse.”

About two hours after Daley sent his email to Podesta, Podesta’s top assistant, Sara Latham, emailed Podesta a reply she got from “Marlon.” Marlon Marshall is the Clinton campaign director of state campaigns and political engagement. “from Marlon — HRC gave her props at a event in IL and said “should be the next Senator from Illinois!” etc Wasn’t a full fledged endorsement and wasn’t in her talking points and we haven’t sent anything out on it publicly. But it was reported on in the press as an endorsement.”

Which it was.


A few days ago, I reported on an email about the Clinton team’s frustration with David Axelrod because he was giving on-the-record interviews deemed critical of Clinton.

There are more emails on this point.

Now-former Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines wrote to Podesta on Dec. 17, 2014, and other top Clinton figures following Axelrod quotes he didn’t like in a story.

“We had discussed the utility of reaching out to David Axelrod, but Is he on HRC’s — or anyone’s — call sheet? I hate to reward bad behavior, but this seems like one headache we could easily neutralize.”

On Jan 7, 2015, Clinton’s longtime staffer Huma Abedin passed along an upbeat tweet from Axelrod, adding, “…We got into a conversation about his public comments. He assured me that he is 100 percent supportive of HRC and that she will be the nominee and understands that we might be frustrated with what he has said.

“I sense that he is disappointed that we have talked to everyone else in Obama world except for him and I assured him that HRC would be in touch soon. I think we are now in a good place with him but she needs to call him and I conveyed that to her. Will try to get it done this week.”

Tweets by @lynnsweet

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