The Clinton camp rushed to re-brand Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s position on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), according to leaked emails from campaign chairman John Podesta.
Jennifer Palmieri, the Communications Director, notified the rest of the Clinton camp, saying that the Huffington Post had contacted them concerning Clinton’s statement on the issue.
“I have no understanding of the issue – but clear this has a head of steam,” she wrote in a Oct. 25, 2015.
Clinton defended her stance on DOMA while talking to Rachel Maddow Oct. 23, 2015. Clinton claimed that her husband, former President Bill Clinton, had signed DOMA because he feared that Republicans would pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. (RELATED: Hillary Clinton Gets Called Out For Gay Marriage Revisionism)
Multiple people, including a gay rights activist and the Washington Blade, a gay centered publication, called Clinton out for her false statements, pointing out that there was never a threat of an amendment banning gay marriage.
The Clinton camp then went into overdrive, trying to figure out how to combat the negative press and re-brand her previous support for DOMA.
Jake Sullivan, a Clinton adviser, suggested that they focus on Clinton’s “evolving” stance on gay marriage.
“I think we should pull her statements around the time she embraced marriage equality and place greatest emphasis on the fact that she fully acknowledges that she evolved,” Sullivan wrote.
The team then scrambled to come up with a statement to explain Clinton’s previous support on DOMA and to emphasize her work for the gay community.
In one draft of potential statements, Dan Schwerin, Clinton’s speechwriting director, pointed out that they tried to point out the work Clinton had done for gays and get a swipe in at Bernie Sanders.
“This is a little long, but see what you think. Tried to…3) cite her positive LGBT record, 4) get in a little dig at Sanders for being so backwards looking,” Schwerin wrote.
The camp also worried if they could paint Clinton as having evolved in her position on gay marriage by saying she had friends help change her mind.
“At Keene State College, she specifically cited friends playing a part in her evolution, which we echo here. That’s fine, IMO, and quite believable,” Dominic Lowell, the LGBT Outreach Director, wrote.”But if I were a reporter and wanted to keep the evolution story alive, I would start asking which friends she was talking to and ask us to provide them.
Brian Fallon, Clinton’s press secretary, suggested responding to The Huffington Post and getting involved in their “fact-check” story on Clinton’s comments. Doing so, Fallon wrote, would allow them to use the HuffPo story as a “vehicle for giving a statement that reads as a walkback.”
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