Democrats plot their DC departures for Trump inauguration – Politico
Many prominent Democrats and Republicans who opposed Donald Trump are fleeing Washington for the inauguration, heading far from the capital to plot anti-Trump strategy or simply avoid the pain of witnessing inauguration celebrations.
Inauguration departures by operatives on the losing side of an election are common every four years, but they’re taking on a different tone this time after an unusually ugly election season. Many Democrats are in no mood to see the swearing in of a man they consider a unique threat to the nation.
Story Continued Below
Democratic attack dog David Brock is gathering more than 150 top Democratic donors in south Florida over inauguration to discuss how to hold the incoming Trump administration accountable and plot strategy for Democrats to win in 2018 and 2020.
A source close to him said the retreat is attracting James Carville, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood and Ilyse Hogue of NARAL, along with some Democratic officials from the federal and state levels sharing their views with donors.
Most Democratic lawmakers are staying in Washington to witness, in their official roles, the peaceful transfer of power. But a handful have announced they’re staying away due to their deep-seated disagreement with Trump.
The D.C. political-operative class is divided into a few camps: Democrats leaving town to avoid the pageantry, gleeful D.C. Republicans and hardcore Trump supporters coming from around the country, Democrats who are staying for work or protests and some anti-Trump Republicans who aren’t eager to see their fellow Republican inaugurated.
Donna Brazile, interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, is spending Martin Luther King Jr. Day with students of St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, before jetting off to Paris for a conference.
Brazile, who was Al Gore’s 2000 campaign manager, told POLITICO she also went abroad in 2001 after that similarly bitterly contested election—although she stayed in 2005 to teach her Georgetown class.
Robert Raben, a top Democratic lobbyist at the Raben Group, is heading to the Sundance film festival in Park City, Utah. Longtime Democratic operative Doug Thornell is heading to his favorite city of New Orleans to celebrate the 40th birthday party of some close friends.
“When you lose, it’s always hard to watch the other team’s victory party,” he said.
The inauguration is particularly hard for Democrats who worked on the Hillary Clinton campaign, especially since many were sure of victory. Clinton herself will attend the ceremony with her husband.
Adrienne Elrod, the Clinton campaign’s former director of strategic communications, is not leaving D.C. but said some of her campaign friends are going to places like Europe or the beach to avoid seeing Trump get inaugurated.
“It’s absolutely painful, there’s no question,” she said. “It’s going to be hard for a lot of us that week, and that applies to whether somebody’s in Washington during the inauguration or if they’re sitting on a beach somewhere sipping a Mai Tai.”
One young Democratic operative who worked on the Clinton campaign said that of her friends leaving town, none want to rent out or Airbnb their apartments to people coming for the inauguration. “Every time the conversation is the same. ‘I don’t want Trump supporters in my home.’”
It’s not just Democrats; some anti-Trump Republicans are getting out of Dodge, too.
Tony Fratto, a former Bush White House official and “Never Trumper” during the campaign, is going next week on his annual trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to meet with potential clients.
Katie Packer, who founded the Never Trump group “Our Principles PAC,” splits her time between Washington and Colorado and is staying in that state to attend her boyfriend’s son’s lacrosse tournament.
During the 2013 Obama inauguration, Packer, who was deputy campaign manager for Mitt Romney’s unsuccessful 2012 campaign, and other 2012 Mitt staffers went to Las Vegas for a retreat sponsored by prominent Romney supporters Charlie and Lisa Spies.
She said it would have been “disingenuous to take part in the festivities” next week and doesn’t “feel particularly sad” about missing any parties.
Some Democrats are sticking around to make their voices heard over inauguration weekend.
Neera Tanden, a close Clinton ally, is staying in town and working that day in her job as president of the Center for American Progress, which will be a hub of Trump opposition during his presidency. She’s also marching the next day in the big women’s march.
Stephanie Cutter, Obama’s former deputy campaign manager now at Precision Strategies, is likely staying since she has to do a Sunday show but is taking her family to Disneyworld this weekend. CNN contributor Hilary Rosen is also among those staying and will “be home toasting my blessed life with an amazing group of women who will be in town for the March on Saturday.”
Ron Klain, former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden who also prepped Clinton for debates, won’t be in Washington on the day itself but is returning Friday night to host Harvard Law School Democrats who are coming to D.C. to march on Saturday.
“For me, fleeing town is not the answer. Helping the next generation of activists get in the game is!” he said in an email.
While Republicans celebrate and Democratic women prep for that Saturday march, the business of D.C. churns on no matter who is getting inaugurated. Bipartisan lobbying firm the Podesta Group, co-founded by Tony and John Podesta, Clinton’s former campaign chairman, is hosting an inauguration “warm up and watch party” at the Willard InterContinental.
Jack Quinn, a White House counsel for former President Bill Clinton, is staying in D.C. to work and said he’s choosing “to not be in a bad mood for four years” because his side lost.
“I’d rather not be cranky and hard to live with,” said Quinn, now a lobbyist. “I’d rather be optimistic and be fun for my family to be around. It’s a strong country and a good country.”
**SUBSCRIBE to POLITICO Playbook: http://politi.co/1M75UbX