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“Blind Spots Are Unacceptable”: Presidential Candidates Will Need To Listen

The most recent AP-GfK poll found something interesting.

Even as the public remains closely divided about his presidency, Barack Obama is holding on to his support from the so-called “Obama coalition” of minorities, liberals and young Americans, an Associated Press-GfK poll shows, creating an incentive for the next Democratic presidential nominee to stick with him and his policies.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, by comparison, is viewed somewhat less favorably by the key voting groups whose record-setting turnout in 2008 propelled Obama to the White House and will be crucial to her own success.

Roughly two-thirds of Hispanics view Obama favorably, compared to just over half of Hispanics who say the same about Clinton. Among self-identified liberals, Obama’s favorability stands at 87 percent, to Clinton’s 72 percent. Half of Americans under the age of 30 view Obama favorably, compared to just 38 percent for his former secretary of state.

The findings offer a window into the factors at play as Clinton decides how closely to embrace Obama, his record and his policies in her campaign for president. Although associating herself with Obama could turn off some independent and Republican-leaning voters, electoral math and changing demographics make it critical for Democrats to turn out high numbers of Hispanics, African Americans and young voters.

From the moment Hillary Clinton officially launched her 2016 campaign, it has been clear that she is actively courting “the Obama coalition.” She came out of the gate talking about things like criminal justice reform, immigration reform and voting rights – all issues that are of primary concern to people of color, especially young people. Based on reports like this, that is not an accident.

“This is the strongest start when it comes to diversity in presidential politics that I’ve seen and I’ve been doing this for over 20 years,” says Jamal Simmons, a principal at The Raben Group, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm. “She is hiring Black and Latino department heads and women in important positions. It’s aggressive and to be commended.”

According to Simmons, it’s not only the Democratic thing to do because the party says it values diversity, but it’s also important to have people on her staff who come from the same communities as her prospective voters.

Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, agrees.

“The first thing [such hires] does is show our community that the campaign is concerned about who we are and what our issues are and I think that’s very, very important,” she said. “It also says to our community that there are people in that campaign with whom we have some genuine ability to talk to and who understand what we’re talking about.”

To the extent that Hillary listens to the diverse members of her staff, she is unlikely to make the same mistakes that Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders did yesterday in response to challenges from people involved in the #BlackLivesMatter movement. They will tell her things like: saying “all lives matter” is “perceived as erasure rather than inclusion” and that tackling the issue of income inequality is a necessary but insufficient way to address structural racism.

Like it or not, this presidential campaign is going to require candidates to deal with the issues that are important to people of color, and white people inherently have blind spots in those areas. It will become increasingly important for candidates to pay heed to the words of the Dalai Lama.


By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, July 19, 2015

July 20, 2015 Posted by | Election 2016, Minorities, Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“GOP Gives Up On ‘Dump Trump'”: Republicans Have Started To Accept That Cleveland Will Be The Donald Show Debate

Republican grief over Donald Trump’s all but assured presence on the debate stage next month seems to be entering it’s final stage: acceptance.

Whether it’s the winery-owning mega donor, or the Koch-backed Hispanic outreach group or the former head of the American Conservative Union, there is a distaste for the abrasive reality television star and businessman.

But although there was preliminary chatter about finding a way to marginalize Trump or keep him off the debate stage in Cleveland, Ohio, the unhappiness with his recent insulting comments about Hispanics has yielded to mere condemnation and an unhappy acquiescence to his presence in the race.

“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,” Trump said recently.

John Jordan, the multi-millionaire winery owner and the third-largest donor to super PACs in the country in 2013, had originally contemplated gathering signatures to keep Trump off the debate stage.

“Someone in the party ought to start some sort of petition saying, ‘If Trump’s going to be on the stage, I’m not going to be on there with him,’” Jordan told the Associated Press last week. “I’m toying with the idea of it.”

But several days later, Jordan was thinking differently. He told The Daily Beast that he would not be putting together a petition effort.

“I’m content right to let the process play out, that is for the party and the candidates to figure out,” Jordan said. “I have one concern, and one concern only, and that is next November. I want to make sure that the nominee has the possible chance to win.”

Al Cardenas, the former chairman of the American Conservative Union and Florida’s first Hispanic GOP state chairman, said he hoped the primary process would naturally weed out Trump’s candidacy, rather than a top-down effort to push Trump out.

“[A]s distasteful as his comments have been to me, we should let the process play out. Hopefully, it’s the rejection by the voters, not a group of party leaders, that should determine his fate as a presidential candidate,” Cardenas said. “I respect the feelings of a number of our colleagues who feel differently—and strongly—about this and argue that his continuation in the race is detrimental to our party and to our brand. And they may be right, but the end does not justify the means in this case.”

“It’s a mild form of censorship to say that because we disagree with his tone or comments about the immigrant community, [he] should leave the race,” added Daniel Garza of the Koch-backed Libre Initiative, which seeks to appeal to Hispanic voters. “You allow him to mouth off… He has the right to speak, and we have the right to disagree with him… Calls to have him leave the race are ludicrous.”

Alfonso Aguilar, the head of the conservative American Principles Project’s Latino Partnership, views Trump’s “insulting and baseless” comments as creating pressure on other presidential candidates to step up their Hispanic outreach.

“Instead of seeing him as a problem, I see it as an opportunity—but one that requires strong leadership,” he told the Beast. “He’s a lunatic, but we’ve had other lunatics run for president. The problem is not that he’s on stage—it’s if you don’t respond and rebuke him.”

“He has shaken up the primary in a way that might not be welcome. But now that you have it, if you’re smart and astute, maybe you can use it in your favor,” agreed Garza. “Obviously you have to draw the contrast. If Donald Trump is showing how not to do Latino outreach, you show the way to do it effective.”

As for the Republican National Committee, it wants no part in any effort to sideline Trump. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus had called Trump to preach civility after the businessman’s controversial comments—then got mired into a he-said, he-said with The Donald over the contents of the call.

Asked about whether Republicans or big-dollar donors were making an effort to keep Trump off the debate stage, an RNC official merely said that, per Federal Election Commission guidelines, the networks and debate sponsors were responsible for setting up the guidelines for the presidential debates.
Meanwhile, a small plurality of Republican voters are favoring Trump. In a USA Today/Suffolk University poll released this week, Trump leads the field with 17%. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush is close behind him with 14%.

Two polls out last week showed him leading the field of Republican 2016 candidates, receiving 15 percent in an Economist/YouGov poll and 16 percent in a PPP poll.

Aguilar, who was in Arizona to counter-message an event Trump was having with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, said the key to convincing Republican primary voters to steer clear of Trump was to point out the businessman’s prior positions like Trump’s praise of Bill Clinton and his donation to the Clinton Foundation.

“Before he was friends with Hillary, now he’s friends with Joe Arpaio,” he said. “Are you really sure he’s conservative?”


By: Tim Mak, The Daily Beast, July 15, 2015

July 18, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, Republicans | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“You Did Build That”: As Trump Embarrasses Them On Immigration, Republicans Have No One To Blame But Themselves

The always excellent Greg Sargent makes a great point this morning at the Plum Line: Republicans have no one to blame but themselves for the quandary Donald Trump is putting them in.

Just as Southern conservatives could have saved themselves from looking like racist neanderthals desperate to keep a symbol of hate and slavery flying over their governments by taking action of their own accord, so too could the GOP have stood up for immigration reform and put the kibosh on a xenophobic huckster like Trump. But it was not to be:

Really, now — nobody could have predicted that if Republicans failed to pass immigration reform when they had the chance in 2013 and 2014, it would become a major issue in the 2016 race, in ways that are alarming GOP strategists. Yet, shockingly, here we are.

Donald Trump’s foray into the immigration debate has now sparked a flare-up between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. And some Republicans are openly warning that Trump’s comments threaten to do severe damage to the GOP brand among Latinos.

Of course they will, and for good reason. Trump is merely saying in front of a microphone what millions of Republicans across the country say behind closed doors and anonymously in online comments sections. That Trump’s vicious beliefs are widely shared among conservatives is precisely the reason why otherwise business-friendly Republicans eager to win back a greater share of the Hispanic vote could not see their way to passing immigration reform, for fear of Tea Party challenges from the right.

Republicans in leadership could have simply told their nativist base to pound sand, but that might not have been an option: after all, merely sneezing the wrong direction on the issue may have cost Eric Cantor his seat. Either way, the GOP has only itself to blame for the Trump debacle. They had the opportunity to nip this in the bud and take the tough stand to pass immigration reform. They chose not to, and now they’re reaping the whirlwind.


By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, July 12, 2015

July 14, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP, Immigration Reform | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Hillary’s Strategy Is Actually Brilliant”: From A Strategic Standpoint, Clinton Is Right To Stay As Low Profile As Possible

Has any future president been more misunderstood than Hillary Clinton?

As someone who cannot imagine any possible scenario in which I would cast a ballot for the former Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, First Lady, and Goldwater Girl, I note this with a heavy heart. But Clinton’s deafening and widely criticized silence since announcing her candidacy isn’t a weakness or a failing on her part. It underscores exactly the professionalism, strategizing, and discipline that explain why she is atop the polls.

She has nothing to gain and everything to lose from shooting off her mouth for at least the rest of the year. Like an aging boxer who survives more by smarts than by slugging, Clinton knows that the fight for the White House is a 15-round bout that will certainly go the distance. Only a showboating chump would punch themselves out in the early rounds.

Sure, over the past few weeks, she’s lost some ground among Democratic voters to socialist Bernie Sanders. But she’s still ahead of him, not to mention the ever-growing gaggle of Republican rivals. Sure, ever since announcing she was running for president, Clinton has stayed awfully quiet, popping up in Chipotle surveillance camera footage like Patty Hearst on the lam and eschewing actual public events for “intimate” meetings with vetted, handpicked supporters.

On the rare occasions when she does step out of her bubble, things have gotten hinky, like when she literally roped off the press during a Fourth of July parade in New Hampshire. The optics of that scene—photogs and journos being physically restrained from getting close enough to her highness to take good pics or ask embarrassing queries—would be shame-inducing if not suicide-inducing to most candidates.

But do we need to spell it out, really? Hillary Clinton is not most candidates.

She’s learned from the acknowledged master—husband Bill, who can’t even be bothered to flatly promise not to give paid speeches if he becomes First Dude—that there’s never a reason to give in to common decency and slink off into the dark night of political oblivion. Hillary Clinton hasn’t driven a car since 1996 and it’s a safe bet that she hasn’t felt shame for even longer.

Since announcing for president, Clinton has granted exactly one televsion interview, with CNN’s Brianna Keilar, and smartly used the occasion to attack the Republican field for their weak-tea responses to Donald Trump’s muy stupido assertion that Mexican immigrants are mostly rapists. Indicating that she was “disappointed” (read: elated) “in those comments,” Clinton went on to note that her Republican rivals “are all in the same general area on immigration.”

The worst part of that? She’s absolutely right. Once the party of near-open borders (watch this video from 1980 in which Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush one up each other on praising the contributions of illegal immigrants), today’s GOP, with minor exceptions, vilifies the wretched yearning to breathe free, at least when they come from Latin America.

In 2004, George Bush won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote. Eight years later, Mitt Romney—who counseled that illegal immigrants should practice “self-deportation”—pulled just 27 percent. In the GOP “autopsy” of Romney’s failure in 2012, the authors wrote, “If Hispanic Americans hear that the GOP doesn’t want them in the United States, they won’t pay attention to our next sentence.” Given the way that the current candidates have been non-reacting to Trump, that might be the best outcome the Republican Party could hope for.

Against such a backdrop, Clinton is right to keep mum, except when making easy layups against her opponents. Let Bernie Sanders whip Democrats into a progressive frenzy and then step in with vague nods toward equality and growth for all. She knows full well that Sanders is not her real rival—that will be the GOP nominee, not a frothing-at-the-mouth socialist from a state with a population smaller than Washington, D.C.’s.

She also knows as well as anyone that her toughest challenge will be sweetening the air of inevitability that surrounds her like noxious secondhand smoke. No one outside of their immediate families wants to see a Clinton-Bush contest, but such a showdown is more likely than not. She may indeed be as “arrogant” as Commentary and a thousand other similar publications contend, but she’s likely smart enough to realize that nothing humanizes her more than right-wing outlets foaming at the mouth about everything from blowjobs to Benghazi.

This is not to say that she’s a perfect candidate. In fact, the roping off of journalists—on a day celebrating independence, no less!—suggests Hillary Clinton is in many ways singularly off-putting. Her feminist bona fides were rightly called into question during her time as First Lady, her time as senator from New York was unmemorable, and her tenure as secretary of state nothing short of disastrous. When under attack, she’s capable of mind-bogglingly stupid comments, like when she started talking about Bobby Kennedy’s assassination during the end days of her 2008 run for the Democratic nomination.

This is why she is smart to be running a rope-a-dope strategy, essentially letting her opponents (Democratic and Republican) punch themselves out in the early rounds. When they’ve taken their best shots and mostly exhausted themselves, she can come off the ropes and throw a haymaker or two. Along with forgoing shame, this is another great tactical advantage she’s learned from her husband.

Bill Clinton outlasted his opponents—think Newt Gingrich and a gaggle of moralistic congressmen, many of whom had skeletons of their own to hide. Bill was like Muhammad Ali taking on George Foreman in the jungle heat, a personable motormouth who loved to talk and press the flesh (sometimes a bit too much, to be sure). Hillary is turning into a defensive master, but on her own terms. She’s more like Floyd Mayweather, nobody’s idea of a fun person to hang out with, but capable of taking huge amounts of punishment and coming off the ropes in the late rounds to secure victory.

If the eventual Republican nominee—whether it’s Jeb Bush or Rand Paul or god help us all Donald Trump—wants a real chance at the crown, they’d do best to back away from Hillary and the anger-bear rhetoric that only makes her more sympathetic. The nominee would do well to outline an actually positive and inclusive message about how they plan to guide the country into the 21st century rather than constantly harp on last century’s scandals, the need for even newer and bigger wars, and protecting us from the scourge of immigrants so desperate for a better life that they’re willing to risk arrest to come to America.

A Republican employing positive rhetoric—which is exactly how Barack Obama toppled Clinton in 2008—would pull her out of her crouch and cause her to swing recklessly and wildly. In all that lunging, she’d be likely to knock herself out. But so long as the Republicans keep smacking themselves in the face, she’s smart to hold her punches.


By: Nick Gillespie, The Daily Beast, July 10, 2015

July 12, 2015 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Media | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The New Willie Horton?”: This Particular Story Is A Microcosm Of The Republican Challenge On Immigration

Is Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez the new Willie Horton?

There are some people who would obviously like him to be. The story, which is about an undocumented immigrant who allegedly murdered a young woman in San Francisco named Kathryn Steinle after having been released from jail, has gone national. And it’s working its way into the presidential campaign. The way the candidates deal with it (or not) will tell us a lot about the state of immigration politics today.

It’s important to understand that there’s no consensus even on the right about how much attention to give to Lopez-Sanchez’s case. Most of the Republican candidates are treading carefully so far. While they oppose the “sanctuary city” policies that meant that Lopez-Sanchez wasn’t turned over to immigration authorities when he had been arrested for lesser crimes, they haven’t yet tried to use this case as a bludgeon to attack Democrats. (The unsurprising exception to this is Donald Trump; meanwhile, for the record, many Democrats have said that a sanctuary city policy should still have allowed someone like Lopez-Sanchez to be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.)

Yet at the same time, conservative talk radio and Fox News are practically vibrating with delight over this story. When I checked in to the network’s web site this morning, it was the subject not only of the main screaming headline, but five other written stories and four videos, with more coming all the time.

What does this one case tell us about crime in America and our immigration policies? The real answer is not much, because one case is always just one case. According to the latest FBI crime statistics, around 38 Americans are murdered each and every day; every one is a tragedy. We know that as a group, immigrants are actually much less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans. And though it illustrates an extreme negative consequence that can come from a sanctuary city policy, police in cities with sanctuary policies often argue that they help fight crime by allowing residents of immigrant communities to work with law enforcement without the fear that they’ll be turned over to immigration authorities.

Nevertheless, we’re always looking for individual stories through which we can understand larger issues, and those stories can be used for good or ill. For instance, the case of Ryan White, an Indiana teenager who contracted HIV in 1984, taught the country that AIDS wasn’t just a disease of people who (at the time) were on the fringes of society; after his death in 1990, Congress passed a bill expanding funding for AIDS research and treatment in his name. Then there are stories like Horton’s, which was supposedly about criminal justice policies but was actually just a way for George H.W. Bush to stir up racist fears among white voters in the 1988 election.

If Republican candidates are treading more carefully with regard to this story, it isn’t just because the two cases are different — it’s because there’s serious political danger in trying to make Lopez-Sanchez a reason why people should vote against Democrats. Don’t forget that Bush’s use of Willie Horton worked. Laden with the theme of dangerous and hyper-sexualized black men terrorizing white women while their emasculated husbands looked on helplessly, it resonated with white voters and didn’t produce any noticeable backlash, at least not enough to overcome the benefit Bush got from repeating the story.

But if someone like Scott Walker or Jeb Bush tried to make Lopez-Sanchez the new Horton — a symbol of fear meant to get whites to pull the lever for the GOP — he would undermine all the party’s efforts to convince Hispanic voters that whatever the party’s history on immigration reform, it isn’t blatantly hostile to them. As Michael Gerson advised yesterday: “As the old Southern strategy fades, it would be a terrible mistake to replace it with a different form of fear and exclusion.”

So we’re left with a situation where most of the candidates will criticize sanctuary city policies and make a case for tougher border enforcement, but they’ll be doing it within a context created by their side’s media, the media the primary voters they’re trying to win over are watching and listening to every day. And the Lopez-Sanchez story is exactly the kind of tale that the conservative media feast on: personal, vivid, tragic, just waiting to have all the outrage and anger they can muster poured into it. While the candidates say, “Yes, this is terrible,” behind them will be the media figures Republican voters trust, screaming at the top of their lungs that everyone should be enraged.

In that way, this particular story is a microcosm of the Republican challenge on immigration. Caught between a base eagerly eating up the red meat conservative media are feeding them and a general electorate they can’t afford to alienate, they still haven’t quite figured out how to chart a path that avoids those dangers and gets them to the White House.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, July 8, 2015

July 9, 2015 Posted by | Conservative Media, GOP, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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