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“Bernie Has Plenty To Lose”: The Sanders Campaign Is Divided Over How It Wants To Die

The night Hillary Clinton won the New York primary, the Sanders campaign sent two radically different messages about how it planned to proceed. In an interview with the Associated Press, senior Sanders adviser Tad Devine said the campaign would “sit back and assess where we are” after the five northeastern primaries on April 26. At roughly the same time, the senator’s campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, told MSNBC that there would be nothing to assess until the superdelegates cast their official votes at the convention.

“We’re going to go to the convention,” Weaver told Steve Kornacki. “It is extremely unlikely that either candidate will have the requisite number of pledged delegates … so it is going to be an election determined by the superdelegates.”

Weaver won that argument. Bernie Sanders lost four of five states on April 26, but continued campaigning aggressively, nonetheless, arguing that a win in California – combined with his superior performance in head-to-head polls with Donald Trump – would convince superdelegates to throw the election to him in Philadelphia.

Now, with Clinton set to clinch a majority of pledged delegates when the final six states cast their primary ballots Tuesday night, the Devine-Weaver divide is resurfacing – and their boss doesn’t seem to know whose side he’s on.

On Monday night, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Sanders campaign is divided between the “Sandernistas” – longtime Bernie backers from his time in Vermont and Congress who want to rage against the dying of the light – and those with broader ties to the Democratic Party, who believe Sanders’s agenda would be best served by uniting the party against Trump. Devine, who advised Democratic nominees Al Gore and John Kerry, speaks for the latter.

“What will happen hopefully when the voting is done, our two campaigns will begin to talk once more to one another and figure out where the common ground is,” Devine told the Journal on Monday night.

Weaver, who has worked as a Sanders operative since the mid-’80s, told the paper a different story.

“The plan is as the senator has described it: to go forward after Tuesday and keep the campaign going to the convention and make the case to superdelegates that Sen. Sanders is the best chance that Democrats have to beat Trump,” Weaver said. “The trajectory is the same regardless of the outcome in California.”

In most of his recent statements, Sanders sounds more like his campaign manager. On Monday night in Los Angeles, Sanders told supporters that a win in California would give him “enormous momentum” with superdelegates going into the convention. But earlier in the day, he struck a more “Devine” note – asked about whether he would endorse Clinton before the convention, Sanders replied, “Let me just talk to you after the primary here in California where we hope to win. Let’s assess where we are after tomorrow before we make statements based on speculation.”

For Weaver, there’s no cause for such assessments. Nothing hinges on the outcome in California. But his candidate sounds less certain. And not without reason. There are a lot of powerful voices whispering into his other ear.

Over the weekend, Sanders and President Obama spoke for over 30 minutes, according to CBS News. While the content of the conversation is unknown, the president has argued that Tuesday’s results will be decisive – and has indicated that he intends to endorse Clinton well ahead of the July convention.

Meanwhile, Sanders’s sole backer in the U.S. Senate, Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley, has called on Sanders to drop out once Clinton secures a majority of pledged delegates. The Vermont senator’s Clinton-backing colleagues – along with virtually every other elected Democrat – obviously agree.

If Sanders was looking for a way to sustain his campaign past a loss in California, the Associated Press’s decision to declare Clinton the primary’s winner on Monday night may provide one justification. In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Weaver argued that the AP’s call – which was based on a revised count of Clinton’s advantage among superdelegates – was “suppressing voter turnout in six states across the country.”

But the Vermont senator has something to lose in defying the will of the Democratic Party. Should Democrats recapture the Senate, Sanders is in line to become chair of the Budget Committee – a powerful post, especially when held by a politician with a national following and first-rate donor list. If the democratic socialist opts for political revolution over party unity, however, his colleagues could ostensibly deny him that position.

Plus, Sanders’s superdelegate strategy works a lot better as a rationale for giving Democrats in California a chance to make their preferences known than it does as a means of actually winning the nomination. Barring an FBI indictment or medical catastrophe, Democratic elites are not going to overturn the will of their voters to give the party’s nod to a man who has been a Democrat for a little over a year.

But Bernie Sanders isn’t known for being terribly sensitive to political pressure. And at least one voice in his campaign is telling him to go down swinging. We’ll know very soon how loudly all the other voices speak.

 

By: Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, June 7, 2016

June 9, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“All Hell Would Break Loose”: The GOP Still Has One Last Option For Dumping Donald Trump As Its Nominee

After several weeks of sunny weather for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign this spring, marked by the rapid surrender of his intra-party opponents and strong general-election poll numbers against Hillary Clinton, Republicans are again in semi-panic over his behavior. The backlash to Trump’s racially tinged comments about Judge Gonzalo Curiel, and the putative nominee’s apparent inability to back away from them, has the senior leaders of the party unable to defend him. South Carolina senator and former presidential candidate Lindsey Graham, quite recently the quintessential Trump disparager who was reconciling himself to the mogul’s candidacy, is now sounding a new alarm and urging fellow Republicans to withdraw their endorsements: “This is the most un-American thing from a politician since Joe McCarthy,” he told the Times. “If anybody was looking for an off-ramp, this is probably it. There’ll come a time when the love of country will trump hatred of Hillary.” Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell has offered the candidate a terse directive: “Get on message.”

So is there actually some mechanism whereby Republicans could dump Trump if the panic spreads or the “putative nominee” freaks out and starts blaming his troubles on a conspiracy between ISIS and the Cisco Kid?

Well, yes, there is a nuclear option — but it still has to be considered very unlikely. Approximately one-third of the delegations to the Republican National Convention will be bound to primary or caucus winners by state election laws. For the rest of them, however, the “binding” is by national party rules, and ultimately the rules of every Republican convention are made and can be unmade by the convention itself. So, in theory, convention delegates could vote to unbind themselves (or at least those not bound by state election laws) before the first presidential ballot and throw the nomination open again. If you recall that a significant number of “Trump delegates” are not personally loyal to the wiggy dude to begin with, you could see how a revolt could gain traction under very precise — and unlikely — circumstances.

There are two internal GOP conditions that would need to be present before the nuclear option could ever come into play. The first would be a widespread abandonment of Trump by the very party opinion-leaders who have been climbing aboard his bandwagon in the last few weeks — a mass exodus on the “off-ramp” Graham is talking about. The second and more important development would be a radical change in the rank-and-file sentiment — which was strongly evident long before Trump appeared to have nailed down the nomination — opposing any kind of “coup” against the primary results.

Regardless of what Lindsey Graham and other fair-weather friends of Donald Trump think, neither of these things is going to happen unless there is first a sudden, sickening downward lurch in Trump’s general-election poll numbers. I doubt anything other than 20 points or so — and with it a renewed fear of a down-ballot disaster for the GOP — would get the dump-Trump bandwagon rolling. At that point, all hell could break loose, and Cleveland could be wild and crazy fun after all.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, June 7, 2016

June 9, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Establishment, Republican National Convention | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“It’s All Over, And It’s All Just Beginning”: Hillary Clinton’s Next Challenge: Bury Trump And Stay Out Of The Gutter

So the last Sanders argument, like umpteen others, has come around to bite him.

He’s spent the last two weeks talking about the “momentum” he was going to have after winning California, but as the primaries draw to a close, the momentum is on Hillary Clinton’s side.

She exceeded expectations in California, with her victory called early Wednesday (what was up with those polls that had Bernie Sanders beating her among Latinos? They always smelled fishy to me). She demolished him in New Jersey, won New Mexico, and even pulled off a stunning (if small-potatoes) win in South Dakota, which came out of nowhere.

Speaking of nowhere, there’s nowhere for Bernie to go now. He ran an impressive race in many ways, and annoying in others, but he lasted a lot longer than almost anyone thought he would. But today the story isn’t him. It’s the nominee.

It’s a huge historical marker, as Clinton noted in her speech. “Thanks to you, we’ve reached a milestone, the first time in our nation’s history that a woman will be a major party’s nominee,” Clinton said. “Tonight’s victory is not about one person—it belongs to generations of women and men who struggled and sacrificed and made this moment possible.”

It’s also a huge personal moment for Clinton. For all the arrows, justified and not, she’s absorbed for the last quarter-century, she’s made it. She’s made history in a huge way. If you read biographies of her, you’ve read about the people who thought back when she was at Wellesley that maybe she had it in her to be America’s first woman president. It’s an expectation that has hovered over her for many years, and she’s now in a position to achieve it.

The Democratic Party has now nominated in succession the country’s first African American and its first woman. This is a great sign of progress, but more tellingly it’s a sign of what the two major parties have become over the course of the past 20 years. The Democrats are the party of multicultural America, while the Republicans have become in essence a white ethno-nationalist party. Yes, it has some nonwhites, but it’s a party whose raison d’etre is increasingly to save white America from the new hordes, a point made clearly by its collective decision to reject two Latino nominees and instead elevate the first openly racist major-party candidate since maybe Woodrow Wilson.

So now it’s (almost) officially Clinton vs. Trump, the question is, what will it look like? Big-time ugly. Trump, in his speech, said he’s giving a speech next Monday about the Clintons and corruption, signaling what his campaign is basically going to be about. And Clinton already showed us last week in that San Diego speech on Trump and foreign policy, and reminded us again in splashes Tuesday night, that her main argument is going to be that temperamentally and otherwise, Trump just doesn’t belong in the Oval Office. Every election, people like me say, “This is going to be the nastiest presidential election ever,” and, every time, it turns out to be true—each one has been a little nastier than the last. But this one is going to be hyper-space nasty.

The key challenge for Clinton is going to be one of tone and balance—she’ll need to find a way to trade punches with Trump without letting him get in her head and without reducing herself to his drooling level. This is what the other Republicans could never get right. Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz let Trump get inside their heads, toy with them the way Ali used to toy with the bums of the month he was fighting in 1963. Marco Rubio made the mistake of lowering himself to Trump’s level, trading insults. As I tweeted at the time, the two of them came off like Don Rickles and Joan Rivers. Rubio was good at it, but it wasn’t what people wanted out of him, and it certainly isn’t what voters want out of Clinton.

She found the sweet spot in that San Diego speech. She shredded his dignity but managed to maintain, and even augment, her own. Trump is going to be continually trying to take her down into the gutter from which he operates. She needs to stay out of it while staying on the attack. That won’t be an easy thing to do.

And in the near-term, she has an intra-party issue to attend to: How will she woo the Sanders voters? It’s mostly on Bernie, especially the way the air went out of the balloon Tuesday, to do the right thing. Maybe the fact that he requested a meeting with President Obama is a sign that he’s ready to. But it’s incumbent upon Clinton to handle this right, too, not for Sanders’s personal sake, but for the sake of his voters. She needs those voters in November, and they probably represent the future direction of the Democratic Party.

Clinton’s had a great couple of weeks—the terrific San Diego speech, the better-than-expected performance Tuesday night, and most importantly Trump’s self-immolation around Judge Curiel, which led to members of his own party calling him a racist. There’s no way she could have hoped for a better start to the general-election campaign. But she’s still barely ahead, and every week isn’t going to be like these last two.

Back when this was just getting started, I thought that yes, Clinton is going to win, which places a special burden on her to run a better race than she did in 2008 and not blow this. Given who she’s running against, that’s a lot truer now than it was when I first thought it.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, June 8, 2016

June 9, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, General Election 2016, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“It’s Best Not To Rule Anything Out”: Clinton’s Warning About Trump And Women Proves Prescient

One of key controversies dogging Donald Trump right now has to do with his overt racism towards U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whom the Republican candidate says cannot be an impartial jurist because of his ethnicity. Over the weekend, Trump added he might have a problem with Muslim judges, too.

When CBS’s John Dickerson asked, “Isn’t there sort of a tradition, though, in America that we don’t judge people by who their parents were and where they came from?” Trump replied, “I’m not talking about tradition, I’m talking about common sense, OK?”

On the show last night, Hillary Clinton told Rachel, “I imagine he’ll move on to women judges because he’s been insulting women so regularly.”

Clinton was speaking hypothetically, but as it turns out, right around the time the Democratic candidate made the observation, Trump’s spokesperson told a national television audience that it might also be acceptable to accuse a woman on the bench of bias on the basis of her gender. The Huffington Post reported last night:

“Well, it would depend on her past and decisions she made as a judge,” Trump’s national spokeswoman Katrina Pierson said.

Noting that Trump’s sister is also a federal judge, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Pierson if it would be “awful” to accuse her of bias “in regard to some case because she’s a woman.”

But Pierson would not rule it out, adding that “there is no question that there are activist judges in this country.”

Remember, Senate Republicans think so highly of the Trump campaign that they’re leaving a Supreme Court vacancy in place, in the hopes that he’ll be elected president and pick a justice he approves of.

As for Clinton, let’s circle back to the quote from last night’s show again: “I imagine he’ll move on to women judges because he’s been insulting women so regularly, or maybe a judge with a disability, or perhaps one who was a former POW, or African American. This is dangerous nonsense that undermines the rule of law, that makes him appear to be someone who has no respect for fellow Americans, and I think it is yet more evidence why this man is dangerous and divisive, and disqualified from being president.”

To be sure, neither Trump nor his team have gone after judges with disabilities, judges who are veterans, or judges who are African American, but there’s quite a bit of time remaining in the election cycle, so it’s best not to rule anything out.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 8, 2016

June 9, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Judiciary, Women | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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