Sanders Doing Well In Second New Hampshire Poll; Sanders & O’Malley Criticize Clinton on Trade

Bernie Sanders campaign

A second poll out of New Hampshire shows Bernie Sanders gaining on Hillary Clinton. Yesterday I reported on a poll from Morning Consult which showed 44 percent choosing Clinton and 32 percent supporting Sanders. A new Suffolk University poll shows Clinton at 41 percent and Sanders at 31 percent. Sanders has also been receiving larger than expected crowds to hear him speak.

Several pundits have compared Bernie Sanders to Eugene McCarthy, who forced Lyndon Johnson to drop out of the race in 1968.

Matt Lindstrom, the Director of the Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement at McCarthy’s alma mater, St. John’s University, sees definite overlap. “Sanders elicits a grassroots populist appeal, particularly among idealists—whether they be movement Democrats or younger Democrats—similar to Senator McCarthy,” he said. “There’s a kind of feeling of, ‘We can fight the man if you will.’” (Or in this case, Lindstrom pointed out, the woman: Clinton.)

Eugene McCarthy (who I supported in 1968) challenged Johnson on the Viet Nam war. While Sanders is primarily challenging Clinton on economic policy, Sanders is also a more attractive candidate to many liberals because of Clinton’s hawkish views. It is doubtful Clinton would actually drop out of the race like LBJ following a poor showing in New Hampshire, but these polls are encouraging.

If we were playing Jeopardy, and Hard Choices was the answer, the question would be: What does Hillary Clinton avoid making? After receiving considerable criticism for avoiding questions from reporters on trade she finally made a statement where she avoided giving a clear answer. Bernie Sanders criticized Clinton for failing to take a stand:

“It’s not quite clear to me what Secretary Clinton is suggesting,” Sanders (I-Vt.) told reporters here. “I am doing everything that I can to defeat fast track. . . . I am not clear, nor do I believe the American people are clear, as to what Secretary Clinton’s position is. Is she for it or is she against it? Those are your two options. The president is for it. Most Democrats in the Congress are against it.”

Sanders said Clinton’s indecisiveness on fast-track legislation “is not leadership.”

National Journal reported on Clinton’s evasion of the question and later Martin O’Malley’s response

With some fancy rhetorical footwork, Clinton was able to give them some fairly long-winded answers without saying much of anything. When asked if she thought the fast-track authority is appropriate, Clinton pointed out that Congress would not be passing the deal sight unseen. While the actual text of the TPP is not yet public, members of Congress and select others have access to the details.

“The TPA is a process issue. The issue for me is, what’s in the deal?” Clinton said Monday. “I will wait and see what the deal is, and then I will tell you what I think about it.”

That is not a very satisfying answer for more progressive members of Clinton’s party. Labor unions and environmental groups bitterly oppose the trade deal and TPA, and liberal House Democrats were able to scuttle a vote Friday that would have allowed fast-track to move forward.

Martin O’Malley’s response:

“For the thousands of American workers whose jobs are on the line with TPP, fast-track is not a ‘process’ issue, it’s a straightforward vote on their future and their livelihood,” Lis Smith, O’Malley’s deputy campaign manager, said in a statement. “Governor O’Malley believes we must stop the fast-track vote in Congress now because TPP will be a bad deal for America’s middle class. Now is a time for leadership, not political dodges.”

CNN uncovered forty-five occasions in which Hillary Clinton has expressed support for the trade bill.