CNN Allowing Biden To Wait Until Day Of Debate To Declare Candidacy

Clinton Biden Sanders

CNN has announced more specific debate criteria, and it comes out to be extremely Biden-friendly. The requirement is for “an average of 1% in three polls, recognized by CNN, released between Aug. 1 and Oct. 10.” Under this criteria, Clinton, Sanders, O’Malley, Webb, and Chafee already qualify.

This leaves two other potential candidates. Joe Biden has been investigating the possibility of running but has not made a decision. In order for Biden to qualify for the first debate under CNN’s rules, he merely has to “file the necessary paperwork with the Federal Election Commission or declare his intention to do so to appear on stage at the Wynn, according to the criteria.”

Theoretically it means he could drive to the studio the night of the debate and say he plans to file the paperwork. More realistically, even if he keeps his decision quiet, I would think he would want to start practicing prior to the debate. I would also expect  Biden to announce his campaign at least slightly prior to the debate in order to dominate a media cycle with the news of his candidacy. On the other hand, I am not at all surprised that there was no announcement the past week considering the major events occurring, including the visit of Pope Francis, the Chinese State Dinner, and the events at the United Nations.

The Washington Post notes the impact Biden would have on the race:

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Monday showed Clinton leading rival Bernie Sanders 53 percent to 38 percent, a significantly smaller lead than the 34-point advantage she had in July.

But Biden’s entry to the race could present a significant blow to Clinton’s dominance over the field by siphoning off many of her supporters. When Biden was listed as a potential candidate in the poll, her support against Sanders dropped to 42 percent compared to his 35 percent, while Biden took 17 percent.

I  wonder how much Biden’s support will change just by announcing his candidacy. If he doesn’t run, I wonder how many of his supporters could ultimately be picked up by Sanders.

The remaining possibility is Lawrence Lessig, a frequent critic of Clinton’s ethics. Since my last post on him in August, he has formally announced his candidacy. He did reach one percent from Public Policy Polling, but CNN is not including this poll in their calculation. On his blog, Lessig says that other polls are not including him. A supporter has created a petition at MoveOn, but I don’t see how this will affect the debates. So, if a pollster happens to ask your opinion between now and October 10, consider claiming support for Lessig to help him get into the debate.

Related: Sanders & O’Malley Object To Democratic Debate Schedule But Clinton Reportedly Only Wanted Four Debates

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Sanders Leads Clinton By 16 Points In New Hampshire & Narrows Gap to 10 Points Nationally

Sanders Clinton

We could be seeing the biggest political upset in politics since Hillary Clinton was upset eight years ago. Bernie Sanders now has a sixteen point lead over Hillary Clinton in the latest CNN/WMUR poll in New Hampshire:

Hillary Clinton trails Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the race for the Democratic nomination for president in New Hampshire, even if Vice President Joe Biden decides not to make a run for the White House, according to a new CNN/WMUR poll.

Sanders has the backing of nearly half of those who say they plan to vote in the first-in-the-nation Democratic primary next year — 46% support him — while just 30% say they back Clinton. Another 14% say they would support Biden, 2% former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, 1% former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, and less than half of 1% back former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee or Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig.

Clinton trails Sanders across most demographic groups, with broad gender and ideology divides bolstering Sanders’ run. He holds 56% of male Democratic voters compared with just 20% who back her, while the two are much closer among women, 39% back Sanders, 37% Clinton. Likewise, Sanders holds a 56% to 30% lead among liberals, versus a 37% to 31% race among moderates.

Sanders also continues to gain on Clinton in some of the national polls. The Ispos/Reuters Poll shows Sanders down by only ten points:

Hillary Clinton continues to lead among Democrats nationwide, with 40% of Dems. Sanders (30%) has gained ground on the front runner.

National polls are virtually meaningless at this point, but it is worth pointing out how close Sanders is in this poll considering how much noise Clinton supporters make when a poll shows any increase in her support nationally, no matter how briefly this lasts or what the other polls are showing.  Sanders has plenty of opportunity to close the gap nationally should he beat Clinton in New Hampshire and/or Iowa. The debates will also provide a major opportunity for Sanders, even with the limited debate schedule.

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State Department Disputes Clinton Claims On Email Investigation

Clinton Email

The State Department has undermined Hillary Clinton’s account of the investigation into her email, showing major discrepancies from Clinton’s recent statements. The Washington Post reports:

Throughout the controversy over her use of a private e-mail system while she was secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton has described her decision last year to turn over thousands of work-related e-mails as a response to a routine-sounding records request.

“When we were asked to help the State Department make sure they had everything from other secretaries of state, not just me, I’m the one who said, ‘Okay, great, I will go through them again,’ ” Clinton said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “And we provided all of them.”

But State Department officials provided new information Tuesday that undercuts Clinton’s characterization. They said the request was not simply about general rec­ord-keeping but was prompted entirely by the discovery that Clinton had exclusively used a private e-mail system. They also said they first contacted her in the summer of 2014, at least three months before the agency asked Clinton and three of her predecessors to provide their e-mails.

Most likely Clinton-apologists, who have been spreading false claims that she was “cleared” by the State Department, will continue to ignore such information which contradicts Clinton’s statements. Hillary Clinton continues to make the false claim that what she did was allowed despite being contradicted by multiple fact-checking articles and government officials.

In other developments, the FBI has reportedly recovered email which was deleted from Clinton’s server. It is unlikely the public will obtain any specific information in the near future. It has already been established that email deleted by Clinton included email related to Libya and terrorism, as opposed to being limited to personal email.

This all comes as Clinton continues to fall in the polls. She received yet another setback this week when top unions have decided to hold off on making an endorsement in the nomination battle.

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Clinton Camp Likely To Continue To Attack Sanders As Too Far Left Despite Previous Attacks Back Firing

Sanders Raise Money Clinton Super Pac

While Bernie Sanders is doing far better than expected against Hillary Clinton, with Clinton falling in both polls for both the Democratic nomination and in head-to-head races against Republicans,  Clinton supporters are grasping to the argument that Sanders is too far to the left. The Hill reports on Clinton supporters who claim that Bernie Sanders is unelectable. Fortunately the article also notes that other Democrats disagree:

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), a 2016 Senate candidate who has not endorsed a primary contender, characterized Sanders as one of Congress’s most effective legislators, saying all claims that he’s unelectable are “politically motivated attacks” designed to undermine his bid.

“Bernie has the appeal of being able to demonstrate to people that he can get good things done. He is not some kind of liberal stick figure; he’s someone who has a record of actual accomplishment,” Grayson said. “If Bernie’s the nominee, then Bernie very likely will be the next president of the United States.”

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) echoed that message, warning that Democrats, by doubting Sanders’ viability as a candidate, risk undermining the party’s agenda.

“The expectation that he will fade, I think, is not true because the agenda he’s putting forward, instead of tamping down momentum, it’s increasing momentum. … He’s ignited the base in a way that we haven’t been able to do for six years,” said Grijalva, the head of the Progressive Caucus who has not yet endorsed in the primary. “So I would be very careful to marginalize the man. Because in a sense then you’re marginalizing the message.”

I would question the wisdom of Democratic leaders in recent years with regards to deciding winning elections, along with their avoidance of taking a stand on the issues and tendency to become Republican-lite which seriously hurt them in 2014. Clinton surrogates have been making the claim for months that Sanders is too far left. After Claire McCaskil, a supporter of Hillary Clinton, claimed that Bernie Sanders is, “is too liberal to gather enough votes in this country to become president,” I responded with a post arguing Claire McCaskill Is Wrong–Bernie Sanders Is Not Too Liberal, Hillary Clinton Is Too Conservative. Since then, Sanders has only improve his position against Hillary Clinton in the primary race.

As I have pointed out many times before, Bernie Sanders Is The Future Of The Democratic Party. As I’ve also pointed out previously, Sanders’ Views Are Becoming More Mainstream Than Clinton’s Conservative Views.

With Clinton openly moving back towards the center after few were convinced about the sincerity of her move to the left earlier in the campaign, we can be sure of more attacks from the Clinton camp, including that Sanders is too far to the left.  Much of the spread of misinformation, both to defend Clinton against legitimate criticism and to attack her opponents, comes from former right-wing hit-man David Brock through his organizations including Media Matters and Correct the Record. This includes recent email from Correct the Record which distorted Sanders’ views, trying to make him appear more extreme. This most recent attack on Sanders certainly back-fired, ultimately benefiting Sanders:

Bernie Sanders raised more than $1.2 million in less than 48 hours off a pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC’s attack on the Vermont senator, his presidential campaign said Thursday.

That’s an unprecedented response in such a short amount of time, according ActBlue, the non-profit that processes online donations for many Democratic campaigns, including Sanders.

“We’ve never seen an immediate donor response like what the Sanders’ campaign received on Tuesday,” said ActBlue Executive Director Erin Hill. “At one point, it drove 180 contributions through our platform per minute. Over its 11-year history ActBlue has sent money to over 11,000 campaigns and committees – and the Bernie Sanders campaign holds the record for the two biggest donor days ever for a campaign on our platform.”

The attack came from Correct the Record, which, unlike most super PACs, coordinates directly with Clinton’s campaign. The group has been sending trackers to Sanders campaign events and plying reporters with so-called opposition research about the Vermonter for months, but never with the intention of its work being made public.

But after The Huffington Post reported on a particularly controversial line of attack from Correct the Record earlier this week, the Sanders campaign took offense and saw an opportunity. They sent not one but two fundraising emails to supporters in response, and were astonished by the response.

“It was the kind of onslaught I expected to see from the Koch Brothers or Sheldon Adelson, and it’s the second time a billionaire Super PAC has tried to stop the momentum of the political revolution we’re building together,” Sanders said in one email.

Judging from how dirty the Clinton campaign got the last time she ran for the nomination, we can expect to see a proliferation of such attacks on Sanders (and on Joe Biden should he enter the race). Hopefully Sanders can continue to turn such attacks to his advantage.

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Speculation Increases On Joe Biden Entering The Race

Ridin With Biden

Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been a disaster instead of the expected coronation. Democratic donors have an alternative solution to the problems seen in the Clinton campaign–pushing harder for Joe Biden to run:

Nearly 50 Democratic donors and party activists have signed a letter urging Vice President Biden to jump into the 2016 presidential race to compete against former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, calling him a leader “who understands the real challenges facing American families.”

The letter — whose signatories include some top bundlers for President Obama’s campaigns — underscores a nervousness among some in the party about Clinton’s standing and a building hope that Biden will decide to run.

Some, such as party fundraiser Lou Frillman, had already signed up to help Clinton’s campaign.

“We believe that the vice president is the best candidate,” Frillman said in an interview. “We have a lot of confidence in him….If he runs, we’re ready to support him.”

In a related report:

A wide swath of party financiers is convinced that Biden will make a late entry into the race, and a sizable number are contemplating backing him, including some who have signed on with Clinton, according to more than a dozen top Democratic fundraisers nationwide.

Their potential support — driven in part by a desire to recapture the passion they felt in Obama’s campaigns — could play a key role in helping the vice president decide whether to make a third White House bid. The chatter among a cadre of well-connected party fundraisers suggests that he could benefit from an early jolt of money should he run…

Many of the president’s fundraisers are still up for grabs. Of the 770 people who collected checks for Obama’s 2012 reelection bid, just 52 have signed on as a “Hillblazer” bundler for Clinton or have held a fundraiser for her, according to a Washington Post analysis.

Top Democratic money players — many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations — said discussions among senior Obama fundraisers about Biden’s possible bid have taken a serious turn in the past few days.

The Wall Street Journal reports Joe Biden Edges Closer to Joining Presidential Race:

While the Biden team is still debating the best time to jump in, the vice president met Monday with his political advisers and talked about the merits of an early entry that would assure him a place in the Democratic debate scheduled for Oct. 13. They also are honing his campaign message and moving ahead with plans to raise money and hire staff, the people said…

The vice president’s team of advisers are still honing what would be his campaign message: That after inheriting a brutal economic recession, President Barack Obama has had a successful run, and Mr. Biden would keep the U.S. on the same trajectory.

The Democratic debate next month is one of two important events in October that are on the minds of Mr. Biden’s top advisers as they consider a campaign start date.

Democratic National Committee leaders have scheduled only four debates before the Iowa caucuses set for Feb. 1. Delaying a presidential announcement would mean passing on a chance to appear before a national TV audience and make the case that he would be a better nominee than Mrs. Clinton. Yet as a sitting vice president, Mr. Biden already has a platform that keeps him in the public eye…

Stretching out the announcement has other pitfalls. Mid-November brings the first in a series of deadlines to get on the ballot for the first caucuses and primaries in 2016. Meeting those filing deadlines requires money and, in some cases, petition signatures, so preparations would need to begin weeks in advance.

It appears that Biden remains very interested in running for president, but possibly hesitant about running against Clinton should she resume a dominant role in the race. There has also been speculation, such as at Politico, that instead of announcing soon, Biden might wait to see if Clinton collapses:

It turns out that instead of simply deciding yes or no on a presidential run, Biden may have a third option — make no announcement at all, wait until December (or longer) and hope Clinton gets out of the race or is pushed to the sidelines without him having to get in…

“They’re testing it,” said one person who’s spoken with the people laying the plans. “They’re feeling it out.”

Drawing the decision out to November has risks, they know: It’s a gamble between whether she’ll implode (perhaps under indictment over her personal email server), whether he could wait so long that she’d rebound (perhaps fueled by strong performances at the debate or in congressional testimony on Oct. 22).

And November isn’t really a deadline, either. Close observers say they’re not convinced Clinton could survive losing Iowa and New Hampshire in February, given the fall from front-runner grace either would entail…

“He’s trying to keep the door open as long as he can,” said one former staffer who’s been in touch with his aides. “If you do nothing, then the door just closes on its own.”

…Taking his time might mean missing deadlines. There are petition and paperwork requirements that will quickly pile up as the end of the year nears. But in the topsy-turvy circumstances that would have to click into place for Biden to have any kind of realistic shot at the nomination anyway, he might have to make the campaign happen without being on the ballot in every state.

Few are convinced that would matter much.

“If he decides to go after all this, it’s not going to matter if he’s missed two filing deadlines,” said Democratic consultant Joe Trippi…

If Biden’s serious about actually running for president, Trippi said, he’s got to move quickly to assess whether he has the support on the ground in the early states, and among key constituency groups, from labor to African-Americans.

But if he’s hoping to just be handed the keys to the Oval Office, he’s got lots of time.

“If you’re waiting for her to implode, just wait. You could wait until June,” Trippi said. “If she implodes next May, the party’s going to turn to Joe Biden.’’

It would seem a very risky move to sit back and hope that Clinton implodes to the point where she leaves the race. Even if the news were to become far worse for Clinton, she would probably remain in the race if at all possible, even if her chances of winning a general election campaign were to become greatly diminished.

If Biden wants one last shot at the presidency, I think he is best off getting in the race soon, ideally in time for the first debate. However, if Biden does not enter the race, it is a safe bet that he will never close the door to accepting the nomination should Clinton somehow be forced out of the race.

Update: Some reports recently have suggested that Jill Biden was reluctant for Joe to run. Today NBC is reporting that sources are saying Jill Biden is 100 percent on-board with Joe running.

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Bernie Sanders “Wins” GOP Debate & Makes Cover Of Time–Will He Get To Debate Hillary Clinton More Than Six Times?

Sanders Time Cover

Two articles at The Hill proclaim Bernie Sanders to have been the winner of Thursday night’s debate. Brent Budowsky wrote that Bernie Sanders was GOP debate’s real winner and has some other major news:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has won a doubleheader victory this week. His dramatic gains in the presidential campaign have been recognized by TIME magazine placing him on its cover, a major breakthrough in conventional media for Sanders, while his critical commentary about the debate in his Facebook post was by far the single most-read Facebook post of the evening!

The decision by TIME to make Sanders its cover story is hugely important. It is a long overdue recognition by a bastion of the old media that Sanders offers an extraordinary populist message that has ignited a powerful populist grassroots movement. Almost all of the mainstream media have been far too slow to recognize the power of the progressive populist movement that Sanders calls a political revolution. This is finally, fortunately, beginning to change and the TIME magazine cover story is exhibit A of the progress Sanders and his supporters have made.

On the second front, the ability of Sanders to win the social media front to criticize Republicans and promote his populist agenda combines the medium of the moment with the message that resonates with voters.

Several weeks ago, Jenny Q. Ta, a nationally prominent entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of the social media “net-WORTH-ing platform” told me that social media in the 2016 campaign will be as powerful as television was during the Kennedy-Nixon debates in 1960. How right she was!

My point today is that Sanders won the GOP debate on two levels.

First, don’t miss the story in The Hill by Neetzan Zimmerman, who is spearheading The Hill’s social media initiatives, reporting that Sanders’s critique of the debate on Facebook was far more popular than any other presidential candidate of either party. This triumph by Sanders in the new medium of social media has powerful implications for Sanders winning the battle of ideas of his message against Republicans.

Second, Sanders has the advantage of the message conveyed by the media, old and new. Sanders’s core argument is that our economy is unjust, unfair, rigged in favor of the super-wealthy and rigged against poor and middle-class Americans.

Being declared the winner of the GOP debate by pundits is hardly the same as having the opportunity to debate, and hopefully beat, Hillary Clinton before a prime time audience. Just imagine Sanders pointing out how he reviewed the same information about the Iraq war as Clinton, and he is the one who clearly got the vote right. Contrast Sanders and Clinton on virtually any other issue. More often than not, it will be Sanders who is in the Democratic mainstream, with Clinton off to the right.

The situation has changed considerably since Debbie Wasserman Schultz helped rig the debate schedule for Hillary Clinton, over the protests of Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley. At the time it was expected that Clinton would be a strong front runner, and would benefit from limiting  publicity for her challengers. Since then the Republicans have received extensive coverage from two debates, while the Democrats can only claim symbolic victories from the media. Clinton has fallen behind Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire, and maintains a diminishing lead in Iowa. At this point it is clearly in the interest of the Democratic Party to receive coverage from debates, and perhaps even Hillary Clinton might decide a debate is in her interest, potentially becoming the underdog in the first two contests.

Nancy Pelosi has joined those calling for more debates:

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s rivals in the Democratic primary have been demanding for weeks that the party hold more presidential debates than the scant six that are planned, and on Friday they got a big boost when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco said she agrees with them.

Asked in an interview with The Times whether she would like to see more debates scheduled, Pelosi responded, “I would.”

…The debate schedule has become an increasingly awkward issue for the Clinton campaign as the first scheduled event, on Oct. 13 in Nevada, approaches. Clinton’s primary challengers have suggested the schedule was designed by party insiders to favor the front-runner, who was so far ahead in the polls when it was drafted that there seemed to be little for her to gain in the race by sharing a stage with lesser-known opponents.

Clinton’s support in early voting states has slipped considerably since then, particularly in New Hampshire, where some polls show her trailing Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Now, some longtime Clinton allies are saying it may be in her interest to have more debates.

When asked about the schedule, Clinton campaign officials have repeatedly said it is not up to them, that it is controlled by the Democratic National Committee. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has repeatedly said the issue is closed.

But Pelosi’s comments put more pressure on the DNC to reopen it.

The problem with the debate schedule is not only that it limits the candidates to six debates, but that many of the debates appear to be scheduled at times to limit the potential audience. There will only be four before the Iowa and New Hampshire contests, and three of these are on weekends, including December 19, competing with holiday parties.

Incidentally, for sticklers who insist upon only considering those actually at the debate in determining the winner, the consensus in the media and the polls is that Carly Fiorina won the debate. It is the outsiders who are generating the excitement in both parties, but of these outsiders (also including Donald Trump and Ben Carson), only Sanders has the right ideas to lead the United States.

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The Second Republican Debate: Faux Controversies, Lies, And One Candidate Was Even Right Twice

CNN Republican Debate

The second Republican debate (transcript here), this time hosted by CNN, didn’t raise as much controversy as the first. Donald Trump was still a dominant force, but whenever the talk got to policy, Trump didn’t know what to say and was quieter. CNN did try to liven things up with having the candidates respond to comments about them from other candidates. This included both comments during the debates and often insults made to the media before the debates. While at times it was a good idea to have the candidates interact, often it was over matters far to trivial to really belong in the debate.

This did allow Carly Fiorina to have one of the better moments of the debate, and she was obviously ready to comment on this insult from Donald Trump:

TRAPPER: In an interview last week in Rolling Stone magazine, Donald Trump said the following about you. Quote, “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” Mr. Trump later said he was talking about your persona, not your appearance. Please feel free to respond what you think about his persona.

FIORINA: You know, it’s interesting to me, Mr. Trump said that he heard Mr. Bush very clearly and what Mr. Bush said. I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.

While candidates often exceeded their time, Fiorina responded perfectly with this brief comment.

It was overall a good night for Fiorina, who might have done more than anyone else to improve her position in the GOP race with her debate performance. Unfortunately doing well in a Republican race does not require telling the truth. She repeated previously debunked claims about her record at HP. While she sounded more forceful than Donald Trump in saying how she would deal with Russia and Syria, Ezra Klein pointed out how she got the facts wrong. Klein, along with Sarah Kliff also pointed out how she was wrong about the Planned Parenthood tapes. There was no scene such as the one she described:

FIORINA: I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.

Of course most, if not all, of the candidates were also lying about Planned Parenthood during the debate. Even if they didn’t make a claim as blatantly false as Fiorina did, they repeated the debunked claims that Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue.

The biggest whopper came from Jeb Bush when he responded to criticism of his brother from Donald Trump:

TRUMP: Your brother — and your brother’s administration gave us Barack Obama, because it was such a disaster, those last three months, that Abraham Lincoln couldn’t have been elected.

BUSH: You know what? As it relates to my brother, there’s one thing I know for sure. He kept us safe.

Both Trump and Jeb Bush were wrong about Obama and George Bush in the above exchange, but it is Jeb’s comments which were the most absurd. The most destructive terrorist attack on the United States occurred on George Bush’s watch, with Bush ignoring intelligence reports which might have enabled the United States to prevent the attack. Bush then followed up the attack by foolishly getting us into the quagmire in Iraq.

Rand Paul is one of the candidates who was nearly forgotten. Donald Trump, who insulted so many of the other candidates that I thought he was preparing to fire one, even said:

TRUMP: Well, first of all, Rand Paul shouldn’t even be on this stage. He’s number 11, he’s got 1 percent in the polls, and how he got up here, there’s far too many people anyway.

While Paul is certainly wrong on many, many things, I noted he was right on two points during the debate.  For this group, just being right twice makes him stand out.

First he pointed out that military intervention is not always the best idea:

PAUL: I think this gets to the point of wisdom on when to intervene and when we shouldn’t. Had we bombed Assad at the time, like President Obama wanted, and like Hillary Clinton wanted and many Republicans wanted, I think ISIS would be in Damascus today. I think ISIS would be in charge of Syria had we bombed Assad.

Sometimes both sides of the civil war are evil, and sometimes intervention sometimes makes us less safe. This is real the debate we have to have in the Middle East.

Every time we have toppled a secular dictator, we have gotten chaos, the rise of radical Islam, and we’re more at risk. So, I think we need to think before we act, and know most interventions, if not a lot of them in the Middle East, have actually backfired on us.

Paul missed the point Obama successfully stepped back from the brink, but his overall point is correct about thinking before engaging in senseless military intervention.

Paul also also criticized the drug war during the debate:

TAPPER: Many people on social media wanted us to ask about marijuana legalization. Senator Paul, Governor Christie recently said, quote, “if you’re getting high in Colorado today,” where marijuana has been legalized, “enjoy it until January 2017, because I will enforce the federal laws against marijuana.” Will you?

PAUL: I think one of the great problems, and what American people don’t like about politics, is hypocrisy. People have one standard for others and not for them — for themselves.

There is at least one prominent example on the stage of someone who says they smoked pot in high school, and yet the people going to — to jail for this are poor people, often African-Americans and often Hispanics, and yet the rich kids who use drugs aren’t.

I personally think that this is a crime for which the only victim is the individual, and I think that America has to take a different attitude. I would like to see more rehabilitation and less incarceration. I’m a fan of the drug courts which try to direct you back towards work and less time in jail.

But the bottom line is the states. We say we like the 10th Amendment, until we start talking about this. And I think the federal government has gone too far, I think that the war on drugs has had a racial outcome, and really has been something that has really damaged our inner cities.

Not only do the drugs damage them, we damage them again by incarcerating them and then preventing them from getting employment over time.

So I don’t think that the federal government should override the states. I believe in the 10th Amendment and I really will say that the states are left to themselves.

Paul was generally right on two points, but neither are going to help him in a Republican primary battle. It is also rather sad that the Democratic front-runner has been wrong on both issues, with Clinton supporting both greater military intervention and being a hard-liner on drug laws.

Paul was more mixed on vaccines. He didn’t go along with Donald Trump’s claims about a connection between vaccines and autism, but also wasn’t consistent with the science:

TAPPER: Mr. Trump, as president, you would be in charge of the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health, both of which say you are wrong. How would you handle this as president?

TRUMP: Autism has become an epidemic. Twenty-five years ago, 35 years ago, you look at the statistics, not even close. It has gotten totally out of control.

I am totally in favor of vaccines. But I want smaller doses over a longer period of time. Because you take a baby in — and I’ve seen it — and I’ve seen it, and I had my children taken care of over a long period of time, over a two or three year period of time.

Same exact amount, but you take this little beautiful baby, and you pump — I mean, it looks just like it’s meant for a horse, not for a child, and we’ve had so many instances, people that work for me.

Just the other day, two years old, two and a half years old, a child, a beautiful child went to have the vaccine, and came back, and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic.

Paul later responded:

One of the greatest — one of the greatest medical discoveries of all times was — were the vaccines, particularly for smallpox. And if you want to read a story, it’s called The Speckled Monster, it’s an amazing story, it was all done voluntary.

But people came in by the droves. George Washington wouldn’t let his wife visit until she got vaccinated. So I’m all for vaccines. But I’m also for freedom.

I’m also a little concerned about how they’re bunched up. My kids had all of their vaccines, and even if the science doesn’t say bunching them up is a problem, I ought to have the right to spread out my vaccines out a little bit at the very least.

The debate will probably not change the race very much but it is a good thing that the candidates were provided this opportunity to present their views to a national audience on a repeated basis. If only the Democratic National Committee would do the same this year and allow more than six debates total.

Update: The New York Times reviewed  Crazy Talk at the Republican Debate with Paul Krugman adding additional Fantasies and Fictions at G.O.P. Debate

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Sanders Gains on Clinton, Biden Met With Obama Bundler, and Trump Loses Job To Foreigner

Clinton declining support women

The Democratic race has become far more interesting than many expected, but we are seeing variations of the same stories the last few weeks: Clinton’s support falling, including in Iowa, New Hampshire, and among women, and along with continued questions about whether Joe Biden will run as the Democratic establishment gets more nervous about Clinton as a candidate.

Among recent polls, ABC News/The Washington Post show non-career politicians Donald Trump and Ben Carson dominating among the Republicans while support for establishment candidate Hillary Clinton is slipping among Democrats:

In the Democratic contest, Clinton’s drop is dramatic, yet not enough to threaten her clear lead. She’s supported by 42 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who are registered to vote, down from 63 percent in July, while Sanders has gained 10 points, to 24 percent, and Joe Biden’s up by 9 points, to 21 percent. If Biden doesn’t run, most of his support moves to Clinton, boosting her to 56 percent – exactly double Sanders’ support in this case.

Even if still in a strong position, Clinton’s trajectory leaves no question that she has trouble. Just 39 percent now see her as honest and trustworthy, matching her career low; that has dropped by 14 points since last summer. At 46 percent, her rating for empathy –- understanding the problems of average Americans -– is at a career low (albeit by a single point). Her support in the primary has tanked in particular among women, previously a mainstay of her candidacy, from 71 percent in July to 42 percent now.

The e-mail imbroglio is part of it. Fifty-five percent of Americans in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, disapprove of Clinton’s handling of questions about the matter, 54 percent think she’s tried to cover it up and 51 percent think she broke government regulations by using a private server for work-related e-mail during her time as secretary of state…

In the Democratic contest, Clinton and Sanders run essentially evenly among whites, 31 vs. 33 percent; Clinton’s lead relies on nonwhites, among whom she has 57 percent support, to Sanders’ 13 percent. It’s the only major demographic group in which Clinton still maintains a clear majority.

Clinton’s support from nonwhites has dropped, by 14 points, from 71 percent in July. But her support from whites has fallen farther, by 25 points, in the same time.

As noted, too, Clinton’s support among women has cratered by 29 points since July. Among men she’s lost 9 points in the same period, from 52 to 43 percent. Her gender gap has evaporated.

While Clinton still maintains an overall lead nationally for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders continues to show increased support in Iowa and New Hampshire, with victories there likely to impact the polls nationally should he hold onto these leads. The YouGov/CBS News Battleground Tracker showed a continuation of the trend seen in other recent polls:

The new poll finds Sen. Sanders with 52% support among Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire, while former Secretary of State Clinton, long considered the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic nomination, receives 30%. Recent polls have shown Sanders’ lead growing in the Granite State, but this would be the first to show the Vermont Senator over 50%.

Possibly more worrying for the Clinton campaign is her performance in Iowa, where Sanders now leads by 10 points, with 43% to Clinton’s 33%.

The entry of Joe Biden into the Democratic race would have a major impact, with Biden dividing the establishment vote, possibly creating a better chance for Bernie Sanders to win the nomination, or in any event decreasing the chance of Clinton winning. At this time Biden has given out mixed signals, I suspect largely because he has not decided what he is going to do. Bloomberg provides further evidence that he is seriously considering the possibility of running:

The 28 hours Joe Biden spent in New York City at the end of last week were a whirlwind of activity—much of it feeding the mounting speculation that he is inching ever closer to launching a late-starting presidential campaign. Biden stood alongside Attorney General Loretta Lynch and announced an $80 million plan to clear the backlog of rape kits in police departments around the country. He appeared with Governor Andrew Cuomo at a rally with some of the city’s most powerful unions to support Cuomo’s push to hike the minimum wage. He made his now-famous appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He took part in an evening roundtable for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. And, the next day, he delivered remarks at a 9/11 memorial aboard the Intrepid Museum, at which firefighters, cops, and other first responders chanted, “Run, Joe, run!”

Each of these events was freighted with political meaning. For some, the turn on Colbert, with Biden expressing his enduring anguish about the loss of his son Beau and his heartfelt doubts about his ability to rise emotionally to the rigors of a campaign, was the most telling, signaling what many in the political establishment have believed for weeks: that for all of Biden’s dalliances with a bid, he would in the end find himself unable to get to yes.

And that may still prove true. But fewer than 12 hours after the Colbert interview aired, Biden partook in a meeting that signaled something entirely different. The meeting appeared nowhere on his public schedule. It was held in secret at his hotel in Midtown Manhattan and lasted for more than 90 minutes: a private, one-on-one session with one of the most prominent and powerful fundraising stars in the Democratic firmament—a mega-bundler who happens to be, at least for now, publicly committed to Hillary Clinton.

The bundler in question was Robert Wolf: the former chairman and CEO of UBS Americas, a prodigious buck-raker on behalf of Barack Obama in two successive campaigns, a four-time appointee to economic panels in the Obama administration, and perhaps the only person in the American business community—and certainly the sole Wall Street potentate—with whom Obama during his time in office has developed a deep and genuine friendship…

There is also some news of interest which is somewhat related to the Republican race. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been named the new host of Celebrity Apprentice, replacing Donald Trump. Trump is being replaced due to running for president, along with alienating NBC and many potential viewers with his xenophobic talk. Schwarzenegger very well might have been a contender for the Republican nomination (either now or in the past) if not disqualified due to not being a natural born American citizen. Plus, ironically in light of the xenophobia he is spreading, Donald Trump is losing his job to a foreigner.

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Clinton Sees Decrease in Lead Over Sanders & Now Trails Ben Carson

Clinton Biden Sanders

Hillary Clinton continues to show a downward trajectory in the polls, no longer having a significant lead for the Democratic nomination. The CNN/ORC poll shows:

Hillary Clinton’s lead in the race for the Democratic nomination has fallen to just 10 points, and at the same time, her advantage in hypothetical general election matchups against the top Republican contenders has vanished, a new CNN/ORC poll has found.

The new poll finds Clinton with 37% support among Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters, down 10 points since August, followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at 27% and Vice President Joe Biden at 20%.

Considering the historic volatility in polls prior to primary election , this remaining lead in the national polls could be erased quite quickly. If Sanders should win in Iowa and New Hampshire, where he currently leads, there is an excellent chance that he could increase his support nationally by well over ten percent.

Many Democrats were already nervous about Clinton’s candidacy, and might become more alarmed by how her support continues to fall compared to Republican opponents. After one recent poll showed her trailing Donald Trump nationally, the CNN poll shows her trailing Ben Carson and losing her lead over other candidates:

In the general election matchups, Clinton trails former neurosurgeon Ben Carson by a significant margin (51% Carson to 46% Clinton among registered voters) while running about evenly with both former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (49% Bush to 47% Clinton) and businessman Donald Trump (48% back each).

Joe Biden is doing better against Republicans than Clinton, which might influence his decision as to whether he will run. While he currently sounds quite undecided about running, there is activity in progress which looks like the organization of a presidential campaign.

Clinton is showing a decrease in support among groups including women and liberals:

The shift away from the former secretary of state stems from shrinking support among women. Clinton’s advantage among women has disappeared in matchups against Bush and Carson. Facing Trump, Clinton still carries women by a large, though tighter, margin. In August, 60% of women favored Clinton to 37% for Trump, but that’s narrowed slightly to 55% Clinton, 41% Trump now. Clinton’s advantage among women against Trump is fueled by independent women, despite that group shifting away from Clinton in the head-to-head against Bush…

Clinton’s fade in the Democratic race comes as an ideological divide within the party grows into a chasm. In August, Clinton held support from 43% of moderates and 46% of liberals. In the new poll, her support among moderates holds at 47%, while among liberals, it has plummeted to just 23%. Sanders has increased his share of the liberal vote (from 42% to 49%), while falling 9 points among moderates (from 24% to 15%). Meanwhile, Biden has gained ground in both groups.

And enthusiasm for Clinton among liberals has fallen nearly 40 points. Just 29% of liberal Democrats say they would be enthusiastic if she were the party’s nominee, down from 68% in an April poll.

Clinton’s decrease in support among liberals comes as she is finally admitting to being a centrist, as opposed to putting on an unconvincing act of being a progressive earlier in her campaign. This might be to appear more electable than Bernie Sanders, but ignores the problem of Democratic-leaning voters being less motivated to get out to vote when Democrats run as Republican-lite.

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Democratic Leaders Getting Nervous With Clinton Falling And Sanders Picking Up Support

Clinton Email

The email scandal has some Democrats looking for alternative candidates, according to The New York Times:

If Hillary Rodham Clinton’s new apology for her private email server fails to reassure jittery supporters, it could amplify the chatter among some Democrats who have been casting about for a potential white knight to rescue the party from a beleaguered Clinton candidacy.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Al Gore: Each has been discussed among party officials in recent weeks as an alternative to Mrs. Clinton if she does not regain her once-dominant standing in the 2016 presidential field and instead remains mired in the long-running email controversy, with its attendant investigations…

It is not just Mrs. Clinton’s weakness in the polls that has generated talk of other alternatives, but also the strength of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is routinely drawing huge crowds at campaign events. That has been disconcerting to Democratic officials who believe that Mr. Sanders, a socialist, is so liberal that his presence at the top of the party’s ticket in 2016 would be disastrous.

“If party leaders see a scenario next winter where Bernie Sanders has a real chance at the Democratic nomination, I think there’s no question that leaders will reach out to Vice President Biden or Secretary of State Kerry or even Gore about entering the primaries,” said Garnet F. Coleman, a Texas state lawmaker and Democratic national committeeman.

It also shows the shortsightedness of the Democratic leadership in not realizing that the best alternative just might be the candidate who is creating the most excitement among Democrats–Bernie Sanders, who has now taken a slight lead over Clinton in Iowa. If not Sanders, any of these four would still be better than Clinton.

From the Des Moines Register on Sanders taking the lead in Iowa:

A new poll finds liberal firebrand Bernie Sanders has jumped into the lead in Iowa – by one point.

The Vermont U.S. senator is the favorite choice for president for 41 percent of Iowa likely Democratic caucusgoers, while 40 percent say former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is their current favorite choice, a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday found.

Another 12 percent pick Vice President Joseph Biden as their top choice for president in 2016.

In Quinnipiac’s last poll, in early July, Clinton had 52 percent, Sanders had 33 percent and Biden had 7 percent.

Younger caucusgoers are choosing Sanders in a landslide – 66 percent of those ages 18 to 34 pick him, versus 19 percent who choose Clinton.

And Sanders wins with caucusgoers who describe themselves as “very” liberal, with 59 percent support to Clinton’s 29 percent.

Sanders has risen from obscurity in Iowa to great fame. A recent Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics survey found that likely caucusgoers are sliding over to Sanders not because they don’t like Clinton, the longtime frontrunner, but because they really like Sanders, who thunders about righting injustices. That poll, taken Aug. 23-26 by Selzer & Co., showed Sanders seven points behind Clinton, 37 percent to 30 percent.

In the new Quinnipiac survey, conducted Aug. 27-Sept. 8, Clinton wins with women, beating Sanders by 14 points.

But Sanders beats Clinton with Iowa male likely caucusgoers by 21 points.

“Sanders and Biden have a higher net favorability rating than Clinton and higher ratings for honesty and empathy,” a Quinnipiac news release said Thursday morning. “Clinton has the best scores for leadership and temperament to handle an international crisis.”

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