Bill and Hillary Escalate Smear Campaign With Dishonest Attacks on Sanders

MILFORD, NH - FEBRUARY 07: Former U.S. President Bill Clinton campaigns for his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, during a campaign event at Milford Junior High School February 7, 2016 in Milford, New Hampshire. New Hampshire holds the "first in the nation" primary on February 9. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The Clintons have escalated their dishonest smear campaign against Bernie Sanders, including attacks from Bill Clinton which are reminiscent of his racist attacks on Barack Obama eight years ago. Both Bill and Hillary have raised what Truthout calls The Most Disingenuous Attack on Bernie Yet over the vote for the Commodities Futures Modernization Act. Hillary Clinton raised this at the last Democratic debate.

But here’s the thing: Hillary Clinton isn’t telling a true story about Bernie Sanders and his vote for the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, or CFMA.

As Robert Scheer has pointed out over at Truthdig, then-Congressman Sanders voted for the CFMA, not because he wanted to, but because he had to.

The CFMA had been shoved into an omnibus spending bill at the last minute as part of a deal between Republicans and President Bill Clinton, and because this was a time when, you know, Congress actually did its job, Sanders bit the bullet and voted for the whole package – CFMA included – to keep the government open.

Only four members of Congress ended up opposing the final spending bill that included the CFMA, and one of them was Ron Paul, who opposed pretty much every spending bill. But that’s just of the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how dishonest Clinton was being when she called Bernie out for voting for the CFMA.

Even if Bernie had a good reason to vote for that omnibus spending bill – like preventing a government shutdown – Sanders was angry that he been forced into deregulating Wall Street.

Bill is also attacking Bernie over the data breach with an inaccurate account of the incident, calling it like stealing a car with the keys in the ignition. Bill left out important details such as that it was the Sanders campaign which both reported that the data breach and fired their staff member who was involved. In return, the DNC violated their contract with Sanders, only backing down in response to a lawsuit. Imagine the cover ups which we would be seeing if it was a Clinton staffer involved.

In what was probably his biggest strategic blunder, Bill Clinton jumped on highly exaggerated attacks on Bernie Bros. The attack line, which is reminiscent of the Obama boy attacks of eight years ago, is largely based upon myths spread by the Clinton campaign. While there is no doubt that some Sanders supporters have acted inappropriately on the internet, Sanders has already condemned such acts.

If bad behavior from supporters on the internet was a reason not to vote for a candidate, there are also plenty of cases coming from Clinton supporters, both on line and from more prominent supporters. While hardly a serious argument against Sanders, this resulted in an increase in discussion of Bill Clinton’s predatory behavior towards women. This will haunt the campaign through the general election should Hillary win the nomination. Reuters reports that one of the women who is accusing Clinton of sexual assault is planning to campaign against Clinton.

Meanwhile, Hillary continues to have problems with her speaking fees. At Huffington Post, Les Leopold writes Hillary Not Truthful About Wall Street Speaking Fees.

Hillary is veering from the truth when she suggests her $225,000 per speech fee, paid three times by Goldman Sachs, was “what they offered.”

It was not what they offered — it was what Team Hillary demanded.

A review of her 2014 tax return posted on her website shows that $225,000 was her minimum fee…

Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame and Hillary biographer, commented on CNN that the White House is “horrified that Clinton is blowing up her own campaign.” He said they can’t believe she took the money and didn’t see the ethical problems that would dog her.

It is not credible for her to argue that she took the money because she wasn’t sure she was going to run for president or that she was “dead broke.” She and Bill hauled in $139 million from 2007 to 2014…

The pundits point out that she has created a “perceived” conflict of interest, whether real or imagined. In essence they are saying that there’s nothing inherently wrong with taking the money. It’s not really tainted.

Hillary states that she never changed her vote due to campaign contributions. But evidence is mounting via previous accounts by Elizabeth Warren, that Hillary may have switched her position on bankruptcy laws to please her Wall Street contributors after becoming the Senator New York.

But these attacks miss the most basic question: Is money tainted? Is it blood-money?

Sanders believes it is by arguing that “the business model of Wall Street is fraud.”

There is considerable data to support him.

The most disturbing factor here is that Hillary Clinton really seems to believe that there is nothing unethical about the situation. How can she ever be trusted to work to get money out of politics if she does not recognize the problem and this is how she thinks?

Clinton makes matters worse by refusing to release the transcripts as she previously refused to release the email until forced to.  McClatchy points out that Clinton did require that transcripts be kept.

With all the chaos surrounding the Clinton campaign, as well as Clinton losing her lead in the latest national polls from Quinnipiac and Reuters/IPSOS (which may or may not be outliers at this point), Politico reported that Clinton is considering a shake up of her staff. Hillary denied this report, but there is no information as to whether her nose grew during the interview. Regardless, the staff is not the problem. As was also the case eight years ago, the problem is the candidate. Democrats are insane if they want to go into a general campaign with her on top of the ticket.

Update: Bernie Sanders Delivers Clinton A Crushing Loss In New Hampshire

Iowa Caucus Comes Down To Turnout & Peculiarities Of A Caucus Versus A Primary

Iowa Caucus

(This is based upon Saturday’s post with major updates, also posted at The Moderate Voice  earlier today)

The Democratic caucus in Iowa is too close to call and will come down to turnout, along with other factors seen in a caucus as opposed to a primary. The final Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Poll before the Iowa Caucus showed Hillary Clinton leading Bernie Sanders with 45 percent compared to 42 percent. The three point lead is within the poll’s margin of error at four percent. Martin O’Malley trails at three percent.

The final Quinnipiac University Poll, coming out this morning, has Sanders leading Clinton by three points, also within the margin of error.

While I have often pointed out the limitations of polls before primaries, the final Des Moines Register poll is probably the most likely to be predictive. Among its virtues, it does not exclude voters based upon past lack of participation in the caucuses as many other polls do. While it has a better track record than other polls, it still suffers from the same problem of all pollsters in not knowing who will actually turn out. Traditional Democratic voters favor Clinton while more independent voters strongly favor Sanders, but we don’t know how many of them will participate in the caucuses. Higher turn out than usual would increase the chances of a victory for Sanders.

Being a caucus rather than a pure primary vote creates additional questions. A candidate has to meet a fifteen percent threshold for their vote to count towards selecting delegates in the Democratic caucus. If they do not meet this threshold, then the second choice becomes crucial. Greater support for Sanders than Clinton among O’Malley supporters nearly erases Clinton’s lead if the votes go to Sanders. However, Buzzfeed reports on how the Clinton campaign is trying to game the system by having some of their supporters back O’Malley so that he will meet the fifteen percent viability requirement to keep his supporters from going to Sanders. Of course plotting such a strategy and getting Iowa voters to go along are two different things. I recall how Clinton protested over similar actions by the Obama campaign eight yeas ago.

Bloomberg has more background on Clinton’s strategy in Iowa–basically doing the opposite of what she did in 2008.

Another question is the consequence of the difference in date for the caucus this year compared to 2008, when Obama came in first and Clinton came in third. The 2008 caucus occurred on January 3, when many college students were still on vacation, and possibly out of the state. Will having the caucus occur after students have returned to school provide an additional benefit to Sanders? On the other hand, will college students be more likely to caucus near their campus as opposed to at homes throughout Iowa. There is the danger that this will lead to Sanders having huge leads in some areas, such as Iowa City and Ames, while not doing as well as Obama did in other parts of the state. This could result in Clinton picking up more delegates statewide even if Sanders narrowly wins the popular vote. The Sanders campaign is urging students to “Go Home for Bernie” to vote throughout the state but such travel plans might be complicated by a major storm expected to hit Iowa later tonight.

With turnout so important, Sanders supporters hope that the large turnout at his events indicate a greater likelihood of turning out to caucus.

Donald Trump leads among the Republicans at 28 percent with Ted Cruz in second place at 23 percent in the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Poll. However, Trump has a weak ground game making it possible for an upset. I also wouldn’t be surprised if candidates such as Rubio, or even Ben Carson, do better than expected. The usually confident Trump is admitting to being a “little bit nervous” going into tonight’s vote.

Interpreting The Final Des Moines Register Poll Showing A Statistical Tie Between Clinton And Sanders

Des Moines Register Poll Final

The final Des Moines Register/Blomberg Poll before the Iowa Caucus shows Hillary Clinton leading Bernie Sanders with 45 percent compared to 42 percent. The three point lead is within the poll’s margin of error at four percent. Martin O’Malley trails at three percent.

While I have often pointed out the limitations of polls before primaries, the final Des Moines Register poll is probably the most likely to be predictive. Among its virtues, it does not exclude voters based upon past lack of participation in the caucuses as many other polls do. While it has a better track record than other polls, it still suffers from the same problem of all pollsters in not knowing who will actually turn out. Traditional Democratic voters favor Clinton while more independent voters strongly favor Sanders, but we don’t know how many of them will participate in the caucuses. Higher turn out than usual would increase the chances of a victory for Sanders.

Being a caucus rather than a pure primary vote creates additional questions. A candidate has to meet a fifteen percent threshold for their vote to count towards selecting delegates in the Democratic caucus. If they do not meet this threshold, then the second choice becomes crucial. Greater support for Sanders than Clinton among O’Malley supporters nearly erases Clinton’s lead.

Another question is the consequence of the difference in date for the caucus this year compared to 2008, when Obama came in first and Clinton came in third. The 2008 caucus occurred on January 3, when many college students were still on vacation, and possibly out of the state. Will having the caucus occur after students have returned to school provide an additional benefit to Sanders? On the other hand, will college students be more likely to caucus near their campus as opposed to at homes throughout Iowa. There is the danger that this will lead to Sanders having huge leads in some areas, such as Iowa City and Ames, while not doing as well as Obama did in other parts of the state. This could result in Clinton picking up more delegates statewide even if Sanders narrowly wins the popular vote.

Donald Trump leads among the Republicans at 28 percent with Ted Cruz in second place at 23 percent.

Update:  Buzzfeed reports on how the Clinton campaign is trying to game the system by having some of their supporters back O’Malley so that he will meet the fifteen percent viability requirement to keep his supporters from going to Sanders. Of course plotting such a strategy and getting Iowa voters to go along are two different things. I recall how Clinton protested over similar actions by the Obama campaign eight yeas ago. Plus Bloomberg has more background on Clinton’s strategy in Iowa–basically doing the opposite of what she did in 2008.

An updated post with further news, including Sanders leading in latest pre-Iowa poll, is here.

Bernie Sanders Releases “Magnificent” Ad With Simon & Garfunkel Music In Iowa

Bernie Sanders is running the above one minute ad in Iowa featuring the Simon and Garfunkel song America with a montage of American images in the background. It has received quite a bit of media coverage (in contrast to his campaign to date). The Hill calls the ad “magnificent” and writes, “When you watch the ad, think about it. I bet you will watch it more than once, as I did, and while they will not admit it, the campaigns of other candidates will wish they had thought of it themselves.”

Bernie America Ad

The Atlantic writes:

First, the ad is extremely positive—it’s all smiling faces and happy children, hardworking farmers and cheering crowds. That matches with Sanders’s vow, mostly kept, to run a positive campaign. Second, the ad is heavily steeped in classic Americana. In particular, the ad leans on rural imagery, fitting with it primary audience Iowa and New Hampshire. The message might also blunt the attempt by some allies of Hillary Clinton to tar Sanders as a socialist. See, look? He’s as American as mom and apple pie.

The ad certainly presents a strong contrast to the negative smear campaign coming from the Clinton campaign since Hillary fell behind in the polls. Matters are getting even better for Sanders with the latest CNN poll showing Sanders eight points ahead of Clinton (leading 51 percent to 43 percent), with Clinton having led by eighteen points in their previous poll.

Clinton Campaign Underestimated Sanders–But Also Underestimated Clinton’s Weaknesses

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens to a speaker during a campaign stop at the YMCA in Rochester, New Hampshire June 15, 2015.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder - RTX1GLP8

With Clinton falling in the polls and acting desperate, it is no surprise to see The New York Times run a headline saying, Clinton Campaign Underestimated Sanders Strengths, Allies Say.

Advisers to Hillary Clinton, including former President Bill Clinton, believe that her campaign made serious miscalculations by forgoing early attacks on Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and failing to undercut his archliberal message before it grew into a political movement that has now put him within striking distance of beating her in Iowa and New Hampshire.

According to Democrats close to the Clintons and involved with her campaign, Mrs. Clinton and the former president are also unnerved by the possibility that Mr. Sanders will foment a large wave of first-time voters and liberals that will derail her in Iowa, not unlike Barack Obama’s success in 2008, which consigned Mrs. Clinton to a third-place finish. They have asked her advisers about the strength of the campaign’s data modeling and turnout assumptions in Iowa, given that her 2008 campaign’s predictions were so inaccurate.

…Mrs. Clinton’s problems are broader than just her message: Opinion polls show that some Democrats and other voters continue to question her trustworthiness and whether she cares about their problems. Recent polls show that her once-formidable lead over Mr. Sanders in Iowa has all but vanished, while he is holding on to a slight lead over her in New Hampshire.

While they have underestimated Sanders, as they underestimated Obama eight years ago, this isn’t the real problem. The problem for the Clinton campaign is that they failed to see the weaknesses in their candidate and they hopefully underestimated the ability of Democratic voters to recognize them. Clinton lost in 2008 and is struggling today not only because of the attributes of Obama and Sanders, but because Clinton does not have what it takes to a leader in the Democratic Party. She should have remained a Republican.

As the linked article notes, she is weak on ethics. She is weak in policy, both in terms of a history of showing poor judgment on the big issues and in term of opposing liberal viewpoints. By now everyone is aware of the considerable differences between the two with regards to Wall Street, despite Clinton’s attempts to distort the issueThe Nation did an excellent job of succinctly summarizing how often she has been wrong on foreign policy in their endorsement, briefly quoted here. Democratic voters, especially the young, also do not want a candidate who is so conservative on social issues that she teamed up with The Fellowship in the Senate, or who who has a long history of taking conservative stands on civil liberties and government transparency. She has similarly opposed campaign finance reform in the past as she has benefited from money from the special interests, making it hard to believe she will take serious action on the issue. Her record on the environment suggests she is more concerned about protecting the special interests she is indebted to as opposed to supporting any serious change to deal with climate change.

These are many of the same issues which led Democrats to support Obama over Clinton eight years ago.

Clinton’s campaign based upon inevitability and electability against Sanders has fallen apart, as the same strategy did eight years ago, as her lead in the polls has evaporated, and as many head to head polls against Republicans show that Sanders is more electable than Clinton is. Plus, as a general rule of thumb, it is not wise for a political party to nominate a candidate involved in a major scandal, and who has the FBI investigating their actions.

As Van Jones put it last week, the Democratic base is in “full-on rebellion” against Hillary Clinton. This can also be seen in the endorsements from MoveOn and Democracy for America, as well as in DFA’s defense of Sanders from the dishonest attacks from the Clinton campaign.

If there wasn’t a Barack Obama in 2008 and a Bernie Sanders today, somebody else would be challenging Clinton as they are because of the weaknesses of Hillary Clinton.

The Nation Gives Rare Endorsement To Sanders As He Surges In The Polls

Bernie Sanders Endorsement The Nation

On top of the favorable news for Sanders we have already seen this week, yet another poll shows that Clinton has lost most of her lead over Sanders. The Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll found that Clinton’s lead is down to two points, within the margin of error. Other polls this week have showed the race close, with Sanders leading in some. There has been a similar tightening in the national polls and Sanders maintains his lead in New Hampshire. While either candidate can still win, this is feeling increasingly like 2008.

In addition, Sanders received a rare endorsement from The Nation. The last time they endorsed a candidate in a primary battle was in 2008 when they endorsed Obama over Clinton. The full editorial includes praise for Sanders and a comparison of their economic views,  but the most important considerations are the warnings they give about Clinton’s record and their differences on foreign policy:

the limits of a Clinton presidency are clear. Her talk of seeking common ground with Republicans and making deals to “get things done” in Washington will not bring the change that is so desperately needed. Clinton has not ruled out raising the Social Security retirement age, and her plan falls short of increasing benefits for all. She rejects single-payer healthcare and refuses to consider breaking up the big banks. We also fear that she might accept a budgetary “grand bargain” with the Republicans that would lock in austerity for decades to come.

On foreign policy, Clinton is certainly seasoned, but her experience hasn’t prevented her from getting things wrong. Clinton now says that her 2002 vote to authorize George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq was a mistake, but she apparently learned little from it. Clinton was a leading advocate for overthrowing Moammar El-Gadhafi in Libya, leaving behind a failed state that provides ISIS with an alternative base. She supported calls for the United States to help oust Bashar al-Assad in Syria, an approach that has added fuel to a horrific civil war. She now advocates a confrontation with Russia in Syria by calling for a no-fly zone. Her support for President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran was marred by an explicit rejection of better relations with that country and bellicose pledges to provide Israel with more arms. If elected, Clinton will be another “war president” at a time when America desperately needs peace.

Sanders’s approach is different and better. The senator hasn’t talked as much as we would like about global challenges and opportunities, and we urge him to focus more on foreign policy. But what he has said (and done) inspires confidence. An opponent of the Iraq War from the start, he criticizes the notion of “regime change” and the presumption that America alone must police the world. He rejects a new Cold War with Russia. He supports the nuclear-weapons agreement with Iran, and he would devote new energy to dismantling nuclear arsenals and pursuing nonproliferation. He has long been an advocate for normalizing relations with Cuba and for reviving a good-neighbor policy in the hemisphere. Sanders’s foreign policy would also create conditions for rebuilding a broadly shared prosperity at home. He would lead an international effort to end the crippling austerity that threatens to create another global recession, and he would champion a green New Deal to combat climate change. And as a leader of the opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, he would undo the corporate-defined trade regime that has devastated America’s middle class.

Critics of Bernie Sanders dismiss him as an idealist (he is!) on a quixotic crusade. Meanwhile, the corporate media has paid shamefully little attention to his campaign’s achievements, instead lavishing attention on the latest outrageous pronouncements by Donald Trump and the Republican candidates struggling to compete with him. Nonetheless, polls show that Sanders—even as he still introduces himself to many voters—is well poised to take on the eventual GOP nominee, frequently doing better than Clinton in these matchups. Moreover, in contrast to the modest audiences at Clinton’s campaign stops, the huge crowds at Sanders’s grassroots rallies indicate that he’ll be able to boost turnout in November.

Whether his candidacy, and the inspired campaign it fuels, will spark a “political revolution” sufficient to win the Democratic nomination and the White House this year remains to be seen. We do know that his run has already created the space for a more powerful progressive movement and demonstrated that a different kind of politics is possible. This is a revolution that should live on, no matter who wins the nomination.

Bernie Sanders and his supporters are bending the arc of history toward justice. Theirs is an insurgency, a possibility, and a dream that we proudly endorse.

 

More Good News For Sanders As Clinton Gets Desperate (& Dirty)

Clinton Support Iowa

This week Bernie Sanders has continued to improve in the polls, received the endorsement from MoveOn, and favorable comments from Joe Biden, while Hillary Clinton’s campaign has become increasingly dirty. Or perhaps the fact that Sanders is talking about the issues while Clinton is slinging mud is why Sanders is surging in the polls.

The week started with Sanders showing a jump in the polls, including taking a three point lead in Iowa, which I discussed here. Subsequently Public Policy Polling showed Clinton losing six percent of her support and Sanders gaining six percent, but still remaining behind Clinton. Better yet, Quinnipiac showed Sanders leading by five points in Iowa, compared to a Clinton lead of eleven points last month. As Philip Bump wrote, Hillary Clinton’s trend line in Iowa polling should scare her campaign

Sanders is also maintaining his lead in New Hampshire, with the strongest lead coming in a Monmouth University poll showing Sanders ahead by fourteen points, while other polls showed a closer race. Clinton’s support is also dropping in the national polls. As I mentioned in the earlier post, the IBD/TIPP Poll has Clinton’s lead over Sanders nationally at 4 points, down from an eighteen point lead. The New York Times/CBS News Poll shows Clinton’s lead having decreased from twenty points in early December to seven points now. If Sanders should win in Iowa and New Hampshire, most likely he will receive a large bounce in the national polls.

Sanders also picked up the endorsement of MoveOn.org, with the number one reason being, “Bernie’s lifelong commitment to standing up to corporate and 1% interests to fight for an economy where everyone has a fair shot.” Foreign policy was also a strong factor, or as MoveOn put it, “He’ll say no to permanent war.” Clinton’s claims of greater electability also did not fool the members of MoveOn, who backed Sanders with 78.6 percent of the vote. Another reason for the endorsement was, “Electability: This election will hinge on turnout, and Bernie is inspiring and mobilizing the communities it’ll take to win.”

Sanders previously received the endorsement of Democracy for America. The endorsements from these two groups show the strength of Sanders’ support among liberals and in the netroots. Opposition to the policies of George W. Bush previously energized such groups, and therefore it is hardly surprising that such groups would oppose Hillary Clinton, who share’s many of Bush’s views on foreign policy, restrictions on civil liberties, and excessive executive power. This might also be related to the generational divide in the party. While I do not have the age breakdown of these organizations, I suspect that their endorsement is also consistent with the New York Times/CBS News poll showing “primary voters under 45 favoring Mr. Sanders by a roughly 2-to-1 ratio.”

While it would be a surprise if Joe Biden made an endorsement, he has made his disdain for Hillary Clinton clear on several occasions, including when he announced his decision not to run. Biden took another opportunity to praise Sanders and question Clinton’s record earlier this week. From CNN:

Vice President Joe Biden offered effusive praise for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders Monday, lauding Hillary Clinton’s chief rival for doing a “heck of a job” on the campaign trail and praising Sanders for offering an authentic voice on income inequality.

And while Biden said Democrats had a slate of “great candidates” running for president, he suggested Clinton was a newcomer to issues like the growing gap between rich and poor.

Sanders might have also benefited from being in the Senate for Barack Obama’s final State of the Union Address. While flipping through the channels after the debate I saw extended interviews with him on  MSNBC and CNN, and it is possible he also received coverage elsewhere. Besides discussing his economic message, this gave him an opportunity to respond to a dishonest ad on gun control which Clinton released tonight.

As I cautioned in the previous post, the polls can still move quite a bit in each direction over the next few weeks. This does seriously hurt Clinton’s strategy of campaigning based upon inevitability. Instead her campaign has become increasingly desperate, including further distortions of Sanders’ views on guns and further attacks on Sanders’ health care plans from the right, also in a quite dishonest manner. I will discuss this in further detail in a follow-up post.

Sanders Surging In Polls Both In Iowa And Nationally

Sanders Clinton

As she tried, and failed, eight years ago, Hillary Clinton has been running a campaign based upon inevitability. There’s no need to pay any attention to the young/old guy running against her as there was no chance she would lose. Just look at her big lead in the polls. Except now that lead has dwindled away.

The first sign of bad news for Clinton came over the weekend with the NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist College poll showing Clinton only slightly ahead in Iowa and Sanders holding a slight lead in New Hampshire. This led to headlines this morning such as Bernie Sanders In Striking Distance.

As Iowa is a caucus and not a primary, I also wonder what would happen with Martin O’Malley’s supporters as, assuming this poll result holds, he would not have enough support to meet the fifteen percent threshold. His supporters would have to go to their second choice. If a majority of his supporters go to Sanders, this could be enough to give Sanders the victory.

Or maybe he won’t need to pick up O’Malley’s support. An American Research Group poll has Sanders leading Clinton 47 percent to 44 percent. He also leads in New Hampshire by the same margin.

Previously I though that Clinton would maintain her lead in the national polls until the Iowa or New Hampshire votes and then Sanders would start moving up nationally if he won there. He might not even need to wait for this. The IBD/TIPP Poll has Clinton’s lead over Sanders nationally at 4 points, down from an eighteen point lead.

The IBD/TIPP Poll shows that regionally, Clinton saw her support drop most in the Northeast (where it fell to 36% from 50%) and the West (37% down from 49%). Sanders now holds the lead in both places. Clinton support also tumbled among suburban voters, dropping to 39% from last a month’s 50%. And she has lost backing among moderate Democrats, falling to 44% from 58%. Sanders picked up 10 points among moderates, to 37%.

Polls before primaries have a poor track record of predicting the winner, and the final results could be quite different from what we are seeing today. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see both candidates moving up and down in the polls over the next few weeks.

What this does show is that the this is a race either candidate can win, and a Clinton victory is not inevitable. The growing number of polls which show Sanders doing better than Clinton in head to head match-ups against Republicans further undermines Clinton’s argument.

Donald Trump Flip Flops On Neo-Nazis (Now Likes Pat Buchanan)

Trump Buchanan

Many pundits have compared Donald Trump’s campaign to that of Patrick Buchanan in 1992, including both in the mainstream media and in this analysis at National Review. Xenophobia has been prominent in both campaigns. Donald Trump previously criticized Buchanan’s views, even saying, “Clearly he has a love affair with Adolf Hitler, and that’s sick.” Now Buzzfeed reports that Donald Trump Praises Man He Once Called A Neo-Nazi.

Buzzfeed cited a tweet from Trump saying, “Pat Buchanan gave a fantastic interview this morning on @CNN – way to go Pat, way ahead of your time!”

Further examples of Trump flip-flopping were described:

Trump wrote in his 2000 campaign book The America We Deserve, “Pat Buchanan has been guilty of many egregious examples of intolerance. He has systematically bashed Blacks, Mexicans, and Gays.”

Trump, oddly enough, said Buchanan had said too many outrageous things to be president.

“Simply put, Pat Buchanan has written too many inflammatory, outrageous, and controversial things to ever be elected president,” wrote Trump in his book.

As previously noted by BuzzFeed News, Buchanan’s 2000 platform was identical to Trump’s in a number of ways. Buchanan was a protectionist on trade, used harsh rhetoric on immigration, wanted to limit donor influence in politics, and spoke loudly against Washington corruption.

On CNN on Saturday, Buchanan praised Trump saying, “Trump has raised the very issues I raised in the early nineties..”

In one Los Angeles Timesop-ed titled “Buchanan Is Too Wrong to Correct,” The Donald said that Buchanan was a very dangerous man” saying on “slow days, he attacks gays, immigrants, welfare recipients, even Zulus.”

And, speaking with The Advocate in 1999, Trump called Buchanan’s past works “disgusting.”

“I used to like Pat,” said Trump in the interview. “I was on Crossfire with him. I thought he was a nice guy. Then I read the things he had written about Hitler, Jews, blacks, gays, and Mexicans. I mean, I think it’s disgusting. That speech he made at the ‘92 Republican convention was a disaster. He wants to divide Americans. Clearly, he has a love affair with Adolf Hitler, and that’s sick. Buchanan actually said gay people had chosen ‘satan[ism] and suicide’ Now he says he welcomes gay people into his campaign. The guy is a hypocrite.”

As scary as it is to contemplate, a Trump victory is not impossible. He is clearly basing his message at this point in the campaign on attracting a segment of the Republican base which he believes could give him a victory for the nomination. There is no doubt that he will change his message for the general election, and many voters have a short enough attention span to allow a showman like Trump to get away with it. Two recent polls, here and here, also show that Trump could beat Clinton. Another recent poll shows both Clinton and Sanders beating Trump, with Sanders winning by a bigger margin. Sanders was not polled against Trump in the two more recent studies.

Sanders Comes Close To Clinton In Fund Raising For Second Consecutive Quarter Despite Depending On Small Donors

Sanders Contributions

Bernie Sanders has raised over $33 million dollars in the fourth quarter, nearly matching Clinton’s reported contributions of $37 million, without the big money donors she has. While Clinton got off to an earlier start in 2015, Sanders has come close to her in the past two quarters. The Washington Post reports:

Sanders’s fundraising, which continues to be fueled largely by small online donations, ensures that he will be in a position to compete, however, with the party’s front-runner through the first several nominating contests, which begin next month in Iowa and New Hampshire…

Aides to Sanders touted a figure showing that 99.9 percent of Sanders’s financial supporters have given less than the legal maximum of $2,700, meaning they can be tapped again if Sanders performs strongly in the early caucuses and primaries. To date, they said, more than 1 million people have given to the campaign of the self-described democratic socialist, who was initially written off as a fringe candidate when he entered the race.

“What we are showing is that we can run a strong, national campaign without a super PAC and without depending on millionaires and billionaires for their support,” said Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver. “We are making history, and we are proud of it.”

Sanders entered the new year with $28.4 million in the bank for his primary campaign, compared to the nearly $38 million the Clinton campaign said it had on hand as of Dec. 31…

Aides said Sanders has built a stable of 1 million donors more quickly than any other White House candidate. In 2008, Barack Obama did not report receiving a contribution from his one millionth donor until Feb. 27 of the election year, they said.

CNN added information on how Sanders has spent the money he has raised:

The final quarter of 2015 also saw Sanders dramatically increase his spending. According to aides, the campaign ended 2015 with $28.4 million cash on hand. That is only $2 million more than the $26.2 million the campaign had in the bank at the end of the third quarter of 2015, meaning Sanders’ operation spent the bulk of what they raised in the fourth quarter.

Much of that spending, according to aides, was focused on building infrastructure in early primary states, including deploying organizers to South Carolina and Nevada, and building the campaign’s already existing organization in Iowa and New Hampshire.

For the year, Sanders’ campaign spent 61% of the money it brought in.

As in the third quarter, when Sanders finished slightly behind Clinton in fund raising, Sanders raised his money primarily from small donations. I don’t have specifics yet for this quarter, but in the third quarter 17.6 percent of Clinton’s donations were from small donors compared to 76.7 percent for Sanders. This could pay off if the nomination battle continues into the spring as Sanders supporters can continue to contribute while far more of Clinton’s contributors have reached the maximum. This might not actually hurt Clinton considering the unprecedented (and possibly illegal) degree to which she coordinates with her super PAC.

The unprecedented number of individuals donating towards the Sanders campaign demonstrates a commitment towards changing the status quo, as opposed to continuing the politics of Hillary Clinton and her Republican opponents. This hopefully indicates that many more new voters will also turn out in the caucuses and primaries than the pollsters are predicting.

Many polls use screens such as having participated in the last two votes to determine whether someone is a likely voter, excluding many Sanders supporters, especially those not old enough to vote eight years ago. This is just one of several reasons why polls of primary races quite often differ substantially from the actual result. On the one hand, Sanders is behind Clinton in the polls for the nomination (while often out-performing her in general election match-ups against Republicans). On the other hand, Sanders is in a position quite similar to the one Obama was in heading into the Iowa caucus. He does face greater challenges in some respects compared to Obama, but Clinton also has even more baggage to defend now than eight years ago, including scandals, the hawkish positions she has taken both as Secretary of State and during the campaign, and her attacks on Sanders from the right on domestic policy.