Bernie Sanders Says He Disagrees With Clinton “On Virtually Everything” But Her 2008 Views On Guns Were Remarkably Close To His

Sanders on Guns

The quote of the day has to be Bernie Sanders saying “I disagree with Hillary Clinton on virtually everything,”  in an interview with the The Boston Globe. However, as I will get to below, looking back at old statements from Hillary Clinton on gun control, her views were quite similar to views expressed by Sanders, making her attacks on Sanders  look rather calculating and hypocritical.

The interview in The Boston Globe continues Sanders’ harder line against Clinton seen the last several days:

His more aggressive posture toward Clinton is part of his strategy to draw clearer distinctions between his liberal record and her shifts on major issues including gay rights, the environment, and trade.

“I disagree with Hillary Clinton on virtually everything,” said Sanders during a meeting with the Boston Globe’s editorial board. “What is important is to look at is the record, the track record that Hillary Clinton has had for her long and distinguished career as a public figure.”

Sanders said he was “delighted” that Clinton, the former secretary of state, recently said she opposes the mammoth trans-pacific trade deal. But he noted that she remained silent earlier this year when liberals were trying to find the votes needed to help block legislation.

He also pointed to her recent decision to oppose the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, an issue that was being studied by the State Department when she was in charge of it.

“How many years do you have to think about whether or not we excavate and transport the dirtiest fuel in the world?” he said. “It didn’t take me too long to think about that.”

During the meeting at the Globe, Sanders pushed back on the notion that he inoculated Clinton to criticism over her use of private server during the first Democratic debate when he said “enough about your damn emails.”

“I didn’t let her off the hook,” Sanders said. “There is a process going on in this country. There is an investigation. The FBI is doing what it is doing.”

He added: “Whatever happens with the email thing will happen. I don’t know. I’m not an expert. Let it take place.”

…During his discussion with The Globe, he cited multiple examples of issues where has tried to defend the middle class by on taking powerful interests and casting unpopular votes.

They included his votes against both wars in Iraq, his opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

“You asked me about the differences between Hillary Clinton and myself? I have taken tough votes throughout my entire life,” Sanders said. Later he circled back to the idea: “You are looking at a guy who cast difficult votes.”

During the interview, Sanders conceded that he did not do enough to beat back the false charges of sexism and racism from Clinton which I discussed yesterday.

The interview also turned to Sanders’ record on gun control, which Clinton has distorted while campaigning. The article does point out parts of his record which his critics ignore:

He has voted to ban military-type assault weapons, said he wants buyers at gun shows to submit to background checks, and said that he wants to do more to prevent so-called straw purchases, in which a person prohibited from buying a gun legally circumvents federal background checks.

As I have discussed in a previous post, despite claims that Sanders is pro-guns, the NRA has in various years given him grades of F and D- on gun control measures which he has supported, including bans on assault weapons, restrictions on concealed weapons, ending the “gun-show loophole,” and expanded background checks, plus opposing shortening waiting periods. This is what he said when interviewed by Diane Rehm:

Well, I come from a state which has virtually no gun control. And in Vermont, guns are seen as something people use for hunting, target shooting, antique gun shows. But I realize, and Vermont has realized, that guns in Detroit and Los Angeles are used to shoot at police officers and to commit terrible crimes. So, I believe that we have to do everything we can to make sure that guns do not fall into the hands of people who should not have them. Period.

Sanders’ views on guns don’t sound all that much different from Hillary Clinton’s views in 2008, except that both of them are stressing the issue more now than in the past due to the increase in high-profile gun violence. Listen to these excerpts from a Democratic presidential debate on April 16, 2008:

I’m not sure why the caption on the You Tube video refers to her as “Lady Clinton” but this is the only clip I could find which contains the pertinent portions on gun control. Notice how evasive she is, how she flip-flopped on the issue, and how she raised the same ideas which she attacks Bernie Sanders for. Rather than specifically discussing Vermont as Sanders has, Clinton noted how the situation in New York City is different from Montana or outstate New York. The transcript from this portion of the debate (including portions cut from the video) is under the fold.


Please Share

Bernie Sanders’ Top Campaign Aides Discuss How “Bernie is in it to win it”

Sanders Jefferson Jackson

John Heilemann wrote about interviews with Berny Sanders’ top campaign aides on the next phase of the campaign. The campaign started out strong, exceeding expectations, but Hillary Clinton has had a good month in October. It is no longer enough to bring in large crowds at campaign events. Sanders must, like Barack Obama eight years ago, show Democrats why they should vote for Bernie Sanders and not Hillary Clinton.

In a series of interviews last weekend in Iowa and since, Sanders’s lieutenants provided me with a wide-ranging and at times detailed account of their strategy for the three-month sprint to the first two must-win contests. That strategy is premised on the notion that their campaign has shifted into a new gear, moving from what Weaver calls “the introductory phase” into “the persuasion phase.” This new phase will be more aggressive, hard-edged, and focused on driving home contrasts between Sanders and Clinton. In other words, it will be more negative. Just how nasty things will get remains one of two central questions that will define the battle ahead. The other is whether Sanders, with his deep aversion to negative campaigning, is willing and able to do what is required to take down Clinton without tarnishing his brand as a different kind of politician.

It’s worth recalling that a similar set of questions confronted Barack Obama eight years ago. In using the J-J as a pivot point, Sanders was mimicking Obama, who famously did the same thing in November 2007 with a speech that eviscerated the then-front-runner (“Triangulating and poll-driven positions because we’re worried about what Mitt or Rudy might say about us just won’t do”) without ever uttering the word “Clinton.”

Conflict between Sanders and Clinton escalated when Clinton resorted to her usual brand of dishonest politics, both distorting Sanders’ record on gun control and falsely accusing him of making a sexist attack. Sanders responded by contrasting his positions on the issues with those of Clinton. Sanders finally realized the mistake he made in the first debate, failing to confront Clinton when she was wrong on the issues, and allowing her to get away with smooth sounding but fallacious statements.

“We had to fire a shot across their bow, because they were going to start to have their way with us,” Devine told me. “I pushed [Sanders] hard to do what he did to let them know, if they’re going to do this stuff that two of the 12,000 votes he cast in Congress about guns are the definitive votes of the election—and oh, by the way, she is yelling because she’s a woman. If they are going to start going down that road, we are not going to take it. And it is going to be about a lot of issues where she’s gone from one place to another. We did five of them [at the J-J] and we could do 15 more.”

In the days since the J-J, Sanders has gingerly, awkwardly, but distinctly tiptoed further into the realm of explicit contrast. In a CNN interview the next morning, Sanders called out Clinton by name in the context of financial regulation. On Charlie Rose on Monday, he did so again. (“Who is going to take on the corporate interests and Wall Street and try to create a government that works for all the people in this country rather than a small number of billionaires? That’s the issue. And if people think Hillary Clinton is that candidate, go for it.”) And then on The Rachel Maddow Show, he again criticized her over her revisionist history regarding the Defense of Marriage Act.

I discussed Clinton’s dishonesty regarding her support for the Defense of Marriage Act earlier in the week and The Washington Post Fact Checker gave her Four Pinocchios for her false claims.

Devine and Weaver both claim they would rather not see Sanders take on Clinton more harshly than this. “If we can make it about his message and his record versus her message and her record, we can beat her,” Devine says. “We’d much rather win that way, because if we beat her and she collapses and we’re standing there, the whole institutional establishment party could rise up against us. That is a real possibility. Bernie’s OK inside the Senate and the Congress. But once we extend beyond that to people who don’t know who he is, it’s very scary. We’ve got the whole socialist thing and all this other stuff hanging around. So we’ll have to deal with a rear-guard action against him that will almost be like being in a second primary. So it’s much better for us if we win by not attacking her frontally—and we can argue that in fact we’re the ones that can benefit the party in terms of turn-out of the electorate.”

But Devine and Weaver are well aware that they may—indeed, given the Clintonian precedents, are likely to—have no choice but go full frontal. “On policy, we’re driving the agenda, and we’re happy to be in that position,” Weaver says. “But I think they will to a large extent drive the tone. She’s the quote-unquote front-runner, and really started going after Bernie of late. They obviously are not as confident about this race as apparently the punditry is.”

Devine agrees. “How hard we fight back and how far we push it is very much dependent on them,” he says.

“So if they go hard negative,” I ask, “you guys will…?”

“Let them get run over by a Mack truck,” he says.

Having worked for Mike Dukakis, Al Gore, and John Kerry, Devine is as seasoned a strategist at the presidential level any that exists in the Democratic Party. As such, he is an avid consumer of opposition research. Though he insists that Sanders will never go after Clinton on personal issues, her private e-mail system, or other direct questions of character—“It’s just not Bernie,” he says—he is already familiar with the array of issues that Sanders might soon deploy against her.

At the top of that list her support of the USA Patriot Act, which Sanders has repeatedly opposed. The Sanders camp has also been combing the record of Clinton’s statements in support of the now-notorious 1994 crime bill. Her remarks back then about the evils of urban gangs filled with “super-predators” with “no conscience, no empathy” are unlikely to endear her to the Black Lives Matter movement and other foes of mass incarceration because of its racially disparate impact.

They also realize that Sanders must engage in more conventional debate preparation, which he refused to do prior to the first debate:

Devine is rather less sanguine about Sanders’s preparation and performance. “We did 15 hours of prep total—that was our debate prep,” he says. “We needed 150.”

But Devine argues that Clinton’s performance in the first debate was overrated—and suggested that Sanders, if he prepares thoroughly, could be well-positioned to thrive in the next one. “Voters give you so much latitude to counterpunch it’s unbelievable,” he says. “All she has to do is open the door to him. And she opened so many doors that last debate that he didn’t walk though. If she’s going to sit there and say, ‘I went to Wall Street and told them to cut it out,’ I mean, come on! She had a great debate, but against a great debater she would have been killed.”

For Sanders, the debate in Des Moines and the subsequent two—in New Hampshire in December and South Carolina in January—are destined to be huge moments. But equally if not more important will be the air war. For many months, Clinton has been spending millions of dollars on TV advertising in Iowa and New Hampshire. Sanders has yet to run a single spot.

Sanders plans to start advertising. He is also hiring a pollster, although unlike Clinton, polls will not be used to determine which positions Sanders will take at any given moment. They note that Sanders is in a comparable situation to Obama eight years ago. As I have pointed out several times, this news report from December 2007 described how Clinton had a huge lead over Obama. In December 2003, Howard Dean was pulling away in the polls. Eventual winner John Kerry was in sixth place with only 4 percent, even trailing Al Sharpton. Iowa and New Hampshire  voters do not decide until the last minute, and the race will be decided by the voters, not the pundits.

To those who say that even if Sanders wins both the Hawkeye and Granite States, Clinton’s strength with African-American and Hispanic voters will provide her with an impregnable firewall as the nomination contest moves to larger states, Devine offers an elaborate scoff:

“I don’t think they fully appreciate the magnitude of how voters are impacted by what happens in those early states. The negative narrative that will come around her. The positive narrative that will accompany him. The big qualitative difference beyond that that we enjoy that, for example, Gary Hart did not, is the fund-raising system we’ve put in place. If we have early success in Iowa and New Hampshire, a few days after we could bring in $40 or $50 million cash, new money, out of this thing that we built. And then they’re all tapped out. They’re trying to squeeze for dough. Because the thing will have been close in Iowa and New Hampshire. They’ve already placed a purchase of $14 million in television buys in just Iowa and New Hampshire, and I think they’ll be at $20 or $25 million by then because they’ll feel so much pressure to win, they’ll just be dumping millions into this thing. We’ll come out of that with a huge flush of cash like Obama did and then we will start to move systematically in the states that follow with massive media buys. And unless the Clintons are willing to give up $20 or $30 million of their own money, they’re just not going to be able to compete with us in cash. The dynamic of that campaign is something I don’t think they fully appreciate.

“You know, Bernie because of his life story has the potential to appeal to African-Americans. I know he hasn’t been there, he hasn’t really done it, but the truth is we come in with 10,000 points on TV about his life and his story and his programs. You know, living wage, health insurance for all, free college from kids, testimonials from African-Americans, interesting African-American leaders who have been for him. We start to reassure people about his connection to them. And we don’t have to win 50 percent of the African-American vote in South Carolina to win. Probably only need to win 30 percent. So we start to put that thing together, I think we can move this very quickly towards him and the dynamic of the campaign is going to overwhelm any pre-existing advantage…and then proportional representation kicks in, which is a great advantage to anybody who gets ahead. Ask Obama, ask Jimmy Carter in 1980, the same thing happened there—you get ahead, you can’t lose.”

It might be a challenge for his campaign staffers  to get Bernie Sanders to engage in traditional debate preparation and be more critical of his opponent, but the  article ended by pointing out that, “for all his idiosyncrasies, eccentricities, and stark differences with Clinton, shares one thing with the front-runner. In the words of Weaver, ‘Bernie is in it to win it.'”

Please Share

Hillary Clinton Resorts To Dirty Politics & Bernie Sanders Responds By Showing Differences On The Issues

Sanders Jefferson Jackson

Hillary Clinton has had a very good month, especially with Joe Biden deciding not to run, which is starting to solidify her support among the Democratic mainstream. Therefore it is puzzling that she would decide to take the low road in the campaign, playing the sex card much like she played the race card against Barack Obama eight years ago. She not only continued her campaign strategy of distorting Sanders’ record on gun control, but twisted a statement to falsely accuse him of sexism. While some of  Clinton’s supporters have frequently accused anyone who disagrees with Clinton’s views, or objects to her low ethical standards, of sexism, as far as I am aware this is the first time Hillary Clinton has stooped this low during this campaign.

During the recent Democratic debate, Sanders repeated a line he frequently uses in  his stump speech, criticizing the shouting from both sides on the issue. Democrats who are seen as opposing the private ownership of guns under any circumstance do not have the credibility which Sanders has, having supported both sensible gun control and the rights of hunters to own guns, to bridge this issue. When talking about shouting on the issue, Sanders is talking about all parties. Clinton twisted this in her response: “I’m not shouting. It’s just that when women talk, some people think we’re shouting.”

Clinton is foolish to play dirty in the campaign when she has the lead as she already faced a challenge, should she go on to win the nomination, to get those independents who support Sanders but do not normally vote Democratic to turn out to vote for her in the general election. This will only make it harder. It is also foolish for Clinton to dwell on a single issue to make a bogus case of being more consistently liberal than Sanders when she has spent much of her career triangulating and undermining liberal principles.

Bernie Sanders responded to Clinton by bringing up just a small number of the many issues where Clinton has not been consistently liberal at the Democratic Jefferson-Jackson dinner. While he has mentioned some of these in the past, he was much more forceful in showing the differences between himself and Clinton, as I suggested he should do after the first debate. Sanders raised Clinton’s inconsistent views on trade, the Keystone XL Pipeline, campaign finance reform, the Iraq war, and gay rights. NBC News reported:

Without mentioning her by name, Sanders fired off a series of back-to-back jabs clearly aimed at the weakest parts of Clinton’s resume as he portrayed himself as the true progressive in the race who “will govern based on principle not poll numbers.”

His section of supporters roared at this key party event, which has a history of dislodging frontrunners — including Clinton in 2008 — in the state that holds the nation’s first nominating contest.

On the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which Clinton recently opposed, Sanders said he was there first.

“I did not support it yesterday. I do not support it today. And I will not support it tomorrow,” he said. “It is not now, nor has it ever been, the gold standard of trade agreements.”

Clinton once called the TPP the “gold standard” of trade deals as she helped negotiate it as President Obama’s secretary of state.

On the Keystone XL pipeline, which Clinton seemed to favor as secretary of state but recently opposed, Sanders said he was there first too.

“If you agree with me about the urgent need to address the issue of climate change, then you would know immediately what to do about the Keystone pipeline. Honestly, it wasn’t that complicated,” he said. “To me, that was a no-brainer and that is why I have opposed the Keystone Pipeline from the beginning.”

On the Iraq War vote, where Clinton now says her “yes” vote was a mistake, Sanders said he was there first as well. “Let me tell you that I listened to what Bush had to say, to what Cheney had to say, to what Rumsfeld had to say. I didn’t believe them and I voted no,” he said.

And on the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law signed by Bill Clinton that banned the federal government from recognizing gay marriages — which Hillary Clinton now opposes — Sanders said he was there first once again.

“Today, some are trying to rewrite history by saying they voted for one anti-gay law to stop something worse. Let us be clear. That’s just not true,” he said. “There was a small minority opposed to discriminating against our gay brothers and sisters. Not everybody held that position in 1996.”

Clinton told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Friday that her husband supported DOMA as a “defensive action,” since something worse would have been passed in its stead.

On every issue, Sanders said he faced a “fork in the road.”

“I am proud to tell you when I came to that fork in the road I took the right road even though it was not the popular road at the time,” he said.

And one of his biggest applause lines, ostensibly on campaign finance, was also a veiled shot at Clinton. “I am the only Democratic candidate for president who does not have a Super PAC and we are going to prove them wrong,” he said. Clinton has two super PACs.

Sanders sought to position himself as the rightful heir to Obama, who stunned observers at this very event in 2007 by delivering an inspiring speech that drew clear contrasts with Clinton.

“Eight years ago the experts talked about how another Democratic candidate for president, Barack Obama, couldn’t win. How he was unelectable. Well Iowa, I think we’re going to prove the pundits wrong again. I believe we will make history,” he said.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during the Iowa Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

In order to prove the pundits wrong, make history, and to win, Bernie Sanders will need to continue to draw a contrast between himself and Hillary Clinton on the issues, showing Democratic voters that he, and not Clinton, better represents Democratic values. Of course the Democratic Party is a big tent and Clinton’s generally center-right positions will appeal to many of those who vote in Democratic primaries. To win Sanders will also need to turn the independent support he is achieving into primary votes.

Many of  his supporters are young voters who do not traditionally turn out in hight numbers. Sanders just might change this with positions which attract the young, including  his more left-libertarian views on social/cultural issues, including legalization of marijuana, along with his proposal to make public college education free. His support for expanding Social Security also represents a policy difference with Hillary Clinton which could help Sanders make inroads at the other end of the age range.

Sanders repeated his criticism of Clinton on CNN Sunday Morning, this time mentioning Clinton by name:

“I have consistently been a critic of what is going on on Wall Street, the greed, the recklessness, the illegal behavior. I helped lead the effort to — against the deregulation of Wall Street. I believe that we should bring back Glass-Steagall legislation so that you do not have the absurd situation of commercial banks and investment banks and large insurance companies being together,” Sanders told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“You do not have six financial institutions having assets equivalent to 60 percent of the GDP,” he continued. “With all the economic and political power that these banks have, I think you’ve got to break them up. That has always — that has been my view for a very, very long time. That is not Hillary Clinton’s view.”

ABC News began their report of the Jefferson-Jackson dinner which an example which seems to represent the philosophical difference between Clinton and Sanders supporters:

On one half of the space, the Clinton fans looked organized and polished. They wore matching, glow-in-the-dark, blue t-shirts that read, “I’m fighting for her.” They held battery-operated foam lights that shone brightly when the lights dimmed and doubled as noise-makers.

Sanders’ fans had glow sticks, too, the kind that glow after being snapped. While many of his fans wore Bernie 2016 t-shirts, they were mismatched and different colors. His section also included several homemade signs.

I think this says a lot about the types of people who support Sanders as opposed to Clinton. Most importantly, Democratic voters need to keep in mind that, to paraphrase Sanders, when there has been a fork in the road on policy, throughout their careers Sanders has taken the right fork while Clinton has made the wrong decision. We need a president who makes the right choices at the time, not one who will admit her mistakes and change her views years down the road.

Update: Video posted here.

Update II: Press & Bloggers Show Sanders Was Right In Accusing Clinton Of Practicing Revisionist History On DOMA

Please Share

Joe Biden Announces He Is Not Running, While Continuing To Criticize Hillary Clinton And Having Praised Bernie Sanders

Joe Biden has announced he will not run for president, saying he no longer has the time to mount a campaign, and then proceeded to give what sounded like his campaign speech. I wonder if he wrote this speech before deciding, figuring he could use most of it regardless of his decision.

It is notable that he continued to take a few jabs at Hillary Clinton, as he has in recent days. The New York Times reports:

Without mentioning her by name, Mr. Biden criticized Mrs. Clinton’s assertion in last week’s Democratic debate that the Republicans are her enemies. “They are our opposition; they’re not our enemies,” he said, repeating a point he has made several times in the last 48 hours. “And for the sake of the country, we have to work together.”

Reading from a prepared text flashed on flat screens in the Rose Garden, Mr. Biden argued against the sort of hawkish interventionism Mrs. Clinton has championed in the Middle East and elsewhere. “The argument that we just have to do something when bad people do bad things isn’t good enough,” he said. “It’s not a good enough reason for American intervention and to put our sons’ and daughters’ lives on the line, put them at risk.”

Mr. Biden seemed to chide Mrs. Clinton for distancing herself from Mr. Obama lately, as she has done on trade, Syria, Arctic drilling and other issues. “Democrats should not only defend this record and protect this record, they should run on the record,” he said.

While Biden declined to run in the primaries, it was clear he would like to have run if the situation were different, and he would like to be president. By criticizing Clinton and speaking like a candidate, Biden made it clear that if Clinton’s campaign should implode, which remains quite possible, he is ready to serve. With multiple investigations in progress regarding Clinton’s unethical behavior as Secretary of State, it is certainly a possibility that Democrats will wake up before the convention and realize how dangerous it could be running with her heading the ticket in the general election. If Sanders is unable to defeat her, it is easy to see the math play out where the Sanders delegates and the super delegates could outnumber committed Clinton delegates and create an open convention. If the news were bad enough, it is even conceivable that some of Clinton’s delegates would rethink their support.

Unfortunately the Democrats should probably change their symbol to the ostrich instead of the donkey as, other than for Sanders (until recently an independent), they seem oblivious to the trouble the party is in nation-wide. They might also take a few lessons from Justin Trudeau, as John Nichols discussed in The Nation.

Most likely Biden continued to express his reservations about Clinton in order to influence her behavior and to keep himself in a position to be the nominee if conditions change. There is another thought which also comes to mind. Is it possible that Biden does prefer Sanders? Biden would clearly support Sanders over Clinton in terms of ethical character of the candidate, but even the types of issues which Biden discussed sounded far more like Sanders than Clinton. (There are also certainly positions which Biden has taken in the past which are quite different, but today does not seem the day to discuss the negatives in Biden’s record.) While Biden has repeatedly criticized Clinton in recent weeks, he has also praised Bernie Sanders, saying, “he’s doing a helluva job.”

Seeing Biden continue to criticize Clinton today raises the question of whether he will continue to knock Clinton, hoping to increase the chances of her being forced from the race. Plus if he does prefer Sanders, would he ever openly support him over Clinton?

I don’t think it is very likely Biden would openly endorse Sanders, but if he did it would be a move comparable to when Ted Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama. Both Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy endorsed Obama in 2008, citing the same types of faults we continue to see in Hillary Clinton. Such a move from Biden, this time endorsing Sanders, would provide a tremendous boost to Sanders’ campaign.

For now, the same media which has downplayed Sanders prospects from the start will promote the idea that Clinton is the inevitable winner. We must keep in mind that such media predictions have frequently been wrong in the past. While there is no doubt Clinton is the front runner, her nomination cannot be said to be inevitable months before a single vote has been cast. As I noted earlier in the week, the polls are not at all predictive in a nomination battle.This polling report from December 2007 described how Clinton had a huge lead over Obama. In December 2003, Howard Dean was pulling away in the polls. Eventual winner John Kerry was in sixth place with only 4 percent, even trailing Al Sharpton.

This race is far from over. While the media is dwelling on the Benghazi hearings this week, and this could have a bearing at how she is perceived, the real scandals which will harm Clinton in an election campaign are not based upon this Republican witch hunt, and are not going to go away. Bernie Sanders could pull an upset, like Obama in 2008 or Kerry in 2004, or the party might yet still call on Joe Biden.

Biden Drop Out

Please Share

Bernie Sanders Again Shows That The Pundits Are Wrong–Improving In The Polls After First Debate

CNN Debate Sanders Clinton

The pundits who have been downplaying Bernie Sanders’ campaign form the start declared that Hillary Clinton was the winner of the first Democratic debate, despite the focus groups who considered Sanders to be the winner. As usually occurs, polls showed that after the fact the majority went with the pundits as to the winner (with many probably not having seen the debate). However the pundits did not predict what has actually happened. Voters are telling pollsters that Clinton won, but an increasing number want Sanders to win the nomination.

CNN reports Hillary Clinton wins debate, but Bernie Sanders rises:

With the first Democratic debate in the books, a new CNN/ORC poll finds most who watched think Hillary Clinton had the best performance of the night, but her strong showing hasn’t boosted her standing in the race for the party’s nomination…

Compared with pre-debate polling, Sanders’ support is up five points since mid-September, but no other candidate showed significant change.

Gravis Marketing similarly found that a majority thought Clinton won the debate, but also that Sanders pulled within eight points of Clinton nationally–overall a favorable outcome for Sanders. Clinton is welcome to accumulate debate points if Sanders is picking up voters.

One item of concern was that the Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll did show Clinton pulling even with Sanders in New Hampshire, but now the Franklin Pierce-Herald poll shows Sanders maintaining his lead:

Sanders holds a 38-30 percent lead over Clinton in the first-in-the-nation primary state, while Biden draws 19 percent in the poll of 403 likely Democratic primary voters conducted immediately after last week’s debate.

Sanders’ 8-point lead is essentially unchanged from the 44-37 percent advantage the Vermont senator held in a stunning Franklin Pierce-Herald poll in August — the first to show the former Secretary of State behind in New Hampshire.

The new poll also has Sanders holding an even bigger 10-point lead over Clinton if Biden isn’t in the presidential field.

The results suggest Clinton will have a tough time overcoming the deficit, as more than half of notoriously finicky Granite State voters now say they have made up their minds.

Seven in 10 Sanders supporters say they’ve made a “firm choice” to vote for him, a 26 percent increase from the last Franklin Pierce-Herald poll in August. And 62 percent of Clinton backers now report they’re firmly in her column, compared to just 40 percent in August.

This does show that the pundits who claimed that Clinton was once again unbeatable after the first debate got it wrong. Beyond that, I wouldn’t believe any predictions that the polls today will accurately predict what will happen when people turn out to vote. If you need an example of that, check out this report  from December 2007 describing how Clinton has a huge lead over Obama. In December 2003, Howard Dean was pulling away in the polls. Eventual winner John Kerry was in sixth place with only 4 percent, even trailing Al Sharpton.

Polls in a primary battle mean very little, and a single debate will not decide the nomination. Nothing is even close to getting settled until people start to vote, and ignore those pundits who tell you otherwise. A lead in the national polls is especially meaningless as these often change dramatically afte the results of the first contests are known. Strong performances by Sanders in Iowa and New Hampshire can totally redefine the race.

The pundits also said after the debate that Clinton’s performance meant that Joe Biden was not going to enter the race. That argument never made much sense. Biden had said his decision was based upon personal matters. Even if he was watching the debate to decide, a strong debate performance by Hillary Clinton would not suddenly erase Clinton’s major flaws and weaknesses. If she could beat the other candidates in the debate, that might even be seen by Biden as meaning there is room in the race for him to challenge her.

Despite all the predicti0ns from pundits that the debate would keep Joe Biden out, the headlines on Monday were full of predictions that Biden might be announcing that he is running imminently. Whether or not he runs, the debate did not settle the matter.

The pundits are probably right about one thing–Jim Webb has no chance at winning the Democratic nomination. Now there is speculation that he might be planning to run as an independent. If he does, I’m not sure if he will take more votes from Democrats or Republicans, and if he can pick up enough votes to matter. Maybe he has a shot at receiving some votes, however few, if he is seen as a rational Republican, in contrast to those who are currently running.

Please Share

How Negative Will Clinton Go Against Sanders and Biden?

Sanders Raise Money Clinton Super Pac

Considering how dirty her 2008 campaign was against Obama, there has been speculation as to how negative Hillary Clinton will get against Bernie Sanders, and against Joe Biden if he decides to run. The New York Times notes that Clinton must be cautious in debating Sanders:

Over the next week, Mrs. Clinton and her aides will look for the best way to explain to viewers why she is a better choice than her nearest rival without sounding condescending to Mr. Sanders, or dismissive of his views, so she does not risk alienating his growing army of supporters.

“I’ve seen every attack people have thrown at him, and none of them have worked,” cautioned Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, who supports Mrs. Clinton.

Not all of them have been exactly subtle. In 2004, the Republican challenging him for his House seat sought to deride him as a political oddball. “Crazy Bernie,” an advertisement called him, “a holdover from the Woodstock days of reefer and flowers.” But Vermont voters did not seem to mind…

For Mrs. Clinton, debating Mr. Sanders poses a challenge reminiscent of the more troublesome one she faced in 2008, when Senator Barack Obama’s criticisms of her were widely characterized as fair, but Mrs. Clinton’s efforts to counter them and defend herself often were not.

Already, a “super PAC” supporting Mrs. Clinton showed the risks that can come if an unsuccessful attack on Mr. Sanders blows back. As The Huffington Post reported, the super PAC, Correct the Record, in a document that was intended to be off the record, drew a connection between Mr. Sanders and Hugo Chávez, the socialist president of Venezuela who died in 2013, because Mr. Sanders supported a deal to bring low-cost Venezuelan oil to New England. Mr. Sanders, calling it “the same-old, same-old negative politics,” seized on the report and raised more than $1 million in two days.

More on how Sanders set fund raising records in response to this attack here. Clinton’s dirty campaign in 2008 led many Democrats, such as Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy  to ultimately endorse Obama instead of her, and any dirty tricks from Clinton this campaign might have the same effect.

Clinton might try to attack Sanders’ views but this will be difficult because of how often he has been right on the issues and Clinton has been wrong. Clinton has often avoided discussing the issues in this campaign, and she did not do a good job on education. Alternet reports Hillary Clinton Delivers a Lame Attack on Bernie Sanders’ Free College Tuition Plan. Just wait until they talk about Iraq during the upcoming debate.

Clinton’s attacks on Sanders have generally come through surrogates. Politico reports on how Morning Joe is responding to the use of surrogates:

There’s a mandate on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”: No candidate surrogates or spokespeople can appear on the show until the candidate agrees to be interviewed. And it all started with the Hillary Clinton campaign.

“The rule was put in place for Hillary’s campaign because while just about every other candidate came on, the Clinton team kept trying to put out surrogates and staffers,” host Joe Scarborough told POLITICO. “We finally said ‘not until the candidate comes on herself.’ And then some suggested we have Jeb [Bush’s] people on a month or so ago, but we held to the same policy.”

Bush himself went on the show last week, meaning his surrogates and spokespeople can now appear as well. But Clinton, Ben Carson, John Kasich and Marco Rubio, none of whom has appeared on the show since they announced their campaigns, will have to wait.

“It applies to everybody. It just started with Hillary because her people were aggressive with getting pollsters and spokespeople on, but it applies to everyone,” Scarborough said. “That’s the fairest way to do it.”

While I often disagree with Joe Scarborough, this policy does sound like a good idea.

New York Magazine reports that Clinton’s usual hit-man, former Republican hit-man David Brock, will be leading the attacks on Joe Biden:

If Joe Biden jumps into the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton will be ready to go on the offensive. According to a source close to the Clinton campaign, a team of opposition researchers working on behalf of Clinton is currently digging through Biden’s long record in office to develop attack lines in case the vice-president runs. The research effort started about a month ago and is being conducted by operatives at Correct the Record, the pro-Hillary superpac founded by David Brock, which is coordinating with the Clinton campaign. According to the source, the research has turned up material on Biden’s ties to Wall Street; his reluctance to support the raid that killed Osma bin Laden; and his role in the Anita Hill saga as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The oppo-research project reveals how seriously Clintonworld is taking the prospect of a Biden candidacy. So far, Clinton hasn’t taken any direct shots at Biden herself. But behind the scenes, her loyalists are making moves to blunt Biden’s campaign should he run. “Even implicitly his campaign’s argument would be ‘I have integrity and you don’t,'” a Clinton ally said. “If that’s the message, this could be messier than Obama-Clinton ’08. At least Obama had the Iraq War vote and could make a case about generational change. This guy” — Biden — “is older than she is and just as conventional.”

A spokesperson for the Clinton campaign declined to comment.

Joe Biden might respond that while they voted the same on the initial Iraq vote, their views otherwise were quite different. Biden spent the next several months looking for alternatives to war while Clinton was one of the strongest advocates of going to war, including making false claims of ties between Saddam and al Qaeda. Biden often opposed Clinton’s more hawkish views as Secretary of State. Biden was pushing for Obama to “evolve” on same-sex marriage while Clinton was still opposed to it. Biden did not join up with the religious right while in the Senate as Clinton did. Biden didn’t spend his time in the Senate proposing to make flag burning a felony, or waging a war against video games as Clinton did. While Biden is not my first choice, he is certainly not as conservative as Clinton on social issues and foreign policy. Both Clinton and Biden have problems with regards to their ties to Wall Street and their hard line views on the drug war.

Please Share

Sanders Joins Obama In Opposing Clinton’s Hawkish Views On Syria


While economics have so far dominated the campaign, I feel that the number one reason to nominate Bernie Sanders and not Hillary Clinton is to prevent a return to the foreign policy of George Bush and get us involved in further foolish military intervention. Clinton has a long history of irrational hawkishness. This includes pushing for the Iraq war with false claims of ties between Saddam and al Qaeda, along with advocating increased military intervention as Secretary of State. Fortunately the Obama White House frequently opposed advice from Clinton, often with Joe Biden leading the opposition to her proposals. When the Obama administration did listen to her on intervention in Libya, it turned into a disaster.

Clinton has disagreed with Obama on Syria, favoring increased military intervention. She has attacked Obama on Syria saying, “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle. ” It sound like a good principle to me, sort of the political equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath, and an idea Clinton should consider. Instead Clinton is proposing more “stupid stuff” in proposing that the United States impose a no-fly zone in Syria. Enforcement of this would not only increase the risk of us getting entangled in the conflict between the Syrian government and ISIS, but also risk direct military confrontation with Russia.

Bernie Sanders has joined Obama in opposing Clinton’s desire for this increase in military intervention. The Washington Post reports:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Saturday that he opposes a unilateral American no-fly zone in Syria, offering a less hawkish stance on the war-torn region than Hillary Rodham Clinton, his chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, and a position more in line with President Obama.

“We must be very careful about not making a complex and dangerous situation in Syria even worse,” Sanders said in a statement to The Washington Post. “I support President Obama’s efforts to combat ISIS in Syria while at the same time supporting those in that country trying to remove the brutal dictatorship of Bashar Assad.”

But, Sanders added: “I oppose, at this point, a unilateral American no-fly zone in Syria, which could get us more deeply involved in that horrible civil war and lead to a never-ending U.S. entanglement in that region.”

In a television interview broadcast Thursday, Clinton advocated additional air power to protect civilians in the multi-front war, in which Syrian rebels and international advocates have said that air patrols in Syria’s north could give civilians a refuge from Assad’s bombing raids…

Clinton’s position puts her in the same camp as some Republican contenders for the presidential nomination, including former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich…

Sanders, who has a pair of rallies planned in Massachusetts on Saturday, has been speaking out in his recent campaign appearances about “the cost of war,” accusing Republicans of being too eager to insert the U.S. military into conflicts that will result in casualties and a range of other problems for returning U.S. soldiers.

Saturday’s events, planned in Springfield and Boston, come amid a fresh burst of momentum for Sanders, whose campaign announced this week that it had raised $26 million in the last fundraising quarter, nearly as much as Clinton. Recent polls from New Hampshire have showed Sanders leading Clinton, and polls from Iowa have showed a close contest.

I don’t know how much of his economic agenda Bernie Sanders could pass when the Republicans can block legislation with forty Senators. The big difference between a Sanders presidency and a Clinton presidency will probably seen in the areas where the president has more direct power. If Sanders is president we are far less likely to wind up in more unnecessary wars, and far less likely to see a continuation of infringements on civil liberties with activities such as the NSA surveillance of American citizens.

Update: Sanders reportedly had more record crowds out to see him in Boston. The Boston Globe reports it was “the largest rally for a presidential primary candidate in recent Massachusetts history, topping 10,000 people drawn to Boston Common eight years ago by Barack Obama.”

Please Share

Pope Francis, President Obama, Multiple Politicians, & Celebrities Snub Clinton Foundation Due To Scandals

Clinton Foundation Scandals

The Clinton Foundation is being snubbed in response to the influence-peddling scandals. Politco reports:

The Clinton Foundation invited everyone from Pope Francis and Leonardo DiCaprio to Bill de Blasio and Janet Yellen to its showcase gathering starting Saturday in New York City, according to multiple sources familiar with the planning.

But those invitations were among the dozens turned down by all manner of celebrities, dignitaries and donors, according to the sources, who said the controversies swirling around the foundation and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign have made some bold-faced names and donors wary of the foundation.

The glitzy Clinton Global Initiative gathering in New York, which has the lofty title “The Future of Impact,” was supposed to have been a celebration of the accomplishments of the $2-billion Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation’s past work as it pivots towards a future with Chelsea Clinton at the helm.

Instead, it’s become emblematic of the foundation’s struggles to regain its luster, while scaling back some of its ambitions and restructuring amid heightened scrutiny of its internal workings, the diminished role of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the prospect that former president Bill Clinton also could be forced to step back.

“They’ve had a lot of rejections from people – both for membership renewals and speaking roles this year between the campaign, Hillary not being at CGI this year, bad press,” said one person who has worked on planning foundation events…

The documents, reviewed by POLITICO, also show that the foundation had hoped to land either Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen or French economist Thomas Piketty to deliver a presentation on income inequality. Both declined, as did Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Rock legend Elton John was invited to receive an award for his efforts to fight AIDS, but he’s not coming, and neither is New York City Mayor de Blasio. He had been invited as a guest rather than as a speaker and notably has refused to endorse Clinton, despite having managed her successful U.S. Senate campaign in 2000…

Likewise, a White House spokesman said President Barack Obama’s decision to skip CGI for the first time since taking office stemmed from his busy schedule ― not the fact that Vice President Joe Biden is actively weighing running against Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were among the foreign heads of state who turned down invitations, according to sources, though they have not attended previous CGI meetings. Among those who are scheduled to appear are Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

To be sure, it’s not unusual for organizers of major conferences with dozens of speakers to be turned down by some invitees, but sources who have worked with CGI say the percentage of regrets seems higher this year. They attribute that to politically charged suggestions that foundation donors ― and particularly foreign donors ― sought or received favors from Hillary Clinton’s state department, as well as media scrutiny of the foundation’s finances and staff.

At least five major companies that sponsored the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative have backed out of sponsoring this year’s meeting.

Let’s hope that Democratic primary voters similarly snub the Clinton campaign. Otherwise there is considerable danger that Hillary Clinton will be similarly toxic among general election voters in 2016, greatly increasing the risk of having a Republican president. It just seems inconceivable that a major political party would consider nominating a candidate who has been exposed for such corruption while a cabinet official.

Please Share

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.

Please Share

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

Please Share