Republicans In Political Chaos, Clinton “Covering Up Some Shaddy Shit”, And Sanders’ Unconventional Debate Preparation

McCarthy Drop Out

Both political parties are facing a fight against the party establishment in their presidential campaigns, with the Republican battle extending to Congress. Unfortunately the insurgents on the Republican side are the extremists who, while right in finding fault in the establishment, seek to paralyze the political system rather than improve it. Kevin McCarthy dropped out of the race for Speaker, and at this point it is difficult to predict how the Republicans will get out of this mess. It is even possible that Boehner will be around a lot longer than he intended.

It is likley that anybody in the Republican leadership would fail to receive enough Tea Party support to become Speaker, but McCarthy sure did not do himself any favors with his comment on the Benghazi hearings in late September. His statement will probably be quoted quite frequently by Hillary Clinton, who has a strong case in criticizing that witch hunt.

Unfortunately for Clinton, she is also guilty herself of quite a bit of unethical and foolish behavior, along violation of multiple government regulations. There is another quote mentioned in The Hill which Clinton will hope does not get repeated very often (emphasis mine):

Perhaps Clinton has learned the value of distraction from Donald Trump; fresh off her comedy skit on “Saturday Night Live” she mailed copies of her book “Hard Choices” to the entire GOP presidential field with a cheeky note about them starting a book club together. She also spoofed McCarthy’s blunder in an online video and her surrogates continue to rage about it on Twitter.

But a Senate investigation has now revealed a second company that backed up Clinton’s emails, and it has turned over its data to the FBI investigation into whether she mishandled classified information. Documents also show the first company is now concerned it may have deleted emails following the initial request the State Department made for her work records. One employee of Platte River Networks, which turned the server over to the FBI in August, wrote to another of concern that “this whole thing is really covering up some shaddy [sic] shit,” according to documents.

Next week’s debate has the potential to further shake up the Democratic race. The trend so far has been that the more people see of Bernie Sanders, the more they like him, and the opposite for Hillary Clinton. Politico reports on Sanders’ unorthodox debate preparation:

Hillary Clinton has had aides lined up to run her debate prep for months. A Washington super lawyer is mimicking Bernie Sanders, and her top policy staffer is acting as Martin O’Malley.

Sanders started studying for next Tuesday’s event not even a full week ago. And that’s because his two top aides sat him down in Burlington on Friday and asked whether he had a plan.

Sanders has briefing books, a couple of meetings with policy experts and an abiding aversion to the idea of acting out a debate before it happens. He knows the stakes are high, his staff says. But the candidate, whose New Hampshire polling and fundraising prowess have put a scare into Clinton, is uninterested in going through the motions of typical debate practice.

The Vermont senator’s debate preparations, in other words, don’t look a ton like debate preparations.

While CNN is billing the event as a showdown, Sanders’ team sees the first Democratic debate as a chance to introduce a fairly niche candidate to a national audience. So his team intends to let him do what he’s been doing. Far from preparing lines to deploy against Clinton — let alone O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee or Jim Webb — Sanders plans to dish policy details, learned through a handful of briefings with experts brought in by his campaign.

He won’t attack Clinton personally but will instead identify where their positions differ — on foreign policy, for example — and try to leave an impression with viewers of the substantive differences between the party’s two front-runners.

“You’re looking at a candidate who has run in many, many elections who has never run a negative political ad in my life — and hopes never to have to run one. You’re looking at a candidate who does not go about attacking personally, I just don’t do that,” Sanders said Wednesday.

He’s working to be prepared to stand his ground if Clinton — or O’Malley — comes after him. His team contends, though, that those defenses won’t come through as pre-written one-liners.

“The one thing Bernie’s not going to do is be a politician that delivers canned soundbites. That would be a disaster,” said Tad Devine, the campaign’s chief strategist, who met with Sanders and campaign manager Jeff Weaver last week to kick off the debate planning. “And one of the reasons to not do formal debate prep sessions is it gets rehearsed.”

This is quite a contrast from how Joe Biden has decided that, even should he announce that he is running, he does not plan to participate in the debate because of not having time to prepare his “canned soundbites.”

Unlike Clinton, Sanders has been saying the same things throughout his career, and perhaps this has served as sufficient debate preparation. I just hope that he is not making a mistake. I think back to occasions such as Obama’s first debate in 2008 where I suspect he felt over-confident as he knew the material, which is not the same as being prepared for a televised debate. Plus sound bites cannot be ignored, as these are what appear in subsequent newscasts where impressions of the debate by the public are often different from those who watch the entire debate. Regardless of how Sanders prepares, what I hope does come out of the debate is how he has been right, and Clinton wrong, on so many of the key issues over the past decades.

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Sanders Gets First Congressional Endorsement And Continues To Show He Makes A Strong General Election Candidate

Sanders Endorsement

When Hillary Clinton was thought to be the inevitable Democratic nominee, she received a tremendous number of endorsements from office holders. Bernie Sanders is receiving his first endorsement from a member of Congress, Raul Grijalva of Arizona.

As an outsider, Sanders is not expected to match Clinton in terms of insider endorsements, and this year his outsider status is one of the reasons for his popularity.

While I would not expect Democratic insiders to suddenly embrace Sanders, more might reconsider supporting Clinton as polls continue to come in showing that she does not do as well as Sanders in attracting independents and voters in the swing states. The most recent example I have discussed was a poll from Iowa and New Hampshire with head to head comparisons to Republican candidates.

New Quinnipiac University polls from Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania show that front runners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump continue to have difficulties in these swing states. Both have high unfavorability rating and Clinton continues to poll poorly against some of the Republican candidates. This and other polls show Sanders typically doing as well as Clinton or better in the battle ground states despite being far less well known. Both Biden and Sanders have been on upward trajectory while Clinton’s support has been declining. While Clinton might continue to have enough support among hard core Democratic voters to win the nomination, her limited support among others makes her a very risky general election candidate for Democrats.

Clinton’s overall support is likely to continue to drop as the scandals surrounding her progress. Today a second IT firm which had performed cloud backups of Clinton’s email has agreed to provide data to the the FBI. Even without the scandals, Clinton is a poor candidate. The trend has been clear that those who see more of Bernie Sanders tend to support him, while Clinton’s support declines as she campaigns.

It is still not known if Joe Biden will enter the race, and if he does enter whether this will result in an increase in support or if he will be seen less sympathetically when a political candidate. The Draft Joe Biden group is releasing this ad nationally, urging Biden to run:


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Bernie Sanders Doing Better Than Clinton Against Republicans In New Hampshire And Iowa

Sanders Clinton

Hillary Clinton has been doing poorly in the battle ground states and among independents, while Bernie Sanders has been doing unexpectedly well. The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls of Iowa and New Hampshire show Sanders doing better than Clinton in head to head match-ups against Republican candidates:

In Iowa, Republican Jeb Bush leads Clinton by 10 points in a hypothetical general-election match up among registered voters, 50 percent to 40 percent, and Donald Trump is ahead of her by seven points, 48 percent to 41 percent – essentially unchanged from the poll’s results a month ago.

And Carly Fiorina leads Clinton in the Hawkeye State by 14 points, 52 percent to 38 percent.

But when Sanders is matched up against these same Republicans, his numbers are stronger: Sanders leads Trump by five points in Iowa (48 percent to 43 percent). And he narrowly trails Bush (46 percent to 44 percent) and Fiorina (45 percent to 42 percent).

The same dynamic plays out in New Hampshire.

Clinton leads Trump in the Granite State (48 percent to 45 percent), but she’s behind Bush (49 percent to 42 percent) and Fiorina (50 percent to 42 percent).

Yet Sanders has the advantage against both Trump (52 percent to 42 percent) and Fiorina (47 percent to 45 percent), and he’s tied against Bush in New Hampshire (46 percent to 46 percent).

Clinton leads Sanders for the Democratic nomination in Iowa in this poll (with various polls varying) but her lead has steadily been declining. She led Sanders by fourteen points in July and currently only leads by five. Sanders has been ahead of Clinton in New Hampshire since September.

For months many Clinton supporters have been arguing that Democrats should unite around Clinton as the best hope of preventing a Republican victory in 2016. With Sanders and not Clinton increasingly looking like the more electable candidate, will Clinton supporters now unite behind Sanders?

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Lawrence Lessig Protests Acts By DNC To Keep Him Out Of Democratic Debate

Lawrence Lessig

As I noted earlier in the week, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb, and Lincoln Chafee have all met the criteria to make the Democratic debate (an average of 1% in three polls, recognized by CNN, released between Aug. 1 and Oct. 10). Joe Biden will be allowed into the debate if he declares his candidacy by the day of the debate–but he reportedly is now putting off his decision even longer.  Lawrence Lessig so far has not qualified, primarily because of not being included in most polls. Lessig has explained how Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the Democratic National Committee are keeping him out of the debates:

I’m running for President. Or trying. After raising $1 million in less than 30 days, I entered the primary on September 9 as the Democrat’s only non-politician. My platform is simple: end the corrupting influence of money in Washington, so we might finally have, as Buddy Roemer would put it, a Congress free to lead.

But that message is being stifled with the tacit approval of the Democratic Party leadership, who are deploying the oldest method available for marginalizing campaigns they don’t like: keeping me out of the Democratic presidential debates.

Here’s how you make the debates: After one declares, a candidate is formally welcomed into the race by the Democratic National Committee. Polling firms, taking a cue from the DNC, include that candidate on their questionnaires. Candidates that poll at 1 percent nationally in at least three separate polls earn an invitation. Simple enough.

That’s how the process typically works for other candidacies—but not for mine. The DNC still has not formally welcomed me into the race—despite my raising money at a faster pace than more than half the pack, and being in the race nearly a full month. Polls, in turn, have taken the hint, only including me sporadically on questionnaires: of the last 10 major polls, only three mentioned my candidacy. One poll recently put me at 1 percent (for comparison, candidates O’Malley, Webb and Chafee, who will each get a podium at the debates, are all currently polling at 0.7 percent or less, according to Real Clear Politcs). Were I actually included on every poll, I would easily make the debates.

The Democratic Party could fix this by welcoming me into the race. Yet when I tried to talk about this with the chair of the Democratic Party, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, she scheduled a call, but then cancelled it. So far she hasn’t had the time to schedule another. I’ve had similar experiences at the state level, where the same game is played: The chair of the New Hampshire Democrats invited me to speak at their convention. I was given 5 minutes. Hillary Clinton took an hour.

These signals from the party affect the media, too. While news shows have been busy limning the depths of Donald Trump’s brain, there hasn’t been time to consider a Democratic candidate saying something that no other Democrat is saying—especially if the party itself doesn’t consider the candidate a real candidate. And while the Atlantic listed me as a candidate on their website from day one, it took some lobbying to get the New York Times to do the same. Neither fish nor fowl, and not insanely rich, no one quite knows where to place a candidate like me…

Sanders and O’Malley have been protesting the plans for only four debates, while Clinton only wanted four. Most of the announced dates for the debates are on weekends when there are expected to be fewer viewers.
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Another Very Good Day For Bernie Sanders And Bad Day For Hillary Clinton–Fund Raising, Email, And A New Poll

Sanders 26 Million NBC News Screen Grab

When I wrote about the record number of contributions Sanders received in the last quarter yesterday I did not know just how good the news would turn out to be for Sanders. Despite relying on small donations, Sanders raised $26 million dollars, compared to $28 million for Clinton. discussed the significance of these numbers:

Clinton held 58 fundraising events to raise her total; Sanders held seven. As of the end of September, Sanders had brought in 1.3 million total donations from 650,000 individuals since he began running. Clinton’s campaign did not release how many total donors she has. And Sanders ended September with $25 million in the bank; Clinton did not release how much money her campaign had on hand.

Read between the lines, and you get this: Sanders is drawing huge amounts of small-dollar donations via the Web. That means two important things: (1) Sanders has been able to concentrate on meeting and greeting potential voters rather than spending his time courting donors, and (2) He has been able to conserve money because he isn’t spending cash on lavish events for donors…

That story line is — as you might have guessed — not a good one for Clinton. It reinforces everything that people already believe about the dynamics of the contest — that Sanders is the energy candidate who is speaking the language of the base and that Clinton continues to struggle to inspire that sort of devotion and passion.

Then, of course, there is the simple fact that if I told you six months ago that Sanders would (1) raise $25 million in a single fundraising quarter and (2) would come within a few million dollars of Clinton, you would not have believed me. No way.

Sanders, who began this campaign as an oddity, now has every vestige of a serious candidate — from crowds to organization to money. And he has the one thing that Clinton badly wants/needs: energy.

There are practical realities of Sanders’s fundraising, too. Having $25 million in the bank, and having raised $40 million, Sanders will now be able to get his message out — largely via TV ads — in at least Iowa and New Hampshire. Clinton and her aligned super PAC will still outspend Sanders on TV, but it won’t be totally lopsided or at least as lopsided as everyone, including Sanders and his team, expected.

For Hillary Clinton, the first of the month means another email dump, and the presence of further classified information in the email will not help her campaign:

The controversy over Hillary Clinton’s use of personal email while she was secretary of state is showing no signs of easing, as the number of messages now deemed classified doubled with the State Department’s latest release and as more details emerged about the potential vulnerability of her account.

The number of emails now considered classified total more than 400, with three of the 215 newly classified documents marked as SECRET — the middle tier of the national security classification system. While Clinton has maintained that she never received or forwarded messages that were marked classified at the time, critics have argued that the use of a private email account and server put her in a precarious position when dealing with sensitive materials…

Wednesday’s release marks the first time the State Department itself has deemed messages in Clinton’s account to warrant protection at the SECRET level — the middle tier of the national security classification system. State earlier classified one Benghazi-related message SECRET, but did so at the request of the FBI.

Clinton still leads in the relatively meaningless national polls, but her lead is getting smaller, with this new new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll having a lot of bad news for her:

Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field in a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll, but she no longer commands the support of a majority of Democrats as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Vice President Biden gain ground.

Clinton is backed by 41% of likely Democratic primary voters, a double-digit drop since the USA TODAY poll taken two months ago, and Sanders is supported by 23%, a jump. Biden is the choice of 20% even though he hasn’t announced whether he will jump in the race.

By nearly 3-1, all those surveyed in the national poll predict that the controversy over her exclusive use of a private email server when she was secretary of State would hurt her prospects in a general election…

Clinton remains the clear front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, leading Sanders by 18 percentage points and Biden by 21. But her challenges also are clear. In July, for instance, her favorable-unfavorable rating was narrowly negative, at 43%-47%. Now that gap has grown to 12 points, at 39%-51%.

In contrast, Sanders has a 37%-33% favorable-unfavorable rating, and Biden’s favorable rating is a healthy 51%-35%.

Asked for a single word that describes each contender, the most frequent response for Clinton was “liar/dishonest,” followed by “untrustworthy/fake.” For Sanders, the most frequent response was “socialist” and the second most frequent “favorable/good.” For Biden, the top response was “favorable/like,” followed by “honest/honorable,” although the top five answers for him also included “idiot/joke” and “fun/character/goofy.”

…The controversy over her decision to use a private email server instead of the government system when she was secretary of State is hurting her, although more among Republicans than Democrats. Six in 10 of those surveyed say the issue bothers them and even more, 70%, predict it will hurt her in a general election.

Even about one-third of Democrats and two-thirds of independents are disturbed by the controversy, as well as nearly nine in 10 Republicans.

While Clinton still leads in the national polls, Sanders has a large lead in New Hampshire and the race is close in Iowa. Wins in those two states would lead to a tremendous change in the race in subsequent states. Even the current fund raising numbers should have a major impact with how Sanders is perceived and covered by the media.

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

Democrats Demand More Debates

The scheduling of the Democratic debates has become one of the biggest issues of this primary season in light of the exclusivity clause which prevents candidates from appearing in the DNC sanctioned debates if they appear in any other debates. Both Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley have criticized the DNC over the new debate rules. New Hampshire Democrats criticized Debbie Wasserman Schultz over the weekend.

Greg Sargent has summarized information on the debate controversy. One interesting fact presented is that Hillary Clinton only wanted four debates:

Last spring, when negotiations between the DNC and the Dem campaigns over the debate schedule got underway in earnest, the Clinton camp’s preference was to have only four debates, one in each of the early contest states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, according to a senior Democrat with knowledge of those conversations.

Asked to comment on this version of events, DNC spokesperson Holly Schulman didn’t immediately dispute it, but declined comment. A Clinton spokesperson didn’t immediately return an email. (This version comports with Politico’s reporting that the Clinton camp prefers to keep the number of debates low.)

As I previously noted, the problem with the debates is not only the limited number allowed, but the dates they are scheduled:

The dates of the debates were announced in August. It was at that point that outrage really began to build, because the dates themselves created a situation that began to be seen as problematic. (Those dates are October 13, November 14th, December 19th, January 17th, and two in February or March that are not nailed down yet.)

The problem is that of the four debates that are actually scheduled, three come on weekends (as opposed to during weeknight prime time), one of them on the weekend between the end of Hanukkah and Christmas. The two remaining (as yet unscheduled) debates are in February or March, one on Univision and the other on PBS. Between those two and the one in January, there will be only three Dem debates in 2016, during the period in which Democrats will be voting in dozens of contests — from the early contests through the big state primaries in early and mid March, a period that could very well settle the outcome. By contrast, Republicans have six debates scheduled throughout that period, many on major networks.

Once the official DNC debates are either completed, or near completed, it also makes it easier for candidates to agree to appear in debates sponsored by other groups as the DNC’s sanctions will not be as meaningful,  but it remains questionable if Hillary Clinton would agree to participate in further debates.

This schedule does result in increased coverage for the Republicans over the Democrats:

As it is, the GOP debates are drawing very big audiences. It’s true that this is due to the Trump carnival — making this in some ways a negative for the GOP. But the positive side for the GOP is that enormous numbers of voters are seeing the other GOP candidates in strong moments, which is good both for GOP organizing in the primaries and for giving them and their ideas exposure beyond the GOP primary audience. Add to this the imbalance in the number of debates in this 2016 window, when voters are seriously tuning in, and Dems risk ceding the airwaves and squandering a chance to build excitement and engage more voters, some party officials have argued.

“Left unchecked, the superior RNC schedule could easily reach 50 to 100 million more eyeballs than the current Democratic schedule — meaning tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars of lost opportunities to persuade, engage and excite the audiences all Democrats will need to win in 2016,” argues Dem strategist Simon Rosenberg.

Democrats are risking a serious problem with turnout if Hillary Clinton wins the nomination in a year when the outsiders are creating all the excitement. This problem could be further exacerbated should she be the nominee by this limited debate schedule. Clinton’s fear of facing her Democratic challengers could seriously hurt her should she be the candidate in the general election.

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Gallup Shows Major Drop In Clinton’s Favorability

Gallup Clinton's favorability

Gallup has results similar to those reported Wednesday from the Washington Post/ABC News poll. Clinton ‘s unfavorability ratings in the Gallup poll have also dropped tremendously, now at 41 percent, with higher favorability among Democrats at 71 percent. Her favorability was lower in 1992, but this is attributed to not being well known at the time. Gallup reports:

Dogged by continued scrutiny of her email practices as secretary of state, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s favorability with the American public has sunk to one of its lowest levels in Gallup’s 23-year trend. Currently, 41% of U.S. adults say they have a favorable opinion of the Democratic front-runner, while 51% hold an unfavorable view.

Clinton’s deflated favorable rating reflects the challenging political environment she has faced recently. Her use of a private server and email account as secretary of state remains an ongoing controversy and has prompted congressional and FBI investigations.

Clinton’s sub-40% favorable ratings in 1992 were mostly a product of the public’s lack of familiarity with her, rather than any kind of broad unpopularity. By contrast, her current 41% favorable rating is arguably her worst, given her nearly universal name recognition. Her present rating is about as low as it was in March 2001, during her first few months in office as a U.S. senator from New York. Perhaps more importantly, it was also after controversial pardons that her husband, President Bill Clinton, granted at the end of his presidency, and after the Clintons took furnishings and other gifts that were White House property when they left…

As Clinton continues to field inquiries from the media and government into her email use as secretary of state, her favorable rating among national adults has fallen to near-record lows. But she remains generally liked among Democrats themselves, so it is still an open question as to whether media reports of her email situation will have an effect on her ability to obtain the Democratic presidential nomination.

Nonetheless, if Clinton’s national image problem persists, this may cause concern for Democratic voters looking to back a nominee who can win the general election. At the moment, Sanders appears to be alone among Clinton’s current cadre of opposing contestants in showing signs of an increased positive position in Democrats’ minds, and he remains unknown to almost half of Democrats nationwide. This development may seem inviting for other potential candidates, such as Vice President Joe Biden.

As I wrote previously, I remain concerned about the danger of that Clinton might win the Democratic nomination due to her high level of support among Democrats, but then be a weak general election candidate.

Democrats might think they can still win due to opposition to the Republican, and very well might pull this off. Long term it is not a winning strategy to go into elections with the attitude that, “you must vote for us because the Republicans are so evil.” Democrats need to stand for something more than not being as bad as the Republicans. This is why Sanders is attracting such excitement around his campaign as Clinton’s support keeps falling.

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Clinton Loses One Third Of Her Support In Iowa In Latest Des Moines Register Poll

Des Moines Register Poll August

Bernie Sanders has pulled within seven points of Hillary Clinton in the latest Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll with Clinton falling below fifty percent for the first time, reminiscent of her fall in 2008:

She’s the first choice of 37 percent of likely Democratic caucusgoers; he’s the pick for 30 percent, according to a new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll.

But Clinton has lost a third of her supporters since May, a trajectory that if sustained puts her at risk of losing again in Iowa, the initial crucible in the presidential nominating contest.

This is the first time Clinton, the former secretary of state and longtime presumptive front-runner, has dropped below the 50 percent mark in four polls conducted by the Register and Bloomberg Politics this year.

Poll results include Vice President Joe Biden as a choice, although he has not yet decided whether to join the race. Biden captures 14 percent, five months from the first-in-the-nation vote Feb. 1. Even without Biden in the mix, Clinton falls below a majority, at 43 percent.

“This feels like 2008 all over again,” said J. Ann Selzer, pollster for the Iowa Poll.

In that race, Clinton led John Edwards by 6 percentage points and Barack Obama by 7 points in an early October Iowa Poll. But Obama, buoyed by younger voters and first-time caucusgoers, surged ahead by late November.

Clinton has already fallen behind Sanders in recent polls in New Hampshire and is seeing a decline in her support nationally. Should Sanders pull off victories in Iowa and New Hampshire, it is likely that polls in subsequent states will be affected by these results. Both Sanders and Martin O’Malley were critical of the decision of the Democratic National Committee to allow only six debates this election at the recent meeting of the DNC. Sanders warned against politics as usual and that, “Democrats will not retain the White House, will not regain the Senate, will not gain the House and will not be successful in dozens of governor’s races unless we run a campaign which generates excitement and momentum and which produces a huge voter turnout.”

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Sanders and O’Malley Attack Democratic Leadership For System Rigged To Help Clinton

Bernie Sanders DNC Screen Grab

Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley both criticized the Democratic National Committee for rules which show favoritism towards Hillary Clinton, with Sanders pointing out that this is the type of policy which has led to past loses by the Democratic Party.

“I do,” Sanders reportedly responded when asked Friday whether he agrees with former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s assertion that the debate system is “rigged.”

The two Democratic presidential candidates were speaking at the summer meeting of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in Minneapolis on Friday.

“This sort of rigged process has never been attempted before,” O’Malley said in his speech earlier Friday.

The DNC has drawn criticism for scheduling only four debates before the early-primary states cast their votes, and six total throughout the election cycle.

Sanders also warned that this attitude could lead to a repeat of Democratic loses in 2014:

“The Democrats lost that election because voter turnout was abysmally low, and millions of working people, people of color and young people gave up on ‘politics as usual’ and stayed home,” he declared.

Speaking in the heart of the Democratic establishment, Sanders called for a movement taking on the economic and political establishment, “not one of which is part of it.”

“With all due respect, and I do not mean to insult anyone here, that turnout, that enthusiasm will not happen with politics as usual,” Sanders said, punctuated by supporters’ chants of “Ber-nie! Ber-nie!”

In fact, Sanders said, the party is in for a repeat unless it changes its ways.

“Let me be very clear. In my view, Democrats will not retain the White House, will not regain the Senate, will not gain the House and will not be successful in dozens of governor’s races unless we run a campaign which generates excitement and momentum and which produces a huge voter turnout,” the senator said.

This sort of politics as usual runs the risk of both of failing to motivate voters to turn out if Hillary Clinton is the nominee, and risks causing many on the left to refuse to vote for Clinton if the nominating process is seen as unfair. Clinton’s campaign, showing they have not learned anything from the poorly run campaign of eight years ago, exacerbated the situation with a statement that they have already secured one-fifth of the delegates needed to win before a single vote was cast in primaries or caucus states. This launched protests on social media, and a wide variety of petitions from Sanders supporters concerned that Sanders could be denied the nomination even if he wins a majority of elected delegates. After Clinton lost the nomination in 2008 some of her supporters formed the PUMA (Piss On Party Unity) movement, backing John McCain over Barack Obama.

In trying to predict how Sanders supporters will vote, they cannot be lumped together in a single category. Sanders supporters include former Obama supporters who oppose Clinton for the same reasons as in 2008, independents, and people on the left who would not normally vote for a Democratic candidate. Clinton has little chance of picking up the votes of some of these voters who do not normally vote Democratic should she win the nomination, and seeing a rigged system under the leadership of a long-time Clinton supporter will further harm chances for party unity in the general election should she be the nominee. Democratic chances are further hampered if the system is rigged to nominate a candidate who is popular among the type of partisan Democrats who vote in primaries but would be a weaker general election candidate.

Update: Sanders pulls within seven points of Clinton in Iowa per Des Moines Register poll

Update II: Sanders on CNN’s State of the Union

“I think that that is dead wrong, and I have let the leadership of the Democrats know that.  Again, I think this country benefits – all people benefits – democracy benefits when we have debates.  And I want to see more of them.”

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Clinton Support Eroding As Sanders And O’Malley Fight Back

OMalley Sanders Clinton

The latest Quinnipiac University poll shows Donald Trump dominating the Republicans and Clinton’s support eroding among Democrats. Clinton still has the lead, but it is down from 55 percent on June 30 to 45 percent at present. More disturbing for Democrats, this poll shows what other polls have shown–Americans know better than to trust Hillary Clinton. Mediaite summarized:

“What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of Hillary Clinton?” Quinnipiac asked. All three of the most popular answers were along the same lines: “liar,” “dishonest,” and “untrustworthy.” After those responses, Clinton nets a few positive responses, such as “experience” and “strong.” But then the negative qualifiers begin again, with responses like “crook,” “untruthful,” “criminal,” and “deceitful.”

The same question was asked of Donald Trump and Jeb Bush. The top three responses for Trump were “arrogant,” “blowhard,” and “idiot,” while the top responses for Bush were “Bush,” “family,” and “honest.”

The same poll found Clinton with low favorables. A majority of voters, 51%, say that they have an unfavorable opinion of Clinton while only 39% says they have a favorable opinion.

Like other recent polls, this poll also shows Joe Biden doing better against Republicans than Clinton does.

It is no wonder that we are seeing headlines such as Hillary Clinton’s Handling of Email Issue Frustrates Democratic Leaders at The New York Times and Inside Democratic Party, growing concerns about Clinton  from McClatchy. While Clinton does well among Democratic voters, she does poorly nationally with independents and those in battle ground states.

While Clinton does hold a strong (but diminishing ) lead in the Democratic race, Sanders is posing a serious threat. Recent polls show him leading in New Hampshire. He is even within four points of Clinton in West Virginia, where she leads 36 percent to 32 percent. Apparently without the race issue, Clinton is not able to win there as easily as eight years ago.

After amazing most observers with how much support he is generating among Democrats, Sanders is preparing for phase 2 of his campaign.

Sanders huddled with advisers at his home here Wednesday to chart what he describes as the second phase of a campaign that has exceeded all expectations but still lacks the infrastructure and support from the party elites that could help him compete with Clinton on a national level.

He said he will issue a slew of detailed policy proposals, including for a tax system under which corporations and the wealthy would pay significantly more for initiatives that would benefit the poor and middle class, and will pour resources into voter outreach in early nominating states.

The senator also will appear with other White House hopefuls this week at a meeting of the Democratic National Committee and will urge party leaders to embrace him as a candidate who can attract new voters and energy, just as President Obama did eight years ago.

“Smart members of the establishment will perceive where the excitement is, where the energy is, where the enthusiasm is, where the potential voter turnout is,” Sanders said in an interview…

Roughly one-fifth of the delegates who will pick the nominee at the Democratic convention are superdelegates — elected officials and other party leaders who are not bound by voting in their states. So far, those superdelegates have sided overwhelmingly with Clinton.

Longtime Democratic strategist Tad Devine, who was among the participants in Wednesday’s meeting here, said Sanders has the potential to assemble “not necessarily the same coalition, but the same kind of coalition” as Obama did in 2008. Sanders’s huge campaign rallies have been heavily attended by younger voters, and during his long political career in Vermont, he has demonstrated an appeal to lower-income voters from both parties…

Campaign manager Jeff Weaver said the senator will continue to hold rallies but “phase two will be a more focused effort to reach out to undecided voters” in early nominating states. The campaign is spending heavily in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — all of which have contests in February — and starting to evaluate strategies for a dozen states that have primaries or caucuses on March 1.

To date, Sanders has deployed 41 staffers to Iowa, 23 to New Hampshire and nine to South Carolina, aides said.

Another focus of “phase two,” according to Sanders and his aides, will be a series of detailed position papers and policy speeches that go well beyond his hour-long stump speech.

Sanders said he plans a major address on Wall Street reforms and to add more specifics to many of his ideas, including revamping the tax system. He has pledged to reverse the growing income inequality in the country and has laid out a set of costly priorities — including free tuition at public colleges and universities, a massive infrastructure program and a large youth jobs program — much of which would be paid for by taxing businesses and the wealthy.

“It’s easy to say we’re going to make the corporations and wealthy pay their fair share,” Sanders said. “What does that mean, exactly?”

He plans, too, to speak out more about foreign policy, a subject that gets relatively little attention in his stump speech.

Aides acknowledge that Sanders could open himself up to criticism by detailing plans that are considered outside the political mainstream. But the candidate said he owes it to voters to lay out what he would do as president: “These are terribly serious times, and the American people deserve to be treated as intelligent people.”

As I have said before, Sanders is the future of the Democratic Party.

Martin O’Malley is also going on the offensive, criticizing the DNC for its preferential treatment of Hillary Clinton, despite her scandals, and limiting the campaign to only six debates:

Martin O’Malley took one of the hardest swings of any Democrat yet at Hillary Clinton on Thursday, saying the party shouldn’t be “circling the wagons” around the former secretary of state and questioning her viability against Republicans.

The former Maryland governor — struggling to climb out of low single digits in national Democratic primary polls — said Clinton will continue to be dogged by her use of a personal email address on a private server during her tenure as America’s top diplomat.

“Until we start having debates, our party’s going to be defined and branded by questions like: What did Secretary Clinton know, when did she know it, and when will the FBI conclude its investigation?” O’Malley told reporters in New Hampshire. “That’s not a formula for success in the fall.”

O’Malley went further than other Democratic presidential candidates have. Clinton’s top-polling challenger, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, has avoided direct intra-party attacks and instead trained his fire on Wall Street and Republicans.

He also criticized the Democratic National Committee for scheduling only six debates, saying those nationally-televised events are opportunities for the party to focus on big ideas, rather than Clinton’s email drama.

“I think it’s a big mistake for us as a party to circle the wagons around the inevitable frontrunner,” O’Malley said Thursday…

O’Malley had also criticized Clinton in an interview with the New Hampshire radio station WGIR earlier Thursday.

He called the email probe “very serious” and said that there are “legitimate questions” about whether she handled classified material on a non-government server.

“These are serious and legitimate questions and Hillary Clinton and her lawyers will have to answer them,” he said.

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