Sanders Draws Record Crowds, O’Malley Addresses Issues and Engages The Press, and Hillary Clinton Answers Questions on Facebook

Bernie Sanders Phoenix

Bernie Sanders continued to draw big crowds over the weekend. In Phoenix Sanders was once again forced to move to a larger venue, drawing twice the number originally anticipated:

Bernie Sanders drew more than 11,000 people to a rally Saturday night in downtown Phoenix — the largest crowd to date for a presidential candidate whose audiences have been swelling in recent months.

The Vermont senator, who has emerged as the leading alternative to Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic nomination, got a rock-star-like reception from supporters who streamed into a cavernous lower-level room of the city’s convention center.

Aides to the self-described democratic socialist had originally booked a Phoenix theater that could accommodate fewer than half the number of people who turned out. The crowd estimate of more than 11,000 people was provided by staff at the convention center, where Sanders also appeared Saturday at a convention of progressive activists.

“Somebody told me people are giving up on the political process,” Sanders said as he greeted the crowd Saturday night. “Not what I see here tonight.”

This exceeds his previous record in Wisconsin. The appearance in Phoenix was followed by thousands coming to see him in Texas.

While Sanders has so far received the bulk of the excitement, and media coverage, from liberal opposition to Hillary Clinton, BuzzFeed seems impressed with Martin O’Malley, calling him “the candidate who simply won’t go away: who will work harder and mingle longer, who will shake more hands, answer more questions, propose more policy, be the most progressive and most aggressive — the candidate who will always engage.”

While Clinton draws headlines about her “strained relations” with the press, O’Malley’s staff rarely turns a reporter away. (On Friday night, his super PAC invited members of the media to an afterparty with the sign-carrying field organizers. “It’s open-press and we promise no rope-lines,” an official said in an email, adding a smiling emoticon. The Clinton cheer-squad, meanwhile, said they weren’t allowed to talk to reporters.)

And while other Democrats in the race, including Sanders, don’t often go after Clinton, O’Malley makes a habit of it — indirectly, at least. (In his Iowa speech, he stressed his support for a $15 minimum wage, days after Clinton declined to endorse it, and suggested she was slow to oppose “bad trade deals” like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.)

With months to go until the Iowa caucus, this aggressive campaigning might pay off, and both O’Malley and Sanders might continue to reduce Clinton’s lead.

Hillary Clinton continues to limit access to the press but did answer some questions on Facebook. After Clinton previously received criticism for saying “All Lives Matter,” and Martin O’Malley failed to learn from this mistake, himself being attacked for saying, “Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter,” Clinton finally got it right on Facebook.

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Major Gaffes From Clinton and Trump Campaigns; Al Gore To The Rescue?

Members of both parties have good reason to worry about the candidates now leading in the polls. Hillary Clinton, along with other Democratic candidates, appeared in Iowa Friday night. Instead of receiving favorable coverage for what she said, the story out of Iowa is how the Clinton campaign told supporters not to speak to reporters. It is bad enough when Clinton avoids answering questions from the press, but it makes no sense to try to gag supporters. She received criticism for this on MSNBC (video above) with quotes from the coverage in The Weekly Standard:

“Here’s what struck me,” said Susan Page of USA Today, “when I read the coverage in the Des Moines Register this morning. Jennifer Jacobs, who’s been on your show, was covering this last night. Big demonstrations outside of young people for O’Malley and Hillary Clinton. She went up to the Clinton supporters — these are protesters for Clinton — and they were told they were not allowed to [speak to] a reporter.”

Page continued, “Now, why in the world would the campaign tell their own supporters who came out to campaign in favor Hillary Clinton … these are the young people, college kids, for Hillary, and they’ve been told they can’t talk to reporters. Why in the world would you do that?

“This raises some warning flags for Hillary Clinton campaign that is trying to control their supporters.”

Steve Kornacki agreed, saying, “Nothing that those supporters could possibly say to the press than the story of telling them not to talk.”

Clinton’s repeated stumbling on the campaign trail, and concern, over her unethical behavior, have raised concerns among  some Democratic voters that nominating Hillary Clinton will lead to a Republican victory on election day. While Bernie Sanders has been stimulated a remarkable amount of excitement around his campaign, some also have concerns over whether he can beat Clinton for the nomination and win the general election. While Joe Biden’s name comes up the most among those who believe another well-known candidate with gravitas is needed to enter the race, Salon has repeated another name which would be worth considering if he is interested–Al Gore. The story is entitled, It’s time to draft Al Gore: If Democrats want to win, it’s clear neither Hillary nor Sanders is the way. The article gives ten reasons why:

Enter Al Gore: the one person on the left, apart from Clinton and Biden, with the cachet to bridge the establishment and progressive wings of the party. Here are 10 reasons why a Gore candidacy makes sense, both for the Democratic Party and the country.

1. Stature. Gore is a superstar with impeccable qualifications. The GOP will have a hard time marginalizing someone of his caliber and experience. His background speaks for itself: a former Congressman, U.S. Senator, and two-time Vice President. He’s even succeed wildly in the private sector as a businessman — something Republicans can’t help but praise. In short, Gore passes the credibility test by any measure, and that matters in a national election. Hillary Clinton is the only other Democratic candidate who can match Gore on this front.

2. Vulnerability. As the new AP poll shows, Clinton’s unfavorability ratings are rising among Americans overall and among Democratic voters in particular. Indeed, her positive marks have plummeted from 81% to 70% among Democrats since April. Worse, as the AP noted: “Just 39 percent of all Americans have a favorable view of Clinton, compared to nearly half who say they have a negative opinion of her.” Hard to win with numbers like that.

These numbers are consistent with another recent poll, which confirmed that Clinton’s lead over the Democratic field has shrunk considerably over the last several months. Some of this is the result of Clinton fatigue, but it’s also due to the rise of Bernie Sanders. The left wing of the party is flocking to Sanders, in part, because they don’t trust Clinton’s centrist record. Gore, on the other hand, who has become much more outspoken since leaving office, could embrace much of Sanders’ populist platform while also selling himself as a more appealing national candidate. That’s a strong case on his behalf, one many Democrats will find persuasive.

3. Besides Hillary Clinton, no one running as a Democrat is likely to challenge Republicans in a national election. Sanders is a regional candidate at best; he shouldn’t be, but he is, and that’s not changing next year. The other candidates scarcely warrant mentioning: Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb, Lincoln Chafee – these guys are political ornaments, running for reasons known only to their friends and families. Gore is a national figure, however. He can rival any GOP candidate in terms of fundraising prowess, party support, organizational acumen, experience, and name recognition. He’s also become something of a rock star post-politics, winning a Nobel, an Oscar, and an Emmy. Gore, in other words, is the perfect package, both politically and professionally.

4. Independents. Gore, justifiably or not, is less polarizing than Clinton, which means he can appeal to independents. Although they’re manufactured scandals, issues like the private emails at the State Department and the Benghazi fiasco will plague Clinton in the general election; Republicans (duplicitously, of course) will use these non-issues to bludgeon her month after month, debate after debate, ad after ad. This is pure nonsense, but it will be a distraction nevertheless. Gore, alternatively, brings less comparable baggage – that makes him a harder target for the GOP.

5. Foreign policy. Hillary Clinton is right about a lot of things, but foreign policy isn’t one of them. After our recent misadventures in the Middle East, this really matters. On all things foreign policy, Clinton has a habit of flopping with the political winds. Her maximalist, borderline neoconservative positions at both the Senate and the State Department are a particularly disturbing example of this. Indeed, she beat the war drums on Iraq, Syria, and Iran at one point. In short, Clinton is a hawk, and most of us have seen enough of that in the last decade or so. Gore’s absence from politics during this period gives him a distinct advantage: he wasn’t complicit in our recent geopolitical blunders. He also opposed the Iraq War, something Hillary and the GOP candidates can’t say.

6. The corruption of the political process by Wall Street is — and should be — a major issue in this election. Everyone knows already how much influence the financial industry has in Washington. Hillary Clinton, to her credit, has talked quite a bit about income inequality and political corruption, but the fact remains: Wall Street loves her. This ought to make Democrats uncomfortable. Gore, admittedly because he hasn’t run for office in years, has not relied on Wall Street for campaign funding — at least not in recent history. If nothing else, this is a mark in Gore’s favor, and another reason for Democrats to get behind his campaign.

7. Climate change. As Ezra Klein argued a few months ago in a column about Gore, “Income inequality is a serious problem…But climate change is an existential threat.” Gore, whatever you think of him, is an unimpeachable authority on climate change. As Klein wrote, “When it comes to climate change, there’s no one in the Democratic Party – or any other political party – with Gore’s combination of credibility and commitment.” Given the president’s unique ability to make a difference on an issue like this, it matters a great deal who wins this election. We can’t say definitively what Hillary Clinton would or would not do about climate change, but we can be fairly certain that Al Gore would do more than any other potential candidate for president.

8. Gore has nothing to lose. Having been out of politics for so long, Gore is liberated in ways no other candidate is. He’s got no recent voting record to scrutinize (read: distort); he’s independently wealthy and well-connected; and his private sector activism has allowed him to take authentic positions on issues that matter to him – and most Democrats. He’s beholden, in other words, to fewer constituencies than anyone else currently running. Perhaps most importantly, because he’s succeeded to such a degree in his post-political life, we’ve every reason to believe he’d feel empowered to take chances and risk failure. Isn’t that the candidate most people want?

9. Vengeance. If we’re stuck with a rerun election (Clinton vs. Bush), most would prefer to see Gore get his vengeance against another Bush. Gore, you may recall, was elected president in 2000 over George W. Bush. For reasons we won’t get into now, that victory was stolen from Gore in Florida, thanks in no small part to Jeb Bush, who was then governor of that state. With Jeb the likely Republican candidate next year, it would be a delightful bit of Karmic justice for him to lose to the man he robbed 16 years prior.

10. Democrats need a spark. Gore may not be new, but his candidacy would feel that way. His political life seems a distant memory at this point, but his activism and business savvy have kept him in the public consciousness. As with most politicians, moreover, the freedom of not having to run for office has done wonders for Gore’s image. His entrance and voice would only enliven the Democratic Party, which is exactly what it needs in an election decided, overwhelmingly, by voter turnout.

While I would like to give Sanders more time to see if he can continue to grow his support, Gore would also make an excellent alternative to Hillary Clinton. I doubt Gore would be interested, but it would also be satisfying to see him beat not only Hillary Clinton, but to beat a Bush should Jeb get the nomination.

The current Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, is far less likely than Clinton to actually win their party’s nomination, and there must be many Republicans who are terrified of the prospect of this front-runner actually winning. The Weekly Standard reports on the latest outrageous statement from Trump (video above):

“He’s not a war hero,” Trump, a Republican running for president, said of McCain. “I like people that weren’t captured. “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”

This statement is bad enough under any circumstance, but it comes off as even worse considering how Trump received several deferments to avoid serving in Viet Nam. While I don’t fault Trump for avoiding military service in Viet Nam, but to attack someone such as McCain who did serve is totally uncalled for.

Trump also refused to rule out running as a third party candidate. Hopefully he does so, as this would probably guarantee a Democratic victory.

You might not read about such gaffes from Trump in the future in the political section of The Huffington Post.

After watching and listening to Donald Trump since he announced his candidacy for president, we have decided we won’t report on Trump’s campaign as part of The Huffington Post’s political coverage. Instead, we will cover his campaign as part of our Entertainment section. Our reason is simple: Trump’s campaign is a sideshow. We won’t take the bait. If you are interested in what The Donald has to say, you’ll find it next to our stories on the Kardashians and The Bachelorette.

While they have a point, I cannot agree with this decision. Donald Trump, like it or not, is a major part of this campaign at the moment. If he was polling under five percent, then maybe this could be justified, but he is now leading the Republican field in the polls. As repugnant as his platform is, there unfortunately is a following for Trump’s brand of racism and xenophobia among the Republican base. It is a real part of this campaign.

Update: No apology from Donald Trump, leading to predictions that Trump is toast. That is fine, but why not even earlier? Apparently among many conservative politicians and media outlets, racist and xenophobic statements are not a campaign-killer.

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The Two Front Runners And Their Vulnerabilities

Graphic shows results of AP-GfK poll on Hillary Clinton; 2c x 5 inches; 96.3 mm x 127 mm;

Going by the polls, there are two apparent front-runners for their party’s nomination, but one has a far more meaningful lead than the other. While I will not totally dismiss the possibility of Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination as I discussed yesterday, it remains far more likley that we will see multiple candidates take leads for a period of time in the Republican race as we saw four years ago. Perhaps we will know when Republicans are truly scared of him when they start to bring up his previous statements, including on abortion rights, health care, and support for how Barack Obama handled the economy.

Hillary Clinton has a more significant lead in the Democratic race, and going by any conventional measures is most likley to win, but she is showing some signs of weakness which no longer make her nomination appear inevitable.

While Clinton retains a significant lead among Democrats, the AP-Gfk poll does show some softening of her support:

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s standing is falling among Democrats, and voters view her as less decisive and inspiring than when she launched her presidential campaign just three months ago, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

The survey offers a series of warning signs for the leading Democratic candidate. Most troubling, perhaps, for her prospects are questions about her compassion for average Americans, a quality that fueled President Barack Obama’s two White House victories.

Just 39 percent of all Americans have a favorable view of Clinton, compared to nearly half who say they have a negative opinion of her. That’s an eight-point increase in her unfavorable rating from an AP-GfK poll conducted at the end of April.

The drop in Clinton’s numbers extends into the Democratic Party. Seven in 10 Democrats gave Clinton positive marks, an 11-point drop from the April survey. Nearly a quarter of Democrats now say they see Clinton in an unfavorable light.

“I used to like her, but I don’t trust her,” said Donald Walters of Louisville, Kentucky. “Ever since she’s announced her candidacy for the presidency I just haven’t liked the way she’s handled things. She doesn’t answer questions directly.”

While Clinton’s favorability rating fell, Obama’s stayed constant at 46 percent since April. More than 8 in 10 Democrats have a positive view of the president.

This follows another poll this week from Morning Consult showing even greater problems with trust:

Few voters say they trust former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but a majority say she has a vision for the future of the country, according to a new survey that highlights the challenges ahead for the Democratic front-runner’s campaign.

The Morning Consult poll of 2,019 registered voters shows just 19 percent say Clinton is honest and trustworthy, and only 35 percent say she has the average American’s best interests at heart.

Democrats and liberals are far more likely to credit Clinton with positive attributes, as are Hispanic and African American voters. But just 30 percent of all voters — and only 24 percent of independents — say Clinton “cares about issues important to me.”

Should Clinton win the nomination, trust issues are likely to be a greater factor in the general election. Democrats are quicker than the full electorate to ignore the scandals, and many are not paying attention to the details. Republicans are likley to bring them up far more in the general election, similar to how the Swift Boat attacks on John Kerry surfaced prior to his winning the nomination, but the major attacks were held until shortly after the Democratic convention. The scandals involving Hillary Clinton’s email and contributions to the Foundation also threaten to be more damaging as, in contrast to the Swift Boat Liars, the accusations against Clinton are supported by the facts (including newspaper fact-check sites).

Distrust of Hillary Clinton may or may not play a role in the general election considering the significant faults in all the Republican candidates. Charlie Cook also pointed out that one previous candidate won a presidential election despite not being trusted–Bill Clinton:

But after a flurry of unflattering stories regarding her email practices during her tenure at the State Department and questions about possible conflicts of interest with donors to Clinton-related foundations and groups that paid her husband, former President Clinton, speech honoraria, the share of Americans who picked “is honest” dropped from the mid-70s to just 42 percent in the May CNN/ORC poll, with “not honest” jumping from the 20s to 57 percent. The ABC News/Washington Post poll also recorded an honesty drop, albeit a less precipitous one. When asked if Clinton is “honest and trustworthy” in March, Americans were evenly split—46 percent answered yes, 46 percent responded no. By May, those numbers had stretched to 41 percent yes and 52 percent no.

So will these doubts about Hillary Clinton’s trustworthiness cost her the election? There is no doubt that voters want to be able to trust a president, but it should be remembered that Bill Clinton won an election in 1992 with large deficits in the honesty department. Polling by CBS News and The New York Times in April 1992 found that, when asked if Clinton has “more honesty and integrity than most people in public life,” just 16 percent of respondents said yes, while 48 percent answered no. The ABC News/Washington Post poll also reflected concern about Bill Clinton’s integrity. In June, when ABC/Washington Post polled the statement “Clinton is honest,” 39 percent agreed and 49 percent disagreed. In October, the numbers were virtually even, at 31 percent yes, 32 percent no, hardly a rousing endorsement of his integrity, yet he beat the incumbent President George H.W. Bush anyway.

Still it would make sense to chose a candidate who is trusted by the voters going into a general election campaign.

Looking at other factors, Hillary Clinton is doing extremely well with fund raising in terms of dollars brought in but lags behind Sanders with regards to donations from the grass roots:

Of the $47.5 million that Mrs. Clinton has raised, less than one-fifth has come from donations of $200 or less. That is a far smaller proportion than that of her Democratic and Republican rivals who have excited grass-roots donors on the left and right, such as Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Ted Cruz of Texas. While Mr. Sanders raised far less than Mrs. Clinton over all — about $15 million, including money transferred from his Senate account — about four-fifths of that amount came from smaller donors.

Total contributions is probably the more important factor with regards to winning elections, but this gap might also indicate that those who support Clinton in the polls are also less enthusiastic about turning out to vote in primaries and caucuses. Despite the idea that corporations are people, it takes real voters and not corporate donors turning out to win primary elections.

Clinton also got the first major union endorsement, but there has also been grass roots opposition to the recent decision by the American Federation of Teachers to endorse Clinton.

While Clinton has a tremendous lead for the Democratic nomination at this time, she also has significant weaknesses which could still influence the outcome. The contrasting campaign styles of Clinton compared to Sanders and O’Malley, along with other potential candidates entering the race, could impact the opinions of those who now state they support Clinton, largely based upon a combination of name recognition, nostalgia, and gender. The increased disqualification we are seeing with the status quo could lead to unanticipated results.

As I have discussed previously, polls at this stage have very limited predictive value with regards to the ultimate election results. Patrick Egan looked at various polling data and found only one which appears meaningful in predicting election results–presidential approval. While this is based upon a limited number of elections, and other factors certainly could impact the final election results, Obama’s improving popularity in some (but not all) polls should be encouraging for Democrats going into the general election.

Update:  The Clinton campaign is right to be happy with their lead in the polls and the money they brought in. It is also not surprising that they are ignoring the polls showing that people do not trust Clinton and do not care about where the money is coming from or who Clinton is indebted to.

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Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders Generating Unexpected Excitement, But For Different Reasons

In this photo taken May 20, 2015, Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., poses for a portrait before an interview with The Associated Press in Washington. For Democrats who had hoped to lure Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren into a presidential campaign, independent Sen. Bernie Sanders might be the next best thing. Sanders, who is opening his official presidential campaign Tuesday in Burlington, Vermont, aims to ignite a grassroots fire among left-leaning Democrats wary of Hillary Rodham Clinton. He is laying out an agenda in step with the party's progressive wing and compatible with Warren's platform _ reining in Wall Street banks, tackling college debt and creating a government-financed infrastructure jobs program. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are generating  greater excitement than anticipated in their party’s nomination battles. Maybe I wrote off Donald Trump’s chances for winning the Republican nomination too quickly in my post on him yesterday. His popularity is increasing dramatically among Republicans:

Donald Trump’s popularity has surged among Republicans after dominating several news cycles with his anti-illegal immigration rhetoric, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Nearly six in 10 — 57 percent — Republicans now have a favorable view of Trump, compared to 40 percent who have an unfavorable one. That marks a complete reversal from a late-May Post-ABC poll, in which 65 percent of Republicans saw Trump unfavorably.

Trump continues to be unpopular among the public at large, with negative marks outpacing positive ones 61-33. “Strongly unfavorable” views outnumber strongly positive ratings by a 3-1 ratio.

I initially figured that Trump’s recent lead among Republicans was due to name recognition, but he was just as well known before he entered the race. The difference between current polls and May appears to be more from his actual actions between now and then. Never underestimate the ability of racism and xenophobia to energize Republican voters.

Some in the media have been comparing the support received by Donald Trump among Republicans to the support received by Bernie Sanders among Democrats. This makes a simplistic story line for the press, but is misleading. Donald Trump is surging because he is saying what the Republican voters believe deep down. Republicans have been using the southern strategy to drive support, but generally avoid being as blatantly racist as Trump. In contrast, Bernie Sanders is receiving his support from liberals who are dissatisfied with the Democratic establishment and the conservative policies supported by Hillary Clinton.

So far Clinton has benefited from name recognition, gender, and nostalgia, but few are paying close attention to the issues. I doubt that most Democratic voters even realize how conservative Clinton has been on issues including foreign policy, civil liberties, and social issues, along with the economic issues which have so far framed this campaign. If Sander, or another challenger from the left, is to succeed against Clinton, they will have to demonstrate how different their views really are. I am hoping that such contrasts will come out in the debates, and disappointed that there will be so few.

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Donald Trump Praising Barack Obama (2009-10) And David Letterman Mocking Trump

DONALD-TRUMP

“I would hire him. He’s handled the tremendous mess he walked into very well. He still has a daunting task ahead of him but he appears to be equal to the challenge. He has kept his eye on both national and international issues and his visits to foreign countries have shown him to be warmly received, which is certainly a change from the last Administration.” –Donald Trump in 2009

Plus Trump in an interview with Wolf Blitzer, 2010:

BLITZER: His economic policies, President Obama says, have saved us from another depression, is he right?

TRUMP: Well, I do agree, and this did start prior to him getting there, but he also kept it going. You had to do something to sure up the banks, because the psychology of the banks and you would have had a run on every banks, the strongest and the weakest. So, you have to do something. And I hated the ultraconservative view on that. And ultraconservative is nothing should ever happen. If they go out of business, everybody said, that’s fine.

Via BuzzFeed News

Trump now simultaneously leads the Republican field and is the weakest competitor among the top seven Republican candidates against Hillary Clinton in the USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll. Republicans can at least take some comfort in the fact that polls at this point have near zero predictive value. It is hard to believe even the current Republican Party would nominate him.

In related news, David Letterman came out of retirement last week in response to Trump’s candidacy saying, “I have made the biggest mistake of my life, ladies and gentlemen.” He then presented a Top Ten List of Interesting facts about Donald Trump. The Washington Post has the full list, with some edits:

No. 10: That thing on his head was the gopher in “Caddyshack.”

No. 9: During sex, Donald Trump calls out his own name.

No. 8: Donald Trump looks like the guy on the lifeboat with the women and children.

No. 7: He wants to build a wall. How about building a wall around that thing on his head?

No. 6: Trump walked away from a moderately successful television show for some delusional bulls— … oh wait, that’s me.

No. 5: Donald Trump weighs 240 pounds — 250 with cologne.

No. 4: Trump would like all Americans to know that that thing on his head is free-range.

Letterman declared No. 3 “a tie.”

No. 3: If president, instead of pardoning a turkey on Thanksgiving, plans to evict a family on Thanksgiving./That’s not a hairdo, it’s a wind advisory. 

No. 2: Donald Trump has pissed off so many Mexicans, he’s starring in a new movie entitled “No Amigos.” 

No. 1: Thanks to Donald Trump, the Republican mascot is also an ass.

The video is below:

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Hillary Clinton Tries To Sound Like Sanders & O’Malley While Avoiding Specifics

hillary_clinton_economic_speech

Hillary Clinton’s big economic speech has mostly been greeted with yawns. Previously the conventional wisdom was that Hillary Clinton was one of Wall Street’s favorite candidates, and her speech has not changed this. She did include a number of points which sounded good, but lacked any specifics to make a convincing case that she would really bring about any changes.

Politico summed up the reaction in an article entitled Clinton speech react: ‘Is that it?’ The Democratic front-runner manages to underwhelm both Wall Street and its reformers in her signature economic policy speech:

Clinton laid out the soft contours of a “growth and fairness economy” in a speech designed to appeal to struggling middle-class workers with promises of higher pay and more generous federal policies.

But she left out many hard specifics on tougher tax policy toward the rich and corporate America. And she offered limited pledges to crack down on big Wall Street banks while hitting her strongest notes promising to toss rogue bankers in prison while ripping recent worker-productivity comments from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Despite those few moments, this was hardly Thomas Piketty invading the land of Wall Street titans and flipping over tables piled high with gold. And there were no radical new proposals aimed at reversing America’s long slide into wage stagnation.

“She appears to have taken a page out of the Elizabeth Warren book on going after bankers and brokers and fat cats and people who may have broken the law,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment office at BMO Private bank. “I’m sure a lot of polling went into that. But in terms of inequality and profit-sharing and general economic redistribution, she was a lot longer on problems than she was on solutions.”

And Clinton sounded some of her by now very familiar themes, invoking her love of being a grandmother and arguing that middle-class wage stagnation since the end of the Great Recession was exacerbating income inequality while pledging that something must be done. But that something, according to Clinton, mainly consists of boosting the minimum wage and increasing overtime pay, something President Barack Obama has been pushing for some time…

Financial reformers gave her mixed grades. “It’s a good start, but after all this listening, planning and thinking by the runaway leading candidate, I expected more,” said Dennis Kelleher of Better Markets, a pro-reform group. “The American people deserve a concrete, specific, comprehensive plan that really protects them from Wall Street recklessness and that she as president can be held accountable for once in office.”

Another financial reformer said the anti-Wall Street crowd was waiting to see whether Clinton will “put in place a team of advisers who have a demonstrated history of supporting meaningful reform and tough enforcement, or chooses instead to surround herself with the same crowd of revolving door insiders.”

The real test for Clinton on Wall Street will come when and if she turns this rhetoric into actual policy prescriptions. Big Wall Street titans heavily funding Clinton’s campaign and other business interests fully expect to take some heavy rhetorical hits as the Democratic front-runner fights off the Sanders surge. But they do not expect Clinton to try and fully reshape their industry.

She did correctly criticize Jeb Bush for his recent comment that Americans should “work longer hours” and Marco Rubio’s tax cut for millionaires. She did sound like she might be more willing than President Obama has to prosecute bankers who violate the law. She fell far short of Bernie Sanders’ support for breaking up the big banks, as well as short of the specific economic proposals recently released by Martin O’Malley. She basically seems to desire to use the rhetoric of Sanders and O’Malley, as well as Elizebeth Warren, while keeping the big corporations and banks confident in continuing to bankroll her campaign.

Clinton did call for paid family leave. She supported an increase in the minimum wage without any indication as to whether she will match Sanders and O’Malley on the size of an increase supported. Earlier in the campaign, Clinton was to the right of Sanders and O’Malley when they were calling for increasing Social Security benefits. She now gave vague support for enhancing Social Security without clarifying what this means. About the biggest surprise of the speech was her criticism of the gig economy:

In a note that struck some as odd given the popularity of the services, Clinton specifically criticized “gig economy” companies, a group that includes upstarts such as Airbnb and Uber. These types of scrappy young companies have often provided corporate homes for former Obama administration officials. Former top Obama adviser David Plouffe is now a senior executive at Uber.

Center-right sources such as Politico above indicate no real fear of Clinton from Wall Street. Salon summed up the response to Clinton’s speech from the left:
Hillary Clinton gave her big economic speech this morning, proposing a whole array of policies that she argues will “build a ‘growth and fairness’ economy.” She wasn’t especially forthcoming on details, which is a shame, but she had some interesting and ideas and made some promises that she should be held to going forward.
The full transcript is available here.
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Anthony Weiner Making 2016 Look Like The 2008 Clinton Campaign

Sanders Shirts

Anthony Weiner, who at least admits that his wife “works for Hillary” (rather an understatement), tries to undermine the legitimacy of Bernie Sanders’ campaign in a manner reminiscent of the Clinton’s campaign’s attacks on Obama in 2008. Back in 2008, Obama was running too soon, too inexperienced, or too black to be the candidate if you believed the Clinton campaign.

We are bound to see the same sort of crap from the Clinton campaign this year. Previously one Clinton surrogate, Claire McCaskill, claimed that Sanders is too liberal to get elected, ignoring the far more important fact (as I previously posted): Claire McCaskill Is Wrong–Bernie Sanders Is Not Too Liberal, Hillary Clinton Is Too Conservative.

Now Weiner is trying to undermine Sanders with exactly the sort of non-argument which Clintonistas are famous for. It is nothing about his experience or even his views. Weiner questions Sanders seeking the Democratic nomination because he has served in the Senate as an independent.

We now have a primary system in which Democratic voters choose delegates. Fortunately it is up to the voters, and not Clinton-surrogates, to determine the criteria by which we vote. This year many of us voters are more interested in a candidate who upholds Democratic values, not the letter after his name in the past for a Senator who has consistently voted with the Democrats. That is far better than a candidate like Hillary Clinton, who also happens to be a former Republican, who has spent her career undermining Democratic values and trying to turn the Democratic Party into a Republican-lite party. Even the campaign symbol for this former Goldwater Girl is eerily reminiscent of Barry Goldwater’s campaign symbol.

It is far more important to have a candidate who opposed the Iraq war, as opposed to Clinton. Hillary Clinton not only voted to authorize force, but was one of the strongest proponents of the war based upon a false claim of ties between Saddam and al Qaeda. She remained a proponent of increased military intervention as Secretary of State.

We need a candidate who is independent of Wall Street and big business, not only to reverse income inequality, but to act in response to climate change. Clinton has supported off-shore drilling, fracking, refuses to answer questions about the Keystone XL Pipeline, and is far too indebted to the petroleum industry to take any real action on the environment.

When I vote for a candidate, I also want a candidate who supports separation of church and state, as opposed to a candidate such as Clinton who has supported an increased role for religion in government. This was seen when she was in the Senate when she was a member of The Fellowship, being influenced on social issues by religious conservatives such as Rick Santorum and Sam Brownback. Clinton’s affiliation with the religious right was seen in her support for the Workplace Religious Freedom Act , a bill introduced by Rick Santorum and opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union for promoting discrimination and reducing access to health care, along with her promotion of restrictions on video games and her introduction of a bill making flag burning a felony. Her social conservatism is reflected in her views of abortion rights, such as supporting parental notification laws and stigmatizing women who have abortions with the manner in which she calls for abortion to be “safe, legal and rare.” She only recently “evolved” to support gay marriage, while Sanders was supporting it in the 1970’s.

I want a candidate who supports civil liberties, not increased restrictions on individual liberty as Clinton has. Bernie Sanders voted against the Patriot Act while Clinton supported it. Sanders has spoken out against the illegal NSA surveillance while Clinton has remained quiet, and has an overall poor record on civil liberties. Clinton’s failures to archive her email as required when she was Secretary of State and disclose donations to the Clinton Foundation as she had agreed to are just the latest examples of her long-standing hostility towards government transparency.

I’ve spent the last few days in New Hampshire and on Saturday my wife and I wore Bernie Sanders t-shirts. While far from a scientific poll, we heard many favorable comments from people who said they love Bernie. Not a single one mentioned Sanders being an independent as opposed to a Democrat. This is the type of non-argument which only a Clinton supporter would raise.

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Quote of the Day: Jimmy Fallon on Hillary Clinton

Jimmy Fallon

“This week Hillary Clinton joined the networking site LinkedIn. And you thought she was deleting a lot of emails before.” –Jimmy Fallon

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Factcheck.org Shows Clinton Told Several Lies During CNN Interview

Clinton Email

While Hillary Clinton generally evaded answering questions during her interview on CNN, she did repeat the same lies she previously told about her use of a private email server, added a new lie, and was also corrected by Factcheck.org for an incorrect statement she made about Republicans on immigration. They first summarized some of her incorrect statements on the email scandal:

As for her use of personal emails to conduct official business, Clinton made a few comments that distorted the facts:

  • Clinton said she went “above and beyond” in complying with a State Department request to turn over work-related emails, saying, “I didn’t have to turn over anything.” However, federal regulations and department guidelines required her to preserve important work emails before she left office, and she did not.

  • Twice Clinton said that previous “secretaries of state” did the “same thing,” using the plural “secretaries” to defend her use of her personal email account. But the State Department has said only Colin Powell used a personal email account for official business.

  • Twice Clinton said that she had “one device” for sending emails, explaining she is “not the most technically capable person and wanted to make it as easy as possible.” But, in addition to her Blackberry, she occasionally used an iPad to send emails, copies of her publicly released emails show.

The full article contained further information on her distortion on immigration and on the email:

Clinton, who was secretary of state from January 2009 to February 2013, also discussed her exclusive use of a personal email account when sending and receiving emails about official government business. Her unusual email arrangement, which included the use of a private email server, became public in March — several months after the State Department in October 2014 sent letters to the last four secretaries of state requesting any work-related emails that they may still have in their possession.

Clinton’s office has said she turned over 30,490 printed copies of emails totaling about 55,000 pages — estimating that more than 90 percent of those emails went to federal employees on the government email system. It also said that 31,830 “private, personal records” were destroyed.

Clinton, July 7: “Now, I didn’t have to turn over anything. I chose to turn over 55,000 pages because I wanted to go above and beyond what was expected of me because I knew the vast majority of everything that was official already was in the State Department system.”

We asked the Clinton campaign what she meant when she said that she “didn’t have to turn over anything” to the State Department. It referred us to a previous statement released by Clinton’s office, specifically an excerpt that explained how Clinton complied with the department’s request.

But that didn’t answer our question. And the fact is that Clinton should have preserved the emails before she left office.

The State Department policy on preserving emails dates to 1995 after the National Archives and Records Administration issued government-wide regulations on emails. The NARA issued its final rule on Aug. 28, 1995, saying “agencies must put into place policies and procedures that ensure that e-mail records are identified and preserved.”

Two months later, the State Department updated its Foreign Affairs Manual to include policies for preserving emails.

Under a section titled “Principles Governing E-Mail Communications,” the manual said, “All employees must be aware that some of the variety of the messages being exchanged on E-mail are important to the Department and must be preserved; such messages are considered Federal records under the law.” Under a section titled “How to Preserve E-Mail Records,” the manual said: “Until technology allowing archival capabilities for long-term electronic storage and retrieval of E-mail messages is available and installed, those messages warranting preservation as records (for periods longer than current E-mail systems routinely maintain them) must be printed out and filed with related records.”

In 2009, NARA specifically addressed the issue of emails “created or received outside of official electronic systems maintained” by the federal government, according to Jason R. Baron, a lawyer at Drinker Biddle and a former director of litigation at the National Archives.

In a letter to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Baron quoted from the 2009 NARA regulations: “Agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that Federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system.”

The NARA regulations also require federal departments and agencies to maintain an NARA-approved schedule for the disposition of federal records, including emails sent and received from personal email accounts.

The State Department says its Records Disposition Schedule “provides mandatory instructions for the retention and disposition (retirement or destruction) of each records series based on their temporary or permanent status.” Chapter 1 of the schedule covers the secretary of state. It says, under “Secretary’s Miscellaneous Correspondence File,” that “incoming and outgoing correspondence and memorandums on substantive U.S. foreign policy issues” should be permanently retained “at the end of the Secretary’s tenure or sooner if necessary.”

In an email to us, Baron wrote that Clinton had a “duty” to turn over her emails, even after she left office.

“One might interpret Secretary Clinton’s remarks [on CNN] as her saying that there was no court order or subpoena to turn emails relating to government business back to the State Department after she left office, and so she acted within her discretion in doing so,” he wrote. “But the fact that she acted in response to an informal letter request from State rather than under more formal legal compulsion doesn’t change the fact that she had a continuing duty to return government records into government custody at all times since leaving her position as Secretary of State.”

Clinton has taken the position that she complied with department policy because “the vast majority of my work emails went to government employees at their government addresses, which meant they were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the State Department.”

Baron, in his letter to the Judiciary Committee, disagreed. He said it is an “erroneous assumption” that emails “sent to or received from a ‘.gov’ address, are being automatically preserved ‘somewhere’ in a federal agency.” He said, “Very few federal agencies have implemented an automated system for archiving email.”

“For example, at the State Department, the so-called ‘SMART’ system apparently has been used in a fashion (at least until recently) where only a tiny percentage of e-mail communications were tagged as records in an electronic archive repository,” Baron wrote.

The State Department has said that Secretary John Kerry’s emails are now automatically preserved, but that was not the case under Clinton.

In her interview, Clinton also said that “[p]revious secretaries of state have said they did the same thing.” And then later, she again said, “And as I said, prior secretaries of state — I mean, Secretary Powell has admitted he did exactly the same thing.”

Clinton is mistaken in her use of the plural “secretaries,” and Powell didn’t do “exactly the same thing.”

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki has said that the department sent letters to previous secretaries Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. Only Powell used personal email for official business…

Although Powell did acknowledge that he used personal email for official business, there’s no evidence that he — or any other previous secretary of state — maintained emails on a personal server.

As she has said in the past, Clinton suggested that she did not use a government email account because that would have required carrying around two devices.

Clinton said “people across the government knew that I used one device — maybe it was because I am not the most technically capable person and wanted to make it as easy as possible.” She later said, “I had one device. When I mailed anybody in the government, it would go into the government system.”

She did not have one device for sending emails. She had two — a Blackberry and an iPad — according to the Clinton emails released so far by the State Department…

One last thing about Clinton’s interview with CNN. Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, issued a statement and held a press conference saying Clinton was wrong when she said, “I’ve never had a subpoena.”

As Gowdy pointed out, Clinton did receive a House subpoena on March 4, and it was wellreported. But Clinton’s denial came in response to a question about deleting emails “while facing a subpoena,” and Clinton objected to Keiler’s “assumption.” Clinton’s campaign said that the emails were deleted before she received the subpoena and that was the point Clinton was making.

The Wall Street Journal posted more concise fact-checking with essentially the same conclusions about Clinton’s false statements about her use of a private email server in violation of the rules.

Update: The Washington Post Fact Checker gave Clinton Three Pinoccios for her claims regarding the email.

As I have previously discussed, fact check sites have similarly found Clinton’s statements at her press conference on the email to be false. The top Freedom of Information Act official at the Justice Department has stated that Clinton was in violation of the rules and the State Department’s top Freedom of Information Act officer has called her use of a private server unacceptable. An ambassador under Clinton was even fired with failure to abide by rules related to not using private email being cited as a reason by the Inspector General (pdf of report here). Buzzfeed obtained email showing that the  top lawyer for the National Archives also expressed concern over Clinton’s use of a private server.

Commentary has an editorial on Hillary Clinton’s Lies which offers a preview of what Democrats will face should Clinton win the nomination.

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Clinton Avoids Saying Anything As Large Crowds Turn Out To Hear Sanders On The Issues

Clinton CNN Interview

Hillary Clinton gave her first national media interview since announcing her candidacy, following a period of evading the press. She spent the interview (transcript here), as she invariably does when interviewed,  avoiding answering any questions and playing the victim. A better reporter would have pinned her down better with follow up questions. I wonder if she will ever dare face Terry Gross again after she fell apart when interviewed by her last year.

Earlier in the day The Washington Post described another reason why it is so difficult for the press to get meaningful answers to questions when covering the Clinton campaign with their creation of an echo chamber:

One day in May, operatives from a Washington-based super PAC gathered New Hampshire mayors, state representatives and local politicos at Saint Anselm College for a day of training.

They rehearsed their personal tales of how they met Hillary Rodham Clinton and why they support her for president. They sharpened their defenses of her record as secretary of state. They scripted their arguments for why the Democratic front-runner has been “a lifetime champion of income opportunity.” And they polished their on-camera presentations in a series of mock interviews.

The objective of the sessions: to nurture a seemingly grass-roots echo chamber of Clinton supporters reading from the same script across the communities that dot New Hampshire, a critical state that holds the nation’s first presidential primary.

The super PAC, called Correct the Record, convened similar talking-point tutorials and ­media-training classes in May and June in three other early-voting states — Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina — as well as sessions earlier this spring in California.

Presidential campaigns have for decades fed talking points to surrogates who appear on national television or introduce candidates on the stump. But the effort to script and train local supporters is unusually ambitious and illustrates the extent to which the Clinton campaign and its web of sanctioned, allied super PACs are leaving nothing to chance…

But asking local supporters to use talking points could undermine the organic nature of grass-roots political interactions. No longer can a journalist call state representatives in Iowa and expect to hear their personal, candid takes on Clinton — nor can a Rotary Club member listen to fellow small-business owners talk about the candidate at the group’s monthly luncheon — without suspecting that they are reading from a script.

The phony nature of the Clinton campaign is one reason why there has been so much excitement in Bernie Sanders’ campaign. Hillary Clinton had 5500 people turn out at her campaign re-launch on Roosevelt Island in New York City. Only 3000 showed up for Jeb Bush’s announcement. In contrast, over 10,000 people turned out to hear Bernie Sanders speak in Wisconsin and over 7500 in Portland, Maine. He even attracted over 2500 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Crowds may or may not ultimately translate into caucus and primary votes, but Sanders is certainly shaking up the race.

Update: Factcheck.org Shows Clinton Told Several Lies During CNN Interview

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