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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How Negative Will Clinton Go Against Sanders and Biden?

Sanders Raise Money Clinton Super Pac

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A spokesperson for the Clinton campaign declined to comment.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Support For Clinton Continues To Erode As Donors And Unions Watch Biden and Sanders

Clinton Biden Sanders

Following other recent bad news for Hillary Clinton and good news for Bernie Sanders, support for Hillary Clinton continues to erode. The Wall Street Journal reports on more former Clinton fund raisers who are defecting to Biden:

Some Hillary Clinton donors are defecting to Joe Biden, resisting entreaties from the Democratic front-runner’s campaign to stand by her despite slipping poll numbers.

A few of the fundraisers have gone public with their presidential preference. Others have quietly decamped and signaled their intentions to the Draft Biden 2016 super PAC that is working to prod the vice president into the race for the White House.

“Instead of being ready for Hillary, we’re waiting for Joe,” said Bill Bartmann, the founder and chief executive of CFS2 Inc., and onetime donor to Mrs. Clinton’s friendly super PAC. Mr. Bartmann’s switch in allegiance prompted one Clinton campaign official to contact him and ask: “Why are you doing this?” he said…

A decision may not be imminent, though, as Biden allies say he may wait until after the Oct. 13 Democratic debate to announce his plans. Some of his advisers have noted that launching a campaign and preparing for a debate simultaneously might not be the best strategy, said one Democrat familiar with the Biden team’s planning.

In the meantime, the Draft Biden organization is securing commitments as the vice president’s public standing is on the rise, while Mrs. Clinton appears more vulnerable. A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll released this week shows that Mr. Biden is running stronger than Mrs. Clinton in head-to-head match-ups against leading Republican candidates.

Clinton’s union support is also eroding. The New York Times reports:

The International Association of Fire Fighters, one of the country’s more politically powerful unions, has abandoned its initial plans to endorse Hillary Rodham Clinton for president, according to union sources.

Harold A. Schaitberger, the union’s general president, informed Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, in a telephone call on Monday. According to a union official, Mr. Schaitberger told Mr. Mook that the executive board and rank-and-file members — the latter were recently polled — did not support a Clinton endorsement.

The early support of a cross section of unions — most prominently the American Federation of Teachers, which endorsed Mrs. Clinton in July — had been a source of strength for the Clinton campaign. But in recent weeks, as Mrs. Clinton’s numbers in some polls have sagged and she has faced an increasingly formidable challenge from Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, some labor unions appear to have had second thoughts.

The impetus for Mr. Schaitberger’s call to Mr. Mook were conversations about the endorsement at the board’s meetings in mid-September, when board members expressed interest in the possibility that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. would join the Democratic field.

“Secretary Clinton doesn’t sell well here,” said Roy L. McGhee III, better known as Sandy McGhee, an I.A.F.F. board member who represents Texas and Oklahoma. “I think the Republican attack machine, the media machine, has made sure of that. The vice president will do better. He’s popular among firefighters.”

Clinton did receive the endorsement of the National Educational Association despite the preference of many members for Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden:

Clinton praised the NEA and teachers in general in a statement after the endorsement was announced. “I know from personal experience that a teacher can make a profound difference in a child’s life,” Clinton said.

But the move by the board of the nation’s largest union to give her a primary endorsement nod is sure to further aggravate many rank-and-file members who wanted more time to consider the candidates — especially as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders wages an unexpectedly competitive run and Vice President Joe Biden weighs his options.

“There needs to be more input by the membership for these unions and I don’t think it’s being done,” said Lori Mueller, a third grade teacher from Eland, Wis., who is co-president of her local NEA affiliate. “The leaders of my national union are picking for me, and I don’t like that.”

Mueller — a Sanders supporter — said she’s upset by both the timing of the process and that Sanders wasn’t given more of a chance.

After NEA’s announcement, Sanders thanked members like Mueller who back him. “We are going to win this nomination and the general election because of support from grassroots Americans. We are on track to do just that,” Sanders said in a statement.

NEA’s action now positions the union as a more emboldened political player this election cycle. When the union sat out the divisive 2008 Democratic primary between Clinton and then-Sen. Barack Obama, many members felt they had lost an opportunity to influence the race and the policies of the eventual winner.

It’s the opposite approach of the Service Employees International Union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the International Association of Fire Fighters, which have opted to delay endorsements — something labor insiders attribute to uncertainty over Biden and Sanders.

Clinton currently leads the race for union endorsements, although Bernie Sanders might receive many of the votes from their members. In August, Sanders received the endorsement of the nation’s largest nurses union.

Update: CBS News is reporting that people close to Biden are saying that he might announce his decision in the next seven to ten day and that he is leaning towards running. Even if he decides to run, he is not expected to enter the first Democratic debate on October 13. It sounds like it is too complicated, and time consuming, to both work on putting together the foundations of a campaign and to prepare for the debate.

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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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Another Deadline For Joe Biden & New Criteria For Next GOP Debate

Ridin With Biden

The Los Angeles Times reports on another deadline for Joe Biden to consider when deciding whether to announce a candidacy for the Democratic nomination. He has until November 20 to register for the New Hampshire primary.

As I recently noted, he can wait until October 13, the date of the CNN Democratic debate, to declare his candidacy and still qualify for the debate.

There is speculation that Biden might hold off on officially entering the race and wait to see if Clinton is forced from the race due to the scandals or if her campaign no longer looks viable should she lose to Bernie Sanders in Iowa and/or New Hampshire. The November 20 deadline might also not be of concern to him if he plans on going this route as he is expected to concentrate on South Carolina, as opposed to Iowa and New Hampshire, should he enter the race, which in normal years would be a risky strategy.

Turning to the Republican campaign, CNBC has changed the rules for qualifying for their October 28 debate. Instead of setting an arbitrary number (and then expanding it by one) as in the first two debates, CNBC has announced they will decide by a fixed standing in the polls. As they will round up, a candidate averaging 2.5 percent can make it into the evening debate:

National polls will be used to determine a candidate’s eligibility and placement on the stage. To be eligible to appear in either segment, a candidate must have at least 1% in any one of the methodologically sound and recognized national polls conducted by: NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, CNN and Bloomberg, released between September 17, 2015 and October 21, 2015.

To appear in the 8pm debate a candidate must have an average of 3% among these polls. The polls will be averaged and will be rounded up to 3% for any candidate with a standing of 2.5% or higher. Candidates who average below that will be invited to the 6pm debate.

The Wall Street Journal has speculated on who will make the cut:

A Real Clear Politics average of national polling suggests that the candidates who would make the cut for primetime are Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Mike Huckabee and Chris Christie. Candidates who rank at 2.5% or above in the polls have their numbers rounded up to 3%. Rand Paul’s average in the polls RCP tracks is 2.3%.

Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, George Pataki and Lindsey Graham—all of whom took part in the undercard debate earlier this month—all rank at 0.5% or less, alternately winning 1% or 0% in the polls.

This formula might help speed up the elimination of the weaker candidates from the race. I do hope that Rand Paul manages to remain in. While I disagree with him on many other issues, I did like seeing him challenge the other candidates on military intervention and the drug war in the second Republican debate.

Update: CNN is now reporting as of October 1 that Biden is not expected to participate in the first debate and plans to delay his decision until later in the month. He might be able to delay but I suspect that the longer he does wait the harder it will be to launch a full scale campaign.

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

Clinton Biden Sanders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clinton Foundation Scandals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sanders Raise Money Clinton Super Pac

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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