Bernie Sanders Archives - Page 4 of 45 - SaintPetersBlog

Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump use whatever they’ve got in the final push

Knock on every door. Marshal every volunteer. Lob every attack.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are opening the final weekend of a marathon campaign by pulling out every tool they have to get their supporters to vote. Polls show critical battleground states may still be up for grabs ahead of Tuesday’s election.

Clinton and her allies rushed to shore up support among African-Americans, acknowledging signs of weaker-than-expected turnout in early vote data. That has raised a red flag about diminished enthusiasm that could spell trouble for Democrats up and down the ballot.

The Democrat was due to campaign in Pennsylvania and Michigan on Friday, states long considered Democratic strongholds. She’s been pounding Trump for his record on race, accusing him of tacitly encouraging support from white supremacists.

“He has spent this entire campaign offering a dog whistle to his most hateful supporters,” Clinton said at a rally in Greenville, North Carolina.

The Democrat got a boost Friday in the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report which showed the unemployment rate declined to 4.9 percent while wages went up in October. It’s the sort of news that might nudge voters to continue current economic policies, as Clinton has promised.

But this campaign has rarely seemed to hinge on policy. The big personalities on both sides have overshadowed more nuanced questions. Heading into the final days, both campaigns are presenting the choice as a crossroads for democracy.

For Trump, that means zeroing in on questions about Clinton’s trustworthiness and a new FBI review of an aide’s emails. Trump warned Thursday that never-ending investigations would prevent his Democratic opponent from governing effectively, speaking directly to voters who may be reluctant Trump supporter but are also repelled by the possible return to Washington of Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

“Here we go again with the Clintons – you remember the impeachment and the problems,” Trump said Thursday at a rally in Jacksonville, Florida. “That’s not what we need in our country, folks. We need someone who is ready to go to work.”

In spite of a close race in national polling, Trump’s path to victory remained narrow. He must win Florida to win the White House, which polls show remains a neck-and-neck race. Early voting has surged in the state. The number of early voters so far, 5.26 million, has already exceeded the overall early voting figure for 2012, and voting will continue this weekend. Republicans have a very narrow edge in ballots cast.

North Carolina also has emerged as critical state for Trump – in part because of early signs that African-American turnout there is lagging.

Both campaigns are so focused on the two states, the candidate and allies have been nearly running into each other at airports. Trump tweeted about gazing at Air Force One at the Miami airport Thursday, using the moment to rip President Barack Obama for campaigning instead of governing.

Both candidates are leaning on surrogates to help carry their message. While Clinton rallies voters in Pittsburgh and Detroit, Obama was to campaign Friday in North Carolina. Bill Clinton was headed to Colorado and Vice President Joe Biden was due in Wisconsin, both states Clinton was believed to have locked up weeks ago. Clinton planned to end her day at a get-out-the-vote rally in Cleveland, using hip-hop artist Jay-Z to draw young people to her cause.

On Thursday, she campaigned with former primary opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders and pop star Pharrell Williams.

Trump was set to headline events Friday in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Ohio, while running mate Mike Pence is visiting Michigan, North Carolina and Florida.

While Trump’s children, Eric and Ivanka Trump, hit the trail Thursday, his wife, Melania, made her first speech in months. She vowed to advocate against cyberbullying if she becomes first lady, although she made no reference to her husband’s frequent use of Twitter to call his opponents “liars” and “crooked.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Mitch Perry Report for 11.2.16 — Hillary Clinton returns to the oldie but goodies in Dade City speech

Remember when Hillary Clinton would invoke Michelle Obama‘s phrase when dealing with Donald Trump that, “When they go low, we go high?”

That was so, oh, I don’t know, October-like.

In Pasco County yesterday, the Democratic presidential nominee spent considerable time tearing apart Trump, invoking his greatest hits of insults as she tries to rally the base in the final week of the campaign.

Clinton dug deep, referring to how The Donald boasted on Howard Stern’s show about how he used to go backstage at beauty pageants to barge in on the women while they were getting dressed.

“He said he did that — he said he did that to ‘inspect’ them. That was his word — and he said, ‘I sort of get away with things like that.’ And sure enough, contestants have come forward to say, ‘Yes, that’s exactly what he did to us.’ Now, as bad as that is, he didn’t just do it at the Miss USA pageant or the Miss Universe pageant. He’s also been accused of doing it at the Miss Teen USA pageant. Contestants say that Donald Trump came in to look at them when they were changing. Some of them were just 15 years old. We cannot hide from this. We’ve got to be willing to face it. This man wants to be president of the United States of America and our First Lady, Michelle Obama, spoke for many of us when she said Donald Trump’s words have shaken her to her core.”

Obviously, talking about policies has never been at the forefront of this campaign, but undoubtedly this will probably be the nature of her oratory over the next six days. Not exactly the soaring rhetoric her team could have intended to be her message in closing out this interminable campaign.

There are reports this morning that Team Clinton and their allies are freaking out about the black vote not being as robust for Clinton so far in early/absentee voting, in comparison to 2008 and 2012.

Message to the rest of planet Earth — Nobody every thought it could be. Barack Obama‘s name on the ballot was revolutionary in 2008, and though much less so in 2012, it still brought out the black vote in unprecedented ways. Did anybody seriously think Clinton was going to match that number?

Clinton remains strong with older blacks, but millennials have never bought into her to the same extent. A friend of mine yesterday questioned the entire premise that Clinton was so popular among blacks. He said, wasn’t that what “they” said took her over the top over Bernie Sanders?

That wasn’t an opinion; that was a fact. Clinton dominated the black vote — a huge demographic in Democratic primaries — over the Vermont-based socialist senator. I’ve argued that if he had made stronger inroads with the African-American community to any extent prior to his unlikely rise over the past year, he might have had a fighting chance at the nomination.

But Clinton, and certainly Sanders, were never going to get a comparable black vote in 2008 or 2012. Not going to happen.

In other news …

One interesting trend in Florida with less than a week before the voting ends is the record vote from the Latino community to date.

SD 18 Democrat Bob Buesing has gone up on TV with his final ad (he says).

David Jolly isn’t giving up on trying to take part of the black vote in St. Petersburg away from Charlie Crist. The CD 13 Republican is airing a new ad that once again goes back in time to the era when his Democratic opponent was known as “Chain-Gang Charlie.”

Former Florida Sen. and Gov. Bob Graham held a conference call yesterday to detail his problems with Amendment 1, the solar power initiative. Graham said its passage could neutralize the Amendment 4 solar power measure that passed by 73 percent in August. A spokesperson for the measure strongly disagrees with him.

Civil engineer Wael Odeh hopes to win a Temple Terrace City Council seat next week, despite a hate-filled letter spread to households in the city last month regarding his character because he is a Muslim.

Newly leaked WikiLeaks emails indicate that while former DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz was all about Hillary Clinton, the feeling among some of her staffers absolutely wasn’t mutual.

Hacked emails show Hillary Clinton camp discussed ousting Debbie Wasserman Schultz for Jennifer Granholm

In July, Debbie Wasserman Schultz abruptly resigned as head of the Democratic National Committee, after leaked emails showed party officials conspiring to sabotage the presidential campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Now, a new email message from the Gmail account of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta — posted by WikiLeaks Tuesday — indicate Hillary Clinton, the candidate campaign officials were considered to be in the tank for, also had serious issues with Wasserman Schultz. Clinton’s staff even discussed ousting her well before her unexpected midsummer exit.

On Dec. 17, 2015Clinton staffer Heather Stone sent out a memo titled “DNC Leadership,” to Podesta, Robby Mook, and Sara Latham. It explained in part the Clinton campaign had encountered challenges in working with Wasserman Schultz, calling for “systemic shifts at the DNC Leadership Level” to facilitate a better working relationship:

Though we have reached a working arrangement with them, our dealings with Party leadership have been marked by challenges, often requiring multiple meetings and phone calls to resolve relatively simple matters.  We are frequently caught in the middle of poor communication and a difficult relationship between the Chairwoman and the Executive Director. Moreover, leadership at the Committee has been slow to respond to structural challenges within their own operation that could have real impact on our campaign, such as research.

Jen O’Malley Dillon has entered into a contract with the DNC as a consultant for the General Election, which addresses some of these challenges and provides a connection for us within the Party. However, this arrangement does not change the need for systemic shifts at the DNC leadership level — to ensure that we have strategic and operational partners within the Committee that can help drive a program and deliver on our General Election imperatives.

The memo also said the intention should be to keep Wasserman Schultz as DNC chair up until July’s National Convention. After the convention, however, “we should consider three models for the DNC chairmanship:”

Three options discussed would be:

— Keep Wasserman Schultz  and “work through a chief of staff.” Wasserman Schultz would have been no more than a figurehead in this capacity, the memo states.

— Keep Wasserman Schultz in the position, but select someone like former Michigan Gov.

 Jennifer Granholm as a “General Election Chair.” In that situation, the chief of staff would work with the General Election Chair, while Wasserman Schultz played the role as a chief surrogate. This didn’t seem likely to work, however, as Stone wrote that, “This model has the considerable drawback of creating a two-headed monster with little clarity of who is responsible for different areas of work within the Committee.”

— Oust Wasserman Schultz outright for Granholm. “Under this scenario, the convention would represent Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz’s final responsibility to the DNC, and we would use the convention as a clean break between chairs,” wrote Stone. “At the convention, we would honor the Chairwoman’s leadership and service to the Party and introduce the new Chair for the final phase of the campaign.”

As it turned out, leaked WikiLeaks emails were released the weekend before the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in late July, prompting an outcry among Sanders delegates who always believed Wasserman Schultz was biased for Clinton in her position at the DNC.

The uproar was so great, Wasserman Schultz quit the Sunday afternoon before the convention, ultimately replaced by Donna Brazile.

Brazile recently left CNN under dubious circumstances following another WikiLeaks release indicating that, while at CNN, she may have passed along a question to Clinton before a debate.

Moments to remember — or try to forget — from Campaign 2016

Every presidential race has its big moments. This one, more than most.

A look back at some of the historic, amusing and cringe-inducing events of Campaign 2016.

There are plenty more where these came from. Play along at home and think about what you would add to the list.

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GOING DOWN?

Donald Trump‘s long ride down the escalator at Trump Tower to announce his presidential bid in June 2015 wasn’t huge news at the time. It only merited a page 16 story in his hometown newspaper, The New York Times. But his 45-minute speech laid out a road map for the next 500 days. It had denunciations of rapists from Mexico, the promise to build a border wall, complaints that the United States doesn’t win anymore, assertions that the U.S. should have taken Iraq’s oil before the Islamic State group got it, criticism of President Barack Obama‘s health law, pledges to get lost jobs back from China and elsewhere, rants against “stupid” trade deals and many more themes Trump has hammered on ever since.

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RAISE YOUR HAND

Trump jolted the first Republican debate in August 2015 when he was the sole candidate among 10 men on the stage to raise his hand to signal he wouldn’t pledge to support the eventual GOP nominee. The best he could offer: “I can totally make the pledge if I’m the nominee.” (The GOP field was so crowded then that seven more Republican candidates were relegated to an undercard debate.) This was the same debate where Trump mixed it up with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly over his history of intemperate comments about women, foreshadowing a running campaign theme. Trump answered Kelly’s question about whether he was part of the “war on women” with a riff against political correctness.

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THOSE ‘DAMN EMAILS’

Hillary Clinton got a gift from Bernie Sanders in the first Democratic debate in October 2015 when he seconded her dismay at all the focus on her use of a private email setup as secretary of state. “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails,” Sanders said. That took some air out of the controversy but it never fully went away. Then in June, FBI Director James Comey announced he would not recommend charges against Clinton over the email issue, but said she and her aides had been “extremely careless” in handling classified information. The issue took on new life when the FBI announced just 11 days before the election that it was investigating whether there is classified information in newly discovered emails. Trump called it “bigger than Watergate.”

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SMALL HANDS. EWW.

A Republican debate this past March strayed into cringe-inducing territory when Trump brought up GOP rival Marco Rubio‘s mocking reference to his “small hands” and then volunteered some reassurance about the size of his genitals. Trump told his debate audience and millions of TV viewers, “He referred to my hands, if they’re small, something else must be small. I guarantee you, There’s no problem, I guarantee.” The arbiters of good taste had a problem with that.

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CEILING: SHATTERED

She wore white, the color of suffragettes. Clinton stood before voters at the Democrats’ Philadelphia convention in July and at last claimed the presidential nomination of a major party for women. “I’m so happy this day has come,” she told cheering supporters. “Happy for grandmothers and little girls and everyone in between. Happy for boys and men, too. Because when any barrier falls in America, for anyone, it clears the way for everyone.” Clinton had finally shattered that “glass ceiling” she cracked in the 2008 campaign.

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THE ‘DEPLORABLES’

Clinton drew laughter when she told supporters at a private fundraiser in September that half of Trump supporters could be lumped into a “basket of deplorables” — denouncing them as “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it.” No one was laughing when her remarks became public. Clinton did a partial rollback, saying she’d been “grossly generalistic” and regretted saying the label fit “half” Trump’s supporters. But she didn’t back down from the general sentiment, saying, “He has built his campaign largely on prejudice and paranoia and given a national platform to hateful views and voices.” Soon enough, Trump had the video running in his campaign ads, and his supporters were wearing the “deplorable” label as a badge of honor.

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A REAL STUMBLE

There are always stumbles in a presidential campaign. Clinton took a real one in September when she became overheated while attending a 9/11 memorial service in New York. It turned out she was suffering from pneumonia, a condition she’d hidden from the public and most of her aides. That gave Trump an opening to press his case that Clinton lacks the “stamina” to be president. But she had a sharp rejoinder in the fall debate with Trump, saying: “As soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a cease-fire, a release of dissidents, an opening of new opportunities in nations around the world or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina.”

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‘YOU CAN DO ANYTHING’

Trump’s living-large persona is part of his appeal for many people. But the leaked release in October of a 2005 video in which Trump boasted about groping women’s genitals and kissing them without permission threw his campaign into crisis. Politicians in both parties denounced Trump and some said he should drop out of the race. Trump apologized, but wrote off his videotaped comments as mere “locker-room banter.” He denied engaging in the kind of predatory activity he’d laughed about. But a string of women came forward to say he’d made unwanted sexual advances toward them.

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HE WENT THERE

Trump toyed throughout the campaign with bringing up allegations about Bill Clinton‘s past sexual misconduct. Trump went there in a big way in October at the second presidential debate, seating three of the former president’s accusers in the front row for the faceoff. “Bill Clinton was abusive to women,” Trump said. “Hillary Clinton attacked those same women and attacked them viciously.”

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HE WOULDN’T GO THERE

As Trump’s standing in the polls faltered, he cranked up his claims that the election was being rigged against him. Asked in the final presidential debate if he would accept the results of the election, Trump refused to go there. Pressed on the matter by the debate moderator, Trump said: “I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense.” It was a startling statement that raised uncertainty about the peaceful transfer of power after the election. Even the Republican National Committee disavowed Trump’s statement.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Tim Canova political group calls for Florida constitutional amendments on open primaries, redistricting commission in 2018

Tim Canova wasn’t kidding when he said he was going to stay involved in the political process following his loss to Debbie Wasserman Schultz in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District.

The progressive Democrat announced the creation of a political and community action group last month called “Progress For All,” that he said would “will harness the power of our movement.”

He now says the group is “making plans” for a series of referendums on the November 2018 ballot, some of which other activists have been working for years to try to get on the ballot.

The five referendums Progress For All is calling for are:

— Open primaries in which everyone can vote for any candidate, regardless of party. The top two finishers in the primary, regardless of party, then square off against each other in the general election.

— Creation of a Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission to prevent partisan “gerrymandering” to create safe, uncompetitive legislative districts.

— Limiting contributions to Super PACs to $5,000.  This would rein in the corrupting influence of big money in our politics and provide the Supreme Court with an opportunity to overturn Citizens United (That’s an initiative that the St. Petersburg City Council is voting on Thursday).

— Election integrity to ensure they are transparent and verifiable. That would include paper ballots counted by hand in public, as is presently done throughout European democracies.

— Overturning felony disenfranchisement. Unfortunately, the failed war on drugs, mass incarceration, and the New Jim Crow have resulted in millions of American citizens being deprived of their right to vote for the rest of their lives, often for nonviolent felonies committed years ago.

Groups were formed in recent years to try to get amendments on open primaries and the automatic restoration of voting rights for ex-felons on this year’s ballot, to no avail.

As has been shown in recent years on issues like medical marijuana and solar power, such citizen-led initiatives require millions — in some cases, tens of millions — of dollars to get on the ballot.

“Together these reforms would remake our politics in Florida and provide a model for progressive reform throughout our country,” Canova said in a statement. “To get these referendums on the ballot in 2018, we must begin now. There’s no time to delay. State referendums require the gathering of hundreds of thousands of signatures on petitions and canvassing of voters to get our message out.

“This is exactly how we were so successful in our recent campaign against Debbie Wasserman Schultz. We created a huge grassroots movement on the ground that knocked on 10,000 doors a week and, in the face of enormous odds, got us within striking distance.”

When it was announced last month, Progress For All said they would be limited to small donations and would reject contributions from any corporate-funded political action committees.

Canova, a Nova Southeastern law professor, had never run for political office before he took on Wasserman Schultz in the Democratic primary earlier this year. His insurgent campaign against the then-Democratic National Committee Chair inspired the same progressive voters around the nation who rallied around Bernie Sanders’ presidential candidacy, though he ended up losing by 14 percentage points.

Earlier this week, an award-winning report published a statistical analysis of Canova’s race against Wasserman Schultz. At a news conference in Washington, Lulu Fries’dat raised concerns that the contest’s electronic voting machines might have been “manipulated.”

 

Joe Henderson: Hillary Clinton, Citizens United and ‘never-ending’ thirst for cash

One of the themes of Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the presidency has been her opposition to Citizens United.

From the podium, she preaches that she doesn’t like the idea of the wealthy few using their money to buy influence over policies that determine the future for the rest of us. She says he wants to overturn that controversial ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that has allowed our politics to be bartered out to the uber rich.

Well, OK.

She says all that, but then The Washington Post reported Sunday that her campaign raised $1.14 billion by the end of September. More than a fifth of that came from just 100 donors.

The top five donors, the Post reported, included two hedge fund managers and one venture capitalist. Combined, they have contributed one out of every $17 Clinton raised. And as you read on SaintPetersBlog.com, Hillary will be in Florida Tuesday for what has been billed as “the largest fundraising event” in Florida’s history.

Got $100,000 laying around? Donate it, and you can take part in a special host reception with HRC. For a mere $5,000, you get dinner and reception.

With two weeks to go and Hillary way out in front of Donald Trump in the polls, this might seem like the political equivalent of running up the score on an overmatched opponent. The bigger question is, how much is enough to quench Clinton’s never-ending thirst for money?

And the biggest question is, what does that money buy? Look, the news business has allowed me to get to know some really rich people, and they have one thing in common: When they invest this kind of money, they expect something in return.

Just follow the trail of breadcrumbs or, in this case, the dollar bills and see where it leads.

Trump’s donors are the same way, of course, so let’s not pretend Clinton’s voracious appetite for dollars is unique. But whether he actually believes his words or not, Trump has made a good case with the “quid pro quo” label he has tried to stick on Clinton.

Trump rose to the Republican nomination on the winds of disgusted Americans who feel locked out of the political process by the wealthy. They believe the game is rigged against them. That same theme inspired Bernie Sanders’ campaign.

That attitude isn’t likely to change after the election.

Clinton’s supporters squirm a little uncomfortably when the subject is money. No one is being naïve, though. It takes a lot of cash to run a national campaign. She is running for president of the most powerful nation on earth, not a seat on the county commission or school board.

The great Bobby Bowden once said of a freshman player who leaped into his arms on the sideline during an over-exuberant moment, “Recruiting season is over. He’s got to stop calling me Bobby.”

Hillary Clinton is recruiting America now, and by most accounts, she is doing such a good job that even Trump’s closest surrogates concede she is likely to win.

But next Jan. 20, when we start calling her Madam President instead of Hillary and it comes time to make good on her posturing against Wall Street and Citizens United, the big players will be in the background, expecting the return on their investments.

What then? Too often in politics, the answer is that you get what you pay for.

For Hillary Clinton, struggle to change public perception persists

Hillary Clinton bested Donald Trump in three debates. She leads in many preference polls of the most competitive states. Barring a significant shift in the next two weeks, she is in a strong position to become the first woman elected U.S. president.

But Clinton will end the campaign still struggling to change the minds of millions of voters who don’t think well of her, a glaring liability should the Democratic nominee move on to the White House.

While many see her as better prepared to be commander in chief than Trump, she is consistently viewed unfavorably by more than half of the country. Most voters also consider her dishonest.

Clinton’s advisers have spent months trying to erase that perception. They’ve set up small events where she had more intimate conversations with voters. They’ve tested a seemingly endless stream of messages aimed at assuring the public that the former secretary of state was in the race to do more than fulfill her own political ambitions.

As Clinton starts making her closing argument to voters, her team appears to have come to terms that the mission remains unfulfilled.

“Honest and trustworthy has become our most talked about metric because it’s not great,” said Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s communications director. “But we’ve never thought it’s the metric people make a decision on.”

If Clinton wins, that theory may be proven true.

Just 36 percent of voters believe Clinton is honest and trustworthy, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll. That’s compared with about 60 percent who believe she has the qualifications and temperament to be commander in chief.

The public’s perception of Clinton has bounced up and down throughout her time in public life. Her favorability rating fell below 50 percent at times during her years as first lady, but rose to its high water mark then and while she was as secretary of state under President Barack Obama.

Democrats blame some of the current negative personal perceptions of Clinton on the hard-charging tactics she’s used to try to discredit Trump, though they believe her sustained assault on Trump’s character and temperament has been crucial.

Party operatives also say Trump’s personal attacks on Clinton have made it all but impossible for more positive messages to break through. He’s called her a “liar,” a “nasty woman” and pledged to put her in jail.

“When you’re under relentless assault from a reality TV star, it’s hard to come out of that with anybody feeling good about anyone,” said Bill Burton, a former Obama aide.

Still, Clinton’s advisers acknowledge that some of her troubles have been of her own making, including her penchant for privacy.

She’s spent nearly the entire campaign struggling to explain why she used a private email server in the basement of her home while she led the State Department. She hid a pneumonia diagnosis this fall from nearly all of her senior staff, then left the public unaware of her condition and whereabouts for 90 minutes after the illness caused her to rush out of a public event in New York.

“She is a politician that does not seek to be the center of attention and is inherently more private than most politicians, certainly presidential candidates,” Palmieri said. “That doesn’t always serve you great in a campaign for president.”

Clinton frequently shoots down questions about the public’s negative perceptions by saying she’s viewed more positively when she’s doing a job rather than running for one. There’s some evidence to back that up.

When she ran for re-election to the Senate from New York in 2006, she won with 67 percent of the vote, a big jump from the 55 percent share from her first race in 2000. Her approval rating when she left the State Department, where her job kept her out of day-to-day politics, sat at an enviable 65 percent, according to the Pew Research Center.

But if Clinton is elected president, she won’t have the luxury she had as secretary of state to stay away from the political fray — with Republicans in Washington in the opposition, and possibly Trump, too.

The businessman keeps flirting with the idea he could contest the election results if he loses. There are also persistent rumors that, if he loses, he might try to harness the enthusiasm of his millions of supporters into some type of media venture.

“The notion that Trump is going to go quietly into the night and wish her Godspeed is highly unlikely,” said David Axelrod, another former Obama adviser. “She’s going to have to contend with that and whatever it is he chooses to make his vehicle.”

Clinton has begun acknowledging the challenge that could await her in the White House, if she wins, centering her closing argument to voters on a call for unity after a bitter campaign.

“My name may be on the ballot, but the question really is who are we as a country, what are our values, what kind of a future do we want to create together,” she said Friday at a rally in Ohio.

Some Democrats see the transition — the two-month-plus stretch between the Nov. 8 election and the Jan. 20 inauguration — as a crucial opportunity for her to signal, if she wins, that a Clinton White House would be different from a Clinton campaign.

In a nod to bipartisanship, she could nominate a Republican for her Cabinet. Clinton could start moving on some of her more broadly popular policy proposals as a way of boosting her appeal, assuming no crisis demands immediate action.

Still, Axelrod said changing the public’s view of Clinton will be a “long-term project.”

“There’s no silver bullet to turn around years of wear and tear on her image,” he said.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Marco Rubio presidential campaign owes $1.5M in debt

Marco Rubio might be running for re-election, but his presidential campaign is still more than $1 million in the red.

Campaign finance records filed with the Federal Election Commission show Rubio’s presidential campaign had more than $1.5 million in debt as of Sept. 30. The sum includes the costs of telemarketing services, media production, and legal fees.

According to campaign finance records, the presidential campaign owed $570,657 for telemarketing; $315,000 for media production; $167,000 for legal fees; $350,000 for strategic consulting; and $130,000 for web services.

It may seem like a lot, but the campaign has continued to whittle down its outstanding debt each reporting period. Records show the presidential campaign had more than $1.9 million in debt at the end of March.

Rubio ended his presidential bid in March, after he came in second to Donald Trump in Florida’s presidential preference primary. He announced he was running for re-election in June, just days before the qualifying deadline.

It’s not unusual for presidential campaigns to carry debt well after the race is over. In May, the Wall Street Journal reported former presidential hopefuls owed more than $5.4 million.

Paying down the debt could take years. According to the Wall Street Journal, Hillary Clinton, now the Democratic nominee, didn’t pay off debt for her 2008 presidential campaign until 2012.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is still trying to pay down the debt from his 2012 presidential bid. According to the most recent campaign filing, Gingrich still owed $4.6 million for his 2012 campaign.

Rubio isn’t the only 2016 hopeful whose campaign is still carrying some debt.

Campaign finance records filed with the Federal Election Commission show Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign owed $368,063 through Aug. 31; while Bernie Sanders, a 2016 Democratic presidential hopeful, owed $472,011 at the end of August.

Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign owed $250,000, down from $452,065 at the end of February. Bush ended his presidential bid after the South Carolina primary. Meanwhile, Chris Christie’s campaign still owes $170,505; while Rand Paul’s presidential campaign owes $301,107.

Libertarian’s Gary Johnson has never been the typical politician

Ronald Reagan won a historic landslide victory in the 1984 election, taking 49 of 50 states. But he failed to win the vote of a young Republican businessman in New Mexico whose willingness to go against the political grain has made him this presidential campaign’s X-factor.

Outraged at the GOP president’s budget deficits, Gary Johnson for the first time voted for the Libertarian candidate. Ten years later, Johnson became New Mexico’s governor, and was known for vetoing bill after bill before he became a national curiosity for advocating legalized marijuana.

Now, at age 63, he’s the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee, a marijuana-promoting fitness aficionado who summited Mount Everest and now climbs a political mountain with tough odds of reaching the top.

Though Johnson has grabbed more attention for his stance on drugs and difficulty answering foreign-policy questions, fiscal conservatism remains his animating force.

“I always pushed the envelope,” said Johnson, who’s proposed deep cuts to military and other government spending as well as elimination of the federal departments of Homeland Security, Commerce, Education, and Housing and Urban Development. “I wasn’t a wallflower when I was governor and I do think government spends too much money in areas that don’t make a big difference in people’s lives.”

Before he came out for legalizing marijuana shortly after his re-election as New Mexico governor in 1998, Johnson was nicknamed “Governor Veto.” He piled up a record 700-plus vetoes during his two terms in Santa Fe. Admirers liked his dedication to limiting the size of government. Detractors considered him narrow-minded and incurious about the outside world.

“He just does not believe government should be involved in dealing with social problems,” said state Sen. Jerry Pino y Ortiz, who ran two social service agencies during Johnson’s administration and feels the former governor let down his achingly poor state. “It’s like the dad who’s proud that his kid gets by on the smallest allowance at school, but the kid’s shoes have holes in them.”

Rod Adair is a Republican political strategist and former state lawmaker who agrees with Johnson’s small-government philosophy. The problem, Adair said, is that the former governor knows relatively little beyond that.

He says Johnson prefers to focus on his obsessive fitness routine — he’s an ultramarathoner and triathelete who summited Mount Everest in 2003 after leaving office as governor— rather than learn about unfamiliar areas like foreign policy.

“Running for president, I don’t care where you’re governor, it’s very different and you need to have a degree of intellectual curiosity,” Adair said. “He doesn’t have that.”

Supporters and admirers in New Mexico agree that Johnson was an unusual politician. He didn’t horse trade or hold grudges, they say, and was generally direct and honest.

Those are attributes that have won him an unusually wide swath of support in the current presidential race, helping him appeal both to some disaffected liberal Bernie Sanders voters and more traditional libertarians.

He and running mate Bill Weld, Massachusetts’ former GOP governor, are the only third-party ticket on the ballot in all 50 states

Johnson has fallen short of the 15 percent threshold in national polling needed to enter the presidential debates, polling at about 8 percent for several months. If he receives 5 percent of the vote in November, that would be a bonanza for the Libertarian Party, assuring it of a valuable place on state ballots in the 2020 election.

Johnson’s deer-in-the-headlights response to a question from a television interviewer about what he’d do to deal with the crisis in the Syrian city of Aleppo — “What’s Aleppo?” — earned him derision in September, though he quickly apologized.

Weeks later, Democrats feared Johnson was pulling enough young voters from [Hillary] Clinton to throw some swing states to [Donald] Trump. Johnson’s campaign put out a lengthy statement urging Republicans disgusted with Trump’s taped boasts about forcing himself on women to vote Libertarian instead.

Johnson says he’s happy to criticize Clinton, even though his running mate says his focus is solely on Trump.

In an interview at a hotel near his Santa Fe home, Johnson predicted the national debt would more than double to $50 trillion should Clinton implement her various plans. She’s proposed spending that would be paid for by $1.4 trillion in tax increases on the wealthy. Johnson said those would doom the economy.

“If those tax hikes go through, I think the recession of 2008 is mild by comparison,” Johnson said.

Johnson was born in North Dakota, but his father moved the family to New Mexico when the future governor was 13. Raised by a school teacher and an accountant for the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, Johnson founded a construction company while he was still at the University of New Mexico. The firm grew and became a major contractor on Intel’s chip factory in Albuquerque, making Johnson his fortune.

In 1994 he entered a competitive four-way Republican primary for governor.

Johnson squeaked through with just over 30 percent of the primary vote, then defeated an incumbent Democrat whose party was so badly split that his own lieutenant governor ran against him.

The new Republican governor confronted a Democratic-controlled legislature and it was ugly.

Johnson vetoed more than half of the bills that came to his desk that first year and kept rejecting ones afterward. “When you have both houses of the legislature in the opposite party you’re always going to have a lot of sparks that fly, especially on financial issues,” said David Harris, Johnson’s longtime finance secretary. “He always applied the same test to everything,” Harris added — veto it “if it didn’t improve the government or it raised taxes.”

Over the years Johnson routinely shot down efforts to create commemorative license plates that would collect extra money for wildlife preservation, firefighters or West Point graduates. He vetoed a proposal for a state holiday recognizing Hispanic labor icon Cesar Chavez. He vetoed a $2 hotel room fee increase in the city of Las Cruces.

He even vetoed the entire budget in his final year only to have the legislature override him.

In the end, Johnson had limited success reining in state spending — the budget still grew from $4.4 billion in his first year to $7.7 billion in his last. But even his critics acknowledge it would have been far higher without him.

“He was just a very results-oriented guy and there’s some utility in his view that doing more does not mean delivering more,” said Doug Turner, who ran Johnson’s re-election race.

Johnson also championed school choice, brought private prisons to the state, implemented managed care in the state’s Medicare program and built a new highway to New Mexico’s western edge. But it was his push to legalize marijuana, announced shortly after his 1998 re-election, that made him famous.

A longtime marijuana user, Johnson said he was persuaded to end the drug war by watching the escalating costs to courts, police and jails from locking up addicts. He wasn’t able to persuade the legislature to decriminalize marijuana but came away with more money for drug treatment programs.

After leaving office, Johnson pushed for marijuana legalization and founded a marijuana branding company. In 2011, he ran for the GOP presidential nomination. But he was largely ignored in the race and switched to the Libertarian ticket. He received 1 percent of the vote in 2012.

Johnson rarely dealt with issues like gay marriage or immigration as governor, but he emphasizes them in this campaign, effectively merging the small-government, non-interventionist libertarianism of Ron Paul with a more socially liberal message.

One of the more emotional moments in his rallies usually comes when he announces that “Black Lives Matter” — often to cheers from the largely white audience — and rattles off statistics about the way the justice system treats African-Americans.

Johnson is also a non-interventionist, one of his greatest areas of difference with Clinton.

He argues that the military could be one-fifth smaller, especially if it pulled back from overseas areas where he says it doesn’t need to be, like Japan. He recently said Syria’s civil war has been worsened by the U.S. arming some of the rebels and said he wouldn’t push for safe zones for civilians in besieged Aleppo, where the U.S. government has accused Russia of targeting civilians to help Syria’s government.

“That’s just opening another conflict with Russia,” Johnson said.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Hillary Clinton brings in Al Gore as closer on climate change

Al Gore laid out the environmental stakes of the presidential race in stark terms during a campaign stop for Hillary Clinton Tuesday, arguing that electing her opponent would lead to “climate catastrophe.”

Vice president during Clinton’s husband’s eight years in the White House and a longtime environmental activist, Gore served as a closer for Clinton on climate change as the Democratic candidate seeks to appeal to activists and to young people, who consider this a key issue.

“The choice in this election is extremely clear. Hillary Clinton will make solving the climate crisis a top national priority,” Gore said, before issuing a strong warning about Republican Donald Trump. “Her opponent, based on the ideas that he has presented, would take us toward a climate catastrophe.”

Gore’s history with Florida, the ultimate swing state, lent extra weight to his appeal to get out and vote. Gore won the popular vote in the 2000 presidential election, but lost the presidency to George W. Bush after a lengthy Florida recount and a shocking Supreme Court decision.

“Your vote really, really, really counts,” he told the crowd, which responded by chanting, “You won!”

Clinton, meanwhile, vigorously emphasized her plans to develop more clean energy, reduce fossil fuel production and build more weather-resistant infrastructure. She also continued her attacks on Trump, who has called climate change a “hoax” and said he would renegotiate the Paris Climate Agreement, an international treaty designed to curb the rise in global temperatures.

“We cannot risk putting a climate denier in the White House,” Clinton said.

During the primary contest against progressive Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton offered clean energy plans and came out against the Keystone XL Pipeline, which is opposed by environmentalists.

“Climate change is one of the issues where the difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is night and day,” said Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon. “For many of the core supporters we are seeking to galvanize in the remaining weeks of the campaign, including young voters, communicating the boldness of her plan is important.”

At the rally was Miami Dade College student Adam Demayo, 24.

“Every beach I go to is polluted,” said Demayo, a former Sanders supporter who said he is reluctantly voting for Clinton. “My children are going to, like, die. I want to dedicate my life to saving the planet.”

The world is on pace for the hottest year on record, breaking marks set in 2015, 2014, and 2010. It is about 1.8 degrees warmer than a century ago. Scientists have also connected man-made climate change to deadly heat waves, droughts and flood-inducing downpours.

Gore explored global warming in his 2006 documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Despite Clinton’s promotion of energy policies aimed at lessening climate change, there has not always been unanimity among her campaign aides about how strong that support should be. A message released Tuesday by WikiLeaks from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta‘s hacked email account shows some aides were not totally on board with Clinton’s promise in June 2015 to raise fees on companies involved in oil exploration and fossil fuel production on federal land.

Clinton had broached the idea at her campaign launch in June 2015, but raising energy royalties could be politically explosive in western states where oil and gas firms have spent billions of dollars on extracting fuels.

In July 2015, campaign speechwriting director Dan Schwerin told Podesta in an email that “I think we’re going to have to make peace with our fossil fuels royalties, since she’s already promised that.”

On July 15, 2015, Clinton said she wanted to raise fees and phase out fuel extraction operating on public lands, but warned it could not be done quickly.

The leaked emails also show a discussion on how Clinton could show her opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. Clinton originally said she shouldn’t take a position on the issue, because she didn’t want to interfere with the Obama administration as it considered whether to approve the project.

By August 2015, Clinton had decided to oppose it and the campaign discussed how to proceed. Wrote Schwerin on August 7, 2015: “We are trying to find a good way to leak her opposition to the pipeline without her having to actually say it and give up her principled stand about not second-guessing the president in public.”

Other emails in September 2015 show a discussion about making her position known in an op-ed column. But Fallon weighed in with concerns that such a move would look like “cynical political maneuvering,” and suggested letting the information leak out after a meeting with labor leaders.

Clinton announced her opposition during a town hall in Iowa later that month, in response to a question from the audience.

Republish with permission of the Associated Press.

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