Road to the White House ’16

 

Road To The White House – Part Two is here for more recent developments…

This page catches up the most recent headline developments in the races for the Democratic and Republican nominations for President. For a more complete backstory, click on the site search for individual terms, i.e.:Presidency – Trump – Clinton SandersGOP Bush – Democrats –(Days with the search term in the headline are displayed first)

(Due to formatting problems on this page – I guess because it’s such a large file – I haven’t been able to import full texts of daily round-ups. I will try a couple of different solutions to maintain the narrative integrity, but I might have to set up a second file. Stay tuned (and use the search – that still seems to work ok).

Trump, Clinton take big leads into Super Tuesday – March 1

Trump Train keeps rolling – Feb 24

Jan 25 – Apres ski, le deluge…

One week until Iowa…

https://twitter.com/NewYorker/status/691593444083503104

https://twitter.com/thehill/status/691644953789894656

https://twitter.com/AdvanceGuyNotes/status/691642512344256512

https://twitter.com/NateSilver538/status/691315142349459456

https://twitter.com/POLITICOMag/status/691645216244305920

***

Jan 20 – Palin endorsement sets scene for final Iowa squirmish

The GOP primary campaign continued its metamorphosis into full-blown reality show as former Alaska Governor and 2008 Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin endorsed Donald Trump at a rally in Ames, Iowa. The state casts the first votes in the parties’ nominating contests on February 1st.

During an enthusiastic, yet rambling speech that observers variously described as “post-apocalyptic poetry” or “cut-up Dadaist text” Trump occasionally looked uncomfortable as Tea Party favorite Palin rallied Conservatives with a string of right-wing buzzwords, as well as some words she appeared to have made up herself.

 

Jan 15, 2016

With actual voters now just days away from casting actual votes, the GOP’s presidential hopefuls held another televised debate.

It wasn’t pretty.

https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/687970009855967232

There’s a full transcript here.

https://twitter.com/guardian/status/687978548674572288

https://twitter.com/Newsweek/status/687957407536775168

The New York Daily News took exception to Ted Cruz’s attack on Donald Trump’s “New York values.”

nydnted

Don’t worry, there’s still a long way to go..

https://twitter.com/TheEconomist/status/687907051801079808

***

Jan 13 2016 – In valedictory address, Obama counter campaign rhetoric

https://twitter.com/BarackObama/status/686966611064926208

President Obama began his “long goodbye” from office when he delivered his final State of the Union address to Congress.

https://twitter.com/rollcall/status/687241444629725184

https://twitter.com/thegarance/status/687140617961484288

https://twitter.com/gov/status/687126643899416578

It seemed to go down well..

https://twitter.com/jimsciutto/status/687128134211207168

With just nineteen days until Iowa hosts the first nominating contest in the race to succeed him, the President appeared at times to be directly responding to some of the more inflammatory rhetoric from the campaign trail..

https://twitter.com/GuardianUS/status/687248748280451072

https://twitter.com/TPM/status/687116973977788416

https://twitter.com/politico/status/687124434747015168

outlined the challenges that remain..

https://twitter.com/thehill/status/687248004961665024

https://twitter.com/sciam/status/687182352250830848

and, yet again, appealed to our better nature as citizens to rescue a broken civic discourse.

https://twitter.com/CQnow/status/687250337338507264

https://twitter.com/gov/status/687118397751058433

https://twitter.com/cnni/status/687219288835538944

Many responses were pretty much as you’d expect.

https://twitter.com/USATODAY/status/687243965712699392

https://twitter.com/dankennedy_nu/status/687250695695822848

https://twitter.com/WashingtonDCTea/status/687243121109917696

https://twitter.com/WashTimes/status/687058452988968960

https://twitter.com/GrrrGraphics/status/687098115824865281

https://twitter.com/TPM/status/687132702705844224

https://twitter.com/FoxNews/status/687117226202247168

https://twitter.com/andersonDrLJA/status/687124621615697920

at least the “official” GOP response seemed to be more measured

https://twitter.com/kausmickey/status/687117933164642305

https://twitter.com/froomkin/status/687116273763921920

In the end, although the attacks were intense, the fond images of a departing leader were many.

https://twitter.com/NBCNews/status/687115642042884100

https://twitter.com/mashable/status/687117634362576896

https://twitter.com/ABC/status/687119390056169472

***

8 JANUARY 2016

Donald Trump’s rally last night in Bernie Sanders’ hometown of Burlington, Vermont – where 20,000 tickets were distributed for a venue holding 1,400 – went pretty much as you’d expect…

https://twitter.com/mashable/status/685290001542823937

https://twitter.com/MichaelCBender/status/685448774051704832

https://twitter.com/maggieNYT/status/685272559273787392

https://twitter.com/Bencjacobs/status/685469473642426368

https://twitter.com/thehill/status/685459959220432896

https://twitter.com/Salon/status/685449398264967169

meanwhile,

https://twitter.com/thehill/status/685471276023025665

***

7 JANUARY 2016

Quite the cover on the new issue of Time magazine…

TimeJan10

Donald Trump threatened to pull his investments out of the UK after the British parliament said it is to debate a petition banning him from the country.

https://twitter.com/ReutersPolitics/status/685066680532373504

https://twitter.com/ezraklein/status/684622432980856832

Meanwhile, things are heating up in the countdown to Iowa (Feb 1st) between Trump and who now seems to be the coalescing candidate, Ted Cruz.

https://twitter.com/jaketapper/status/684836908896260097

https://twitter.com/politico/status/685004162652848129

 

https://twitter.com/politico/status/681224805799079936

trumpage(AP/Talking Points Memo)

Trump’s reality show turns US politics on its head (December 28, 2015)

As we head into a US election year, like it or not (and there are plenty of people in both camps) the extent to which a presidential contest has been dominated by a single person – moreover, a non-politician – is completely unprecedented.

At times, witnessing Donald Trump’s pursuit of the Republican nomination has been like watching some kind of surreal reality show. It’s not unusual to be both fascinated and appalled at the same time.

When the real estate mogul entered the race in June, his campaign was seen by many as a kind of comic relief amid what’s often an all-too serious process. And certainly, his presence has given the nation’s comedians a seemingly endless well of material.

But now, with little over a month to go until the first actual votes are cast, Trump has been solidifying his position as front-runner and people are talking about him as the party’s likely nominee. Even Vladimir Putin likes him, while a mash-up of Trump with Darth Vader made him seem less, well, Vader-esque.

The key political question is why do roughly 40 per cent of potential Republican voters support him?

The short answer is that people are angry and scared, and so far, they’re largely uninspired by their other options.

The recent Republican debate in Las Vegas – the last before the start of the election year and one of the most-watched primary debates ever – was dominated by terrorism and national security. There’s no doubt the attacks in Paris and then in San Bernardino have changed the nature of the race. On the day of the debate, even, the entire Los Angeles school district was shut down after an unspecified threat.

People are on edge and Trump has successfully tapped into it.

National polls ahead of the debate showed him with his biggest lead among Republican primary voters yet – but also that two-thirds of voters are “concerned or frightened” by the idea of a Trump presidency.

Those polls were the first since the candidate’s controversial call to ban muslims from entering the US “until our representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”

Make no mistake, while his pronouncements might seem knee-jerk – one thing his supporters consistently say is appealing about him is that he “speaks his mind” – he knows exactly what he’s doing. Such a statement could have meant the end of the road for a different candidate. For him, it sent his poll numbers up.

But there have been other supposed “turning points” in Trump’s campaign, where all that became clear was that he isn’t subject to the same rules. As cartoonist Tom Tomorrow says in a strip for The Nation, “the traditional laws of cause and effect no longer apply.”

For his Republican opponents, the big challenge now is attacking him without alienating the people who’re supporting him. And that might be a bridge too far for the party.

Jeb Bush was long regarded as the establishment favorite, and his fundraising initially far outstripped the rest of the field. Yet at the debate, a measure of Jeb’s desperation was that one of the first things out of his mouth was to call Trump a “chaos candidate who would be a chaos president,” saying Trump wasn’t going to be able to “insult his way to the Presidency.”

Trump’s response? “No-one cares about Jeb’s campaign.”

In an exchange which one commentator compared to two old guys arguing over a parking spot, the front-runner emphasized that the brother of the most recent Republican president was currently sitting at just 3 per cent in the polls.

With Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio doing battle over immigration and another non-politician, Ben Carson, slipping back (according to Vanity Fair, Carson’s “biggest foe seemed to be his own disinterest”) Rand Paul (polling at around 4 per cent) used the debate to challenge the notion of Trump as a serious candidate – saying he “would defy every norm that is America.”

The one piece of real-ish news Trump made was appearing to rule out an independent candidacy – the party establishment’s big fear – saying he was committed to running as a Republican. At least, while he’s winning…

Pundits will say these are early polls – there’s still a year to go until election day – and there are still plenty of “undecideds.” But the first serious votes are cast in a few weeks, and if Trump is able to win the first string of nominating contests – even though that’s still far from certain – his momentum might well prove too much for some in the overcrowded field.

On the Democratic side, in case you’d forgotten there was a race there too, Hillary Clinton – still the expected nominee – and Bernie Sanders both have strong support in the early states, although a spat over voter data could still have some impact on the races.

One of the most telling statistics of the race so far – showing that Trump has received 23 times the amount of media coverage as Sanders – reflects how the public could be forgiven for thinking the show is all about one man.

So, how is this all going to play itself out ?

The first votes of the year are at the caucuses in Iowa on February 1st and the primary in New Hampshire on the 9th. Obviously, in the sort of race this is becoming, anything can happen; but Trump certainly doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere, at least for now.

It’s going to be a fascinating few months. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, here’s the highlights – if that’s even the right word – of the past year…

15 DECEMBER 2015

https://twitter.com/ThisWeekABC/status/676777415511797761

On the eve of tonight’s CNN Republican debate, a Monmouth poll shows Donald Trump with his biggest lead yet over the rest of the field, and breaking 40 per cent for the first time (even if a week ago, he wasn’t sure what a “monmouth” was…)

https://twitter.com/voxdotcom/status/676744773022015489

https://twitter.com/Slate/status/676705626819600384

https://twitter.com/BetteMidler/status/676537768139468800

Meanwhile…

https://twitter.com/TPM/status/676757951185616896

***

12 DECEMBER 2015

The first opinion polls after Donald Trump’s “ban muslims” comments showed his lead solidifying.

https://twitter.com/Reuters/status/675413783263756289

https://twitter.com/politico/status/675202933005410304

https://twitter.com/Slate/status/675493294693072896

***

9 DECEMBER 2015 – Britain ‘won’t ban Trump’

https://twitter.com/MattChorley/status/674652358773768193

The British government said it would not take steps to ban Donald Trump from entering the country after more than 300,000 people signed a petition urging them to do so on grounds of promoting “hate speech”. The GOP front-runner compounded his recent statements on muslims entering the US by saying that there are areas of London that are “so radicalised the police are afraid for their lives”.

Senior police officials rejected the assertion, although somehow the Daily Mail was able to find some differing opinions..

London Mayor Boris Johnson responded that:

“I think he’s betraying a quite stupefying ignorance that makes him frankly unfit to hold the office of president of the United States”

before giving this great soundbite:

https://twitter.com/Reuters/status/674620804877938689

Meanwhile, coverage in the US of Trump’s latest pronouncement has become significantly more acute.

The New York Daily News continued its recent run of stunning fronts:

https://twitter.com/voxdotcom/status/674623335460823041

As Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post writes, the Philadelphia Daily News “goes there” in its front page.

https://twitter.com/ajplus/status/674264493384339456

https://twitter.com/Ankaman616/status/674199960343199744

Trump did pick up some support, though…

https://twitter.com/rupertmurdoch/status/674325164163772417

The Concord Monitor, in the early primary state of New Hampshire, run a WaPo story saying that what’s happening “isn’t chaos, it’s a campaign strategy.”

Trump uses his Instagram account, which has more than 650,000 followers, to deliver snarky messages and short videos of him scowling as he delivers pronouncements from his Trump Tower desk. On Twitter, Trump’s 5 million followers can keep up with his next appearance (“Will be on ABC News tonight at 6:30 pm”) and new poll numbers (“Just won IOWA CNN Poll BIG”). Trump has posted more than 6,000 tweets since launching his campaign in June.

***

7 DECEMBER 2015 – ‘..an ever-escalating series of outrages’

Trumpstatement

Aware that controversial statements in the recent past have made his poll numbers rise, Donald Trump came out with – yet another – breathtaking headshaker on Monday.

https://twitter.com/Bencjacobs/status/674009300117794816

https://twitter.com/petridishes/status/674010705549467649

https://twitter.com/brianbeutler/status/674007240546873344

Democratic adviser David Axelrod called Trump’s campaign “..an ever-escalating torrent of outrages.” while other candidates went further:

https://twitter.com/NYTnickc/status/673990330375528448

https://twitter.com/jaketapper/status/674009726489858048

https://twitter.com/MrWalterShapiro/status/673981485607710723

https://twitter.com/DylanByers/status/674004194315993088

https://twitter.com/nprpolitics/status/673991042337648640

https://twitter.com/splcenter/status/673990431026221056

https://twitter.com/WillMcAvoyACN/status/673997424986222592

But of course, the circus as ever cries out for its clown..

https://twitter.com/brianstelter/status/673996795710689281

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post finally folded on it’s “entertainment” label for the Trump campaign.

***

1 DECEMBER 2015 – The rise and rise of the Trumpire

So, we haven’t looked in on the Republican primary for a while…

And, maybe that’s a good thing.

https://twitter.com/thehill/status/671729746405888000

https://twitter.com/froomkin/status/671711798417080320

https://twitter.com/Hadas_Gold/status/671466388310093825

https://twitter.com/TheDailyShow/status/671833656621719552

Meanwhile…

https://twitter.com/TheFix/status/671806586013294594

https://twitter.com/Milbank/status/671890875413364736

https://twitter.com/BostonGlobe/status/671918015131361280

or maybe not…

https://twitter.com/BuzzFeedAndrew/status/671874038575276032

and then…

https://twitter.com/politico/status/671965515439611904

https://twitter.com/PaulBegala/status/671782968508084224

https://twitter.com/dankennedy_nu/status/671748684560867331

***

13 NOVEMBER 2015

The ‘turning point’ for Donald Trump’s campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination has been predicted so often in past weeks and months that it would seem unwise to do so again. Yet the combination of three stories in the past 48 hours may indicate that a tipping point may have been reached.

https://twitter.com/JillDLawrence/status/665015179357351936

https://twitter.com/TheFix/status/665015970117713920

https://twitter.com/sarahw/status/664839543187750912

https://twitter.com/nycjim/status/665023280097595392

https://twitter.com/TheFix/status/664977444651343872

***

10 DECEMBER 2015

GOP presidential hopefuls are preparing for their second debate on the economy, set for Fox Business tonight.

https://twitter.com/politico/status/664029892565168128

Some of the trailing candidates appear increasingly desperate. If Jeb Bush was the front-runner, for example, instead of dropping in the polls, you have to ask would he even have answered this question?

https://twitter.com/DailyMail/status/663891788747378688

https://twitter.com/fmanjoo/status/663934002529615873

https://twitter.com/dandrezner/status/664069783126736896

But hey, in what passes for intellectual debate..

https://twitter.com/thehill/status/664071517223952384

In serious news, meanwhile…

https://twitter.com/timesofindia/status/664012349859217408

Uh-oh. If it turns out there are actually grain silos in there, we might all be sorry.

https://twitter.com/FRANCE24/status/663858000717676545

***

9 NOVEMBER 2015

One year from election day the race continues its steady path to weirdness, as Donald Trump hosted Saturday Night Live..

https://twitter.com/Slate/status/663608168560357376

https://twitter.com/brianstelter/status/663592920595959808

https://twitter.com/thedailybeast/status/663538099784298496

.. while the story surrounding the man who appears to be his chief rival for the nomination, Ben Carson, is getting increasingly bizarre as he has been – as the Washington Post‘s Erik Wemple says – “utterly blindsided by media scrutiny.”

https://twitter.com/WSJPolitics/status/663696088940023808

But all of this is probably music to the ears of the executives at Fox, ahead of Tuesday night’s next round in the ongoing miniseries that is the GOP debates.

https://twitter.com/mikiebarb/status/663694324757041152

https://twitter.com/politico/status/663618290997174272

***

6 NOVEMBER 2015

One step at a time, there, ma’am…

https://twitter.com/APEntertainment/status/662642103638466560

***

30 OCTOBER 2015

After a disappointing debate performance – as Bloomberg’s John Heilman said, “It’s hard to understate the sheer, epic awfulness” – Jeb Bush was forced to deny his campaign was “on life support” – always a bad sign.

https://twitter.com/Salon/status/660036949508534272

His swing and a miss at Marco Rubio succeeded only in pissing off the French.

https://twitter.com/TheFix/status/659911610232872960

Despite his new slogan, can he fix it?

https://twitter.com/latimes/status/660027166722248704

Meanwhile, Stephen Colbert dissected the debate, saying last night that his chance to talk about the event was “..now or never. And never really seemed like the best option.”

https://twitter.com/SpeedReads/status/660004939087806464

On the Democratic side, Hizzonner catches the last train as it’s leaving the station…

https://twitter.com/davidtaint/status/660063829590577152

***

29 OCTOBER 2015

https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/659555653309059072

https://twitter.com/washingtonpost/status/659520409566650372

GOP presidential candidates – with a four-man undercard – debated (sort of) the economy. It all got very predictable very quickly.

https://twitter.com/CNN/status/659553502717476864

https://twitter.com/latimes/status/659559044412252160

The party wasn’t happy.

https://twitter.com/thehill/status/659589233796100096

https://twitter.com/NewDay/status/659682870261346304

https://twitter.com/Slate/status/659668862858878976

https://twitter.com/majestic_whine/status/659671674946723840

***

28 OCTOBER 2015

Republicans are preparing for Wednesday night’s CNBC debate on the economy.

https://twitter.com/NBCNews/status/659297946706563072

Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, said she wouldn’t bail out troubled banks

https://twitter.com/oakvillesqurl/status/659281797914558464

https://twitter.com/thisisjustaride/status/659256311993929729

***

23 OCTOBER 2015 – Did marathon Benghazi session backfire on GOP?

https://twitter.com/TimJHanrahan/status/657365211977031680

After 11 hours of testimony to the Congressional committee on Benghazi, the consensus view seemed to be that Hillary Clinton’s composed performance put her in a stronger position in her quest for the Democratic Presidential nomination and, subsequently, the Presidency.

Democrats on the committee – who were later reportedly considering resigning – bolstered the former Secretary of State by repeatedly attacking the partisanship of the hearing.

https://youtu.be/csra4QGlYlQ

Ben Geier writes at Fortune:

Regardless of the intentions, though, the hearings may actually end up being a good thing for Clinton’s presidential campaign and could even improve how Americans perceive her as a leader.

First, any potential voters who who believe that Clinton is personally responsible for the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens aren’t going to be voting for her anyway. They just aren’t. And it seems unlikely that anyone’s mind is going to be changed by these hearings. And then there’s the argument that “independent voters,” the kind who may be swayed by Clinton’s testimony, are largely a myth, as party affiliation is usually the deciding factor when people choose which candidates to vote for. So no one is sitting at home, watching Clinton’s testimony on C-SPAN and deciding that they won’t support her candidacy because she acted poorly in Benghazi.

https://twitter.com/thehill/status/657371128315400192

https://twitter.com/thehill/status/657418696827228160

https://twitter.com/Salon/status/657401076266745857

https://twitter.com/jacobwe/status/657400801187491840

https://twitter.com/samsteinhp/status/657360874777255937

https://twitter.com/TheFix/status/657353624826286080

And Hillary’s path to the nomination also seemed to ease further (sort of) with talk that Lincoln Chafee is about to withdraw.

https://twitter.com/ReutersPolitics/status/657387174229385216

Meanwhile, Rep Paul Ryan appears to have secured the “unity” he requested among Republicans in order to run for Speaker of the House.

https://twitter.com/Reuters/status/657442823394979840

***

22 OCTOBER 2015 – Clinton heads for Benghazi showdown

https://twitter.com/Slate/status/656958847505059840

Hillary Clinton appears on Thursday before the Congressional committee “investigating” the 2012 Benghazi attack, with the committee itself under renewed scrutiny.

https://twitter.com/WSJ/status/657062603622096896

https://twitter.com/thinkprogress/status/656951637341286400

https://twitter.com/joanwalsh/status/656892197921562624

https://twitter.com/politico/status/656364797429161984

But as is often the case, the people who deserve real closure are angered by a politicized process.

https://twitter.com/CNN/status/656943904512737280

So. No go, Joe.

https://twitter.com/blakehounshell/status/657012013508501504

https://twitter.com/EJDionne/status/656993075437375488

https://twitter.com/ethanklapper/status/656938347189936128

https://twitter.com/politico/status/657101817906642944

https://twitter.com/bpolitics/status/657134703951093760

***

21 OCTOBER 2015

Jim Webb ended his bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination, and appears to be considering a run as an independent.

https://twitter.com/TPM/status/656757334442713088

On the Republican side, Paul Ryan – who likely still harbors his own Presidential ambitions down the road – seems to want to be Speaker after all, but only under certain conditions, which could give him an “out” if he really doesn’t.

https://twitter.com/AP/status/656756845156147200

***

20 OCTOBER 2015 – Ridin’ with Biden? Or still stuck in traffic?

https://twitter.com/GMA/status/656402031452667904

Joe Biden’s on-off, will-he-won’t-he flirtation with a Presidential run continues, but looks like it might finally – possibly – be coming to a head. As the AP’s Josh Lederman writes, impatience about the VP’s decision has “taken a chaotic turn.”

No shortage of people made assertive declarations Monday about whether Joe Biden is going to run for president.

The flood of purported revelations reverberated throughout the political world, but there was just one problem: None of it came from Biden’s lips.

Months in to his painfully drawn-out deliberations, the vice president continued his public silence. Yet several individuals familiar with his decision-making disputed claims that an announcement was imminent. No surprise: the individuals weren’t authorized to comment publicly and demanded anonymity.

https://twitter.com/brianstelter/status/656265074886221824

https://twitter.com/TheFix/status/656293694769725440

https://twitter.com/politico/status/656384751855620096

https://twitter.com/JoeTrippi/status/656302991201423360

https://twitter.com/jaketapper/status/656229615938043904

As the VP goes on Biden his time (sorry), Michael Tomasky at the Daily Beast writes: “Everyone seems to think he’s running. No-one has any idea why he should.”

https://twitter.com/NRO/status/656411053186617344

https://twitter.com/TODAYshow/status/656425520645689344

https://twitter.com/TheOnion/status/656161680343322625

***

17 OCTOBER 2015

As VP Joe Biden prepares to announce, well, something…

https://twitter.com/thehill/status/655171639735382016

all isn’t sweetness and light in Democratic camp,

https://twitter.com/thehill/status/655172633894473728

but Bernie Sanders’ Presidential campaign is now 100 per cent cuter via what can only be hoped is a short-lived hashtag.

https://twitter.com/ABC/status/655151174547591168

***

 15 OCTOBER 2015

Perhaps unsurprisingly…

https://twitter.com/TPM/status/654574296468205568

but likely not related

https://twitter.com/ABC/status/654591039546748928

***

14 OCTOBER 2015

At last night’s Democratic Presidential debate in Las Vegas, front-runner Hillary Clinton gave a typical, self-confident performance, making us think why, exactly, she doesn’t want to have any more debates.

https://twitter.com/Slate/status/654187430225031168

https://twitter.com/latimes/status/654103401714872321

This is just creepy…

https://twitter.com/thehill/status/654131786331652096

Bernie Sanders probably had the soundbite of the night, but it maybe didn’t come across as he intended – or perhaps it did.

https://twitter.com/CNN/status/654112935397203968

https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/654195386962288640

https://twitter.com/azizansari/status/654117190992592903

***

13 OCTOBER 2015 – Dems ready for opening salvo

https://twitter.com/TheOnion/status/653665102709825536

The Democratic candidates for the Presidency face off for the first time Tuesday night in Las Vegas as the party tries to switch voters’ attention away from the ongoing entertainment that is the Republican primary.

https://twitter.com/TheDemocrats/status/653726273236283392

Tonight’s event will be carried live by CNN and moderated by Anderson Cooper. David Axelrod explains what each contender needs to get out of the occasion:

There has been a strange disconnect between Clinton and Democratic voters this year and a sense of resignation, rather than excitement, about her candidacy. This challenge is reflected in the contrast between the large, enthusiastic crowds Sen. Bernie Sanders is drawing with his populist crusade and the more tepid reaction Clinton is generating. (To be fair, the word from the trail is that for all the jitters about the relative size of her crowds, she is connecting well in the small rooms and town hall meetings, which is meaningful in the early states.)

Whatever else you think about him, Sanders is utterly authentic. And right now, that is Clinton’s challenge. It has been exacerbated by her clumsy, ever-evolving approach to the email issue — something certain to come up again in the debate — and her rapid-fire race to the left to co-opt Sanders’ positions on trade, climate change and other issues that fire up the Democratic base.

Clinton’s mission on Tuesday is to rise above the tactical and present a coherent, value-laden vision that will make her flood of policy papers seem like something more than positions of convenience.

https://twitter.com/Salon/status/653769658391265281

https://twitter.com/AP/status/653857737386926080

https://twitter.com/Newsweek/status/653727806048735233

There could, meanwhile, still be a third-party candidacy on the left.

https://twitter.com/jjn1/status/653492531150352384

***

22 SEPTEMBER 2015

Former GOP favorite, Milwaukee Gov Scott Walker, called time on his presidential campaign and one of his former advisers took to Twitter to explain why he failed.

There were plenty of reasons for his implosion. Here’s probably the main one.

***

18 SEPTEMBER 2015

By now, it’s sadly common for a story like this out of the US to make you just stop and shake your head.

But when it unfolds amid the sort of atmosphere that has been stirred up during the current GOP primary contest, there are inevitably even deeper concerns over the nature of political discourse, what it represents and the direction it’s headed.

But perhaps there’s some hope…

***

17 SEPTEMBER 2015

At Wednesday night’s Republican debate in California, the 10 candidates not named Donald Trump took turns trying to score hits off the front-runner.

Many believed the evening’s winner was Bernie Sanders’ tweets.

***

16 SEPTEMBER 2015

The second Republican debate is set to take place tonight at the Ronald Reagan library in California and on CNN, with Donald Trump (haven’t typed those words in a while) still leading in the polls but other “non-politicians” Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina showing strongly as the rest of the field continues to wrestle with how to counter the Trumponaut.

The “kids table” show is at 6ET (11pm London) and the main event starts two hours later.

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders is upset at the Hillary Clinton campaign after he was attacked for – guess what – congratulating Jeremy Corbyn on his leadership victory. The Guardian reports:

In a war of words that heralds a new phase in the hitherto relatively polite Democratic primary campaign, Sanders was reportedly criticised over his backing of Corbyn – the leftwing socialist who came from nowhere to win a landslide victory in the Labour leadership contest on Saturday – by Correct the Record, a so-called Super Pac that raises unlimited sums from wealthy donors to support Clinton.

According to journalists who received an email from the group, it attacked Sanders for congratulating Corbyn on winning the Labour leadership election and drew attention to the British politician’s “most extreme comments” on foreign policy.

***

30 AUGUST 2015

You couldn’t make it up, I suppose. But given what passes for political reality these days, why not?

***

28 AUGUST 2015

As this weekend’s DNC meeting kicks off in Minneapolis, front-runner Hillary Clinton’s focus is on locking up “super delegates” well in advance of the first actual vote being cast – both as a deterrent to any potential late entrants and to avoid a repeat of her unsuccessful 2008 campaign.

But her existing opponents are unhappy about the number of debates.

***

27 AUGUST 2015

What’s the first word comes to mind when you think of Hillary Clinton?

Here’s the full list for the Democratic front-runner.

***

25 AUGUST 2015

Donald Trump’s lead in the GOP primary race grew in a new round of polls on Tuesday.

At a pre-rally press conference in Dubuque, Iowa, Trump had a run-in with Univision journalist Jorge Ramos, leading to Ramos being escorted out.

But in a subsequent un-Trump-like moment of self-awareness, the candidate seemed to realize he’d gone too far and allowed Ramos back into the room, where they had a lengthy exchange on immigration policy.

Interestingly, the Trump campaign announced some key hires in early primary states, including Sam Clovis, who had previously run Rick Perry’s campaign in Iowa. The Washington Post‘s Robert Costa had the scoop.

Trump’s spat with Fox News and its Chairman Roger Ailes over the network’s anchor Megyn Kelly appears to be back on.

And, since the guy “speaks his mind,” according to his supporters, occasionally something comes out that makes total sense. Ben Wofford writes at Politico:

As pundits search for the source of Trump’s resilient appeal, reformers say they’ve long known the answer: the constant emphasis on how his staggering wealth immunizes him from insider influence. It has arguably now become the campaign’s most salient theme. “I don’t need anybody’s money. I’m using my own money,” Trump scoffed at his campaign announcement in June. A month later, he told the Wall Street Journal, “When you give [contributions], they do whatever the hell you want them to do.” And primary voters seem spellbound. “The guys who want to give me a million – I said, forget it. Who cares?” Trump recently told a rapt audience. “All of the money that’s going to Hillary, and Jeb, and Scott and Marco? They’re totally controlled. Totally.”

Finally,

***

24 AUGUST 2015

The GOP candidates seemed to be in no doubt who was to blame for the market meltdown.

While the New York Times reported:

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Republican candidate who is a moderate on immigration, joined the criticism of China on Monday by saying that the federal debt “has been given to us in large measure by the Chinese” and that “as the Chinese markets have a correction” it will have an outsized impact on the United States.

While the Chinese government is in fact the largest holder of United States government debt, its large purchases help hold down the interest payments that American taxpayers must ultimately bear to service that debt.

Meanwhile on the Democratic side, potential candidate Joe Biden may have had a very satisfying lunch with his boss on Monday as President Obama returned from his two-week vacation.

The HuffPo‘s Sam Stein writes on what’s driving a potential run by a man who’s sought the highest office unsuccessfully twice before.

***

23 AUGUST 2015

With Hillary Clinton’s email woes continuing to affect her standing in polls, speculation that Vice President Joe Biden would enter the Democratic race intensified after he met with grassroots favorite Sen Elizabeth Warren, who has repeatedly said she would be sitting the contest out.

***

21 AUGUST 2015

Donald Trump held a rally at a football stadium in Mobile, Alabama – around 30,000 people showed up, the biggest crowd any candidate has yet drawn in the campaign.

If you missed it, here are the highlights.

(YouTube/Rikard CR)

MSNBC‘s Chris Hayes and his team did #TrumpCheckLive which was kind of like that 80s show “Pop-Up Video”. One of its inspired moments was when Trump asked the crowd “We’re being carried live on MSNBC. What do you think of MSNBC?”, drawing the predictable boos, the box popped up with “MSNBC loves Alabama”.

Meanwhile, Trump’s fellow GOP candidate Rand Paul faces a potentially decisive weekend in his home state of Kentucky as he tries to secure a rule change allowing him to run for both Senate and the Presidency.

***

20 AUGUST 2015

What a difference a day makes. After yesterday’s parody of politics, there was a press conference on Thursday full of grace, faith, humor and humility.

When the 90-year-old former President got up to leave after a 40-minute session where he answered as many questions as reporters wanted to ask, the assembled press corps broke into applause.

We’re going to leave aside the latest bombastic nonsense from the GOP side, even though the Hillary Clinton campaign made social media hay on the back of it,

but there was apparently more trouble for the Democratic front-runner, as the controversy over her private email server now seems to have pulled in her most senior adviser. Brendan Bordelon writes at National Review:

It was probably inevitable that the woman always at Hillary Clinton’s side would one day be sucked into the vortex of suspicion and scandal surrounding the Democratic presidential frontrunner. For top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, that day seems to have arrived. Though rumors of impropriety have swirled around Abedin for over two years, in the past two weeks they’ve snowballed into concrete allegations.

Last week, the State Department inspector general claimed that the trusted Clinton confidant owes the government nearly $10,000 for violating rules regarding vacation and sick leave. And in court on Monday, Hillary Clinton admitted Abedin had an e-mail account on the now-infamous private server run out of Clinton’s house while she was secretary of state, and that the account “was used at times for government business.” State Department investigators say they’ve now expanded a probe into Clinton’s use of private e-mail to include “top aides,” meaning Abedin is almost certainly under federal investigation for the possible exchange of unsecured, classified data.

All of which comes on a day when the “Draft Biden” groundswell, well, swelled just a little more…

***

19 AUGUST 2015 – Ladies and Gentlemen, Your Potential Presidents

Yes, there are other things happening in the world. But sometimes you have to just take a breath and wonder what the hell is going on and why it won’t stop.

hollywoodrep

(The Hollywood Reporter)

And of course, there’s this…

(WorldMusicCafe/’When You Sleep’ – My Bloody Valentine)

Meanwhile, on the other side of what passes for a political divide, this would be funny if it wasn’t so serious. No, on second thought, it wouldn’t be funny at all. Except to one person, I guess.

hillaryunfav

Reporting, or enabling?

But hey, if you don’t like either of the options, there’s always this guy…

***

17 AUGUST 2015

Donald Trump reported for jury duty in New York and so did most of the campaign reporters trailing him.

Meanwhile, Trump’s comments on immigration at the weekend left other Republican candidates trying to catch up.

On the Democratic side…

***

14 AUGUST 2015

In the same Clear Lake theater where Buddy Holly played his final show before his ill-fated plane ride, the Democratic candidates for President gathered for a relatively new Iowa political tradition, the ‘Wing Ding’ fundraiser.

For some, it was Rave On. But for most of them, it will eventually be a case of Crying, Waiting, Hoping, or even That’ll Be The Day.

Meanwhile, on the GOP side…

Candidates of both parties are set to descend on the Iowa State Fair on Saturday – quite literally in the case of Mr Trump, who has promised to give rides in his helicopter to visiting children…

***

13 AUGUST 2015

NBC News reported that Vice-President Joe Biden is understood to be getting increasingly serious about entering the Democratic primary race.

On the GOP side, candidates flocked to the Iowa State Fair to eat food on sticks and pay homage to the iconic Butter Cow.

***

12 AUGUST 2015 – For real?

Seven Presidential election cycles ago, Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau and movie director Robert Altman (Nashville, The Player) teamed up to make the brilliant political satire miniseries Tanner ’88, featuring Michael Murphy as a photogenic idealist on a quest for the Democratic nomination.

The fake Congressman’s slogan was “For real”.

A modern-day Tanner, Jack Kimble, uses social media to highlight the absurdity of the current GOP primary race, and politics in general.

Kimble(Jack Kimble)

But now there are a couple of really real candidates, on either side of the Atlantic, whose wave of popularity has tapped into a widespread yearning for politicians to not be, primarily,  politicians, but to speak their minds with candor and consistency and to, above all, appear to be on the side of the – increasingly pissed-off – people.

The latest poll in New Hampshire shows Bernie Sanders leading Hillary Clinton for the first time – doubtless assisted by Hillary’s ongoing problems over her email server and by extension perceptions of her trustworthiness – as the Vermont Independent continues to attract ever-larger grassroots audiences to his campaign stops.

Here’s – partly – why (although just the wealth aspect of her unpopularity doesn’t explain the Donald Trump phenomenon).

 

11 AUGUST 2015 – FBI probes Clinton’s secret email server

Hillary Clinton’s campaign said the former Secretary of State agreed to hand over to the FBI her private e-mail server and thumb drive containing correspondence from her time at the State department. The Washington Post’s Roz Helderman writes:

Clinton has said that she and her attorney examined the e-mails and turned over all those that dealt with public business. In her new declaration, she writes that she directed that all e-mails that “were or potentially were” federal records be provided to the State Department. She turned over more than 30,000 e-mails, which are now being vetted and gradually released publicly.

Clinton has said she chose not to keep the remaining e-mails, indicating they dealt exclusively with personal matters.

The Associated Press reported:

“All this means is that Hillary Clinton, in the face of FBI scrutiny, has decided she has run out of options,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus in a statement. “She knows she did something wrong and has run out of ways to cover it up.”

The story overshadowed the candidate’s announcement on her college affordability plan.

 

AdWeek writes about the Twitter photoshop battle between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush.

In a major foreign policy speech on Tuesday night, Jeb Bush laid out a plan for taking the fight to ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Eli Stokols at Politico calls the political strategy “a delicate tightrope walk” that could backfire.

Arguing that Clinton, as secretary of state, “stood by” while Iraq fell apart and as the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, took root across Iraq and Syria puts Bush on offense, shifting the conversation away from whether the war itself was a mistake. (Bush admits now, after stumbling on this question for four days in May, that the invasion was a bad idea.)

“ISIS grew while the United States disengaged from the Middle East and ignored the threat,” Bush said. “And where was Secretary of State Clinton in all of this? Like the president himself, she had opposed the surge … then joined in claiming credit for its success … then stood by as that hard-won victory by American and allied forces was thrown away.”

Elsewhere on the GOP side, Donald Trump held his first in-person press conference since last Thursday’s Cleveland debate, ahead of a Lincoln Day speech in Birch Run, Michigan. After keeping broadcasters waiting for the best part of an hour, during which they only talked on-air about, er, Trump, appropriately enough when the presser started, the only audio was from the answers, not from the media’s questions.

It was quite surreal. You had to listen to the response then guess what the question was about. Sort of like the Trump campaign in microcosm.

Trump appeared to suggest that if he were elected President he would put investor Carl Icahn in charge of US trade policy in Asia.

The Washington Post editorial board called Trump “an aimless, angry leader.”

A couple of points about Mr. Trump’s following and its anger: It does not represent a majority of the GOP, much less the country; 23 percent of Americans identify as Republicans, and Mr. Trump is the choice of about a quarter of them, for now. Furthermore, their anger is unfocused and, to the extent it’s rooted in racially tinged perceptions of illegal immigration or of the nation’s first black president, repellent. And finally, even the most justified political anger is not a political program.

Meanwhile, CNN invited all the GOP candidates but one to the next debate on Sept 16. Former Virginia Gov Jim Gilmore is the only one who didn’t get a save the date card from Nancy Reagan.

On the Democratic side, Harvard Prof Lawrence Lessig, who has been advising Bernie Sanders, hinted that he would explore a run of his own, on the issue of political corruption and “citizen equality”.

(Lessig2016)

***

10 AUGUST 2015

In the GOP race, after a weekend of publicity, none of it particularly good, Donald Trump may have settled his dispute with Fox, for now. The candidate tweeted:

and the network’s chairman later issued a statement:

Gov Jeb Bush is set to deliver a speech on Tuesday evening setting out his strategy for defeating ISIS.

Meanwhile, Gov Rick Perry’s campaign might be having money problems.

***

9 AUGUST 2015

The whirlwind that is Donald Trump shows no sign of blowing itself out, as fallout continues over his debate exchange with Megyn Kelly, as well as the disputed circumstances of the departure of a senior campaign adviser.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, there will likely be more negative buzz on Monday.

But a new NBC poll shows… well, you can guess.

(YouTube/LuntzGlobal)

But of course, he has these guys sticking up for him – or at least he did half an hour ago…

Purdue professor Kathryn Cramer Brownell writes at Reuters how Trump and Jon Stewart “aren’t so different after all.”

Over more than a half-century, television has essentially replaced the party as the modern political boss. Transforming political contests into an on-screen production has the democratic feeling of viewer participation — but it still maintains the reality of corporate control.

Stewart’s long successful run and Trump’s six-week surge demonstrate how American voters have come to expect political discussions and debates to mirror prime-time TV entertainment programming.

***

7 AUGUST 2015

Donald Trump was “disinvited” or even “blackballed” from the Red State gathering in Atlanta this weekend following his comments during Thursday night’s Republican debate.

Red State organizer Erik Erickson explained the decision thus: “It is not political correctness. It’s common decency.”

Trump later pushed back and tried to clarify his remarks, but really, who cares?

trumply

In the real world, this weekend marks the one-year anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

***

6 AUGUST 2015 – ‘Our leaders are stupid..’

It’s over.

It was feisty, opinionated, cluttered. There were moments we just shook our heads, and we learned pretty much nothing from it. So it perfectly lived up to the hype and, undoubtedly, Fox’s ratings expectations.

The real stars were the Fox moderators, Megyn Kelly in particular, who came out swinging and set a combative tone.

Frank Bruni at the New York Times says it wasn’t a debate, it was “an inquisition.”

They [the moderators] took each of the 10 Republicans onstage to task. They held each of them to account. They made each address the most prominent blemishes on his record, the most profound apprehensions that voters feel about him, the greatest vulnerability that he has.

It was riveting. It was admirable. It compels me to write a cluster of words I never imagined writing: hooray for Fox News.

Did Fox take this combative approach because it was theatrical? Because it promised tension, promoted unease and was a certain route to reddened faces and raised voices?

Of course. Nothing scares a network more than the prospect of a political snooze-fest, and candidates left to their own devices are candidates who drone on and on.

We’ll do it all again at the Reagan Library in California on September 16, where hosts CNN will use a slightly different selection format. In the meantime, before you switch over to watch the final Daily Show, here’s some Twitter highlights of the evening.

***

10.40 – A ‘special guest’…

Megyn Kelly just said God would be a special guest on the next session of the debate. I guess they had to one-up Springsteen on The Daily Show.

The Ohio Governor, who just scraped into the top tier ranking for tonight’s debate, has been getting plenty of favorable buzz each time he speaks, but that could be because he has got out the troops in the hall.

(I must say, I’m very impressed by that Bish guy..)

10.20 – Social issues

Cleverly, Fox manages to get footage in of Carly Fiorina in from the earlier debate  – and Rick Perry too – and the crowd cheered broadly at the clip.

10pm – Here come the ‘mini-rounds’

Until now, no two candidates seem to have been asked the same question. Even if their answers sound like it.

Angry exchange between Chris Christie and Rand Paul over surveillance, Christie invokes 9/11, Paul uses Christie’s hugging of President Obama.

9.30 – ‘Our leaders are stupid’

Phew.. a commercial.

To cheers, Trump punches back, saying he’s not bound by “political correctness.”

Marco Rubio gives the HRC campaign an ad soundbite – “If this is a resume contest, Hillary Clinton is going to be our next President.”

Donald Trump declines to pledge not to run as an independent. First question. In the real world, everything from here is just talk. Rand Paul tries to push back, linking Trump to the Clintons, Trump brushes him off.

***

9PM – ‘Positioned on the stage by their standing in the polls…’

Here’s live updates from the Washington Post.

***

8PM – The Big Ten in the Big Tent

We’re ready to rock and roll, as long as the performers can find their way to the stage.

And already it’s something of a circus.

Here are some of your requisite bingo cards/drinking games. I mean really, does everyone still do this?

***

7PM – Tales from the Kids Table

Carly Fiorina was widely thought to have clearly come out on top of the early kick-off “happy hour” debate – despite every other candidate saying they had – in part by aggressively targeting Hillary Clinton’s trustworthiness.

By the end of the night, though, and apart from a Twitter and search bump for Fiorina, it’s not really going to matter. And talking of happy hours, apparently some of the undercard participants are heading out to dinner together to watch the main event.

Sigh…

***

6PM – Eyes on the Prize

Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law.

Ann Simmons at the Los Angeles Times writes:

The 1965 legislation is a point of contention in many red states after the Supreme Court decided two years ago to do away with a key part: the requirement that states with a history of racial discrimination clear any changes to their voting laws with the federal government.

On Wednesday, a panel of federal appeals judges rendered an important interpretation of that decision, ruling that Texas’ voter identification law violates the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against black and Latino voters.

The issue is shaping up to be a flashpoint in the current presidential race.

And so, tonight in Cleveland, the latest iteration of the ‘best our democracy has to offer’ take their cases to the American public.

Later, Jon Stewart bids farewell.

Buckle up.

***

5 AUGUST 2015

Over at Fox there’s a small matter of the first televised Republican debate of the cycle, Thursday night in Cleveland. It could be the network’s highest-ever rated broadcast, but regardless of how much of a trainwreck it turns out to be, something will be missing, since Jon Stewart won’t be around to skewer it.

***

4 AUGUST 2015 – And your top ten are…

Fox News announced its line-up for the opening GOP debate on Thursday in Cleveland and the big news is at the bottom of the list.

The network said:

The roster of 10 candidates was determined based on an average of the five most recent national polls. Trump as expected made the cut, securing the top slot. Right behind him were Bush and Walker, who each have posted strong numbers in recent surveys.

The drama, rather, was at the edge of the top 10. Christie and Kasich, who were hovering by that edge in recent polling, were able to qualify.

So the Governor of the state in which the debate will actually be held, as well as where the GOP convention will be next year, squeaks into the senior squad. Which means that Messrs Perry, Jindal, Santorum, Fiorina, Pataki, Graham and Gilmore will be taking part in the “preliminary” debate earlier in the evening.

Santorum, for one, was outraged.

Seriously, though…

But despair not. Byron York writes at the Washington Examiner that “no Trump could make for a better debate.”

The winner of the kids’ table debate won’t stay at the kids’ table. “At least one or two of the [second-tier] debate candidates will be strong by the Iowa caucus, and one or two of the primetime participants will have collapsed,” says Newt Gingrich, whose commanding debate performances led him to the top of the Republican pack in 2011-2012.

Breitbart News, meanwhile, says the front-runner is “ready to rumble.”

“I hope we can keep it on a high level,” Trump said in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News on Tuesday afternoon. “If that doesn’t happen, I’m willing to go to the other route. But I will say the two people who hit me really hard both went down in the polls.”

As the debate lineup was announced, Trump’s dominance in Republican polls continues unabated.

On the Democratic side, the latest WMUR poll showed Bernie Sanders within the margin of error behind Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire.

And he has a new ad.

***

3 AUGUST 2015 – ‘Not so much a debate, more a spelling bee’

Or, speed-dating, really. (And because I used the “mass debate” headline last week.)

The polling metrics that will make up the selection for Thursday’s first nationally-televised Republican debate are set to be revealed on Tuesday.

In a pre-emptive response – or a trial run – 14 would-be GOP nominees gathered – in person and by video – in New Hampshire for a candidate forum the Boston Globe reports was “an effort by Granite State media to refocus the presidential race on the early nominating states instead of an increasingly nationalized race.”

Because it wasn’t an “officially-sanctioned” GOP event, the candidates didn’t actually talk to each other, but rather appeared individually to answer questions from a host. Each candidate got about 6 or 7 minutes, while the audience was instructed to remain quiet.

* Watch a recording of the proceedings here, via C-Span.

Ohio Gov John Kasich – who might yet miss out on Thursday’s debate in his own state – picked up an endorsement.

Donald Trump decided to keep his powder dry for Thursday. Meanwhile polls showed two sides of the man whose insanely broad name recognition is keeping him ahead of the pack.

but, er..

***

2 AUGUST 2015

At the Koch Brothers summit in California at the weekend, five GOP candidates showed up to connect with powerful potential donors. The nominal front-runner, was having none of it, as Ashley Parker writes in the New York Times:

“I wish good luck to all of the Republican candidates that traveled to California to beg for money etc. from the Koch Brothers,” Mr. Trump, who leads in many national polls, wrote in a Sunday morning Twitter post. “Puppets?”

The answer to his question, of course, is a matter of perspective.

On the Democratic side, Vide-President Joe Biden may or may not actually decide to jump in the race, but that doesn’t mean plenty of folks aren’t thinking about it.

Including, apparently, the current Democratic favorite, Hillary Clinton, who has moved up an ad buy originally scheduled for November.

***

30 JULY 2015 – Excitement grows for GOP’s mass debate

One week away from the first televised GOP debate and there is genuinely no clue who will actually be taking part.

Beyond this one guy who appears to be a shoo-in.

The Washington Post‘s Eugene Robinson writes the “gift of a Trump-fueled debate” means that “Christmas has come early.”

How could Thursday night in Cleveland fail to be one of the most entertaining political spectacles we’ve seen in a long time? There are, far as I can tell, 17 candidates for the GOP nomination. Nobody’s quite sure which 10 will qualifyfor the prime-time clash, with the rest relegated to an earlier also-rans debate. Fox News, which is organizing the festivities, says it will use an average of national polls to make the cut, but won’t say which polls.

One hopes the poor candidates at least hear the good or bad news before they arrive in Cleveland. Imagine the phone call Rick Perry’s campaign might get: “Um, has the governor’s plane landed yet? Because it turns out we need him on stage quite a bit earlier than we thought.”

As the confusion continues over which polls will actually be used, and which candidates will benefit, one notable absentee could be Gov John Kasich, on the cusp for inclusion in his home state – and incidentally where the Republican Convention will be held next summer.

Gabriel Sherman writes at New York magazine that the debate could “draw the biggest audience in cable history – and Roger Ailes is making all the rules.”

And the whole thing is – of course – great ratings fodder for Fox.

With the debate coinciding with Jon Stewart’s final Daily Show, expect a social media Sharknado of snark.

But the self-styled main attraction should probably get the last word. Except it won’t be. Remotely.

***

29 JULY 2015

With yet another poll of GOP primary candidates showing – you guessed it – Donald Trump with a clear lead, the field grew by one, when former Virginia Gov decided to go ahead and file papers to become the 17th candidate.

Meanwhile, Alex Isenstadt at Politico looks at Rand Paul’s “downward spiral” and what went wrong with the former top-tier candidate’s campaign.

Those close to Paul say there’s a simple reason for his lack of success: He’s simply not willing to do the stroking and courting that powerful donors expect. He’s downright allergic, they say, to the idea of forging relationships with the goal of pumping people for dough. And while he’s had no shortage of opportunities to mix and mingle with some of the Republican Party’s wealthiest figures, Paul has expressed frustration that donors want so much face time.

On the subject of polls, meanwhile, a CNN poll showed Sen Bernie Sanders beating the top Republican candidates head-to-head.

And the Sanders campaign had apparently signed up 100,000 people for more than 3,000 kick-off “house parties” across the country on Wednesday night – the biggest organizing event so far of the 2016 cycle.

***

27 JULY 2015

Fallout continues from controversial remarks by former Gov and lower-tier Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee over the Iran nuclear deal, as the need for attention among the glut of candidates – especially ahead of the first debate on Aug 6 – appears increasingly to be clouding their better judgment.

But perhaps the only possible words in response were no words at all.

Before even the new low of this incident, Ed Kilgore wrote in the most recent issue of Washington Monthly how Huckabee “became the new Sarah Palin.”

It will be interesting to see how much Palinism-without-Palin the 2016 presidential field ultimately produces. Aside from Huckabee and Jindal and Santorum, there’s Ted Cruz, whose father, Rafael, a conservative evangelical minister, warms up crowds for his son with culture-war bromides punctuated by comparisons of liberals with communists who share an “evil agenda” for “destroying what this country is all about.” The surgeon turned politician Ben Carson has become a huge crowd favorite via a stock speech that focuses on the supposed loss of fundamental liberties to the sinister power of elites imposing rules of political correctness to suppress dissent. Texas Governor Rick Perry has managed to turn economic development into a culture-war weapon via his constant “raids” on companies in liberal states, especially California, which has replaced New York and Massachusetts in the conservative imagination as the epitome of alien territory.

***

26 JULY 2015

The Democratic convention in Philadelphia is exactly one year away.

New polls in Iowa and New Hampshire show Hillary Clinton still with a clear – if slipping –  lead over Bernie Sanders, but with the email story still bubbling as well as controversy over when and how she might testify on Benghazi, the former Secretary of State’s unfavorable ratings are trending upwards.

(YouTube/AmericaRising)

On the GOP side, polls in the early states show – yes – Donald Trump apparently consolidating his recent strong showing.

So you can probably expect to hear the word (ugh) Trumpmentum a few more times, at least while name recognition remains the leading indicator.

***

24 JULY 2015

As further details emerged of Thursday’s fatal shooting in Louisiana – and as police in Los Angeles shot and killed a man apparently firing into the air on Ventura Boulevard – the American epidemic of gun violence is again in the spotlight, together with the nation’s perpetual and polarized debate over second amendment rights; in part because of the seemingly prescient interview President Obama gave the BBC hours before the Lafayette incident.

(BBC News)

Meanwhile, Louisiana Gov Bobby Jindal told Fox News that he was “suspending” his Presidential campaign in order to “do whatever we can to support our community.” He did not say how long such a suspension might last. Jindal sparked criticism from the left after silencing a reporter who asked him about his state’s gun laws – some of the weakest in the county – by saying that it was not the right time for such a discussionThe Hill reports:

“There will be an absolute appropriate time for us to talk about policies and politics, and I’m sure that folks will want to score political points of this tragedy, as they’ve tried to do on previous tragedies…”

“You can ask me these questions in a couple of days. I’m not going anywhere. I’m happy to talk about this, we’re happy to talk about politics, but not here.”

But some believe the Governor has enabled his state’s gun violence problem – Louisiana has the second-highest gun death rate in the nation.

The New York Times got itself into something of a kerfuffle on Thursday night over multiple alterations to a story about Hillary Clinton’s personal emails.

The fallout largely overshadowed a speech the Democratic front-runner gave on Friday on the economy. Worse still for the Clinton campaign, the email issue shows little sign of abating anytime soon.

After the Des Moines Register wrote an editorial last week urging Donald Trump to drop out of the Republican primary contest, the Trump campaign banned the paper from covering the candidate’s Iowa events on Saturday.

New photographs emerged of senior figures in the Bush administration reacting in the immediate aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001.

***

23 JULY 2015

It was always going to be something of a circus.

After being tripped up in a recent TV interview when he was asked how long it had been since he had visited the US-Mexico border, Donald Trump had to admit it had been three years. From that moment it was only a matter of time before he showed up to give full, flamboyant voice to his controversial stance on illegal immigration and the vulnerability of the southern crossing.

He had earlier hinted in an interview with The Hill that he may be open to running as a third-party candidate “if the Republicans aren’t fair.”

The Washington Post reports on how Hispanic broadcasters Univision and Telemundo covered the visit.

During one of the two news conferences Trump held in Texas, [Jose] Diaz-Balart reminded the candidate that 53,000 Hispanics turn 18 each month and that many are offended by his suggestion that Mexicans crossing the border are rapists or criminals.

“No, no, no, we’re talking about illegal immigration and everybody understands that. And you know what? That’s a typical case — wait — that’s a typical case of the press with misinterpretation,” Trump shot back in response. “They take a half a sentence — by the way — they take a half a sentence, then they take a quarter of a sentence. It’s a typical thing. And you’re with Telemundo and Telemundo should be ashamed. And I tell you what — what’s really going to be fun? I’m suing Univision for $500 million and I’m gonna tell ya — we’re going to win a lot of money because of what they’ve done.”

“You’re finished,” Trump told Diaz-Balart.

and finally, or – most probably – not:

https://twitter.com/funnyordie/status/624247502858924032

***

22 JULY 2015

A new Quinnipiac opinion poll indicates that if Hillary Clinton is eventually the Democratic presidential nominee, she continues to face strong opposition in a key group of swing states, regardless of who her opponent would be. MSNBC reports:

Back in April, Quinnipiac found Clinton leading the majority of those same hypothetical contests. But the likely cause of that declining support may be more concerning to Clinton than the poll’s headline results – majorities in all three states said they believe Clinton is “not honest or trustworthy.”

While of course it’s too early to take any poll seriously, this one’s just completely nonsensical..

On the GOP side, it was Rick Perry’s turn to take a pop at Donald Trump, calling him “the kind of leader John Adams prayed would never occupy the White House.”

He had a great line about the “empty calories of Trumpism” but as Ezra Klein points out, this emerging trend is as much about the accusers generating ink for themselves as it is about admonishing their party’s bogeyman.

Trump himself, meanwhile, is headed to the US-Mexican border on Thursday, telling Fox and Friends “I may never see you again, but we’re going to do it.”

Another lower-tier Republican, Gov Chris Christie has apparently changed his tune, as it were, but luckily no-one apparently noticed.

***

21 JULY 2015

The Republican Presidential field grew to 16 on Tuesday, when Ohio Gov John Kasich declared his candidacy at a press conference at the Ohio State University in Columbus.

Yet Donald Trump continues to suck the oxygen out of the GOP primary contest. Hadas Gold writes at Politico:

Just 35 days since the brash real-estate mogul launched his presidential campaign with all the subtlety of a rhinoceros, Republican candidates have been gasping for air, choked off from media access and desperate to break out beyond an egomaniacal celebrity who is polling better than most of the field. The early jostling has a special urgency this year: The first GOP debate on Aug. 6 is just two weeks away, and only 10 candidates will make the cut.

Even Rand Paul’s (remember him?) stunt with a chainsaw and a copy of the tax code went largely unnoticed.

Trump trolled South Carolina Sen Lindsey Graham in his own early-primary backyard, by giving out his cellphone number, after Graham had called Trump a “jackass.”

Graham later tweeted:

On the subject of that first debate, by the way, Fox is apparently set to change the format – not of the main event, but the “kids table” forum set to take place earlier in the day. Dylan Byers writes at Politico that

If the debate were held tomorrow, such criteria would likely see Rick Santorum, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham and George Pataki relegated to the 5 p.m. forum.

***

20 JULY 2015

In the aftermath of his controversial remarks about Sen John McCain at the weekend, Donald Trump has emerged as the clear GOP front-runner in a new Washington Post/ABC poll.

Although his support had fallen over the four days of the poll, he easily led the field with 24 per cent support – well ahead of his nearest rivals, Scott Walker on 13 per cent and Jeb Bush on 12 per cent.

The Des Moines Register – the most influential newspaper in the early primary state of Iowa – called on Trump to withdraw from the race. The paper writes in an editorial:

In the five weeks since he announced his campaign to seek the GOP nomination for president, Trump has been more focused on promoting himself, and his brand, than in addressing the problems facing the nation. If he were merely a self-absorbed, B-list celebrity, his unchecked ego could be tolerated as a source of mild amusement. But he now wants to become president, which means that he aspires to be the leader of the free world and the keeper of our nuclear launch codes.

***

19 JULY 2015

Donald Trump appears unapologetic after his remarks on Saturday about Sen John McCain. The GOP candidate writes in USA Today that “A number of my competitors for the Republican nomination have no business running for president. I do not need to be lectured by any of them. Many are failed politicians or people who would be unable to succeed in the private sector. Some, however, I have great respect for.”

Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post writes:

If you were expecting anything else from Trump, you haven’t been paying much attention to his presidential campaign. Or his life. Trump’s appeal in the 2016 race appears to be built on saying things and acting in ways that other politicians would never dream of doing.  Trump, to his credit, appears to grasp that fact.

“I will say what I want to say, and maybe that’s why I’m leading in the polls because people are tired of hearing politicians and pollsters telling the politicians exactly what to say,” Trump told [ABC’s Martha] Raddatz.

***

18 JULY 2015 – Turning point for Trump?

Uh-oh.

Could this be the bridge too far..?

At the the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa on Saturday, an unguarded comment – as far as any of his comments are actually ever guarded – may likely prove to be the beginning of the end of the meteoric rise of Republican “front-runner” Donald Trump.

In an on-stage conversation with pollster Frank Luntz, Trump was asked about his recent Twitter spat with Arizona Sen John McCain. Referring to McCain’s status as a “war hero” Trump said, in an almost throwaway, we’re-among-friends quip:

“He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”

The audience reaction seemed to be an embarrassed half-laugh, not because it was funny, but probably because they couldn’t believe he’d actually said it. As the words sank in, there seemed to be some boos. At the end of his session, there was polite applause.

 

(YouTube/Voice of America)

The RNC and – significantly – virtually all his primary opponents immediately seized on the remark and issued condemnations.

Even the defeated GOP candidate last time round weighed in..

Meanwhile, Trump’s own war record or lack thereof soon became a thing.

Nate Cohn writes at the New York Times that this could represent the campaign’s turning point, saying the exchange “will probably mark the moment when Trump’s candidacy went from boom to bust.”

His support will erode as the tone of coverage shifts from publicizing his anti-establishment and anti-immigration views, which have some resonance in the party, to reflecting the chorus of Republican criticism of his most outrageous comments and the more liberal elements of his record.

Prophetically – or predictably – Michael Cohen wrote in this morning’s Boston Globe that the GOP’s problem “isn’t Trump, it’s the voters.”

The crash-and-burn phase of his embryonic campaign has not yet arrived — but it will.

Yet, more than any of the 17 people seeking to be the next GOP standard bearer, his run already tells us everything we need to know about why the Republican Party is in such desperate trouble.

As if anything anyone else said at Ames on Saturday will now be of even remote interest, you can watch the full raft of candidate speeches from the conference on C-Span here

More to come, I feel sure. 

***

17 JULY 2015

For the first time in this campaign cycle, all five Democratic Presidential candidates appeared together, speaking at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Hall of Fame Dinner in Cedar Rapids. Meanwhile, two of the state’s leading elected Democrats – who had been instrumental in helping Barack Obama win in 2008 – endorsed Hillary Clinton.

Progressives have gathered for the Netroots Nation convention in Phoenix, where they heard a keynote speech from non-candidate Sen Elizabeth Warren. Candidates Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley will appear at a Town Hall meeting on Saturday.

As Donald Trump continues to galvanize grassroots support among potential GOP primary votersThe Huffington Post made a decision about its coverage of his ‘campaign’.

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

Trump fired back at the “blog”, and the media generally piled on. Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post writing on why the HuffPo’s move is a bad idea.

What we in the media need to be doing is asking questions about what is behind the Trump surge — not dismissing it as a joke or totally meaningless or, even, using his candidacy to pull the sort of publicity stunts that we tut-tut at Trump for.

***

15 JULY 2015

The ongoing mess surrounding Fox News‘s national polling criteria for inclusion in the first GOP televised debate, and its potential for marginalizing the early primary states, took a turn when those states fought back by organizing their own debate, three days ahead of Fox’s “first.”

The Manchester Union-Leader in New Hampshire, the Cedar Rapids Gazette in Iowa, and the Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina have joined together – partnering with C-Span – to host a televised candidate forum on Aug 3rd.

“Fox says only the ‘top’ 10 candidates, as judged solely by national polling, will be allowed on its stage,” the publishers said. “That may be understandable later, but the first votes are half a year away, and there are a lot more than 10 viable candidates. The early primary process gives all candidates a chance to be heard. If networks and national polls are to decide this now, the early state process is in jeopardy, and only big money and big names will compete.”

One candidate who would appear certain to be included under the Fox criteria is Donald Trump, whose personal wealth seems to be rising along with his poll numbers, the New York Times reports.

Mr. Trump issued a statement Wednesday saying that his net worth was now in excess of $10 billion, more than the $8.7 billion he said he was worth when he announced his presidential candidacy a month ago.

The statement noted that Mr. Trump had filed his financial disclosure report with the Federal Election Commission, a requirement of presidential candidates, and the commission confirmed his filing.

DJ Gallo writes at The Guardian on the man who could be the Republicans’ “secret weapon” – NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Yes, the man who earned countless headlines over the past 12 months for his incompetent and tone-deaf corporate leadership – and consider how hard it is to stand out in the crowded incompetent and tone-deaf world of corporate leadership – was to spend this week advising Republican elected officials.

Former President George H W Bush broke a bone in his neck following a fall at his home in Maine on Wednesday night. A spokesman tweeted:

The 41st President celebrated his 91st birthday last month.

***

14 JULY 2015

Reaction to the Iran deal from both sides of the political spectrum predictably dominated Tuesday’s news cycle. Some of it was just as hyperbolic as you’d expect.

Karen Tumelty and Paul Kane at the Washington Post write on what the deal means for Hillary Clinton, saying that:

The 2016 Democratic presidential front-runner’s endorsement stands against nearly unanimous Republican opposition, led by denunciations from the large and growing field of GOP candidates. The clash offers further evidence that foreign policy could loom as a crucial issue in the election.

As Congressional Republicans organize their attack plan for the next 60 days, the agreement will also have serious implications for the GOP Presidential race. Eli Stokols and Katie Glueck at Politico write:

Looking past the initial race to react, the Iran deal brings two near-term shifts in the crowded Republican race.

One, it puts foreign policy even more sharply at the forefront of the campaign discussion. With Congress due to review the deal for the next couple of months, the issue of Iran and the larger Middle East turmoil will be very much a live one during the first Republican debates. That’s good news for those with foreign policy chops, and not-so-good news for those still studying up.

And two, it could give senators a perception edge currently enjoyed by governors, who typically are able to present themselves as the action-oriented executives. In this case, the senators get to not only talk the talk, but walk the walk.

The aforementioned Ted Cruz will be in New York on Wednesday to meet with the man who, in some polls, is the current Republican “front-runner.” But before that, Donald Trump had a bit of a Twitter flap to deal with.

***

13 JULY 2015

Scott Walker is in, and so is whomever is apparently running with him.

Jeff Greenfield writes at Politico on “primary amnesia” and what the press forgets every election season.

The key lesson we forget every four years is that the nominating process stands in sharp contrast to the general election, where “fundamentals” often hold sway. While I’m skeptical about the predictive ability of academics and experts to call an election a year or two out, there’s good evidence that a combination of variables—mostly, but not exclusively economic—can provide a useful, if sometimes blunt instrument for gauging the outcome of an election. (When you get within a week or two of a presidential Election Day, you’d be pretty reckless not to trust the kind of analysis made famous by Nate Silver.)

***

12 JULY 2015

The GOP field grows again on Monday when Wisconsin Gov Scott Walker is expected to declare his candidacy, after jumping the gun slightly on Twitter the other day. His entry brings a potential midwest electoral strategy into play for the national election, if he makes it out of the primary.

Patrick Healy at the New York Times writes that while Walker has been running strongly in GOP opinion polls in Iowa, some previous gaffes have had donors and the party hierarchy concerned.

The goal is to no longer sow doubts with comments like comparing pro-union protesters to Islamic State terrorists, refusing to answer a question about evolution, or saying he does not know if President Obama is a Christian or if he loves America.

Whether Mr. Walker can demonstrate that he has a command of the challenges facing America, and is big enough for the presidency, will be tested in the coming weeks on the campaign trail and in televised debates.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton delivers a business-themed speech at the New School in New York on Monday in which she will say that “businesses are too fixated on short-term profits, especially on Wall Street, and she will pledge to help workers get better pay and more family-friendly workplaces,” Reuters reports.

According to Politico, the end of the campaign might be closer than you think..

With the exception of the 2000 election—which was an outlier on every front—voters locked in their attitudes about the direction of the country, the state of their own well-being and the presidential candidates—and their political party—prior to the start of the general election. Once voters’ views solidified, subsequent campaign events or activities simply served to reinforce their initial perceptions about the candidate and party best prepared to lead the country.

***

8 JULY 2015

The South Carolina House voted early on Thursday to reject a series of amendments designed to block a Senate bill which would remove the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol. Final approval was on a 94-20 vote, and the flag could now be taken down within days.

* Watch the full debate on C-SPAN here including a remarkable, moving piece of oratory by Republican Rep Jenny Anderson Horne, a descendant of Jefferson Davis.

 

Even as more businesses move to distance themselves from him, Donald Trump scored his first first-place poll result of the campaign, in North Carolina. On Wednesday night – after Trump had made plenty of headlines in a feisty TV interview with NBC – the Washington Post reported that RNC chairman Reince Priebus had spent nearly an hour on the phone with the candidate, urging him to “tone down his inflammatory comments about immigration.”

The call … underscores the extent to which Trump has gone from an embarrassment to a cause for serious alarm among top Republicans in Washington and nationwide.

But there is little they can do about the mogul and reality-television star, who draws sustenance from controversy and attention. And some fear that, with assistance from Democrats, Trump could become the face of the GOP.

But for whatever reason, the RNC’s call for restraint isn’t a universal message among his fellow Republican candidates, and certainly, as the North Carolina poll shows, among conservative Republican voters.

In the latest from the campaign of the Democratic front-runner, the Washington Post‘s Philip Rucker has a nice piece on how a Hillary PAC has been helping local surrogates hone their message.

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

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

***

7 JULY 2015

A new report by the Center for American Progress ranks the voting systems in all fifty states and shows a discouraging picture in terms of voting access across the south.

But in case you thought “the south” stopped at the Mason-Dixon line, Pennsylvania was among states to also get an ‘F’. Here’s a reminder of what PA House speaker Mike Turzai said in June 2012.

 

The GOP Presidential field gained another hopeful when former Virginia Gov Jim Gilmore announced he will run, and would launch his campaign next month, which would make him the 17th Republican to contest the nomination.

He will join a group desperate to establish name recognition ahead of the controversially-structured first televised debate on August 6th.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton’s stage-managed “first interview” on CNN was pretty much exactly what you’d expect it to be.

***

3 JULY 2015

Building on his 10,000 crowd in Madison Wisconsin this week, Bernie Sanders drew his largest-ever Iowa crowd – and the largest so far for any candidate in this cycle – when 2,500 showed up in Council Bluffs on Friday, as candidates on both sides spend the holiday weekend in the early primary states.

With Sen Sanders gaining on Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in the latest Iowa poll, the former Secretary of State will be spending time in the state next week, even as her lawyers are fighting a new effort to uncover more details of emails stored on her private server. 

On the GOP side, defeated 2012 candidate Mitt Romney is hosting two of this year’s hopefuls in New Hampshire, as Chris Christie and Marco Rubio spend the weekend at Romney’s vacation home. Romney will also travel to Maine next week to meet with Jeb Bush, according to the Washington Post.

***

2 JULY 2015

Former Virginia Sen Jim Webb announced that he was formally seeking the Democratic Presidential nomination. That’s the Democratic nomination. He becomes the fourth official candidate to challenge front-runner Hillary Clinton.

Beth Ethier writes at Slate:

It’s not clear what Webb’s ultimate goal is, assuming he is realistic about his chances of getting onto the Democratic ticket. He could be angling to be Hillary’s VP pick as a moderate whose military service could help her win over less-liberal swing voters, or hoping to bring attention to the veterans’ issues he cares about, especially PTSD treatment. Webb’s never seemed like an enthusiastic participant in D.C. politics, having left the Senate after only one term.

On the GOP side, Wisconsin Gov Scott Walker is set to announce his candidacy on July 13, Politico reported.

But at a speech in La Crosse on the economy, the President jabbed back..

Likening Mr. Walker and the “bus full” of Republican candidates to an “Uncle Harry” at Thanksgiving dinner who says something that makes no sense.

“You still love him,” the president said. “He’s still a member of your family. Right? But you’ve got to correct him. You don’t want to put him in charge of stuff.”

***

1 JULY 2015  – ‘They may have the money, but we’ve got the people’

About 10,000 people turned out in Madison, Wisconsin on Wednesday night to hear Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. It is reportedly the largest audience to show up for any candidate in this campaign cycle and about the same number tuned in to a live stream on YouTube.

(Bernie 2016) — Introduction by John Nichols of The Nation at 41:56, Sanders speaks at 50:00

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Sanders told the crowd he sought a political revolution, committed to “doubling the minimum wage, providing a free college education to all Americans, establishing a universal health care system, expanding union rights and breaking up the largest banks in the country.”

“What this campaign is about is creating a political revolution in America — a revolution which takes on the greed of Wall Street and corporate America,” he told the crowd of thousands at the Alliant Energy Center.

“This is a rigged economy and, brothers and sisters, we are going to change that. … The greed of corporate America and the billionaire class has got to end, and we are going to end it for them.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s campaign said it had raised more than $45million in campaign contributions, a record amount for the first quarter.

“The numbers are not yet final but Hillary for America has exceeded our expectations and is on track to raise more primary money than any candidate in history during their first quarter in the race,” the [campaign] official said Wednesday. “The previous record of primary money raised in a candidate’s first quarter was $41.9 million set by President Obama’s campaign in 2011.”

(For some context, when Jeb Bush reveals how much his campaign has taken in for the first quarter, it is expected to be around $100million, with observers saying such a sum puts him in a dominant, even possibly decisive, position among the GOP field).

Yet despite a national grassroots enthusiasm among progressives for Sanders, Maxwell Tani at Business Insider looks at why Sanders isn’t a “real” threat to Clinton.

According to CNN, only 2% of Democratic voters think Sanders has the best chance of winning the general election. That number has proven to be a red flag for any candidate.

Studies have long shown that most voters desire to cast their vote for a winning candidate, and they’ll often vote for their second choice if they perceive the candidate to have a better chance of winning. As University of Maryland professor Eric Pacuit points out, many voters in 2000 who supported Green Party candidate Ralph Nader ended up voting for Democratic nominee Al Gore.

It shows how far we’ve already come – or fallen – in this election cycle that it’s refreshing to hear a politician say they’re not running for President. New York Congressman Peter King said on Wednesday he wouldn’t be seeking the nomination, telling CNN “he’s decided he can’t raise enough money or run effectively given his job in Congress.”

But the member of the House’s homeland security and intelligence panels had plenty to say on the possibility of a terror attack over the upcoming national holiday weekend.

A day after launching his campaign, New Jersey Gov Chris Christie headed for a week of engagements in New Hampshire, first stopping off in Maine to receive the endorsement – the first high-level endorsement for any candidate – of his fellow GOP Gov Paul LePage. The New York Times writes, politely, that the value of such an endorsement is “unclear” since Mr LePage “makes Mr. Christie’s problems in his home state look puny.”

In a new CNN poll, Christie is running well down a national GOP field where Donald Trump – despite his latest difficulties with Macy’s, former New York Gov George Pataki and professional golfers – appears to be consolidating recent numbers showing him in second or third place overall.

***

UPDATE 2PM ET 30 JUNE 2015

“It’s My Life – It’s Now Or Never..” 

To the strains of Jon Bon Jovi’s 2000 AOR anthem, the singer’s fellow New Jerseyan Chris Christie opened a press conference at his old high school in Livingston, NJ, where he became the 14th announced candidate in the 2016 Republican Presidential Primary. The New York Times reports:

Relying on his biggest, and perhaps his last, remaining advantage in a field of better-financed and better-liked rivals – his personality – Mr. Christie portrayed himself as the only candidate in the Republican field who is forthright and forceful enough to run the country.

Given Donald Trump’s recent run-in with Neil Young over the soundtrack for Trump’s announcement, Bon Jovi later said that he had “absolutely” given permission to use his music, and that his “friendships were apolitical.”

At least Christie didn’t choose “Going Down in a Blaze of Glory.”

 

JUNE 29, 2015 – Christie poised to expand GOP field

An already bloated Republican Presidential field is set to grow still further on Tuesday, when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie – “dogged by scandals and a plummeting popularity in his own state” – officially launches his campaign, media coverage of which may likely exceed his showing in any meaningful voter poll.

The New Jersey Star-Ledger‘s Tom Moran writes in a column headed “After 14 years of watching Christie, a warning: he lies,” that “He is a remarkable talent with a silver tongue. But if you look closely, you can see that it is forked like a serpent’s.”

Jack Shafer writes at Politico:

Will Christie appeal to his angels or his devils? In an interview today with the Washington Post’s James Hohmann, Christie biographer Matt Katz says he never doubted that Christie would run—”Barring a criminal indictment”—because he believes too much in himself and his communications skills not to run. Such confidence, so rare outside of politics and the casino, is the manna that keeps the political system running. Such confidence is also the stuff that causes otherwise sensible politicians to pick unnecessary fights with the press. Christie doesn’t like the press and the press doesn’t like Christie’s imperious ways much, either. Only one combatant in this face-off can change the equation, and only one combatant has everything to lose by not changing it.

NBC said it was severing ties with GOP Presidential candidate and TV personality Donald Trump after his “recent derogatory comments” regarding immigrants. The Hill reports that the move follows reports that Univision, the country’s largest Spanish-language network, said it would not air the beauty pageants produced by Trump.

A big deal commercially, maybe, but perhaps no matter in the grand political scheme of things…

***

JUNE 25, 2015

Supreme Court upholds key Obamacare provision

(The White House – President’s statement begins at 28.48)

The US Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a critical part of the Affordable Care Act, affirming that subsidies to around 6.4 million people, allowing them to purchase healthcare plans, can continue.

Chief Justice John Roberts, in the 6-3 decision in King v Burwell, writes – in what Slate said “will go down as a lasting statement about judicial humility”  –

roberts

* The complete text of the ruling is here, via The Hill.

Not everyone was celebrating, of course.

 

The Iran negotiations are the subject of the first significant “issue ad” of the campaign cycle by a group supporting Florida Sen Marco Rubio. Paul Blumenthal at Huffington Post reports:

The ad from the Conservative Solutions Project, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that is not required to disclose its donors, says the Obama administration is pursuing a “bad deal” with Iran. The video features clips of both Rubio and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denouncing the international negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. The group asks viewers to call their senators and to “join Rubio” in opposing the deal, which is supposed to be negotiated by June 30.

The potential deal was also a target for the GOP “front-runner”.

But the man who is currently running right behind Bush in the latest GOP poll apparently has a different focus, after Hispanic TV network Univision said it would drop the Miss USA pageant after his recent comments about Mexican immigrants.

Unsurprisingly, he barely broke stride.

And in case you might have forgotten who’s actually running (and who might be just thinking about it), here’s the complete listing from the CNN/WMUR New Hampshire poll, showing the little-known Senator Undecided clearly the people’s choice.

poll

After launching his campaign by awkwardly putting his children on hidden camera, Louisiana Gov Bobby Jindal – he of the asterisk above – had an interesting first day as an official candidate, prompting a hashtag in India and being called out by Buckwheat Zydeco.

***

JUNE 24, 2015

Louisiana Gov Bobby Jindal became the 13th candidate in an increasingly-crowded GOP field when he declared he was seeking the Presidency. In what NPR called an “awkward start” to his campaign, Mr Jindal made his announcement by “putting his kids on hidden camera.”

Jindal, who is Indian-American, is making his pitch in particular to the party’s evangelical wing. The New York Times reports:

In his speech, Mr Jindal, who was raised as a Hindu but converted to Roman Catholicism, made a forceful appeal to Christian conservatives, accusing liberals of putting Christianity “under assault.” Before he took the stage, a pastor led the audience in a prayer asking God to fill Mr. Jindal “with the purposes and the plans that you have.”

“I know that some believe I talk too much about my faith, but I will not be silenced,” Mr. Jindal told supporters. “I will not be silenced in order to meet their expectations of political correctness. They don’t seem to accept the idea that you can be both intellectual and Christian.”

The GOP field is expected to grow still further next week, with New Jersey Gov Chris Christie apparently poised to make an announcement. In the latest national poll, Jindal scored around just 1 per cent, but his score among “candidates you could not see yourself voting for” was just 28 per cent, far lower than Christie’s 55 per cent.

Meanwhile, the Director of the University of New Hampshire’s survey center says “everyone should just calm down” after Donald Trump’s second-place showing in the latest New Hampshire GOP primary poll.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton can likely expect plenty of questions – not least from Sen Bernie Sanders – in the wake of Wednesday’s passage of the trade deal facilitating the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

Talking of Sen Sanders, it appears that his campaign event in Denver at the weekend saw the biggest turn-out of any candidate so far in this cycle – bigger even than Hillary’s recent “relaunch” event in New York.

“Ten minutes after the email went out, we knew we had to change the venue,” said Sanders.

Take a look…

(MSNBC)

***

JUNE 22, 2015 – ‘Furling the flag’

As debate and protest has intensified over the use and symbolism of the Confederate flag in the aftermath of the Charleston shooting, a number of Republican politicians are moving to distance themselves from what has been a longstanding regional base issue.

South Carolina Gov Nikki Haley on Monday called for the removal of the Civil War symbol from the state capitol, and some prominent Republicans followed suit.

“That flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state,” Haley said. “By removing a symbol that divides us, we can move forward in harmony.”

But the proposed move requires a vote in the statehouse and there is no indication how quickly the flag might actually be removed. Tonight it remains padlocked in place.

A rally in favor of removal is scheduled for outside the state capitol in Columbia, SC on Tuesday morning.

Among GOP Presidential hopefuls – already dealing with the fallout from political contributions by the leader of a white supremacist group linked to the alleged Charleston shooter – there remains far from a consensus on the flag issue, likely a reflection of South Carolina’s position in the early primary schedule.

Charleston’s local paper the Post and Courier – whose coverage of the events of the past week has been outstanding – published an editorial saying it was “time to furl” the flag.

Such an act would be in the spirit of the original compromise, which was approved by lawmakers of good will, black and white, to remove the flag from a position of sovereignty and place it at what was viewed as an appropriate place on the Statehouse grounds.

The paper is also doing a live survey of all SC legislators on their opinion on the issue,

On Monday night, it was announced that President Obama would travel to Charleston and deliver the eulogy for Rev Clementa Pinckney at the funeral on Friday of the pastor and state senator.

Meanwhile, Mississippi’s Republican House Speaker said the Confederate battle emblem should be removed from that state’s flag, while Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, said it was withdrawing Confederate-themed merchandise from sale.

 

***

JUNE 21, 2015

The political issues raised in Charleston’s aftermath have reverberated among candidates and former candidates. Mitt Romney called for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from above the South Carolina statehouse.

potusmitt

After Romney’s intervention, former Florida Gov Jeb Bush posted on his Facebook page:

“My position on how to address the Confederate flag is clear.  In Florida, we acted, moving the flag from the state grounds to a museum where it belonged.”

..“Following a period of mourning, there will rightly be a discussion among leaders in the state about how South Carolina should move forward and I’m confident they will do the right thing.”

The New York Times reported that Florida Sen Ted Cruz had also weighed in:

“I understand the passions that this debate evokes on both sides. Both those who see a history of racial oppression and a history of slavery, which is the original sin of our nation. And we fought a bloody civil war to expunge that sin. But I also understand those who want to remember the sacrifices of their ancestors and the traditions of their states — not the racial oppression, but the historical traditions. And I think often this issue is used as a wedge to try to divide people.”

Former Arkansas Gov Mike Huckabee said the flag was “not a presidential issue.”

The Fix at the Washington Post looks at the GOP’s “uneasy” relationship with the flag issue, particularly since South Carolina is one of the early primary states, and writes:

“If you touch it, you usually die politically,” Scott Buchanan, a political science professor at The Citadel in South Carolina, told The State newspaper in 2014.

Meanwhile, Politico writes that only Ben Carson of the GOP field is “speaking forcefully about the role of race” in the shooting and that the ‘Faith and Freedom’ meeting at the weekend demonstrated the party’s “overall discomfort with talking about race and guns.”

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton appears to have no such problems, calling on Saturday for action on gun control and saying America needs to face up to “hard truths” on guns and race.

A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll is due to be released on Monday, the latest snapshot of an evolving GOP primary race. It will be interesting to see if the next major poll – which will reflect the post-Charleston political landscape – shows a distinct impact.

wsj

***

JUNE 17/18, 2015 – ‘The heart and soul of South Carolina is broken’

UPDATE 2PM ET, JUNE 18

“There is something particularly heartbreaking about a death happening in a place in which we seek solace and we seek peace, in a place of worship.”

President Obama expressed his sympathy and anger following the “senseless” attack in Charleston, in which six women and three men were murdered during a meeting of their bible study group, saying he has “had to make statements like this too many times.”

Fourteen times, to be precise.

“Now is the time for mourning and healing, but let’s be clear: At some point as a country, we have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries,” the President said. “It is in our power to do something about it… I say this knowing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those opportunities.”

Meanwhile, a picture is beginning to emerge of the suspected gunman, his victims and the circumstances of last night’s tragic massacre.

Charlie Pierce writes in a powerful piece at Esquire magazine on why what happened should not be described as “unthinkable.”

Somebody thought long and hard about it. Somebody thought to load the weapon. Somebody thought to pick the church. Somebody thought to sit, quietly, through some of Wednesday night bible study. Somebody thought to stand up and open fire, killing nine people, including the pastor. Somebody reportedly thought to leave one woman alive so she could tell his story to the world. Somebody thought enough to flee. What happened in that church was a lot of things, but unthinkable is not one of them.

UPDATE 12 NOON ET, JUNE 18

A 21-year-old white man is in custody, suspected in the murder of nine people at an historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday night. Authorities said alleged gunman Dylann Roof had been arrested in Shelby, North Carolina, about 250 miles from Charleston following a traffic stop.

The suspect was described as being “cooperative” with law enforcement and the Charleston police chief said he did not believe the suspect was acting with others.

With prayer services underway in the state, Gov Nikki Haley said “we woke up this morning and the heart and soul of South Carolina was broken.”

UPDATE 6AM ET JUNE 18 

Nine churchgoers murdered in Charleston ‘hate crime’

manhunt is underway in Charleston, South Carolina, after nine people were murdered in a shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Calhoun Street downtown, one of the city’s oldest black churches. Police and the FBI are searching for a white male suspect in his 20s. Reuters reports:

“To have an awful person come in and shoot them is inexplicable, obviously the most intolerable and unbelievable act possible,” Charleston Mayor Joe Riley told reporters. “The only reason someone could walk into a church to shoot people praying is out of hate.”

* The latest from the Charleston Post & Courier is here.

* The latest from The State is here.

* Watch a live feed from local ABC TV affiliate WCIV-TV here.

* Follow the Charleston Police Department on Twitter here.

The shooting happened at around 9PM on Wednesday night as a group was gathered inside the church for a bible study class. Police have not yet identified those who were killed, but church members, friends and political colleagues said that the church’s pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, 41, was among them.

***

JUNE 16, 2015 – ‘Really rich’ Trump jumps into Presidential race

To the brilliantly ironic strains of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” Donald Trump descended a moving staircase at his perfectly air-conditioned Trump Tower in Manhattan on Tuesday morning and proceeded to tell us what was wrong with America and why, and – most importantly – whose fault it is.

He appeared to wrap up his “speech” (he had one prepared but didn’t look at it too often) with a flourishing declaration that he was running for President. Cue Neil’s capitalist-killing riff again.

But then he went on speaking.

It was, at times, jaw-dropping stuff. It was certainly must-see TV, as he set the democratic process up as a circus and the existing candidates its hapless performers.

Of course, despite the show he made today of releasing a “financial statement” his candidacy isn’t official until he files the paperwork with the FEC.

You can watch the speech on CSPAN at the link at the top. In the phone-in that followed, the calls were 80 or 90 per cent in support of Trump.

The DNC had a simple response.

(But within their own race, there was some tricky reading this morning for front-runner Hillary Clinton.)

Here’s just part of the Twitter reaction to Trump’s announcement.

ah – was wondering how long it would take..

but of course, you can’t beat the old oxygen of publicity…

***

JUNE 14, 2015 – Jeb! launches campaign by attacking ‘pampered elites’

UPDATE 6PM ET 15 JUNE

And in this country of ours, the most improbable things can happen. Take that from a guy who met his first president on the day he was born, and his second on the day he was brought home from the hospital.

Jeb Bush, son of one President and brother of another, officially launched his 2016 campaign for the Presidency on Monday afternoon, for some inexplicable reason choosing to portray himself as anti-elitist and running against the political establishment.

The full text of his speech is here, via Time magazine.

The candidate delivered part of his speech in Spanish, indicating what is likely to be one of the recurring optical signals of the campaign:

Bush’s formal campaign launch was held at Miami Dade College. Located in a Cuban American neighborhood, the school boasts the largest Hispanic student body in the nation — a venue that speaks to Bush’s desire to aggressively seek the support of Latinos and other communities less prone to vote for Republicans.

Yet the speech itself contained no specific reference to immigration reform, a point magnified when Bush was interrupted by a group of protesters bearing the message “Legal Status Is Not Enough.”

The hashtag #NoMoreBushes was quickly trending, while some high-profile Conservative pundits weren’t impressed.

The candidate headed to New Hampshire on Monday evening, where he is concentrating his early campaign attention as he bids to compete for a front-runner status some earlier thought might have been his to lose. The New York Times writes that Bush

… still faces fundamental challenges in appealing to a Republican primary electorate that is much different from the one his father or even his brother faced — a party no longer willing to automatically anoint the pragmatic, well-financed, establishment-aligned candidate that the Bush name personifies.

MIDNIGHT, JUNE 15

After running without running for the past year, Jeb Bush is expected to launch his bid for the GOP Presidential nomination on Monday in Miami.

The campaign’s pre-launch video is here:

(Jeb Bush)

Karen Tumulty has a nice piece at the Washington Post on “how a devastating loss in Florida taught Jeb Bush what it takes to win.”

The question for Bush now is how much of his party wants him to take the horns off. Bush’s notion of getting to 50 percent of the vote indicates a focus on the general election, not the heated primary battle he’s engaged in. He has been received coolly by much of his party, in part because of a desire for a fresh face, but also because his moderate stances on issues such as immigration and education are out of stride with the views of many conservatives. It’s not soft tones they want but hard edges.

While he’ll have some work to do to seize the front-runner spot he was widely expected to occupy, his presence sets up the possibility of next year’s contest being a clash of political dynasties. Whether the voters have a taste for it remains to be seen.

Following up a “kickoff” rally on Saturday, Hillary Clinton’s campaign team swarmed the Sunday TV shows. The candidate herself was in Iowa, where she appeared to take a position on the controversial trade legislation currently stuck in the House. She said on Sunday:

“In order to get a deal that meets these high standards, the President should listen to and work with his allies in Congress, starting with Nancy Pelosi, who have expressed their concerns about the impact that a weak agreement would have on our workers, to make sure we get the best, strongest deal possible. And if we don’t get it, there should be no deal.”

***

JUNE 12, 2015 – Hillary’s big weekend

UPDATE: 2PM ET

The full text of Hillary Clinton’s speech is here, via Vox.com.

UPDATE: 11AM ET, JUNE 13

Watch Hillary’s rally live on C-SPAN here:

Live coverage from The Guardian is here.

Tweets from The Washington Post’s Philip Bump are here, including dogs.

Here’s some other selected tweets and commentary – if you’d just like the campaign’s own tweets, those are here.

MIDNIGHT, JUNE 12

There’s a big weekend ahead in Presidential politics. On Saturday, Hillary Clinton stages a “launch” rally for her campaign at Roosevelt Island in Manhattan. The campaign insists that she’ll address the “why” for her running – telling her political story through a family-oriented narrative.

(Clinton campaign video)

The next day, the candidate will be in Des Moines for an Iowa “launch party”.

Meanwhile, GOP hopefuls are gathered at an exclusive spa in Park City Utah to attend an event hosted by 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, who shared his thoughts via PowerPoint on President Obama’s – and by extension Hillary Clinton’s – record in foreign policy. 

As well as schmoozing with big potential donors, there’s a range of activities – the NYT reports: “flag football with Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, skeet shooting with Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and speeches by no fewer than six 2016 hopefuls — about 250 members of Mr. Romney’s network took stock of the Republican field, hoping to find a candidate who not only excites them but who they believe can win a general election.”

And, for some reason, there’s Calisthenics with Commentators…

One high-profile figure isn’t there – Jeb Bush, who’s expected to launch his campaign on Monday in Florida, is in Germany where he is again attempting to distance himself from his brother. The New York Times reports:

..as he prepares to declare his White House bid, Mr. Bush’s trip here has been a reminder that his attempt to escape the shadow of his older brother, as awkward and halting as it may be, is not just a political strategy. It reflects how dissimilar the two men really are, in temperament, interests and preparation.

***

* POLITICS * Talking of Iowa, the local GOP decided that its usual Straw Poll finally needed to be put out of its misery. 

What does the move mean for the state’s early Presidential caucus?

***

JUNE 19, 2015 – New Hampshire throws spanner in TV debate works

Republicans in New Hampshire are attempting to stop the plan by Fox News to limit the number of GOP candidates who will take part in the first televised Presidential debate in August.

With an expanding field posing obvious logistical challenges, a group of fifty prominent state Republicans have written to Roger Ailes of Fox and to RNC chairman Reince Priebus urging that the debate be open to all declared candidates, rather than – as Fox had said – just the top ten as measured by national polls. The AP reports that

The New Hampshire Republicans who want everyone in say that relying on early polling to determine debate participants will give an unfair advantage to candidates who are better known or have raised more money.

The first televised debate of the 2016 campaign should place all candidates on an even footing and let them make their case directly to voters and viewers, according to the letter, signed by 56 Republicans. They include two former governors, nine state senators and a number of former RNC delegates and state party leaders.

The pressure on Fox to amend its format intensified further on Wednesday evening, when the Manchester Union Leader, the influential local newspaper, said it would host its own forum for all candidates, which would be televised on C-SPAN, on the same night as the Fox debate.

“What Fox is attempting to do, and is actually bragging about doing, is a real threat to the first-in-the-nation primary,” [Union Leader Publisher Joseph W] McQuaid said. “Fox boasts that it will ‘winnow’ the field of candidates before New Hampshire gets to do so. That isn’t just bad for New Hampshire, it’s bad for the presidential selection process by limiting the field to only the best-known few with the biggest bankrolls. Why the RNC and, especially, its New Hampshire representative, Steve Duprey, would defend this and be a party to it is baffling.”

Fox then in turn said that it would add a forum for so-called “lower tier” candidates on the same night as its “main” debate – just earlier in the day. But that may not be enough to satisfy the NH GOP.

How this will all resolve itself in coming weeks is unclear, but it offers a fascinating look at the conflict between the not-always-aligned needs of local politics and national horse-race coverage.

***

MAY 14, 2015 – O’Malley prepares ground for 2016 bid

The field for the Democratic Presidential primary looks set to grow after the Baltimore Sun reported that former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley will on Friday sign a lease for a likely campaign headquarters in the city, where he also served as Mayor.

As was the case when his for-now would-be opponent Hillary Clinton signed her campaign HQ lease in Brooklyn, federal regulations stipulate that a declaration must follow within 15 days of such formal “campaign activity.” Mrs Clinton visited Brooklyn on Thursday for the first time since her campaign officially began.

O’Malley, who has been quietly campaigning for some time, courting the progressive wing of the party, is planning an official announcement on May 30 in Baltimore. The Washington Post reports that the location

“…is not without risk, especially given recent demonstrations and unrest linked to the arrest and death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray. O’Malley, who spent seven years as Baltimore’s mayor, has faced renewed criticism of his “zero tolerance” policing policies since the death of Gray, who was severely injured while in police custody.

As he visited New Hampshire on Wednesday, O’Malley defended his policies, which were credited for reducing violent crime, and said the country needs to invest more heavily in its cities, which he said policymakers from both parties have neglected for years.”

O’Malley also recently found himself – like Republican hopeful Jeb Bush – on the uncomfortable end of questions over whether or not he would have started a war. But as The Guardian reports, “the war in question is not the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The past few news cycles have been dominated by Jeb Bush’s waffling on Megyn Kelly’s question “Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion [of Iraq]?”…

…former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley is a well-known War of 1812 buff but, emulating Jeb Bush, he refused to take a stand on whether, knowing what we know now, he would support James Madison’s decision to declare war on Great Britain in 1812.

The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent writes that O’Malley and the other progressive candidate so far in the race, Sen Bernie Sanders, should ensure frontrunner Hillary Clinton faces some tough questions as the campaign moves forward. Sargent runs down some of the issues for debate “even if Clinton’s ultimate victory seems all but assured.”

As for Hillary Clinton’s campaign itself, the issue of the Clinton Foundation continued to bubble through the news cycle, after ABC News host and former Bill Clinton White House aide George Stephanopolous admitted he should have disclosed donations to the Foundation totaling $75,000 over the past three years. It turned out also that another donor was none other than Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold, whose work against the abuse of money in politics became the signature element of his Senate career, announced he was running again for the seat he lost five years ago.

(Russ For Wisconsin)

Alex Roarty at the National Journal explains why Democrats need Feingold to win.

Without Wisconsin, Democrats would need to run the table in less-inviting states such as New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Florida or pick up an unexpected win in more conservative-leaning locales like North Carolina or Indiana. (Meanwhile, the party also has to defend seats against potentially stiff challenges in Colorado and Nevada.) That’s not impossible, but it’s a much more difficult path.

***

APRIL 17, 2015 – Set this circus down

The Republican Presidential field has descended on New Hampshire en masse this weekend for the Republican Leadership Summit in Nashua. How’d Friday go?

https://youtu.be/Sj_Jndmhu1Y

(Bloomberg – With All Due Respect)

The Washington Post ponders 11 other ways Rick Perry could have answered the “are you smart enough to be President” question.

Saturday will see speeches from Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal, among others.

New Hampshire Public Radio‘s live blog is here.

Former Arkansas Gov Mike Huckabee – who in the 2008 GOP contest won the party’s Iowa caucus and six other states, mostly in the south – told Fox News that he would make an announcement on May 5th about whether he will be getting in the race this time around.

Once the Republicans leave town, Hillary Clinton heads to the first in the nation primary state, with a low-key “conversational” approach to campaigning similar to this week in Iowa on deck for Monday and Tuesday.

Jonathan Chait writes an interesting piece at New York magazine on how ‘negative partisanship’ has transformed American politics. He says:

The splitting of American politics into two coherent ideological parties with very little programmatic overlap changes things. Voters who are fundamentally attached to one party or the other are not going to abandon their team merely because their party has held onto office for too many terms, or because the other party’s president is presiding over a nice recovery. Those factors are not meaningless because some swing voters do still exist. And performance can change voter perceptions to a degree; a deep recession might make some Democrats doubt their party’s economic program. But these temporal effects are muted.

***

APRIL 14, 2015

https://twitter.com/FreeBeacon/status/588043526627295232

(FreeBeacon)

In an episode almost beyond parody, media swamped a small town in Iowa where Hillary Clinton held the first public event of her 2016 Presidential campaign. After manically chasing her SUV, nicknamed “Scooby”, as it arrived at a community college in Monticello, the press outnumbered locals as the candidate prepared for an intimate “listening” event with local students.

The actual “roundtable” when it came was something of a sterile anticlimax, with participants and their questions having been pre-screened. But beyond the expected re-hashing of themes from her announcement video, she did say one interesting thing – apparently committing to a constitutional amendment on campaign finance reform. The Washington Post reports:

“We need to fix our dysfunctional political system and get unaccountable money out of it once and for all — even if it takes a constitutional amendment,” Clinton said in opening remarks at a roundtable event with Kirkwood students and instructors.

The 2016 presidential election is expected to be the most expensive in U.S. history, with super PACs and campaigns likely to spend billions of dollars.

Clinton’s comments come as many of the Democratic Party’s biggest donors, as well as her super PAC allies, are gathering in San Francisco for a meeting of the Democracy Alliance.

Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance writes that the candidate “is bashing CEOs while taking their money” and lists some of the early top tier donors to her campaign.

But John Dickerson at Slate writes on “what Clinton has going for her that other candidates don’t”:

All campaigns and candidates require the manufacturing of authenticity. The best candidates manufacture it really well. As Ronald Reagan often said, being an actor was great training for the presidency. So Clinton was engaging in a familiar ritual by trying to set up a tableau that suggested she understood real people’s concerns. (In the television age, candidates since Eisenhower and Kennedy have used regular people in this way.)

But Clinton, despite the formality that seems to fit her titles as former senator and secretary of state, has something going for her that other politicians do not when it comes to these kinds of events. Though she is now encased in extraordinary privilege, which shields her from the normal abrasions of life that voters worry about, she has thought about family issues her entire life. So when one of the participants, a single mom, talked about how hard it was to attend community college, care for her three kids, and afford tuition and school materials, Clinton could refer to a scholarship she’d set up in Arkansas years ago for women in just that situation.

This may explain why, despite her celebrity, polls show that voters believe she is the candidate who understands their concerns the best.

At the New Yorker, Ian Crouch looks at why Kate McKinnon’s Hillary on SNL is more effective than that of the previous player, Amy Poehler.

Hillary was said to have admired Poehler’s impression. It’s unlikely that she, or her political handlers, will find much to like in McKinnon’s. Like Poehler, McKinnon satirizes Hillary’s frustrated will to power, but in her version Hillary seems to have spent the past eight years nursing that particular grudge to the point that it has grown into a fully formed split personality. McKinnon’s Hillary gapes and grimaces, contorting her face in an effort not merely to appear at ease and “relatable” but to keep the other Hillary—the spurned, bitter, and crazed version—from coming out.

On the GOP side, Gov Chris Christie was in New Hampshire

https://twitter.com/mattkatz00/status/588048423657570304

while also heading to the Granite State later this week is former New York Governor George Pataki…

https://twitter.com/GovernorPataki/status/588011672310255616

So we got that going for us.

***

APRIL 13, 2015 – ‘Yesterday’s over’

Marco Rubio announced in Miami on Monday evening – having told major donors earlier in the day – that he was seeking the Republican Presidential nomination. In a speech with a clear generational theme – something that could work for him in attacking both 67-year-old Hillary Clinton and 62-year-old Jeb Bush – the 43-year-old Rubio said: “Just yesterday, a leader from yesterday began a campaign for president by promising to take us back to yesterday. Yesterday’s over, and we are never going back.”

In front of his campaign slogan “A New American Century” (not, apparently, connected to the  neo-conservative think tank) Rubio told supporters:

“My candidacy might seem improbable to some watching from abroad. In many countries, the highest office in the land is reserved for the rich and powerful. But I live in an exceptional country where even the son of a bartender and a maid can have the same dreams and the same future as those who come from power and privilege.

I recognize the challenges of this campaign, and the demands of the office I seek. But in this endeavor as in all things, I find comfort in the ancient command to, “Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

rubio(image: AP/Mashable)

Rubio, whose website experienced some technical difficulties following his announcement, is the third Republican to have declared their candidacy and the GOP field could get busier still on May 4, when retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson makes an announcement in Detroit.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton arrived in Iowa after her pseudo-incognito, totally-spontaneous “road trip” from New York complete with a stop at an Ohio-area Chipotle, conveniently captured on security camera.

She might as well just hire Armando Iannucci to run her campaign, now that the satirist has a little extra time on his hands.

https://youtu.be/myxMEwyilqo

(HBO/Hiago de Carvalho)

On Tuesday, the candidate starts a series of what’s called “private listening sessions” with potential voters; a concept slightly reminiscent of an early scene in Robert Altman and Garry Trudeau’s groundbreaking political mockumentary, Tanner ’88.

***

APRIL 12, 2015 – ‘Citizens, I will be your leader’

https://youtu.be/BXdNYXMQoy8

(SNL)

With a mere 575 days to go until the Presidential election, the worst-kept secret in politics is out, and still managed to be covered as “Breaking News”.

The manner of Hillary Clinton’s entry into the race – everything from her choice of words to choice of logo – was dissected seemingly endlessly on television and social media. Searches for her name spiked by a factor of 23 over the past 24 hours, while her announcement tweet saw three million views in its first hour. Here’s a breakdown of her announcement video by the numbers.

And right now, the candidate – who on Sunday also resigned her role at the Clinton Foundation – could apparently be anywhere along I-80 in the middle of a road-trip to Iowa.

https://twitter.com/HillaryClinton/status/587419742505426944

https://twitter.com/mviser/status/587397293399216128

Don’t worry. We’ve got this guy coming up on Monday.

***

APRIL 10, 2015 – Open season

It should be an interesting few days in US politics. Hillary Clinton is expected to declare her Presidential candidacy online at noon ET on Sunday, possibly even while she is on the plane en route to Iowa.

But even as she released a new epilogue to her Hard Choices book, the RNC has already rolled out its first Stop Hillary spot, basically signaling the start of open season:

https://youtu.be/Q4wOIwq49gw

(GOP)

Republican-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee continues to do the talk show rounds to directly criticize Mrs Clinton over her vote in favor of the Iraq war. “I would argue that anybody who voted for the Iraq War should not be president, and certainly anybody who voted for the Iraq War should not lead the Democratic Party into an election,” Chafee told Politico.

Is he a stalking horse to allow Mrs Clinton to avoid the appearance of a coronation? Time may tell. It may have been revealing that in an appearance on MSNBC’s The Cycle on Friday, Chafee appeared less than enthusiastic about putting his own money behind his campaign (although to his credit, he did have a pretty decent get-out line: “What’s needed for a Presidential campaign is well beyond what my family can afford.”)

One place where they may be cheering Hillary Clinton’s announcement – or at least the timing of it – is over at HBO, where season four of “Veep” begins on Sunday night:

Poor, embattled Selina Meyer has finally hit the jackpot. She’s returning to television on the very weekend that a real-life politician is trying to become what she already is: the first woman to be president of the United States. You can’t buy that kind of publicity.

https://youtu.be/u9qBDFmbkZg

(HBO)

Former Maryland Gov Martin O’Malley, meanwhile, said in Iowa that the Presidency is “not a hereditary right” to be “passed between families” and appears to be gearing up for an announcement on a “colossal undertaking” next month.

On the GOP side, with attention largely focused on the weekend’s NRA convention, Sen Marco Rubio – with a freshly-formed SuperPAC – is set to announce his campaign launch on Monday, seemingly a clear sign that his fellow Floridian Jeb Bush isn’t a lock for the nomination despite early success with big donors. According to PoliticoRubio has shown some healthy upside in the early primary states.

The New York Times writes:

Both men are eager to tamp down the tension. “What do you think,” Mr. Rubio recently asked an associate somewhat sheepishly, “about two friends running for the same office?”

Allies of Mr. Rubio, 43, and Mr. Bush, 62, have rendered an unmistakable verdict: It is an awful idea, upending loyalties and destroying relationships. Many of them, dispensing with the diplomacy that has long surrounded the Bush-Rubio alliance, are starting to lash out.

***

APRIL 9 – Clinton’s hat poised for ring-throwing

Reports on Thursday evening suggested that Hillary Clinton is set to announce the launch of her Presidential campaign on Sunday, via video and social media. The former Secretary of State’s announcement has been looming since her campaign leased its Brooklyn headquarters last week, starting the clock on a 15-day FEC deadline.

The latest issue of The Economist says that voters have “plenty of doubts” about Mrs Clinton.

The Democratic grassroots have their own gripes with the Clintons. They have not forgotten that Mrs Clinton voted for George W. Bush’s Iraq war as a senator. It took her until March 2013 to come out for gay marriage. But mostly the left of the party worries that the Clintons are too soft on capitalism. They recall Mr Clinton’s presidency as a time when the rules on Wall Street banks were loosened, in their view setting the scene for the later financial crash. It remains an article of faith among trade unions that the North American Free Trade Agreement signed by Mr Clinton with Mexico and Canada sucked jobs out of the American heartland.

A new Quinnipiac poll showed that her popularity has been significantly pegged back in a series of key swing states, in the wake of the controversy over her personal emails.

And she may have company after all in a Democratic primary, as former Rhode Island Senator (and Governor) Lincoln Chafee announced on Thursday that he had set up an exploratory committee to consider a run. “The Republicans have lots of choices, I feel that Democratic voters deserve choices too,” he said.

So far, the only other Democrat to have moved as far as forming an exploratory committee is former Virginia Senator Jim Webb, who at an event on Wednesday said that the US has “lacked strategic direction” since Bill Clinton assumed the presidency.

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APRIL 3, 2015 – Brooklyn Nets Clinton Campaign

Hillary Clinton appears to have moved closer to declaring her Presidential candidacy after someone representing  her not-yet-official campaign signed a lease on a campaign headquarters in Brooklyn Heights.

According to FEC rules, there must be a legal campaign entity within 15 days of any campaign activity. Signing the lease would likely count as such activity, hence the former Secretary of State’s formal announcement is expected within the next couple of weeks.

The Washington Post writes:

More than two dozen mostly unpaid staffers are already working in New York, some squeezed into a small midtown Manhattan office that Clinton has used as a personal office since leaving the State Department in early 2013. Campaign staffers have begun hunting for elusive short-term, affordable apartment leases in the hot Brooklyn real estate market, and doing so mostly without a first paycheck.

The reveal on this cycle’s worst-kept secret likely won’t come on Monday 13th, though – that’s already earmarked for an expected Marco Rubio announcement in Miami. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is expected to be the next to declare, likely next Tuesday, April 7.

While Amy Chozick at the New York Times profiles the woman whose job it is to “recast Hillary’s image,” Business Insider‘s Hunter Walker couldn’t get her putative campaign to comment on whether the prospective candidate was amused by the cross-streets near her new HQ.

hillary(image: Business Insider)

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