Tag Archives: Bernie Sanders

‘Size matters’ in this year’s primary campaigns


Texas is back in the big leagues of the presidential primary season.

The state goes to the polls on March 1 with both the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations very much in doubt . . . although the GOP nomination is more in doubt than the Democratic contest.

As the Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey notes in his excellent analysis of the upcoming Lone Star State primary: Size matters.

Texas is back in the game

It’s not clear yet whether the Texas primary, which occurs with several other states, will be decisive. Let’s just presume for a moment that it will be more decisive than, say, the New Hampshire primary that occurs Tuesday, or the Iowa caucus that took place this past week.

On the Democratic side, Vermont’s U.S. senator, Bernie Sanders, is basically running essentially as a favorite son in neighboring New Hampshire. He figures to win. He might even win big. Hillary Clinton hopes to carve into his lead in the final hours before voting starts and if she can finish anywhere near Sanders, she will look for a reason to declare some form of “victory.”

On the Republican side, Donald J. Trump appears headed to victory — if we are to believe those polls.

But none of it matters — truth be told — as much as the big Texas primary that’s about to take place.

Texans are going to cast many more ballots and will select huge delegations to the parties’ political conventions later this year.

In many prior election cycles, the contests were virtually decided by the time the primary caravans rolled into Texas. This year, by the grace of the state and national parties, we get an early shot at making this most critical political decision.

My own hunch is that the Republican primary will be much busier than the Democrats’ primary. One reason is quite obvious: Texas has many more Republicans than Democrats. The other reason is that the GOP primary will be up for grabs and with candidates like Trump and Texas home boy U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz garnering most of the attention, then the Republican polling stations are bound to get most of the election day business.

Still, as an avid political junkie, I happen to be glad to see Texas back in the thick of the presidential selection fight.


If Hillary comes close to Sanders, she’ll declare ‘victory’


Politics has this way of giving those who lose tough races a chance to declare victory.

Eugene McCarthy did it in 1968 when he lost the New Hampshire primary to President Lyndon Johnson; George McGovern did the same thing in 1972 when he finished third in a primary that was won by Edmund Muskie; ditto for Bill Clinton in 1992 when he lost to Paul Tsongas.

History well might be about to repeat itself Tuesday — if Hillary Clinton moves to within shouting distance of Bernie Sanders in the Granite State’s Democratic primary.

She’s trailing now. She might be closing the gap, according to some polls. If she loses to Sanders by, say, 8 or fewer percentage points, I can hear it now: Hillary Clinton will proclaim herself to be the “second comeback kid.” The first, of course, was husband Bill.

When Ted Cruz won last week’s Iowa caucus, we heard to other “losers” proclaim victory. One of them was Donald J. Trump, who reminded voters that the polls he loves to trumpet said he didn’t have a prayer in Iowa when he entered the race; he finished second behind the Cruz Missile.

Even more fascinating was how third-placer Marco Rubio declared victory in that astonishing speech to his supporters. Hey, Marco . . . you finished third, young man!

Of course, actually finishes don’t mean much in political terms. Candidates have perfected the art of the spin for as long as the process itself. These days the necessity is made more important given the presence of social media and 24/7 cable news networks.

The trick is to get the “victory” declarations out there before anyone has a chance to catch their breath. Get ahead of the story and make damn sure you stay ahead of it.

Bill Clinton declared victory 24 years ago. He didn’t actually win. He just made sure voters thought he did.

I’m almost willing to bet real American money that his strategy has not been lost on his wife’s campaign team.

Debate produces a memorable sound bite

Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont,, left, and Hillary Rodham Clinton laugh during the CNN Democratic presidential debate, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Hillary Clinton can take ownership now of perhaps the second of three memorable sound bites that have stuck with some us over many years.

Last night the Democratic presidential candidate referred to the attacks leveled against her by primary opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders as an “artful smear.”

Bingo, Madame Secretary.

That will go down in history right along with another one of her gems, when she referred to the “vast right-wing conspiracy” that concocted the sex-related scandals that enveloped her husband during his time as president of the United States.

The third memorable sound bite comes from a federal judge who was nominated by President George H.W. Bush to join the U.S. Supreme Court. Clarence Thomas famously referred during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing to allegations of sexual harassment as a “high-tech lynching.”

There you have it. There well could be more, but those jump out at me.

Those, in my mind, are the Big Three of sound bites relating to scandals and/or controversies.

The debate between Clinton and Sanders, though, did prove edifying, educational and at times entertaining.

It also was memorable now for what is certain to become a sound bite that will live forever.




Comparative politics: alive and well


A euphemism for negative campaigning can be termed as “making comparisons” among opposing candidates.

OK, so the campaigns for president in both political primaries are getting negative.

The two Democrats still standing for their party’s nomination — Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders — are demonstrating the differences between them in terms of experience and philosophy.

The same can certainly be said of the remaining Republicans. They, too, are going after each other with ferocity. No one not named “Trump” wants Donald Trump to be the nominee. Ted Cruz isn’t getting much love, either. Now we have a third front-tier candidate, Marco Rubio, who is taking opponents’ fire.

Honestly, I am intrigued by it all.

I normally dislike intense negativity in these political campaigns. I prefer to hear what candidates will do for me, not necessarily how they differ with someone else.

This election cycle, though, is providing some fascinating discussion among the candidates.

It’s revealing the type of men and women who are seeking this great office. It is telling us about their psyche, their personalities, what makes them tick; it’s revealing where their “hot buttons” are located.

Clinton and Sanders are showing us tonight how different they are from each other. I am glad that their party’s nomination fight has been reduced to just two of them.

I remain hopeful that the Republican primary will continue to cull the weaker candidates from the still-large herd of hopefuls. It’s hard for me to keep up with all the stones being tossed in so many directions from so many sources.

Still, it’s educational to watch.

It’s also rather entertaining.


Sanders’ ‘revolution’ might be overstated


Sen. Bernie Sanders is now using the word “revolution” to describe the nature of his bid to become president of the United States.

He’s leading Hillary Clinton in every poll there is in New Hampshire, which I think is filling the Vermont senator’s head with visions of overinflated grandeur.

It’s not that his Democratic support is fake. It’s real. But let’s cool the “revolution” talk for a bit.

Three presidential campaigns of the late 20th century also were labeled “revolutions” in some quarters. How did they do?

1964: Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona took the Republican Party presidential nomination by storm, defeating “establishment” candidates, such as New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller in a wild primary fight. He went on to lose the general election that year to President Lyndon Baines Johnson in a historic landslide. LBJ, of course, traded a good bit on the legacy of his slain predecessor, John Kennedy, and vowed to continue pursuing JFK’s unfinished agenda.

1968: Just four years later, the Vietnam War caused another revolution. LBJ’s popularity had gone south. Democrats looked for an alternative. They turned to one in Sen. Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota, who stunned LBJ with a stronger-than-expected showing in the New Hampshire primary. In came another anti-war candidate, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy of New York, brother of the murdered president and a political hero to many Americans — including yours truly. Vice President Hubert Humphrey, another “establishment” candidate, won the nomination, but then lost to Republican Richard Nixon by a narrow margin that fall.

1972: Let’s call this one the Anti-Vietnam War Revolution 2.0. The flag bearer this time would be U.S. Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota, who beat the party “establishment” led by Sen. Ed Muskie of Maine to win the nomination. McGovern drew big crowds to rallies, too, just like Sanders. Did they equate to votes that November? Ummm, no. President Nixon won 49 out of 50 states and buried McGovern’s “revolution” under the landslide.

Yes, some “revolutions” succeed. Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory in 1980 is one. Barack Obama’s election in 2008 could be considered another one. But they required extraordinary circumstances. The Iranian hostage crisis hurt President Carter grievously in voters’ minds in ’80 and the economic free-fall of 2008 helped lift Sen. Obama into the White House eight years ago.

Sanders might think he’s carrying the torch for another revolution. Then again, Republicans such as Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and perhaps even Marco Rubio might want to say the same thing . . . for entirely different reasons.

I just want to remind the revolutionaries out there that the political establishment doesn’t get to be so entrenched and powerful by being made up of pushovers or patsies.



Clinton wins Iowa . . . finally!


There you have it.

The Associated Press has declared Hillary Clinton the winner of the Iowa Democratic caucus.

Now she can declare victory, which she did — albeit a bit prematurely — Monday night.

It’s a victory without much actual meaning, though, if you think much about it.

The former first lady/U.S. senator/secretary of state once held a commanding lead over U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in Iowa. Then it vanished. Sanders began gaining traction with his progressive/populist message. He had those big crowds, remember?

So it ended Monday night with Sanders trailing Clinton by two-tenths of a percentage point. She won about four more state delegates than Sanders.

Yes, she won. Will it matter in New Hampshire, or in South Carolina or anywhere else? Probably not.

I am one of those who thought Clinton would be unstoppable. The Democrats would nominate her by acclamation at their Philly convention and she’d breeze to election in November, making history as the nation’s first female president.

She still might be impossible to stop. She’s got a party machine behind her. And, oh yes, she’s got her husband, the 42nd president, also campaigning for her.

Say what you will about former President Clinton, he remains to this very day the nation’s most formidable political figure.

However, this campaign is going to be a lot tougher than Hillary Clinton ever imagined.

Her victory was hard-earned. Then again, she wasn’t supposed to work this hard to get it.

Nice seeing you, Iowa; on to New Hampshire!


I’ve just shaken the dust loose from a night’s sleep and discovered the results of last night’s Iowa caucuses.

Two things jump out at me.

First, Ted Cruz’s victory well might be a hollow one for the Republican Party.

Second, Hillary Clinton didn’t win a thing last night.

Cruz thumped Donald J. Trump — yes, thumped — with a pretty convincing victory in the Republican caucus. Sure, a 4-point win isn’t yuuuge in conventional terms, but this ain’t a conventional election season.

Trump has boasted all those glowing poll numbers and all but guaranteed — a la Broadway Joe — a victory. His two-minute concession speech last night spoke volumes, though, about what happened.

The evangelical vote turned out for Cruz. They came “home” to Cruz, who’s really one of them, unlike Trump, who pretended to be one of ’em.

Why might a Cruz win in Iowa portend trouble for the GOP? He is a patently unlikable man, according to those who work with him in the U.S. Senate. He seems like a dedicated family guy; he might even be someone you’d want to talk to informally.

However, he talks a bit too brazenly about “carpet bombing” the Islamic State and putting “boots on the ground” in the Middle East.

OK, he makes me uncomfortable. That’s clear. It’s my own bias, which I admit to readily.

Hillary Clinton’s victory declaration was hollow.

Clinton declared victory. Is that right? How can she do that? She was tied with Bernie Sanders in the Democratic caucus.

If anyone can declare a “moral victory,” it would be Sanders, the indy/Democrat from Vermont who once trailed Clinton by a zillion percent in the polls. Yet he finished with nearly as many votes and delegates as she did.

Sanders now takes his “big mo” to New Hampshire, which is next door to Vermont. He’ll win there. Then the road show heads for South Carolina.

Clinton had better hope she keeps Sanders within sight as they move into the Deep South. She’ll need the African-American vote to put her over the top as the campaign then moves into some serious regional primary contests, which include Texas, in early March.

Honestly, I was hoping some of the other Republicans would do better. I am pulling for John Kasich to snap out of it; I once had hope that Jeb Bush might get ‘er goin’.

Oh yes, Marco Rubio? He declared victory, too, on the GOP side. He finished third. But that was good enough in young Marco’s mind to declare that he’s the man to beat.

Memo to Marco: You have to get more votes and delegates than anyone else to make that claim.

One final thought: All this analysis of Iowa might not matter.

If the Iowa caucuses are supposed to gauge the mood of the country, then we would have had President Huckabee or President Santorum watching all of this from the Oval Office.

It’s a marathon, folks. The candidates have just made the first turn.

Martin, we hardly knew ye


How frustrating it must be for Martin O’Malley.

The former mayor of Baltimore and former governor of Maryland didn’t register among Iowa Democrats tonight in that state’s presidential caucus.

All that effort. All the time spent. All the posturing and preening one must do to get people’s attention when you run for president is all for naught. Nothin’, man.

O’Malley is going to “suspend” his campaign, which means it’s over. Suspension of campaigns is political-speak that enables candidates to keep raising money to pay off debts incurred for their failed efforts.

O’Malley couldn’t outshout Bernie Sanders or outspend Hillary Clinton. So, he’s about to be gone from the campaign.

His departure won’t matter much. Clinton and Sanders will fight it out between them.

You know what? To be brutally honest, I cannot think of a single landmark issue that set O’Malley apart. Clinton’s toughness and hawkish foreign policy has become her key point; Sanders’ battering of Wall Street and his call for wage equality have become his signature issues.

O’Malley was just the third candidate in the ring.

He will spin it positively, of course, as politicians do.

The frustration, and the pain, must hurt.


Predicting the Iowa caucus result is fraught with risk

Close view of a collection of VOTE badges. 3D render with HDRI lighting and raytraced textures.

David Brooks is a brave man.

Or perhaps he’s nuts.

The New York Times columnist said two things on Friday. One is that he has been “consistently wrong” about this year’s presidential campaign. The other is that Donald J. Trump is going to “underperform” at the Iowa caucuses which occur Monday.

I choose not to go there. The campaign to this date has been fraught with peril for those of us who believed — it’s silly, I know — that Trump would have imploded long ago. He hasn’t. Trump has ridden on the backs of voters who are sick of the “status quo,” and want “change, by God.”

Trump is promising it, without a clue as to whether he — as president — even has the power to bring the kind of change he’s promising.

My favorite Trump promise so far is that when he’s president, “department store employees are going to wish customers Merry Christmas.” Yeah, go figure that one out.

Brooks also believes Sen. Bernie Sanders is going to have a “turnout problem” in Iowa, meaning that the strong young-voter support he’s getting in those crowded auditoriums won’t manifest itself in the caucus rooms. Why? Young people don’t vote with the same fervor as their elders.

How, though, in the world does one predict an outcome in either party?

I give Brooks lots of credit for sticking his neck out once again.

I’m keeping my powder dry until after the last caucus polling station reports in.



It’s just about the ‘worst case’ regarding those e-mails


The worst case hasn’t yet arrived with regard to the Hillary Clinton e-mail controversy.

However, it’s a lot closer than the presumed Democratic Party presidential frontrunner would like.

I won’t yet call this matter a “scandal.” It would elevate to that level if we found out that the classified e-mails that went out on the former secretary of state’s personal server got into the wrong hands.

The Obama administration today revealed that 22 e-mail messages that went through Clinton’s server have been labeled “top secret.” Clinton had said she didn’t knowingly send out sensitive material on the server.

The administration now says it won’t release the e-mails to the public because — that’s right — they are top secret!

We won’t be allowed to see what’s in them, which is just fine by me.

Most troubling, though, is that the e-mail messages very well could have gotten into the hands of those seeking to do serious harm to this nation.

We’ll need to know the truth about how those messages traveled through cyberspace containing the highly sensitive national security information.

Of course, the political ramifications of this revelation ramp up the stakes for Monday’s Iowa caucuses, where Clinton is locked in a tight battle with Sen. Bernie Sanders; former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is running a distant third, but suddenly he emerges as a potential spoiler.

Clinton is beginning to suffer from some trust issues with voters. The administration’s acknowledgment that the e-mails carried top secret information into potentially unsecured locations out there into the Internet universe could do serious harm to a candidacy once seen as unstoppable.