Posts Tagged Barack Obama

Clinton and Sanders Clash Over Obama During Democratic Debate

Bernie and HIllary PBSHillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders battled for the crucial backing of black and Hispanic voters in Thursday night’s Democratic debate and clashed heatedly over their support for Barack Obama as the presidential race shifted toward states with more minority voters.

Clinton, who has cast herself as the rightful heir to Obama’s legacy, accused Sanders of diminishing the president’s record and short-changing his leadership.

“The kind of criticism I hear from Senator Sanders, I expect from Republicans. I do not expect it from someone seeking the Democratic nomination,” Clinton said in a sharp exchange at the close of the two-hour debate in Milwaukee. Her biting comments followed an interview in which Sanders suggested Obama hadn’t succeeded in closing the gap between Congress and the American people,  something Obama himself has acknowledged.

Sanders responded: “Madam Secretary, that is a low blow.” And he noted that Clinton was the only one on the stage who ran against Obama in the 2008 presidential race.

Long viewed as the overwhelming front-runner in the Democratic race, Clinton has been caught off guard by Sanders’ strength, particularly his visceral connection with Americans frustrated by the current political and economic systems. Clinton’s own campaign message has looked muddled compared to his ringing call for a “political revolution,” and her connections to Wall Street have given Sanders an easy way to link her to the systems his supporters want to overhaul.

Seeking to stem Sanders’ momentum, her campaign has argued that his appeal is mostly limited to the white, liberal voters who make up the Democratic electorate in Iowa and New Hampshire. Clinton’s team says that as the race turns now to Nevada, South Carolina and other more diverse states, her support from black and Hispanic voters will help propel her to the nomination.

Attempting Thursday night to boost his own support from minorities, Sanders peppered his typically economic-focused rhetoric with calls to reform a “broken criminal justice system” that incarcerates a disproportionate number of minorities.

“At the end of my first term, we will not have more people in jail than any other country,” he said.

In one of many moments of agreement between the candidates, Clinton concurred on a need to fix the criminal justice system, but cast her proposals for fighting racial inequality as broader than his.

“We also have to talk about jobs, education, housing, and other ways of helping communities,” said Clinton, who was endorsed earlier in the day by the political action committee of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The candidates both vowed to pursue comprehensive immigration reform, using the emotional issue to draw a contrast with Republicans who oppose allowing many of the millions of people in the United States illegally to stay.

“We have got to stand up to the Trumps of the world who are trying to divide us up,” said Sanders, referring to Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who has called for deporting everyone in the country illegally and constructing a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Both Clinton and Sanders also disagreed with raids authorized by President Obama to arrest and deport some people from Central America who recently came to the country illegally.

“We should be deporting criminals, not hardworking immigrant families who do the very best they can,” Clinton said.

Both candidates were restrained through much of their head-to-head contest, a contrast to their campaigns’ increasingly heated rhetoric. Clinton is mindful of a need to not turn off Sanders’ voters, particularly the young people that are supporting him in overwhelming numbers.

Still, the former secretary of state sought to discredit some of the proposals that have drawn young people to Sanders, including his call for free tuition at public colleges and universities and a plan for a government-run, single-payer health care system. Clinton said those proposals come with unrealistic price tags. And she accused Sanders of trying to shade the truth about what she said would be a 40 percent increase in the size of the federal government in order to implement his policies.

Sanders didn’t shy away from the notion that he wants to expand the size of government.

“In my view, the government of a democratic society has a moral responsibility to play a vital role in making sure all our people have a decent standard of living,” Sanders said.

Sanders has focused his campaign almost exclusively on a call to break up big Wall Street banks and overhaul the current campaign finance system that he says gives wealthy Americans undue influence. His campaign contends that his message will be well-received by minority voters, arguing that blacks and Hispanics have been hurt even more by what he calls a “rigged” economy.

Clinton was animated when discussing foreign policy, an area where her campaign believes Sanders is weak. She peppered her comments on the Islamic State and Russia with reminders of her four years serving as Obama’s secretary of state. Sanders challenged her judgment by raising her support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, a war he voted against.

In the debate’s early moments, Clinton found herself having to explain comments by surrogates, including former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, that suggested women had a responsibility to help elect the first female president.

“I’m not asking people to support me because I’m a woman,” Clinton said. “I’m asking people to support me because I think I’m the most qualified, experienced and ready person to be the president and the commander in chief.”

It was Sanders a democratic socialist who would be the first Jewish president if elected who tried to drape his candidacy in a bit of history.

“I think a Sanders victory would be of some historical accomplishment as well,” he said.



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The Des Moines Register Endorses Clinton & Rubio Ahead of Caucus

Marco Rubio & HillaryThe Des Moines Register, the largest newspaper in the state that will cast the first votes for U.S. presidential nominees in nine days, gave its coveted endorsement on Saturday to Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Hillary Clinton, it announced on Saturday.

The newspaper’s board said it was impressed by Clinton’s “knowledge and experience” and that it had picked Rubio because the Florida senator represented the Republican party’s “best hope” in the November 2016 presidential race.

While the endorsements from the newspaper have the potential to boost a candidate, they often do not predict success in Iowa’s distinctive, time-consuming caucus system of picking nominees, which involves voters meeting in public places to discuss their preferences.

Since beginning the practice in 1988, only three of the nine candidates the newspaper has endorsed have left the state with the most votes.

“It’s certainly not a prediction,” Amalie Nash, the paper’s executive editor, said in an interview before the announcement. “We normally we do talk about viability, but it’s certainly not a major factor.”

Nash and the board’s five other members had all the leading Democratic and Republican candidates in for interviews except for the current Republican front-runners, Senator Ted Cruz and the businessman Donald Trump, who declined their invitations, the paper said.

The board put emphasis on whether the candidates had the potential to heal the partisan divide that has become a hallmark of Washington politics and their plans for defusing the threat to Americans from the militant Islamist group Islamic State, Nash said.

Rubio, the paper said, held the “potential to chart a new direction for the party, and perhaps the nation, with his message of restoring the American dream.”

Noting the presidency is “not an entry-level position,” the Register praised Clinton as an “outstanding candidate” deserving of the Democratic nomination.

“No other candidate can match the depth or breadth of her knowledge and experience,” it said.

The Register previously endorsed Clinton during her 2008 presidential run, saying she was distinguished by her “readiness to lead.” Barack Obama ultimately won the Iowa caucus and Clinton finished third behind John Edwards.

The paper endorsed Senator John McCain on the Republican side that year. He came in fourth in Iowa but went on to become the party’s nominee before losing the general election to Obama.

An endorsement for Trump had seemed unlikely after the paper published a withering editorial last July calling on him to end his “bloviating side show” and drop out of the election.

Winners of the Iowa caucuses, due to be held on Feb. 1 this year, do not always go on to become their party’s standard bearer in the November general election.

“Iowa’s role isn’t to pick the eventual nominee,” Nash, the Register’s executive editor, said. “It’s to winnow the field.”


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Biden Decides Not to Seek Democratic Party Presidential Nomination

Job Biden Rose Garden
Vice President Joe Biden won’t seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, ending months of deliberation and speculation and left the path open for Hillary Clinton.

The long process of grieving over the death of his son Beau has closed the window on any chance of mounting a presidential campaign, Biden said in a hastily arranged announcement Wednesday from the White House Rose Garden. President Barack Obama and Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, stood at his side.

“I couldn’t do this if the family wasn’t ready. The good news is the family has reached that point,” Biden said. “Unfortunately, I believe we’re out of time, the time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination.”

Biden made the decision last night following months of deliberation and consultations with a close circle of advisers, according to a person close to the vice president. His announcement clarifies the choice before the party’s voters even as Clinton faces a challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and two other Democrats who are trying to position themselves as an alternative to the former secretary of state.

Clinton called Biden after the vice president’s announcement at the White House, her spokesman said, and in a statement, she called Biden “a good man and a great vice president.”

At 72, Biden has likely run his last campaign for elected office. He may be considered for secretary of state or other presidential nominations or appointments should Democrats prevail in next year’s general election. Biden served as a U.S. senator for 36 years and unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for president in 1988 and 2008 before becoming Obama’s running mate.

He said he would continue to advocate for his policy priorities in the 2016 race, including limiting the influence of wealthy people in campaigns, reducing higher-education costs, bolstering middle-income families and reworking the tax code.

“I will not be silent,” Biden said Wednesday. “I intend to speak out clearly and forcefully to influence, as much as I can, where we stand as a party and where we need to go as a nation.”

On the eve of his announcement, Biden spent the day at a tribute to former Vice President Walter Mondale and had a private lunch with Obama. At the tribute, he praised Mondale and former President Jimmy Carter for empowering the vice presidency and turning it into more of a partnership and casting his own relationship with Obama in those terms.

As he has at other recent events, Biden sought to frame his legacy and try to set some terms for the Democratic race. During a panel discussion, Biden recast how he counseled Obama about the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden. He said he wasn’t against the strike, as Clinton and even Biden himself had previously suggested. Instead, he said Tuesday that had sought to buy Obama time and space to decide while privately supporting a raid.

Biden spoke repeatedly about how close he and Obama are and how no other Cabinet official had the same bond. And he emphasized his view that any Democrat who considers Republicans to be the enemy is naive, an indirect jab at Clinton who said at last week’s Democratic debate that she considered Republicans among her enemies.

Looking ahead to the campaign, Biden said the Democratic nominee should carry the banner of the Obama presidency into the general election.

“This party, our nation, will be making a tragic mistake if we walk away or attempt to undo the Obama legacy,” Biden said in the Rose Garden. “Democrats should not only defend this record and protect this record, they should run on this record.”

Biden always left open the possibility of running in 2016 when Obama’s second term was up. The vice president saw his eldest child, Beau, a military veteran who served as Delaware’s attorney general and planned to run for governor, as the successor to his political legacy and a future presidential contender.

Biden said today that he would spend the remainder of his vice presidency pressing for legislation “to end cancer as we know it today.” “I know there are Democrats and Republicans on the Hill who share our passion to silence this deadly disease,” he said. “If I could be anything, I would have wanted to have been the president who ended cancer, because it’s possible.”

Biden and his aides were confident he was better poised for a presidential bid after seven years as Obama’s understudy than in his two previous attempts, and felt that he better represented Democratic Party ideals than Clinton and could be less divisive in a general election. But was Biden emotionally ready for the toll of a campaign?

“Its obvious to me that the pain is very deep within him,” Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California said in an interview at the Capitol shortly after Biden’s announcement. “I think he did the right thing.”

Biden was up against societal forces of change and a hunger in the Democratic Party for the first woman president to follow the first black president. He also faced a formidable opponent in Clinton, a former secretary of state, U.S. senator and first lady, who was amassing talented operatives, major donors and an organizational structure as Biden focused on and later grieved for his son.

Nor did there seem to be a hunger among voters for Biden to enter the race. In a Bloomberg Politics/Saint Anselm New Hampshire Poll, Biden placed a distant third behind Clinton and Sanders.

Biden lacked a strong base of support in Iowa, the first caucus state and the place where his 2008 bid died. If he were to run, his success would hinge on winning South Carolina. Even then, his path likely would have required sizable portions of the Democratic establishment to abandon Clinton.

Biden’s third place showing in most polls has “more to do with how strong her and Bernie’s hold is on their voters,” said Joe Trippi, a chief strategist for Democratic presidential candidates Howard Dean in 2004 and John Edwards in 2008. That, he added, would have made it harder for Biden to go on the attack against his potential rivals.

“He’s going to go out at an all-time high, and everybody’s heart is with him all the way,” Feinstein said.

“To a great extent the die is cast” in the Democratic nomination, she added. “It’s one thing if our nominee or if Hillary, for example, were going down. She isn’t, she’s going up.”

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Hillary Election Machine Comes With Big Price Tag and Burn Rate

HRCHillary Clinton spent $26 million over the summer building up her 2016 campaign, more than any of her rivals either within her own Democratic party or the Republican side, as she sought to build a formidable organization to help her capture the White House.

The former first lady and secretary of state who lost to Barack Obama in the 2008 campaign poured money into television advertising, the amassing of polling data and building a digital operation to reach as many voters as possible. Her biggest expense was the payroll for the 511 people her campaign employs, figures released Thursday show.

Clinton is attempting to strike a delicate balance. She’s willing to spend the money to build an operation that no one else vying for the White House can compete with. At the same time, she wants to keep spending in check so that the campaign’s budget doesn’t spiral out of control.

It’s a challenge rooted in her first run for the White House in 2008, when her campaign grew so large that she spent her way into debt and internal power struggles among her large staff exploded into the public view.

Campaign aides this time around have made a big splash about their frugal ways, top officials ride the bus instead of the train, staffers share rooms in low-budget hotels. But even if the campaign has been mindful of trimming costs, that doesn’t mean they aren’t spending money.

After Clinton, the two campaigns that spent the most during the quarter were those of Republicans Jeb Bush and Ben Carson. But their spending combined matched the spending her campaign racked up on its own during the three-month period.

Clinton’s spending included $560,000 on private jets and she owes the charter company another $65,000 in billing that is still being processed. In that same time period, she spent more than $71,000 on office security. She spent more than $31,000 on licensing for music and other media. She spent just over $4,000 on sign-language interpreters.

The expenditures came as she raised a hefty $28 million in the third quarter of this year and managed to build up a war chest of cash that her campaign has on hand for the coming months, according to fund-raising reports filed Thursday.

But Clinton’s so-called “burn rate” – the pace at which her campaign spent money in the three months ending September 30 – was 86 percent, a number that far outpaced rivals like Bernie Sanders, who spent only 43 percent, or Republican Ted Cruz who spent 57 percent. Her burn rate was nearly identical to that of Republican Jeb Bush.

Having enough money in the bank became a significant problem for Clinton in 2008. She ran her campaign into $12 million in debt as she tried unsuccessfully to defeat Obama in the primary. Plus, she loaned her campaign $13 million more to keep it running.

When Clinton began to flounder in 2008, the large staff was plagued by infighting. The internal rifts went public and quickly defined her campaign.

Clinton’s campaign officials say they are on the right track when it comes to fundraising. They point to the number of small dollar donors – 93 percent of donations in the previous quarter were less than $100. Clinton’s aides also say the campaign remains on target to raise its goal of $100 million, a figure that is being used to craft the budget.

Her campaign argues that the large staff is an investment in infrastructure that will pay dividends later. The campaign has hired a data analytics team, which a campaign official said will be key to improving the ability to contact voters.

“We have put a premium on organizing and built a formidable team early,” a campaign official said.

Between her existing sizable fundraising haul and personal wealth, it’s unlikely Clinton’s campaign will run out of money. But if campaign cash starts to become tight, such a large staff could become an albatross. Candidates are always loath to cut staff or scale back infrastructure for fear of creating an impression of a troubled campaign.


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Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton expected to announce presidential bid this weekend

Hillary clintonThe long wait is soon to be over as Hillary Clinton’s official campaign announcement is expected Sunday, a source close to the campaign allegedly told the Daily News Newspaper. The former secretary of state is likely to announce her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 as early as this weekend, facing no substantial competition but needing to get her organisation in place for the long battle to come.

Clinton is likely to make her intentions known through a social media announcement followed by campaign travel. This focus on digital communications is an attempt to connect with young voters, who Clinton needs to become American’s first woman president.

If she does run, this will mark Clinton’s second time vying for the presidency. She first ran during the 2008 election, but lost the Democrat ticket to then-junior senator Barack Obama. Clinton later served on Obama’s cabinet, working as the secretary of state from the start of his presidency in 2009 through Feb. 1, 2013.

When Clinton left her position in 2013, political watchers took it as a sign that the former first lady was preparing for her own campaign in 2016. Behind the scenes, she has hired a robust team, including many of President Obama’s former advisers and strategists.

The past few months have not been without criticism for Clinton. In March, she admitted to using a private email address while working as the secretary of state because it was “convenient.” While the politician said that she was “allowed” to use her personal email, critics took issue with the fact that it caused an issue for journalists requesting records through the Freedom of Information Act and Benghazi investigators who have subpoenaed Clinton.

So far, Republicans Ted Cruz, a senator from Texas, and Rand Paul, a senator from Kentucky, are the only major candidates to make official announcements leading up to the 2016 race.

Her campaign is expected to concentrate on making the 67-year-old former first lady relatable to ordinary Americans. Clinton spent four years jetting to foreign capitals as Obama’s first-term secretary of state but has had limited day-to-day contact with everyday Americans.

Clinton, the wife of former President Bill Clinton, is the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic nomination. Republican-turned-Democrat former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee announced he’s looking at the race in a surprise Monday video, joining former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb in the field of little-known Democrats looking to challenge Clinton. Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders is also mulling a challenge from the left, as is former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

A Quinnipiac University poll released this week had the surprising result that she was even or only slightly ahead of some Republican contenders like libertarian Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Most polls in recent months have shown her with a substantial lead over the Republican 2016 field.

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Senate Judiciary Committee Votes to Approve Loretta Lynch as Next United States Attorney General

Loretta LynchLoretta Lynch won approval from a key Senate committee Thursday to serve as America’s next attorney general, as divided Republicans clashed over her support for President Barack Obama’s immigration policies.

The 12 to 8 vote in the Judiciary Committee sent Lynch’s nomination to the full Senate. Three Republicans joined all committee Democrats in voting “yes.”

“The case against her nomination, as far as I can tell, essentially ignores her professional career and focuses solely on about six hours that she spent before this committee,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, as he criticized fellow Republicans for using Lynch’s testimony in support of Obama’s executive actions on immigration as a reason to oppose her nomination.

“I do not believe that is a proper way to evaluate any nominee’s fitness for any position,” Hatch said.

But GOP Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Ted Cruz of Texas, among others, insisted that Lynch disqualified herself with her support for those directives and had not shown she would be sufficiently independent from Obama.

“The president’s policy is to allow people unlawfully here to take jobs in America,  a policy she has explicitly stated she intends to defend,” said Sessions. “We should not confirm someone to that position who intends to continue that unlawful policy.”

Despite the disagreement, Lynch is all but assured approval by the full Senate, under new rules that will require only a majority vote instead of the 60-vote margin required for most legislation. Timing for a floor vote is uncertain.

But unlike Obama’s defense secretary nominee, Ash Carter, who was approved by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 93-5 earlier this month, Lynch is unlikely to win approval by a resounding margin. As Thursday’s debate illustrated, GOP opposition to Obama’s immigration policies has become entwined in a variety of issues in the newly Republican-run Congress, and it has cut into Lynch’s support at the same time it is holding up funding for the Department of Homeland Security.

Committee Democrats took turns denouncing their Republican colleagues for using the immigration issue as a reason to oppose Lynch, 55, who now serves as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. She would replace Eric Holder and become the first black woman to hold the nation’s top law enforcement job.

“Let me be crystal clear: The place for this battle is in the courts,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “Political fights over immigration should not hold up Loretta Lynch, DHS funding or anything else.”

A federal court last week put the policies on hold, a ruling the Obama administration is appealing. The directives extended work permits and deportation stays to millions in the country illegally.

GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona joined Hatch in voting to support Lynch. Graham suggested other Republicans find another outlet for their opposition to Obama’s immigration plans.

“To those who really believe this is a constitutional overreach of historic proportions you have impeachment available to you,” Graham said.

Flake noted that he and others have been eager to say good-bye to Holder, a lightning rod for conservatives who butted heads repeatedly with Capitol Hill Republicans and was held in contempt of Congress.

“The longer this nomination is held up the longer the current attorney general in the Department of Justice stays in place,” Flake said.

But Cruz, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said, “The answers Ms. Lynch gave in this hearing room, in my judgment, render her unsuitable for the position of chief law enforcement officer of the United States.”

Cruz has pressured Republican leadership to hold up Lynch and other Obama nominees as a way to pressure the president over his immigration plans, but most other Republicans have shown little interest in participating in his approach.


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Boehner Rebuffs Obama’s Veto Threat With Invite To PM Netanyahu To Address Congress

Boehner and NetanyahuHouse Speaker John Boehner announced Wednesday he is inviting  to address Congress next month about the threat from Iran, in a sharp rebuke to President Obama.

Such invitations typically are coordinated with the White House and State Department, but this one was not. The House speaker’s office said Netanyahu will be invited to speak Feb. 11 before a joint session of Congress. The invitation comes as lawmakers weigh legislation, supported by Republicans and some Democrats, to tee up more sanctions against Iran in case negotiations fail to curtail the country’s nuclear enrichment program.

Obama vowed Tuesday during his State of the Union address to veto any such legislation. But Boehner signaled he wants Netanyahu to explain the stakes of the debate, as he pledged to press ahead with the legislation.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu is a great friend of our country, and this invitation carries with it our unwavering commitment to the security and well-being of his people,” Boehner said in a statement. “In this time of challenge, I am asking the prime minister to address Congress on the grave threats radical Islam and Iran pose to our security and way of life.”

Asked about the invite, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest described it as a breach of typical protocol since the White House wasn’t involved. But he said the administration would reserve judgment until they speak with the Israelis.

Critics of Obama and his foreign policy say the president has failed to keep close ties to Israel, a long-time U.S. ally and a key country in providing Middle East stability. Among their concerns is that the Obama administration has not done enough to curb Iran’s suspected pursuit of a nuclear weapon.

“New sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails, alienating America from its allies, and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again,” Obama said Tuesday night. “It doesn’t make sense. That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress. The American people expect us to only go to war as a last resort, and I intend to stay true to that wisdom.”

Boehner told members of the GOP House Conference on Wednesday morning: “The president warned us not to move ahead with sanctions on Iran, a state sponsor of terror. His exact message to us was: ‘Hold your fire.’ He expects us to stand idly by and do nothing while he cuts a bad deal with Iran. Two words: ‘Hell no’.” He said: “Let’s send a clear message to the White House and the world about our commitment to Israel and our allies.”

Aside from the sanctions bill, a Senate committee was considering a separate bill on Wednesday that would give Congress a vote on any nuclear deal.

Far from holding their fire, Democrats who support a sanctions bill, like Sen. Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, have increased their criticism of the White House.

“The more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran,” railed Menendez at a hearing with administration officials on Capitol Hill.

Boehner told reporters he did not consult with the White House about the invitation to Netanyahu, saying “the Congress can make this decision on its own.”

The United States and five other world powers have reached a tentative deal with Iran. The countries are trying to reach a final deal by June 15.

If Netanyahu accepts the invitation, it would be his third appearance before a joint session of Congress and his second during Boehner’s speakership.

His previous addresses were in July 1996 and May 2011. Other Israeli prime ministers to address Congress include Ehud Olmert, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin, according to Boehner’s office.

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