Friday, February 5, 2016

Hillary News & Views 2.5: NH Debate, Back to Flint, Democratic Senators Speak Out

Today's Hillary News & Views begins with coverage of last night’s debate in New Hampshire.

Politico reports:
"A progressive is someone who makes progress,"  Clinton said of Sanders' attempts to paint her as a moderate. "That's what I intend to do." She continued, "I'm a progressive who gets things done. Cherry-picking a quote here or there doesn't change my record."
“Honestly, Senator Sanders is the only person who I think would characterize me, a woman running to be the first woman president, as exemplifying the establishment,” she said. “It’s really quite amusing to me. People support me because they know me, they know my life’s work. They have worked with me, and many have also worked with Senator Sanders and at the end of the day they endorse me because they know I can get things done.”
Clinton said, “I don't think you could find any person in political life today who has been subjected to more attacks and had more money spent against her by special interests, among who you have named a few, than I."
"Today, you’ve got hedge-fund managers aligned with Karl Rove running ads against me to try to get Democrats to vote for you," she added. "I know this game. I’m gonna stop this game. But while we’re talking about votes, you’re the one who voted to deregulate swaps and derivatives.”
“I think the best evidence that the Wall Street people at least know where I stand and where I have always stood is because they are trying to beat me in this primary,” she said. “I have a pretty good understanding of how to stop them.”
Addressing the issue of fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Sanders referenced Clinton's vote as a senator to authorize the invasion of Iraq.

"A vote in 2002 is not a plan to defeat ISIS. We have to look at the threats that we face right now, and we have to be prepared to take them on and defeat them," she replied.
Vox reports:
Clinton, for the first time, made a full-throated case for her political realism. "I'm not making promises that I cannot keep," she said, taking a clear shot at Sanders. Later in the debate, Clinton noted that she was besting Sanders in endorsements from his home state of Vermont — not to mention the rest of the Democratic Party.
"I think it's because they've worked with me, they've seen what I do," she said. "They want me as their partner in the White House."
CNN reports:
After yet another Sanders swipe at Clinton as part of a political establishment bankrolled by Wall Street and drug companies, she unloaded.
"Time and time again, by innuendo, by insinuation, there is this attack that he is putting forth which really comes down to, you know, anybody who ever took donations or speaking fees from any interest group has to be bought. And I just absolutely reject that, senator, and I really don't think these kinds of attacks by insinuation are worthy of you. And enough is enough," Clinton said.
Then she challenged him: "If you've got something to say, say it directly, but you will not find that I ever changed a view or a vote because of any donation I ever received."
And finally, Clinton made it just a little bit more personal, saying: "I think it's time to end the very artful smear that you and your campaign have been carrying out in recent weeks."
WHDH reports:
Maybe it's the air here, or the weather, but, whatever it is, New Hampshire always seems to bring out the best in Hillary Clinton, and tonight was no exception.
Compared to Bernie Sanders, Clinton was more optimistic, more confident, and more than willing to mix-it-up, while Sanders too often simply sounded angry.
Calling the winner isn't a close call:
Hillary Clinton was well-prepared and even passionate.  She returned Sanders' best shots; poked holes in his record as a progressive; and made him look like a radical.
In the past, I've been impressed by Bernie Sanders' tenacity and commitment. But, tonight, he seemed trapped by them.
Sanders lost because he made Wall Street seem like the only street in America.
That limits the scope of his campaign, and his appeal to more moderate voters.
Sanders wants a revolution -- it's not clear the nation agrees.
Mic reports:
Hillary Clinton notched another debate win at the Democrats' showdown in Durham, New Hampshire, on Thursday, sharpening her lines of attack against rival Bernie Sanders, who failed to do anything to upend the fundamental dynamics of a race in which Clinton is still the heavy favorite.
Appearing in their first one-on-one face-off of the 2016 campaign — former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley withdrew his long-shot bid on Monday after a dismal showing in Iowa — Clinton and Sanders engaged in some of their most spirited exchanges to date, laying bare the Democrats' divide between a vision rooted in pragmatism and compromise and an alternative that emphasizes expanding the contours of the political discourse.
Sanders turned in a serviceable performance, deftly handling Clinton's contention that Sanders' conception of progressivism was so rigid that it would exclude President Barack Obama, because Obama has accepted campaign contributions from Wall Street.
"We are in much better shape today than we were seven years ago, although my Republican colleagues seem to have forgotten where we were seven years ago. That's the fact," Sanders said. "Do I think President Obama is a progressive? I do. I disagree with him on a number of issues. I think he's done an excellent job."
"Sen. Sanders says he wants to run a positive campaign. I've tried to keep my disagreements over issues, as it should be," Clinton said. "I have stood up and I have represented my constituents to the best of my abilities, and I'm very proud of that," Clinton continued.
Vox reports:
Thursday night's Democratic debate started out with an electrifying — and rare for Democrats — series of frank, back-and-forth blows over ideological questions. Bernie Sanders said the big problem with Hillary Clinton is that she is, in her own words, a moderate.
"Nothing is wrong with being a moderate," Sanders said,but "you can't be a moderate and be a progressive."
Clinton shot back with a double-barreled assault, arguing that on the one hand Sanders' definition of real progressive values would rule Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Paul Wellstone out of the progressive circle. On the other hand she charged that Sanders himself couldn't meet the test of full ideological rigor.
"I don't think it was progressive to vote against the Brady Bill," she said, "I don't think it was progressive to vote against Senator Kennedy's immigration reform."
The standard tradeoff with this kind of thing is that moderate positioning that helps you in the general election will hurt you in the primary. But in this case it's really not so clear. Democrats are clearly the more liberal of the two parties, but the party itself is split about in half between voters who consider themselves liberal and those who don't.
Highly educated Democrats and white Democrats tend to be very liberal, which is why Sanders did well in Iowa and is poised to do very well in New Hampshire. But when the campaign heads to the South and West, where the electorate gets more diverse, he will find voters who simply don't prize ideological consistency the way he does.
Politico reports on the dim views that the Democratic party holds regarding Sanders and his chances in November:
Democrats say Sanders would be an electoral disaster.
Asked by Maddow later in the debate if his nomination would lead to a landslide defeat like Barry Goldwater in 1964 or George McGovern in 1972, Sanders said his campaign would expand the electorate and not only carry him to the White House, but bring Democratic Senate and gubernatorial candidates along on his coattails.
Democratic insiders surveyed Thursday night disagreed -- to put it mildly. Roughly two-thirds said Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, would lose handily to the Republican nominee.
The “S word” loomed especially large in insiders’ minds.
“Socialist,” said one New Hampshire Democrat. “The GOP will have us thinking our 401(k) plans are all going to crash and we will be living under bridges huddled around camp fires.”
“At some point he's got to convince the average Joe that it's ok to elect a 73-year-old socialist,” a South Carolina Democrat said.
Some Democrats pointed to Republican attacks on Clinton in the primary as evidence the GOP knows Sanders is the more beatable nominee.
“Of course! This is complete insanity,” agreed another. “The Republicans know it too, and that's why they are unabashed about boosting Bernie and spending millions and millions trying to make sure he is the nominee. It's not rocket science.”
Some Democrats admitted that Sanders’ answer to the electability question was affecting their ability to support the Vermont senator.
“He wouldn't lose in a landslide, but I no longer feel confident he can win a general election,” said one New Hampshire Democrat. “I don't see him able to build the kind of coalition he needs to win.”
The New Republic notes that Sanders borrowed his Flint line from Clinton:
No national journalist has brought more attention to the Flint water contamination crisis than Rachel Maddow, who hosted a recent town hall in the beleaguered former automotive hub. So it wasn’t a surprise to see the MSNBC host ask the candidates about the disaster authored by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s Republican administration.
Both Clinton and  Sanders issued strong condemnations of what led to the poisoning of Flint, whose population is mostly black. Clinton said that were she president right now, she would have the federal government intervene. Sanders agreed, and re-issued his call for Snyder to resign. But he capped off his remarks with an odd comment.
“Last point on this, and I suspect the Secretary agrees,” Sanders said. “One wonders if this were a white suburban community, what kind of response there would have been.”
I say it was odd because Clinton said just about the exact same thing when she brought Flint into the last debate unprovoked: I’ll tell you what, if the kids in a rich suburb of Detroit had been drinking contaminated water and being bathed in it, there would’ve been action.”
I suspect she agrees, too, senator.
MSNBC reports that Clinton his headed to Flint on Sunday:
Hillary Clinton will take a break from the New Hampshire campaign trail  Sunday to travel to Flint, Michigan, where she’ll highlight the city’s water crisis and push a stalled piece of legislation to aid the city, campaign officials tell MSNBC. Clinton’s campaign stressed that she will hold a public event in New Hampshire every day before the state’s first-in-the-nation primary Tuesday, including Superbowl Sunday.
The visit to Flint follows Clinton’s attentiveness to the issues of the water crisis, which has left thousands of residents with leaded and undrinkable running water in their homes. Clinton sent a top staffer to the poor, largely minority city to speak out about the issue on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” shortly before Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder requested funds to help residents.
The mayor of Flint has endorsed  Clinton, who devoted her entire closing argument in the last Democratic debate in Charleston, South Carolina to to the crisis.
Mother Jones has a sharp analysis (originally published in The New Republic) about why Clinton is spending so much time focusing on Flint:
Clinton needs that firewall of African-Americans voters if she's going to fend off Sanders's surge. A clean water campaign—one that elevates the inequities that make African-Americans twice as likely to rely on substandard plumbing as non-Hispanic whites—helps her do that. But her clean water campaign isn't just a narrow primary tactic to edge out Sanders. Flint is also a prime example of what happens when the government, on all levels, fails to do its job.
Unlike climate change, polluted drinking water is a simple issue Americans can readily understand—and one that tops Americans' concerns about the environment. Fifty-five percent say they worry a "great deal" about it, per a 2015 Gallup poll, while less than a majority worry a great deal about other environmental threats.
They're right to worry, as poor infrastructure investment, patchy oversight, and cost-cutting are rampant in communities across America. To save money, Michigan officials switched from purchasing water from Lake Huron via Detroit to sourcing water from the Flint River, but failed to treat the water properly, causing corrosion of Flint's lead pipes. Compounding the problems, state officials and federal regulators denied there was a problem until last fall, when it was too late.
For Clinton, Flint is an opportunity to convince voters that good government can and should address top problems like economic and social inequality—and it's a case study for how Republicans' zeal for austerity hurts the most vulnerable Americans. Clinton only has to point to any of her nine GOP opponents' plans for handicapping the Environmental Protection Agency to show how a Republican presidency is dangerous to public health (it also helps her case that Snyder is a Republican).
Republican presidential candidates have done their best to avoid a thorough examination of what went wrong in Flint, perhaps because it would undermine their arguments for less federal oversight and investment. But whoever wins the GOP nomination will have to formulate a response eventually, because Clinton has hinted at how she'll connect Flint to her presidential platform.
Politico reports that Democratic Senators are speaking out, now that Sanders is blatantly attacking Clinton:
"You need to start asking him questions about his plans and his background,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). Ask “how he’s going to address foreign policy and national security, how he’s going to pay for his higher education and health care proposals. There are a lot of unanswered questions.”
“Hillary Clinton is a progressive and I don’t think any other progressive gets to judge … and be the gatekeeper of progressivism,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), who won a 2014 Senate primary running as the more liberal candidate. “We need to remember who our real adversary is, and that’s the tea party and what they’ve done to the country.”
"Hillary's a progressive in the way she views the issues every day," said liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). “Bernie’s a Democrat some days. And that’s a fact with evidence.”
Even members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, of which Sanders is the only Senate member, bristled at his attempts to label Clinton.
"I certainly think she is progressive enough. One could ask progressive enough for what?" said Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.). "Although there are a lot of positions that Senator Sanders has that I agree with in theory, I also believe that we are not going to get [them] done in this current political environment."
For months Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) seemed to be the only Democratic senator who would say what much of the caucus was thinking: That Sanders is unelectable in a general election and has not been fully vetted by the voters. Now, she says, more and more lawmakers will be speaking out.
“All of us are laughing going like, ‘How did we become establishment?’” McCaskill said. “I’ve been fighting the establishment my whole life. It feels weird that they’re dismissing all of the senators that are supporting Hillary Clinton by kind of lumping us into some category that most of us find distressing and unfair.”
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) said the backing of 13 female senators shows that Clinton's support isn't “establishment." After all, she said, they are 13 of just 46 women senators to have served in the history of the chamber, a case Baldwin made to Iowa voters last month while campaigning for Clinton.
The backlash to Sanders’ Wednesday comments and his “establishment” jabs coincides with more targeted criticisms of the Vermont independent. Prominent immigration activist Astrid Silva endorsed Clinton over Sanders this week, prompting a Sanders spokeswoman to dismiss the endorsement as little other than a “press hit.”
That raised the eyebrows of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who has remained neutral in the primary but felt compelled to respond.
“Nobody needs to attack her, this little girl that came across the river in a boat with a doll and rosary beads. I’m not going to let anybody mess with her, no matter who it is. Very personal for me, nobody will mess with Astrid. I’ll fight back,” Reid said in an interview.
Sanders supporters want "to dismiss the fact that none of his colleagues have endorsed him, but you can’t,” McCaskill said. “He hasn’t had the ability to get consensus or lead people.”

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