Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally, May 26, 2016, in San Francisco. (John Locher / Associated Press)
By Seema Mehta
The Los Angels Times
Hillary Clinton’s campaign had once hoped the California primary could be a coronation for the former secretary of State, the last major stop en route to claiming the Democratic presidential nomination.
Instead, it has turned into a dogfight with Bernie Sanders, who has been campaigning nonstop through the state. With at least one public poll showing the race now a tie, the Clinton campaign has decided to step up her appearances in the state.
“It’s going to be closer than we thought,” said former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a longtime Clinton backer, adding that he ultimately expected her to win the state.
“Hillary’s going to be the nominee, but California’s the big prize, and obviously she’d like to go into the convention with a win in California,” he said.
Clinton does not need to win California to clinch the nomination. She now has 2,310 delegates to this summer’s nominating convention, according to the latest count, and needs only 73 more for a majority. She is expected to win a significant majority of Puerto Rico’s 67 delegates in its primary on Sunday.
By the time California and five other states vote on June 7, Clinton will need only a few of the 694 pledged delegates up for grabs that day.
Despite all that, a loss in this enormous, diverse, overwhelmingly Democratic state would be an ugly stain in the lead-up to the party’s convention in July in Philadelphia.
“She’s going to be able to give an important victory speech on Tuesday as the presumptive nominee, and it’s clearly more appealing to do that when the chyron at the bottom of the [television] screen is reading that Clinton is the projected winner of California,” said Dan Newman, a veteran Democratic operative whose San Francisco-based firm is aiding Clinton’s campaign in the state.
“California is important because it’s California. It’s big, it’s overwhelmingly Democratic, and she’s the nominee regardless, but it would send her into the general election with an extra head of steam to win California. It’s certainly not do or die, but it’s always preferable to win everywhere.”
And Clinton, despite her significant lead over Sanders in the popular vote and in the delegate tally, has not won everywhere. The Vermont senator has racked up 20 wins, compared with her 26, and he has taken three of the last five contests.
Clinton was widely expected to win California this year by about 8 percentage points, the same margin by which she beat then-Sen. Barack Obama in the 2008 primary. She and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have forged strong ties to the state’s Democrats during their decades in public life.
“California has been uncommonly good to my family,” Bill Clinton told more than 1,000 people in a courtyard at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College in April when he campaigned for his wife here.
The state, where the couple first lived together as boyfriend and girlfriend in the early 1970s, has provided support, solace and tens of millions of dollars in campaign cash for the family’s pursuits.
Clinton Rushes to California To Fight off Sanders
Hillary Clinton, who had little to smile about as she marched in her hometown’s Memorial Day parade, is so desperate to stave off a humiliating loss to Bernie Sanders in California that she is ditching a planned stop in New Jersey to stretch out her Golden State trip this week.
Clinton leads Sanders in California, but only by a measly 2 points, 46 percent to 44 percent, the Public Policy Institute of California found Thursday in the race’s most recent poll.
Although her delegate lead is all but insurmountable, a loss in the nation’s most populous state could slow Clinton’s momentum, following a State Department report that slammed her use of a private email server as secretary of state.
Meanwhile, Sanders has ramped up his campaign in the Golden State ahead of its primary next Tuesday, hoping to pull off an upset victory that would theoretically keep his campaign alive.
With 475 delegates at stake in California, Sanders has said he aims to secure as many as possible to make the case at July’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia that he would be the stronger general-election candidate.
Voters in New Jersey and four other states vote that day.
A victory in California would also help Sanders argue that his far-left platform appeals to a diverse bloc of voters.
Clinton’s campaign announced Monday that an “organizing event” planned for Thursday at Mercer County Community College in West Windsor, NJ, was canceled due to a “scheduling” change.
She will still appear at a fundraiser with Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) in New Jersey and another with former Attorney General Eric Holder in Manhattan on Tuesday, followed by a rally at Rutgers University in Newark on Wednesday.
Details of her California appearances were not immediately released, but it was expected that Clinton would crisscross the state for five straight days to try to seal the deal with voters.
In her only public appearance Monday, Clinton marched in a Memorial Day parade in Chappaqua, Westchester County, with husband Bill Clinton and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The crowd cheered, and many waved Clinton campaign signs.
The Clintons have marched in the parade before, and resident Kelly Aidekman said she viewed them “as if they were any other neighbors” in the affluent suburb.
One local wasn’t so neighborly.
Hillary Clinton waves to the crowd at a Memorial Day parade alongside Gov. Andrew Cuomo in Chappaqua, New York.
John Nadler held a sign supporting Donald Trump, saying he wanted “to let people know that there’s more than one choice.”
Sanders, meanwhile, campaigned Monday in Oakland, Calif., stopping at Allen Temple, a historic black church. He was joined by actor Danny Glover.
“She’s getting very nervous lately,” Sanders said. “I don’t wanna add to her anxiety.
“So . . . don’t tell her: We’re going to win here in California.”
At one point, four people rushed the stage and were taken into custody by the Secret Service before they could reach Sanders. It is not clear what they wanted.
Sanders, who has criticized Clinton’s support for the Iraq war, also took to Twitter to push his pacifist politics on Memorial Day.
“We must never take lightly the decision to send our sons and daughters to battle, and it must always be the last resort,” read one tweet.
“We must go beyond fine speeches if we’re serious about protecting the needs of veterans. They’ve protected us. Now we must protect them,” another read.
And he slammed Clinton for what he called her lack of support for financially devastated Puerto Rico.
“As has happened many times before, Secretary Clinton has changed her mind and is inching closer to positions I have taken,” he said. “But what she says only days before Election Day in Puerto Rico is too little, too late.”
Clinton supported a House bill establishing a control board that would have the power to impose austerity measures to ease Puerto Rico’s $70 billion debt. She has softened her position as the island’s June 5 primary approaches.
North and South Dakota, Montana, New Mexico and New Jersey will also hold primaries June 7.
By Miles Mogulescu
Peter Rosenstein has written a much-circulated Huffington Post article entitled “Sanders Candidacy Devolving into an Arrogant Insufferable Self-serving Disaster.”
The article couldn’t be more wrong. This is a rebuttal.
The article is is consistent with a not-so-subtle campaign by Clinton surrogates to discredit Sen. Sanders in order to limit his influence in moving the Democratic Party away from Clintonian corporate-friendly triangulation and back to its FDR-style New Deal roots as a party representing the interests of the working and middle classes; to discourage voters from going to the polls for Bernie in California and the other remaining primaries; and to excuse the manifest weakness of Secretary Clinton as a Presidential candidate by blaming it on Bernie.
Let’s be clear. There’s only the most remote chance of Bernie winning the 2016 Democratic Presidential nomination. And when the primaries are over, there will need to be a united front between Bernie and Hillary and their respective supporters to defeat the racist, xenophobic, misogynist Donald Trump.
But by every possible metric other than actually winning the nomination, Sanders’ candidacy has been an astounding success that will change America and the world for the better in ways we can only begin to imagine.
Let us count the ways:
• Hillary will likely eke out a win in the battle for the Democratic nomination, but Bernie has won the battle for the soul of the Democratic Party and the wider progressive movement.
• Bernie (and fellow progressives like Elizabeth Warren) represent the future of the Democratic Party while Hillary and Clintonism represent the past. Bernie has won overwhelming majorities among people under 45-years old (as well as independents). These are the people who will dominate the Democratic Party and the progressive movement in years to come.
• Bernie has raised voters’ enthusiasm level. Despite limited media coverage, he regularly gets tens of thousands of enthusiastic supporters to his rallies, while Hillary struggles to get a few hundred or a few thousand. Democrats will need the enthusiasm of Bernie’s supporters to defeat Trump.
• Bernie’s campaign has become the largest progressive movement in recent history. As I’ve previously written, it will hopefully transform itself into a permanent mass progressive socialist/social democratic/progressive organization that will both run progressive candidates at every level of government from dog-catcher, to City-Councils, the State Legislatures to Congress, and organize popular campaigns, sometimes including large-scale demonstrations and even non-violent civil disobedience, for progressive change.
• Bernie has placed the issue of America’s corrupt campaign finance system front and center on the political agenda. And he’s done it not only with words but with deeds, raising over $200 million from over 8 million individual contributions averaging $27, while Hillary has relied on larger contributions and several Super PACs. Until millionaires, billionaires and corporations are no longer allowed to buy our elections, it’s unlikely that we will solve any of the nation’s serious problems. Bernie is leading the way.
• Bernie has made “democratic socialism” a word that can now be spoken in polite company. 42% of Iowa Democratic caucus-goers identified themselves as socialists. A year ago, I doubt if the number would have been 4%. Increasingly, younger people reject unfettered, unregulated neoliberal forms of capitalism and are looking for an alternative. Bernie has started to provide one.
• Bernie has set the political agenda for the Democratic Party and the progressive movement while Hillary has followed meekly behind. He has made the issue of economic inequality one of the pressing issues of our times.
Raising the minimum wage to $15; guaranteeing healthcare to all Americans; making it possible for every student who wants it to get a free college education at a public institution; increasing social security benefits by lifting the cap on social security taxes for wealthy taxpayers; creating well-paying jobs by investing in our crumbling infrastructure; taxing Wall Street transactions; breaking up the biggest banks who tanked the economy and threw millions out of work; opposing corporate-friendly trades deals that send American jobs overseas:
These are the winning issues for Democrats. Hillary and the Democratic Party would be wise to appropriate much of Bernie’s programs if they want to defeat Trump and win over voters who’ve been left out of the neoliberal global economy.
• Bernie has emphasized that climate change is the existential issue of our times. He opposes fracking. And he wants to put a tax on carbon. Adequately addressing climate change could literally determine the future of the human race on this planet.
Peter Rosenstein’s Huffington Post article scornfully concludes, “Bernie you LOST…While you have achieved your fifteen minutes of fame and made a real difference in the discussion if you want to actually make a difference on the issues you care about you will gracefully leave the stage [sic].”
If the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign adopt Rosenstein’s arrogant and demeaning attitude towards Bernie and his supporters, they will make it likely that fewer of Bernie’s supporters will turn out to pull the lever for Hillary and defeat Trump.
There are still 9 Democratic primaries and caucuses remaining with 930 delegates at stake, including the Big Kahuna, California, with 546 delegates. While it’s improbable that Bernie will win the remaining contests by a large enough margin to gain a majority of the pledged delegates, there is no reason for Bernie to “leave the stage” and deprive voters in those 9 states of the opportunity to voice their views.
Moreover, Bernie will likely come into the Democratic Convention with 45%-47% of the pledged delegates. Yes, Bernie should support Hillary to defeat Trump and urge his supporters to do the same. He’s already said that he’ll do everything in his power to prevent Trump from becoming President.
But an anti-Trump united front between Hillary supporters and Bernie supporters is a two-way street. To be effective, it will require the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party to incorporate many of Bernie’s principles and ideas.
That includes making the Democratic Party more democratic by eliminating unelected Superdelegates and opening as many Democratic primaries as possible to independents in the future. 44% of the electorate identifies as independent and Democrats need their participation and support to win.
It also includes incorporating many of Bernie’s themes and policy proposals, not only into a Democratic Platform that no one reads, but into Hillary’s actual campaign. Thematically, that means making an end to the corrupt campaign finance system and an economy rigged in favor of the billionaires and corporations against the working and middle classes the core of the Democratic Party. Programmatically, it means going beyond many of Hillary’s timid proposals to incorporate such things as a $15 minimum wage, free college tuition, increased social security benefits, and a tax on carbon.
Bernie has had way more than “15 minutes of fame”. He has inspired millions to work to change the world for the better. He has fundamentally changed the political dialogue and set the future agenda for the Democratic Party, the progressive movement, and America as a whole.
Hillary and the Democratic Party would be wise to welcome much of Bernie’s values and agenda into their campaign. To paraphrase Rosenstein, “Any other scenario places you in the position to take the blame if Trump wins.”
Tags: 2016 presidential election, America’s corrupt campaign finance system, Bernie Sanders, Bill Clinton, california, California primary, Corey Lewandowski, Democratic presidential nomination, Democratic primary, Donald Trump, election 2016, elections, Elizabeth Warren, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton in a dogfight with Bernie Sanders, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Sanders, South Dakota, State Depratment, Wounded Candidacy