Posts Tagged ‘Bernie Sanders’

Anti-Trump Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says launching 2020 bid

January 16, 2019

New York Senator has been a relentless critic of the president and champion of women’s issues including the #MeToo movement; ‘We have to rise up and reclaim our values’

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand arrives at the Ed Sullivan Theater‎ to tape an appearance on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand arrives at the Ed Sullivan Theater‎ to tape an appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Democratic US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, an outspoken Donald Trump critic and champion of women’s issues including the #MeToo movement, announced Tuesday she was jumping into the 2020 presidential race.

Nearly 22 months before the election, the battle for the White House is already firming up, as Americans begin to assess who might be the opposition party nominee to challenge Trump.

Four Democrats — three of them women — have made clear steps towards a formal campaign in recent weeks, and many more including several of Gillibrand’s Senate colleagues, an anti-Trump billionaire businessman and former vice president Joe Biden are waiting in the wings.

“I’m going to run for president of the United States, because as a young mom I’m going to fight for other people’s kids as hard as I would fight for my own — which is why I believe that health care should be a right and not a privilege,” the senator told Stephen Colbert on his CBS television talk show.

Her goals will include putting gender at the fore of her campaign, combating “institutional racism,” taking on special interests and entrenched systems of power in Washington, and fighting against political “corruption and greed.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., speaks at a rally against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

“I know that I have the compassion, the courage, and the fearless determination to get that done,” she added in the interview set to be aired in full later Tuesday.

The 52-year-old from upstate New York said she was forming an exploratory committee, a crucial legal step for a candidate to run for president, just days before she reportedly travels to the early voting state of Iowa.

Reclaim our values

She took to social media Tuesday to amplify her message.

“We have to rise up and reclaim our values,” she tweeted.

“We need to protect our basic rights and fight for better health care, education and jobs. And I believe I’m the woman for the job,” she said, adding that she is “not afraid to take on Trump.”

Kirsten Gillibrand


Tonight I announced that I’m preparing to run for president, because I believe we’re all called to make a difference. I believe in right vs. wrong – that wrong wins when we do nothing. Now is our time to raise our voices and get off the sidelines. Join me: 

Kirsten’s Getting Ready to Run

We are compassionate. Courageous. Determined. Now is our time. Join us.

6,042 people are talking about this

Gillibrand was easily re-elected in November to her second full term. In 2009 she was appointed to fill Hillary Clinton’s US Senate seat, when the latter became secretary of state.

In the years since she has abandoned several of her centrist political positions, tilting to the left to eventually become one of the more liberal senators.

The next presidential election is still more than 650 days away, but Gillibrand is entering what will be a chockablock field vying for the right to challenge Trump.

Elizabeth Warren, a fellow female US senator and frequent target of the provocative billionaire president, has also launched an exploratory committee, as has congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who served military tours in Iraq and Kuwait.

Former San Antonio mayor and Obama-era cabinet member Julian Castro and recently retired congressman John Delaney have formally launched their presidential bids.

Some politicians with stronger name recognition are expected to enter the race soon, including former Biden, ex-congressman Beto O’Rourke and current senators Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Bernie Sanders, who ran against Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2016.

But Gillibrand has distinguished herself in key ways. She is one of the top Trump naysayers in the Senate, voting against the president’s nominees for major posts more than almost any other senator.

She also raised her national profile by sponsoring — and mounting a three-year campaign for — a bill that would revamp the prosecution system for military sexual assaults and remove such cases from the military chain of command.

The bill fell short in the Senate, but Gillibrand has been relentless about highlighting sexual assault in the military, on college campuses and in the workplace.

See also:

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is entering the 2020 race for president


Democrats are battling to see who is the most radically left — Class war to end capitalism — Old folks likely get pushed aside

January 13, 2019

Permanent push for more free stuff

Another week, another feverish contest among Democrats to see who can drag the party faster and farther to the left. The new year is beginning with a blistering pace, with wild and crazy ideas popping up across the country.

Start in Washington, where Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi made a lasting impression by saying no, no to President Trump’s sensible proposal for barriers and other security at the southern border. Their rejection, and implicit denial that there is even a problem, serves as an invitation to hundreds of thousands of more migrants to cross illegally. And each new wave guarantees that future Dems will be able to demand amnesty for successive generations of “Dreamers,” thus roiling America for years.

Heckuva job, Chuck and Nancy. You should start a podcast, where you each get your own podium.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, already the left’s congressional rookie of the year, added to her appeal by making a push to tax the richest Americans at 70 percent of their income. She also continues to campaign for a Green New Deal, a set of ideas so big — and vague — that a Vox writer said it aims to do nothing less than “decarbonize the economy and make it fairer and more just.”

Old folks: Nancy Pelosi speaks to members of the media following a meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 9.

Wow — it’s hard to be more of a purist than that.

By Michael Goodwin

Meanwhile, new California Gov. Gavin Newsom signaled his virtue by promising his state would be a “sanctuary to all who seek it.” He also expanded free health care for illegal immigrants, apparently hoping to attract more of them. Bravo!

Image result for Gavin Newsom, photos

California Gov. Gavin Newsom

The competition, then, was stiff — until New York City Mayor de Blasio blew them all away. He wins first prize by vowing womb-to-tomb handouts and a permanent push for more free stuff.

Appearing well-rested from months of doing nothing, de Blasio lapped the competition with three days of come-and-get-it giveaways. First he vowed free health care for 600,000 New Yorkers, half of them here illegally. Next came a plan to force private employers to give nearly all workers 10 paid vacation days a year.

Then, in his State of the City speech, de Blasio secured victory by making even more promises, such as seizing private apartment buildings from bad landlords, and laying out a vision for a city that would bury capitalism.

A red-diaper baby himself, the mayor declared a total class war: “Brothers and sisters, there’s plenty of money in the world. There’s plenty of money in this city. It’s just in the wrong hands.”

Heart be still!

There was also this grievance-stoking pander to the people: “You’re not living the life you ­deserve. And here is the cold, hard truth — it’s no accident. It’s an agenda. An agenda that’s dominated our politics from Reaganomics to the Trump tax giveaway to the wealthy and corporations.”

Finally, a tease about a glorious future in Havana-on-the-Hudson: “This country has spent decades taking from working people and giving to the 1 percent. This city has spent the last five years doing it the other way around. We give back to working people the prosperity they have earned. And we are just getting started.”

The only thing missing was a forced singalong to the socialist anthem, “The Internationale.”

In normal times, over-the-rainbow rhetoric could be dismissed as window dressing. But these days, Democrats, raging at Trump and emboldened by Bernie Sanders’ campaign in 2016, are deadly serious about a hard left turn.

Even with the total collapse of Venezuela before their eyes and the undeniable horrors of life ­under communism and socialism, American leftists are no longer embarrassed to espouse ideologies that have failed miserably every place they’ve been tried.

Julian Castro announces that he's running for president at an event in San Antonio on Saturday.

Julian Castro announces that he’s running for president at an event in San Antonio on Saturday. “My first Executive Order will recommit the United States to the Paris climate accord.”

In many ways, then, de Blasio is made for the moment. He and his equally radical wife, Chirlane McCray, spent their 1994 honeymoon sneaking into Cuba, in defiance of a US travel ban. Earlier, he had supported the Sandinistas, the Nicaraguan communist group involved in a bitter civil war, with the American government on the other side.

Yet by the time he first ran for mayor in 2013, de Blasio had scrubbed all references to far-left activism from his Web site. He was just a progressive, eager to make deals with the real-estate industry, which in turn filled his slush funds with cash.

But now, as he starts Year 2 of his final term and his party resembles his past, he’s fully out of the closet. All that money “in the wrong hands” is a juicy target for an ­ambitious politician.

Unlike Schumer, Pelosi, Newsom and others who must prove their leftist street cred, de Blasio, like Ocasio-Cortez, can say “brothers and sisters” without sounding false. This is who he has always been, and now he doesn’t need to pretend he’s someone else.

To be clear, I don’t believe he has any chance of being president in 2020. He’s lazy, corrupt and incompetent, and New York is in obvious decline under his “leadership.” But that makes him all the more dangerous.

Having little power and no clear future, he has nothing to lose. He can be reckless with both his rhetoric and city finances because his main goal is influencing his national party’s tenor and direction.

And so, for one week at least, de Blasio takes the cake as the most radical Democrat in America. These days, that’s quite a feat.

Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro Expected To Launch Presidential Campaign

January 12, 2019

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro is set to formally launch his bid for president on Saturday, after weeks of hinting he was ready to join the growing 2020 Democratic primary field.

The 44-year-old will be the first Hispanic candidate to enter the race for the White House, joining Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard who recently said they are running. Several more well known candidates are expected to announce their plans soon.

Democrat Julián Castro talks about exploring the possibility of running for president in 2020, at his home in San Antonio in December 2018.  Eric Gay/AP

Castro launched an exploratory committee last month, Julián for the Future, and has already traveled to early primary states, with more visits to Iowa and New Hampshire slated for next week following his announcement Saturday in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas.

“Americans are ready to climb out of this darkness. We’re ready to keep our promises, and we’re not going to wait. We’re going to work,” Castro said in a video last month announcing he was testing the waters.

Castro has pointed to his experience on both the local and federal level. He was the youngest-ever city councilman in San Antonio’s history when he was elected in 2001 at age 26. Eight years later, he was elected mayor. In 2012, he gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention — which had catapulted Barack Obama to national fame eight years earlier — telling the crowd about his experience as part of an immigrant family.

“In the end, the American dream is not a sprint, or even a marathon, but a relay,” Castro said. “Our families don’t always cross the finish line in the span of one generation. But each generation passes on to the next the fruits of their labor.”

Two years later, President Obama chose him to run HUD. In 2016, Hillary Clinton also considered him as a possible vice presidential running mate.

His identical twin brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro, has represented their native San Antonio in Congress since 2013. The two were born into a politically active family. Their mother was an organizer with La Raza Unida in the 1970s, campaigning for the rights of and improved working conditions for Mexican-Americans.

Castro may not be the only Texan in the race, however. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who narrowly lost a Senate bid last year, is also weighing a run and has been on the rise in very early polls.

The former HUD secretary, who campaigned for O’Rourke in 2018, told the Associated Press last month he wasn’t worried if he himself is not testing very high right now in surveys.

“If I decide to run, it would be because I believe I have a compelling message and I’m going to work hard and get to the voters and I believe I can be successful,” Castro told the AP.



Tulsi Gabbard says she will run for president in 2020

January 12, 2019

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said Friday she will run for president in 2020.

“I have decided to run and will be making a formal announcement within the next week,” the Hawaii Democrat told CNN’s Van Jones during an interview slated to air at 7 p.m. Saturday on CNN’s “The Van Jones Show.”
Related image
Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran, currently serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She is the first American Samoan and the first Hindu member of Congress.
“There are a lot of reasons for me to make this decision. There are a lot of challenges that are facing the American people that I’m concerned about and that I want to help solve,” she said, listing health care access, criminal justice reform and climate change as key platform issues.
“There is one main issue that is central to the rest, and that is the issue of war and peace,” Gabbard added. “I look forward to being able to get into this and to talk about it in depth when we make our announcement.”
Rania Batrice, who was a deputy campaign manager for Bernie Sanders in 2016 and is now a top aide to Gabbard, will be the campaign manager, Batrice says.
In 2015, Gabbard, then a vice-chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, was sharply critical of its then-chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz for scheduling just six presidential debates during the 2016 primary election cycle. She later resigned her post as DNC vice chair to become one of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ highest-profile supporters, aligning herself with his populist economic message.
Gabbard has staked out anti-interventionist foreign policy positions in Congress. Her 2017 meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad drew widespread criticism. “Initially, I hadn’t planned on meeting him,”
Gabbard told CNN’s Jake Tapper in January of 2017. “When the opportunity arose to meet with him, I did so because I felt it’s important that if we profess to truly care about the Syrian people, about their suffering, then we’ve got to be able to meet with anyone that we need to if there is a possibility that we could achieve peace, and that’s exactly what we talked about.”
Gabbard joins a quickly growing field of Democrats eager to take on President Donald Trump for the presidency.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced on New Year’s Eve that she was forming an exploratory committee for a presidential run. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro also formed an exploratory committee and is expected to announce his 2020 plans Saturday.
A number of other potential Democratic candidates, including heavyweights like former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, are currently weighing whether to run for president and are expected to announce their decision soon.


Bloomberg says he would use his own money to fund 2020 run — Democratic field filling up

January 12, 2019

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pushing back against liberal critics who say he shouldn’t be allowed to use his multibillion-dollar fortune to self-fund a possible White House campaign and “buy the presidency.”

“I ran three times. I used only my own money so I didn’t have to ask anybody what they wanted in return for a contribution,” Bloomberg said in Austin, Texas, on Friday. “And, if I ran again, I would do the same thing.”

His defense echoed arguments he made while self-funding three successful City Hall bids when critics claimed he was buying the office.

“I think not having to adjust what you say and what you work on based on who financed your campaign is one of the things that the public really likes,” Bloomberg added.

New York’s former mayor spent more than $260 million combined in his runs for City Hall in 2001, 2005 and 2009.

He has been publicly toying with the idea of running for president for months and has promised he will make a decision within a month or so.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren — who recently launched her own White House bid — has called for spending limits to keep billionaires, like Bloomberg, from crushing the competition with a mountain  of spending


“Is this going to be a Democratic primary that truly is a grassroots movement that is funded by the grassroots and it’s done with grassroots volunteers, or is this going to be something that’s one more plaything that billionaires can buy?” she asked.




Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Staffs Up for Likely 2020 Presidential Run

January 11, 2019

New York Democrat signs up key staff members, plans first trip to Iowa

FILE - In this Oct. 25, 2018 file photo, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., speaks during the New York Senate debate hosted by WABC-TV, in New York. Gillibrand's Republican challenger is Chele Farley. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Pool, File) Photo: Mary Altaffer / Pool, AP

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) coasted to re-election in 2018 and has more than $10.6 million left over from her Senate campaign, seed money that can be used in her presidential bid. PHOTO: MARY ALTAFFER/ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON—New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is closing in on announcing a 2020 presidential campaign, signing up key staff members and planning her first trip to Iowa, according to people familiar with the plans.

Ms. Gillibrand’s staff will be run by Jess Fassler, her Senate chief of staff, and Dan McNally, a former campaign aide to Sen. Michael Bennet (D., Colo.) and the campaign arm of Senate Democrats, according to several people with knowledge of the matter.

Meredith Kelly, a top communications aide to the House Democrats’ campaign arm, will lead Ms. Gillibrand’s communications operation, the people said. Ms. Kelly’s hiring was first reported by the New York Times.

 How to Prepare for a Presidential Run: The 2020 To-Do List

How to Prepare for a Presidential Run: The 2020 To-Do List
Presidential hopefuls are stepping out of the shadows, but their 2020 announcements are far from spontaneous. WSJ’s Shelby Holliday explains.

She has also hired two top digital aides, Emmy Bengtson and Gavrie Kullman, both highly sought-after Democratic digital specialists, according to people familiar with the move.

As part of the preparations, Ms. Gillibrand has hired Joi Chaney to become her new Senate chief of staff. Ms. Chaney formerly served as a staff member in the Senate and the Obama administration at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Glen Caplin, a longtime Senate aide to Ms. Gillibrand who worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, is also expected to play a senior advisory role in her campaign. Mr. Caplin declined to comment.

Ms. Gillibrand plans to travel next weekend to Iowa—the location of the first 2020 presidential caucus and a sign that her campaign will be soon under way. Ms. Gillibrand’s Iowa plans were reported Thursday night by Politico.

Ms. Gillibrand, 52 years old, coasted to re-election in 2018 and has more than $10.6 million left over from her Senate campaign, seed money that can be used in her presidential bid.

The senator has positioned herself as a leading voice of the Democratic opposition to President Trump, with whom she tangled in December 2017 after the president called her a “flunky” for Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York and said she would do “anything” for a political donation.

Ms. Gillibrand responded that Mr. Trump couldn’t silence her or the millions of women from speaking out “about the unfitness and shame you have brought to the Oval Office.”

She is expected to join a field that already includes Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and could grow to include several of her Senate colleagues.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., listen as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testifies during the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 27, 2018. (Tom Williams/Pool Photo via AP)

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., listen as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testifies during the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 27, 2018. (Tom Williams/Pool Photo via AP)

Following a midterm election cycle in which Democratic women took center stage, Ms. Gillibrand has championed electing more women to office and has been a leading voice in the #MeToo anti-sexual harassment and assault movement.

In this photo from January 29, 2017 US Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts speaks to people gathered at Copley Square in Boston, Massachusetts. (Ryan McBride/AFP)

But some Democrats have accused her of opportunism, pointing to her evolution on issues such as immigration and gun control and her role as the first Senate Democrat to call for the resignation of former Minnesota Sen. Al Franken after the Democrat was accused of sexual misconduct.

Ms. Gillibrand’s advisers said at the time that she was standing up for her values.

Write to Ken Thomas at

Will backing anti-BDS bills be a liability for 2020 Democratic hopefuls?

January 10, 2019

There are at least seven Senate Democrats eyeing a presidential run. Only two support the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, and just one is willing to cosponsor it

WASHINGTON — April 14, 2016. The day Democratic Party officials might have realized something was brewing on the American left. In the middle of a fiery primary debate between former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the two were asked about the 2014 Gazan conflict, also known as Operation Protective Edge.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., listen as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testifies during the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 27, 2018. (Tom Williams/Pool Photo via AP)

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., listen as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testifies during the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 27, 2018. (Tom Williams/Pool Photo via AP)

Clinton defended Israel, which she said did not invite Hamas’ relentless rocket attacks. She further excoriated the terror organization, which she said had squandered an opportunity to rebuild Gaza. For this blazing defense of the Jewish state, she received mild applause.

Jewish maverick politician Sanders, meanwhile, castigated Israel for what he deemed its excessive use of force during the 51-day offensive.

“We had in the Gaza area some 10,000 civilians who were wounded and some 1,5000 that were killed. If you’re asking not just me but countries all over the world, was that was a disproportionate attack, the answer is yes, I believe it was,” Sanders said, to uproarious applause. “In the long run,” he continued, “if we are ever going to bring peace to that region, which has seen so much hatred and so much war, we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity.” That line brought down the house.

According to long-time member of the Democratic National Committee James Zogby, the founder and president of the Arab American Institute, that moment sent a message to Democrats. “I think Sanders discovered at the Brooklyn debate that there is a constituency that wants to hear about this,” Zogby recently told The Times of Israel.

Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, right, and Hillary Clinton speak during the CNN Democratic Presidential Primary Debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Thursday, April 14, 2016 in New York (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Today in the Senate, most of the party’s leading 2020 prospective candidates seem to want to avoid creating a vulnerability with the pro-Palestinian constituency Zogby described.

While two new Democratic members of the new Congress — Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib and Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar — support the contentious anti-occupation Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, the party at large still appears to be steadfastly against it. Efforts to use government legislation to target the BDS movement’s adherents, however, are much more controversial.

Image result for Rashida Tlaib, pictures

Freshman Democrat Rashida Tlaib

The vast majority of the Democratic senators eyeing a 2020 bid have, as of this writing, either opposed or refused to support the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, legislation that would criminalize boycotting the Jewish state.

Likewise, there was a fierce left-wing resistance to the Combatting BDS Act, a second piece of legislation on the issue which would grant federal protection to states that pass anti-BDS laws. Florida Senator Marco Rubio sought to push it through as the first Senate bill introduced under the new Congress, but the Senate voted it down for further consideration Tuesday.

Sanders, who claimed the Combatting BDS Act would trample free speech rights, called the proposal “absurd.” The liberal Middle East advocacy group J Street also put out a blistering statement on the Rubio bill. “‘Not a single Democrat should vote to enable this farce,” it said.

Democratic 2020 hopefuls keeping their distance

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act is widely supported by Republicans: In the Senate alone, 43 of the 50 GOP senators (86 percent) in the last Congress co-sponsored it, versus just 15 of their 44 Democratic counterparts (34%).

Yet a close look at the list at the Democrats who co-sponsored that legislation is more noteworthy for which names are missing than those included: Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, California’s Kamala Harris, Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar, Massachusetts’s Elizabeth Warren and Sanders did not sponsor the legislation.

(Gillibrand was an original sponsor but withdrew after facing a backlash from progressive constituents. Brown supports the legislation — he helped revise an amended version — but his name is conspicuously absent as a co-sponsor.)

A number of those senators who are preparing a 2020 presidential bid have been vociferous opponents of the the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. Sanders recently urged his colleagues to not include the legislation in an appropriations bill, while Warren announced her opposition to it in 2017.

In this photo from January 29, 2017 US Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts speaks to people gathered at Copley Square in Boston, Massachusetts. (Ryan McBride/AFP)

“I do not support the boycott, I think the boycott is wrong,” Warren said. But, she added, “I think outlawing protected free speech activity violates our basic constitutional rights.”

Sanders and Gillibrand have echoed the same sentiment, opposing the bill on the grounds that it restricts the speech rights of Americans expressing a political viewpoint. Others, such as Harris and Klobuchar, have stayed quiet on the measure.

The only Democratic senators considering a 2020 run who was willing to sponsor the Israel Anti-Boycott Act is New Jersey’s Cory Booker, who said that changes made to the bill last spring to address speech concerns were sufficient.

In March, lawmakers revised the text to make clear that Americans could not be imprisoned for participating in Israel boycotts, and that criticism of the Jewish state could not be grounds for opening an investigation against any individual.

“Initial concerns that this bill unintentionally infringed on individuals’ First Amendment rights have now been addressed by changes agreed upon earlier this year,” Booker told Jewish Insider in November 2018. “I feel confident that those modifications safeguard Americans’ constitutional right to free speech.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), for its part, said the law would still be unconstitutional despite those changes.

The bill “suffers from the same fundamental flaw as the original draft by criminalizing participation in constitutionally protected boycotts,” ACLU staff attorney Brian Hauss said. “In fact, the bill’s sponsors openly admit that it was designed for this purpose.”

Other potential candidates who are not in the Senate, including former vice president Joe Biden and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, have not yet been forced to take a position. They may only ever have to if they run and are asked by a niche audience, Zogby said.

James Zogby speaking at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., October 2012. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act is being intensely opposed by J Street and the ACLU, both of which argue that the measure, if implemented, would unconstitutionally wield the power of the state to suppress a political movement.

Advocates for the Israel Anti-Boycott Act’s, including its author, Senator Ben Cardin, claim that it’s an anti-discrimination effort meant to prevent Israeli individuals and businesses from being victimized because of their national origin.

But with a growing contingency of the left more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, in tandem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s unequivocal alignment with US President Donald Trump, supporting the Israel Anti-Boycott Act could become a minor fault line between Booker and Brown and the other contenders who oppose the bill in the 2020 Democratic primary.

A split on the left

The legislation has been “alarming and deeply unpopular” with Democratic activists, liberal pundits and advocacy groups, said Logan Bayroff, J Street’s director of communications.

But the Israel Anti-Boycott Act started to gain more attention last month, when lawmakers tried to slip it into a last-minute spending bill. It may yet gain more attention if Cardin and others are successful at including it in a spending package to reopen the government.

“It’s one thing to try to quietly pass legislation, smuggling it into a much larger appropriations fight,” Bayroff recently told The Times of Israel. “It’s something else entirely to have to really own and defend that kind of legislation on the national political stage when trying to appeal to Democratic voters.

“I don’t think you’re going to see many, if any, Democratic candidates standing behind legislation that is so strongly opposed by the ACLU and which has the real possibility of infringing on free-speech rights,” Bayroff said.

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act does have some supporters on the left. The Jewish Democratic Council of America, an advocacy organization, has urged its passage.

The group’s executive director, Halie Soifer, told The Times of Israel she doesn’t think the bill will inflame Democrats in 2020.

Halie Soifer heads the Jewish Democratic Council of America. (Courtesy of JDCA)

“I don’t think that this will be a determining issue in the 2020 election,” Soifer said. “I think this will continue to be a component of the platform where the Democratic Party comes out against BDS. I don’t see any shifts within the party on this issue.”

Nevertheless, opposing the Israel Anti-Boycott Act is largely seen, according to multiple Democratic operatives, as an effective way to win over progressives who feel that Palestinian voices have been historically marginalized in American politics.

“No one is going to go to Iowa and stump on this, but it will become an issue when they are asked about it,” said Zogby, who was a Sanders supporter in 2016. “Are there going to be some Democratic candidates who say there’s some votes out there with young people and with black and Latino voters and others for talking truthfully about this issue? I think there will be.”

The extent to which Israeli-Palestinian issues will be litigated in 2020 is unknown, but one thing that progressive activists feel sure about is that Democrats are not going to want to be bogged down in a primary fight by supporting the Israel Anti-Boycott Act.

“It’s hard to say what will or will not be an issue in the primary,” said Bayroff of J Street. “But I do think that presidential contenders on the Democratic side are going to try to distance themselves from this legislation.”


Joe Biden’s brother rips Hillary Clinton on bungled 2016 election

January 8, 2019

 Hillary Clinton’s use of the term “deplorables” to describe Trump voters was “idiotic”

Vice President Joe Biden’s younger brother unloaded Monday on Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 campaign — saying his sibling would have won Pennsylvania, would have campaigned aggressively in Michigan and would not have insulted voters as “deplorables.”

Joe Biden will shape the Democratic race for 2020

December 27, 2018

December is proving a tumultuous month for US President Donald Trump, not least with the latest government shutdown adding to political uncertainty in Washington. With attention turning to 2019, focus is growing on the emerging Democratic presidential nomination battle, which could see the largest field of candidates for the party in a generation.

Former US Vice President Joe Biden. (AP)

In the near term, the single biggest decision that will shape the race could come as soon as January, with former Vice President Joe Biden announcing whether he will run for a third White House bid after running in 1988 and 2008. He has promised a decision in the first few weeks of the year, after visiting more than 30 states in 2018.

While Biden could yet surprise many in Washington by not putting his hat in the ring, he is the early favorite. This despite him being 76 years old, in what could ultimately become the first ever clash of septuagenarian Democratic and Republican candidates in US history if Trump, 72, seeks re-election too.

By Andrew Hammond

Although the first nomination contest in Iowa on Feb. 3, 2020, remains over a year away, a slew of new polls indicate Biden’s frontrunner status. For instance, one taken from Dec. 10-13 for the Des Moines Register,


CNN and Mediacom put Biden at 32 percent among Iowa voters. A survey for Focus on Rural America from Dec. 10-11 put him at 30 percent. To put this in context, no other candidate reached even 20 percent in either poll.

Yet he would potentially face a significant field, including the man some are claiming to be the “new Obama,” Beto O’Rourke, the congressman who in November’s Senate election nearly became the first Democrat to win a state race in Texas since 1994.

O’Rourke came in third place in the Des Moines Register / CNN / Mediacom poll with 11 percent, trailing behind not just Biden but also Sen. Bernie Sanders, who scored 19 percent. In the Focus on Rural America survey, O’Rourke secured third place with 11 percent, with Sanders on 13 percent.

Among the potential other contenders for the Democratic crown are US senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Tim Kaine and Amy Kobuchar.  Outside the Senate, potential runners include New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, actress and TV celebrity Oprah Winfrey, businessman Michael Bloomberg and former Secretary of State John Kerry. While it is widely presumed that Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, will not run again, she has not categorically confirmed this.

While the Democratic race is fluid, Biden (who would in 2020 be the oldest presidential nominee in US history) may yet consolidate his early position to become his party’s standard bearer. While he is not a prohibitive favorite yet to secure the nomination in the way Clinton was at this stage in 2016, by numerous benchmarks he has key advantages against other Democrats, if his good health remains.

The past few decades of US political history indicate that the victor in nomination contests for both major parties frequently leads national polls of party identifiers on the eve of the first presidential nomination ballot in Iowa, and also raises more campaign finance than any other candidate in the 12 months prior to election year.

From 1980 to 2016, for instance, the eventual nominee in around half the Democratic and Republican nomination races contested (that is, in which there was more than one candidate) was the early frontrunner by both of these measures. Moreover, in at least four partial exceptions to this pattern, the eventual presidential nominee led the rest of the field on one of the two measures.

On both the fundraising and national poll measures, Biden could become the clear favorite for the Democrats in 2020, so much so that some other potentially first-class candidates may decide not to even enter the race.

Presuming Trump seeks re-election and wins the 2020 Republican nomination, which would be probable but by no means certain, he could face a very tough race against Biden or whoever the eventual Democratic nominee is. One of the key factors that will influence the latter party’s prospects of defeating the Republicans will be whether, and how quickly, it can unite around its own nominee given the potentially large number of contenders.

While the circumstances of 2020 will be different from 2016, when Clinton and Sanders were engaged in a protracted fight, it is nonetheless the case that another divisive Democratic nomination contest would probably only benefit Trump if he is the Republican nominee again. Indeed, should Trump emerge easily as the Republican nominee in 2020, this may prove a tipping point in another tight general election contest.

  • Andrew Hammond is an associate at LSE IDEAS at the London School of Economics
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point-of-view


Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders might find life in the left lane a bit crowded

December 23, 2018

As Elizabeth Warren inches closer to launching a presidential campaign, a snowy-haired obstacle, a political iceberg, looms ahead.

Senator Bernie Sanders, the Democratic socialist from Vermont, is seriously considering attempting a comeback run for 2020, confident that, even at age 77, he can rekindle the progressive energy that powered his insurgent campaign three years ago. And Warren appears to be close to pulling the trigger on a run: She recently sat down with members of the Massachusetts delegation individually to ask for their support should she get in the race, according to two lawmakers.

By Liz Goodwin
Boston Globe

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren may find themselves fighting for the same backers.


If both jump in, the result would be a very crowded left lane in the Democratic primary, with Warren competing against a man who has a proven appeal to her core constituency of liberal voters.

Sanders and Warren met in her Washington home last week to discuss this likely scenario of running against each other in the near future, according to two sources familiar with the meeting. But the senators, who are friendly with each other, stayed on safe and pleasant ground: They didn’t try to talk each other out of running for president or settle on a plan for how to handle it if they both do get into the race; instead, the two discussed climate change, income inequality, and other issues both have made a staple of their platforms, these sources said.

Left unsaid was the reality that a Sanders-Warren matchup could splinter the left, with the two cannibalizing each other’s support and leaving progressives without a clear standard bearer.

Back in 2015, Sanders was concerned about that very possibility. He worried about Warren’s potential candidacy, given the similarity of their economic message targeting corporate greed and pushing Wall Street reforms. He could breathe a little easier when efforts by progressives to draft Warren into the race failed that summer, according to an account by his campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, in a recent book. After the Massachusetts senator declined to get into the race, the Sanders campaign absorbed “Run Warren Run” staffers into its operation in Iowa.

Image result for Joe Biden, photos

Joe Biden

Now, people in Sanders’ orbit are projecting confidence about his chances with or without Warren in the race. They tout his millions-strong e-mail list of small donors, enthusiastic supporters who showed up this fall in swing states to hear him talk about the machinations of millionaires and billionaires, and a network of former staffers who they believe could quickly reactivate a coast-to-coast campaign apparatus for him.

“She hasn’t run a national campaign, so she doesn’t have great name ID,” Chuck Rocha, a former Sanders adviser, said of Warren. “It’s yet to be determined whether she can raise a couple hundred million dollars, which is what you’re going to need to win this race.”

Warren’s allies note she is a formidable fund-raiser in her own right, donating millions of dollars that she raised to boost Democratic candidates around the country in the 2018 midterms. She also built relationships with dozens of Democrats in swing states, offering to fund-raise for them and cut videos of support.

Some of Sanders’ supporters suggest he is in a different league as a candidate than Warren.

“Other than Joe Biden, I don’t think anybody on the field at this point has the same kind of political assets,” said another former Sanders adviser, Mark Longabaugh.

Jim Zogby, a member of the board of Sanders’ “Our Revolution” group, said Sanders “has a lane to himself” should he run.

But Warren’s allies and others believe Sanders is overestimating his appeal should he choose to run in a race crowded with fresh faces. This time, the choice won’t simply be between an establishment Democrat and an outsider running to her left. Both Sanders and Warren will likely face other liberal candidates with populist messages, from Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown to Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley. The surprising strength of Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke among progressives in early polls is also a warning sign that Sanders’ backers may be looking elsewhere for a 2020 standard-bearer.

Image result for Beto O’Rourke, pictures

Beto O’Rourke

“I think Bernie Sanders’ day has come and gone and Elizabeth Warren is going to easily eclipse him,” said Mary Anne Marsh, a Democratic political consultant based in Boston.

There’s also the issue of his age — he’ll be 79 by Election Day of 2020, compared to Warren’s 71.

After Democratic women did particularly well in House races across the country in November, Warren’s allies also hope her gender will be an asset in 2020.

“There have been plenty of white males running for president over time,” said Adam Green, cofounder of the pro-Warren Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “There’s a strong desire to have a combination of racial and gender diversity on the ticket.”

Warren, whose online reach trails only that of Sanders and Oprah Winfrey according to a recent study of that metric, has made inroads with women angry about sexism in the Trump era. When Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell attempted to silence her for speaking out of turn on the Senate floor in 2017, she and her supporters seized on the “she persisted” phrase in his lecture, turning it into a rallying cry for progressive women.

And one Warren ally argued having Sanders in the race could be a boon to her, since he would be the “lightning rod” for establishment figures who want to trash the most liberal candidate in the field.

Still, recent polls put Warren significantly behind Sanders, Biden, and O’Rourke. And progressive groups that raved about a Warren candidacy last cycle are not yet rallying around her this time around. Earlier this week, the liberal group Democracy for America released a straw poll of members showing Sanders topping the list of their favorite candidates. Warren, who led the same poll with 42 percent support in 2014, now comes in fourth, behind Biden and O’Rourke. Members of the liberal grass-roots organization MoveOn, who voted to fund a draft Warren effort in 2014, backed O’Rourke, Sanders, and Biden in a recent straw poll.

“They were stunned a little by trying to push Warren hard to run and her not running,” said Democracy for America’s executive director Charles Chamberlain, by way of explanation. “Once Warren decides to run, I bet we’ll see a jump.”

Some former Warren fans are looking elsewhere this time, however. Burt Cohen, a former state senator in New Hampshire, had a Warren sticker on his car before backing Sanders after she declined to run. He eventually became a Sanders delegate to the Democratic convention, and resented Warren staying neutral during the bruising Democratic primary. Now he says Sanders’ most fervent supporters in the state discuss Brown, Merkley, or Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii as potential candidates if Sanders doesn’t run.

Image result for Tulsi Gabbard, photo

Tulsi Gabbard

“The Bernie people will not warm up to Warren,” Cohen said.

But Warren has worked to build her own distinct brand, distinguishing her message from Sanders in several ways that could allow her to appeal to a broader cross section of voters. She unveiled anticorruption legislation that would require presidential candidates to release eight years of tax returns and create a new federal office to oversee stricter rules on lobbying. She’s also positioned herself as a reformer of capitalism, rather than a democratic socialist, proposing rules to allow workers to claim up to 40 percent of seats on corporate boards.

“I am a capitalist. Come on. I believe in markets,” she said on CNBC last summer. “What I don’t believe in is theft, what I don’t believe in is cheating.”

Liz Goodwin can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @lizcgoodwin


See also:

Elizabeth Warren’s generic drugs plan: More placebo than cure