Posts Tagged ‘Kamala Harris’

Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris Says She is Running for President in 2020

January 21, 2019

Former prosecutor joins crowded field, seeking to become second black commander in chief

Kamala Harris

Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

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WASHINGTON—Sen. Kamala Harris, (D., Calif.) said she is running for president, aiming to become the nation’s first woman to win the White House and the second black commander in chief.

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Kamala Harris

@KamalaHarris

I’m running for president. Let’s do this together. Join us: http://kamalaharris.org 

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Ms. Harris, who served as San Francisco district attorney and California attorney general before being elected to the Senate in 2016, made her announcement in a Martin Luther King Day interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and in a video distributed to supporters.

“I am running for president of the Untied States and I’m very excited about it,” Ms. Harris said on “Good Morning America.” I love my country and this is a moment in time where I feel a sense of responsibility to fight for who we are.”

The 54-year-old will highlight her career as a prosecutor with the campaign slogan “For the People.” She joins a Democratic field that includes two of her Senate colleagues, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, along with former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and former Maryland Rep. John Delaney.

The field could grow in the coming weeks with the potential entries of Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Cory Booker of New Jersey, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, former Vice President Joe Biden and others.

Harris aides said she would follow her campaign launch with a press conference Monday afternoon at Washington’s Howard University, where she received an undergraduate degree.

Ms. Harris touted her career as a prosecutor and said that as president she would aim to “keep people safe.” Yet during her announcement interview she faced questions about whether her résumé reflects a candidate more aligned with law enforcement than with minority communities.

Ms. Harris said the nation’s law-enforcement and criminal-justice systems have included “systemic racism” that she will work to change.

“It is a false choice to suggest that communities don’t want law enforcement,” she said. “Most communities do. They don’t want excessive force, they don’t want racial profiling, but nobody should.”

The Harris campaign plans to rely on her status as the potential first black woman president. African-American voters carry enormous clout in Democratic presidential primaries, having boosted Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to the last two contested nominations. Her aides also see California’s moving its primary from the end of the nominating calendar to near the beginning as a boon for her candidacy.

Aides noted that her campaign’s colors—red and yellow—are borrowed from the 1972 campaign of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to seek the presidency.

Ms. Harris’s first public event as a presidential candidate is scheduled for Friday in South Carolina, where she will address a gala held by her college sorority.

Ms. Harris’s campaign platform includes a monthly tax credit of as much as $500 for families earning less than $100,000 a year, reducing maternal mortality rates and bail overhauls to reduce the federal prison population. She has been a staunch opponent of the Trump administration’s immigration policy and was in June the first senator to call for the resignation of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen after the DHS began separating migrant children from their families at the border.

Ms. Harris telegraphed her presidential ambitions as soon as she arrived in Washington. She hired top staffers from the Hillary Clinton campaign to work in her Senate office and became one of the party’s most active figures on social media.

In her two years in Washington, Ms. Harris has established a reputation within the party as a hard-nosed interrogator from her perch as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, including her questioning last year of Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing to become a Supreme Court justice.

Ms. Harris recently completed an abbreviated tour for her autobiography, “The Truths We Hold.” The book includes a passage about her work as attorney general in negotiating a multibillion-dollar settlement with five major banks for their role in the foreclosure crisis after the economic downturn a decade ago.

Ms. Harris begins her presidential campaign at a financial disadvantage to Senate colleagues already in the race. Her latest campaign-finance report, which covers a period ending Sept. 30, showed her with $1.7 million in cash on hand. Ms. Gillibrand and Ms. Warren each had more than $10 million in their latest reports.

The daughter of a Jamaican father and Indian mother, Ms. Harris was born in Oakland and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area but spent her teenage years in Montreal after her parents’ divorce.

She was elected San Francisco district attorney in 2003 and California attorney general in 2010 before winning her Senate race in 2016 following the retirement of former Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Write to Reid J. Epstein at reid.epstein@wsj.com and Ken Thomas at ken.thomas@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/democratic-sen-kamala-harris-says-she-is-running-for-president-in-2020-11548073967

See also: CNN

Kamala Harris to run for president in 2020

https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/21/politics/kamala-harris-president-2020/index.html

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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

@SenGillibrand

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: http://kirstengillibrand.com 

Kirsten’s Getting Ready to Run

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

2020.kirstengillibrand.com

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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.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/anti-trump-senator-gillibrand-says-launching-2020-bid/

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is entering the 2020 race for president

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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.

https://www.npr.org/2019/01/12/678287583/former-hud-secretary-juli-n-castro-expected-to-launch-presidential-campaign

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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.”
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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.
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“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.
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“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.”
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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.
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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.
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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,”
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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.”
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Gabbard joins a quickly growing field of Democrats eager to take on President Donald Trump for the presidency.
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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.
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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.
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https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/11/politics/tulsi-gabbard-van-jones/index.html

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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.

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https://nypost.com/2019/01/11/bloomberg-says-he-would-use-his-own-money-to-fund-2020-run/
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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 ken.thomas@wsj.com

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.”

https://www.timesofisrael.com/will-backing-anti-bds-bills-be-a-liability-for-2020-democratic-hopefuls/

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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard rightly blasts ‘religious bigotry’ of fellow Democrats

January 9, 2019

In a stunning act of political courage, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, effectively accused two of her own party’s senators of “religious bigotry” for their harsh inquiries about Nebraska judicial nominee Brian Buescher’s membership in a religious service organization. She’s absolutely right.

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TulsiGabbard

Gabbard had a column published in the Hill on Tuesday in which she took to task two senators “who are fomenting religious bigotry, citing as disqualifiers Buescher’s Catholicism and his affiliation with the .” Though she didn’t mention them by name, it’s pretty clear Gabbard is chastizing Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, who asked Buescher if his Catholicism and membership in the Knights of Columbus would cast into doubt whether he could hear cases “fairly and impartially.”

Opinion

Harris and Hirono are both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which holds hearings assessing judicial nominees’ fitness for office.

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Kamala Harris

Gabbard even broadened her rebuke to include the ranking Democratic member of the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.:

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If Buescher is ‘unqualified’ because of his Catholicism and affiliation with the Knights of Columbus, then President John F. Kennedy, and the ‘liberal lion of the Senate’ Ted Kennedy would have been ‘unqualified’ for the same reasons. Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution clearly states that there ‘shall be no religious test’ for any seeking to serve in public office. No American should be told that his or her public service is unwelcome because ‘the dogma lives loudly within you’ as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said to Amy Coney Barrett during her confirmation hearings in 2017 to serve as U.S. Circuit Court judge in the 7th Circuit.
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Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) (Left)
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This is strong stuff, and it is long overdue. Feinstein and Sens. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have been treating devout Catholicism as a likely disqualifier of judicial nominees for at least 15 years, with their bigotry first attracting major notice during the confirmation hearing of Alabama’s William Pryor for a spot on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. There, Feinstein had the gall to attack Pryor for quoting St. Thomas Aquinas while giving the commencement address to his alma mater, a Catholic high school in Mobile, Ala.

These sorts of religious tests for office are completely contrary to the American tradition and to the spirit and, depending on how applied, perhaps the letter of the Constitution. They are unethical and immoral as well. Gabbard made that case quite dramatically.

“We must stand together, and with one voice condemn those who seek to incite bigotry based on religion,” she wrote. And, a few sentences later: “Standing up for freedom of religion for all people is as critical now as it’s ever been — hatred and bigotry are casting a dark shadow over our political system and threatening the very fabric of our country.”

In effect, she is accusing Feinstein, Harris, and Hirono of hatred and bigotry. Based on the available evidence, she has a good point.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/rep-tulsi-gabbard-rightly-blasts-religious-bigotry-of-fellow-democrats

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Kamala Harris sounds like a 2020 candidate: ‘I think this is that moment’

January 8, 2019

Sen. Kamala Harris indicated Tuesday that she’s seriously considering a 2020 White House run, by saying her mother would have wanted her to fix what’s wrong with Washington, D.C.

In an ABC interview, Harris said her mother, who died in 2009, would think DC is a “hot mess.”

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“And Kamala has to fix it?” George Stephanopoulos asked.

“Well yeah,” Harris said. “I mean, I was raised that when you see a problem, you don’t complain about it, you go and do something about it.”

[Read: 45 Democrats jostling to challenge Trump in 2020]

“I would get so upset at her when I got older,” Harris added. “I would come home with a problem, other parents would say, ‘Oh darling, I’ll take care of it.’ My mother, the first thing she would do, she’d look at us and she’d say, ‘Well, what did you do?'”

“So I think this is that moment,” she said. “And I believe for all of us, history will say and our children and our grandchildren will ask, at that inflection moment, where were you, and what did you do in service of your family, your neighborhood, your community and your country.”

While Harris sounded like she’s on the verge of running, she said at the top of the interview that she is “not going to decide right now.”

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/kamala-harris-sounds-like-a-2020-candidate-i-think-this-is-that-moment

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Probably a long shot.   Photographer: Nicholas Kamm/AFP

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Kirsten Gillibrand

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Religious Freedom: Right Way, Wrong Way

December 30, 2018

Right Way

A number of religious, cultural and interfaith figures have formulated a document called the Jakarta Treatise in response to the rising tide of religious conservatism sweeping the Indonesia.

The treatise, which consists of five points, was produced at the end of a two-day discussion on Friday and Saturday in North Jakarta. Among those attending the event were former Constitutional Court chief justice Mahfud MD, Catholic priests Benny Susetyo and Franz Magnis Suseno, Nahdlatul Ulama communications researcher Savic Ali, Liberal Islam Network (JIL) coordinator Ulil Abshar Abdalla and activist Alissa Wahid.

The first point of the treatise stated that while conservatism on its own was not necessarily a problem, it could become a “serious threat” if it morphed into “religious exclusivism and extremism” and became a “tool for political interests”.

Interfaith figures call for fight against 'religious exclusivism'

Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) personnel stand on guard in front of Al-Hidayah Mosque on Jl. Muchtar Raya in Sawangan, Depok, West Java, in 2017. The Depok administration sealed the mosque, which had been used by congregations of the minority Ahmadiyah faith. (JP/Bagas Rahadian)

The treatise further stated that exclusivism and extremism could lead to more groups advocating for religious ideologies to become part of the state’s ideology.

The treatise also suggested five strategies to address these challenges, calling on the government to take a more active role in bolstering religious moderation.

“Religion needs to be returned to its role as a spiritual and moral guide and not just be focused on the ritual and formal aspects, especially those that are exclusive in nature, in both public and governmental spheres,” the treatise stated.

The treatise also urged the government to revise the controversial Blasphemy Law that resulted in the conviction of former Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama and has been used as justification for suppressing minority religions such as Ahmadiyah and Shiite Islam.

The treatise was submitted to Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, who released an official response on Saturday, largely agreeing with the points in the document.

“In the context of national and communal life in Indonesia, religion is believed to be a source of important values that cannot be separated from daily life,” Lukman said in the statement.

“However, contemporary religious life shows a tendency to reduce the noble values of religion and limit them to external aspects such legal and political formalism, while ignoring the moral and spiritual aspects of religion.”

Lukman said he also agreed that “ultra-conservatism” in the form of religious exclusivism and extremism contradicted religious values.  (ebf)

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/30/interfaith-figures-call-for-fight-against-religious-exclusivism.html

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Wrong Way

U.S. Democratic Senators vs. the Knights of Columbus

Two Democratic senators — Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Kamala Harris of California — are making an issue of a district-court nominee’s membership in the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic social and charitable organization founded in 1882. The organization has heretofore been roughly as controversial as the Rotary Club.

Hirono claims, however, that the Knights have taken “a number of extreme positions,” citing specifically its support for Proposition 8, a California ballot initiative that defined marriage in state law as the union of a man and a woman. Support for the traditional definition of marriage is not an extreme position; it is held by roughly a third of all Americans. It was certainly not an “extreme position” at the time of Proposition 8: The initiative won 52 percent of the vote in one of the most liberal states in the country, the same day that state voted overwhelmingly to make Barack Obama president. Hirono is pushing for the nominee, Brian Buescher, to drop his membership in the organization and recuse himself from cases in which it has taken a position.

Buescher joined the Knights in 1993, at age 18. Senator Harris has asked Buescher whether he was aware when he joined the Knights that they “opposed a woman’s right to choose” and “marriage equality” (which was not even a term in general circulation, let alone a going debate, at the time).

Among the many stupidities of this campaign against the Knights is its superfluity. Buescher is voluntarily affiliated with two even larger organizations that are on record in opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage: the Catholic church; the Republican party. When running for attorney general of Nebraska in 2014, he called himself “an avidly pro-life person.” If Harris and Hirono want to maintain that all judicial nominees must support abortion, beyond just saying that they will respect existing law, then they should just say that there are scores of millions of Christians they would never allow on the federal bench on account of their beliefs. There is no need to launch an attack on the Knights.