Posts Tagged ‘Tom Perez’

DNC boss challenged after claiming Democrats ‘never hesitated to take action’ on sexual misconduct allegations

November 4, 2018

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez was challenged Sunday when he said his party has “never hesitated” to act on sexual misconduct allegations leveled at its members.

Perez made the comments when asked during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” program why Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., was still serving as his deputy at the DNC, despite being accused of domestic violence by his former girlfriend. A probe by Minnesota’s state Democratic Party reported last month that it found no evidence to substantiate Karen Monahan’s claims, which Ellison has vehemently denied.

“What I say is that we should always take those complaints seriously, and we do, and that’s why an investigation was conducted, that’s why Congressman Ellison asked for a House Ethics investigation,” Perez said. “And Democrats have never hesitated to take action, unlike Republicans.”

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The response prompted immediate pushback from anchor Jake Tapper. “Wait a second,” he said. “Democrats have never hesitated to take action” Do you mean in the last year or do you mean historically? Because historically, I could go through a list of people.”

When questioned about allegations made against former President Bill Clinton and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., Perez responded by saying he has only been chair of the party for the last 18 months.

“Well, and, again, you saw what happened in Sen. Franken’s situation,” Perez said, referring to Franken’s resignation last year over accusations of misbehavior toward women. “Democrats didn’t hesitate to do something, even if it was difficult because that was the right thing to do.”

“I think Keith Ellison’s ex-girlfriend deserves to be heard, and deserves to be treated with dignity, and deserves to have a fair and full investigation, and that’s exactly what has been done,” Perez added. “And I also believe that when women succeed, America succeeds. And the agenda of this administration is an agenda that’s making it much harder for women to succeed.”

Ellison announced in June that he would step down from his House seat to campaign to become Minnesota’s next attorney general. He is currently leading Republican challenger Doug Wardlow in the polls.

Includes video:

Dems lower expectations for ‘blue wave’

October 23, 2018

Talk of a blue wave sends the signal that Democrats have races in the bag, and that voters don’t need to come to the polls on Nov. 6.

Democrats are tamping down expectations for a “blue wave” two weeks before the midterm elections as key races in the House tighten and winning back the Senate majority looks increasingly out of reach.

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Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Tom Perez said on CNN’s “New Day” that he doesn’t use the term “blue wave,” and added that he’s always thought this year’s races would be close.

The Hill

Separately, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who’s campaigning for Democratic candidates, said he doesn’t believe in a blue wave.

“I know a lot of people talk about this blue wave. I don’t believe it,” Sanders told “Rising” Hill.TV co-host Krystal Ball.

“I happen to think that on election night you’re going to find a very close situation and maybe a handful of votes determining whether Democrats are gaining control of the House,” he said.

The remarks by Perez and Sanders could be seen as a way of motivating the Democratic base.

Many Democrats are convinced that the 2016 presidential race was lost in part because Democratic voters didn’t show up, perhaps because they thought there was little chance that Republican Donald Trump would win.

Talk of a blue wave sends the signal that Democrats have races in the bag, and that voters don’t need to come to the polls on Nov. 6.

“I think it’s really, really smart and if you look at some of our strongest candidates, they’re being very thoughtful and very intelligent on how they’re approaching this, which is always run like your 10 points down,” said Jon Reinish, a Democratic strategist and former aide to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

“It’s less of an expectation management game than it is a turnout game,” he added. “Never say ‘we’ve got this.’ “

At the same time, there are real reasons for Democrats to fret over their chances given President Trump’s rising approval ratings, fallout from the fight over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation fight and a strong economy the White House has taken credit for delivering.

Perez still said he has “a lot of confidence” that his party will win back the House.

Democrats have led Republicans on the generic congressional ballot in virtually every public poll conducted over the past year, and an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey released Monday gave the party a 9-point lead over the GOP in the race to control Congress.

Some Democrats insist that winning the bare minimum of 23 seats needed to flip the House still amounts to a wave.

“Winning 23 seats is a wave,” said a Democratic strategist familiar with House races. “The frustration among some Democrats is losing sight of how big of an accomplishment it is.

“People built expectations for this giant tsunami without the evidence there. The people actually looking at that data, in this fight, know how hard it is and are not taking anything for granted.”

Perez acknowledged, however, that the race for the Senate presents “a tougher map” for Democrats.

More than two dozen of the party’s incumbents are defending their seats this year, including 10 in states won by Trump in 2016, and Republicans are eager to expand their slim 51-49 majority by flipping seats in deep-red states, such as North Dakota, Indiana and Missouri.

Democrats believe they have benefited from an enthusiasm gap with Republicans for most of the year, but there are some signs that GOP voters are getting more motivated ahead of Nov. 6.

Trump has been campaigning across the country and is increasingly using the bully pulpit to steer the national conversation toward issues such as the immigrant caravan headed toward the U.S. border with Mexico — something seemingly designed to fire up his base.

Early voting in some critical battlegrounds as of Monday found that GOP-affiliated voters are outnumbering the Democratic-affiliated voters in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Montana, Tennessee and Texas, according to TargetSmart data analyzed by NBC News.

Democratic-affiliated voters outpaced GOP ones only in Nevada, according to the report.

Democrats are also worried about laws in crucial pockets of the country that could suppress Democratic voters.

These allegations have become a dominant issue in Georgia’s nationally watched governor’s race between former state House minority leader Stacey Abrams (D) and Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp. If elected, Abrams would be the first black woman to serve as governor in U.S history.

An APM Reports analysis found an estimated 107,000 voters in Georgia have been removed from the state’s voter rolls because of the “use it or lose it” law, which removes people who have not voted or made contact with an election official over three years.

Kemp, who oversees the state’s elections, said his office is following the law and has worked to prevent voter fraud.

“There are so many ways that Republicans have tried to make voting less accessible to voters over the last two years,” a former DNC aide told The Hill. “We’re really cautious of what the impact of those actions will be going to the polls and how many people are able to vote.”

Some Democratic strategists are also exercising caution about their midterm prospects because they’re “still a little scarred,” in the words of one observer, after Trump’s shock victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump has stepped up campaigning for Republicans in the final stretch of the campaign, attracting thousands of Republicans, while expressing confidence about the party’s prospects.

In recent rallies, the president has also sought to cast Democrats as unfit to govern and has spoken intermittently about a coming “red wave” that would expand the Republican majorities in both chambers.


US Democrats lessen superdelegates’ role in picking 2020 candidate

August 25, 2018

The Democratic National Committee voted Saturday to reduce the influence of so-called superdelegates in choosing a presidential nominee, in a move intended to bring greater transparency while healing the wounds of a contentious 2016 primary season.

At the party‘s presidential nominating convention that year, superdelegates — elected officials and other party leaders and activists — were able to add their influential votes to those coming from individual states’ primary contests.

Supporters of left-leaning senator Bernie Sanders complained bitterly that superdelegates, unbound by state-level results and so not necessarily reflecting the popular will, threw the nomination to the more establishment candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Even without the superdelegates’ votes, Clinton won the majority needed for nomination. But Sanders supporters said the superdelegates’ influence had unfairly made Clinton’s candidacy appear unassailable. She went on to lose to Donald Trump in a stunning upset.

© Joe Raedle, AFP | DNC Chair Tom Perez speaks during a campaign event in Miami, Florida on April 19, 2017.

DNC members in a voice vote stripped superdelegates of the ability in future to cast polls during the first round of balloting, which has nearly always been decisive.

They will retain voting privileges on other Democratic business, such as the party platform.

In a Twitter message, Sanders welcomed the DNC’s decision as “an important step forward in making the Democratic Party more open, democratic and responsive to the input of ordinary Americans.”

Many superdelegates strongly opposed the change, saying the party activists who worked hardest to boost Democratic causes deserved special consideration.

But DNC chair Tom Perez defended it as a major reform that will “help grow our party, unite Democrats and restore voters’ trust by making our 2020 nominating process the most inclusive and transparent in our history.”

The field of Democratic aspirants for 2020 is wide open, and in the face of the intensely polarising and often chaotic presidency of Donald Trump, Democratic leaders hope to bind up intraparty wounds well ahead of time.


Democrats: “We don’t know what we want.” — Socialism, capitalism, income inequality — Centrists to the Unhinged –“We’re in a phase of finding a new way.”

July 23, 2018

Leading moderate Democrats forcefully argued this week that the party can embrace a robust agenda of change while still praising capitalism and downplaying income inequality.

In other words, everything the empowered liberal base has spent a year and a half mobilizing against.

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a political newcomer, talks to reporters in New York on June 27. Ocasio-Cortez unseated Democratic Rep. Joseph Crowley, a 20-year incumbent. Annie Tritt The New York Times

Democrats gathered here in Ohio’s capital city on Thursday and Friday in what was an opening salvo of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, part of a conference organized by the center-left think tank Third Way.

The longtime Washington-based group was unveiling the findings of a year-long assessment launched after the 2016 election, hoping to convince potential presidential contenders that they don’t have to adopt the hard-left agenda and style of a Bernie Sanders progressive.


Included in its report were a dozen big-picture policy recommendations — such as adopting a robust apprenticeship program and expanded unemployment insurance to help workers find new jobs — and encouragement to bypass talk of income inequality for an emphasis on creating opportunity.

Third Way officials even attempted to remove the “moderate” moniker from the event, encouraging those in attendance to call themselves “opportunity Democrats.” (The event itself was labeled “Opportunity 2020.”)

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DNC chair Tom Perez said that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was the “new face of the Democratic party.”

“Once again, the time has come to mend, but not end, capitalism for a new era,” said Jonathan Cowan, Third Way’s president, in a sweeping speech outlining his group’s study.

The group’s recommendations will be met with skepticism — if not outright derision — by many Democrats and liberals, who argue the party has been ill-served by a more modest, incrementalist approach. (Third Way officials counter that although their platform is different than a Sanders-style agenda, ideas like a proposed employer-funded pension system would be radical changes in their own right.)

And indeed, even many of those on hand in Columbus — a few hundred congressmen, Democratic officials, and local politicians — needed convincing that the rest of their party was interested in this approach.

“There is no question there is a lot of volume and emotion and energy around the more activist wing of our party,” said Jim Himes, a Democratic congressman from Connecticut and chairman of the New Democrats, a coalition of business-oriented party members on Capitol Hill.

The party’s more moderate voices, he told reporters, were at risk of being “drowned out” if they didn’t start speaking out more.

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Senator Dianne Feinstein of California was “passed over” in her party primary as California voters chose Kevin de León, the force behind legislation making California a so-called sanctuary state

Few Democrats would disagree with Himes’s assessment: Just last month, the victory of avowed democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shocked longtime Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley in New York shocked the party and ushered in a wave of predictions that future Democratic candidates would mimic Ocasio-Cortez’s platform and style. On a policy front, once-fringe issues — such as the adoption of single-payer health care and a federal jobs guarantee for every citizen — have moved into the party’s mainstream.

Poll data from 2016 would suggest Third Way’s approach has some merit: A Gallup poll from October 2016 found that voters thought Trump was actually less less conservative than prior GOP nominees. Clinton, meanwhile, was seen as as liberal as former President Barack Obama.

Of course, liberals argue that energizing the party’s base is of paramount importance, especially in the age of Donald Trump.

The more centrist approach advocated at the conference, those in attendance acknowledged, will face skepticism for many reasons. A party left devastated after the last presidential election is dead-set on looking for big, bold ideas, and Third Way officials say it’s hard to compete on that front with liberals advocating a total overhaul of the health care system.

Any effort to rebrand the party reminds Democrats of the approach advocated by former President Bill Clinton in the early 1990s, when he pulled the party in a more moderate direction on social and economic issues. Third Way rejects the idea that it’s trying to do the same thing now, arguing that they are instead advocating for an entirely new approach.

“Let’s be clear,” Cowan said. “80s supply-sidism, 90s centrism and 60s socialism will not cut it for the era we’re in. We need something new and different.”

Many of those in attendance were careful not to directly criticize Ocasio-Cortez, saying they welcomed the new energy she was bringing into the party. But they also made clear that they thought her style of politics would be a difficult sell outside of her New York City congressional district, where the party must try to win over more conservative voters.

Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, vice president for social policy and politics at Third Way, said a poll conducted by the group found voters — including many Democrats — responded more positively to a message that emphasized creating economic opportunity over income inequality. The opportunity message, she said, “trounced the other Democratic approaches on the table with the voters we need to win in a general election.”

Other Democrats in attendance were harsher in their assessments of the party’s liberal wing.

“A small but vocal subgroup that is unhinged from evidence will be wrong in the long run, regardless of how loud they are,” said Iowa state Sen. Jeff Danielson, in an interview.

Danielson hails from a conservative-leaning district in northeast Iowa and says he’s managed to win re-election there by adopting an approach similar to the one advocated by Third Way. Many of his constituents would see Ocasio-Cortez’s agenda and think it amounted to nothing more than a “grievance list,” he said.

But he’s not sure other members of his party will listen to his advice.

“We don’t know what we want,” he said. “We haven’t found our sea legs as a party.”

See also:

‘Just what the party needs’: Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders woo Kansas progressives


California Democrats endorse de León for US Senate race, snubbing Feinstein


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See also:

Hillary Clinton lashes out at ‘deeply disturbing’ Trump-Putin summit

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Ocasio-Cortez draws ire from Democrats: ‘Meteors fizz out’ — Called ‘clueless’ by critics

July 17, 2018

Frustrated Democratic lawmakers are offering Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez some advice: Cool it.

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Ocasio-Cortez stunned the political world with her upset primary victory last month over Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), the head of the House Democratic Caucus and a rising star within the party.

But while the improbable win made Ocasio-Cortez an overnight progressive superstar, a number of House Democrats are up in arms over her no-holds-barred approach, particularly her recent accusation that Crowley, who has endorsed her candidacy, is seeking to topple her bid with a third-party run.

Some legislators are voicing concerns that Ocasio-Cortez appears set on using her newfound star power to attack Democrats from the left flank, threatening to divide the party — and undermine its chances at retaking the House — in a midterm election year when leaders are scrambling to form a united front against President Trump and Republicans. 
The members are not mincing words, warning that Ocasio-Cortez is making enemies of soon-to-be colleagues even before she arrives on Capitol Hill, as she’s expected to do after November’s midterms.“She’s carrying on and she ain’t gonna make friends that way,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.). “Joe conceded, wished her well, said he would support her … so she doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about.”

“She’s not asking my advice,” he added, “[but] I would do it differently, rather than make enemies of people.” 

Asked if Ocasio-Cortez is, indeed, making enemies of fellow Democrats, Pascrell didn’t hesitate. 

“Yes,” he said. “No doubt about it.”


Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) offered a similar message, saying success in the 435-member House comes slowly — and hinges largely on the ability of lawmakers to forge constructive relationships with other members. Alienating more senior lawmakers within your own party, he warned, will only stifle the ability of Ocasio-Cortez to get anything done — even despite her newfound celebrity.

“Meteors fizz out,” Hastings said. “What she will learn in this institution is that it’s glacial to begin with, and therefore no matter how far you rise, that’s just how far you will ultimately get your comeuppance.” 

He added: “You come up here and you’re going to be buddy-buddy with all the folks or you’re going to make them do certain things? Ain’t happening, OK?”

The criticism highlights a broader debate among House Democrats, who have wallowed in the minority for the past eight years and are still reckoning with the unexpected ascension of Trump to the White House. The discussion has featured animated internal disagreements over how — and when — to realize generational change at the top of the party, as well as ideological conflicts between liberals and centrists over how best to broaden the party’s regional appeal and retake power under the bombastic Trump administration.

Those questions have been revisited with the rise of Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old democratic socialist whose grass-roots campaign hinged on a promise to eschew corporate interests and discard the machine-politics approach she’s accused Crowley and the Democrats of adopting. In the eyes of her progressive supporters, Ocasio-Cortez is a breath of fresh air who will help in the fight for their ideals. 

“There is a need for progressive members in the caucus to raise the bar in terms of what we want and what we’re willing to do to get it,” said Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who called Ocasio-Cortez to congratulate her on her victory. “And that involves a lot of risk, and that involves stepping on toes.”

Ocasio-Cortez scored a resounding victory over the 10-term Crowley, winning almost 58 percent of the vote, and the musically inclined Crowley quickly conceded the race on election night with a dedicated rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.”  

Yet New York’s archaic election laws have complicated the contest, as write-in votes on a third-party line — the Working Families Party — will likely result in Crowley’s name being on the ballot in November. 

The revelation led Ocasio-Cortez last week to take to Twitter with accusations that Crowley retains hopes of upsetting her bid and returning to Congress next year. 

“So much for ‘Born to Run,’ ” she tweeted.

Crowley quickly responded, also on Twitter, noting that he can remove his name from the ballot only by dying, moving out of the district or running for a separate office he has no intention of holding — a dynamic he equates with election fraud.

“Alexandria, the race is over and Democrats need to come together,” Crowley said. “I’ve made my support for you clear and the fact that I’m not running.”

Corbin Trent, spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez, downplayed the divisions, dismissing the episode as “one tweet” that’s been blown out of proportion.

“It’s a dead issue,” Trent said Monday by phone. “The election’s over.” 

Trent said there’s been no direct communication between Ocasio-Cortez and Crowley since the blowup, but suggested a conversation is “imminent.” 

Crowley’s office declined to comment on Monday.

Meanwhile, some Democrats are seething that Ocasio-Cortez would attack Crowley so publicly after securing her victory.

“Once an election is over and you win, why are you still angry?” said Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.). “I think it’s a lack of maturity on her part, and a lack of political acumen, for her to be that petty.

“We as Democrats better figure out who the real enemy is. And it’s not each other.”

Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), a former chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, was more gentle, though he still lamented the tone of the post-primary debate, attributing it to inexperience on the part of Ocasio-Cortez.

“When it comes to courtesy and decency, and especially the way — the class way — in which Joe Crowley has conducted himself and every overture that he’s made, I think she would be wise to rethink some of the things that she’s saying,” he said.

Separately, a number of Democrats are also going after Ocasio-Cortez for her decision to endorse a handful of progressive candidates challenging sitting Democratic lawmakers, a list that includes Clay and Reps. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) and Adam Smith(D-Wash.), as well as Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.).

Ocasio-Cortez has defended that decision, saying she’s merely endorsing other liberal candidates “who uplifted & acknowledged my own campaign before anyone else would.”

Some Democrats have rushed to her defense, arguing that primary endorsements are a healthy part of the democratic process — even when you’re bucking incumbents in your own party.

“Look, I took on Pelosi. I’m all for having fights and doing what needs to be done,” said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who challenged House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) following the 2016 elections. “As long as you’re doing that with sportsmanship and class, then I think it’s fine. 

“Let’s have a fight.”

Grijalva noted that he’s backed primary challenges to sitting Democrats, most recently in endorsing the liberal candidate hoping to unseat Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.).

Still, Grijalva acknowledged that such endorsements could make life tougher on Ocasio-Cortez when she arrives on Capitol Hill.

“The rules [she’s adopted] might not apply in terms of the protocols and the niceties of incumbents here in the House,” Grijalva said. “But once you’re in the middle of the work and you have an agenda to promote, you might need their help.”


Ocasio-Cortez criticizes ‘occupation of Palestine,’ but admits she’s no expert

Democratic congressional candidate says she recognizes Israel’s right to exist, called ‘clueless’ by critics

Congressional nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaigning for Zephyr Teachout in New York City, July 12, 2018. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images via JTA)

Congressional nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaigning for Zephyr Teachout in New York City, July 12, 2018. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images via JTA)

NEW YORK (JTA) – Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez decried the “occupation of Palestine” during a television interview, but stumbled when pressed to explain what she meant.

Appearing July 13 on PBS’s “Firing Line,” Ocasio-Cortez, 28, admitted that she was “not the expert” on the issue, drawing accusations that she was “clueless.”

Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, upset 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley in last month’s primary in New York’s 14th Congressional District, which straddles Queens and the Bronx. Although she has commented infrequently on foreign affairs, in May she called the killing of Palestinian protesters by Israeli troops at the Gaza fence a “massacre.”

On “Firing Line,” host Margaret Hoover asked Ocasio-Cortez “What is your position on Israel?” Ocasio-Cortez responded, “I believe absolutely in Israel’s right to exist.” She added: “I am a proponent of a two-state solution.” The candidate said her previous position on the Gaza clashes “is not a referendum on the State of Israel.”

“The lens through which I saw this incident, as an activist, as an organizer – if 60 people were killed in Ferguson, Missouri, if 60 people were killed in the South Bronx, unarmed, if 60 people were killed in Puerto Rico – I just look at that [Gaza] incident more through just, as an incident, and to me, it would just be completely unacceptable if that happened on our shores,” she said.

“Of course the dynamics there, in terms of geopolitics … is very different than people expressing their First Amendment right to protest,” Hoover replied.

Israel and its supporters have noted that among those killed in Gaza were members of the Hamas terrorist group, which encouraged its followers to breach the border fence. Hamas has acknowledged that at that May demonstration, 50 of the 61 killed were its members.

“Yes,” Ocasio-Cortez conceded, adding, “But I also think that what people are starting to see at least in the occupation … of Palestine [is] just an increasing crisis of humanitarian condition and that to me is just where I tend to come from on this issue.”

When Hoover, a former aide to President George W. Bush, asked Ocasio-Cortez to clarify what she meant, Ocasio-Cortez paused and answered: “I think what I meant is like the settlements that are increasing in some of these areas in places where Palestinians are experiencing difficulty in access to their housing and homes.”

After Hoover asked Ocasio-Cortez to expand on her comments, the candidate said: “I am not the expert on geopolitics on this issue,” and “I just look at things through a human rights lens and I may not use the right words … Middle Eastern politics is not exactly at my kitchen table every night.”

Her comments on Israel have prompted criticism from the right and left.

“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is doing a great service. Her argument is twofold: Israel a colonizing occupier of Palestine, and that she doesn’t know anything about the conflict,” wrote Seth Mandel, op-ed editor of the New York Post, on Twitter. “Accurate: those who think this have no idea what they’re talking about. At least she’s honest.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition tweeted: “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez bashes Israel while admitting she is clueless about what is going on there. She simply toes the far-left, radical agenda. Elected Democrats are endorsing this when they endorse her.”

Asad Abukhalil, a professor in political science at California State University, Stanislaus, lamented that Ocasio-Cortez’s comments about a two-state solution and support for Israel’s right to exist are “a sign that you have become an already mainstream Democratic candidate.”

“‘Israel’s right to exist’ is a euphemism for Israel’s right to occupy Palestine,” Abukhalil added. “@Ocasio2018 should have known that.”

Although the Democratic Socialists of America endorses the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, Ocasio-Cortez has not discussed her position on the boycott.

Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has called Ocasio-Cortez the “future of our party.”

Democrats Dangerously Close to Jumping to their Deaths on Immigration, ICE

July 12, 2018

Democrats in Congress are under increasing pressure from the party’s hard left base to endorse attacks on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which enforces the nation’s immigration laws.

Democrats at the national level are divided on the issue of abolishing ICE. But momentum is on the side of the abolish ICE crowd, thanks in part to months of pressure from left-wing activists and journalists. (RELATED: Obama DHS Sec Rebukes Dems: Abolishing ICE ‘Would Compromise Public Safety’)

Several 2020 Democratic frontrunners have come out in favor of abolishing ICE, and progressive House Democrats are pushing a long-shot bill to abolish the agency.

More than 150 state and local elected officials across the country signed an open letter that calls for abolishing ICE and ending “rampant immigration enforcement.”

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Democratic members of twelve different state legislatures signed the letter, including the Democratic leader in the Arizona House, state Rep. Rebecca Rios.

The letter decries the “rampant and brutal enforcement tactics of ICE, a lawless federal agency that, since its creation in 2002, has terrorized immigrants and separated families in the communities we live in and represent.”

“As one of our newest federal agencies, ICE spends more time destroying communities than it does keeping communities safe while violating basic civil and human rights. The experiment that is ICE has failed, and must be ended as soon as possible,” the letter states.

“I think the clarity around ‘abolish ICE’ is important because it’s not an agency that can be fixed or reformed,” Philadelphia City Council member Helen Gym told The Intercept, which first reported on the letter. ICE “needs to be dismantled,” Gym said. (RELATED: ‘ABOLISH ICE’: Vandals Throw Brick Through Window Of GOP Office, Leave Graffiti Message)

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Immigration activists carry a sign calling for the abolishment of ICE, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, during rally to protest the Trump Administration’s immigration policy outside the Department of Justice in Washington, U.S., June 30, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Politico/Morning Consult poll released Wednesday found that 25 percent of Americans want to abolish ICE, but that a plurality of Democrats (43 percent) support doing so.

Grassroots Democratic activists want Congress to go beyond abolishing ICE and actually decriminalize unauthorized border crossings, as HuffPost has reported.

Democratic Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva told HuffPost he would support such legislation, while most of the dozen members of Congress contacted by HuffPost declined to take a position one way or the other.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Photo: NBC NewsWire/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Democratic Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto told HuffPost she couldn’t support decriminalizing unauthorized border crossings. “We always want to have that be part of criminal law,” Cortez Mastro said.

But the Nevada senator’s opposition to decriminalizing illegal border crossings is “increasingly out of step with a growing grassroots movement to upend ICE and separate the criminal justice system from civil immigration issues,” HuffPost noted.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old socialist who upset incumbent Democratic New York Rep. Joe Crowley, envisions a deep scaling back of immigration enforcement in America, she said in a June interview with The Intercept

Memphis Marks 50th Anniversary Of Martin Luther King Jr's Assassination

Tom Perez

“So abolishing ICE doesn’t mean get rid of our immigration policy, but what it does mean is to get rid of the draconian enforcement that has happened since 2003 that routinely violates our civil rights, because, frankly, it was designed with that structure in mind,” she said.

Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez recently said Ocasio-Cortez “represents the future of the party.”

Seth Nightengale contributed to this report 

Follow Hasson on Twitter @PeterJHasson

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Democrats are getting desperate as Mueller stalls

April 22, 2018

Hillary fundraiser riles up the DNC

March 23, 2018

Civil War in the Democratic Party

March 1, 2018

Bernie Sanders was a portent of the populist left’s rise. Now even Dianne Feinstein looks vulnerable.

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The rise of Donald Trump has prompted endless analysis about the populist right, what it is and what it wants. Now it’s time to consider a neglected segment of the electorate—the populist left.

Progressive populists scored an upset this past weekend, when California Democrats at their annual convention declined to endorse liberal stalwart Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is seeking a fifth full term. “The outcome of today’s endorsement vote is an astounding rejection of politics as usual, and it boosts our campaign’s momentum as we all stand shoulder to shoulder against a complacent status quo,” crowed her progressive opponent, state Senate leader Kevin de León, who along with Ms. Feinstein will face voters in June.

A civil war rages among Democrats in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s defeat. Mainstreamers are coming under attack from their left flank, with the sharpest broadsides emanating from the postindustrial Midwest. “We need to unite the agenda and unite the Democrats right now around a strong economic agenda,” Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, who tried in 2016 to depose Nancy Pelosi as House minority leader, said in February. The left has growing numbers, enthusiasm and a potent small-contribution fundraising model. As they pull the party away from the center, the perpetually lamented polarization of America will continue.

Excluded from both parties, left populists are a significant slice of the 37% of Americans who prefer socialism or even communism over capitalism, according to a 2017 YouGov survey. Like their counterparts on the right, left populists resent political, cultural and economic elites. They distrust big business, academia, the major political parties and corporate media outlets that prop up a self-interested establishment. They believe the system exploits hardworking Americans to fatten corporations and wealthy individuals.

Civil War in the Democratic Party

Left populism is distinguished from the left centrism that currently dominates the Democratic Party. Left centrists seek reform, not revolution. President Obama wanted to regulate Wall Street, not replace it. The Clintons cashed checks from Goldman Sachs ; last year Mr. Obama accepted one from Cantor Fitzgerald.

Left populists focus on class-based perspectives. What matters to them most is the struggle between the 1% and the 99%, especially over globalization. Working-class lives matter; banks are evil. Identity politics—race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.—don’t excite left populists much.

These were the voters who supported Bernie Sanders. Team Hillary never understood them. “What happened” was that the history-making potential of the first female president left almost half the party, not only white males, unmoved.

One point of disagreement is a question that also divides Republicans: immigration. During this year’s budget talks, Democratic leaders were determined to prevent deportations of “Dreamers,” whose parents brought them to the U.S. illegally when they were children. Populists sympathize with Dreamers, but they don’t see a hill worth dying on. Budgetary brinkmanship on behalf of illegal aliens risks alienating a growing left-populist base, whose members worry more about their own long-suffering bank balances.

As Mrs. Pelosi garnered liberal accolades for her eight-hour pseudo-filibuster over Dreamers—when did she showboat over, say, distressed homeowners during the housing crisis?— Mr. Ryan fumed that the stunt’s identity-politics-oriented optics, featuring female congressmen standing behind her, could alienate left populists. “If you’re going into a budget battle like this, you can’t go in with just a million Dreamers,” Mr. Ryan said. “You need the retired coal miners, the retired Teamsters.”

Until a few years ago, the potential of the populist left manifested itself primarily in spasmodic street demonstrations such as the antiglobalization “Battle of Seattle” in 1999 and the ragtag Occupy encampments in 2011. Mr. Sanders capitalized on it, transforming from a rumpled fringe candidate into the most popular politician in America. He rocketed from around 6% in the polls among Democrats in 2015 to a 53% favorability rating among all voters last year.

And left-populist voters were decisive in November 2016. Some 12% of those who supported Mr. Sanders in the primaries cast their votes for Mr. Trump, according to political scientist Brian Schaffner. “I’m with her,” Mrs. Clinton’s bumper stickers proclaimed. But populists wanted a candidate who was with them. From her decision not to consider Mr. Sanders for the ticket to her failure to pick up his call for a $15 minimum wage, from her focus on identity politics over pocketbook issues to her campaign’s outreach to anti- Trump Republicans in the suburbs, Bernie voters got the Big Snub.

They snubbed back. Many Sanders supporters stayed home on Election Day. “Donald Trump probably would have lost to Hillary Clinton had Republican- and Democratic-leaning registered voters cast ballots at equal rates,” wrote Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight.

Mr. Trump owes his presidency to the populist left. But he’s not respecting them either. He brags about stripping away regulations and a $1.5 trillion tax cut whose benefits mostly go to the wealthy and big corporations, not to mention a stock market whose gains are leaving many Americans behind. It all tells Bernie America that Hillary America was right about the Republicans and Mr. Trump.

Tom Perez

Fortunately for the GOP, the national Democrats are as clueless about the populist left as they were in 2016. The choice of Clintonite Tom Perez to run the Democratic National Committee broadcasts the Democrats’ determination to nominate another identitarian left-centrist standard-bearer— Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, maybe even Oprah Winfrey. Anyone but Bernie!

DNC-approved “mainstream” presidential prospects have adopted left-leaning positions on a variety of issues. Yet the populist left doesn’t trust them, and for good reason. Ms. Harris was caught fundraising in the Hamptons; Mr. Booker is too close to bankers; Ms. Gillibrand may have vested too much in #MeToo; Ms. Winfrey is a billionaire arriviste. They’re all silent on the working class.

The populist left won’t flip to the GOP again in 2020. But they won’t turn out for another regular Democrat either. This November? They’ll probably stay home with Netflix .

Mr. Rall is co-author, with Harmon Leon, of “Meet the Deplorables: Infiltrating Trump America,” and author of “Francis: The People’s Pope,” forthcoming in March.

Dems: Bill Clinton too toxic to campaign in midterms

February 14, 2018

One of the party’s top surrogates has been effectively sidelined by the #metoo movement.

Bill Clinton is pictured. | AP Photo
And in this political environment, Bill Clinton campaigning anywhere would amount to him campaigning everywhere, forcing Democrats around the country to answer for what they think of colleagues appearing with him. | Patrick Semansky/AP Photo

Democrats are looking to embrace the #MeToo moment and rally women to push back on President Donald Trump in the midterms—and they don’t want Bill Clinton anywhere near it.

In a year when the party is deploying all their other big guns and trying to appeal to precisely the kind of voters Clinton has consistently won over, an array of Democrats told POLITICO they’re keeping him on the bench. They don’t want to be seen anywhere near a man with a history of harassment allegations, as guilty as their party loyalty to him makes them feel about it.

“I think it’s pretty tough,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), vice chair of the House Progressive Caucus and one of the leading voices in Congress demanding changes in Washington’s approach to sexual harassment. His presence “just brings up a lot of issues that will be very tough for Democrats. And I think we all have to be clear about what the #MeToo movement was.”

After booting Sen. Al Franken precisely because they wanted to draw a clear contrast with Trump, Democrats across the party’s ideological and geographical spectrum acknowledged the political trouble that any appearance with Clinton would cause.

“I value the assets of what the Clintons can bring. He did a lot for Georgia when he was president,” added Georgia Democratic Chair DuBose Porter, treading delicately. “He carried Georgia. The personal side that is now being highlighted, we’ll have to measure.”

Privately, many Democratic politicians and strategists are harsher and firmer: Don’t come to their states, and don’t say anything about their campaigns. They are still worried about saying it out loud, but they don’t want him now, or maybe ever. They know Republicans would react by calling them — with good reason — hypocrites.

And in this political environment, Clinton campaigning anywhere would amount to him campaigning everywhere, forcing Democrats around the country to answer what they think of colleagues appearing with him, and whether they would do so themselves.

It’s a huge change from eight years ago, when Clinton made over 100 appearances for Democrats during the 2010 midterms as the most in-demand presence on the campaign trail. In his reelection campaign two years later, former President Barack Obama anointed Clinton his “explainer-in-chief.”

Clinton’s likely absence on the stump this year comes amid major demand for high-profile surrogates this year — from Obama, who’s expected make select appearances, to Joe Biden and the full crop of 2020 prospects, who are likely to be all over the place in the thick of election season. Even Hillary Clinton will do some targeted campaigning.

All this reluctance about him would be a surprise to Clinton himself, who, according to a person familiar with his plans, has already received a number of preliminary requests from campaigns for advice and events. He’s had a few conversations with candidates, but hasn’t initiated the calls, the person said. Clinton, the source said, is for now focused on his foundation work that included a tour last week of hurricane damage in the Virgin Islands and Dominica, and getting ready for the spring rollout of a mystery novel he wrote with James Patterson.

Anyway, Clinton wouldn’t even start to evaluate political stops until much closer to the election, the person said.

“President Clinton has been diligently working on his book. He’s also been focused on the work of his foundation,” the Clinton source said. “So beyond a few requests for support and advice from a few candidates, he hasn’t spent much time on the midterms.”

“People call me all the time [to ask] if I can talk to him, put [their] requests in,” said James Carville, the former Clinton strategist who remains close with him.

Carville said he believes the former president will do some campaigning, but given Clinton’s age — 71 — and other factors, “it can’t be like it used to.”

But “there are people who want him, I promise you,” Carville said.

Several Democratic campaigns have already polled Clinton’s popularity in their races, weighing whether to take the risk of inviting him out. Others say they’d love to see him chip in, so long as he sticks to New York, at closed-door fundraisers for them where no photographs of them together are taken.

“People are crass about it and will look to see where his numbers are,” admitted one Democratic member of Congress who is in a tough race and is anxious about going public embracing or trashing Clinton. “He’s still Bill Clinton, and he’s still a draw to certain segments of the party.”

“Depending on the audience, there will definitely be people … [who] will be uncomfortable,” said Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.). But there will also “definitely be people who want to see him.”

A Gallup poll in December had Clinton’s national approval rating at 45 percent, down 5 points since the end of the 2016 campaign, and a 52 percent disapproval. Those were his lowest numbers recorded by Gallup since he left office in 2001.

A variety of congressional Democrats were visibly uncomfortable about discussing Clinton. When approached, some of them asked nervously whether he was actually considering campaigning in the midterms.

Democratic operatives ducked the question, while several close allies of Clinton declined interview requests on the topic.

In an interview earlier this year on the party’s strategy for the midterms, Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez — who has not been in touch with Clinton the way he has with Obama and other top Democrats — took a diplomatic approach.

“Bill Clinton’s a former president of the United States, and in his administration, we took an economy that was in the tank and built an economic engine that had been unparalleled. Did he make significant mistakes? Of course he did,” Perez said. “People will make judgments race by race about who are the best surrogates to come down and advocate.”