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Politics | The Atlantic
Politics | The Atlantic
Biden Needs the Tik Tok Coalition
The youths Of America are not for Joe Biden—at least not yet.They have not embraced a candidate who emblazoned the word malarkey on his campaign bus, who summoned the ghost of John Wayne to chastise a college student, who urged parents in the 21st century to keep a “record player” on for their children, and who hasn’t been able to match the unlikely cool factor of a rival a year even older than himself.Over the last 10 days, the former vice president has reassembled the multiracial, urban, and suburban coalition that powered Barack Obama to victory in 2008 and Democrats to a House majority in 2018—with one major exception. Even in double-digit defeats, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has dominated Biden among primary voters under the age of 30, extending a wide generational gap that defined his race against Hillary Clinton in 2016 and that might have contributed to her loss to Donald Trump that fall. In Michigan and Missouri, Sanders won 70 percent and 76 percent of the vote among voters under 30, respectively, according to exit polls.Younger voters have not shown up in numbers nearly large enough for Sanders to overcome Biden’s strength among older Democrats; a surge in turnout among older people has obscured any gains in the youth vote, relegating Millennials and first-time voters to a smaller share of the primary electorate than they made up four years ago. But while the relative lack of enthusiasm from voters in their teens and 20s is bad news for Sanders in the short term, it could also be worrisome for Biden in the long term. In the general election, Democratic presidential candidates rely on huge margins among younger voters to counteract the conservative tilt and higher turnout rates of middle-aged and older Americans.Four years ago, Clinton could not match Obama’s margins with younger voters, and in the decisive states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, they were far more likely to back third-party candidates than were older voters, exit polls found. Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, blamed this migration among millennials for her defeat in the weeks after the election.Biden supporters cheerfully note that he is outperforming Clinton among a number of key groups, which they have taken as a hopeful sign heading into a likely general-election campaign against Trump. And indeed, the former vice president is seeing impressive turnout among African Americans and white suburban voters, particularly in areas that flipped from Obama to Trump and where Democrats flipped Republican congressional seats in 2018.But Biden’s most glaring vulnerability remains his lack of support among younger voters, and Obama veterans are urging him to address it more aggressively. “Improving his standing with young voters needs to be a top priority for the Biden campaign,” Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior Obama adviser, told me today. “It is the biggest weak spot in his coalition and Biden needs to make real, substantive moves to ensure they are with him on Election Day.”David Plouffe, Obama’s campaign manager in 2008, said on MSNBC on Tuesday that energizing youth turnout needed to be “a Manhattan Project” both for the Biden campaign and the Democratic Party.Even Sanders, during his remarks in Vermont yesterday, urged the Democratic establishment—and implicitly, Biden—to pay more attention to younger voters. While acknowledging Biden’s commanding lead in delegates, Sanders claimed a partial victory in “winning the generational debate.” “Today I say to the Democratic establishment: In order to win in the future you need to win the voters who represent the future of our country and you must speak to the issues of concern to them,” he said. “You cannot simply be satisfied by winning the votes of people who are older.”Lackluster support among younger Democrats isnot a new problem for Biden, who has moved a bit to the left on policy (and left for him) but has resisted embracing the priorities of young progressives like Medicare for All and student debt cancellation. As my colleague Elaine Godfrey reported in January, progressive organizers have long worried that a Biden nomination would dampen enthusiasm on the left, endangering mobilization efforts in the fall.Read: [The progressive deflation]Alexandra Flores-Quilty, a Sanders supporter and the former president of the U.S. Student Association, a youth advocacy organization, told me yesterday that while she thought young people would ultimately vote for Biden, she worried that they would be less likely to help persuade others to show up at the polls.“He’ll also need young folks knocking on doors, making calls, and doing the majority of the work on the ground that it takes to get people to vote,” she said. “What he’s going to have a hard time doing, which is essential, is getting them to do the hard work essential to win the election. It’s more than just voting.”“That,” she added, “could be a serious problem.”Progressives have a few ideas for how Biden can energize the youths, starting with a more fulsome embrace of the Green New Deal to combat climate change and more aggressive proposals on student debt, among other issues. Ahead of Sunday’s debate in Arizona, group of youth organizations is pushing the Democratic National Committee to ensure that the debate—perhaps the final one of the primary—addressed “issues that are facing our generation.”And yesterday, Sanders challenged Biden to have answers ready on those and other issues, including his signature Medicare for All proposal, immigration reform, mass incarceration, and income inequality.Biden’s choice of running mate will also be key. “Starting with a super inspirational vice presidential candidate who captures the imagination would be smart,” Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, told me.Biden began the effort of bringing in Sanders supporters—and young voters more broadly—by praising their “tireless energy and passion” during his victory speech on Tuesday night. Green, whose group backed Senator Elizabeth Warren in the primary, said his words “sent a signal of magnanimity,” but Biden needed to do more.“People are just incredibly scared that if we don’t build the coalition needed to win, we will lose to Trump,” he said. “Winning this primary because you were seen as the safe choice for the right couple of weeks is certainly not an ideological verdict on the future of the party and is not enough to excite the coalition needed to win. There’s active work to do.“So far there are signs that he gets that,” Green said of Biden.The Biden campaign takes a rosier view of the former vice president’s standing with younger voters. It noted that in Michigan, a key swing state, the former vice president won the counties that are home to the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, which went heavily for Sanders in 2016. “We are turning out voters across the board,” spokesman T.J. Ducklo told me. “We’re seeing that reflected in younger voters as well.”Ducklo said Biden was performing well among the voters who were once the young base of the Obama coalition but who are now in their 30s. But he acknowledged the campaign had work to do to win over Democrats who were too young to vote for Obama, many of whom cast their first ballots for Sanders either in 2016 or this year. “It is incredibly important, and we are going to work really hard to earn that vote,” Ducklo said.
2020-03-12 11:00:00
2021-05-08T09:46:03.000000
1 y
theatlantic.com
It’s Over
After two insurgent campaigns that rattled American politics, Bernie Sanders’s dream of becoming the Democratic presidential nominee is effectively over.Tapping an enormous wave of grassroots energy in both bids for the White House, Sanders galvanized young people, transformed online fundraising, and changed the terms of debate in the Democratic Party on issues ranging from health care to college affordability. But as his defeats last night made clear yet again, his unflinching call for a “political revolution” could not build a coalition broad enough to capture the ultimate prize.Former Vice President Joe Biden remains well short of the 1,991 delegates needed for a nomination on the first ballot at the Democratic National Convention in July. But his resounding victories last night, and his widening delegate lead, prompted even some of Sanders’s ideological allies to question whether the senator from Vermont should continue his campaign.“Sanders should start thinking through what outlet he has to draw concessions from Biden, and it’s not clear to me that continuing a presidential campaign that does not have a path to victory is one of those options,” says Sean McElwee, a co-founder and the executive director of the liberal research and advocacy group Data for Progress, which has been polling extensively in the primary states. “I think he should … think soberly about the reality. I don’t think there are any states right now he is favored to win.”[Read: Bernie Sanders has a choice to make]Others on the left did not go so far. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which had endorsed Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts before she withdrew, issued a statement urging Sanders to remain in the race at least through this Sunday’s scheduled CNN debate in Phoenix. Robert Reich, a leading liberal economist and a former labor secretary under Bill Clinton, likewise told me Sanders should push forward through the debate.“People are going to be asking themselves as they watch that debate who is going to be better able to take on Trump one-on-one,” Reich said. “The stampede toward Biden was remarkably fast. That shows that his support is not absolutely steadfast, so it’s at least possible that if his debate performance is very bad on Sunday, Bernie Sanders could have a renaissance.”But across much of the party, Biden’s triumphs in Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, and Idaho confirmed the message sent by his victories on Super Tuesday: that the question is no longer whether, but when, the former vice president becomes the party’s nominee against Donald Trump.As in last week’s contests, Biden last night dominated among African Americans; led among college-educated white voters; and even topped Sanders, albeit more narrowly, among blue-collar white voters, who had preferred the senator in each of the year’s first four contests. Compounding Sanders’s problem across the country, the young voters who generally preferred him by large margins over Biden consistently represented a smaller share of the total vote than they did four years ago, according to exit polls conducted by Edison Research for a consortium of media organizations.“If he’s not going to win working-class [white voters], and he’s going to lose [black voters] massively, and the turnout is all with his opponent’s people and not his … there is just no path to victory,” says Tad Devine, who served as a senior strategist for Sanders in 2016 but is unaffiliated with any campaign this year. “It’s just that simple.”Biden tried to project confidence in his victory speech last night, delivering conspicuously calm and measured remarks focused on the general election. And he offered the kind of conciliatory praise for Sanders that usually comes at the end of a primary race. “We share a common goal, and together we will defeat Donald Trump,” Biden said. “We will defeat him together.” Sanders, meanwhile, spoke volumes about his precarious situation by choosing not to speak at all last night.While Democratic leaders more or less tolerated Sanders’s continuing his 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton until June of that year, the party’s desire to beat Trump will likely make it much less forgiving of another extended crusade, Devine told me. “Biden needs the spring and the summer without Bernie,” he said. “I think Bernie is smart enough and reasonable enough to recognize that [it’s irrational] to keep this thing going for the sake of—what?”Another option for Sanders could be to remain in the race in order to keep attention on the policy issues he cares about, but to mute his criticism of Biden. Jesse Jackson, who endorsed Sanders last weekend, followed that model in the latter stages of the 1988 Democratic primary, which Michael Dukakis ultimately won. Several Democratic operatives, though, say one major difference between 2020 and 1988 could complicate this approach: Sanders’s aggressive network of supporters is unlikely to muffle its criticism of Biden even if the candidate himself does. That could translate into escalating demands for Sanders to quit.Beyond Democrats’ concerns about Trump, McElwee believes that Sanders will likely face more pressure to cede the field because of the coronavirus outbreak and the new constraints on campaigning. Such concerns prompted both Biden and Sanders to cancel events yesterday.“Two things that are different about this year than 2016: One is … there are not going to be any races that he has any plausible shot at winning where he is going to be able to rebound,” McElwee told me. “And I think you had a little bit more mood among the electorate and establishment at large [in 2016] that said, ‘Let’s have a guy out there making a moral case.’ At this point … I think the Democratic base is much more terrified of Trump this cycle than last cycle and [is] going to respond less well to a long, drawn-out primary, particularly in the midst of a pandemic.”The calendar doesn’t offer Sanders any reprieve. Next Tuesday, he must compete in Florida, where polls show him facing a cavernous deficit following his recent comments praising aspects of Fidel Castro’s rule in Cuba; Ohio, where he lost badly in 2016; and Illinois, where the state Democratic leadership has rallied around Biden and polls show the former vice president holding a hefty lead. Only Arizona, with its large Latino population, seems like it could be hospitable to Sanders, but even there the most recent survey found Biden comfortably ahead. Georgia, whose large black population establishes Biden as the clear favorite, follows a week later.[Read: Bernie Sanders reached out to black voters. Why didn’t it work?]For Sanders, the losses last night were especially stinging because they came mostly in states where he ran well against Clinton four years ago. In that race, Sanders narrowly won the primary in Michigan; captured about two-thirds of the vote or more in Idaho, North Dakota, and Washington (where the elections were held as caucuses last time); and finished only 0.2 percentage points behind Clinton in Missouri. Only in Mississippi was he routed.This time, though, Sanders continued to struggle to expand his support beyond the enthusiastic base that has filled his arena-size rallies and swelled his fundraising totals. Even at the outset of voting this year—when Sanders finished in a virtual tie for first place in Iowa and then won the subsequent contests in New Hampshire and Nevada—he attracted only between one-fourth and one-third of the total vote.The big question for Sanders at that point was whether he could add to his coalition once the race consolidated, which it did with stunning speed when both former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota ended their candidacies and endorsed Biden just before Super Tuesday. Warren followed them off the field that Wednesday, after failing to win a single state the night before.So far, Sanders, in key states, has failed to add to his base. On Super Tuesday, he exceeded 37 percent of the vote only in his home state of Vermont. In a two-person race last night, he drew only about 37 percent in Michigan, 35 percent in Missouri, about 33 percent in Washington, and an anemic 15 percent in Mississippi. Only in the smaller contests of Idaho (which he lost) and North Dakota (which he won) did Sanders cross 40 percent of the vote.Demographic patterns largely followed the grooves cut on Super Tuesday. Biden ran up significant margins among college-educated white voters in Missouri and Mississippi, and carried them more narrowly in Michigan, a state where Sanders posted a double-digit advantage among them in 2016. Preliminary exit results also showed Biden winning those voters in Washington. Starting on Super Tuesday, Biden has won white-collar white voters in 13 of the 16 states in which exit polls have been conducted.Biden last night also maintained his substantial advantage among African American voters. He won the support of nearly nine in 10 of them in Mississippi. As in 2016, Sanders has run more competitively among black voters outside the South. But even so, the exit polls last night found Biden winning about two-thirds of them in Missouri and Michigan, almost exactly matching Clinton’s performance last time. Biden has carried African Americans in every state with enough of these voters to measure in an exit poll.Perhaps most disappointing for Sanders, the exit polls in Missouri and Michigan found Biden also narrowly winning the support of white voters without a college degree. (Not enough of them voted in Mississippi for the exit poll to record their preferences.) The preliminary exit results also showed Biden winning them by a slim margin in Washington.Sanders carried non-college-educated white voters in Missouri and Michigan last time (no 2016 exit poll was conducted in Washington), and he targeted them this year by lashing Biden over his support for free-trade agreements and his earlier openness to cutting Social Security as part of a “grand bargain” with Republicans to reduce the deficit. Since Super Tuesday, Biden has carried blue-collar white voters in 12 of the 16 states in which exit polls were conducted (assuming his lead in Washington survives the final exit-poll revisions).The sweep of Biden’s victory last night was best captured in the Detroit metro area. He beat Sanders by about 20 percentage points both in Wayne County, which includes heavily African American Detroit, and Oakland County, a white-collar suburb that has moved toward the Democrats in recent years. He also beat Sanders by about 17 points in Macomb County, the home of white, blue-collar “Reagan Democrats” who have drifted toward the GOP.One final headwind battered Sanders. In a repeat of Super Tuesday, Biden dominated among voters who self-identified as Democrats in Missouri, Michigan, and Mississippi alike, and he carried them more narrowly in Washington.[Read: The coronavirus campaign]After losing partisan Democrats badly in his 2016 run, Sanders had performed more competitively among them in the first contests this year. But at his moment of greatest triumph this cycle, after winning New Hampshire and Nevada, he sent a series of belligerent signals to the party. Among them: insisting he is running against “the Democratic establishment,” renouncing any general-election help from the billionaire Michael Bloomberg, and declaring that he would only pick a vice president who supports Medicare for All.These factors likely contributed to Biden’s winning streak: He’s now won self-identified Democrats in every state with an exit poll since Super Tuesday, save for Vermont, California, and Colorado.“The other flawed theory of this [Sanders] campaign is that you can win the nomination of a major political party by running against that political party,” Adrian Hemond, a Democratic consultant in Michigan, told me. “Democratic activists have invested the last 25, 30, 40 years of their lives in the party, and he was saying this was all bullshit. How’s that supposed to work?’”On Tuesday, at least, the answer was that it didn’t work. Now, at 78, with his second campaign facing a lower ceiling of support than his first, Sanders and his leagues of ardent supporters are confronting the near-certainty that after years of organizing and struggle, he will never conquer the Democratic Party as its presidential nominee.
2020-03-11 15:06:55
2021-05-08T09:46:03.000000
1 y
theatlantic.com
China Hawks Are Calling the Coronavirus a ‘Wake-Up Call’
Donald Trump has in many ways made good on his campaign promises to confront China. He’s waged a trade war, urged allies to restrict relations with the Chinese, and reoriented Washington toward long-term competition with Beijing.Now, with the spread of a new coronavirus originating in China and rapidly descending on the United States, another front has opened in the struggle between the world’s most powerful nations. The global outbreak has served as a stark reminder that the human race is all in this together and that collaboration among countries is the only way out of this nightmare. But rather than focus on the demands of interdependence, a number of prominent figures in the Trump administration and Congress are seizing the moment to highlight the dangers of America’s dependence on other nations in general and China in particular.As Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro and Senator Marco Rubio both told me, the crisis is an alarming “wake-up call” about American vulnerabilities in a globalized world—one that the United States has for decades played a leading role in sustaining.[Read: Italy’s coronavirus response is a warning from the future]President Trump has so far refrained from publicly criticizing Chinese leader Xi Jinping and, besides issuing travel restrictions, from taking antagonistic actions akin to the tariffs he imposed in response to China’s trade practices. Yet some of the nationalist hawks in his administration, who are engaged in a long-running struggle over China policy with the president’s more internationalist, dovish advisers, have been outspoken about how the public-health emergency could factor into Trump’s “America first” agenda. In January, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stated that he didn’t “want to talk about a victory lap over a very unfortunate, very malignant disease,” only to then predict a possible victory: that the outbreak in China “will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America.”Navarro, the director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, told me that the coronavirus epidemic illustrates how the United States is “dependent on foreign sources” for crucial medicines and medical supplies.Nearly all surgical and most respirator masks used in the U.S., for instance, are manufactured in other countries such as China and Mexico, resulting in shortages during the current crisis. But the challenges extend beyond medical supplies central to the coronavirus outbreak. Yanzhong Huang, a global-health expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, noted that China is the largest exporter of medical devices to the United States, and that about 80 percent of the active pharmaceutical ingredients in American drugs come from China and India. “Chinese pharmaceutical firms have captured 97 percent of the U.S. market for antibiotics and more than 90 percent of the market for vitamin C,” he wrote. “In 2018, 95 percent of ibuprofen, 91 percent of hydrocortisone, 70 percent of acetaminophen, and 40–45 percent of [the blood thinner] heparin imported to the United States came from China.”Navarro argued that the “the Obama-Biden administration” was repeatedly reminded of America’s reliance on other countries but ultimately “did nothing,” whereas Trump has focused on “bringing supply chains, jobs, and production home” and aims to “reduce this dependency, strengthen our public-health industrial base, and protect the American people.” (The Trump administration has yet to prove that its policies have brought about a renaissance in American manufacturing, which was in recession during the second half of 2019.)Navarro proposed that the U.S. government should encourage high-tech domestic manufacturing of medical supplies and ensure that everything it procures across federal agencies “is domestically sourced.” This “buying American” should include “not just the finished products, like the pills and face masks and ventilators,” but also “the critical components, precursor chemicals, and advanced pharmaceutical ingredients we need for production,” he said.His conception of the world in the grips of an epidemic is more dog-eat-dog than lion-lying-down-with-lamb, with America left alone to fend for itself just like every other country. Navarro, an architect of Trump’s “America first” trade policies and author of such books as Death by China and The Coming China Wars, has suggested that while America’s foreign-dependency problem has a lot to do with China, it even encompasses the United States’ closest friends. “In crises like this, we have no allies,” Navarro noted on Fox News recently, alleging that Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom “denied us what we needed” in terms of medical provisions during the 2009 swine-flu outbreak. “We got to get [medical supply chains] back onshore” from China, India, and Europe, he said.Trump has yet to adopt all these policies. But the fallout from the global outbreak, which coincides with his reelection bid, could motivate him to do so. “Coronavirus is the intersection of 3 issues @realDonaldTrump has been right about all along: border control, American manufacturing, China hawk,” Donald Trump Jr. tweeted recently, in a preview of a possible campaign message.[Read: The strongest evidence yet that America is botching coronavirus testing]And, if implemented, such policies could upend global supply chains and renew a push to unwind economic integration between the world’s two largest economies, which could significantly reverse globalization. (This had slowed somewhat after the U.S. and China struck an interim trade agreement in January.) “Globalism,” with its unwieldy ... complex systems tied to yet more complex systems,” could be the biggest “casualty in the war on the coronavirus,” Curtis Ellis, the policy director of America First Policies, the nonprofit arm of a pro-Trump super PAC, wrote last month.These arguments have been echoed by China hard-liners in Congress. In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Rubio and another Republican senator, Josh Hawley, have proposed separate bills to lessen America’s reliance on China for medical supplies. Whether the administration will support these initiatives isn’t clear. During a congressional hearing last month, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said he shared Rubio’s concern about America’s reliance on China for active pharmaceutical ingredients. Yet he cautioned that disentangling globalized supply chains in favor of domestic manufacturing can’t be accomplished “overnight” and could raise health-care costs for Americans.Rubio has previously warned of the risks that China poses to the U.S. health-care industry and challenged Beijing on numerous issues, including its efforts to suppress pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. He told me that “the depletion of America’s manufacturing sector has left us with a huge national-security vulnerability,” necessitating “a 21st-century, pro-American industrial policy.”The bids to break free from America’s bonds with Beijing, moreover, go well beyond the medical sector. Mac Thornberry, the ranking Republican member of the House Armed Services Committee, has stated that while “we want to get coronavirus contained [and] eliminated as fast as we can … maybe we can also take this opportunity” to reduce America’s reliance on China for defense-related products and components.When I asked Rubio why he was taking a more confrontational approach to China during a global emergency that seemed to call for international cooperation, he maintained that “the Chinese Communist Party has proven it is not a reliable or responsible global power.”China “impeded efforts of international researchers and failed to share information on the source of the virus or best practices,” he said. “Their Communist Party is more interested in ‘saving face’ and stamping out internal dissent [than] in helping [to] prevent the spread of [this] dangerous disease.”U.S. officials have similarly criticized the leaders of Iran, another adversary hit hard by the coronavirus. Richard Goldberg, the former director for countering Iranian weapons of mass destruction on the National Security Council, told me that these critiques have to do with the nature of the political systems in China and Iran, not simply the fact that both are foes of the United States. Authoritarian governments are especially likely to hinder international responses to global threats, he argued.[Graeme Wood: Coronavirus could break Iranian society]“Anywhere you see a closed, centralized, nontransparent regime, you see the inability to flex quickly as crisis emerges,” explained Goldberg, now a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Democracies, too, “can fail,” he allowed, but they also “can respond to failure and correct [themselves] quickly.” As democracies including the United States struggle mightily to contain the virus, that purported capacity to self-correct is on trial.Explaining on Friday why he calls the new coronavirus the “Wuhan virus,” in reference to the Chinese city where it began, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted that the terminology highlights “the risks when you have an interconnected world.”“We create wealth through this interconnectivity,” he said. “But when you have an entity like the Chinese Communist Party who is providing data sets that aren’t transparent and aren’t clear, this is the risk.”The Trump administration still hopes to emerge from this crisis having minimized the downside of globalization while maintaining its upside. But in a 2004 report on what the world might look like in 2020, U.S. intelligence officials forecast that only one development “short of a major global conflict” could stop the relentless advance of globalization. That development? A pandemic.
2020-03-11 13:00:00
2021-05-08T09:46:03.000000
1 y
theatlantic.com
What Does Bernie Sanders Do Now?
DETROIT—On Monday, Paul Sherlock drove up from Cleveland to Renaissance High School here for a Joe Biden rally—one that, thanks to the coronavirus outbreak, may have been the last public campaign event for a while. He brought his own Bernie Sanders sign, and paced around the perimeter of the school, trying to get noticed. He’d written CHANGE MY MIND in black pen on his sign. But he didn’t really mean that. Sherlock was there for the arguments. I saw him get into one with two women (one wearing a Kamala Harris shirt, one wearing Biden buttons) in line for the Biden rally, pointing out Biden’s support for the Iraq War and pushing back on their complaints that Sanders isn’t a Democrat.Sherlock, who has a “namaste” tattoo on the right side of his neck, sheepishly told me that he makes his money off of owning property, so he’s “more at the top than at the bottom,” but said he recognizes the need for the revolution Sanders wants to make happen. He’s concerned about Biden’s mental stamina, which is suddenly the talk of Sanders and Donald Trump supporters. He’s panicked about climate change. He voted for Sanders in the 2016 primary, then Jill Stein in the general election, he told me. Biden is “on the wrong side of history,” he said. He’ll probably vote for Biden in November if he’s the nominee, though he worries that other Sanders supporters won’t, and that the former vice president will lose.He also said that unless Sanders starts winning more primaries, it might be time for him to wrap up his run.“It’s already a divisive party—if things continue the way they are, it’ll only get worse,” Sherlock said as the rain began to dribble down. “I don’t want further disruption of the party this time around.”Sanders and his aides know that the race slipped out of their fingers in the past 10 days. It’s hard for them to believe that the race seemed so close just last week, when Sanders woke up on Super Tuesday thinking that he was on track to be the nominee, and scheduled a big Super Tuesday rally in his hometown of Burlington, Vermont, expecting a celebration. Now, after a dismal showing tonight, Sanders has virtually no path to the nomination.Rallies for both Biden and Sanders are canceled for the foreseeable future—starting with competing events Tuesday night in Cleveland that the candidates scrapped on short notice. The Democratic debate scheduled for Sunday night in Phoenix won’t have a live audience. The Tuesdays are getting less super. Biden’s delegate lead is mounting. The Sanders campaign has failed to get any new momentum, and the Biden campaign has been rubbing it in that Sanders is on record saying he thinks the nomination should go to whichever candidate shows up at the summer convention with a plurality of delegates.[Read: The coronavirus campaign]The campaign isn’t where it was expecting to be at this point, but Representative Ro Khanna of California, one of Sanders’s national co-chairs, is trying to hang on to hope.Sanders, Khanna told me on Tuesday afternoon, is “going to be running strong in the way of the millions of votes. He’s going to continue to get hundreds of delegates ... The point is that he still has a chance. There’s still going to be scrutiny on Biden’s record and Biden’s vision in a way he hasn’t really had.” He added, “Biden hasn’t faced real scrutiny since the beginning of the race—shouldn’t he have at least the same length of scrutiny that Bernie or [Elizabeth] Warren or [Michael] Bloomberg went through?”Optimism has collapsed into retrenchment. “Win or lose tonight, Bernie should stay in the race until the March 15th debate at the earliest” was the most that Maria Langholz, the press secretary for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, could muster in an email sent to reporters Tuesday afternoon. Her group had been all in for Warren and making the case against Sanders until a week ago, when it began urging members to vote “strategically” for him, to extend the race.Sanders’s expectation that he could win with a split field, and could take the nomination with just 30 percent of the vote—an idea that top aides to the senator gleefully spelled out for me in the spring, when the race looked very different—seems almost impossible now. His supporters’ attacks on other candidates have left him few friends—at the Biden rally on Monday night, I saw people sporting hats, buttons, and shirts from the campaigns of Harris, Pete Buttigieg, and Andrew Yang. And Sanders’s continued attacks on “the establishment” annoyed some voters I talked with.“It concerns me because he’s not a Democrat,” said Reginald Jackson, an autoworker who was waiting in line to get into the Biden rally, adding that he’d always been a Biden voter. “We’re the establishment. Him saying that, that’s kind of disrespectful. We’re the voters.”The bitterness continued to spill out on Tuesday, after Biden said “You’re full of shit” to an autoworker who’d read a prepared question saying the former vice president wanted to get rid of the Second Amendment. Sanders’s campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, tweeted out a video of the incident, writing, “Oh no.” (Biden campaign aides, meanwhile, eagerly spread around the video, feeling that it showed the candidate having a direct and blunt conversation knocking down misinformation about an issue voters care deeply about.)Sanders has a choice to make about the next few months. Does he stay in a race that is becoming mathematically impossible to win? If he does, does he continue ripping into Biden like he has over the past week, getting crowds in Phoenix and St. Louis to boo repeatedly at the mention of the vice president’s name? Or does he shift to a campaign that is more about raising issues in a discussion, and hope that whenever America emerges from its coronavirus crisis, events or sudden shifts in politics suddenly realign the race against Biden? What role does he take in responding to the chatter circulating among some of his supporters, and promoted by his aides, that Biden is in hiding (he isn’t) because they say he’s in cognitive decline (latched onto via videos online showing Biden misspeaking and stumbling)?Biden’s campaign aides are frightened that Sanders will decide to torch their candidate. They’ve been stressing about how to respond if he does.[Read: Joe Biden is the candidate of the resistance]Tuesday afternoon, shortly before the polls closed, I spoke with Representative Mark Takano of California, who’d just announced his endorsement of Sanders. He told me that he’d been ready to do it at the end of last week, after his district went overwhelmingly for Sanders in the primary, and had been waiting on the Sanders campaign to get a video produced announcing his decision.“This contest between Senator Sanders and Vice President Biden is a good one. It’s important to have these conversations, this political discourse. We shouldn’t be in such a rush to get this done and over with right away,” he said. “We’ve seen dramatic turns happen in this campaign, in this race, and there could be dramatic turns that we don’t anticipate.”Takano isn’t blind to the results coming in. He is aware of the attacks on Biden. But he has a different plan.“There’s another way to talk about Bernie,” Takano said. Instead of slamming Biden, talk up Sanders’s record: voting against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, or fighting against President Barack Obama’s proposed cuts to Social Security, or shepherding through major Veterans Affairs reforms. “This is fair game. This is not nasty, dirty rhetoric. In a fair debate, if people can remind voters of the distinctions, I think people will see that Bernie does have a vision, does have core convictions, and is a strong voice who can defeat Donald Trump.”The point of the campaign going forward, Khanna told me, will be living up to its “Not me. Us” slogan, even in what looks like the end stages of the race. “He cares about the policies,” Khanna said. “He owes it to everyone who has voted for him and the millions of people and the delegates to push for these policies, and to make sure that the platform reflects that.”
2020-03-11 06:24:00
2021-05-08T09:46:03.000000
1 y
theatlantic.com
The Atlantic Politics Daily: An Alternate Coronavirus Reality
It’s Wednesday, March 11. In today’s newsletter: What the coronavirus outbreak looks like in the alternate reality of the fever swamp. Plus: Nearing the end of the line for Bernie Sanders?*« TODAY IN POLITICS »(Charlie Reidel / AP)An Alternate Coronavirus RealityWhile the coronavirus pandemic spreads, there’s a world of partisan media, conservative pundits, and digital propagandists hard at work, amplifying the more error-riddled parts of the president’s message, our deep-in-disinformation-land reporter McKay Coppins writes. The line: Pay no attention to the fake-news fearmongering about the coronavirus! It’s all political hype! Things are going great.It doesn’t matter that fact-checkers, scientists, and the president’s own top medical experts are trying to correct some of the White House’s misinformation (whether the virus is contained, how deadly it is, and if enough tests are being run), McKay reports—the president and his allies can still use his bully pulpit to drown information inconvenient to them. Trump has actually shown is that he doesn’t need to silence the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or censor the press to undermine politically inconvenient information about a public-health crisis—he can simply use his presidential bullhorn to drown it out. Read the full story here.—Christian Paz*« IDEAS AND ARGUMENTS »(GREG BAKER / AFP / GETTY1. “As Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro and Senator Marco Rubio both told me, the crisis is an alarming ‘wake-up call’ about American vulnerabilities in a globalized world.”Countries around the world face the challenge of organizing a united response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, as the number of reported cases rockets in the U.S. But some in the president’s circle are treating the pandemic as a wake-up call, pushing for more aggressive “America First” policies, Uri Friedman reports.2. “The intention, it seems, is to scare away media outlets from publishing opinion pieces that use particularly critical words to describe his relationship with Russia.”Over the last few weeks, the president’s reelection team has sued CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post over opinion articles written about Trump and special counsel investigation’s findings on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The president’s team will likely lose those cases, but the lawsuits’ primary purpose are is attempting to intimidate the press, two legal experts argue.3. “But a number of prominent conservatives...are going with ‘Wuhan virus’, as if the deadly new pathogen were one more scourge to be blamed on the Chinese.”While scientists and the international community have followed the formal name “COVID-19” to describe the disease caused by the new coronavirus, some leading right-wing politicians are trying to make the label “Wuhan virus” stick. That’s a foolish and offensive gesture, this professor of science writing argues.*« EVENING READ »(JEFF ROBERSON / AP)Staying in the race doesn’t mean having a path to victory.Senator Bernie Sanders announced today that he’d stay in the primary race, heading into Sunday’s 11th primary debate in Phoneix, Arizona. But his path to the nomination is effectively over, Ron Brownstein writes.It’s now not a matter of if, but when, former Vice President Joe Biden secures the nomination: Victories in Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, and Idaho replicated his triumphs on Super Tuesday. Biden pulled together (older) black voters, college-educated white voters, suburban voters, and even some blue-collar voters to secure majorities in three of the six states that voted last night.Sanders now faces steep climbs in Florida, Ohio, and Illinois. “Only Arizona, with its large Latino population, seems like it could be hospitable to Sanders, but even there the most recent survey found Biden comfortably ahead,” Brownstein writes.Read the full analysis here.* Today’s newsletter was written by Christian Paz, a Politics fellow, and edited by Shan Wang, who oversees newsletters. You can reply directly to this newsletter with questions or comments, or send a note to politicsdaily@theatlantic.com. Your support makes our journalism possible. Subscribe here.
2020-03-11 06:00:00
2021-05-08T09:46:03.000000
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theatlantic.com
Bernie Sanders Reached Out to Black Voters. Why Didn’t It Work?
Two years ago, Bernie Sanders journeyed south to trace the history of a past revolution, and to imagine a new one.On April 4, 2018, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., thousands of people gathered on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, for a rally and a march. Sanders was one of the speakers. He took the stage and gripped the podium with one hand, the microphone with the other. “Dr. King was not just a great civil-rights leader,” Sanders, who had not officially announced that he would run for president again, said. “He was a nonviolent revolutionary!” The crowd broke into applause as he paused for a moment. “He was a man who wanted to transform our country morally, economically, and racially.” It wasn’t enough to simply remember King, Sanders explained: People needed to follow in his footsteps.Later that day he traveled farther south, to Jackson, Mississippi, where, in June 1963, the famous civil-right activist Medgar Evers—who led economic boycotts and voter-registration drives in the state—was murdered in his driveway by a white supremacist after an NAACP meeting. The city’s mayor is now Chokwe Antar Lumumba, a 36-year-old who wants to make Jackson the most “radical city on the planet.” Onstage at the Thalia Mara Concert Hall, the pair had an hour-long conversation about economic exploitation—one of the three evils King railed against—and economic justice.Each stop on Sanders’s journey through the South doubled as early outreach to a demographic he would desperately need if and when he sought the presidency again.[Read: The establishment strikes back.]Sanders’s agenda—dismantling broken systems and replacing them with ones that benefit working-class people, regardless of race—is intimately bound up with the nation’s civil-rights legacy. But, some argue, Sanders has struggled to clearly articulate that connection in a way that earns black voters’ support.When Sanders first ran for president, in 2016, he excited white progressives who were not interested in Hillary Clinton’s brand of moderate politics. His base was young and energetic, but it was light on black support. Sure, a small majority of black voters under 30 supported him, but they made up just 3 percent of the black electorate in the primary. Black activists argued that his campaign did not pay enough attention to racial violence and inequities in the criminal-justice system. His speeches were frequently interrupted by members of Black Lives Matter, who sought to push candidates to be more aggressive on racial issues. They attempted similar protests of Clinton but were stymied. (At least on one occasion, they were blocked at the door by Secret Service agents.) Clinton’s events were stage-managed to the finest detail; Sanders’s were more DIY and raucous.Sanders has admitted that his 2016 campaign was “too white.” Indeed, his inability to excite a large group of voters beyond his majority-white base led to a pummeling across the South. Older black voters knew Clinton; Sanders was the one rolling the boulder uphill. He lost the black vote by 90 percent in Arkansas, by 86 percent in South Carolina, and by 89 percent in Tennessee. In Missouri, where he lost by the slim margin of 0.2 percent, he lost the black vote by 67 percent.For many voters, the 2016 election was their first introduction to the Vermont senator with the unkempt hair and radical ideas. He knew more people would know his name if he ran again in 2020, but he needed to do more: He needed to hire a more diverse staff, attend events at historically black colleges and universities, speak to black media and black people directly, and, perhaps more than anything, listen to black voices.He did all that. But despite his efforts, the support never quite materialized. From the South Carolina primary through Super Tuesday, among black voters, Sanders was trounced by former Vice President Joe Biden. Sanders offered a revolution; voters rebuffed it. The black people who did support Sanders tended to be younger—and young people tend to vote at lower rates than older people do.Tonight, exit polls showed that Sanders lost the black vote in Mississippi by 71 points—84 percent of black voters supported Biden, and just 13 percent supported Sanders. Sanders’s performance among black voters was just 2 percentage points better than it was in 2016. Cable networks called the race as soon as the polls closed: another decisive victory in the South for Biden.The stagnant numbers raise interesting questions: Does Sanders’s revolution simply need more time? Did voters not know enough about what his policies could do for them? Or, more plainly, did they simply prefer Biden? If the Sanders movement—Not me. Us—is going to win, either now or in the future, it needs to figure out a way to sway southern black voters to its cause.Some black people in the South are already on board for radical change, though, and they are trying to bring others with them.[Read: A warning to the Democratic Party about black voters.]Lumumba, whose beard is just beginning to show flecks of gray at its ends, is a rising star of progressive politics. And he’s seen the limitations of politics as practiced.“No matter who’s been president, no matter whether we’ve been told that the economy is thriving or we’re in a recession, we’ve still been at the bottom,” Lumumba told me during his layover in Atlanta on Friday. He was headed to Detroit to join Sanders for a rally before the Michigan primary. “People may participate in the pageantry because they don’t believe that it’s really going to affect their lives in a grand way.”Voting becomes pageantry when those who do so aren’t able to actively engage with the candidates, their staffs, and, most important, their ideas, he said. A contender shouldn’t become the candidate through an exercise less participatory than procedural, he argued. He hoped that the people of his city—which is more than 80 percent black—would be able to experience the political process more deeply this time around.In mid-February, Arekia Bennett, an organizer with Mississippi Votes and the Movement for Black Lives, staged a “people’s caucus,” which involved more than 100 residents of Jackson. The event gave voters a chance to hear directly from staff members representing several candidates, including Biden, Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Michael Bloomberg. Sanders won the caucus’s mock vote overwhelmingly, and Lumumba based his endorsement on that result.It was an intimate experience, the kind of thing Lumumba had imagined when he and three other southern black mayors wrote an open letter to candidates last September. The letter outlined the roadmap for 2020 Democrats to win not only their support, but the support of their communities. “We didn’t want it to be a perfunctory experience,” he told me. “It needed to be substantive.”But a little over 100 people is hardly representative of all of Jackson, a city of roughly 170,000. “My fear in Jackson, just like my fear around the nation, is that not enough people get a chance to experience that,” Lumumba confessed. “That was a small sample size of the city in an atypical situation not only for Jackson to get to experience, but that most other southern states don’t get to experience.”The primary process is such that candidates spend inordinate amounts of time and money in very white states—Iowa and New Hampshire—trying to convince voters that they are the right candidate to address their issues. That creates a lopsided process in which voters in places like Sumter County, Alabama, and Leflore County, Mississippi, have very little interaction with the presidential nominating contest. That does not mean voters in these states are uninformed; rather, they are not able to engage with contenders in the same way as they would if they lived in a place like Sioux City, Iowa. “People feel more comfortable when you can stand toe-to-toe with them and let them know what you stand for,” Lumumba told me. “That’s their opportunity to kind of gauge your sincerity.”Sanders has been criticized in recent weeks for skipping events where he might have had the opportunity to engage with more southern black voters. He did not attend the Bloody Sunday march in Selma after losing to Biden in the South Carolina primary, and canceled a rally in Jackson—where he was expected to appear with Lumumba—in order to campaign in the vital primary state of Michigan. (“I can’t imagine the demands of a national campaign,” Lumumba told me, and Sanders is not a stranger to the city, having held events there in the past, “so we understand.”)When I asked Lumumba about how the primary process could have gone differently for Sanders, he stopped for a moment. Then he considered how Sanders performed in caucuses rather than primaries; perhaps if there were ranked-choice voting, as in the Jackson people’s caucus, Sanders would have won a larger share of black voters. But he kept coming back to a central theme: If only more people knew how radically different their lives could be—perhaps then they would join the revolution.Sanders’s movement believes that progressive politics can fundamentally change lives by raising wages and making college affordable and health care more accessible. This is the message Jesse Jackson preached when he ran for president in 1984 and 1988. And it’s the one that led Jackson to endorse Sanders on Sunday. “A people far behind cannot catch up choosing the most moderate path,” Jackson said.[Read: Joe Biden is the candidate of the resistance.]If Jackson’s endorsement had come prior to Super Tuesday, it might have helped Sanders’s stock among older black voters. “It really anchors the progressive movement to a long-standing civil-rights agenda,” Katherine Tate, a professor at Brown University who studies black-voter behavior, told me. Her research has shown that black voters have become less liberal since the 1970s, and that they often take cues from elected officials who are willing to compromise on moderate policies.Christopher Towler, an assistant professor at Sacramento State who runs the Black Voter Project, a public-opinion-survey outfit, agrees. His research has found that black voters are most enthusiastic about candidates whose messages are framed by racial progressivism. “African Americans prioritize their racial identity more often than not, especially when it comes to politics,” he told me. And that’s particularly true of older black voters, “because everything that has been political in their lives has also been racial.”When Representative Jim Clyburn, the House majority whip from South Carolina, endorsed Biden, he explicitly made that connection. Barack Obama’s election is synonymous with racial progress, and Biden is inextricably linked to Barack Obama. “Joe will build on President Obama’s legacy,” Clyburn said as he announced his endorsement. Obama remains the most popular Democrat in America, and several candidates—now including Sanders—have used his purported stamp of approval in ads as a way to gain support not only among black voters but among Democrats more broadly.But Jackson’s endorsement could have potentially served as a counterweight to Clyburn’s, potentially blunting the beating in South Carolina and preventing the Biden wave on Super Tuesday. (A spokesperson for Jackson, Shelley Davis, told me that Jackson did not endorse sooner because he had been in active conversations with Elizabeth Warren, who departed the race after Super Tuesday. The Biden campaign, he said, did not contact Jackson seeking his support.)Still, even with Jackson’s endorsement, a revolution was not what black voters were after this time around, Tate suggested. “Had this been any other election without Donald Trump in the race, we would have seen a more earnest battle between the more progressive and moderate elements in the black electorate,” she said. That may be why the most diverse field in history has been winnowed to two white men in their 70s.Trump is a powerful motivator, but he shouldn’t be the only one, Lumumba said. “I certainly agree that [Trump is] important, but I want it to be substantively different for people living in Mississippi,” he told me. “And just being focused on [Trump] does not serve that end.”He paraphrased a quote from the Princeton professor Ruha Benjamin: “We can’t just dismantle the world that we don’t want to live in,” he says. “We have to be the most active participants in creating the world that we do.” Sanders, Lumumba, and other progressives, much like Franklin D. Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Jr. before them, are convinced that means radical change.They just have to find a way to convince black voters, too.Sanders's movement will outlast him. And its next leaders are unlikely to be elderly white men from Vermont. Lumumba is 36, old enough to run for president. And Sanders's most important and effective surrogate, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, will turn 35 in 2024. "In order for us to win, we have to grow," she told 10,000 Sanders supporters in Michigan on Sunday. "We must be inclusive. We must bring more people into this movement.''
2020-03-11 04:17:58
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theatlantic.com
The Atlantic Politics Daily: Running for President During an Epidemic
It’s Tuesday, March 10. Ordered here by the number of delegates up for grabs: Michigan, Washington State, Missouri, Mississippi, Idaho, and North Dakota vote (in ND’s case, by caucus) today.In the rest of today’s newsletter: Out with the handshakes, in with the hand sanitizer—Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have both canceled rallies planned for tonight. Plus: From “Never Trump” to “Why not Trump.”*« TODAY IN POLITICS »(Charlie Reidel / AP)Out with the handshakes, in with the hand sanitizer.The raucous rallies and intimate retail politics that have been a hallmark of presidential elections are running head-first into the coronavirus outbreak.Both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have criticized President Donald Trump for his handling of the outbreak, but neither candidate had before today taken any significant measures to minimize risk on the campaign trail and at their rallies. That changed today, when both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders cancelled their pit stops in Cleveland.Welcome to the coronavirus campaign.How is the Trump campaign reacting? The president’s general-election mantra has been to paint his opponent—whether that’s ultimately Biden or Sanders—as a socialist who is out to stifle the free market. But the president’s own response to the epidemic isn’t exactly textbook Adam Smith. The COVID-19 outbreak demonstrates the emptiness of these sorts of ideological labels. Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, in a national emergency, there’s no truly laissez-faire government. Read my colleague Peter Nicholas’s piece here.—Saahil Desai*« IDEAS AND ARGUMENTS »(Getty Images)1. “Tonight’s results will demonstrate whether Biden will continue to repeat the results of 2018.”Six states, including key states such as Michigan, are voting (or caucusing tonight). Many Democrats say that Joe Biden will win delegates tonight because “many voters are thinking and acting much like they did in the previous midterm elections, when Democrats—thanks to historically high turnout—flipped 41 congressional districts and regained control of the House,” Elaine Godfrey reports.For one: Six in 10 voters on Super Tuesday said they care more about nominating a Democrat who can defeat Trump than about anything else, according to some exit polling.2. “Give people and companies money.”Financial markets are in meltdown mode as the coronavirus courses rapidly and all too undetectably throughout the world. But there is a simple thing the U.S. government can do right now, which would both slow the viral spread and limit the economic harm.“Perhaps that intervention strikes you as a non sequitur,” Derek Thompson writes. But the U.S. needs the financial assistance, and soon.3. “For the first time in the eight years I’ve known my husband, we voted differently—I voted for Warren and he cast his ballot for Sanders.”Politics has introduced tension between the writer Ellen O’Connell Whittet and her husband, and it has so many other families. In O’Connell Whittet’s case, the wedge was the choice between two progressive candidates, and she’s mad. Really mad.*« EVENING READ »(The Atlantic)From “Never Trump” to “Why Not Trump”When a handful of Republicans from the foreign-policy establishment signed onto “Never Trump” letters back in 2016, they thought their opposition to the future president would sway a few voters. But three years later, Trump has crushed the movement and won back the support of some of them, Kathy Gilsinan reports. Here is one confession.* Today’s newsletter was written by Saahil Desai, an editor on the Politics desk, and Christian Paz, a Politics fellow. It was edited by Shan Wang, who oversees newsletters. You can reply directly to this newsletter with questions or comments, or send a note to politicsdaily@theatlantic.com. Your support makes our journalism possible. Subscribe here.
2020-03-10 23:43:00
2021-05-08T09:46:03.000000
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theatlantic.com
The Coronavirus Campaign
Updated on March 10 at 4:58 p.m. ET.The first thing to go was the rope line.Until this weekend, former Vice President Joe Biden would end his scripted rallies with a far more intimate tradition of campaign politics—by greeting his supporters personally, and physically. He’d press the flesh, high-fiving, shaking hands, leaning in close for photos with dozens, if not hundreds, of people crowded near the stage.That ended on Saturday, when the campaign of the Democratic front-runner began taking its first, limited steps to prevent its 77-year-old candidate from contracting the coronavirus, which causes the disease known as COVID-19. Biden wasn’t exactly whisked away after speaking to a large crowd in St. Louis, but he greeted only those people who stood between him and his exit.By last night in Detroit, an event staffer was greeting attendees lined up at the entrance to Biden’s rally in a high-school gymnasium with a squirt of hand sanitizer.And this afternoon, Biden and his Democratic rival, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, announced within a span of minutes that they were canceling their planned rallies in Cleveland tonight ahead of the Ohio primary next week. The campaigns said the cancellations were made out of concern “for health and safety” and after consultation with local officials. The separate decisions came after Ohio’s governor, Mike DeWine, a Republican, said that public-health experts had recommended banning spectators from sporting events and concerts.The cancellations by Biden and Sanders mean that neither candidate is likely to address supporters in person on the night of key primaries in Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Dakota, and Washington State.This is the reality of campaigning during an epidemic, when the rapidly spreading coronavirus presents a danger not only to large crowds gathered at political rallies, but to the elderly candidates themselves. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising older adults to “avoid crowds as much as possible,” because research has found that death rates are significantly higher for people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s. The three major remaining contenders for the presidency—Biden, 77; Sanders, 78; and President Donald Trump, 73—are all in the high-risk category.Sanders may be at even higher risk for a severe illness if he contracted the virus; he suffered a heart attack last year, and the CDC says people with chronic illnesses like heart disease are particularly vulnerable.Navigating the crisis is tricky for both Democrats. The nomination fight is in its most intense phase, with major state primaries occurring tonight in Michigan and three other states, and in Ohio, Florida, and Illinois next week. Neither Biden nor Sanders can afford to scale back his campaign with so many delegates still at stake, and neither septuagenarian is eager to draw more attention to his advanced age and personal vulnerability to the coronavirus.Trump, meanwhile, has scoffed at suggestions that he cancel the enormous rallies he relishes, or that he take extra precautions to avoid contracting the virus himself. The president has come into contact with at least two Republican congressmen who are self-quarantining after interacting with an attendee of the Conservative Political Action Conference who tested positive for the coronavirus. One of them, Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, rode on Air Force One with Trump after his interaction with the infected person. “He was not hyper-cautious about being in the same space that I was in,” Gaetz said of the president, according to The Washington Post. “I refused to go into his office; I stood outside the door. I told him he could talk from that distance.”[Read: There are no libertarians in an epidemic]Biden and Sanders have each criticized Trump for bungling and then downplaying the outbreak, yet until today, they have continued to hold rallies even as conferences, university classes, and other large gatherings are being canceled around the country.“We do not hold a rally without first conferring with local public-health officials,” Sanders told reporters near the end of a roundtable he moderated on the coronavirus yesterday in Detroit. “But your question obviously goes to more than a political rally that I may have. It goes to basketball games; it goes to theater events all across this country. That is an issue that every organization, every sports team, is going to have to look at.“It is an issue that we think about a whole lot,” he added.Sanders had just spent an hour listening to a group of public-health experts warn about the seriousness of the outbreak, the risks of widespread transmission, and the Trump administration’s lack of preparedness. Yet when the question turned to his own health and safety—What precautions are you taking, given your age and recent heart attack? a reporter asked—the senator bristled.“Well, I’m surrounded by medical personnel,” Sanders replied. “Thank you for asking. I am running for president of the United States, and that requires a whole lot of work.”Alison Galvani, an epidemiologist who was seated next to Sanders, interjected that he was not shaking hands. She demonstrated by offering him her elbow. Sanders lifted his for a quick bump. “There we go,” he said. “All right.”In addition to curtailing rope lines, Biden’s campaign was seeking guidance from the CDC on other steps, the former vice president told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell last night. He acknowledged the possibility of stopping indoor rallies altogether. “That’s all in motion right now,” Biden said.Neither campaign was willing to discuss in detail what steps, if any, it had taken to protect its own employees, including those whose health might be compromised or on-the-ground organizers whose jobs require them to interact with voters.Yet as the virus spreads, the rallies and face-to-face interactions that give life to their campaigns will seem riskier. After scrapping tonight’s rally, the Sanders campaign said future events would be evaluated “on a case by case basis.” If they resume, questions remain: Should Biden and Sanders discourage older Americans from attending their events, for example? Should they themselves cut off all physical contact with their supporters?“The people of the United States,” Sanders said in Detroit yesterday, “want to know that we have an administration in this country whose decisions and comments are based on science, not based on tweets that have no scientific basis, not based on politics.”For Sanders and his main rival, living up to that ideal could soon lead to some very uncomfortable decisions. Should the Democratic candidates merely follow the guidance and model of a president whose decisions they’ve denounced? Or should they lead by example?“We ought to worry about everybody, but particularly about seniors,” Representative Donna Shalala of Florida, the former two-term secretary of health and human services under President Bill Clinton, told me when I asked her whether she was worried about Biden and Sanders. “I would like to see them do the same thing that we’re telling everybody else about large gatherings, about public-health measures,” she said. “They should not do anything that everybody else is not doing.”In canceling their events today, the two Democratic hopefuls decided on the more conservative course.
2020-03-10 20:26:11
2021-05-08T09:46:03.000000
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theatlantic.com
Joe Biden Is the Candidate of the Resistance
A deluge of voters—including many in the suburbs—filed into churches and community centers across the country to vote for a moderate candidate in an act they viewed as a repudiation of the president.This is what happened in 2018. And it happened again last week.Joe Biden’s victories on Super Tuesday suggest that many voters are thinking and acting much like they did in the previous midterm elections, when Democrats—thanks to historically high turnout—flipped 41 congressional districts and regained control of the House. Many Democrats say that this is how Biden wins more delegates tonight, and how the party wins in November: through a campaign to enact a more modest agenda and provide a check on Donald Trump—not one that relies on turning out the most progressive voters in the country.Six in 10 voters on Super Tuesday said they care more about nominating a Democrat who can defeat Trump than about anything else, according to exit polling from NBC News. Those same voters favored Biden over Bernie Sanders by 11 percent. “I’ve not seen that sense of pragmatism before” the 2018 midterms, says Steve Israel, a former congressman from New York and the former chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. For Democrats right now, “it’s about one thing: winning.”[Read: The establishment strikes back]The midterms are the model to follow in the general election, says Meredith Kelly, a Democratic strategist and DCCC veteran. “Whoever the nominee is will have the excitement of the base—that is driven by Trump,” she says. “So then you need to look for the candidate that can build on that and bring in more people” such as moderates, independents, and even some Republicans. This, she says, “is a pattern that works in the era of Trump.”Democrats’ pivotal wins in 2018 were in places such as Virginia’s Seventh and Tenth Congressional Districts, where Abigail Spanberger and Jennifer Wexton, respectively, defeated Republican incumbents and helped secure the Democrats’ House takeover. Last week, in addition to his overwhelming support among black voters in states such as Alabama, Biden won in these exact districts—and similar ones across the country—when he crushed Sanders in 10 of 14 state primaries. Turnout in Virginia, where the former vice president won by 30 points, increased dramatically from 2016, and Biden defeated Sanders with high margins in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.“One of the things that we saw in 2018 was a particular mobilization of college-educated, upscale, suburban professionals in large metropolitan areas—a lot of the seats in Congress that flipped in 2018 were centered in those sorts of places,” says Dave Hopkins, a political-science professor at Boston College. Last week, that group “united very quickly behind Biden.”“You will see Joe pick up lots of swing districts across this nation as we move forward across other contests,” argues Representative Terri Sewell of Alabama, one of the vice chairs of the moderate New Democrat Coalition, who has endorsed Biden.The so-called majority makers from 2018—people such as Spanberger and Wexton—aren’t identical to Biden: Many of them are young; many are women; and most arrived in Congress with little to no political experience. But they do have similar sensibilities: They’re center-left, not lefty-left. They promised to promote unity and bipartisanship, welcoming the support of former Republicans and more moderate independent voters. They pledged to pursue a staunchly Democratic agenda—expand health care, address climate change—without a political revolution. Sixteen of them have endorsed Biden for president. Theirs are “the ideas that Biden is advocating,” says Representative Ami Bera of California, the chair of the fundraising arm of the New Democrat Coalition, who has endorsed Biden. “The way he talks about [politics] is the way Spanberger … or [Representative Elissa] Slotkin talk about it.”[Read: Bernie Sanders meets his biggest threat]Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a handful of other progressive freshmen were the most high-profile members elected to Congress two years ago, but progressive candidates overall didn’t fare as well as the more moderate ones. Neither did they on Super Tuesday, when down-ballot Democrats endorsed by Sanders and backed by progressive groups such as Justice Democrats lost their primary elections in multiple states.The Super Tuesday results felt extremely familiar to the people who advised and worked on campaigns for Democrats in 2018. Tyler Law, a California-based Democratic strategist and the former national press secretary for the DCCC, is bullish about Biden’s prospects. If he can keep winning with the same groups of people he was able to turn out last week, he’ll get the nomination, Law says. And “if Joe Biden carries the states where we won the House popular vote in 2018, we win.”One of the most consequential places voting today is Michigan, where 125 delegates are on the line. Sanders needs to capture many of them to stay competitive in the race. In addition to Biden’s support from black voters in the state, two of the districts that Democrats flipped in 2018—Slotkin’s district, near Lansing, and Haley Stevens’s, near Detroit—are highly educated suburban districts. While Sanders won both of them in 2016, today “that seems almost impossible to imagine,” Kyle Kondik, an election analyst at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, told me.[Read: Here’s what Barack Obama is thinking now]Suburban and exurban voters could also lead to a surprising win for Biden in Washington State, which is also voting today. “Maybe you’d expect Seattle proper to be with Sanders,” Hopkins says, “but [in] suburban Seattle, [there are] an awful lot of middle-to-upper-middle-class professional Democrats” who could swing the state to Biden.Even if he’s able to earn the Democratic nomination, a general election would still pose serious challenges for Biden. He’d be running against Trump, instead of against the idea of Trump: Unlike in 2018, the president’s name will be on the ballot in November, and all signs indicate that Trump’s supporters will show up in full force to defend him. While they were successful in the House, Democrats lost ground in the Senate in 2018, showing the limits of a Democratic wave election. And Biden can’t rely on just black and suburban voters to lead him to victory. Wisconsin, for example, is a key battleground state whose demographics aren’t overly favorable to Democrats: The Milwaukee suburbs aren’t turning blue at the same rate as other cities’, and the state has a large rural population that is still pretty pro-Trump, Hopkins says.Progressives argue that the former vice president’s struggle to attract young voters and young people of color to his campaign has dire implications for his nomination. “If you look at the last few decades and beyond of presidential elections, Democrats have not been able to win a general election if they get a nominee who did not earn a lot of support from young people,” says Neil Sroka, the communications director for Democracy for America, a progressive political-action committee that has endorsed Sanders.Tonight’s results will demonstrate whether Biden will continue to repeat the results of 2018. If he does, the next question for him is whether he can persuade Sanders supporters and other progressives to join his coalition. To some Democrats, there’s a simple answer: “There is nothing more unifying than the effort to beat Donald Trump,” Kelly says.
2020-03-10 18:11:52
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theatlantic.com
There Are No Libertarians in an Epidemic
“America vs. Socialism” was the theme of the Conservative Political Action Conference last month, though as fights go this one was pretty one-sided. An anti-socialist message thrummed through the halls while the crowds celebrated free-market capitalism over $4 cups of coffee and $20 chicken-salad sandwiches wrapped in cellophane.As the panelists likened socialism to a disease, an actual disease, the coronavirus, shadowed the gathering. One participant would later test positive for the pathogen, touching off a scramble that sent four lawmakers (and counting) who attended into precautionary self-quarantine.[Read: The coronavirus outbreak could bring out the worst in Trump]But the White House officials and Trump allies who spoke from the main ballroom urged calm. The real threat, they said, was socialism. “The virus is not going to sink the American economy,” Larry Kudlow, the president’s top economic adviser and part of the White House’s coronavirus task force, told the audience, in comments that were premature given the market tailspin that would come soon enough. “What is or could sink the American economy is the socialism coming from our friends on the other side of the aisle.”Even as Kudlow spoke, the Trump administration was taking aggressive measures to halt the epidemic’s spread—measures that rely on the sort of big-government intervention that was a CPAC bogeyman. In the 2020 election, Donald Trump’s aim is to brand his opponent an avatar of socialism, whether it’s Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders. But the COVID-19 outbreak demonstrates the emptiness of these sorts of ideological labels. Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, in a national emergency, there’s no truly laissez-faire government.Speaking to reporters at the White House yesterday, Trump said he wants to shore up businesses and aid people whose finances have been hit. “We’re going to be working with … a lot of companies so they don’t get penalized for something that’s not their fault,” he said. Worried about the slumping travel industry, the White House is now considering tax deferrals for airlines and cruise lines. The administration has been weighing whether to use funds from a disaster program to pay for treatment of uninsured people who have become infected, The Wall Street Journal reported. And Alex Azar, the secretary of health and human services, said the administration might dust off a Korean War–era law called the Defense Production Act to ensure rapid manufacturing of medical supplies in the private sector.“That’s not free-market capitalism,” says Jean Cohen, a political-theory professor at Columbia University, referring to the measures the White House has contemplated as the virus spreads. “You can choose the term: It’s regulated capitalism, or it’s the interventionist state, or it’s democratic socialism. If you want to serve the public good instead of private profit making, you need government to come in and make sure that’s done.”Whatever the term, the Trump administration’s handling of the outbreak amounts to government activism in the face of a national crisis. It’s nothing new and, as may well prove the case this time around, it’s often necessary. Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously called on American industry to outproduce the Axis powers during World War II, retooling whole sectors to meet ambitious manufacturing goals for tanks and planes. George W. Bush, a Republican, sunk hundreds of billions of dollars into a bailout program meant to keep the banking industry afloat after the 2008 financial crisis. “I decided that the only way to preserve the free market in the long run was to intervene in the short run,” Bush wrote in his 2010 book, Decision Points.[Read: The strongest evidence yet that America is botching coronavirus testing]In Trump’s case, he may try to have it both ways: using socialism as a convenient campaign slogan, while battling the coronavirus with extraordinary measures comparable to what other modern presidents have done to beat back a crisis. Critics have panned his methods so far. As infections spread, he’s kept up his golf outings and fundraising schedule, while downplaying a virus that could have reached his outstretched hand: At CPAC, he greeted Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, who was in contact with the infected participant.Trumpworld would like the 2020 general election to be a referendum on socialism; the Democrats want it to be a referendum on Trump. “We will have it out,” Kudlow said at CPAC. “President Trump is more than prepared to show the world why what he called … ‘the American model of free enterprise’ will whip socialism every time.”Trump, though, is no doctrinaire economic conservative. His political brand is rooted in personality and celebrity, and he’s bent on capturing a second term. If he decides that the quickest path to quashing the coronavirus is activist, interventionist government, free-market doctrine is unlikely to get in his way. If there’s some dissonance in his reelection message and his practices, he’ll live with it.
2020-03-10 15:04:28
2021-05-08T09:46:03.000000
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theatlantic.com
Confessions of an Ex–Never Trumper
She had to sleep on it. The letter was in her inbox; friends and colleagues, throughout the Republican national-security circles where Rebeccah Heinrichs had made her career, were signing on. It called then-candidate Donald Trump “fundamentally dishonest” and claimed that if elected president, he would use his power “in ways that make America less safe.” She wasn’t crazy about the tone in some spots, but she also didn’t think he was a credible candidate. Only a few other Republicans were left in the primary back then in March 2016—and she thought a letter like this, with its roll call of GOP luminaries, could help nudge voters to pick someone more responsible. “I made the decision based on the information I had,” she told me recently. She doesn’t regret signing the letter, but now thinks that many of the worries she and her colleagues were expressing then—in warning about Trump’s isolationism, the potential economic effects of his trade policies, and his embrace of the “expansive use of torture,” among other things—were unfounded. And she is thrilled about that.Heinrichs is an exception in the old GOP national-security world—which for the most part has stuck to its Never Trump positions—but she’s the norm in the party as a whole, which gives Trump a 94 percent approval rating. The 150-odd names on letters such as the one she signed represent the last major bastion of Republican resistance to Trump; prominent members continue to slam the president for his insulting tweets and his volatile temperament, even questioning his very ability to behave like an adult. But outside of this club—whether for reasons of ambition, genuine approval, or a combination of both—elected officials and operatives have largely fallen in line behind the president. And Heinrichs, unlike many of her peers, decided she could accept the character flaws because the foreign-policy results looked good.[Read: What Democrats aren’t admitting about Trump’s record]“His personal flaws are so transparent that they can distract truly well-meaning people or turn people off altogether,” she told me. But fundamentally, she feels Trump is fighting for a powerful America. “I have long argued for American primacy and President Trump is, even if sometimes clumsily, defending it and fighting for it. I'm not going to yell at the clouds over his tweets or obsess over this or that expression of bad manners.”Trump has done plenty of things the old Republican foreign-policy establishment would cheer for, if someone else were doing them. He has labeled China as a threat, condemning its trade practices and calling for investments to counter the country’s military rise. He ditched a nuclear deal with Iran that many Republicans hated, and has financially devastated the regime instead. His administration has added more troops in Eastern Europe to confront Russia, and ended an arms-control treaty that Moscow was violating—even while Trump himself has confused matters by praising Vladimir Putin’s leadership and questioning whether Russia has really interfered in U.S. elections. Whatever Trump’s own doubts, though, at the insistence of Congress, he has imposed sanctions against Russia for 2016 election interference. Sure, he has said mean things about NATO, but Republicans and Democrats alike have long wanted other members to pay more for their own defense, and now they are.On the flip side, the Trump presidency hasn’t manifested in the precise kind of nightmare the Never Trump letter writers envisioned in 2016. In the first of two alarmed open missives—one that appeared in March 2016 in War on the Rocks and another in The New York Times that August—GOP foreign-policy power brokers warned about specific consequences of a Trump presidency: His wish for trade wars was “a recipe for economic disaster”; his “hateful, anti-Muslim rhetoric” would alienate allies in the Muslim world; he could bring back torture. In 2020, the economic effects of the trade war have been mild, cushioned by a multibillion-dollar bailout to farmers; Muslim allies in the Gulf in particular have overlooked his rhetoric and embraced Trump over his harshness toward their archenemy Iran; the use of torture in war remains illegal, even though Trump has granted clemency to three soldiers accused of war crimes.None of this consoles the many signatories who still find Trump unacceptable. Policies can change, but character does not. If your main concern in 2016 was that Trump was “fundamentally dishonest” and “wildly inconsistent,” or that he “lacks the temperament to be President,” as the letters claimed, Trump likely hasn’t convinced you otherwise. And even if the worst predictions haven’t come to pass, you still won’t feel reassured while someone you fundamentally distrust is making life-and-death decisions on behalf of the country every day; there’s no World War III now, but in the words of the prominent Never Trumper and Atlantic contributor Eliot Cohen, “that’s a pretty low bar.” Cohen, a former senior Bush-administration official who helped coordinate the War on the Rocks letter, described the specific kind of unease he felt in Politico in late 2017. “This is about putting lives on the line. These are enormously consequential kinds of decisions that a president makes. And character really trumps, so to speak, everything else.”[Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes: Trump’s Playbook Is Terribly Ill-Suited to a Pandemic]Or maybe power does. Far from being inhibited by the foreign-policy establishment that shunned him, Trump has destroyed it. The list of names on the letters now reads like a memorial wall for the party’s old power brokers. Trump has barred them almost entirely from jobs in his administration, and built a new pro-Trump establishment on the wreckage of the old GOP elite.Heinrichs is the rare young intellectual to have lived in both worlds. By 2016, she had worked on missile-defense issues on the Hill and held research posts at a number of conservative think tanks, headlining panels on issues such as “the future of missile defense” and co-authoring a paper on “deterrence and nuclear targeting in the 21st century.” Now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, she has been described as “one of the leaders of the next generation of experts on nuclear strategy and arms control” and is a regular TV commentator on U.S. foreign policy. She, along with a few other members of the GOP’s most resistant segment—which includes people who have spent their careers devoted to alliances, worrying about presidential character, and banging on about norms and values—have now come around to Trump’s foreign policy.Even in primary season, Heinrichs saw hints of Trump’s appeal. People she knew back home in small-town Ohio found the candidates she was informally advising, including Marco Rubio and Scott Walker, too wooden. “I have some lifelong Democrat friends and family members who, for the first time in their life, supported the Republican candidate and voted for Donald Trump,” she said. “He’s like, ‘I’m tired of Americans dying in Afghanistan.’ And they’re like, ‘Yeah, so are we.’”Trump, of course, made it through the primaries despite the Republican opposition, and Heinrichs knew she couldn’t support Clinton, whom she saw as dangerously accommodating to foes such as China and Iran. She had also noticed patterns in what Trump was saying. Just because he wanted to avoid overseas “nation-building” didn’t make him an isolationist—he also wanted better trade deals, so clearly wanted to be engaged in the world. So, she said on a Federalist podcast then, “I was open to this idea of a different kind of commander in chief.”There was something else, she told The Federalist. “I didn’t like the direction that the Never Trump national-security establishment was going.” The suggestion that Trump would start a nuclear war, or a war with Muslims all over the world was “incredibly irresponsible coming from people who I think, and know, know better.”This, after all, was the president that the election had delivered, and clearly many of the notions the old GOP foreign-policy establishment considered sacred were very much open to question. “Ordinary Americans … look at the establishment and say, ‘I don’t think you guys necessarily know what you’re doing,’” she told me. Many in the establishment were the same people who had advocated or helped mismanage wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And anyway, was Trump being ignorant or spooking allies when he asked what the point of NATO was and why the U.S. had troops in South Korea? Or was he asking questions that average Americans wanted to know the answers to?He could be doing both, but Heinrichs found it offensive that elites she knew considered it unreasonable for Trump—and by extension the millions of people who voted for him—to wonder where American resources were going and why. To her, this, and the broader discomfort with Trump’s populist appeal, reflected establishment contempt for public opinion. “I think it's wrong for the professional national-security class to write off common Americans as irrelevant or even nuisances,” Heinrichs said.The matter of Trump himself, however, persists—and whatever good his administration may be doing in his supporters’ eyes, his own words frequently call into doubt where the United States really stands. His Russia comments were one example, and his sudden order to remove troops from northeastern Syria last fall left a vacuum for Russia to fill. He has praised leaders his government formally considers enemies, including North Korea’s Kim Jong Un (“We fell in love,” Trump once said of the dictator), and even the Taliban’s chief (“The relationship is very good that I have with the mullah”). These gestures would be unthinkable for any president from the GOP “establishment”—which excoriated the Obama administration for its Taliban talks and for dealing with Iran’s “mullahs.”[Read: Qassem Soleimani haunted the Arab world]Nevertheless, Trump’s lack of concern for foreign-policy orthodoxy has also unshackled him in ways Heinrichs has cheered, although she admitted to “white-knuckling” over some of the risks Trump embraced. For instance, both George W. Bush and Barack Obama had opportunities to kill the Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, but they decided against it. Yes, Soleimani was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans in Iraq, but Iran and the U.S. were not formally at war, and such a hit could start one. A more typical administration would focus on those risks and hold lots of interagency meetings. “And it’s like, ok, but I would like to kill Soleimani,” said Heinrichs. “So is it just talking points and white papers that we’re trying to do? It’s almost like we were afraid of our own shadow in these policy areas where Donald Trump doesn’t care.”If orthodoxy isn’t always right, though, neither is flouting it. She was uneasy about Trump’s performance at his meeting with Putin in Helsinki, where Trump undermined his intelligence agencies’ findings on election interference. “Across the board, I think for any American president, when you leave your own borders, you take your own side,” she said. She also admired appointees such as James Mattis, who resigned on principle, and a stream of other ex-officials who condemned Trump on their way out the door. While she chalks up the departures to Trump’s comfort with high turnover, she’s also not happy with some of his decisions to fire people.The rift in the old “Never Trump” community has put former allies on opposing sides and destroyed friendships. Heinrichs is baffled by colleagues determined to bash a president who is doing many of the things they used to want, though she says she is cordial with them. Cohen has been harsher, comparing Trump’s sympathizers to those who served the Vichy regime in Nazi-occupied France. The former diplomat Robert Blackwill signed both letters, later reservedly praised Trump’s foreign policies, and still said he would support any of the Democratic candidates over Trump in 2020. Once again, the policies didn’t matter so much as the man himself. “One can correct mistakes in foreign policy, or at least often one can,” Blackwill said. But Trump is “weakening our democratic institutions, and he’s dividing the country. So in my judgment, that has much longer implications than any particular foreign policy that he pursues.”But even if he loses in 2020, Trump is not going away. ”There are too many people inside D.C. who think Donald Trump is a fluke and that the only reason he won was because his opponent was so weak,” Heinrichs said. And their additional warnings about Trump’s alleged damage to American standing in the world, his treatment of the federal bureaucracy, and his violations of long-standing norms, have clearly failed to convince the 40-odd percent of the country that approves of him.It’s still hard to say whether, in the event of a Trump reelection, more signatories will tire of being locked out of the new center of GOP power, and let go of their character concerns.“If I had my way, I would love to have a president who can lift the country and unify it, and has great personal virtue, and [can] carry out all of these policies that I think are necessary to defend and strengthen our security,” Heinrichs said. But voting for the policies means voting for the character. “You don’t get pieces of a candidate; you get the whole candidate,” she said.Leah Feiger contributed reporting.
2020-03-10 13:00:00
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theatlantic.com
The Atlantic Politics Daily: When Everyone Stays Home
It’s Monday, March 9. As the stock market flails, the best response is to do nothing, Annie Lowrey writes. Italy’s now-nationwide quarantine efforts are a harbinger.In the rest of today’s newsletter: What mass quarantines could look like in the U.S. Plus: The empty public spaces of a world in the middle of a viral outbreak.*« TODAY IN POLITICS »(The Atlantic)It may seem like a measure that’s more apt for a Hollywood blockbuster than real life, but mass quarantines are here.A drastic public-health step was implemented early on in Wuhan, China, where some 50 million people were on lockdown as the government attempted to control the spread of COVID-19.With the number of the coronavirus cases on a frightening upward trajectory in the United States, schools and colleges are starting to shutter their doors while sporting events and concerts are getting canceled. Could a government-mandated quarantine happen here?Italy’s quick turn to nationwide containment measures could be a harbinger for many countries. On Sunday, the country placed severe travel restrictions on the entire Lombardy region in the north of the country—the first such crackdown in a democracy since the virus took hold earlier in the year. “Italy’s measures … may not be the exception,” our European correspondent Rachel Donadio writes. “They may soon become the rule.”China’s authoritarian structure made it a whole lot easier for the country to slap down harsh travel restrictions when the COVID-19 outbreak started. But the problem with the censorship and surveillance needed to sustain such measures is that it can backfire if people become too afraid to say anything at all.How would a quarantine actually work in the U.S.? It would be an utter mess. Part of the reason is that the federal government can’t just step in with a quarantine: America’s public-health system is split into 2,684 state, local, and tribal public-health departments, and each of them have the jurisdiction over imposing quarantines if needed.Finally, the nightmare scenario some U.S. school administrators have feared is nearing: that most schools in the U.S. would have to close to prevent the spread of COVID-19. That’s already happened in Hong Kong, where kids have been away for more than a month already out of an abundance of caution. What can U.S. parents and school-age kids expect?—Saahil Desai and Christian Paz*« IDEAS AND ARGUMENTS »(Elizabeth Frantz / Reuters)1. “To survive long enough to become the unity candidate, Biden first had to be persuaded to rip into his rivals.”Joe Biden’s primary campaign appeared nearly dead in the water until he jetted off to South Carolina on the night of the New Hampshire primary, not even staying for results in the small early state. From there, it was his pivot to attack mode that helped him take off ahead of Super Tuesday, Edward-Isaac Dovere reports.2. “‘Electability’ claims to be a benign and objective concern. It is neither. It merely outsources biases…”Phrases such as “I’d vote for a woman, just not that woman,” and “she’s not what this country is ready for” mask an insidious kind of sexism that feigns concern to hide internal prejudices, Megan Garber argues: It’s easier to blame an imagined “other” for sexism than confront your own bias.3. “Can a woman ever—really, actually, not just as a rhetorical question or thought exercise—become president?”That’s the question that Nanette Burstein, the director of the new Hulu documentary about Hillary Clinton, was trying to answer in her latest film project. And Hillary (the documentary, not the person) accomplishes that without “cinematic flair,” our culture reporter Shirley Li writes.*« SNAPSHOTS »A customer walks past mostly empty shelves that normally hold toilet paper and paper towels at a Costco store in Teterboro, New Jersey, on March 2. (Seth Wenig / AP)When Everyone Stays HomeIn cities and regions hard-hit by the coronavirus crisis, quarantine measures and self-isolation efforts have left many public spaces deserted. Classrooms, plazas, malls, sports venues, cafes, houses of worship, and tourist destinations appear eerily empty as people stay home, cancel plans, and await further news.Our photo editor Alan Taylor put together this photo essay of large parts of the world on pause.* Today’s newsletter was written by Saahil Desai, an editor on the Politics desk, and Christian Paz, a Politics fellow. It was edited by Shan Wang, who oversees newsletters. You can reply directly to this newsletter with questions or comments, or send a note to politicsdaily@theatlantic.com. Your support makes our journalism possible. Subscribe here.
2020-03-09 06:00:00
2021-05-08T09:46:03.000000
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theatlantic.com
How Biden Came Back
As Joe Biden meandered through a speech at the front of an old theater in Manchester, Terry Shumaker, a fixture of New Hampshire politics, walked around with his tweed-blazer pocket full of old buttons from the candidate’s 1988 presidential campaign. He’d had three bags left over from 30 years ago, but he was starting to run out, he said. They were collector’s items. It was the Saturday morning before the primary—and it seemed like there were about to be Biden 2020 pins to collect.T. J. Ducklo, Biden’s press secretary, worked his way through the reporters shoved into a corner of the room. He’s never been part of a campaign before, and was essentially unknown in the political world before taking this job. The press corps was happy to see Ducklo—he’d announced in December that he’d been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, at age 31 with no history of smoking. But he’d pushed himself back onto the trail for Iowa and New Hampshire. Some reporters asked each other whether, at this point, his return was worth it.Ducklo sidled up to the reporters, one by one, with the same mischievous smile. “Have you seen the video?” he’d say. “You gotta watch the video.” And then he’d stand and wait for each reporter to pull it up on his or her phone: a one-minute-and-40-second-long ad that snarkily compared Biden’s record with Pete Buttigieg’s. “Both Vice President Biden and former Mayor Buttigieg have taken on tough fights: Under threat of a nuclear Iran, Joe Biden helped to negotiate the Iran deal,” the narrator says. “Under threat of disappearing pets, Buttigieg negotiated lighter licensing regulations on pet-chip scanners.”[Read: How Biden blew it]The ad was harsh and petty, and the Biden campaign didn’t have money to put it anywhere except on Twitter—and thus on reporters’ phones. But that was enough. By the time Buttigieg did his rounds on the Sunday shows the next morning, he was getting asked about his experience at every turn.To survive long enough to become the unity candidate, Biden first had to be persuaded to rip into his rivals. Between his disappointing finishes in the first three states and his blockbuster victories that followed, the campaign made tweaks like this one. It didn’t overhaul its strategy or upend its structure. What his team did was try to redirect, in specific, targeted ways, a 77-year-old candidate who doesn’t take direction particularly well—and hope the electorate would notice.Biden at first resisted going negative, aides say—he doesn’t like attacking fellow Democrats. But after a fourth-place finish in Iowa, he went after Bernie Sanders, whom he genuinely likes and had resisted taking on in the debates, by smacking down socialism every chance he got. And although he’d been touched by Buttigieg’s defense of his family during the impeachment fight—and had come to see shades of his late son in the young mayor—he started attacking his moderate rival. He had no choice, his closest aides told him. This was a Do you actually want to be president? moment.“He did not love taking a sharp swing at another Democrat,” Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, told me on Wednesday, recalling the conversation she’d had with him after the campaign decided to release the Buttigieg video. “He did not love taking it at Pete, whom he likes and respects. But he also understood and knew it was necessary to interrupt the narrative and shift some of the dynamic in the race, which he knew desperately needed to happen.”The Biden campaign wasn’t just broken. It was broke. Biden had no money for ads or internal polling, leaving his team to rely on publicly available numbers in order to get a feel for his performance. But it didn’t take a grand master to see that they were about to get checkmated. So, after denying rumors that the campaign planned to leave New Hampshire early, the morning of the primary it did just that. Aides rushed Biden to South Carolina and shoved talking points in front of him about how minority voters—including the black voters who form the backbone of his support—hadn’t been heard from yet. The move helped the speech get prominent TV coverage, which aides thought wouldn’t have been possible if he’d stayed in New Hampshire.What followed Biden’s early finishes—including a second-place spot in Nevada—was the fastest turnaround from flub to front-runner in modern Democratic politics.The basics of Biden’s campaign didn’t change. He kept a schedule with only a few events each day. He made new gaffes and generated new questions about whether he can consistently tell the truth.But he stepped up his rhetoric on health care and guns, and at every moment he could, his team urged him to repeat one word: Obama. “This guy’s not a Barack Obama!” he said of Buttigieg. Sanders, he said repeatedly, had wanted to primary the former president in 2012.Decisions about campaign spending and Biden’s schedule were handed over to Anita Dunn, an experienced Democratic operative (and former communications director in the Obama White House), who was pulled off the road to help run the show out of the Philadelphia headquarters. Greg Schultz, the campaign manager, was dispatched around the country to lean on donors not to jump to other campaigns—or start leaking to reporters about how much trouble Biden was in.They needed to get to the South Carolina electorate—the black and more moderate voters who weren’t well represented earlier in the primary. And in order to make the most of it, the campaign needed to change how the rest of the country was thinking of him too.At first, as Biden campaigned in South Carolina, he appeared to be feeling down, as though he thought the race was over. “There were times when you could feel his spirit a little diminished,” said Eric Garcetti, the Los Angeles mayor.* Garcetti had helped gin up Latino support ahead of an important second-place finish in Nevada, even as his allies teased him for throwing himself into a campaign that, at the time, looked like a lost cause. Biden, Garcetti said, “didn’t wallow in it. He kept on plugging.” Eric Ortner, a Biden friend and bundler, described Biden this way: The former vice president has “faced real darkness in his life,” and “it’s hard for anyone [who] hasn’t been on his journey to know the spectrum that he measures light on.”However, Biden, who is one of the most extroverted politicians around, was soon feeding off the largely African American crowds in Charleston and Orangeburg—crowds that hadn’t shown up in Cedar Rapids or Ottumwa during the long Iowa days. He started smiling more. Fletcher Smith Jr., a former state representative who introduced Biden at his final event in South Carolina last Friday, was optimistic about what the crowds meant for his candidate. “When you connect as a white guy with black people, it convinces white people too,” he told me after the rally at a college gym in Spartanburg.“All over America, this same kind of conversation is going to help him punch through,” he predicted, a comment that seemed, at the time, more wistful than realistic.By the time Biden showed up for a quick stop at a Greenville polling location the morning of the South Carolina primary, he and his staff knew that they’d win, aides told me, though they didn’t know by how much. Public polls showed a tight race, and they had no other data to go on. The endorsement of Representative Jim Clyburn had been key, earning Biden the kind of media attention he couldn’t afford to buy. (“If we had been before South Carolina, then Alabama would have delivered the big victory, and I would be the kingmaker,” Representative Terri Sewell, an enthusiastic Biden backer from Selma, told me Wednesday. Biden would go on to sweep her district on Super Tuesday.)Before the polls closed, his aides settled on the opening line for his victory speech: “To all those who have been knocked down, counted out, left behind: This is your campaign.”It wasn’t a coronation, but a rebound—the kind of story Biden himself tells on the stump, about a man who is beaten down but refuses to give up and scratches his way back. “Fighting as an underdog is comfortable for him, and it’s also comfortable for a lot of Americans,” Ducklo said. “The message resonates because of the message and also because of the messenger.”Biden won South Carolina by 30 points. He raised $400,000 in the 20 minutes after the polls closed, before the campaign had sent any texts or emails asking for support. This was almost as much as the team had raised online in the week leading up to the Iowa caucuses. It raised more money in the subsequent three days than it had in the entire third quarter of 2019.[Read: The establishment strikes back]The race started to shrink. Speaking by phone with both Biden and Obama on Sunday night, Buttigieg, who had dropped out earlier that day, said he needed to sleep on an endorsement. The next morning, he told top aides to make it happen. Buttigieg’s public announcement turned unexpectedly emotional when Biden told the audience, in Dallas, Texas, how much Buttigieg reminded him of his beloved late son, calling him “a Beau.”Amy Klobuchar dropped out on Monday, then offered Biden an enthusiastic endorsement and redirected her Minnesota campaign staff to activate for him in the state, which voted on Super Tuesday. Former Representative Beto O’Rourke reached out too. (Before he formally endorsed, Biden staffers tried to soothe O’Rourke’s concerns about making his Sanders-inclined supporters feel betrayed.)The influx of cash came too late to fund operations in most of the 14 states that would vote on Super Tuesday. He didn’t even have the cash to fly to most of them himself. He certainly didn’t have the money to advertise in most of them. But as voting started, he got significant media coverage—by wrapping his arms around his former rivals. Petty Biden was gone, replaced by Uncle Joe telling everyone, It’s going to be all right. And that’s what played on seemingly every station as the only political news all night.“The exponential degree to which that was more powerful than a 30-second ad cannot be overstated,” Ducklo said. “And Bernie Sanders was gone from the news.” All former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg had was the 30-second ads he could squeeze in during the breaks.Almost every one of the 10 wins on Super Tuesday was a surprise to the Biden campaign, aides told me. George Stephanopoulos, for example, surprised Bedingfield on the air by calling Massachusetts in the middle of their interview that night.The sudden wave of Biden victories hasn’t erased Democrats’ concerns about the candidate. Some worry that his performance in the rest of the primary will be uneven, that he’ll say things that get him into trouble, or that he’ll have difficulty keeping up if he’s the Democratic nominee and needs to campaign at a more rigorous pace.“Biden has run for president three times. In all of those campaigns, there were only three days where he overperformed—they just so happened to be the three days between South Carolina and Super Tuesday,” said Rebecca Katz, a progressive strategist who is unaffiliated with any campaign. “I am not saying Biden won’t have more good days. I’m saying, let’s just all take a deep breath as we look ahead to the hard work of the next several months.”For now, Democrats keep rushing to his side—hoping next Tuesday brings more wins.“We were fully expecting the Alamo,” Garcetti told me. “But once in a while, the hearty band survives.”*This article previously misstated Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s title.
2020-03-07 12:00:00
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theatlantic.com
The Ticket: Beating Donald Trump, With David Plouffe
David Plouffe got it very wrong in 2016.After confidently predicting Donald Trump’s defeat, the campaign manager credited with Barack Obama’s historic 2008 victory watched a reality-television star become commander in chief. Four years later, Plouffe says he rewatched that Election Night. Over and over.And after absorbing the lessons of that day, he’s written a book on what Democrats need to do to defeat Trump—a reelection battle that, as he told Edward-Isaac Dovere on the latest episode of The Ticket: Politics From The Atlantic, “probably has the biggest stakes the country’s ever known.” They discuss the president’s reelection campaign, the state of the Democratic Party, and a nomination fight that’s suddenly become a two-man race.Listen to the full episode here:Subscribe to The Ticket:Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher (How to Listen)Several HighlightsPlouffe on the Democratic candidates: “There’s gonna be a lot of pressure on Joe Biden and his campaign if he’s the nominee. Likewise with Bernie. And they should have it. If you don’t win this election, it’s shameful. You are the person above all … We all have a role to play, but that nominee and their campaign leadership better win. Because the consequences for the planet and for this country are hard to put into words.” Plouffe on President Trump’s campaign: “I have studied every incumbent presidential reelection carefully, was part of one … Incumbent presidents have amazing advantages and weaponry. And this guy’s obsessed with being reelected. It’s all he cares about … The menace is looming, and he is ready for this battle. But there are more than enough voters to get rid of him.” Plouffe on general-election debates: “I assume Trump is going to do them, because how can he not be part of that circus and spotlight? They are going to just be geriatric cage matches. I mean, it is going to be something for the history books.” VoicesDavid Plouffe (@davidplouffe) Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere)
2020-03-07 01:04:01
2021-05-08T09:46:03.000000
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theatlantic.com
Why Jihadists Loved America in the 1980s
It was freezing cold with gusting winds in Indianapolis on New Year’s Day 1978. While much of the city was presumably waking to a hangover, the Islamic Teaching Center was busy hosting prominent preachers from the Middle East. Among them was Abdallah Azzam, a 36-year-old rising star of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood. In Indianapolis, Azzam would meet a young Saudi student with a now-famous name: Osama bin Laden. It was a historic moment, one that marked the rise of an extensive jihadist network in the United States.That Azzam and bin Laden met in America is no coincidence. They came because, unlike other countries in the Middle East, the U.S. allowed them and other Islamists to preach, fundraise, and recruit followers without interference. My new biography of Azzam shows that in the 1980s, radical Islamists exploited U.S. territory to an extent not previously recognized. In fact, for more than a decade, America was among the most hospitable jihadist-recruitment grounds in the world.To understand why, one has to look at the Afghan War. A few years after their Indiana meeting, Azzam and bin Laden co-founded the Services Bureau, an organization in Peshawar, Pakistan, that sought to bring Muslim fighters to Afghanistan. As its leader, Azzam spearheaded a worldwide effort to fundraise and recruit, especially from the Gulf countries and the United States.Although based in Pakistan from 1981 onward, Azzam crossed the Atlantic at least once a year, and by the end of the decade had visited New York, Texas, California, Seattle, and several other states in between. The message was always the same: Muslims in America should fight in Afghanistan, or at least donate money to the jihad. He spoke not in underground cellars, but in large, open venues, such as the annual meeting of the Muslim Arab Youth Association, which usually brought together hundreds of people. He stayed in the apartments of young local supporters, impressing them with his charisma and humble lifestyle. U.S. authorities became aware of these activities in the late ’80s, but did not consider Azzam a threat.[Read: Americans are more worried about terrorism than they were after 9/11]In December 1984, Azzam launched al-Jihad magazine, an Arabic-language monthly aimed at raising awareness of the Afghan cause. Within eight months, the magazine had a U.S. distributor—the Islamic Centre in Tucson, Arizona—and by the late ’80s, it had a nationwide network of agents who sold thousands of copies each month and made America one of the magazine’s most important markets.CaptionAzzam’s activities didn’t stop there. In late 1987, a group of activists in Brooklyn approached Azzam with a proposition to make their recently established NGO, the al-Kifah Refugee Center, the American branch of the Services Bureau. Azzam was delighted and later wrote the following in al-Jihad: I was pleased that [the brothers] have opened a Services Bureau, appointed a lawyer, gotten him a government license, and started coordinating trips to Afghanistan … I have opened an account in my name in Brooklyn, and the account number is 016714446, Independence Saving Bank … Whoever wants to send a check, he may send it to this address: Maktab al-Khadamat in Brooklyn (552 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn NY; tel. 718-797-9207). Write my name on the check: “Dr. Abdallah Azzam.” Al-Kifah soon set up regional branches in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, and Tucson. It even had a national hotline run out of Chicago that people could call to hear a recorded news bulletin about the Afghan jihad.The efforts paid off: Hundreds of Muslims from all over America joined the Afghan jihad, and some even became prominent figures in the nascent jihadist movement. Wa’il Julaydan became a key fundraiser for the Services Bureau in Peshawar, Muhammad Bayazid became one of the co-founders of al-Qaeda, and Wadih El Hage also joined al-Qaeda; he was later convicted for his involvement in the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings. Americans were a minority in the Afghan Arab community, but their language skills and high level of education gave them an outsize importance.But how was it even possible that America had become a cherished recruitment ground for Azzam? The main reason was that America offered unparalleled political freedoms. Azzam and his lieutenants were seen as religious activists, something for which there was high tolerance in the United States. Meanwhile, the U.S. government did not consider them a security threat, because at that time, Sunni Islamists had virtually never perpetrated terrorist attacks in the West.The United States was the only country outside Pakistan where Azzam was able to set up an official branch of the Services Bureau. Even Saudi Arabia, which generally approved of Azzam’s efforts, never allowed him to open an office, and it sometimes canceled his talks. Other Middle Eastern countries were even more hostile. Azzam was able to visit only Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Jordan in the ’80s. The rest denied him entry, and Jordan closed the door on him after 1984. America was also a convenient destination. With one visa, you had access to a large, wealthy, monolingual society. Europe, by contrast, was more cumbersome: You needed a new visa and a new language for every country. Azzam visited several European countries, including the U.K., Germany, Spain, and Italy, but he never attempted to build a European recruitment infrastructure like the one he had in America.It helped that the Muslim Brotherhood had a strong presence in the United States, especially in Muslim student societies. For example, the guests at the Indianapolis meeting in 1978 were Muslim Brothers. By the ’80s, the brotherhood had evolved into a nonviolent movement, but it was not pacifist, and it cared deeply about Muslim liberation struggles such as those in Palestine and Afghanistan. Azzam’s own Brotherhood background allowed him to connect easily with activists across America during that decade.We know from declassified documents that Azzam only came to the FBI’s attention in 1989, in connection with the case of a 17-year-old high-school student in Dallas who had gone to Afghanistan. As late as May 1989, a secret cable from FBI headquarters to Dallas said, “Searches of Bureau indices revealed no information that [Azzam], the Islamic Jihad, or the Mujahideen was involved in the recruitment of mercenaries to fight in Afghanistan.” Of course, it mattered that the United States was heavily involved in Afghanistan on the same side as Azzam. Everyone had their eyes on the prize, which was the Soviet Union’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. Why care about a small number of hotheads joining a war the Americans themselves supported?The jihadist haven in America would not last long, because it soon brought violence. In November 1990, an Egyptian Islamist extremist murdered the militant Jewish nationalist Meir Kahane, and in early 1993, militants detonated a car bomb under the World Trade Center, killing six people and injuring more than 1,000. In mid-1993, the FBI foiled the potentially more lethal New York landmarks plot, for which a number of U.S.-based Islamists were convicted in 1995. With these incidents came more scrutiny of jihadist networks in the United States, and after 9/11, the scrutiny turned into a crackdown. Today, America is one of the world’s most hostile areas of operation for transnational jihadists.[Graeme Wood: ISIS is gloating]It was because everyone saw the ’80s Afghan jihad as legitimate that nobody sounded the alarm about the Afghan Arabs and the Americans who joined them. And yet we saw it again in the early stages of the Syria conflict, when most of the international community supported the rebellion against Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Both Western and regional governments were initially loath to prevent their citizens from going, because the cause was seen as legitimate. Later, when European countries saw thousands joining the Islamic State and other Islamist groups and threatening attacks at home, they took stricter measures against foreign fighters.The story of Azzam and his American network ended badly for him. In late 1989, Azzam was assassinated in Peshawar by unknown perpetrators. Soon after, infighting broke out in the al-Kifah center, culminating with the murder of its leader, Mustafa Shalabi, in 1991. In 1993, the center closed down, and the Services Bureau headquarters disbanded in 1995. Osama bin Laden fared differently. He went on to build al-Qaeda, declare all-out war on the United States, and mastermind the 9/11 attacks, ushering in the War on Terror, with all its tragic consequences.
2020-03-06 13:00:00
2021-05-08T09:46:03.000000
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theatlantic.com
The Atlantic Politics Daily: The Strongest Evidence Yet That America Is Botching Coronavirus Testing
It’s Friday, March 6. In today’s newsletter: Our science and technology reporters confirm just how few Americans have actually been tested for the coronavirus, despite administration promises. Plus: The moment that marked the rise of an extensive jihadist network in the United States.*« TODAY IN POLITICS »(GETTY / THE ATLANTIC)Evidence That America Is Seriously Botching the Coronavirus TestingBy all public accounts, it’s one of the Trump administration’s biggest priorities: testing Americans for the new coronavirus.Vice President Mike Pence, who is overseeing the White House’s response to COVID-19, vowed this week that “roughly 1.5 million tests” would be made available.That’s not going as planned—far from it. As my colleagues Robinson Meyer and Alexis Madrigal report after interviews with dozens of public-health officials and a survey of local data from across the country, just 1,895 Americans have been tested for the virus as of this morning (that Rob and Alexis could verify).“I don’t know what went wrong,” a former CDC chief told them. The United States’ response to the coronavirus is far behind the spread of the disease within its borders. Testing is the first and most important tool in understanding the epidemiology of a disease outbreak. In the United States, a series of failures has combined with the decentralized nature of our health-care system to handicap the nation’s ability to see the severity of the outbreak in hard numbers. The American response to coronavirus stands in stark contrast to other countries dealing with the outbreak: South Korean officials, for instance, have been testing more than 10,000 people per day.The Trump White House seemed ill-prepared for COVID-19 even before global fears reached their current pitch, as my colleague Peter Nicholas reported last month: Trump insists on being the protagonist in every drama. He wants to promote the idea that everything on his watch is improving. Virology isn’t politics, though. Tweets don’t beget vaccines. Following his instincts in the face of an outbreak that has left the world on edge risks making things worse. Finally, for those frozen with worry: What can you do to slow the coronavirus outbreak? Our health writer James Hamblin has some helpful tips (beyond just washing your hands).—Saahil Desai*« IDEAS AND ARGUMENTS »(SPENCER PLATT / GETTY)1. “At best, they produced very little value. At worst, they arguably influenced the presidential race in ways that the billionaire candidates disliked.”Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer spent millions to propel presidential primary bids that went nowhere. These vanity campaigns weren’t just acts of hubris that harmed very few, Conor Friedersdorf argues. The two billionaires squandered money that could have funded altruistic efforts and boosted rival 2020 candidates with clearer paths to the White House.2. “Here’s some free advice for Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader: Shut. The. Front. Door. Now.”At a recent rally outside the Supreme Court this week, New York Senator Chuck Schumer told the crowd gathered: “I want to tell you, Gorsuch; I want to tell you, Kavanaugh: You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”Such a threat is a terrible misfire, the constitutional law professor Garrett Epps argues: The way to push back against the Trump administration isn’t to imitate the rhetoric and tactics of the Trump administration.3. “Democrats on Super Tuesday successfully did what Republicans failed to do in 2016: check the rise of their extremist candidate.”Bernie Sanders laid an egg on Super Tuesday, switching positions with Joe Biden to become the underdog in the Democratic primary. Democrats still need to learn from how he delivered his message, David Frum argues: There’s not one issue, but three.*« EVENING READ »(AL-JIHAD / COURTESY OF THOMAS HEGGHAMMER)Jihadists loved America in the 1980s.Thomas Hegghammer tells a stunning story: It was freezing cold with gusting winds in Indianapolis on New Year’s Day 1978. While much of the city was presumably waking to a hangover, the Islamic Teaching Center was busy hosting prominent preachers from the Middle East. Among them was Abdallah Azzam, a 36-year-old rising star of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood. In Indianapolis, Azzam would meet a young Saudi student with a now-famous name: Osama bin Laden. It was a historic moment, one that marked the rise of an extensive jihadist network in the United States. Read the rest.* Today’s newsletter was written by Saahil Desai, an editor on the Politics desk, and Christian Paz, a Politics fellow. It was edited by Shan Wang, who oversees newsletters. You can reply directly to this newsletter with questions or comments, or send a note to politicsdaily@theatlantic.com. Your support makes our journalism possible. Subscribe here.
2020-03-06 07:00:00
2021-05-08T09:46:03.000000
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theatlantic.com
The 2020 U.S. Presidential Race: A Cheat Sheet
Updated at 1:43 p.m. ET on March 5, 2020.As Elizabeth Warren spoke outside her Massachusetts home this afternoon, after suspending her campaign for the presidency, one of the reporters crowded around a small bank of microphones asked for her message to women—women who must now choose, yet again, among a group of old white men vying for the White House.“I know,” she replied, nodding her head, as if affirming the essential lament embedded in the question. “One of the hardest parts of this is all those pinky promises, and all those little girls who are going to have to wait four more years. That’s going to be hard.”Warren’s exit from the Democratic-primary race was widely expected after her poor showing on Super Tuesday, when she amassed merely dozens of delegates rather than the hundreds she needed to remain competitive. This morning, she bowed to the reality that her base of enthusiastic, mostly college-educated voters was not broad enough to capture the Democratic nomination. The primary is now down, essentially, to two: former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.As she spoke with reporters, the scene was notably casual, a departure from the formal, set-piece press conferences in which a dour and disappointed candidate reads a prepared statement before the cameras. Warren wore a purple Patagonia jacket; she was flanked by her husband, Bruce Mann, who wore sunglasses and a green pullover, and their golden retriever, Bailey. The backdrop was not a row of American flags but a couple of garage doors and a brick driveway.Warren reflected on her candidacy, noting that she was told more than a year ago that the Democratic primary had only two “lanes”: a progressive one that Sanders would dominate, and a moderate one for Biden. There would be no room for anyone else, she was told. “I felt that wasn’t right, but evidently I was wrong,” Warren said.She declined, for now, to offer the endorsement that Sanders’s fans are hoping she’ll give him. “Well, let’s take a deep breath and spend a little time on that. We don’t have to decide at this minute,” Warren said.Six months ago, a Warren victory seemed highly possible, even likely: She had risen steadily to the top of the field on the back of detailed policy proposals and a campaign-trail charisma that attracted big crowds. But for a host of reasons, she faded as the first votes neared, and wasn’t able to mount a comeback.Progressives returned to their candidate of 2016, Sanders, while more moderate voters and those who prioritized electability split their votes among Biden, Pete Buttigieg, and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. Warren finished no higher than third in any state.In announcing her decision first in remarks to her staff, Warren listed the ways her campaign had “fundamentally changed” the substance of the race; she mentioned her litany of progressive policy plans, her signature wealth-tax and anticorruption proposals, her refusal to engage in traditional big-donor fundraising. And she took credit for perhaps her final consequential act: helping to destroy the candidacy of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.“In this campaign, we have been willing to fight, and when necessary, we left plenty of blood and teeth on the floor,” Warren said on a conference call. “And I can think of one billionaire who has been denied the chance to buy this election.”Our colleague Elaine Godfrey examined five of the theories behind Warren’s downfall. Was it her embrace of Medicare for All with a plan that was neither aggressive enough for the left nor palatable to the center? Was it simply the Democratic electorate’s obsession with electability and Warren’s inability to convince voters that she was the best candidate to face President Donald Trump? Or was the electability concern simply a euphemism for sexism—manifested in Democrats’ reluctance to vote for a woman themselves or their distrust that other people would in November?This afternoon, Warren was asked to reflect on the role sexism may have played. “You know that is the trap question for every woman,” she replied. “If you say, ‘Yeah, there was sexism in this race,’ everyone says, ‘Whiner!’ and if you say, ‘No, there was no sexism,’ about a bazillion women think, What planet do you live on?“I promise you this: I will have a lot more to say on that subject later on,” she added.Whatever the reason (or reasons), a Democratic race that once featured a sprawling, brawling field of more than two dozen hopefuls is now a battle between the two men who spent its first six months leading the national polls: Biden and Sanders.As the primaries progress, this cheat sheet will be updated regularly.The Democrats(Simon Dawson / Reuters)MICHAEL BLOOMBERGWho is he?The billionaire former mayor of New York, Bloomberg is a Democrat turned Republican turned independent turned Democrat again.Is he running?No longer. He ended his bid the day after a disappointing finish on Super Tuesday, having collected only a few dozen delegates.Why did he want to run?For starters, he was convinced that he’d be better and more competent at the job than anyone else. Bloomberg’s bid centered on his pet issues of gun control, climate change, and fighting the more fiscally liberal wing of the Democratic Party tooth and silver-plated nail.Who wanted him to run?What, was his considerable ego not enough? Though his tenure as mayor is generally well regarded, it’s unclear what Bloomberg’s Democratic constituency was beyond other wealthy, socially liberal, and fiscally conservative types, and it’s not as if he needed their money to run.Can he win the nomination?Apparently not.(Matthew Putney / Reuters)TOM STEYERWho is he?A retired California hedge-funder, Steyer has poured his fortune into political advocacy on climate change and flirted with running for office.Is he running?Not anymore. He dropped out after finishing third and earning no delegates in South Carolina on February 29.Why did he want to run?Impeachment, baby.Who wanted him to run?Steyer managed to gain ground among African American voters in South Carolina. It was pretty threadbare beyond that.Can he win the nomination?Nope.(Jeff Roberson / AP)JOE BIDENWho is he?Don’t play coy. You know the former vice president, senator from Delaware, and recurring Onion character.Is he running?Yes. After a long series of hesitations, Biden announced his campaign on April 25.Why does he want to run?Biden has wanted to be president since roughly forever, and he thinks he might be the best bet to win back blue-collar voters and defeat President Trump in 2020. (Trump reportedly agrees.) But Biden seems reluctant to end his career with a primary loss, knows he’s old (he’ll turn 78 right after Election Day 2020), and is possibly out of step with the new Democratic Party.Who wants him to run?Biden’s sell is all about electability, and his dominant win in South Carolina—after a poor showing in the other early states—has the Democratic establishment rallying to his side.Can he win the nomination?Suddenly it seems he very much can. Biden’s position was looking iffy, even grim, before a 72-hour stretch in which he trounced Sanders in South Carolina and then won more states and delegates on Super Tuesday.(Yuri Gripas / Reuters)BERNIE SANDERSWho is he?If you didn’t know the Vermont senator and self-described democratic socialist before his runner-up finish in the 2016 Democratic primary, you do now.Is he running?Yes. Sanders announced plans to run on February 19.Why does he want to run?For the same reasons he wanted to run in 2016, and the same reasons he’s always run for office: Sanders is passionate about redistributing wealth, fighting inequality, and creating a bigger social-safety net.Who wants him to run?Many of the same people who supported him last time, plus a few converts, minus those who are supporting Sanders-adjacent candidates like Elizabeth Warren or Tulsi Gabbard.Can he win the nomination?Yes. Despite Biden’s comeback, Sanders is still close behind in delegates and has a shot.(Aaron P. Bernstein / REUTERS)AMY KLOBUCHARWho is she?She has been a senator from Minnesota since 2007.Is she running?She did, from February 9, 2019, to March 2, 2020, when she abruptly dropped out on the eve of Super Tuesday and endorsed Biden.Why did she want to run?Klobuchar represents a kind of heartland Democrat—progressive, but not aggressively so—and she hoped to have widespread appeal both in the Midwest and elsewhere. She tended to talk vaguely about middle-class issues.Who wanted her to run?She built a constituency among mainstream Democrats. Her exchange with Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing won her a lot of fans.Can she win the nomination?No.What else do we know?Sadly, she is not using this fly logo.(Jonathan Bachman / Reuters)ELIZABETH WARRENWho is she?A senator from Massachusetts since 2013, Warren was previously a professor at Harvard Law School, helped create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and wrote a book on middle-class incomes.Is she running?She suspended her campaign on March 5, two days after amassing just a few dozen delegates on Super Tuesday.Why did she want to run?Warren’s campaign was tightly focused on inequality, her signature issue since before entering politics. She proposed an “ultra-millionaire tax” on people worth more than $50 million and a major overhaul of housing policies.Who wanted her to run?People who backed Senator Bernie Sanders in 2016; people who were Bernie-curious but worried he was too irascible; people who didn’t like Bernie but are left-curious; Donald Trump.Can she win the nomination?No.What else do we know?She’s got a good doggo.(City of South Bend, IN)PETE BUTTIGIEGWho is he?The 37-year-old openly gay former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and Afghan War veteran went from near-anonymity to buzzy-candidate status in his first couple of months in the race.Is he running?Not anymore. He dropped out a day before Klobuchar and then endorsed Biden.Why did he want to run?Buttigieg’s sell was all about generation. He’s a Millennial and thinks his cohort faces new and unusual pressures and dilemmas that he is singularly equipped to resolve. Plus, it was a useful way to differentiate himself from the blue-haired bigwigs in the blue party.Who wants him to run?Buttigieg had slowly climbed in the polls, grabbing attention for crisp answers and an almost Obamaesque demeanor; he had the support of some Obama alumni. He hoped to reach midwestern voters who deserted the Democrats in 2016.Can he win the nomination?For brief moments along the way, it seemed possible.What else do we know?It’s “BOOT-edge-edge,” and it’s Maltese for “lord of the poultry.”(Marco Garcia / AP)TULSI GABBARDWho is she?Gabbard, 37, has represented Hawaii in the U.S. House since 2013. She previously served in Iraq.Is she running?Yes. She officially announced on February 2 in Honolulu.Why does she want to run?Gabbard says her central issue is “war and peace,” which basically means a noninterventionist foreign policy.Who wants her to run?Gabbard is likely to draw support from Sanders backers. She supported Bernie in 2016, resigning from a post as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee to do so, and she’s modeled herself largely on him.Can she win the nomination?No.What else do we know?If elected, she would be the first Hindu president.Brian Snyder / ReutersDEVAL PATRICKWho is he?Patrick was governor of Massachusetts from 2007 to 2015, after serving in a top role in Bill Clinton’s Justice Department. More recently, he’s worked at Bain Capital.Is he running?No. Patrick entered the race on November 14, 2019, but left on February 12, 2020.Why did he want to run?To be president, of course. But having passed on a run earlier, Patrick reconsidered because of worries that no one in the Democratic field has strong momentum and can unite the party.Who wanted him to run?There was an appetite for new candidates among some in the Democratic donor class, but no sign that voters agreed.Could he have won?We’re not saying that a former Massachusetts governor and Bain employee can’t win the presidency, but recent history wasn’t encouraging. Take it from Patrick: “I recognize running for president is a Hail Mary under any circumstances. This is a Hail Mary from two stadiums over.”What else do we know?Patrick’s estranged father played in the alien jazz great Sun Ra’s Arkestra.(JOSHUA LOTT / AFP / Getty)ANDREW YANGWho is he?Yang is a tech entrepreneur who created the test-preparation company Manhattan Prep and then Venture for America, which tries to incubate start-ups outside New York and the Bay Area, and which is based in New York.Is he running?No. He filed to run on November 6, 2017, but dropped out on February 11, 2020.Why did he want to run?Yang was a 360-degree sprinkler of policy proposals, but his best-known idea was a $1,000 a month universal basic income for every American adult.Who wanted him to run?A motley internet movement, including many fans of Joe Rogan’s podcast.Could he have won the nomination?Nope.(Samantha Sais / Reuters)MICHAEL BENNETWho is he?The Coloradan was appointed to the Senate in 2009 and has since won reelection twice.Is he running?No. Bennet announced his campaign on May 2, 2019, but dropped out on February 11, 2020, following the New Hampshire primary.Why did he want to run?Bennet presented himself as someone with experience in business and management who knows how to work with Republicans.Who wanted him to run?James Carville. Bennet also gained new fans with a viral video of his impassioned rant about Ted Cruz during the January 2019 government shutdown.Could he have won?No.(KC McGinnis / Reuters)JOHN DELANEYWho is he?A former four-term congressman from Maryland, he might be even less known than Pete Buttigieg, who at least has a memorable name.Is he running?No. Delaney announced way back in June 2017, hoping that a head start could make up for his lack of name recognition, but dropped out on January 31, 2020.Why did he want to run?Delaney, a successful businessman, pitched himself as a centrist problem-solver.Who wanted him to run?Unclear. He all but moved to Iowa in hopes of locking up the first caucus state, but didn’t even crack 1 percent in a recent Des Moines Register poll.Could he have won the nomination?Nah.(Joshua Roberts / Reuters)CORY BOOKERWho is he?A senator from New Jersey, he was previously the social-media-savvy mayor of Newark.Is he running?No. He launched his campaign on February 1, 2019, but dropped out on January 13, 2020.Why did he want to run?Once a leading moderate, Booker has been big on criminal-justice reform, including marijuana liberalization in the Senate. He also embraced progressive ideas, including Medicare for All and some sort of universal nest egg for children.Who wanted him to run?Not nearly enough voters. He aimed for Obama-style uplift and inspiration to attract voters, but was edged out by other candidates on both sides.Could he have won the nomination?Not this year.(Amy Harris / Invision / AP)MARIANNE WILLIAMSONWho is she?If you don’t know the inspirational author and speaker, you know her aphorisms (e.g., “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”).Is she running?No. She announced her candidacy on January 28, 2019, but left the race on January 10, 2020.Why did she want to run?It’s a little tough to say. She wrote on her website, “My campaign for the presidency is dedicated to this search for higher wisdom.” She criticized Hillary Clinton for coziness with corporate interests in 2016, and she ran for the U.S. House in 2014.Who wanted her to run?Williamson has a lot of fans, but whether they really wanted her as president was another question.Could she have won the nomination?Stranger things have happened, but no.(DEPartment of Housing & Urban Development)JULIÁN CASTROWho is he?Castro was the mayor of San Antonio, Texas, before serving as secretary of housing and urban development under Barack Obama from 2014 to 2017.Is he running?No. He announced his bid on January 12, 2019, in San Antonio, but dropped out on January 2 and endorsed Elizabeth Warren on January 6.Why did he want to run?Castro began the career searching for an Obama-style message, but evolved into a more aggressive, left-wing candidate, especially on immigration and police reform.Who wanted him to run?Castro attracted a small but passionate following.Could he have won the nomination?No. “I am not a front-runner in this race, but I have not been a front-runner at any time in my life,” Castro said during his announcement.What else do we know?Castro’s twin brother, Joaquin, who serves in the U.S. House, once subbed in for his brother in a parade during Julián’s mayoral campaign, so if you go to a campaign event, ask for proof that it’s really him.(Dimitrios Kambouris)KAMALA HARRISWho is she?Harris, a first-term senator from California, was elected in 2016. She was previously the state’s attorney general.Is she running?No. She declared her candidacy on January 21, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but ended her campaign on December 3.Why did she want to run?Harris thought that a woman of color who is an ex-prosecutor would check a range of boxes for Democratic voters. She tried to stake out a broad platform, trying to appeal to a wide swath of the party, but ended up without a clear identity.Who wanted her to run?Harris briefly became the great hope for Democrats who weren’t strong lefties but worried about Biden. But she was unable to maintain and build her momentum, and she sank from third in the race to the single digits.Could she have won the nomination?Perhaps with a different campaign approach Harris would have had good luck—and she’s young enough that she may have another shot. But she didn’t have the right stuff for 2020.(Matthew Brown / AP)STEVE BULLOCKWho is he?Bullock is the governor of Montana, where he won reelection in 2016 even as Trump won the state.Is he running?No. Bullock launched his campaign on May 14 but withdrew on December 2.Why did he want to run?Bullock portrayed himself as a candidate who could win in Trump country and get things done across the aisle. He’s also been an outspoken advocate of campaign-finance reform.Who wanted him to run?Unclear. The Great Plains and Mountain West aren’t traditional bases for national Democrats.Could he have won the nomination?Nope.(matt rourke / ap)JOE SESTAKWho is he?A former vice admiral and two-term member of Congress from Pennsylvania, he twice ran for U.S. Senate.Is he running?No. He announced on June 23 but bowed out on December 1.Why did he want to run?Sestak’s announcement focused on his long career in the military and the importance of American foreign policy. It was a little evocative of retired General Wesley Clark’s 2004 campaign.Who wanted him to run?It’s a mystery. Sestak said he delayed a campaign launch while his daughter was treated for cancer, which is praiseworthy, but there wasn’t even a murmur about him running before his announcement. Sestak is best known these days for losing Senate races in 2010 (in the general election) and 2016 (in the Democratic primary).Could he have won the nomination?No.What else do we know?This logo, boy, I dunno.(City of Miramar, FLorida)WAYNE MESSAMWho is he?Many people thought a young black mayor from Florida would run in 2020. They just thought it would be Tallahassee’s Andrew Gillum, not Miramar’s Wayne Messam, who was elected in 2015.Is he running?No. Messam announced his candidacy on March 28 but dropped out—having never showed much sign of a campaign—on November 20.Why did he want to run?He had a lot of standard rhetoric about the fading American dream. “The promise of America belongs to all of us,” Messam said in his announcement video. “That’s why I’m going to be running for president. To be your champion.”Who wanted him to run?Bueller?Could he have won?Sure, Messam won a national championship as a wide receiver for the 1993 Florida State Seminoles. The presidency? Um, no.(Kathy Willens / AP)BETO O’ROURKEWho is he?The man, the myth, the legend, the former U.S. representative from El Paso and Democratic candidate for Senate in Texas.Is he running?No. O’Rourke dropped out on November 1.Why did he want to run?O’Rourke struggled to figure that out. After the August El Paso massacre, he announced a new approach of attacking the Trump presidency head-on.Who wanted him to run?A lot of live-stream watchers and thirsty tweeters, a coterie of ex–Obama aides, and a bunch of operatives running the Draft Beto campaign.Could he have won the nomination?No. After a fast start, O’Rourke never regained the momentum of his announcement.What else do we know?This video is very important.(Jonathan Bachman / Reuters)TIM RYANWho is he?The Ohioan is a member of the House, representing Youngstown and America’s greatest city, Akron.Is he running?No. Ryan jumped in the race in April but dropped out on October 24.Why did he want to run?Ryan is a classic Rust Belt Democrat and friend of labor, and he’s concerned about the fate of manufacturing. He is also an outspoken critic of Democratic leadership, mounting a quixotic challenge to Nancy Pelosi in 2017.Who wanted him to run?Ryan had some support in the Rust Belt, but never managed to grow his national profile or support.Could he have won the nomination?No.What else do we know?He’s big on meditation.(Mike Segar / Reuters)BILL DE BLASIOWho is he?The mayor of New York City.Is he running?No. He dropped out of the race on September 20.Why did he want to run?De Blasio was the harbinger of the Democratic Party’s leftward shift on economic issues, and they’d be at the center of his campaign, though the movement seems to have left him behind.Who wanted him to run?Practically no one. By the time he dropped out, de Blasio was polling at 0 percent even in New York.Could he have won the nomination?No.What else do we know?De Blasio was the tallest candidate since Bill Bradley, in 2000. Both men are 6 foot 5.(mary Altaffer / AP)KIRSTEN GILLIBRANDWho is she?Gillibrand has been a senator from New York since 2009, replacing Hillary Clinton. Before that, she served in the U.S. House.Is she running?No. Gillibrand dropped out of the race on August 28 after failing to qualify for the third debate. She had launched her campaign officially on March 17.Why did she want to run?Gillibrand emphasized women’s issues, ranging from sexual harassment in the military and more recent #MeToo stories to equal pay, and her role as a mom is central in her announcement video. Once a fairly conservative Democrat, she has moved left in recent years.Who wanted her to run?Vanishingly few voters. While Gillibrand entered the race as a big name, she struggled to gain the polling or donors needed to stay in debates, much less make a play for the nomination.Could she have won the nomination?Nope.What else do we know?Just like you, she hated the Game of Thrones finale and is mad online about it.(Brian Snyder / Reuters)SETH MOULTONWho is he?A third-term congressman from Massachusetts, Moulton graduated from Harvard, then served in the Marines in Iraq.Is he running?No. Moulton, who announced his campaign on April 22, left the race on August 23.Why did he want to run?In an interview with BuzzFeed, he said he felt the Democratic Party needs younger leaders and, alluding to his military career, “someone … for whom standing up to a bully like Donald Trump isn’t the biggest challenge he or she has ever faced in life.”Who wanted him to run?Almost no one. Moulton never gained much attraction, and some polls found him polling at precisely zero.Could he have won?No.(Mary Schwalm / AP)JAY INSLEEWho is he?Inslee is a second-term governor of Washington, and was previously in the U.S. House.Is he running?No. Inslee announced on August 21 that he was ending his campaign.Why did he want to run?Climate change. That’s been Inslee’s big issue as governor, and it will be at the center of his campaign for president, too.Who wanted him to run?Inslee generated excitement from climate activists, but never gained enough attention from the broad Democratic electorate to gain traction.Could he have won the nomination?No.(Lawrence Bryant / REuters)STACEY ABRAMSWho is she?Abrams ran unsuccessfully for governor of Georgia in 2018 and was previously the Democratic leader in the state House.Is she running?No. Abrams will instead focus on advocating against voter suppression, The New York Times reported on August 13. She’s likely to be mentioned as a running mate for the eventual nominee, too.Why did she want to run?Throughout her career, Abrams has focused on bread-and-butter issues such as criminal-justice reform and education, and since losing a 2018 election stained by problems with ballot access, she’s made voting rights a special focus.Who wanted her to run?Abrams has drawn excitement from young Democrats, the liberal wing of the party, and African Americans. Her rebuttal to President Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address won her new fans, and the former Obama aide Dan Pfeiffer says she should run.Could she have won?No.(Department of Labor)JOHN HICKENLOOPERWho is he?Hickenlooper was the governor of Colorado until January, and previously held the most Colorado trifecta of jobs imaginable: mayor of Denver, geologist, and brewery owner.Is he running?No. Hickenlooper is leaving the race on August 15.Why did he want to run?Hickenlooper branded himself as an effective manager and deal maker who has governed effectively in a purple state while still staying progressive. He said he worried the Democratic field could be too focused on grievance and not enough on policy.Who wanted him to run?Not nearly enough people. Hickenlooper was never able to get out of the low single digits in polling, and was at precisely zero in one late poll.Could he have won the nomination?No.(Alex Wong / Getty)MIKE GRAVELWho is he?Gravel, 89, represented Alaska for two terms in the Senate, during which he read the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record and fought against the Vietnam War. These days he’s probably better known for his 2008 presidential campaign.Is he running?No. After launching on April 8, his campaign announced it was ending on August 5, and Gravel has endorsed Bernie Sanders.Why did he want to run?Gravel was running to bring attention to his pet issues: direct democracy, nuclear nonproliferation, and a noninterventionist foreign policy.Who wanted him to run?This is where it gets weird. The committee is the brainchild of three students in college and high school who have basically created a Draft Gravel movement. But Gravel decided he liked the idea and went along with it.Could he have won the nomination?No. He initially said he didn’t even want to, though his campaign—worried it might be disqualified for Democratic debates—then said he was running for real. He didn't qualify anyway.What else do we know?Gravel produced the greatest presidential spot this side of the “Daisy” ad—and then he remade it this cycle.(J. Scott Applewhite / AP)ERIC SWALWELLWho is he?Swalwell, who is 38, is a U.S. representative from California’s Bay Area.Is he running?No. Swalwell left the race on July 8, exactly three months after he announced his candidacy on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.Why did he want to run?Swalwell was running on a gun-control platform. He also says the Democratic Party needs fresh blood. “We can’t count on the same old leaders to solve the same old problems,” he told The Mercury News. “It’s going to take new energy and new ideas and a new confidence to do that.”Who wanted him to run?Not nearly enough people. Swalwell never busted through the 1 percent threshold.Can he have won the nomination?Clearly not.(Phil Long / Reuters)SHERROD BROWNWho is he?By statute, I am required to mention the senator from Ohio’s tousled hair, rumpled appearance, and gravelly voice.Is he running?No. Brown told the Youngstown Vindicator on March 7 that he will not run.Why did he want to run?Brown’s campaign would have focused on workers and inequality. He’s somewhat akin to Bernie Sanders, but his progressivism is of the midwestern, organized-labor variety.Who wanted him to run?Leftist Democrats who though Sanders is too old and Elizabeth Warren too weak a candidate; lots of dudes in union halls in Northeast Ohio.Could he have won the nomination?Possibly.What else do we know?Like Warren, Brown has a very good dog.(Mark Tenally / AP)TERRY MCAULIFFEWho is he?Once known primarily as a close friend of Bill Clinton’s and a Democratic fundraising prodigy, McAuliffe reinvented himself as the governor of Virginia from 2014 to 2018.Is he running?No. McAuliffe said April 17 he wouldn’t compete.Why did he want to run?McAuliffe holds up his governorship as proof that he can be a problem solver and deal maker across the aisle, and his Clintonesque politics would have contrasted him with many of the candidates in the field.Who wanted him to run?McAuliffe himself concluded he just didn’t have a big enough constituency in the wide Democratic field.Could he have won the nomination?Probably not.(Yuri Gripas / Reuters)ERIC HOLDERWho is he?Holder was the U.S. attorney general from 2009 to 2015, and he’s currently leading a Democratic redistricting initiative with help from some retiree named Barack Obama.Is he running?No. After toying with the idea, he wrote in The Washington Post on March 7 that he would not run.Why did he want to run?Holder has three big areas of interest: redistricting, civil rights, and beating Donald Trump by all means necessary.Who wanted him to run?Tough to say. Obamaworld isn’t really lining up behind him, and he’s never held elected office, despite a successful Washington career.Could he have won the nomination?Probably not.(Faith Ninivaggi / Reuters)MITCH LANDRIEUWho is he?Landrieu served as the mayor of New Orleans from 2010 to 2018. He was previously Louisiana’s lieutenant governor.Is he running?It seems unlikely. “Probably not, but if I change my mind, you’re going to be the first to know,” he told the New York Times editor Dean Baquet in December.Why did he want to run?Like the other mayors contemplating a run, Landrieu considers himself a problem-solver. He’s also become a campaigner for racial reconciliation, taking down Confederate monuments in New Orleans, and staking a claim for progressivism in the Deep South.Who wanted him to run?Not clear.Could he have won the nomination?Probably not.(Jeenah Moon / Reuters)ANDREW CUOMOWho is he?Cuomo is the governor of New York. He was formerly the secretary of housing and urban development under Bill Clinton.Is he running?No. Though he's long toyed with the idea, Cuomo said in November 2018, "I am ruling it out." Then again, his father was indecisive about running for president, too.Why did he want to run?One can adopt a Freudian analysis related to his father's unfinished business, or one can note that Cuomo thinks he's got more management experience and success, including working with Republicans, than any Democratic candidate.Who wanted him to run?Practically no one. Cuomo's defenders bristle that he doesn't get enough credit, but his work with Republicans has infuriated Empire State Democrats without winning any real GOP friends.Could he have won the nomination?No.(Yuri Gripas / Reuters)ERIC GARCETTIWho is he?Garcetti is the mayor of Los Angeles.Is he running?No. Garcetti flirted with the idea, visiting South Carolina and naming a hypothetical Cabinet full of mayors, but said on January 29 that he would not run.Why did he want to run?Garcetti’s pitch was that mayors actually get things done and that his lack of experience in Washington was a positive.Who wanted him to run?Garcetti was reelected in a landslide in 2017, but he had no apparent national constituency.Could he have won the nomination?Doubtful.(Andrew Harnik / AP)HILLARY CLINTONWho is she? Come on.Is she running?No, she announced on March 4 that she won’t. But until she issues a Shermanesque denial signed in blood—or the filing deadline passes—the rumors probably won’t die.Why does she want to run?She doesn’t.Who wants her to run?Pundits, mostly.Can she win the nomination?See above.(Mike Blake / Reuters)MICHAEL AVENATTIWho is he?Formerly Stormy Daniels’s lawyer, he’s now facing a dizzying array of federal charges.Is he running?Haha, no way. He now says he might once again, but he won’t. And if he does, it won’t matter.Why did he want to run?Attention, power, self-aggrandizementWho wanted him to run?Some very loud, very devoted fans.Could he have won the nomination?No, and his comment to Time that the nominee “better be a white male” was the final straw.REPUBLICANS(Leah Millis / Reuters)DONALD TRUMPWho is he?Really?Fine. Is he running?Yes. He filed for reelection the day of his inauguration.Why does he want to run?Build the wall, Keep America Great, etc.Who wants him to run?Consistently about 35 to 40 percent of the country; a small majority consistently says he should not.Can he win the nomination?Yes. While his low approval ratings overall have stoked talk of a primary challenge, Trump remains very popular among Republican voters, and as president has broad power to muscle the GOP process to protect himself.What else do we know?You may have heard that in December 2019 he became the third president to ever be impeached.(Stephan Savoia / AP)WILLIAM WELDWho is he?Weld, a former Justice Department official, was the governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997 and was the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential nominee in 2016.Is he running?Yes. Weld officially launched his campaign April 15.Why is he running?Calling President Trump “unstable,” Weld has said, “I think our country is in grave peril and I cannot sit any longer quietly on the sidelines.”Who wants him to run?Weld always inspired respect from certain quarters, and the 2016 Libertarian ticket did well by the party’s standards, but Weld’s unorthodox politics and hot-and-cold relationship with the GOP probably don’t help his support.Can he win the nomination?No.What else do we know?This logo is so cool.(Carolyn Kaster / AP)JOE WALSHWho is he?After a strong run in the James Gang, Walsh joined the Eagles as lead guitari—wait, no, wrong guy. This Joe Walsh was a Tea Party congressman from Illinois from 2011 to 2013.Is he running?No. Walsh said on August 24, 2019, that he would run against Trump, but dropped out on February 7 after drawing just 1 percent in the Iowa caucus.Why was he running?Once a strong Trump backer, Walsh has undergone a strange political transformation over the past three years and now routinely attacks Trump, whom he sees as insufficiently conservative and too deferential to Russia.Who wanted him to run?Clearly, not many people. The tireless but hapless Bill Kristol encouraged Walsh to run, but that was about it, based on a February Twitter thread in which he said that he had “that my Republican Party isn’t a Party, it’s a cult.”Could he have won the nomination?Absolutely not.(Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)MARK SANFORDWho is he?Sanford was governor of South Carolina from 2003 to 2011 and a U.S. representative from 1995 to 2001 and 2013 to 2019.Is he running?No. Sanford announced his campaign launch on September 8 but suspended it on November 12.Why was he running?Sanford has been an outspoken critic of Donald Trump. “I think we have to have a conversation about what it means to be a Republican,” Sanford said on Fox News Sunday, adding that the GOP “has lost our way.”Who wanted him to run?Lots of reporters who are eager to make bad Appalachian Trail jokes. There must have been some Never Trump fiscal conservatives who didn’t want Trump but wouldn’t vote for Weld. Not many, though.Could he have won the nomination?No. “I don’t think on the Republican side there’s any appetite for a serious nuanced debate with impeachment in the air,” he said as he left the race.(Elizabeth Frantz / Reuters)JOHN KASICHWho is he?Kasich recently finished up two terms as governor of Ohio, previously served in the U.S. House, and ran in the 2016 GOP primary.Is he running?No, and it seems he won’t. “There is no path right now for me. I don’t see a way to get there,” he said May 30. “I’ve never gotten involved in a political race where I didn’t think I could win.”Why did he want to run?Kasich has long wanted to be president—he ran, quixotically, in 2000. But Kasich has styled himself as a vocal Trump critic, and sees himself as an alternative to the president who is both truer to conservative principles and more reliable and moral.Who wanted him to run?Maybe some dead-end Never Trump conservatives. It’s tough to say.Could he have won the nomination?Even
2020-03-05 19:22:00
2021-05-08T09:46:03.000000
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theatlantic.com
What Happened to Elizabeth Warren?
Updated on March 5, 2020 at 11:37 a.m. ET.Who could have predicted that Elizabeth Warren would fall so far?In early autumn 2019, the Massachusetts senator’s presidential campaign was soaring. Buoyed by her “I have a plan for that” message, she’d been attracting enormous, energetic crowds; become a front-runner in national polls; and surpassed both Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden to take the lead in Iowa.But Warren’s numbers began to drop late last year. After voting started, she didn’t win a single state—she came in third in Massachusetts—and secured only a handful of the delegates available. Now she’s dropping out.[Read: The establishment strikes back]The question of what exactly happened to reverse her fortunes is impossible to answer with certainty. However, here are five different-but-intertwined theories of the case, laid out by five political strategists and election analysts I interviewed over the last week. Their comments have been edited and condensed for clarity.1. She couldn’t pick a lane—a problem symbolized by her positioning on Medicare for All. James Carville, a Democratic consultant and campaign strategist for former President Bill Clinton: Her bio is not good—it’s stunning. Her overall critique of the country was, There’s corruption and it’s just everywhere. She had the right critique. She had a base: She really excites educated women, for good reason. They like a story—a girl from Oklahoma, the single mother; geez, you couldn’t make this up in Hollywood. She was cruising along pretty good, and then she got kind of wrapped up in it. It sure seems to me like her troubles started with Medicare for All. She was very clear: I’m a capitalist, not a socialist, but then she did Medicare for All and got lumped in with Bernie. That seemed to be, as Churchill would say, the beginning of the end. When she [announced her support for it], I just flinched, like, Oh, come on! ’Cause you’re never gonna get out of it! [Read: The story Elizabeth Warren isn’t telling] Bernie had the hard left locked down. I interviewed [the Iowa pollster] Ann Selzer in September, and she made the point that Warren was the second choice of a lot more Pete Buttigieg [and] Biden voters at the time than Sanders voters. But [Warren] made a decision to be on the Bernie side of the equation. If she would have just [positioned herself] a little to the left of Buttigieg or Biden, she would have had more votes available to her. She should have just been a liberal and not a leftist. The original answer should have been, “We’re going to aggressively pursue a public option and expand Obamacare, and then in three years, we’ll see where we are.” 2. She was hit by the curse of the front-runner: She peaked too early and never recovered. Joe Trippi, the campaign manager for the former presidential candidate Howard Dean: This has always been the dynamic in a race where there’s an incumbent Republican on the other side of the equation: As soon as anybody starts to get some kind of a lift under their wings, the focus goes from looking at them versus the rest of the field to looking at them versus [in this case] Trump. When you’re the front-runner, the focus comes on you, then guess what? The press and your opponents are going to raise concerning issues. What happened to her in Iowa is the same thing that happened to Howard Dean in 2004. You’ve got this incredible organization, [you’ve] identified thousands of people that say they’re voting for Warren, and your great organization is going to turn those 80,000 people out. Except the press is starting to talk about [other candidates]: Look at this charismatic, young, vibrant dude, Pete. She’s getting the scrutiny, while some other fresh face is getting the surge. Pete is the new fresh thing and doesn’t get the scrutiny until after he’s moving to New Hampshire. Now Pete’s growing going into New Hampshire, and she’s got a great organization in New Hampshire, but too late, the entire world thinks it’s between Pete and Bernie. Now Amy Klobuchar is coming up, and some of your women are leaving you for Klobuchar. My point is: Once you start to fall off the map, it becomes very, very tough to turn that tide. 3. It was the scourge of electability: Warren was seen as a risky choice. Amy Walter, a political analyst and the national editor for The Cook Political Report: For voters who were looking for a liberal, Bernie Sanders–like candidate but wanted a new model—somebody who was not as old, not as male, not as crotchety—[Warren] looked like this new great option. And for other voters, especially for a lot of women who wouldn’t put themselves in the “very liberal” category, there was an appeal to her because she seemed more unifying than Bernie Sanders. But both of those sides [ultimately] felt very unsatisfied: If you were worried about electability, her decision to say, Well, I’m not totally backing away from Medicare for All made you think she’s still going to be hit for being too liberal in November. If you were looking for a new version of Bernie Sanders, she didn’t provide that either. What has really plagued every candidate and, quite frankly, the Democratic Party this year is this focus on electability. It was supposed to make the race clearer and easier to understand. This wasn’t about falling in love—this was about the cold, hard reality of electability. Except, as we all know, the idea of electability is a really fungible one. [Read: Dems’ focus on electability hurts Warren] The risk tolerance among Democrats in 2008 was much higher than it is in 2020. When you talk to voters, there is this paralyzing fear of picking the wrong person, and it has just really screwed up the opportunity for those candidates who were seen as riskier. If we were in a different era, if this were not Donald Trump as president and if Democratic voters were not as obsessed with this idea of electability, would we be in a different place? Yeah, we might. Unfortunately, as a candidate you can’t control for that. All you can do is try to hope you’re running at the right time. 4. Blame The New York Times/Siena College poll that showed President Donald Trump beating Warren in head-to-head matchups in several key swing states. Dave Wasserman, an elections analyst and the U.S. House editor for The Cook Political Report: It’s impossible to draw a direct line of causation, but here are a few things we know: Democrats are obsessed with electability. No. 2, Warren’s support is very concentrated among liberal whites with college degrees. No. 3, we know that happens to be a large New York Times–reading demographic. When you put those things together, it makes sense that Democrats and Warren supporters could read that polling and have second thoughts about supporting her. The other aspect here is her adjustments to her health-care plan and the timeline for moving toward Medicare for All. It robbed her of some of the purity that Sanders possesses, and it might have dented the perception that she knows exactly what she wants to do. It might have been an acknowledgment that her initial [Medicare for All] plan [was] problematic to sell to a general electorate. [This kind of voter punditry] happens in every election, but maybe not to the extent we’re seeing in 2020. 5. It all comes back to sexism. Jess McIntosh, a former deputy communications director of Emily’s List and a senior communications adviser for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign: Sexism in politics is like Whack-a-Mole, right? Every cycle, it shows up in a new way. We dealt with the “likability” issue [with Warren] pretty quickly. Now it’s “electability.” Every data point that we have says women can win—in 2018, women won all over the country—and yet we keep asking this question. The conversation becomes really problematic for a candidate who’s trying to make [the] case about what kind of agenda she wants to set, what kind of policies she wants to have. [Read: Elizabeth Warren] is up against sexism by proxy The biggest issue this year is the double standard, where we hold women candidates to different standards than we hold the men. It’s very clear from the Medicare for All conversation that we expected and demanded more of [Warren] than we did the male candidates, and it hurt her. That was happening right as she was rising. As late as [last] week, Bernie Sanders [was] saying, I still can’t tell you every nickel and dime [about how to pay for his Medicare for All plan], and everybody’s like, All right. Well, you know, it’s about priorities. I’m not saying we should treat Bernie Sanders differently. I’m saying we should treat Elizabeth Warren the same. She either outright won all [the debates] or performed really well. But you didn’t see wall-to-wall coverage the next day of what that would mean for her campaign and whether the momentum was going to come in. Where she had victories, they were not celebrated as loudly as the men[’s] were, and where she had defeats, it was seen as an inevitable character flaw as opposed to a bump in the road. There were three tickets out of Iowa until a woman got the third one. I am very interested to see a deep dive into [news-coverage] quantity and quality once this is all over, and it’s pretty obvious that the women just didn’t get the same. Warren pulls 7,000 or 8,000 people at rallies. I think if people were on line for four or five hours to see any of the other candidates consistently, that would be brought up regularly as a sign of the movement [they’re] building. I haven’t heard word one about the movement Warren’s building. It’s really hard to be excited about being part of a movement if nobody talks about what’s happening.
2020-03-05 12:00:00
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theatlantic.com
Here’s What Barack Obama Is Thinking Now
Barack Obama got exactly what he wanted out of the Democratic primary—and not just because Joe Biden has suddenly pulled ahead. His party managed to start sorting out its year-long mess without him.But Obama is still not going to speak out. He won’t push Sanders out of the race, though the Vermont senator acknowledged on Wednesday, “I have not the slightest doubt that there is enormous pressure on President Obama to step in and support Joe Biden.” He hasn’t ruled out that he might end up campaigning for Sanders instead, and has thought of the case he’d make. But it’s clear to everyone around the former president how much more comfortable he would be making the case for Biden, whom he largely agrees with on policy and whom he really thinks of as a brother.Obama knows that top Democrats were fantasizing about him stepping in for months, before moderates had coalesced around Biden. He and the people around him heard complaints every day. He knows that many think he was too cautious, and overcorrecting for the appearance of nudging primary voters toward Hillary Clinton in the run-up to the 2016 election. Sometimes his friends and aides told him a more gentle version of what was often being said behind his back: that there’s too much at stake for him to be worrying about respecting the process and protecting his own legacy. His answer was still no—precisely, he argues, because there is so much at stake, and he can see what a mess the party is, and that it could very well get worse.“It’s not a matter of caution. It takes a lot more strength to resist the temptation to get involved early than to just leap because others say you should,” Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s closest adviser, told me Monday afternoon. “Because of the nature of the campaign, it’ll be important for him as the senior statesman to be able to unify the party against the real challenge, which is beating Trump.”Pretty much every Democrat who’s not supporting Sanders harbored some kind of a save us, Barack fantasy over the past few months. I heard versions that range from the former president issuing a surprise endorsement to doing an interview warning specifically against Sanders to convening a meeting after the Nevada caucuses with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and representatives of each of the campaigns to figure out who should quit in order to consolidate the opposition to Sanders.“So many people I know feel like this process has been distilled to bumbling around in the dark, and it feels as if the only person who knows where the light switch is is Barack Obama,” Marc Adelman, a media consultant who has worked for John Edwards, Sherrod Brown, and Harry Reid, told me in the days before the South Carolina primary, when the field was much larger and the worries were much greater.[Read: Barack Obama and the end of Pete Buttigieg’s campaign]But this is Obama, who is always more comfortable not doing something than he is doing something. He and his team were convinced that there was never much he could have done, and that the chances of an endorsement backfiring were too great, despite his issues with Sanders.If the Democratic primary race pushes on for months, Obama will not be the one to end it. If a contested convention looms, he will not be the one to stop it. Call him when the nomination is settled—whether that’s in the next few weeks, or at the end of the primaries, or even if it’s in the middle of the night in July, after a second ballot during the convention in Milwaukee. Not before.If Biden pulls off this comeback, Obama and his advisers believe, he will be the one who vouches for Biden’s progressive credentials to the left—despite how much core Sanders supporters have criticized his presidency. If Sanders is the nominee, they think, Obama will be the one who can attempt to legitimize him for the center and other suspicious Democrats.A pitch for Sanders would not, however, include embracing democratic socialism or pretending that they’re close friends. Obama and his advisers envision a pitch along the lines of “You might not agree with all his positions, but he respects the rule of law,” according to a person who’s spoken with him. He’d contrast Sanders’s values with Trump’s and talk about how, as president, Sanders would run “a government that people can believe in and be proud of.”Stumping for Joe Biden wouldn’t take as much finesse. The person who’s spoken with Obama envisioned a similar argument about the existential need to get rid of Trump and reinstate norms, but centered on character. Obama would “elaborate on why [he] chose [Biden] to be his VP in the first place, and how over their eight years in office, he became even more confident that he’d make an outstanding president.”[Read: Waiting for Obama]“He will make it fit whoever it is,” Jarrett said. She added that it’s been gratifying to see nearly every candidate invoke him over the past few months. “It would be political malpractice not to do so,” she said, noting that this speaks to how much potential he has to bring the factions of the party together. (Even Sanders put out an ad on Wednesday morning trying to wrap himself in Obama.)Obama’s reticence has frustrated many Biden supporters. Some have told me that while they can understand his decision not to fully endorse their candidate, he should have at least done a little buffering about Ukraine: He should have explained that his former vice president was carrying out administration policy, not helping his son Hunter, when he tried to get a government prosecutor there fired.So Biden supporters were excited that Obama called Biden on Saturday night to congratulate him on his South Carolina win. (Sanders did not get a similar call after he won New Hampshire or Nevada.) This was the second time Obama and Biden spoke last week—Biden had called Obama last Tuesday to talk through ideas ahead of the Charleston debate. But Biden’s campaign is not going to get the endorsement that it’s hoping for. His aides will have to hope that recent endorsements from Obama’s former national security adviser Susan Rice and chief of staff Denis McDonough will be taken as indications of the ex-president’s thinking.Meanwhile, Obama is still trying to finish his book, which is already about a year behind schedule. He’s digging in on projects such as Higher Ground Productions, the company he and his wife, Michelle, started with Netflix, whose first film won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature last month. And he put out lists of his favorite books and TV shows of 2019, frustrating those who were hoping he would speak up instead about abuses of power in the Oval Office or migrant children locked in cages.Obama keeps talking about how Democrats need to move past him, and how voters should pick their leaders instead of the other way around. He muses about his own anti-establishment win in 2008, and how he’d never be where he is now if someone had tried to stop him back then.“If you’re the product of a process like that, your instinct is not to be the voice from on high,” David Axelrod, Obama’s former strategist, told me. To those who gripe that Obama is underestimating how much influence he could still have, Axelrod said that although he agrees his old boss could make a splash, he questions whether an endorsement would be decisive. “There’s a fair amount of hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing and fear, which to some degree is endemic to the Democratic Party—and some of it is about the various downsides of all of the options—but I’m not sure that someone sweeping in from on high at this point provides that much clarity. It could just as easily divide the party as unify it.”“There’s a difference between [being] cautious and being respectful of the process,” Axelrod said. “My read is that he’s respectful of the process and doesn’t think it’s his role to try to upend the process.”Obama thinks Sanders could lose. But he’s thought all the Democrats could lose.“His view is this is going to be a tough election no matter who the Democrat is, and that any of our candidates can and should beat Trump,” the person who’s spoken with him about his plans told me. “But given the booming economy which President Obama built, the power of incumbency, and the $1 billion head start the Trump campaign has, this will not be easy.”Before Democrats can beat Trump, though, they have to choose between Biden and Sanders—and figure out how to unite behind who comes out ahead. And some party strategists now accept that Obama can help with one of those tasks, but not both.“His speech at the convention is going to be one of the most important moments in the history of the Democratic Party,” says Addisu Demissie, a Democratic strategist who worked for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and was Cory Booker’s campaign manager for this race. “If he does anything before that to show his hand, it makes it harder to bring us together.”
2020-03-05 12:00:00
2021-05-08T09:46:03.000000
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theatlantic.com
The Atlantic Politics Daily: Elizabeth Warren Was Punished for Her Competence
It’s Thursday, March 5. In today’s newsletter: Some theories from strategists and analysts about what went wrong in Elizabeth Warren’s presidential run. Plus: Barack Obama hasn’t endorsed, and probably won’t anytime soon.*« TODAY IN POLITICS »(DREW ANGERER / GETTY IMAGES)What Went Wrong for WarrenOne of the biggest mysteries of 2020 is now what in the world happened to Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign. For a chunk of 2019, the Massachusetts senator was steadily surging in the polls. She was briefly treated as a front-runner by other candidates.And then, suddenly, she started falling. Today, Warren’s dropped out of the race. Once voting started, she never finished better than third place in any single state—including Massachusetts, where she won her Senate seat handily just two years ago.Unlike past presidential front-runners who have imploded, Warren never made a true cringe-worthy gaffe, never really switched up her tactic (plans, plans, plans), or got complacent with campaigning from the comfortable, if temporary, perch of front-runner.My colleague Elaine Godfrey sought out some theories from strategists and analysts about what went wrong.Was Warren’s support for Medicare for All her undoing? It sure seems to me like her troubles started with Medicare for All. She was very clear: I’m a capitalist, not a socialist, but then she did Medicare for All and got lumped in with Bernie. That seemed to be, as Churchill would say, the beginning of the end. When she [announced her support for it], I just flinched, like, Oh, come on! ’Cause you’re never gonna get out of it! —James Carvile, Democratic strategist Did electability concerns scare voters off? For voters who were looking for a liberal, Bernie Sanders–like candidate but wanted a new model—somebody who was not as old, not as male, not as crotchety—[Warren] looked like this new great option. And for other voters, especially for a lot of women who wouldn’t put themselves in the “very liberal” category, there was an appeal to her because she seemed more unifying than Bernie Sanders. But both of those sides [ultimately] felt very unsatisfied: If you were worried about electability, her decision to say, Well, I’m not totally backing away from Medicare for All made you think she’s still going to be hit for being too liberal in November. —Amy Walter, national editor for The Cook Political Report How much of it was sexism, plain and simple?My colleague Megan Garber writes that Warren’s fall cannot be disentangled from her gender: The paradox is subtle, but punishing all the same: The harder she works to prove to the public that she is worthy of power—the more evidence she offers of her competence—the more “condescending,” allegedly, she becomes. And the more that other anxious quality, likability, will be called into question. Contrary to popular tropes of “hot mess” women—successful in their work, a disaster in their personal lives—Warren telegraphed having-it-together-ness on both fronts, Megan argues. And that competence ultimately wasn’t well-received.—Saahil Desai*« IDEAS AND ARGUMENTS »(Getty / The Atlantic)1. “Obama is still not going to speak out…He hasn’t ruled out that he might end up campaigning for Sanders instead, and has thought of the case he’d make.”What’s former President Barack Obama thinking now that his partner for eight years appears to be the Democratic front-runner? You probably won’t hear from him until the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee (and, no, he hasn’t endorsed anyone yet), Edward-Isaac Dovere reports.2. “We have now before us three candidates divided by ideology, but united in dotage. All three white men were born in the 1940s...”So the last three major candidates for the presidency were all born before the invention of Velcro. How did America get here? It could be that Americans are just getting older or that younger voters are traditionally less engaged, staff writer Derek Thompson says, but it could be something else.3. “The failure to plan for health-system scarcity places us all at risk. But even now, urgent action and funding could enable us to play catch-up. ”It’s still likely that many Americans will become sick from COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean the public and the federal government can’t mitigate the harm caused by a potential outbreak, writes Lawrence Gostin, a global health professor at Georgetown. Public-health budgets need to be funded, the White House needs to communicate more clearly (not downplay COVID-19), and the government may need to eliminate the costs of treatment for coronavirus.*« EVENING READ »(ARINZE STANLEY)A College President Who Simply Won’t Raise TuitionMitch Daniels, the president of Purdue University, has frozen the Indiana college’s tuition for seven straight years. The price tag for Indiana residents is $9,992 for tuition and fees, and the university has also worked to keep the cost of food services and textbooks low.How is Daniels doing it? Our staff writer Andrew Ferguson asks in this remarkable piece from the forthcoming April issue of our magazine.* Today’s newsletter was written by Saahil Desai, an editor on the Politics desk, and Christian Paz, a Politics fellow. It was edited by Shan Wang, who oversees newsletters. You can reply directly to this newsletter with questions or comments, or send a note to politicsdaily@theatlantic.com. Your support makes our journalism possible. Subscribe here.
2020-03-05 07:00:00
2021-05-08T09:46:03.000000
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theatlantic.com
Why Michael Bloomberg Spent Half a Billion Dollars to Be Humiliated
When Joe Biden walked into the Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Alabama, on Sunday, the crowd welcomed him to a seat behind the pulpit like he was Norm walking into Cheers.Michael Bloomberg had been sitting in the front pew for two hours already, the only candidate there from the start of the service. The pastor had introduced him from the altar by telling a story about how Bloomberg initially didn’t want to come. About 10 people had waited until Bloomberg started speaking to stand up and turn their back to him in silent protest. He’d passed around a tin of Altoids (original flavor) to the people sitting next to him. He’d stood for the hymns, just listening.When Bloomberg got up to speak, he laid the narrow notecards he uses atop an open Bible. He talked about his record as mayor of New York City, and about working with the Reverend Al Sharpton, the New York–based civil-rights leader who preaches at the church every year on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday. But Sharpton wasn’t there to hear it, because he’d taken Biden for a private tour of a memorial nearby. The only time Sharpton spoke publicly about Bloomberg that day was to rib him to put some money for church renovations into the collection basket.The billionaire chuckled; he’d already pulled two bills from his wallet. He put them in the basket—another few bucks toward what must be a record for the largest amount of money spent in the shortest amount of time with the least to show for it. Bloomberg spent $500 million in 16 weeks, and dropped out less than 12 hours after polls closed on Super Tuesday, the first time he was on the ballot.Why, when you’ve got $60 billion and you’re a 78-year-old Jew, would you spend so much of your Sunday sitting in church in Alabama? Because reaching out to voters, especially in a historically and emotionally important place like Selma, is what running for president demands. So Bloomberg did it, even though that meant sitting silently while the hometown congresswoman, Terri Sewell, looked out at the congregation and said that Biden isn’t rich, but he’d “earned” his spot in the church.Remember one month ago, after the Iowa caucus collapsed, and Biden’s campaign was trying to explain how coming in a distant fourth there wasn’t a problem, and neither was coming in fifth in New Hampshire? The Bloomberg campaign was putting together the kind of on-the-ground operations pitched to potential hires as “Think about getting to do everything you’ve ever wanted to in a campaign.” Then Biden won South Carolina, a single state that he was always expected to win (though he won by a margin larger than he had dared hope), and the chin-strokers and anti–Bernie Sanders panickers instantly transformed Biden into a juggernaut.It was enough. By the time Bloomberg took his seat in the pew, his top aides and most prominent supporters had started to realize that the implosion of his campaign couldn’t be stopped. It’s like Bloomberg was playing blackjack with a 16—maybe good enough to win, but he was still nervously waiting to see what the dealer flipped over. That was the optimistic take. Most of Bloomberg’s campaign was a tight operation, complete with the former police detail he hired as private security (they wore earpieces and green lapel pins with eagle heads on them to help look the part of the Secret Service, which isn’t protecting any of the Democratic candidates yet). A veteran of both Clintons’ campaigns, whose company has mastered everything, down to the lighting that makes even iPhone pictures look good, ran logistics. But the Selma visit was a mess. Instead of anyone organizing the four presidential candidates and thousands of people in attendance ready to re-create the 1965 walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, there was just a man shouting half-directions into a megaphone and another standing in front of those waiting to march doing an uncanny impersonation of Martin Luther King Jr. delivering his “I Have a Dream” speech. Bloomberg’s staff walked him to a spot at the front of the crowd that they thought had been set aside for him. But it hadn’t been. Biden had left, Sanders was never scheduled to come, and Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar were jammed together halfway down the block where they were supposed to be. A woman trying to take control chased after Bloomberg and his team: “This is not the line!” she said. “This is not the front of the line!”So Bloomberg’s team walked him back to where the other candidates were, and shoved him in with everyone else. But Warren and Klobuchar held on to each other, pulling through the crowd at one point. Buttigieg attached himself to Sharpton. The billionaire in the suit with the thread count so high you could see it was left without his fellow presidential contenders once again, accompanied by people who had joined him in church, including Columbia, South Carolina, Mayor Steve Benjamin. “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around,” the crowd started to sing, and Bloomberg began to move, sort of, shuffling along in his black tasseled loafers. A woman called out to ask him to fund a museum for one of the women who’d led the Bloody Sunday march. He didn’t seem to hear her.A top aide assessed the chaos, the way Bloomberg was getting bumped around, and offered to pull him out and take him to his waiting plane.“We don’t have to do it,” he told Bloomberg. The candidate dismissed that immediately. “We have to go over the bridge,” he said. His staff pulled him forward. Tom Steyer’s wife, Kat Taylor, had just finished singing an Aretha Franklin song, and Steyer, who’d driven six hours overnight from South Carolina after dropping out the day before the gathering, was on the mic talking about how he wanted everyone to know that he supports reparations.Bloomberg pushed ahead. He went over the bridge.The first time I wrote a story taking Bloomberg’s presidential plans seriously was in October 2007. He was gearing up to run as an independent. I talked with then-outgoing Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska about him possibly being Bloomberg’s running mate, and didn’t get a no. Moderates and independents were having visions of a candidate who could appeal across the usual political divisions, and of an unlimited spending bonanza. Some were speculating about what Kevin Sheekey and Patti Harris, then Bloomberg’s top advisers (and still riding on the plane with him yesterday), would be able to pull off at the national level. Bloomberg’s team talked about laying low until late in the race, then having him come in as a potential savior. “The country’s in big trouble and someone’s got to pull it out,” I quoted Bloomberg saying at the time.[Read: The Bloomberg whisperer]In 2016, Bloomberg again worked up a whole plan to run as an independent, and to try to force a split Electoral College so that the House of Representatives would get to pick the president instead. But four years ago, almost to the day, he pulled the plug at the last minute, deciding that it wouldn’t work. “It weighed on him,” one person who was involved told me at the time, “but at the end of the day, the fact that this was probably the last shot wasn’t enough to make him want to do it.”He then decided he actually had one last last shot. Somehow, everything about politics has changed, and he showed up this time as a Democrat, telling Democrats what he thought Democrats should do, but not knowing quite what to do when they fired back.On Sunday night, he was in San Antonio, Texas, in an old airplane hangar that had been turned into an event space. There was a six-piece mariachi band onstage. There were three food trucks (barbecue, tacos, and hamburgers) that had been paid well enough to hand everything out for free. Sitting on the open bar, there was a bowl of Texas-specific Bloomberg campaign buttons. And there was Bloomberg, giving the kind of no-frills speech he’s best at. (No one has ever voted for him for the razzmatazz.) “He has fight in him,” Connie Reyna, a 56-year-old medical transcriptionist in a Make Mother Earth Great Again cap, told me, and then added, not even realizing how much his slogan (“Mike can get it done”) had been drilled into her by all the advertising, “I think he can get it done.”“Mike! Mike! Mike!” the crowd chanted. At one point, when he mentioned Donald Trump’s impeachment, a few yelled “Lock him up!” and Bloomberg laughed, almost giggling. He said he’d flip the state. “Blue! Blue! Blue!” they shouted. He was having a good time. Never much of a handshaker, he did one round of working the crowd, then turned before going out the door and did another. The next morning, having flown to Washington, D.C., he was even more in his element, in front of 18,000 at the national conference for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobby, people who probably didn’t catch the error when he said that Jews “can’t even agree who’s the funniest New Yorker: Jerry Steinfeld, Larry David, or me.”By the time Bloomberg arrived at George Mason University for a Fox News town hall on Monday evening, though, everything seemed cooked. Sheekey and Harris, the latter in an embroidered Get It Done shirt, watched from a balcony, a few feet away from the reporters they’d let in to watch the event live. Bloomberg is more at ease in a town-hall format, and he seemed to be winning over the audience by talking about management expertise and the vagaries of interest rates. At the first commercial break, he sat silently on his high-top chair until people started calling out to him for photos. Then he eagerly worked the crowd.Later, a question about guns came up, and a man in an orange Guns Save Lives hat stood up and started yelling at Bloomberg. Everything broke down. Four protesters stood up, waving homemade LGBTQ-rights flags and yelling at him to release former employees from nondisclosure agreements that they’d signed with his company (and that Warren had hammered him for on the debate stage in Las Vegas). The man who’d been shouting about gun rights was angry.“We don’t do that; we don’t protest!” he yelled at the gay-rights protesters as Fox News security took them out but left him in his seat. Bloomberg promised to talk with him after, and the hosts quickly went to break. In the room, the chaos continued.“Thank you for saving our children’s lives!” a woman called out.“What are you talking about? He’s for infanticide! He’s for full-term abortion!” another woman yelled back.The viewers at home didn’t see the couple hundred people who cheered and applauded him. That was the core of Bloomberg’s problem. People showed up at his events and shouted “We like Mike!” Elected officials endorsed him. But to many of the people who care the most, the most active and noisy, Bloomberg is just wrong—about guns, about abortion, about soda sizes, about whatever. “He’s a moderate, protested by the left and the right—you can use that,” a campaign aide told reporters as we headed out of the town hall, trying a cheery spin.Bloomberg started yesterday morning in Little Havana, Miami, annoyed. He knew all the questions would be about whether he’d drop out, and he’s never been a man who takes criticism well. Biden hadn’t changed, nor had Bloomberg’s assessment of Biden as weak and unelectable. But Biden didn’t look weak, and hard-core Democrats really wanted to believe that he wasn’t. So Bloomberg was supposed to drop out—and unify a party that doesn’t seem to care how much it owes its current power to his money. He wasn’t helping Sanders by staying in, he insisted: “I’m trying to help myself.” Asked if he’d come in third on Super Tuesday, he said, “There’s only three candidates. You can’t do worse than that.” And when someone pointed out that he’d forgotten about Warren, he said, “I didn’t realize she’s still in. Is she?” Asked if he should drop out, he said, “Joe’s taking votes away from me. It goes in both directions. Have you asked Joe if he’s going to drop out?”[Read: The real power of Bloomberg’s money]Then he got on a charter plane to Orlando, to visit a field office and to lay a wreath at the Pulse nightclub with the moderate-Republican parents of a victim of the June 2016 shooting there, the kind of folks his campaign was supposed to (and did, for a time) attract. A few hours later, he arrived at what was meant to be a victory party in West Palm Beach, down the road from Mar-a-Lago—the latest troll of Trump in a campaign that intentionally, and repeatedly, mocked the president. Instead, Sheekey, the former mayor’s campaign manager, was making an aggressively ambiguous prediction to reporters as polls closed: “Mike Bloomberg is either the candidate for the party or the single most important person helping that candidate defeat Donald Trump.” When Bloomberg showed up at the victory-party-that-wasn’t, the crowd was ecstatic. There were 2,200 people, including Judge Judy, waving American flags and cheering his name, all of them captured by a crane camera. He gave a speech as if he were the one who’d just done the trouncing, even though the crux of that speech was insisting that it didn’t matter how many delegates he won.Bloomberg finished the night with what seemed to be a genuine smile on his face. Many of the people working for him finished the night trying to figure out if they were rooting for some way for him to continue, or for being able to start planning the vacations they could afford with the money he was paying them. “You can’t be a fucking savior,” a very involved Democratic donor who’d been heavily skeptical of Biden and curious about Bloomberg told me over the phone on Tuesday morning, “and then be a dud.”So: Why did he do it? He really wants to be president. He has for years. The reason he never ran before is that he didn’t want to lose. He didn’t want to be embarrassed. And in the end, he finished last night winning American Samoa. He probably could have bought American Samoa for all he spent.This morning, after Bloomberg decided to quit the Democratic race, I remembered a moment in Little Havana yesterday. Bloomberg had agreed to hold a constituent’s young daughter for a photo. He tried to smile and make it work. But she wouldn’t stop squirming.“All right,” Bloomberg said to her father as soon as the photos were done. “All yours again.”
2020-03-04 21:54:00
2021-05-08T09:46:03.000000
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theatlantic.com
What Sanders Supporters Are Telling Themselves Now
“Not me, us.”The message that Bernie Sanders has campaigned on throughout the 2020 primary became a self-soothing mantra for his supporters last night.At a bar in Washington, D.C.’s Penn Quarter neighborhood—just blocks from the theater where Abraham Lincoln was shot—a group of more than 100 Sanders followers stood, shoulder to shoulder, facing two massive projector screens, as results from Super Tuesday states trickled in. The event, hosted by a local Democratic Socialists of America group, had all the hallmarks of a gathering of Bernie fans: a patchwork of flannel shirts, scattered baskets of red-rose buttons, and very few people over the age of 35. Yet the mood was uncharacteristically somber. After enjoying two weeks as the clear Democratic front-runner, Sanders was now being demolished by Joe Biden.Although every one of the supporters I spoke with was disappointed—and decidedly less confident than before—they offered the same promise: The revolution would continue, with or without Bernie Sanders. It’s a pledge that the senator’s devotees often make as a way to show commitment to his agenda. Last night it sounded more like an implicit acknowledgment of the candidate’s limitations.[Read: Joe Biden just killed the momentum theory of politics]“I look around here and I see a movement of people who are going to be engaged no matter what,” said Ian Tennison, an Arab American activist who lives in the city. Even if Biden wins the nomination, or Donald Trump wins another term, “you bet a lot of these people, including myself, are still going to be out there fighting, lobbying, doing what they can to make sure justice is served.”As recently as four days ago, last night’s results didn’t seem possible; the moderate lane was a crowded place, and it seemed likely that the senator from Vermont would manage to come away from Super Tuesday with a crush of delegates. By late last night—after a decisive weekend victory in South Carolina and the coalescing of party leaders around his candidacy—Biden had won nine states to Sanders’s four and taken the delegate lead. It was a hell of a comeback.Sipping Blue Moon, attendees watched dejectedly as the MSNBC polling wiz Steve Kornacki called state after state for Biden—first Virginia, then North Carolina, and on it went. Sanders’s first victory, in Vermont, hardly helped their spirits—it was expected. “Obviously, it makes your heart flutter a little bit,” said Carl Roberts, a 26-year-old who works in communications at a nonprofit. Another young man waiting in line for a beer sighed when I asked him for an interview. “It’s all kind of depressing,” he said. “I don’t really want to talk about it.” For the first two hours, the only bright point came when anchors announced that Michael Bloomberg had won American Samoa, his only victory of the night. The crowd howled.As we watched, the Sanders fans kept reminding me that they are working for more than just this nomination fight and this presidential election. “I’m not super invested in voting just by itself,” said Charles Christiansen, a writer from Alexandria, Virginia. Instead, he’s invested in progressive organizing. “This movement is not just Senator Sanders,” echoed Nat Steele, a local union organizer. “It’s the organizations that have endorsed him, all the people that voted for him. This has been a long struggle for justice and this is just one part of that.”[Read: The question dividing democratic socialists]It’s perhaps comforting, when your candidate suffers, to shift the focus off him toward broader goals on the horizon. But many Sanders fans I’ve spoken with in recent months—and DSA members especially—really do believe that their work does not require him. Despite the upcoming election, DSA chapters in Iowa, for example, have chosen to largely forgo electoral work and direct their limited resources toward local projects instead. And a new generation of young leftists are in office now, championing policies that Sanders has long fought for. That includes multiple state and federal candidates and officeholders who are members of DSA, an organization that has itself grown dramatically in the past five years.As if to underscore the point that the movement’s goals extend beyond electoral politics, around 9 p.m. eastern time, a member visiting from the Las Vegas DSA chapter climbed up on a sticky wooden chair to advertise a benefit concert for migrants in a detention center in Tijuana. “No matter what happens,” he reminded the crowd, “we are a movement of righteous anger and love!”Still, it’s not clear how sturdy that movement is. Sanders’s campaign so far hasn’t driven the turnout he’s promised, among working-class and young voters especially. In at least one state where turnout increased dramatically last night, Sanders did not actually win. Although many progressive ideas have significant support in the United States—in no small part because of Sanders’s own advocacy since the 2016 election—down-ballot candidates in the mold of the democratic socialist did not sweep their elections in the 2018 midterms. And Biden’s staggering victories last night suggests that a great many Americans think a more moderate nominee is the way to go.[Read: The Democratic Party wasn’t ripe for a takeover]Late in the evening, just after Sanders took the stage in Essex Junction, Vermont, to announce his “absolute confidence” that he will win the nomination, a DSA member began leading the group in an enthusiastic round of “Solidarity Forever,” a trade-union song to the tune of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”“The campaign doesn’t end in November!” he shouted, waving his arms. “This is pregames, man! This is August NFL!”
2020-03-04 17:57:50
2021-05-08T09:46:03.000000
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theatlantic.com
Bernie Sanders Gets a Rude Awakening
Bernie Sanders’s self-proclaimed “political revolution” crashed into a wall of resistance inside the Democratic Party last night.After a remarkable 72 hours that saw top party leaders consolidate behind Joe Biden, a panoramic array of key party voting groups coalesced around the former vice president—and against Sanders—in the coast-to-coast competition, according to exit polls conducted in almost all the states that voted. Biden captured at least nine of the 14 states voting, including some—such as Minnesota and Oklahoma—where Sanders won big in 2016.The surprisingly decisive result left Sanders, a candidate who prides himself on his pile-driver-like consistency, facing a new challenge: finding a second act that can appeal to voters beyond the fervid base he has established. The evening’s clearest message was that while the senator from Vermont has inspired a passionate depth of support, the breadth of his coalition remains too limited to win the nomination.[Read: The establishment strikes back]Sanders reached 33 percent or more of the vote in just five of the 14 states that voted, including his home state; beyond Vermont, he did not exceed 36 percent, his share in Colorado. Biden had a higher ceiling: He won at least 39 percent in seven states and roughly a third of the vote in three others. Stanley B. Greenberg, a veteran Democratic pollster, argued that Super Tuesday’s results establish Biden as the clear front-runner for the nomination at the convention in July.“Sanders has made no effort to reach out beyond his voters, his movement, his revolution,” Greenberg said. “It just has not grown. It is an utterly stable vote that is grounded in the very liberal portion of the Democratic Party, but he’s so disdainful of any outreach beyond that base. He seems content to just keep hitting that drum.”Last night’s results could cull other candidates in the race sooner than later. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, despite spending a breathtaking $234 million on advertising, did not win a single state; he’d poured $77 million into California and $57 million into Texas, and finished behind Sanders and Biden in both of them. Aides said he was reassessing his candidacy after those disappointing results. Elizabeth Warren, who has pledged to fight on until the convention, lost her home state of Massachusetts and in the exit polls showed only trace levels of support among any group other than her core constituency of college-educated whites.The results did not ensure a Biden nomination or a Sanders defeat. Sanders still won four states, including a solid-if-not-crushing victory in California, the largest prize on the board. He retained enthusiastic backing from his base: young voters, the most liberal voters, and Latinos, the key group that he has moved in his direction since his first bid in 2016. Sanders’s small-donor fundraising remains unparalleled. And big showdowns are looming over the next two Tuesdays in Florida, Arizona, and a quartet of Rust Belt battlegrounds: Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, and Michigan.But if Biden wins next week in Michigan, one of Sanders’s most significant victories four years ago, the rationale for the senator’s candidacy could quickly become murky.Last night, Sanders failed on almost every front to enlarge his coalition. He faced a sharp recoil from groups that have long been the most skeptical of him, including African Americans and older voters. Biden, conversely, received exactly the kind of consolidation among black voters that his campaign had hoped for after his strong performance in South Carolina: He carried about three-fifths or more of African American voters in Virginia, North Carolina, Texas, and Alabama and a majority in Tennessee, according to the exit polls. Outside of Vermont, Sanders faced cavernous deficits among voters 45 and older, who composed a clear majority of the electorate in most states.Across the country, Sanders also lost ground among white voters up and down the socioeconomic ladder. College-educated white voters, who on the whole had been skeptical of both men until Biden won them in South Carolina, broke decisively for the former vice president in most states. Simultaneously, in most states, Biden reversed Sanders’s previously consistent advantage among white voters without a college degree.That latter breakthrough could be especially important for Biden in the upcoming midwestern states, where blue-collar white voters constitute a larger share of the Democratic primary electorate than in most places. A poll from Michigan released last night showed Biden pulling past Sanders there, even before the Super Tuesday results.In 2016, Sanders won Michigan on the strength of a solid 15-point advantage among those working-class white voters. To keep them in his corner, he’s likely over the next week to stress his opposition to free-trade agreements that his rival supported, such as the now defunct North American Free Trade Agreement.[Read: Bernie Sanders meets his biggest threat]“Look at the states on March 10 and March 17,” said one senior Sanders adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal campaign planning. “We won Michigan because we hammered Clinton on trade. We are going to bring that back.”But this time, Sanders could face pointed questions there, and in other states across the Rust Belt, about how his Green New Deal agenda could affect auto manufacturing, an issue that has received almost no attention in the race so far.Perhaps the starkest symbol of Sanders’s limitations last night was the resurgence of a problem that severely damaged him in 2016: widespread resistance from primary voters who self-identify as Democrats (as opposed to independents).In his 2016 race, exit polls found that Sanders won this bloc of voters only in New Hampshire and his home state of Vermont, and tied with Hillary Clinton among them in Wisconsin. Clinton beat him by about two to one among Democratic partisans in a cumulative analysis of all the exit polls conducted that year.In the first stage of the 2020 race, Sanders seemed to have surmounted that problem: Among self-identified Democrats in Iowa, he finished just behind former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and about even with Biden and Warren. He also won a plurality of them in both New Hampshire and Nevada. But the issue resurfaced in South Carolina on Saturday, when Biden carried 54 percent of those voters, three times Sanders’s share.The Super Tuesday exit polls showed Biden beating Sanders among self-identified Democrats by about 30 percentage points in both Virginia and North Carolina, about 25 points in Oklahoma, 20 points in Tennessee, and nearly 50 in Alabama. Sanders was more competitive among Democratic partisans in the New England states of Massachusetts and Maine. But the overall pattern was unmistakable.His collapse among Democratic partisans came after recent full-throated attacks on “the Democratic establishment” in his rallies and media appearances. Sanders has often sounded more as if he believes he’s leading his movement in a hostile takeover of the party than a merger with it. (In his speech last night, he backed off only a half step, targeting his criticism at “the political establishment” rather than Democrats by name.) “It turns out that shitting all over the party you want to win the nomination of is a bad strategy,” said one Democratic pollster who is not affiliated with any campaign but requested anonymity to comment candidly on the race.Amanda Renteria, a Democratic strategist and the former national political director for Clinton in 2016, told me that Sanders’s belligerent posture toward the party especially stood out when compared to Biden’s recent moves—namely building a cross-racial coalition in South Carolina and then winning the endorsements of three of his former rivals: Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, and Buttigieg.“The fact that Sanders went a little hard [against the party] in these last couple of days after he had a couple of wins made everybody a little bit nervous,” she said. By contrast, Biden and his former opponents had offered a “model of coming together and unifying” the party to take on Donald Trump.“Bernie took the opposite approach: ‘I’m going to tell both the Democratic and Republican establishment what’s happening here,’” she added. “I think it scared people—how are we ever going to beat Trump if we are that divided?”[Read: Joe Biden just killed the momentum theory of politics]The senior Sanders adviser said the senator in the coming days will try to close that deficit by stressing differences with Biden that are important to rank-and-file Democrats. Sanders previewed them in his speech last night, contrasting himself with Biden over support for the Iraq War, potential cuts in entitlement programs, and a bill making it more difficult for consumers to declare bankruptcy.Yet Sanders is now facing a current that has turned against him with remarkable rapidity and force. Greenberg said the number of voters who reached their decisions in the final days before Super Tuesday—and seemed to pivot largely based on their assessment of who was best positioned to beat Trump—represented “a once-in-a-century kind of primary.”“Voters are making tactical decisions about defeating Trump,” Greenberg continued. “And that’s a consuming preoccupation. Biden has an extraordinary set of things that came together.”The magnitude of that shift was best represented by Biden’s performance among both college- and non-college-educated white voters last night.As I wrote earlier this week, until South Carolina, a substantial share of college-educated white voters had parked with Buttigieg, Klobuchar, or Warren. One of the key questions for Super Tuesday was how those voters would realign in a race that largely reduced to Biden and Sanders. The answer, according to the exit polls, is that Biden outpolled Sanders among those college-educated white voters everywhere except California, Colorado, and Vermont (though the margin was also very narrow in Texas).Biden, for instance, crushed Sanders in the white-collar suburbs of Northern Virginia. That suggests Sanders’s call for political revolution is ringing hollow in the largely prosperous communities outside major cities that helped deliver the House majority to Democrats in 2018, largely out of antipathy toward Trump.[Read: Joe Biden’s first-ever primary win is a big one]The reversal among white voters without a college degree was equally striking. During his 2016 race, Sanders carried most of them, according to the cumulative exit-poll analysis, and he won most of them in each of the first four states this year too. But last night showed that Sanders now has genuine competition: The exit polls found that Biden carried most of them in Virginia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Alabama, Massachusetts, and Minnesota, while Sanders won them in Texas, Vermont, Colorado, and California. (The two split them closely in North Carolina.)Biden hardly solved all his political problems last night. His performance remained weak among young voters (if slightly improved in some places compared with the first states). Latinos still broke decisively away from the former vice president in Texas and California. And his victory speech was scattered and disjointed; Biden could soon face a one-on-one debate with Sanders, who has proved much more nimble in those confrontations.But as the race reduces to a binary choice between Biden and Sanders, it’s the Vermont senator who emerged from the biggest night on the primary calendar with the greatest need to change the dynamic in the race.
2020-03-04 15:06:25
2021-05-08T09:46:03.000000
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theatlantic.com
The Establishment Strikes Back
In the span of 72 hours, a candidate who had never won a single state in three fumbling bids for the presidency has muscled his way to the top of the Democratic field. Former Vice President Joe Biden had the greatest night of his lifelong quest for the White House tonight, winning major Super Tuesday prizes after an improbable late surge in the polls.On Saturday, Biden trounced Senator Bernie Sanders in South Carolina, slowing the front-runner’s momentum in the last primary before Super Tuesday. Moderate Democrats, including Biden’s former opponents Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Beto O’Rourke, rushed to endorse him. It was the sort of coalescing Biden was hoping for, one that brought out the fired-up Biden some voters believed had gone missing before his South Carolina rout.“It feels good,” Biden told a reporter who’d informed him that he was projected to win Virginia early Tuesday evening. He had stepped into a Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles in Los Angeles, hoping to reach a few more voters before the polls closed in California. “I don’t know what the actual results are, but it feels good.” If anyone understands how tempestuous an early lead can be, it’s Biden. And though he was tepid early tonight, he was ecstatic as he took the stage in Baldwin Hills after results rolled in across the country. “People are talking about revolution,” he said, his voice rising to a shout. “We increased turnout! The turnout turned out for us!“The truth is, Biden had been smiling for days.Across the country, voters responded. If Democrats had tasted the revolution Sanders was offering in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, in states throughout the South they quickly turned away, and back toward the more familiar center-left politics Biden represents. Buoyed by black voters, the former vice president won early and convincing victories in Virginia, North Carolina, and Alabama. He racked up dozens of delegates in beating Sanders so handily. And even in Vermont, Sanders’s home state, Biden appeared likely to cross the 15 percent threshold needed to pick up some delegates. He went on to win Minnesota, likely thanks to Klobuchar’s endorsement, and Massachusetts, where he beat not only Sanders but a favorite daughter, Senator Elizabeth Warren.[Read: Bernie Sanders meets his biggest threat]Beating President Donald Trump is a powerful motivator for Democrats. In fact, 60 percent of Democrats, when asked whether they would prefer a candidate who agrees with them on almost all issues or one who had the best chance of beating the president, said they would prefer the candidate who would defeat Trump, according to a November Gallup poll. “The further we get into primary season, the more seriously everybody is going to take it,” one of these “electability voters,” Lisa Grant-Coffin, a 53-year-old art director, told The Atlantic at Biden’s primary-night rally in South Carolina on Saturday. “Ideology is important, but pragmatism is important. You can’t do anything if you’re just yelling on the corner,” she said. “You have to be in the office."The Democrats’ desperate need to beat Trump is part of why former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was able to quickly rise in the polls. He flooded ad markets with one main message: He was the one who could topple Trump.For the past several months, Bloomberg has been the wild card. He made the risky move of skipping all four early nominating states to bet it all—or at least half a billion dollars of his personal fortune—on Super Tuesday. For a brief moment, the strategy seemed to be working. He rose to the top tier in polling for many of the contests. Then came a miserable Nevada debate and a reconsideration of how he would actually perform against Trump. The electability voters who once believed that Biden might self-destruct flooded back to the vice president. And early tonight, it became clear that Biden’s strongest constituency—black voters—would continue to support him in large numbers. According to Virginia exit polls, Biden won 63 percent of the black vote in that state, compared with 18 percent for Sanders and just 10 percent for Bloomberg.“A lot of black voters, especially southern black voters, aren’t looking for a revolution,” Christina Greer, an associate professor of political science at Fordham University, told The Atlantic in an interview tonight. “The reason why a lot of older black voters are conservative—as in, conservative in picking a candidate—is because they know what this country is capable of … Sure, some people will agree with the need for a revolution,” but many others may be wary.The question of the night was how much the South Carolina victory and the endorsements that followed would matter for Biden. He had spent a fraction of the money his competitors had in Super Tuesday states—roughly $2.2 million against Sanders’s $18 million. In South Carolina, endorsements—and one endorsement in particular, that of Representative Jim Clyburn—had mattered. Clyburn is the power broker in the state; his “world famous” fish fry is a requirement for any candidate who hopes to be competitive there. According to cable-news exit polls, 47 percent of primary voters in the state said Clyburn’s endorsement was an important factor in their decision making.[Read: Joe Biden’s first-ever primary win is a big one]But Clyburn is a singular figure in politics. Few endorsements anywhere carry the weight that the House majority whip’s does in South Carolina. Still, as Greer explained, endorsements like O’Rourke’s might have had some effect. “He still has a lot of goodwill in Texas,” she said. “And that may likely carry over to people supporting Biden.”On Tuesday, Biden picked up support not only from backers of O’Rourke and Buttigieg and Klobuchar but surely also from Democrats who had been considering Bloomberg or Warren. The two candidates battled for third place in many states, and each collected relatively few delegates.But the biggest victim of Biden’s surge was undoubtedly Sanders, who entered the night hoping to capture a clear plurality of delegates that would be difficult for Biden or any other candidate to match in the coming weeks. Instead, it was Biden who topped Sanders in state after state. Sanders was left looking to California, where he had held a big lead in the polls and where many Democrats had already cast early votes.For Sanders and his supporters, the only sure thing about his march toward the nomination was that at some point, the people who make up what’s left of the Democratic establishment would try to stop him. And his landslide victory in Nevada jolted the party awake.Rivals who had trained their fire on Bloomberg at the Las Vegas debate attacked Sanders with more ferocity in South Carolina. At that debate and in the days that followed, his critics focused on a single message: The majority of Americans do not want a revolution, and the nomination of a democratic socialist to face Trump is a risk the party shouldn’t take, not only for its chances at the White House but for the hundreds of Democrats whose names will appear on the November ballot underneath the presidential candidate’s. “I like Bernie,” Klobuchar said at the debate in Charleston. “But I do not think that this is the best person to lead the ticket.”There was also a bigger spotlight on Sanders’s most vitriolic supporters, who police political debate online—and through the popular Chapo Trap House podcast—by denouncing anyone who dares to criticize the senator.A narrow polling deficit in South Carolina turned into a primary-day loss, as Sanders finished 30 points behind the surging Biden. “You can’t win ’em all,” he told his supporters that night, seeming to dismiss the result as an outlier. But Democrats were moving, and the speed with which the race shifted in the three days between South Carolina and Super Tuesday took top Sanders backers by surprise: Buttigieg and Klobuchar dropped out (along with the billionaire Tom Steyer) and endorsed Biden.“I wouldn’t have predicted that all three would have dropped out,” Larry Cohen, the president of the Sanders-supporting Our Revolution PAC, told The Atlantic yesterday.Just how well Sanders did—or didn’t do—in California might not be known for weeks, as the popularity of vote-by-mail makes the nation’s largest state notoriously slow at counting ballots. Meanwhile, the big states that vote in the next two weeks will provide opportunities for both him and Biden. With plenty of delegates still up for grabs, Sanders has time to regroup. Biden will be under pressure to raise money and build a bigger organization quickly, and he’ll have to continue navigating the verbal stumbles that first caused Democrats to doubt his viability in the general election.[Read: What Joe Biden can’t bring himself to say]Michigan, which is the biggest prize on March 10, was the site of one of Sanders’s most surprising victories over Hillary Clinton in 2016, when he overcame a polling deficit of more than 20 points. He also fought Clinton nearly to a draw in Missouri, which also votes next week. Biden, for his part, is positioned to do well in Mississippi, where African Americans make up a large portion of the Democratic electorate.An even bigger day on the primary calendar is March 17, when Ohio, Illinois, and Florida all weigh in. Florida is where Sanders is likely to struggle the most: Clinton walloped him there in 2016, and his democratic-socialist agenda is a poor fit for the state’s large population of older people and more conservative Hispanic voters.As the race moves on, Sanders must reckon with a Biden comeback that was far bigger than his campaign anticipated. As late as Monday, Sanders’s supporters were still hoping for, if not expecting, a big night. “I suspect that Bernie Sanders is going to come out of Super Tuesday having the most states, the most delegates, and the most votes across the field,” Charles Chamberlain, the chairman of Democracy for America, a progressive group that endorsed Sanders, told The Atlantic on Monday.Once California’s votes are fully counted, the Super Tuesday winner on all three of those metrics may very well be Joe Biden, not Bernie Sanders.As Bloomberg and Warren fall far behind in the delegate count, a race that began more than a year ago with the most diverse Democratic field in history is down to two white septuagenarian men who have spent the better part of their lives walking the halls of the U.S. Capitol.On Tuesday, it was the 77-year-old Biden—by a single year, the younger of the two—who won the night.
2020-03-04 07:01:10
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theatlantic.com
The Atlantic Politics Daily: Biden’s Super Tuesday
It’s Wednesday, March 4. In today’s newsletter: Biden’s not only back from the wilderness—he’s a Democratic front-runner again. Plus: half a billion spent and zero states won.*« TODAY IN POLITICS »(AP)Call it a comeback.Joe Biden couldn’t have dreamed it up better himself. A week ago, the former vice president seemed on the brink, possibly poised for an ignominious exit from the 2020 race.The past few days—the past year, really, since he announced his candidacy—have been stocked with dizzying ups and downs for him:May 2019: Biden got in a race later than most—and right away, he was crowned the front-runner.June 2019: That little girl was me. At the very first Democratic debate, Senator Kamala Harris pummeled Joe Biden over his past support for busing—an early sign of his campaign’s wobbliness.November 2019: In the fall, for a brief minute, Elizabeth Warren eclipsed Biden in the national polling average—cueing a freakout from moderate Democrats. In the smoke, Michael Bloomberg entered the race, and started shaking things up.February 2020, Iowa Caucus: When Obama aides were dispatched to dissuade Biden from mounting a run in 2016, one told him this: “Do you really want it to end in a hotel room in Des Moines, coming in third to Bernie Sanders?” 2020 caucus night played out even worse for Biden. He came in fourth place, losing the type of working-class voters who were supposedly a big part of his base.Biden was in such a bad position after Iowa that, as my colleague Edward-Isaac Dovere wrote at the time, it seemed like he might run out of money before Super Tuesday.South Carolina: Biden not only beat his opponents in South Carolina, he routed them—a victory that sparked his comeback.March 2020, Super Tuesday: Joe Biden was expected to have a better night—but in state after state, he performed a whole lot better than any polling whiz had anticipated. He even won Massachusetts, Warren’s home state where he barely had a campaign operation.After South Carolina and a slew of Super Tuesday states broke his way, Biden’s not only back from the wilderness—he’s a Democratic front-runner again.—Saahil Desai*« IDEAS AND ARGUMENTS »(The Atlantic)1. “It is hard to imagine a living arrangement more poorly suited to a COVID-19 outbreak than one in which large numbers of older people live in close proximity, eating and socializing in communal spaces.”Seven Americans who’ve died from COVID-19 lived in the same nursing home in the Seattle area, where health officials are monitoring multiple other people. This kind of outbreak is exposing the frail position of long-term-care facilities, which will face an uniquely difficult task ahead, Joe Pinkser reports.2. “The revolution would continue, with or without Bernie Sanders.”That’s what Sanders supporters in Washington, D.C. told politics writer Elaine Godfrey after Sanders’s worse-than-expected performance on Super Tuesday. Here’s what else they’re thinking about going forward.3. “Biden’s agenda is plenty bold.”There is a large constituency for a racially inclusive form of social democracy that is not democratic socialism, Yascha Mounk argues. Though Vice President Joe Biden’s detractors often call him a centrist, his policy program would significantly boost the income of poor Americans and curb abuses by the rich and powerful. Among other things, Biden has pledged a higher minimum wage, a big increase in Social Security benefits for the poorest Americans, more generous health subsidies, and strengthened union rights. Read the rest.*« EVENING READ »(MARCO BELLO / REUTERS)The Final Days of the Bloomberg CampaignMike Bloomberg called it quits today in the aftermath of a devastating finish on Super Tuesday. He won zero states, but picked up a few delegates after bypassing the first four early primary states and spending nearly $500 million on his presidential bid.Our staff writer Edward-Isaac Dovere now asks: Was the final humiliation worth the money? The Bloomberg campaign was putting together the kind of on-the-ground operations pitched to potential hires as “Think about getting to do everything you’ve ever wanted to in a campaign.” Then Biden won South Carolina, a single state that he was always expected to win (though he won by a margin larger than he had dared hope), and the chin-strokers and anti–Bernie Sanders panickers instantly transformed Biden into a juggernaut. It was enough. By the time Bloomberg took his seat in the pew, his top aides and most prominent supporters had started to realize that the implosion of his campaign couldn’t be stopped.” Bloomberg has put his weight behind Biden. What sort of influence do his billions wield now that the field has shifted?* Today’s newsletter was written by Saahil Desai, an editor on the Politics desk, and Christian Paz, a Politics fellow. It was edited by Shan Wang, who oversees newsletters. You can reply directly to this newsletter with questions or comments, or send a note to politicsdaily@theatlantic.com. Your support makes our journalism possible. Subscribe here.
2020-03-04 07:00:00
2021-05-08T09:46:03.000000
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theatlantic.com
The Texas Congressman Who Isn’t Afraid of the AOC Left
LAREDO, Texas—Henry Cuellar is not hip. The representative from Texas is one of the last anti-abortion, pro-gun Democrats left in Congress—and he doesn’t apologize for it. He rails against socialism. He goes to church every Sunday and doesn’t drink or smoke. He votes with President Donald Trump more often than just about any other House Democrat.When I talked with him late last month, he went off on Medicare for All. “Where are we gonna come up with $32 trillion?” he asked me. “What are you going to say to the thousands of people in my district who have insurance? That we’re going to take away their insurance and put them under socialized medicine?”The congressman’s brand of centrism can feel out of whack in a Democratic Party that has swung to the left and could conceivably nominate a democatic socialist to take on Trump in November. Cuellar has been a target of progressive ire for a long time, but he has skated to reelection ever since he first won his seat, in 2004.Not this year. In early 2019, Justice Democrats—a progressive PAC that helped Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and others successfully primary incumbent Democrats in 2018—pinpointed the seven-term congressman as among their biggest targets in 2020. In June, they announced their handpicked challenger: a 26-year-old immigration attorney and Laredo native named Jessica Cisneros, who also happens to be Cuellar’s former intern. To say that there’s a difference between them is an understatement: He has an A rating from the National Rifle Association; she’s pushing for tougher gun laws. He’s been in Texas politics since the 1980s; she graduated from law school less than a year ago.Cisneros has the sexy endorsements—Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont are backing her, as is AOC—and a deluge of national attention. But all of that may still not be enough.Texas’s Twenty-Eighth Congressional District is huge, stretching from the eastern outskirts of San Antonio to the southern border with Mexico. This swath of the state is reliably Democratic, but unlike most blue districts in the country, it’s largely rural and overwhelmingly Latino—a land of ranchers and fracking and hunting. Driving on I-35 between San Antonio and Laredo, I spotted a billboard advertising the world’s largest deer-head museum. Out of it juts what appears to be a large, actual deer head.“It’s easy to mistake partisanship for ideology,” says Matt Angle, a longtime Democratic strategist in Texas. “The Twenty-Eighth District is very Democratic, but it’s not very liberal.”Cuellar is never going to change—and in this district, which heads to the polls today, maybe he doesn’t have to.Basically everyone in Laredo knows the Cuellar family. Cuellar’s brother Martin is the Webb County sheriff. His sister Rosie is the Webb County tax assessor-collector. All three are up for reelection, and heavily trafficked intersections up and down the city’s main drag are drenched in signs imploring you to vote for one, two, or all three of them.Cuellar hasn’t had to run a serious campaign in past elections, but he isn’t taking the challenge from Cisneros lightly. He has branded himself as a known quantity, while labeling Cisneros as a socialist who is out of step with the district. When I was in Laredo, television ads for Cuellar seemingly played on loop. One ad says that Cisneros wants to shut down the oil and gas industry.And although Cuellar may sound and act a whole lot differently from most Democrats today, he still has the backing of the most powerful Democrat in America: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.When Pelosi announced at The Texas Tribune Festival, in Austin, in September that she was endorsing Cuellar, some people in the audience booed. Pelosi and Cuellar have a good working relationship, he has said.[Read: The search for the next AOC]In late February, Pelosi trekked to Laredo for a string of fundraisers for Cuellar. She made a pit stop at Cuellar’s campaign headquarters, where she spoke with a few dozen cheering supporters. I thought the place would have metal detectors and white tablecloths. When I got there, I realized it was in a strip mall next to a barbecue joint, and had a plastic sign. The building looked like it might have previously been a bar. When Pelosi and Cuellar walked in together, 30 minutes after their scheduled arrival, the crowd erupted in cheers. “We assume that Henry will win, but we don’t take anything for granted,” Pelosi said. “The word assume—ass of you and me. Assume nothing.”After Pelosi left and the crowd thinned out, Cuellar and I walked upstairs and sat down at a folding table. Supporters kept interrupting to hug “Papacito” and thank him. One of them even hugged me.I did not expect him to talk much—he hasn’t given many interviews during the campaign. But he was eager to blast Cisneros and Justice Democrats, who have criticized him for his coziness with corporate PACs.“Justice Socialist Democrats are a PAC also, but I guess their PAC is okay,” he said. “They try to say they’re so pure, but when you start looking at it, everything they do, they misinform in so many ways.”He paused, and then went more explicitly after Cisneros. “She graduated; she went to New York, took the state bar in New York … Think about it. If you’re an attorney, you get your license where you want to practice. Her plan was to practice in New York,” he said, emphasizing the last two words in a high-pitched voice. (Taking the bar in New York doesn’t prevent Cisneros from practicing in Texas or most other states.)Cuellar’s moderate views have made him a pariah to lots of Democrats, but he doubled down on them when we spoke. “Democrats in Texas, when I started, it was safe, legal, rare abortion,” he said, pausing between all three points and counting them out on his fingers. “I have an issue with extreme positions, like minors getting abortions without parental consent.”I asked him whether he considers Trump a personal friend. There’s a pause.“No,” he said. Then he had to leave.Matthew Busch / Bloomberg / GettyCuellar’s centrist views on issues like health care and climate change have led Cisneros to believe she has a chance. She’s painted him as a do-nothing congressman who doesn’t really get the district. “He has been leaning into these stereotypes that South Texas is conservative and that we like things the way they are,” she told me when we talked in November. (Cisneros didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment in recent weeks.) “It’s very interesting to see that once he found out he was going to get primaried, all of a sudden he makes time for these people,” she said then. “But the community knows better. They know it’s because now he has to work for his job.”Although her campaign has gotten a wave of national attention, and high-profile endorsements from groups like Emily’s List and the Texas AFL-CIO, it’s a different story in Laredo. Although she outraised him in the first six weeks of 2020, relatively few of her donations have come from within the district.[Read: The millennial left is tired of waiting]Cisneros’s embrace of a full suite of left-wing dreams probably isn’t helping her campaign: Championing a Green New Deal is a tough sell in an area where the oil and gas industry is responsible for many well-paying jobs.“Just because you can critique Cuellar for being more conservative than the average primary voter doesn’t mean they’re going to tilt further to the left and vote for Cisneros,” says Mark P. Jones, a political scientist at Rice University.I heard roughly the same from voters I talked with in Laredo. “There’s this idea of moderation that I feel the left has gone so far away from,” said Ralph Garcia, a 36-year-old photographer. “With Cisneros, we’re only going to get one flavor. If we go with Cuellar, we get a little bit of both.”Adrian Zapata, a 34-year-old insurance broker who lives in Laredo and voted early for Cuellar, told me that he appreciates Cuellar’s opposition to abortion. “It’s against everything we believe in,” he said, referring to the district. Zapata said there are grandmothers in their mid-to-late 30s who would rather take care of more children at home than have their daughter get an abortion. “I think that says something for the deep pro-life stance we’re engrained with,” he told me.Religion is everywhere in Laredo: Rosaries hang from rearview mirrors; bumper stickers tell you to vote with Jesus. “A lot of families have lived here for generations and are resistant to change,” Jones says.When I was there, what felt like the entire city had gathered for a parade to celebrate George Washington’s birthday—a local tradition that’s happened every year since 1898. As the U.S. Customs and Border Protection float rolled by, Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” blared so loudly that the sidewalk vibrated. CBP’s mascot, a roughly eight-foot-tall bald eagle named the Enforcer, flailed its arms in the air, tossing lollipops to the crowd. A few minutes later, Cuellar—accompanied by his wife and two daughters—waved from the back of a black Dodge pickup truck. A float behind it displayed a sign that said vote biblical values!As Cuellar went by, a small pocket in the crowd started shouting, “Jessica! Jessica!” Cisneros walked a few feet into the parade route. “The people of the district deserve a debate,” she shouted at Cuellar. Imelda, the congressman’s wife, tossed Cisneros a beaded necklace. Then the pickup kept going.
2020-03-03 12:00:00
2021-05-08T09:46:03.000000
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theatlantic.com
The Atlantic Politics Daily: The Factors Shaking Up Super Tuesday
It’s (Super) Tuesday, March 3. In today’s newsletter: Who will get the votes? More than 1,300 delegates are up for grabs today, as the first polls start to close. Plus: This Texas representative being primaried by the AOC left seems unfazed.*« TODAY IN POLITICS »(Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)It’s Super Tuesday, you might’ve heard.Today might just be the most important day of the entire Democratic primary. Super Tuesday is when 14 states worth more than 1,300 delegates are up for grabs—a true treasure trove for the candidates, and a campaign boon that will help determine the rest of the race. While technically I’d say the five 2020 Democrats are still standing on top of the Hunger Games-esque ash heap of the first four early-voting states, all eyes focused on two candidates: Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.The contenders are both septuagenarian white guys, but that’s where the similarities end. How will the votes fall after tonight?Bernie SandersDemocrats, like the rest of the country, are split on most every dimension: race, gender, geography, class. But age might just be the biggest schism in the 2020 primary. Young voters are flocking to the oldest candidate and his calls for democratic socialism.While “socialism” might have once viscerally conjured up images of bread lines and gulags for a certain population, younger voters see the term a whole lot differently. As my colleague Annie Lowrey writes, “one in five Millennials thinks the Communist Manifesto better “guarantees freedom and equality” than the Declaration of Independence.” Read her full argument here.Sanders is also especially strong within the Latinx community—they powered him to a landslide victory in Nevada last month and could do so once again tonight in Texas and California. My colleague Christian Paz talked to Latino organizers in January and their outreach to the community, and they repeatedly mentioned Sanders’s campaign as the gold standard in the race.Joe BidenBiden’s campaign: Biden is back, baby! A few weeks ago, after finishing an embarrassing fifth place in New Hampshire, the campaign obituaries started to trickle in for the former vice president. Now his campaign has had a fresh start, as moderate Democrat after moderate Democrat gets behind him.Will the last-minute endorsements from Harry Reid, as well as former rivals Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and even Beto O’Rourke, provide the election-night boost Biden is hoping for? The bloc of disproportionately college-educated white voters who’d lined up behind Buttigieg or Klobuchar could determine who ultimately wins the primary. And right now, Biden seems to have the upper hand.—Saahil Desai*« SNAPSHOT »(Brian Snyder / Reuters)Elizabeth Warren exits a voting booth after filing out her own ballot on Super Tuesday in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her fate will likely rest on how she performs tonight.*« ARGUMENT OF THE DAY »(DAVID BECKER / REUTERS)The “community spread” of COVID-19 cases in Washington and California suggests that the way the CDC was tracking and testing for coronavirus was flawed: while focusing on travelers, the virus may have been spreading in the United States for weeks, meaning the number of cases reported is too low, our science and technology writer Alexis Madrigal reports.*« EVENING READ »(CALLAGHAN O’HARE / THE NEW YORK TIMES / REDUX)The AOC Left vs. Henry CuellarRepresentative Henry Cuellar of Texas has held on to his conservative district in the Southwest since 2004; his pro-gun, pro-life reputation is a large part of his being the last Democrat of his kind in the House.He faces his latest test today, when his primarily Latino constituents choose between him and a progressive challenger, Jessica Cisneros, who wields endorsements from the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren.But Cuellar might not be sweating, Rachel Williams writes: I did not expect him to talk much—he hasn’t given many interviews during the campaign. But he was eager to blast Cisneros and Justice Democrats, who have criticized him for his coziness with corporate PACs. “Justice Socialist Democrats are a PAC also, but I guess their PAC is okay,” he said. “They try to say they’re so pure, but when you start looking at it, everything they do, they misinform in so many ways.” Read the dispatch from Texas’s 28th congressional district here.* Today’s newsletter was written by Saahil Desai, an editor on the Politics desk, and Christian Paz, a Politics fellow. It was edited by Shan Wang, who oversees newsletters. You can reply directly to this newsletter with questions or comments, or send a note to politicsdaily@theatlantic.com. Your support makes our journalism possible. Subscribe here.
2020-03-03 07:00:00
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theatlantic.com
Buttigieg and Klobuchar Are Out. What Now?
Updated at 2:37 p.m. ET on March 2, 2020.The sudden withdrawals of Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar from the Democratic presidential field sharpen one of the race’s most important remaining questions: How will college-educated white voters split if the contest narrows into a binary choice between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden?One of the most surprising trends of the primary’s early stages is that even as the Democratic Party grows more dependent on white-collar suburban white voters, the candidates those voters most favor have failed to gain traction. Buttigieg finished first among college-educated white voters in Iowa, second in New Hampshire and Nevada, and third in South Carolina. Elizabeth Warren and Klobuchar, who quit the race today with plans to endorse Biden, have also run well with this cohort.With Biden reaffirming his advantage among African Americans in South Carolina on Saturday and Sanders running well among Latinos and working-class white voters, college-educated white voters may be the piece of the Democratic coalition that remains the most fragmented. The departures of Buttigieg and Klobuchar, the fading prospects of Warren, and the possibility that Michael Bloomberg’s campaign could look much less viable after Super Tuesday are combining to create a huge vacuum.[Read: Barack Obama and the end of Pete Buttigieg’s campaign]Whether Sanders or Biden can fill that space among college-educated white voters could prove a crucial factor in a potential one-on-one contest. “This is the demographic that likely determines if Biden or Bernie wins,” the Democratic pollster Andrew Baumann, who is not affiliated with any campaign, told me last night. “My money is on Biden.”Buttigieg’s departure in particular is the rare event whose long-term implications may be easier to see than its near-term ones. By leaving when he did—amid some Democratic fears that the moderate vote is being split among too many candidates—Buttigieg added to the well of goodwill he established during his impressive ascent. After his remarkably sure-footed performance as a candidate, his future as a presidential contender—and likely a Cabinet officer if Democrats win in 2020—seems assured.Yet his departure’s significance for this primary may be less predictable. The immediate reaction of many Democrats was that most of his voters would flow toward Biden. That wasn’t an unreasonable conclusion: Buttigieg has generally drawn more support from moderates than liberals, and his speech last night raised alarms about the direction Sanders would set for the party.But others are cautious about assuming that most of Buttigieg’s remaining backers will switch to Biden, whose nostalgia for the clubby Washington, D.C., of old drew regular scorn from the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana. (That might change if Buttigieg endorses Biden, as he’s reportedly considering doing.) “As always, it’s complicated,” the longtime Democratic strategist James Carville told me after Buttigieg quit the race. “It’s not as clean as most [people] think. Warren is a factor here.”Indeed, the biggest tactical question following Buttigieg’s departure is whether his supporters re-sort more along ideological or class lines. At his events in Iowa and New Hampshire, I found more voters considering Warren—another brainy, policy-focused candidate—than either Biden or Sanders. (The same was true of Buttigieg at Warren events.) The link seemed less about ideology than about demonstrable fluency and expertise. By contrast, white-collar voters drawn to Klobuchar, who centered her appeal on her grounded midwestern common sense, may find the transition to Biden an easier one. Another reason: In Iowa and New Hampshire, the states where Klobuchar ran best, her support tilted more heavily toward moderate voters than Buttigieg’s did.So far, neither Sanders nor Biden has proved himself particularly well-suited—especially in stylistic terms—for the white-collar white voters common at events for Buttigieg, Warren, and Klobuchar. Sanders’s best showing among white voters with at least a college degree was in Nevada, with 24 percent, according to the entrance poll; in the other states that have voted, he hasn’t exceeded 21 percent of their vote. Biden posted a very strong 39 percent among college-educated white voters in South Carolina, but before that his numbers had reached only 15 percent in Nevada, 16 percent in Iowa, and a bruising 6 percent in New Hampshire, according to the Election Day polls.Instead, college-educated white voters have gravitated toward three lagging candidates. In Iowa, they gave a combined 61 percent of their vote to Buttigieg, Warren, and Klobuchar. In New Hampshire, it was 64 percent. Even in Nevada they provided a 52 percent majority of their vote to the three. That number declined in South Carolina, as those contenders looked less viable over time. But even there they captured one-third of the vote among college-educated white voters.Looking forward to Super Tuesday, the latest CNN survey shows the trio drawing 43 percent of college-educated white voters in California, which is as much as Sanders, Biden, and Bloomberg combined. NBC/Marist polls released yesterday show Buttigieg, Warren, and Klobuchar at 45 percent among them in Texas (nearly as much as Sanders, Biden, and Bloomberg) and 38 percent in North Carolina (where the other three did combine for a majority). Among white voters without a college degree, Buttigieg, Warren, and Klobuchar took only about one-fifth of the vote in both the Texas and North Carolina polls.[Read: The two things that sank Buttigieg’s candidacy]The trio have faced common problems in the race. All have struggled to establish a beachhead with minority voters. While Buttigieg ran about as well among white voters without a college degree as among those with one, both Klobuchar and Warren have struggled to reach beyond their “wine track” base. While Warren still has a formidable fundraising and organizational base, she hasn’t finished anywhere near first in any of the four contests so far.The result: A huge bloc of college-educated white voters is now parked with two candidates who just left the race and a third who, at this point, has a vanishingly small chance of actually becoming the nominee.These voters aren’t guaranteed to become the tipping point in a Sanders-Biden race. They aren’t distributed as evenly across the upcoming states as white voters without a college degree are, so they may not shape the result in as many places. And there’s no assurance that they will coalesce behind one candidate. But there’s no question that there is enough of them to make a difference if they do.In 2016, white voters with a college degree cast more than one-third of the votes in the Democratic primary, according to a cumulative CNN analysis of all the exit polls conducted that year. It’s highly possible that number will increase this year, as more white-collar white suburbanites, whose recoil from Donald Trump helped Democrats take control of the House in 2018, participate in the nominating process. Compared with the 2016 primaries, the share of the vote cast by college-educated white voters has increased in each of the Democratic contests this year except New Hampshire.Yet so far, this growing group has drifted away from the chief currents of the competition, settling into the backwaters. Buttigieg’s withdrawal especially may offer these voters their first real chance to steer back into the mainstream of the 2020 race—and more directly influence its outcome.
2020-03-02 17:50:55
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theatlantic.com
The Sanders and Biden Families Have Been Cashing In for Years
Donald Trump has set a new bar for presidential self-dealing. But two of the Democratic front-runners have their own, lower-level history of mixing family and politics.Since the 1970s, Senator Bernie Sanders, who has spent his entire career railing against the political establishment, and Joe Biden, who likes to point out that he was for years the poorest member of the Senate, have repeatedly directed campaign dollars to close relatives. As mayor of Burlington, Vermont, Sanders even directed taxpayer money to his wife. Some of these practices were touched on in reporting at the time, but the full picture has acquired new importance in the context of the campaign against Trump, whose golf outings alone have sent millions of taxpayer dollars to his family-owned firm.Just about every person who’s ever run for office has had a brother knocking on doors, an aunt licking envelopes, or a spouse and kids featured in a campaign commercial. But that’s usually volunteer work. Sanders put his wife on the Burlington city payroll and made a company of hers, Progressive Media Strategies, a top recipient of campaign cash. His congressional reelection campaigns paid one of his stepdaughters more than $50,000 over four years; a nonprofit his wife started, the Sanders Institute, paid her son, David Driscoll, a $100,000 salary. Biden has a sister and son whose companies received large contracts from his last presidential campaign; about one-fifth of the $11.1 million raised by that campaign went to companies that employed close relatives.It is perfectly legal to pay family members with campaign funds or put them on the payroll as long as they provide a bona fide service and their salary is fair. Dozens of members of Congress, from both sides of the aisle, have employed family members on their campaigns. Political families, and the money they distribute to their members, have existed as long as politics has. Approximately 40 of President Ulysses S. Grant’s family members and family connections benefited from his presidency. Both Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower had sons working in their White House. John F. Kennedy appointed his brother Robert as attorney general, which led Congress to pass anti-nepotism laws banning close relatives of the president from working in the executive branch. Then there’s Trump.Yet the ethics of the practice are clear: “It is unsavory for politicians to be making payments to their family members when there are other alternatives out there,” Robert Maguire, the research director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonpartisan good-government group, told me.Neither Michelle Obama nor Hillary Clinton were paid by their husbands’ campaigns or the federal government. Maya Harris advised her sister, Kamala, during her presidential campaign, but was unpaid. Other candidates in the 2020 race regularly leaned on family members to appear with them or on their behalf on the campaign trail. Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren never had family members on their payroll. Amy Klobuchar’s campaign has reimbursed her husband for $1,058.22 in expenses. One of Mike Bloomberg’s daughters worked for him early in his time as mayor, but she was unpaid. Tom Steyer had never run for office before this year.Neither the Bidens nor the Sanderses have gone as far as Trump. The president’s trade negotiations with China run parallel to Ivanka Trump’s company trademarks being approved in Beijing; he pursues diplomacy with Indian, Russian, and Turkish leaders even as his sons pursue government approval for Trump Organization projects in those countries. The amount of taxpayer money that the president has spent on visits to his golf resorts alone—$115 million as of last Thanksgiving—is exponentially greater than even the broadest estimate of what the past 50 years of government service have generated for the Sanders and Biden families combined.That hasn’t stopped Trump from looking for openings, trying to pretend that everyone else acts as he does. Trump tried to get Ukraine to investigate the Burisma gas company (and got impeached for it), because he wanted to give the false impression that Biden had improperly intervened in Ukraine to benefit his son Hunter’s business interests. If anything, the affair demonstrated how oddly oblivious Biden has been to money being made off his name by his family.The Biden and Sanders practices, even when “juxtaposed with the outright profiteering of the Trump administration,” are also potential examples of nepotism, Maguire said. “It’s not a direct comparison, but it does make it more difficult for people to levy criticisms of him.”The main instance of Sanders paying family members is the close professional ties he has had with his wife, Jane Sanders, for decades. He didn’t have much money before he was elected mayor of Burlington, in a surprise 1981 victory—it was the first full-time job he’d held in years. His first act in office was creating a youth-services department, and he immediately put in charge the woman he’d begun dating at his victory party, giving her a corner office on the third floor of city hall. At first, she worked as a volunteer youth coordinator, but later she began raising money that would then be used to pay her a salary.Campaigning for her husband in Indianola, Iowa, ahead of the caucus at the end of January, Jane cited this as an advantage, recalling that Sanders was “frugal, very frugal with taxpayer dollars, but [he] created some new departments—including a youth department, which I headed up.”Early in her tenure, Jane spoke of how she enjoyed the “added clout” of her post in city hall, explaining that she’d turned down a job organizing youth at a neighborhood center. But her work regularly went beyond running youth services; in her first year on the job, she sent a letter to all department heads asking that they detail their job descriptions. This went on, including serving aldermen with a lawsuit from the mayor and admonishing the full board of aldermen for not being more receptive to a visiting official from Northern Ireland speaking about human-rights conditions. (She told the Burlington Free Press that she’d almost not said anything, because of her “personal relationship” with the mayor, but decided to anyway.) The youth-services department she ran put out a newsletter that promoted the mayor’s record to voters.Jane and Sanders were living together while he was approving her paychecks. After paying her $4,900 in 1982 (about $13,000 today), the mayor put her on what became a $21,000 annual salary (about $54,000 today) as part of a formal seven-person expansion of the city’s staff. Her position “was not advertised and no applicants were considered aside from [her], according to Sanders,” the Burlington Free Press reported in 1985.“For a man who once proclaimed himself an enemy of patronage, Mayor Bernard Sanders has done a remarkable turnaround on the issue in a relatively short time,” the Free Press complained in a 1983 editorial. That same year, Sanders responded. “I’m tired of hearing innuendo, especially regarding Jane,” he said. “If she is not competent to do the job, I want to hear someone say it. Cronyism is hiring people for specific jobs because they are friends and not because they are qualified. If someone can explain to me that Jane is not qualified for the job, I’ll listen to them.”But that’s the way the arrangement looked to at least one city alderman at the time, despite Jane’s salary eventually being approved by the board. “Now she is a girlfriend,” Paul Lafayette told the Free Press. “But how much closer can you get? I’m not saying she’s not qualified. But the mayor’s no different than any other guy. He’s putting people around him that he’s comfortable with. If that’s not cronyism, what is?”With the distance of some years, Lafayette has relaxed about the situation. He liked the work Jane did. “Bernie creates a lot of action,” he told me Wednesday, “and Jane was one of those people who created stuff on her own.” A story in the Burlington Free Press from 1981 describes Bernie Sanders’s relationship with Jane, his girlfriend at the time (Burlington Free Press)After Sanders and Jane married, in 1988, he sought a legal opinion about whether employing her had qualified as nepotism. The city attorney told the couple that she was “not barred from continuing to serve in her position,” according to a copy of the letter, which is part of Sanders’s mayoral archives. Jane’s $21,000 salary was high enough that a constituent wrote to him—in another letter that’s in Sanders’s mayoral file—to say she was “surprised to see that she was paid as well as she was,” and that “it’s terrific to see numbers like that in print pertaining to a woman in city hall holding down an important and responsible job.”Maguire, the CREW research director, was skeptical.“There is what is legally sound, and there is the question of whether you’re giving the appearance of nepotism,” he said. “It’s one thing to say, ‘Look, we got this cleared.’ And maybe they really did scrutinize it and it was fine. But just the mere fact of making the decision that results in funds and payments to someone in your household is problematic. A person who wants to make sure they’re on the right side of the ethical line should say, ‘I should recuse from this decision; someone else should make this decision.’” He added, “It seems like waiting eight years to realize this is problematic is itself problematic.”After Sanders won Vermont’s sole House seat, in 1990, Jane began working as an unpaid chief of staff for his congressional office. She left that office in 1996 to become the provost at Goddard College. But she stayed involved in her husband’s political life, and took home at least $30,000 in fees as a media buyer for his campaigns, paid for out of money he’d raised, though she had no prior experience in media buying. Two companies she’d registered, Progressive Media Strategies and Leadership Strategies, received more than $91,000 from Sanders’s 2002 and 2004 congressional campaigns. Neither company ever worked for any other federal candidate, but the Sanders campaign says she was working for other candidates in Vermont. “Dr. Sanders worked for four other campaigns during this time period and felt that it wasn’t right to charge the other candidates a fee and not charge then-Congressman Sanders,” Mike Casca, a campaign spokesman, says.[Read: What killed Burlington College?]In 2004, Burlington College hired Jane as its president. While she was in that role, the college entered into a $500,000 contract for student activities with Vermont Woodworking School, which was run by Jane’s daughter Carina Driscoll. The contract ended shortly after Jane left the college, in 2011. The college shut down the next year, drowned in financial troubles resulting from a multimillion-dollar loan that Jane had obtained to purchase land for its new campus. The FBI later investigated the deal for alleged fraud, but no charges were ever brought. Jane received a $200,000 severance package that Sanders’s Senate financial disclosure describes as having been for a “sabbatical.” Jeff Weaver, a top adviser to Sanders, has previously told the press that Jane did nothing wrong. Jane, through the campaign, declined to comment.By 2000, Carina, then serving one term as a Vermont state representative, was also working for Sanders. During the time she was in office, from 2000 to 2004, Sanders’s congressional reelection campaigns paid her $51,032 in salary and expenses, though the payments were irregular—she would sometimes get multiple payments on a single day, and then not get paid for a month or more. (In 2018, Carina ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Burlington with the backing of Our Revolution, the progressive group that Sanders started after the 2016 election, although he is not formally associated with it.) Carina, through Sanders’s presidential campaign, declined to comment.Starting in the late ’90s, Jane was an alternative commissioner on the Texas Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission—a gubernatorial-appointed position on a commision that had been created after Sanders led efforts to dump nuclear waste in a small border town named Sierra Blanca. Jane, who didn’t have experience with nuclear-waste or land issues, was paid roughly $5,000 annually. Not listed on Sanders’s financial disclosures, the payments first came to light when he released several years of their joint federal tax returns in 2016. Sanders’s state tax returns might have more information—but so far, he hasn’t released them, even though he relented last spring and released federal returns that he’d been withholding.Sanders has also benefited from his campaign account over the years, spending $8,000 in the late ’90s, and then $445,000 in 2015, on purchases of his own book. In his 2016 Senate personal financial disclosure, Sanders said he received only $6,700 in royalties from the 2015 purchase. Other politicians do this—but when, for example, the Republican National Committee bought Donald Trump Jr.’s book in bulk last year, the author didn’t also profit off money raised in his name, with his own authority to spend it.The personal and professional converged once again after Sanders’s first presidential campaign ended. In 2017, Jane started the Sanders Institute, envisioned as part think tank, part advocacy group. She tapped her son David Driscoll, who had worked as an executive at two private companies, as executive director, and he was approved by the board. He hadn’t worked for a nonprofit before, but was paid a salary of $100,000. The institute raised about $1.2 million, according to tax returns and public statements it released. But neither its full donor list nor the number of donations it received is public. Bernie and Jane Sanders said that they made a $25,000 initial donation, and Our Revolution gave a $105,000 loan. The organization shut down after Sanders began his second race for president; most of its paperwork remains undisclosed. The most significant thing the institute did was host a December 2018 gathering for top supporters and press in Vermont that was essentially an informal kickoff to his anticipated campaign.Beyond saying that Jane took her fee from the Sanders campaign to be fair to her other clients, Sanders’s campaign declined comment on any of these arrangements and declined to make Jane available for an interview.To the frustration of some of his aides, Biden has long been eager to keep his family close as advisers and supporters, seemingly unable to realize the appearance of impropriety that can arise. His family members started working for him during his first campaign, a 1970 run for New Castle County council. His sister, Valerie Biden Owens, managed that council race and his first Senate run two years later. His brother Jimmy handled fundraising for that Senate run. His other brother, Frank, was the volunteer coordinator. The Biden campaign says they worked for free, but there’s no way to check: the Federal Election Commission, which handles federal campaign-finance records, wasn’t established until 1975.[Read: Hunter Biden’s perfectly legal, socially acceptable corruption]Speaking about that first Senate campaign in Des Moines the day before the Iowa caucus, Valerie self-deprecatingly joked about how party leaders had been urging the upstart candidate to put better-known operatives around him. They “thought Joe needed someone who was really experienced, someone who really had a ‘strategic mind.’ And so he turned to me and said, ‘Will you do it?’”Hunter Biden (far left), Joe Biden, and Valerie Biden Owens attend a road-naming ceremony honoring Beau Biden in Sojevo, Kosovo (Visar Kryeziu / AP)As has been assiduously documented by Politico, Jimmy went on to a business career in which he often leveraged his last name—including for a number of real-estate and investment deals that involved Hunter Biden, Joe’s son, in which they’d reportedly talk up access to their famous relative. But Valerie stayed close, managing Biden’s subsequent Senate runs and then his 2008 presidential campaign. She also worked in the private sector along the way. In 2007, the media firm where she is an executive vice president, Joe Slade White and Company, received $1.9 million from the presidential campaign for advertising placement, fundraising help, and media strategy (much of which went into buying ads). Although White himself worked for George McGovern in 1972, most of the firm’s clients have been low-profile House races. According to Federal Election Commission records, it had only worked for one presidential campaign before Biden’s 2008 run—former General Wesley Clark’s in 2004—and hasn’t worked for one since. But White, in a statement, said that Valerie only ever received her normal salary no matter the client: “Val’s experience and skill made her an incredible asset to us. And she literally never took a commission on any campaign.”The 2008 campaign featured other family connections. A law firm run by a onetime top aide briefly employed Hunter as a named partner, and it charged the campaign nearly $200,000 for what was described in campaign-finance reports as “legal services” and “travel expense reimbursement.” The only other campaigns that reported using the firm, which no longer exists, were a few Senate races over the years, for a few thousand dollars each. “Hunter Biden did work at that firm, but he did not work on nor receive money from this account,” a current Biden campaign official told me.Referring to his family, Biden was quoted in a 2007 news story as saying, “We like to campaign, and I think people know we like being with them.” What this preference meant in practice was that about a fifth of the $11.1 million raised by Biden’s last presidential campaign went to his family members or companies that employed them. Unlike Sanders, however, Biden did not receive any of that money himself, and the money came exclusively from campaign contributions rather than taxpayer dollars.Valerie’s daughter, Missy Owens, was also paid by Biden’s 2008 presidential campaign, and ran Biden’s Senate campaign after he dropped out of the presidential race. Once he became vice president, Missy went to work in the Obama administration—first for the Energy Department, and later for the Commerce Department. She wasn’t the first Biden to work at Commerce: so had Hunter, during the Clinton administration, when his father was already a powerful senator. In 2006, his tenure at Commerce, along with his father’s famous history of commuting to Washington, D.C., by train, was cited in his nomination by George W. Bush to Amtrak’s board. According to an Amtrak report prepared the following year, board members received approximately $100,000 annually in compensation and expenses. During the years that his father was vice president, Hunter pursued a variety of lobbying and business opportunities—including, as is now well known, a position at a Ukrainian gas company that would ultimately catch Trump’s attention.Beyond clarifying that Hunter wasn’t paid for the work his firm did for the Biden campaign in 2007, his campaign declined comment on any of these arrangements.Today, Jane Sanders remains her husband’s closest adviser, and he jokes about how she’s starting to draw big crowds on her own campaign stops, but neither she nor Progressive Media Strategies is being paid by the campaign. This is the first Biden campaign that Valerie Biden Owens isn’t managing; and although her company didn’t secure any contracts for this race, she remains an essential adviser on and off the road. None of Sanders’s or Biden’s children are being paid, though the candidates’ children and grandchildren often join the candidates on the campaign trail.Trump likes to bring his children along to rallies too. But then they go back to their day jobs: Ivanka Trump as an (unpaid) senior adviser in the West Wing, and Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump as heads of the family company that owns the hotels, golf courses, and resorts that rake in taxpayer dollars every time the president visits.
2020-03-02 17:34:35
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theatlantic.com