Bernie Sanders Archives - Page 5 of 62 - Florida Politics

Tim Canova political group calls for Florida constitutional amendments on open primaries, redistricting commission in 2018

Tim Canova wasn’t kidding when he said he was going to stay involved in the political process following his loss to Debbie Wasserman Schultz in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District.

The progressive Democrat announced the creation of a political and community action group last month called “Progress For All,” that he said would “will harness the power of our movement.”

He now says the group is “making plans” for a series of referendums on the November 2018 ballot, some of which other activists have been working for years to try to get on the ballot.

The five referendums Progress For All is calling for are:

— Open primaries in which everyone can vote for any candidate, regardless of party. The top two finishers in the primary, regardless of party, then square off against each other in the general election.

— Creation of a Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission to prevent partisan “gerrymandering” to create safe, uncompetitive legislative districts.

— Limiting contributions to Super PACs to $5,000.  This would rein in the corrupting influence of big money in our politics and provide the Supreme Court with an opportunity to overturn Citizens United (That’s an initiative that the St. Petersburg City Council is voting on Thursday).

— Election integrity to ensure they are transparent and verifiable. That would include paper ballots counted by hand in public, as is presently done throughout European democracies.

— Overturning felony disenfranchisement. Unfortunately, the failed war on drugs, mass incarceration, and the New Jim Crow have resulted in millions of American citizens being deprived of their right to vote for the rest of their lives, often for nonviolent felonies committed years ago.

Groups were formed in recent years to try to get amendments on open primaries and the automatic restoration of voting rights for ex-felons on this year’s ballot, to no avail.

As has been shown in recent years on issues like medical marijuana and solar power, such citizen-led initiatives require millions — in some cases, tens of millions — of dollars to get on the ballot.

“Together these reforms would remake our politics in Florida and provide a model for progressive reform throughout our country,” Canova said in a statement. “To get these referendums on the ballot in 2018, we must begin now. There’s no time to delay. State referendums require the gathering of hundreds of thousands of signatures on petitions and canvassing of voters to get our message out.

“This is exactly how we were so successful in our recent campaign against Debbie Wasserman Schultz. We created a huge grassroots movement on the ground that knocked on 10,000 doors a week and, in the face of enormous odds, got us within striking distance.”

When it was announced last month, Progress For All said they would be limited to small donations and would reject contributions from any corporate-funded political action committees.

Canova, a Nova Southeastern law professor, had never run for political office before he took on Wasserman Schultz in the Democratic primary earlier this year. His insurgent campaign against the then-Democratic National Committee Chair inspired the same progressive voters around the nation who rallied around Bernie Sanders’ presidential candidacy, though he ended up losing by 14 percentage points.

Earlier this week, an award-winning report published a statistical analysis of Canova’s race against Wasserman Schultz. At a news conference in WashingtonLulu Fries’dat raised concerns that the contest’s electronic voting machines might have been “manipulated.”

 

Joe Henderson: Hillary Clinton, Citizens United and ‘never-ending’ thirst for cash

One of the themes of Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the presidency has been her opposition to Citizens United.

From the podium, she preaches that she doesn’t like the idea of the wealthy few using their money to buy influence over policies that determine the future for the rest of us. She says he wants to overturn that controversial ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that has allowed our politics to be bartered out to the uber rich.

Well, OK.

She says all that, but then The Washington Post reported Sunday that her campaign raised $1.14 billion by the end of September. More than a fifth of that came from just 100 donors.

The top five donors, the Post reported, included two hedge fund managers and one venture capitalist. Combined, they have contributed one out of every $17 Clinton raised. And as you read on SaintPetersBlog.com, Hillary will be in Florida Tuesday for what has been billed as “the largest fundraising event” in Florida’s history.

Got $100,000 laying around? Donate it, and you can take part in a special host reception with HRC. For a mere $5,000, you get dinner and reception.

With two weeks to go and Hillary way out in front of Donald Trump in the polls, this might seem like the political equivalent of running up the score on an overmatched opponent. The bigger question is, how much is enough to quench Clinton’s never-ending thirst for money?

And the biggest question is, what does that money buy? Look, the news business has allowed me to get to know some really rich people, and they have one thing in common: When they invest this kind of money, they expect something in return.

Just follow the trail of breadcrumbs or, in this case, the dollar bills and see where it leads.

Trump’s donors are the same way, of course, so let’s not pretend Clinton’s voracious appetite for dollars is unique. But whether he actually believes his words or not, Trump has made a good case with the “quid pro quo” label he has tried to stick on Clinton.

Trump rose to the Republican nomination on the winds of disgusted Americans who feel locked out of the political process by the wealthy. They believe the game is rigged against them. That same theme inspired Bernie Sanders’ campaign.

That attitude isn’t likely to change after the election.

Clinton’s supporters squirm a little uncomfortably when the subject is money. No one is being naïve, though. It takes a lot of cash to run a national campaign. She is running for president of the most powerful nation on earth, not a seat on the county commission or school board.

The great Bobby Bowden once said of a freshman player who leaped into his arms on the sideline during an over-exuberant moment, “Recruiting season is over. He’s got to stop calling me Bobby.”

Hillary Clinton is recruiting America now, and by most accounts, she is doing such a good job that even Trump’s closest surrogates concede she is likely to win.

But next Jan. 20, when we start calling her Madam President instead of Hillary and it comes time to make good on her posturing against Wall Street and Citizens United, the big players will be in the background, expecting the return on their investments.

What then? Too often in politics, the answer is that you get what you pay for.

For Hillary Clinton, struggle to change public perception persists

Hillary Clinton bested Donald Trump in three debates. She leads in many preference polls of the most competitive states. Barring a significant shift in the next two weeks, she is in a strong position to become the first woman elected U.S. president.

But Clinton will end the campaign still struggling to change the minds of millions of voters who don’t think well of her, a glaring liability should the Democratic nominee move on to the White House.

While many see her as better prepared to be commander in chief than Trump, she is consistently viewed unfavorably by more than half of the country. Most voters also consider her dishonest.

Clinton’s advisers have spent months trying to erase that perception. They’ve set up small events where she had more intimate conversations with voters. They’ve tested a seemingly endless stream of messages aimed at assuring the public that the former secretary of state was in the race to do more than fulfill her own political ambitions.

As Clinton starts making her closing argument to voters, her team appears to have come to terms that the mission remains unfulfilled.

“Honest and trustworthy has become our most talked about metric because it’s not great,” said Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s communications director. “But we’ve never thought it’s the metric people make a decision on.”

If Clinton wins, that theory may be proven true.

Just 36 percent of voters believe Clinton is honest and trustworthy, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll. That’s compared with about 60 percent who believe she has the qualifications and temperament to be commander in chief.

The public’s perception of Clinton has bounced up and down throughout her time in public life. Her favorability rating fell below 50 percent at times during her years as first lady, but rose to its high water mark then and while she was as secretary of state under President Barack Obama.

Democrats blame some of the current negative personal perceptions of Clinton on the hard-charging tactics she’s used to try to discredit Trump, though they believe her sustained assault on Trump’s character and temperament has been crucial.

Party operatives also say Trump’s personal attacks on Clinton have made it all but impossible for more positive messages to break through. He’s called her a “liar,” a “nasty woman” and pledged to put her in jail.

“When you’re under relentless assault from a reality TV star, it’s hard to come out of that with anybody feeling good about anyone,” said Bill Burton, a former Obama aide.

Still, Clinton’s advisers acknowledge that some of her troubles have been of her own making, including her penchant for privacy.

She’s spent nearly the entire campaign struggling to explain why she used a private email server in the basement of her home while she led the State Department. She hid a pneumonia diagnosis this fall from nearly all of her senior staff, then left the public unaware of her condition and whereabouts for 90 minutes after the illness caused her to rush out of a public event in New York.

“She is a politician that does not seek to be the center of attention and is inherently more private than most politicians, certainly presidential candidates,” Palmieri said. “That doesn’t always serve you great in a campaign for president.”

Clinton frequently shoots down questions about the public’s negative perceptions by saying she’s viewed more positively when she’s doing a job rather than running for one. There’s some evidence to back that up.

When she ran for re-election to the Senate from New York in 2006, she won with 67 percent of the vote, a big jump from the 55 percent share from her first race in 2000. Her approval rating when she left the State Department, where her job kept her out of day-to-day politics, sat at an enviable 65 percent, according to the Pew Research Center.

But if Clinton is elected president, she won’t have the luxury she had as secretary of state to stay away from the political fray — with Republicans in Washington in the opposition, and possibly Trump, too.

The businessman keeps flirting with the idea he could contest the election results if he loses. There are also persistent rumors that, if he loses, he might try to harness the enthusiasm of his millions of supporters into some type of media venture.

“The notion that Trump is going to go quietly into the night and wish her Godspeed is highly unlikely,” said David Axelrod, another former Obama adviser. “She’s going to have to contend with that and whatever it is he chooses to make his vehicle.”

Clinton has begun acknowledging the challenge that could await her in the White House, if she wins, centering her closing argument to voters on a call for unity after a bitter campaign.

“My name may be on the ballot, but the question really is who are we as a country, what are our values, what kind of a future do we want to create together,” she said Friday at a rally in Ohio.

Some Democrats see the transition — the two-month-plus stretch between the Nov. 8 election and the Jan. 20 inauguration — as a crucial opportunity for her to signal, if she wins, that a Clinton White House would be different from a Clinton campaign.

In a nod to bipartisanship, she could nominate a Republican for her Cabinet. Clinton could start moving on some of her more broadly popular policy proposals as a way of boosting her appeal, assuming no crisis demands immediate action.

Still, Axelrod said changing the public’s view of Clinton will be a “long-term project.”

“There’s no silver bullet to turn around years of wear and tear on her image,” he said.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Leaked email shows Andrew Gillum among those considered for VP

It’s no secret Andrew Gillum is considered a rising star in the Democratic Party, but his leap to the national political stage could have come sooner than many expected.

A newly released document from the hacked email file of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta shows Gillum, Tallahassee’s mayor, was among a large number of people initially considered as potential running mates for Hillary Clinton.

Podesta floated Gillum as one of 39 people to be considered for vetting to be Clinton’s eventual running mate. According to POLITICO, the email was sent just one day after Clinton swept the March 15 primaries.

Also on the list: HUD Secretary Julian Castro, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Sen. Tim Kaine, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Corey Booker, Sen. Claire McKaskill, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Clinton ultimately selected Kaine, announcing her choice during a rally in Miami.

Marco Rubio presidential campaign owes $1.5M in debt

Marco Rubio might be running for re-election, but his presidential campaign is still more than $1 million in the red.

Campaign finance records filed with the Federal Election Commission show Rubio’s presidential campaign had more than $1.5 million in debt as of Sept. 30. The sum includes the costs of telemarketing services, media production, and legal fees.

According to campaign finance records, the presidential campaign owed $570,657 for telemarketing; $315,000 for media production; $167,000 for legal fees; $350,000 for strategic consulting; and $130,000 for web services.

It may seem like a lot, but the campaign has continued to whittle down its outstanding debt each reporting period. Records show the presidential campaign had more than $1.9 million in debt at the end of March.

Rubio ended his presidential bid in March, after he came in second to Donald Trump in Florida’s presidential preference primary. He announced he was running for re-election in June, just days before the qualifying deadline.

It’s not unusual for presidential campaigns to carry debt well after the race is over. In May, the Wall Street Journal reported former presidential hopefuls owed more than $5.4 million.

Paying down the debt could take years. According to the Wall Street Journal, Hillary Clinton, now the Democratic nominee, didn’t pay off debt for her 2008 presidential campaign until 2012.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is still trying to pay down the debt from his 2012 presidential bid. According to the most recent campaign filing, Gingrich still owed $4.6 million for his 2012 campaign.

Rubio isn’t the only 2016 hopeful whose campaign is still carrying some debt.

Campaign finance records filed with the Federal Election Commission show Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign owed $368,063 through Aug. 31; while Bernie Sanders, a 2016 Democratic presidential hopeful, owed $472,011 at the end of August.

Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign owed $250,000, down from $452,065 at the end of February. Bush ended his presidential bid after the South Carolina primary. Meanwhile, Chris Christie’s campaign still owes $170,505; while Rand Paul’s presidential campaign owes $301,107.

 

Libertarian’s Gary Johnson has never been the typical politician

Ronald Reagan won a historic landslide victory in the 1984 election, taking 49 of 50 states. But he failed to win the vote of a young Republican businessman in New Mexico whose willingness to go against the political grain has made him this presidential campaign’s X-factor.

Outraged at the GOP president’s budget deficits, Gary Johnson for the first time voted for the Libertarian candidate. Ten years later, Johnson became New Mexico’s governor, and was known for vetoing bill after bill before he became a national curiosity for advocating legalized marijuana.

Now, at age 63, he’s the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee, a marijuana-promoting fitness aficionado who summited Mount Everest and now climbs a political mountain with tough odds of reaching the top.

Though Johnson has grabbed more attention for his stance on drugs and difficulty answering foreign-policy questions, fiscal conservatism remains his animating force.

“I always pushed the envelope,” said Johnson, who’s proposed deep cuts to military and other government spending as well as elimination of the federal departments of Homeland Security, Commerce, Education, and Housing and Urban Development. “I wasn’t a wallflower when I was governor and I do think government spends too much money in areas that don’t make a big difference in people’s lives.”

Before he came out for legalizing marijuana shortly after his re-election as New Mexico governor in 1998, Johnson was nicknamed “Governor Veto.” He piled up a record 700-plus vetoes during his two terms in Santa Fe. Admirers liked his dedication to limiting the size of government. Detractors considered him narrow-minded and incurious about the outside world.

“He just does not believe government should be involved in dealing with social problems,” said state Sen. Jerry Pino y Ortiz, who ran two social service agencies during Johnson’s administration and feels the former governor let down his achingly poor state. “It’s like the dad who’s proud that his kid gets by on the smallest allowance at school, but the kid’s shoes have holes in them.”

Rod Adair is a Republican political strategist and former state lawmaker who agrees with Johnson’s small-government philosophy. The problem, Adair said, is that the former governor knows relatively little beyond that.

He says Johnson prefers to focus on his obsessive fitness routine — he’s an ultramarathoner and triathelete who summited Mount Everest in 2003 after leaving office as governor— rather than learn about unfamiliar areas like foreign policy.

“Running for president, I don’t care where you’re governor, it’s very different and you need to have a degree of intellectual curiosity,” Adair said. “He doesn’t have that.”

Supporters and admirers in New Mexico agree that Johnson was an unusual politician. He didn’t horse trade or hold grudges, they say, and was generally direct and honest.

Those are attributes that have won him an unusually wide swath of support in the current presidential race, helping him appeal both to some disaffected liberal Bernie Sanders voters and more traditional libertarians.

He and running mate Bill Weld, Massachusetts’ former GOP governor, are the only third-party ticket on the ballot in all 50 states

Johnson has fallen short of the 15 percent threshold in national polling needed to enter the presidential debates, polling at about 8 percent for several months. If he receives 5 percent of the vote in November, that would be a bonanza for the Libertarian Party, assuring it of a valuable place on state ballots in the 2020 election.

Johnson’s deer-in-the-headlights response to a question from a television interviewer about what he’d do to deal with the crisis in the Syrian city of Aleppo — “What’s Aleppo?” — earned him derision in September, though he quickly apologized.

Weeks later, Democrats feared Johnson was pulling enough young voters from [Hillary] Clinton to throw some swing states to [Donald] Trump. Johnson’s campaign put out a lengthy statement urging Republicans disgusted with Trump’s taped boasts about forcing himself on women to vote Libertarian instead.

Johnson says he’s happy to criticize Clinton, even though his running mate says his focus is solely on Trump.

In an interview at a hotel near his Santa Fe home, Johnson predicted the national debt would more than double to $50 trillion should Clinton implement her various plans. She’s proposed spending that would be paid for by $1.4 trillion in tax increases on the wealthy. Johnson said those would doom the economy.

“If those tax hikes go through, I think the recession of 2008 is mild by comparison,” Johnson said.

Johnson was born in North Dakota, but his father moved the family to New Mexico when the future governor was 13. Raised by a school teacher and an accountant for the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, Johnson founded a construction company while he was still at the University of New Mexico. The firm grew and became a major contractor on Intel’s chip factory in Albuquerque, making Johnson his fortune.

In 1994 he entered a competitive four-way Republican primary for governor.

Johnson squeaked through with just over 30 percent of the primary vote, then defeated an incumbent Democrat whose party was so badly split that his own lieutenant governor ran against him.

The new Republican governor confronted a Democratic-controlled legislature and it was ugly.

Johnson vetoed more than half of the bills that came to his desk that first year and kept rejecting ones afterward. “When you have both houses of the legislature in the opposite party you’re always going to have a lot of sparks that fly, especially on financial issues,” said David Harris, Johnson’s longtime finance secretary. “He always applied the same test to everything,” Harris added — veto it “if it didn’t improve the government or it raised taxes.”

Over the years Johnson routinely shot down efforts to create commemorative license plates that would collect extra money for wildlife preservation, firefighters or West Point graduates. He vetoed a proposal for a state holiday recognizing Hispanic labor icon Cesar Chavez. He vetoed a $2 hotel room fee increase in the city of Las Cruces.

He even vetoed the entire budget in his final year only to have the legislature override him.

In the end, Johnson had limited success reining in state spending — the budget still grew from $4.4 billion in his first year to $7.7 billion in his last. But even his critics acknowledge it would have been far higher without him.

“He was just a very results-oriented guy and there’s some utility in his view that doing more does not mean delivering more,” said Doug Turner, who ran Johnson’s re-election race.

Johnson also championed school choice, brought private prisons to the state, implemented managed care in the state’s Medicare program and built a new highway to New Mexico’s western edge. But it was his push to legalize marijuana, announced shortly after his 1998 re-election, that made him famous.

A longtime marijuana user, Johnson said he was persuaded to end the drug war by watching the escalating costs to courts, police and jails from locking up addicts. He wasn’t able to persuade the legislature to decriminalize marijuana but came away with more money for drug treatment programs.

After leaving office, Johnson pushed for marijuana legalization and founded a marijuana branding company. In 2011, he ran for the GOP presidential nomination. But he was largely ignored in the race and switched to the Libertarian ticket. He received 1 percent of the vote in 2012.

Johnson rarely dealt with issues like gay marriage or immigration as governor, but he emphasizes them in this campaign, effectively merging the small-government, non-interventionist libertarianism of Ron Paul with a more socially liberal message.

One of the more emotional moments in his rallies usually comes when he announces that “Black Lives Matter” — often to cheers from the largely white audience — and rattles off statistics about the way the justice system treats African-Americans.

Johnson is also a non-interventionist, one of his greatest areas of difference with Clinton.

He argues that the military could be one-fifth smaller, especially if it pulled back from overseas areas where he says it doesn’t need to be, like Japan. He recently said Syria’s civil war has been worsened by the U.S. arming some of the rebels and said he wouldn’t push for safe zones for civilians in besieged Aleppo, where the U.S. government has accused Russia of targeting civilians to help Syria’s government.

“That’s just opening another conflict with Russia,” Johnson said.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Hillary Clinton brings in Al Gore as closer on climate change

Al Gore laid out the environmental stakes of the presidential race in stark terms during a campaign stop for Hillary Clinton Tuesday, arguing that electing her opponent would lead to “climate catastrophe.”

Vice president during Clinton’s husband’s eight years in the White House and a longtime environmental activist, Gore served as a closer for Clinton on climate change as the Democratic candidate seeks to appeal to activists and to young people, who consider this a key issue.

“The choice in this election is extremely clear. Hillary Clinton will make solving the climate crisis a top national priority,” Gore said, before issuing a strong warning about Republican Donald Trump. “Her opponent, based on the ideas that he has presented, would take us toward a climate catastrophe.”

Gore’s history with Florida, the ultimate swing state, lent extra weight to his appeal to get out and vote. Gore won the popular vote in the 2000 presidential election, but lost the presidency to George W. Bush after a lengthy Florida recount and a shocking Supreme Court decision.

“Your vote really, really, really counts,” he told the crowd, which responded by chanting, “You won!”

Clinton, meanwhile, vigorously emphasized her plans to develop more clean energy, reduce fossil fuel production and build more weather-resistant infrastructure. She also continued her attacks on Trump, who has called climate change a “hoax” and said he would renegotiate the Paris Climate Agreement, an international treaty designed to curb the rise in global temperatures.

“We cannot risk putting a climate denier in the White House,” Clinton said.

During the primary contest against progressive Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton offered clean energy plans and came out against the Keystone XL Pipeline, which is opposed by environmentalists.

“Climate change is one of the issues where the difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is night and day,” said Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon. “For many of the core supporters we are seeking to galvanize in the remaining weeks of the campaign, including young voters, communicating the boldness of her plan is important.”

At the rally was Miami Dade College student Adam Demayo, 24.

“Every beach I go to is polluted,” said Demayo, a former Sanders supporter who said he is reluctantly voting for Clinton. “My children are going to, like, die. I want to dedicate my life to saving the planet.”

The world is on pace for the hottest year on record, breaking marks set in 2015, 2014, and 2010. It is about 1.8 degrees warmer than a century ago. Scientists have also connected man-made climate change to deadly heat waves, droughts and flood-inducing downpours.

Gore explored global warming in his 2006 documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Despite Clinton’s promotion of energy policies aimed at lessening climate change, there has not always been unanimity among her campaign aides about how strong that support should be. A message released Tuesday by WikiLeaks from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta‘s hacked email account shows some aides were not totally on board with Clinton’s promise in June 2015 to raise fees on companies involved in oil exploration and fossil fuel production on federal land.

Clinton had broached the idea at her campaign launch in June 2015, but raising energy royalties could be politically explosive in western states where oil and gas firms have spent billions of dollars on extracting fuels.

In July 2015, campaign speechwriting director Dan Schwerin told Podesta in an email that “I think we’re going to have to make peace with our fossil fuels royalties, since she’s already promised that.”

On July 15, 2015, Clinton said she wanted to raise fees and phase out fuel extraction operating on public lands, but warned it could not be done quickly.

The leaked emails also show a discussion on how Clinton could show her opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. Clinton originally said she shouldn’t take a position on the issue, because she didn’t want to interfere with the Obama administration as it considered whether to approve the project.

By August 2015, Clinton had decided to oppose it and the campaign discussed how to proceed. Wrote Schwerin on August 7, 2015: “We are trying to find a good way to leak her opposition to the pipeline without her having to actually say it and give up her principled stand about not second-guessing the president in public.”

Other emails in September 2015 show a discussion about making her position known in an op-ed column. But Fallon weighed in with concerns that such a move would look like “cynical political maneuvering,” and suggested letting the information leak out after a meeting with labor leaders.

Clinton announced her opposition during a town hall in Iowa later that month, in response to a question from the audience.

Republish with permission of the Associated Press.

Despite harsh reviews, Donald Trump resists new debate approach

Unmoved by harsh debate reviews, a defiant Donald Trump renewed his attacks against a former Miss Universe winner on Wednesday, showing no sign of making big changes to his message or debate preparation before his second face-off with Hillary Clinton. The outspoken Republican nominee instead pressed ahead with an aggressive strategy focused on speaking directly to his white, working-class loyalists across the Midwest.

Democrat Clinton, meanwhile, pushed to improve her standing among younger voters with the help of the president, Sen. Bernie Sanders and other key allies, 48 hours after a debate performance that seemed to spark badly needed enthusiasm.

Those closest to Trump insisted the Republican presidential nominee was satisfied with Monday night’s debate, even as prominent voices within his own party called for more serious preparation next time following an opening confrontation marked by missed opportunities and missteps.

“Why would we change if we won the debate?” former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a key Trump ally and traveling partner this week, told The Associated Press.

The next debate is 11 days away.

While his plan forward is far from set, Trump is not planning to participate in any mock debates, although he is likely to incorporate what one person described as “tweaks” to his strategy.

Specifically, Trump is likely to spend more time working on specific answers and sharpening his attacks after spending much of the first meeting on defense, said that person, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal campaign strategy.

That may not be enough to satisfy concerned Republicans.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Trump should have been better prepared and he recommended that the candidate work harder with skilled coaches. He said, “What you need is people who are professional debaters.”

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said simply, “The only advice I could give him, and take it for what it’s worth: Prepare better.”

The New York businessman was on the defensive throughout the debate, particularly when Clinton highlighted his description of a former Miss Universe winner as “Miss Piggy” because she had gained weight.

Trump condemned former Miss Universe Alicia Machado again Wednesday night in an interview on Fox News, suggesting he was trying to save her job by shaming her into losing weight in the late 1990s. He also cited unsubstantiated reports that she threatened a Venezuelan judge more than a decade ago.

Machado says Trump humiliated her by inviting reporters to her gym sessions and calling her “Miss Piggy.”

“I helped somebody and this is what you get for helping somebody,” Trump told Fox on Wednesday.

Throughout his outsider presidential bid, Trump has refused to deviate from a strategy hinged on an ambitious travel schedule packed with massive rallies that draw overwhelmingly white crowds.

Clinton, meanwhile, sought Wednesday to parlay her widely praised debate performance into stronger support from women, young Americans and other critical voter groups. She got help from her party’s biggest stars.

President Barack Obama hammered the billionaire over his business practices and treatment of women in an interview aired on Steve Harvey’s radio show, which is particularly popular among black audiences. The Democratic president said his own legacy was “on the ballot” in November. He also suggested Clinton wasn’t getting enough credit, possibly because she’s a woman.

And his wife, first lady Michelle Obama, accused Trump of trying to undermine her husband’s presidency for years by questioning his birthplace. Trump publicly admitted the president was born in America for the first time earlier in the month after spending years raising questions about the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate.

“Trust me, a candidate is not going to suddenly change” once in office, Mrs. Obama said at a rally for Clinton in Pennsylvania.

Hoping to broaden her appeal among “millennials,” Clinton joined her primary rival, Vermont Sen. Sanders, on the trail for the first time since they held a “unity” rally in July in an attempt to heal divisions within the Democratic Party. Since then, Clinton has struggled to win over young Americans who formed a critical pillar of the coalition that twice elected Obama.

Flanked by campaign signs promoting Clinton’s college affordability proposal, Sanders and Clinton touted a plan they developed to make college debt-free for millions of students from middle-class and low-income families.

“None of this will happen if you don’t turn out and vote,” Clinton said at the University of New Hampshire, after a quick hug with Sanders. He declared, “It is imperative that we elect Hillary Clinton as our next president.”

Trump struggled to attack Clinton consistently on the debate stage Monday night, but he lashed out at her aggressively Wednesday in campaign stops in Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. Among other charges, he mocked her lighter campaign schedule.

The Democrat conceded during the debate that she had taken some time away from the campaign trail to prepare for their first debate.

“You see all the days off that Hillary takes? Day off, day off, day off,” Trump told supporters at a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

He added a swipe at his opponent’s recent bout with pneumonia, which nearly caused her to collapse. “All those days off and then she can’t even make it to her car, isn’t it tough?”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Jill Stein tells Tampa: ‘This is the perfect storm for a voter revolt’

Dr. Jill Stein, the 66-year-old Green Party presidential candidate, brought her campaign to Tampa Wednesday night, where she spoke to a packed house in the second floor ballroom of the Cuban Club in Ybor City.

Stein is currently averaging around 2.5 percent in the national polls, not that dissimilar to the 2.7 percent Ralph Nader ultimately earned in 2000. More than one political observer has noted the similar circumstances of that election and this one — comparing the lackluster enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton among some Democrats to the sentiments towards Al Gore back at the turn of the century, which some contend is why George W. Bush ended up getting more votes in Florida, which decided the 2000 election.

Progressives say they know a Donald Trump presidency would be disastrous, but that’s not stopping about 10 percent of the public — adding in Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson’s polling numbers — to look beyond the major party candidates when considering their vote for president.

“I would feel terrible if Trump gets elected, but I’ll also feel terrible if Hillary gets elected,” Stein told reporters about an hour before she addressed the Cuban Club crowd. “Hillary actually has a track record. Donald Trump wants to bar Muslims from entering the country, but Hillary Clinton has been busy bombing Muslims.”

Stein said Clinton’s hawkish beliefs helped lead the country to intervene in Libya in 2011, and says that her call for a no-fly zone in Syria to contend with that crisis is tantamount to calling for going to war with Russia. “This is the Cuban missile crisis on steroids, but in reverse,” she charged.

More than a third of voters 18 to 29 said in the latest New York Times/CBS News poll they would vote for either Johnson or Stein. Johnson had the support of 26 percent of those voters, and Stein had 10 percent.

Much of Stein’s appeal is geared towards those millennials — as are her policies, such as her $1.3 trillion bailout plan to eliminate all student debt, which she’d pay for with a 0.5 percent Wall Street financial transactions tax. She calls it the biggest stimulus package imaginable “We came up with $16 trillion to bail out the crooks on Wall Street who crashed the economy. It’s about time to bail out the students who are the way forward, the engine of the new economy for the 21st century.”

Stein is the favorite of many Bernie Sanders supporters, but Bernie is trying to persuade them to support the Democratic nominee. Campaigning with Clinton at the University of New Hampshire Wednesday, the Vermont senator told the student-heavy audience that, “All of you know this is a very tight election and that New Hampshire could decide the outcome. So I am asking you here today not only to vote for Secretary Clinton, but to work to get your uncles and your aunts and to get your friends to vote.”

But Stein says those Bernie supporters need to give her candidacy a shot.

“There is not a new entitlement for big politicians called owning our votes,” Stein said in support of voting for a third-party candidate like herself. “They have to earn our votes, they don’t own them, they have not earned our votes. So I think we want to put the horse before the cart, not the other way around. Let’s empower and inform the American voter to decide which way they want to go, instead of trying to shut off discussion before it’s even been opened. Over 70 percent of voters have no idea about my campaign. They don’t know who I am or what I stand for. I think we owe it to voters to lead the way forward rather than the party operatives and the political pundits who are telling us that they want one candidate over another and the rest of us better just shut up and go home.”

At Wednesday night’s event, Stein was preceded by a number of local speakers discussing a multitude of issues, including Susan Glickman urging the crowd to vote against Amendment One, Donna Davis from Black Lives Matter, Kelly Benjamin with the Fight for $15 movement, and Michelle Cookson from Sunshine Citizens informing the audience about why her group is so strongly opposed to the proposed Tampa Bay Express project.

Stein talks about her “Green New Deal” — an emergency jobs program she says cures the crisis of the part-time, minimum wage economy by focusing on climate change. She says it would require a mobilization similar to going to war, but says it’s worth it to save Florida, because the Sunshine State is “in the target hairs” of the global warming problem.

“You have to err on the safe side and ensure that this magnificent state and the magnificent ecosystem and what you have in your economy is not only alive, but needs to be thriving,” she said.

And Stein said “we need to go back to the drawing board” when it comes to dealing with companies like Mosaic, after the phosphate giant failed to disclose to their neighbors that 215 million gallons of contaminated water had fallen into a sinkhole at their phosphate plant in Mulberry, getting into the Florida aquifer, a source of fresh water for much of the state.

“This is not negotiable. Florida needs a great water supply,” Stein says. “We need a system that puts people first, ahead of profits. We need industries that are sustainable. We can have profits, but profits should not take place of our survival, and Florida’s survival not only as a viable economy, but just as a place that has drinking water, and an ecosystem.”

Stein was at Hofstra University on Long Island on Monday night, the site of the first presidential debate, before escorted off the college campus because of a lack of proper credentials. She said the lackluster discussion of war was why she should have been on that stage.

“Fifty-four percent of our discretionary national budget is going into these wars and this dangerous and bloated military. Almost half your income taxes are paying for it, and what do we have to show for it?” she asked. “Failed states, mass refugee migration and terrorist threats. So there’s another way forward in terms of national security and international peace. We call for a weapons embargo as well as a freeze on the funding of the bank accounts of those countries that are continuing to fund terrorist enterprises around the world, above all the Saudis. … They are the ones bankrolling all of this, so we and our allies have enabled this mess. We can shut it down peacefully, because by bombing it, we create the next wave of terrorism and they keep getting worse, they’re not getting better. So there’s a different way forward.”

Stein continues her Florida campaign tour Thursday. She’ll appear at the Robert L. Taylor Community Center in Sarasota at noon, and at the Flamboyant Banquet Hall at Acacia’s El Centro Borinqueno in Orlando at 6 p.m. 

 

 

 

Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump battle fiercely over taxes, race, terror

In a combative opening debate, Hillary Clinton emphatically denounced Donald Trump Monday night for keeping his personal tax returns and business dealings secret from voters and peddling a “racist lie” about President Barack Obama. Businessman Trump repeatedly cast Clinton as a “typical politician” as he sought to capitalize on Americans’ frustration with Washington.

Locked in an exceedingly close White House race, the presidential rivals tangled for 90-minutes over their vastly different visions for the nation’s future. Clinton called for lowering taxes for the middle class, while Trump focused more on renegotiating trade deals that he said have caused companies to move jobs out of the U.S. The Republican backed the controversial “stop-and-frisk policing” tactic as a way to bring down crime, while the Democrat said the policy was unconstitutional and ineffective.

The debate was heated from the start, with Trump frequently trying to interrupt Clinton and speaking over her answers. Clinton was more measured and restrained, but also needled the sometimes-thin-skinned Trump over his business record and wealth.

“There’s something he’s hiding,” she declared, scoffing at his repeated contention that he won’t release his tax returns because he is being audited.

Trump aggressively tried to turn the transparency questions around on Clinton, who has struggled to overcome voters’ concerns about her honestly and trustworthiness. He said he would release his tax information when she produces more than 30,000 emails that were deleted from the personal internet server she used as secretary of state.

Tax experts have said there is no reason the businessman cannot make his records public during an audit.

Clinton was contrite in addressing her controversial email use, saying simply that it was a “mistake”. She notably did not fall back on many of the excuses she has often used for failing to use a government email during her four years as secretary of state.

“If I had to do it over again, I would obviously do it differently,” she said.

The televised face-off was the most anticipated moment in an election campaign that has been both historic and unpredictable. Both sides expected a record-setting audience for the showdown at Hofstra University in suburban New York, reflecting the intense national interest in the race to become America’s 45th president.

The candidates sparred over trade, taxes and how to bring good-paying jobs back to the United States.

Clinton said her Republican rival was promoting a “Trumped-up” version of trickle-down economics — a philosophy focused on tax cuts for the wealthy. She called for increasing the federal minimum wage, spending more on infrastructure projects and guaranteeing equal pay for women.

Trump panned policies that he said have led to American jobs being moved overseas, in part because of international trade agreements that Clinton has supported. He pushed Clinton aggressively on her past support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact while she was serving in the Obama administration. She’s since said she opposes the sweeping deal in its final form.

“You called it the gold standard of trade deals,” Trump said. “If you did win, you would approve that.”

Disputing his version of events, Clinton said, “I know you live in your reality.”

Trump struggled to answer repeated questions about why he only recently acknowledged that Barack Obama was born in the United States. For years, Trump has been the chief promoter of questions falsely suggesting the president was born outside of America.

“He has really started his political activity on this racist lie,” Clinton charged.

Clinton aides spent the days leading up to the debate appealing for the media and voters to hold Trump to a higher standard than they believe he has faced for much of the campaign. Their concern was that if the sometimes-bombastic Trump managed to keep his cool onstage, he’d be rewarded — even if he failed to flesh out policy specifics or didn’t tell the truth about his record and past statements.

Trump’s campaign has said the Clinton camp’s concerns reflected worries about her debating skills.

The centerpiece of Trump’s campaign has been a push for restrictive immigration measures, including a physical wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and an early proposal to temporarily bar foreign Muslims from coming to the U.S. But he’s been less detailed about other ideas, including his plan for stamping out the Islamic State group in the Middle East.

Clinton, a former senator and secretary of state, is banking on voters seeing her as a steady hand who can build on the record of President Obama, whose popularity is rising as he winds down his second term in office. She’s called for expanding Obama’s executive orders if Congress won’t pass legislation to overhaul the nation’s immigration system and for broader gun control measures. Overseas, she’s called for a no-fly zone in Syria but has vowed to keep the military out of a large-scale ground war to defeat the Islamic State group.

For Clinton, victory in November largely hinges on rallying the same young and diverse coalition that elected Obama but has yet to fully embrace her.

Trump has tapped into deep anxieties among some Americans, particularly white, working-class voters who feel left behind in a changing economy and diversifying nation. While the real estate mogul lacks the experience Americans have traditionally sought in a commander in chief, he’s banking on frustration with career politicians and disdain for Clinton to push him over the top on Election Day.

Republish with the permission of the Associated Press.

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