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What Makes This Photo of Amy Klobuchar So Universal?

Last night while The Democrats Present: Hell in a Cell 45, Socialists Take All was airing on CBS, I was perusing Getty images, as one is wont to do. I stumbled upon a photo, not of a moment in time so much as of an energy. This photo of Senator Amy Klobuchar is a timeless piece of history that encapsulates a feeling so universal, so hard to describe. Check it out.

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You know exactly what that feeling is, right?

When you take two melatonin gummies.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston Ahead Of SC Primary

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That feeling when your coworkers are arguing at 4pm on a Wednesday, but it’s okay because neither is really mad and you get to listen.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston Ahead Of SC Primary

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When there’s a hot day in April, but your air condition is controlled by the entire building.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston Ahead Of SC Primary

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When you spend hours creating a meal for someone who you thought had a gluten sensitivity, but when they arrive, they clarify that it’s a dairy intolerance.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston Ahead Of SC Primary

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That feeling when every day is a winding road.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston Ahead Of SC Primary

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That feeling when you get a little bit closer.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston Ahead Of SC Primary

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When you know you shouldn’t get a bag of Skittles from the vending machine, but you do anyway because you’re feeling naughty, and then it gets stuck.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston Ahead Of SC Primary

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When you tell your friend, “I’m almost there!” as you’re walking out the door, and they say, “Great, I just got a table.”

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston Ahead Of SC Primary

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When you wake up in a panic and start getting dressed because you’re late, only to realize it’s Saturday.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston Ahead Of SC Primary

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When you want to make a casserole, but they’re out of cream of mushroom.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston Ahead Of SC Primary

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When your dad calls you to ask you what his password is.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston Ahead Of SC Primary

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“Fruit is a healthy alternative.”

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston Ahead Of SC Primary

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When you say “bless you,” and the person sneezes four more times.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston Ahead Of SC Primary

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When Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” is playing in your friend’s car, but they turn it off before the drum solo.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston Ahead Of SC Primary

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When you accidentally tell someone in a professional setting that you love them.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston Ahead Of SC Primary

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When The View is playing at the doctor’s office.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston Ahead Of SC Primary

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“Let’s just split the bill evenly.”

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston Ahead Of SC Primary

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When you’ve been drinking decaf all morning.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston Ahead Of SC Primary

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When a player forgets to answer in the form of a question on Jeopardy!

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston Ahead Of SC Primary

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That feeling when your friend who just got back from England keeps saying, “Cheers!”

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston Ahead Of SC Primary

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When someone is just “circling back.”

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston Ahead Of SC Primary

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“Dry January”

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston Ahead Of SC Primary

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When you’re scrolling on your phone in a public bathroom and it turns out it wasn’t on mute.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston Ahead Of SC Primary

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When it’s not delivery, it’s Digiorno.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Charleston Ahead Of SC Primary

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Pelosi says she’d be comfortable with Sanders as Democratic nominee

Nancy Pelosi (Image: YouTube screen grab via MSNBC)

Nancy Pelosi has acquired the habit of throwing caution to the wind here in her dotage. After prevailing as the voice of reason throughout much of 2019 by resisting her party’s calls for impeachment, she finally capitulated, full well knowing the Democratic case was weak and would likely be quashed by the Republican majority in the Senate. She next signed on to the idea of launching the inquiry in a secret room in the Capitol basement, fueling the inevitable argument that the president had been denied due process.

Once the House had voted on articles of impeachment, she decided to sit on them for a month, thereby destroying the Democrats’ claim that action against the president was “urgent.”

Now that that ugly chapter of her (according to some) storied career as speaker is history, Pelosi is busy writing the next chapter. According to The Hill, Pelosi affirmed today that “she would be comfortable with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as the Democratic presidential nominee in November.”

The congresswoman was asked the question as she was leaving a closed-door meeting in the House basement Wednesday morning.

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She replied with one word: “Yes.”

The strange position comes on the heels of Sanders’s controversial beatification of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, which has caused panic throughout the Democratic ranks. Pundits, like the New York Times’s Thomas Friedman, wary of Sanders’s radical tendencies, have begun concocting alternative realities involving a “super ticket” that will appeal to mainstream Democrats.

Pelosi’s stated acceptance of Sanders at the top of the ticket also follows recent efforts by her to distinguish the party’s mainstream from its socialist wing, claiming that Democrats are “capitalists” at heart and denying the ascendancy of socialism.

As things are shaping up, there is a distinct and growing possibility that the Democrats will lose control of the House in November, ending Pelosi’s rein as speaker. Should that happen, she will certainly have gone out on a low note.

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Republican Congressman Says Anti-Lynching Law Is Government Overreach

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) voted against the House-passed federal anti-lynching law because in his view it violated states’ rights.

CNN Manu Raju tweeted:

The House passed the Emmet Till Anti-Lynching Act by a vote of 410-4, which means that even the vast majority of Trump House Republicans can see that lynching is a hate crime.

Rep. Yoho is arguing that states should have the right to determine for themselves whether lynching an African-American person should be classified as a hate crime.

For a sane perspective, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said in a statement provided to PoliticusUSA, “Today brings us one step closer to finally reconciling a dark chapter in our nation’s history. Lynchings were used to terrorize, marginalize, and oppress black communities – to kill human beings in order to sow fear and keep black communities in a perpetual state of racial subjugation. If we do not reckon with this dark past, we cannot move forward. But today we are moving forward. Thanks to the leadership of Rep. Rush, the House has sent a clear, indisputable message that lynching will not be tolerated. It has brought us closer to reckoning with our nation’s history of racialized violence. Now the Senate must again pass this bill to ensure that it finally becomes law.”

The sad part of this conversation isn’t the existence of Republicans like Yoho who made an argument against the bill that was straight out of Jim Crow. The saddest part is that Mitch McConnell has to be lobbied to pass an anti-lynching bill.

No one is sure if McConnell will allow a vote on the bill.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) added that lynching is terrorism, “Lynchings were racially motivated acts of violence and terror that represent a dark and despicable chapter of our nation’s history. They were acts against people who should have received justice but did not. With this bill, we are able to change that by explicitly criminalizing lynching under federal law.”

Lynching is domestic terrorism, and no one is one hundred percent sure if Mitch McConnell will oppose the terrorists.

For more discussion about this story join our Rachel Maddow and MSNBC group.

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Ben Shapiro jokes Elizabeth Warren was ‘openly campaigning’ to join Sanders ticket during Dem debate

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., spent much of Tuesday’s Democratic debate attacking former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in an effort to win over current front-runner Bernie Sanders, Ben Shapiro said.

Breaking down the heated South Carolina debate on “The Ben Shapiro Show” Wednesday, the conservative commentator mocked Warren for shamelessly pursuing a spot as Sanders’ running mate.

“Elizabeth Warren … is just openly campaigning … in the middle of the debate, she walked over to Bernie’s podium and slipped him a resume for VP,” Shapiro joked.

Warren repeatedly attacked Bloomberg on the stage Tuesday night, just a week after she clashed with the same candidate during the last week’s primary debate in Las Vegas.

The Charleston debate was easily the most contentious of the primary season to date, as candidates frequently sparred with the moderators and ripped into each other on spending, foreign policy, and more.

FORMER TOP CLINTON STRATEGIST: WARREN IS ‘BLOOMBERG SLAYING’ ON BEHALF OF SANDERS

From left, Democratic presidential candidates, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., left, talks with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, on stage after the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Gaillard Center, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Charleston, S.C., co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

“She is so obvious and so transparent, and so terrible … so ten minutes into the debate, she swivels and just starts clocking Bloomberg,” Shapiro said.

Warren, who the RealClearPolitics polling average shows to be in fourth place in South Carolina, challenged Bloomberg over offensive remarks that he allegedly made to female employees and his past financial support for Republican candidates.

DEMS PUMMEL SANDERS ON COMMUNISM, SPENDING AT SC DEBATE AHEAD OF KEY PRIMARIES

“Bloomberg ain’t the frontrunner, he is fading in the polls,” Shapiro noted, adding that Warren’s attack on the billionaire was simply “to prove her bonafides…” to Sanders.

“That is just her showing off to Bernie Sanders at this point,” he added.

According to a report by The Intercept, the Sanders campaign recently inquired about securing Warren as a running mate and floated the prospect of assigning her the role of treasury secretary in addition to vice president.

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“Really,” Shapiro concluded, “what it’s about is taking down Bloomberg at Sanders’ behest. When you spend all your time attacking the guy that is polling like third in national polling, it sort of betrays what exactly you are doing, Elizabeth Warren.”

Fox News’ Matt London contributed to this report.

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Pelosi Urges Dem Unity as Sanders Surges

Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday urged party unity amid Bernie Sanders’ surge in the presidential race, even as House Democrats worry about a volatile election season that could put a self-described democratic socialist atop the ticket and threaten their majority.

“I would hope that everyone would say, no matter who the nominee is for president, we wholeheartedly embrace that person,” Pelosi, D-Calif., told the House Democratic caucus at a closed-door meeting, “‘We cannot show any division. This has to be about unity, unity, unity,” she said, according to a Democratic aide who attended the session. The aide was not authorized to discuss the private meeting and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Down-ballot jitters are apparent as the Vermont senator takes an increasingly commanding lead in early voting and withstands the constant pummeling by rival s who have been unable to slow his rise.

With South Carolina’s primary on Saturday, followed by the Super Tuesday contests on March 2, House Democrats are navigating how best to hold onto their seats while opponents try to lasso them to Sanders’ socialist label.

Many first-term Democrats are counting on their own well-crafted brands, not the party’s eventual presidential nominee, whoever that may be, to see them to reelection. The House majority was built by lawmakers who come from districts where President Donald Trump is popular, and his campaign operation will be turning out voters in fall. But in a campaign cycle full of unknowns as the party tries to unseat Trump, they are relying on the backgrounds that pushed them to office in the first place to do it again.

“I will go into my race with the same degree of confidence, no matter who is at the top of the ticket,” said Rep. Tom Malinowski, a freshman Democrat from a competitive New Jersey district, who supports former Vice President Joe Biden in the primary.

Malinowski, said he will “absolutely” support Sanders if the senator becomes the party’s nominee. But the congressman said Democrats need to simplify their message and seize the moment with a candidate who can topple Trump. “Why we would risk this extraordinary opportunity by nominating somebody who has a tendency to divide our own side is is beyond me,” he said.

Other Democrats, though, are more open about their fears of a Sanders’ nomination.

First-term Rep. Elaine Luria, who defeated an incumbent Republican in 2018 in a swing district in coastal Virginia, said a Sanders candidacy would be “incredibly divisive” and could endanger more centrist members of Congress like herself.

Her opponents are already trying to tag Luria, a former Navy commander and Naval Academy graduate, as a “socialist,” she said. Luria rejects the label as “ridiculous.”

“Bernie Sanders just adds fuel to that fire,” Luria said.

She has endorsed Biden, but had praise for former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, calling them politicians who “build bridges rather than break them down.”

Hoping to propel Biden’s lagging candidacy in a state he has pledged to win, the No. 3 House Democrat, Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, an influential leader and the highest-ranking African American in Congress, announced his endorsement on Wednesday.

Veteran Rep. David Price, D-N.C., said of Biden: “There’s not a congressional district in this country he couldn’t campaign in.”

Divisions run deep among House Democrats, whose primary preferences span the party’s ideological reach, from the most liberal and progressive members backing Sanders to those preferring Biden, Bloomberg or the other more centrist candidates.

Freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., is one of Sanders’ most high-profile backers in the House, an electrifying campaign surrogate. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., is a Sanders campaign co-chairman.

Many liberals say Sanders is the only candidate able to energize base voters and take on Trump. His commitment to curbing income inequality and his bold policy proposals, including “Medicare for All” and tuition-free college, are galvanizing voters, they say. They point to Sanders’ strong showing in Nevada as a snapshot of the coalition he could build nationwide against Trump.

Campaigning Wednesday in South Carolina, Sanders warned that a “conventional campaign” like Biden’s won’t defeat Trump.

In Tuesday night’s presidential debate, candidate Pete Buttigieg warned of the potential down-ballot consequences in Congress if Sanders won the nomination. Senate Democrats are struggling to flip the chamber from Republicans, who have a slim majority, while House Democrats are working to retain their advantage.

Pelosi said she thinks that “whoever our nominee is, we will enthusiastically embrace — and we will win the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives.”

House Democrats hold a modest majority, more than a dozen seats, and while Trump is eager to have his party in control of the chamber, House Republicans have seen a rush toward the exits with retirements. The House GOP is still recruiting candidates to challenge the Democrats and has lagged in fundraising.

Pelosi said lawmakers will have a briefing Thursday at the Democratic National Committee headquarters about the nominating process. The party convention is in July.

Democrats changed the nominating rules to reduce the power of “super delegates” — lawmakers and other VIPs — to choose the nominee.

If no candidate secures the nod outright on initial round voting at the convention, the super delegates, including lawmakers, may have a role to play in casting votes.

At an earlier debate in Las Vegas, the 2020 candidates were asked whether the candidate with the most delegates should be the nominee, even if that person lacked a delegate majority. Almost every candidate suggested that the convention process should work its way out.

Sanders, who helped force the changes to the nomination process this year and expects to take a significant delegate lead in the coming weeks, was the only exception.

“The person who has the most votes should become the nominee,” he said.

House Democrats, particularly the freshmen, are being told to chart their own course as they did running in 2018.

In much they way some House Democrats won their seats as they distanced themselves from Pelosi, they may be faced with running for reelection by distancing themselves from the party nominee.

“This is tough,” Pelosi told the House caucus. “We have to win.”


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There Are No “Moderate” Democratic Presidential Candidates

News

I have a serious problem with the media, and it is not confined to the left-wing press.

My issue concerns the repeated identification of the major Democratic candidates for president (other than Sens. Sanders and Warren) as occupiers of the “middle lane” of our politics.

This prized middle ground is where Messrs. Biden, Buttigieg and Bloomberg and Mrs. Klobuchar are alleged to live.

None of this “democratic socialist” nonsense for this crew; at times, one or more of them can even be heard speaking a few ritualistic words in defense of market capitalism or keeping one’s private health insurance. For the Democratic establishment, this lane constitutes a nominally anti-socialist haven that may house the kryptonite required to defeat the irrepressible Mr. Trump in November.

Unfortunately, this con-job of a narrative is not limited to the usual suspects. Reliably conservative outlets such as Fox News and The Wall Street Journal also employ the moderate label for this group. I have no reasonable explanation for this indulgence.

TRENDING: Bernie Turns on Dem Audience After Getting Booed Over His Pro-Cuba Comments

A wake-up call is therefore in order: Lifelong liberals are not miraculously transformed into middle-of-the-roaders simply because two uber-progressives have captured a significant portion of the Democratic Party’s base.

In other words, despite the fact that most of humankind is to the right of Sanders and Warren, there still exists those who until very recently were known as “liberals.”

Not so long ago, this proud group defined the Democratic Party. Their members occupied such a large lane within the party that every one of the Democratic candidates for president going back to 1968 happily owned the moniker. It was where The Honorable Hubert Humphreys, Walter Mondales, Mike Dukakises, John Kerrys and yes, even Joe Bidens (circa 1980) lived.

On the policy front, these liberal leaders could be heard advocating for free speech on campus, due process, secure borders, assimilation, religious freedom and working-class tax cuts. Some went as far as supporting (some) abortion restrictions. Others were “pro-gun” for a time (see the early Howard Dean and Bernie Sanders).

Do you think any of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates can be described as “moderate”?

Still, this group always supported an aggressive federal role in our daily lives. Class-warfare rhetoric (the “evil” rich) was standard fare. Activist judges were their cup of tea. And there was always a call for a downsized military in exchange for increased domestic spending. (In the old vernacular, “Fewer guns, more butter.”) As a result, conservatives always had plenty to fight them about.

Now fast-forward to the progressive crisis that is 2020’s Democratic nominating process.

In this new world, all of the so-called moderates have raised their hands in support of free health care for illegal aliens, all of the moderates have called for gun registration and/or confiscation measures, all of the moderates have dismissed the concept of “religious freedom” as a mere dog whistle for homophobia and racism and all of the moderates have called for the maintenance of sanctuary cities and the elimination or reconstituting of ICE.

You might add to this list a growing number of incongruous apologies issued by the likes of Biden and Bloomberg for past policy errors. The voting public has seen this movie before. Recall Hillary Clinton’s latter-day apologies for past positions that are now deemed unacceptable to the progressive intelligentsia. Alas, that late-term conversion proved unconvincing.

Often forgotten in this race to identify heretofore liberals as moderates is the long-ignored, long-suffering conservative wing of the Democratic Party. This forlorn group, last seen on the back of milk cartons, is simply beaten down these days. Their social conservatism is no longer allowed in a party controlled by the PC police.

RELATED: CBS Comes Under Fire After Democratic Debate Devolves into Shouting Match

That many of them may have voted for President Trump (and other Republican presidential candidates before him) appears to be of no interest to the powers that be. To be sure, those who “feel the Bern” have no interest in conducting deplorable-focused listening tours throughout the heartland!

One thing you can take to the bank, however: If the Trump campaign does its job, millions of conservative Democrats will not be confused by the supposedly heavy traffic in the middle lane.

Those vehicles will simply be AOC and her “squad” cutting them off in the slow lane in order to swerve back to the far left — where most of this crowd truly belongs.

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Sanders’s surge spreads fear among House and Senate Democrats

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks with members of the media after a Democratic presidential primary debate, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Charleston, S.C. (Matt Rourke/AP)

By now most political observers are probably familiar with the so-called “electability argument” against Democratic frontrunner Bernie Sanders: He’s a self-described democratic socialist who will lose swing voters to President Trump. They’ve probably heard Sanders’s rebuttal as well: That he’ll make up for it with “the highest voter turnout in history,” particularly among young voters and new voters and voters of color. 

But during last night’s Democratic debate in Charleston, S.C., several of Sanders’s rivals tried to blunt his momentum ahead of Saturday’s Palmetto State primary by claiming, for the first time in a national setting, that the problem isn’t just that the Vermont senator is unelectable himself.

It’s that nominating him would make dozens of down-ballot Democratic House, Senate and state legislature candidates more vulnerable, too.

“I’ll tell you exactly what [Sanders’s agenda] adds up to,” said former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg. “It adds up to four more years of Donald Trump, [House GOP Minority Leader] Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House and the inability to get the Senate into Democratic hands. The time has come for us to stop acting like the presidency is the only office that matters. Not only is this a way to get Donald Trump reelected — we got a House to worry about. We got a Senate to worry about. And this really important.”

A few minutes later, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg piled on. “If [this] keep[s] on going, we will [nominate] Bernie,” Bloomberg said. “Bernie will lose to Donald Trump. And Donald Trump and the House and the Senate and some of the state houses will all go red.”

Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg participates in a Democratic presidential primary debate Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Charleston, S.C. (Patrick Semansky/AP)
Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg participates in a Democratic presidential primary debate Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Charleston, S.C. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

The logic here is elementary. Sanders is very, very liberal. Places with competitive House and Senate races are, almost by definition, not. Ergo, putting Sanders at the top of the ticket would make it harder for those candidates to win; harder for Democrats to keep the House and flip and the Senate; and harder, ultimately, for Sanders to pass anything if he becomes president — and easier for Trump to enact his second-term agenda if Sanders loses.

The question is whether there’s any evidence to back up this prediction.

The answer, it turns out, is yes: in the results of the 2018 midterms. Two years ago, as New York magazine columnist Jonathan Chait has pointed out, “the Democratic Party was the subject of bitter and widespread criticism from its left wing.” Chait continues:

The party’s strategy was to flip the House by recruiting moderate candidates who would avoid controversial left-wing positions and instead focus attention on Trump’s agenda, especially his effort to eliminate Obamacare. The left predicted the strategy would fail — only an inspiring progressive agenda could mobilize enough voters to win back the House.

So who was right? The establishment, by a mile. On Election Day 2018, Democrats picked up 41 House seats, their biggest victory since Watergate. Thirty-one of those districts were districts Trump won in 2016, and pretty much every candidate who flipped a seat from red to blue — in working-class Obama-to-Trump counties from Michigan to Iowa to Maine; in upscale Romney-Clinton suburbs from California to Texas to New Jersey — fit the low-risk moderate mold. Progressives, meanwhile, managed to nominate several candidates in red districts — Kara Eastman in Nebraska, Richard Ojeda in West Virginia — but all of them lost. “Our Revolution went 0–22, Justice Democrats went 0–16 and Brand New Congress went 0–6,” Chait notes, citing the win-loss records of several pro-Sanders organizations. “The failed technocratic 26-year-old bourgeoise shills who were doing it wrong somehow accounted for 100 percent of the party’s House gains.” If candidates in Sanders’s mold couldn’t win swing districts in 2018, why would nominating Sanders himself help Democrats win those same districts in 2020?

The candidates themselves seem to agree with this analysis. Of the 46 Democratic representatives who hold districts classified by Sabato’s Crystal Ball as at least marginally competitive, not one has endorsed Sanders. Some have gone further and actively distanced themselves from their party’s potential nominee. Anthony Brindisi of upstate New York said he would not support Sanders; Joe Cunningham agreed, insisting that “South Carolinians don’t want socialism.” Sanders’s (admittedly qualified) praise for Fidel Castro in an interview on “60 Minutes” terrified two freshman House members from South Florida, Donna Shalala and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, whose districts include many staunchly anti-Communist refugees from Cuba. In the House, eight of the front-line Democrats, including Haley Stevens of Michigan, Max Rose of New York and Lucy McBath of Georgia, have endorsed Bloomberg. Others, including several military veterans — Conor Lamb and Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania, and Elaine Luria of Virginia — are coalescing around former Vice President Joe Biden. 

Meanwhile, the leading Democratic candidates for the four most vulnerable Republican Senate seats — in Arizona, North Carolina, Maine and Colorado — have all come out against Medicare for All, Sanders’s signature health care plan.

Yet after Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly, the former astronaut, tepidly said he would “support who the nominee is of the Democratic Party” in response to a question about Sanders, incumbent Republican Sen. Martha McSally launched a 30-second ad titled “Bernie Bros” tying Kelly to Sanders’s agenda and declaring that “Kelly and Sanders” are “too liberal for Arizona.”  

Senator Martha McSally R-Arizona speaks at a rally for President Donald Trump Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020 in Phoenix. (Rick Scuteri/AP)
Senator Martha McSally R-Arizona speaks at a rally for President Donald Trump Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020 in Phoenix. (Rick Scuteri/AP)

Consider that a preview of things to come. “I can tell you that there are a lot of down-ballot jitters based on my conversations with my former colleagues,” former Rep. Steve Israel of New York, a longtime confidant of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who led congressional election efforts from 2011 to 2015, told the Washington Post. “Donald Trump is going to offer the American people this choice: Do you want to continue building the economy or do you want to lurch toward socialism? And that is a real powerful argument in the Democratic districts that Trump won in 2016.”

It’s a point Buttigieg made during Tuesday’s debate in Charleston: Because politicians are experts in self-preservation, and because they tend to understand the politics of their states and districts better than anyone else, it’s worth considering how they think Sanders would affect them when trying to gauge his likely impact on the rest of the Democratic Party in November.

“If you want to keep the House in Democratic hands, you might want to check with the people who actually turned the House blue,” Buttigieg said on stage. “Forty Democrats who are not running on your platform. They are running away from your platform as fast as they possibly can. I want to send those Democrats back to the United States House. Let’s listen to them when they say that they don’t want to be out there defending Sen. Sanders.”

It’s possible, of course, that Buttigieg & Co. are getting this wrong. Asked Wednesday about Sanders, Pelosi said that “whoever our nominee is, we will enthusiastically embrace and we will win the White House, the Senate and the House.” Sanders, naturally, agrees; earlier this month he dismissed the doubts among down-ballot Dems, telling reporters that to win, “we’re going to have to get young people a lot more involved in the political process” and “expand minority voting.”

“I think we have a campaign to do that,” he added.

In an interview Tuesday with the Washington Post, Sanders’s pollster Ben Tulchin expanded on this idea, claiming that because the “suburban voters” who fueled Democrats in 2018 “hate Trump,” they’ll “vote for the Democrat” no matter who it is.

“Bernie can add to that coalition,” Tulchin continued, claiming that his boss has “a unique appeal with working-class voters” and “can be more effective” in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania as a result. “He does well in rural and white working-class districts where Democrats have struggled. Bernie brings something different to the mix that can actually put more districts in play. There’s an upside to him that’s getting discounted right now.”

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during a campaign rally at the Charleston Area Convention Center on February 26, 2020 in North Charleston, South Carolina. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during a campaign rally at the Charleston Area Convention Center on February 26, 2020 in North Charleston, South Carolina. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

In addition, voters can differentiate between party’s presidential nominee and its state or local candidates — especially when those state and local candidates have tons of cash at their disposal to advertise those differences.

“Democrats enjoy an enormous financial advantage right now in most of these Senate and House races… to make the case that they’re different from Bernie Sanders and that they’re pragmatists and that they won’t veer the country off a democratic socialist cliff,” expert House analyst Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report recently told NPR. “And so it’s going to be difficult for Republicans to simply paint those Democratic freshmen or candidates like Mark Kelly in with Bernie Sanders with a broad brush.”

And while ticket splitting is rarer in this polarized era than it used to be, it “can and still does occur,” as political analyst Kyle Kondik recently explained. One time it does tend to occur, according to the research, is when voters “split their tickets against the party they believe will win the White House as a way to put a check on the likely winner.” Since two-thirds of Americans assume Trump will win reelection, this effect could help House Democrats do better than expected in 2020 — even if Bernie is on the ballot.

So who knows how the math would work out. But the bottom line remains the same: Sanders represents a unique risk for down-ballot Democrats. Last week, a Washington Post-ABC News Poll found that of all the leading presidential candidates, Sanders performs the poorest against Trump among college-educated white women, the group most responsible for the party’s 2018 House majority. This week, a new study by political scientists at Yale and the University of California, Berkeley showed that nominating Sanders would drive many Americans who would otherwise vote for a moderate Democrat to vote for Trump — losses that Sanders could only offset by inspiring an unprecedented 11-percentage-point turnout boost among young left-leaning voters, who haven’t showed up at anything approaching that level so far this year.  

In the end, Mitch McConnell probably got it right Tuesday when a reporter asked if he believed that Sanders would help the GOP maintain its Senate majority.

“I’m reminded of when the Democrats back in 1980 were all pulling for Ronald Reagan to be the nominee because they thought he’d be the easiest to beat,” the Senate majority leader said. “I think Republicans speculating about which Democratic candidate for president would be the easiest to beat may be a bit foolish. I think it’s going to be a contested general election with a lot of energy on both sides.”

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Court rules Trump can withhold funds from ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions

NEW YORK (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s administration can withhold millions of dollars in law enforcement funds from states and cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump hosts a “California Sanctuary State Roundtable” at the White House in Washington. U.S., May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan was a victory for Trump in his years-long fight with so-called sanctuary jurisdictions.

It overturned a lower court ruling directing the release of federal funds to New York City and the states of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington.

The states and city sued over a 2017 policy conditioning receipt of the funds by state and local governments on their giving federal immigration officials access to their jails, and advance notice when immigrants in the country illegally are being released from custody.

Three federal appeals courts in Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco have upheld injunctions barring enforcement of at least some of the administration’s conditions on the so-called Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants.

Wednesday’s decision sets up a possible appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which often resolves legal disputes that divide lower courts.

In the decision, Judge Reena Raggi said the case “implicates several of the most divisive issues confronting our country” including immigration policy and law enforcement, illegal immigrants, and the ability of state and local governments to adopt policies the federal government dislikes.

The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James said it was reviewing the decision. New York City’s law department had no immediate comment.

A U.S. Justice Department spokesman called the decision a “major victory for Americans” in recognizing Attorney General William Barr’s authority to ensure that grant recipients do not thwart federal law enforcement priorities.

Trump, a Republican seeking re-election on Nov. 3, takes a hardline stance toward legal and illegal immigration.

His battle against Democratic-led “sanctuary” jurisdictions focuses on laws and policies making it harder for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to find and arrest immigrants they consider deportable.

The funding conditions announced by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions affected nearly $26 million of annual grants to the seven states and $4 million to New York City.

U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos in Manhattan in Nov. 2018 declared the conditions unconstitutional, saying the administration acted arbitrarily and capriciously in withholding grants without considering the impact on local law enforcement.

Raggi, however, said the conditions “help the federal government enforce national immigration laws and policies supported by successive Democratic and Republican administrations.”

Byrne was a New York City police officer shot to death at age 22 in 1988 while guarding the home of a Guyanese immigrant helping authorities investigate drug trafficking.

The case is New York et al v U.S. Department of Justice et al, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Nos. 19-267, 19-275.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Will Dunham

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Bloomberg is spending big on ads in often-overlooked states

For years, Democrats running for president have given little thought to crimson-red Alabama, even in party-nominating contests.

With only 52 pledged delegates to the Democratic convention — a fraction of California’s 415 — this Deep South state is far from the biggest prize on Super Tuesday, March 3, when 14 states with about 40% of the total delegates are up for grabs.

But Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, has been giving attention — and money — to Alabama. And the state’s receptivity illustrates a major reason why his big-spending bid for the nomination forges ahead despite his widely derided performance in last week’s debate, which caused a significant drop in his national standing in some polls.

His investment has bought Bloomberg some favor here and in other under-the-radar Southern states, including Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi, where local Democrats are unaccustomed to the attention.

The media-company billionaire is focusing on Super Tuesday states, vastly outspending Democratic rivals without his riches who’ve been concentrating on the early-voting states that Bloomberg is sitting out.

As of Monday, Bloomberg had spent more than $191 million on advertising in Super Tuesday states, according to Advertising Analytics. That compares with $36 million for the next-highest spender, billionaire Tom Steyer, $12 million for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and minimal amounts for other Democrats.

In Alabama, he has poured more than $8 million into TV and radio ads in the last two months while Sanders has spent just $142,000 and two of his main competitors, former Vice President Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind. — have not advertised. Bloomberg has visited Montgomery twice, opened up four campaign offices and hired 30 people while most of his rivals have two paid staffers or fewer.

Part of Bloomberg’s pitch is that national Democrats have long neglected the South, essentially ceding states like Alabama to Republicans, and he’ll change that.

“I believe it’s time for the national Democratic Party to stop ignoring Alabama,” he said earlier this month to the Alabama Democratic Conference.

“I’ve devoted a lot of my resources to those swing states from Michigan and Wisconsin to Florida and Arizona, but I’m also working to create what we call a new generation of swing states — states like Alabama and Texas, which could very well turn blue if more people voted.”

One evening last week, dozens of people — retired teachers and professors, small business owners and veterans — showed up for the opening of Bloomberg’s office in downtown Montgomery, opposite a statue of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks and near the state Capitol. Passing a table loaded with “Mike for President 2020” buttons and yard signs, many signed up to volunteer.

“Biden’s not really doing good,” said Grace Stewart, 68, a retired supervisor for General Motors. She said she liked Bloomberg’s messages on TV about gun violence and climate change, as well as his investment in Democratic causes.

“This is the first time I ever volunteered,” she said softly, clutching a Bloomberg T-shirt. “I’m not really a volunteering type of person, but we’ve got to get Trump out of office. I think Bloomberg’s a candidate that can win against Trump.”

Some of the other candidates are organizing here. Sanders has more than 1,000 volunteers contacting voters through phone banks and knocking on doors across the state. The Buttigieg campaign plans 100 events Saturday. Still, Bloomberg has likely amassed the largest Democratic presidential staff in Alabama history, Democrats say.

“His presence is overwhelming,” said Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, who was elected last fall as the first African American in the office.

“It matters,” Reed added. “It helps him gain some traction in communities that may not have been touched by a campaign.”

Marc Anthoni Peacock, 58, a retired pharmaceutical consultant, signs a volunteer sheet at the Bloomberg campaign office in Montgomery.

(Jenny Jarvie / Los Angeles Times)

Reed has yet to endorse any candidate. But his father has. Joe Reed, the leader of the Alabama Democratic Conference, the party’s primary black caucus, surprised many in this majority-black Southern city a few weeks ago when he endorsed Bloomberg.

His group, which works to get blacks to vote, plans to put Bloomberg’s name on more than a half-million sample ballots and distribute them in every county.

“We’ll take them door to door, from church to church, from barbershop to barbershop,” Reed said. “We’re going to try our level best to help him.”

As in other Southern states, Biden has long been favored among black voters who make up the majority of Alabama Democrats, given his strong association with former President Obama and past visits to Birmingham, Selma and Montgomery.

“The fact is the people in Alabama really don’t know Bloomberg — unlike Joe Biden, who has been into Alabama for a long time,” said Sen. Doug Jones, a Biden supporter. In 2017, Biden came to Birmingham to campaign for Jones.

But while Biden has won the endorsement of Jones and some other party leaders, including Rep. Terri A. Sewell and Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, his poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, and his distant second-place finish behind Sanders in Nevada on Saturday, did not help his case with undecided officials.

With no clear front-runner nationally, and little competition here yet, Bloomberg has seized the opening to spread the message that he is experienced, well-funded and the candidate who can beat President Trump.

“His strategy of skipping the first four states is incredibly risky,” said Andra Gillespie, associate professor of political science at Emory University. “But with Joe Biden’s campaign having faltered, and perhaps having stumbled irrevocably, his strategy doesn’t seem to be as far-fetched or quixotic as it once did.”

A former Republican, Bloomberg faces challenges in courting black voters after strong criticism of his support as New York mayor of stop-and-frisk policing and his suggestion that the end of redlining contributed to the 2008 economic collapse. Yet locals say his wealth allows him to get noticed, especially among older, more moderate black Democrats uncertain whom to support.

“Bloomberg has had a free hand in places like Alabama to be nothing but positive,” said Glen Browder, a professor at Jacksonville State University and a former Democratic congressman. “When Bloomberg comes to town flush with cash, not asking for contributions and just saying, ‘I’d like to have your support,’ that’s a pretty powerful introduction.

David Sadler, the owner of a concierge company and a former mayoral candidate, said he supported Bloomberg

David Sadler, 46, the owner of a concierge company and a former mayoral candidate, said he supported Bloomberg. “I don’t think you should punish someone who has resources,” he said.

(Jenny Jarvie / Los Angeles Times)

Bloomberg’s money is central to such calculations, as voters made clear.

“He’s the first person who can afford to spend money on his campaign with no reservation,” said David Sadler, 46, the owner of a concierge company and former mayoral candidate, adding, “I don’t think you should punish someone who has resources.”

Addressing those who turned out for Bloomberg’s office opening here, Joe Reed won loud applause when he said that he considered Biden a good friend, but he wanted to beat Trump.

“I’ve been around a good little while and this is one campaign we don’t have to shoot marbles to raise money,” he said. “We don’t have to roll the dice or anything. We can win big!”

Merika Coleman, assistant minority leader of the Alabama House of Representatives

Merika Coleman, assistant minority leader of the Alabama House of Representatives.

(Jenny Jarvie / Los Angeles Times)

Merika Coleman, assistant minority leader of the Alabama House, dismissed the talk about stop-and-frisk, noting favorably that Bloomberg supports Everytown for Gun Safety, the national nonprofit group that advocates for gun control.

“He put money behind making sure that our children are safe,” she said. “Mike Bloomberg has put his money where his mouth is.”

Whether they support Bloomberg or not, many Alabama Democrats are grateful for his investment in a state where no Democrat has held statewide office since 2012.

“The infrastructure and the level of organization structure the Bloomberg campaign has in place has to get your attention,” said Anthony Daniels, minority leader in the Alabama House, who has not yet endorsed a candidate. “Win or lose, he’s going to be engaged in the long haul. For me, that speaks volumes.”

Whoever wins the Democratic nomination, no one here is unrealistic about the nominee’s chances in November in Alabama, which favored Trump over Hillary Clinton by 28 percentage points. Yet local Democrats say that Bloomberg’s investment — he has vowed to keep his offices operating even if he’s not the nominee — could buoy endangered down-ballot Democrats, such as Jones, and help them capture two congressional seats.

“All of this energy happens in battleground states every cycle, but we don’t really see it here,” said Leanne Townsend, Bloomberg’s Alabama regional organizer, who spoke giddily of how he is spending to train volunteers on voter contacts, data management and canvassing.

Not everyone is so enamored of Bloomberg’s money.

Sean Champagne

Sean Champagne, a 27-year-old attorney, is a democratic socialist who favors Bernie Sanders.

(Jenny Jarvie / Los Angeles Times)

“It was stated that money can’t buy elections, but it certainly buys you a VIP table,” said Sean Champagne, a 27-year-old attorney and a democratic socialist who favors Sanders. Casting a withering look at the Bloomberg campaign office as he strode by, Champagne said he was troubled that Bloomberg could enter the race so late and gain momentum by opening his wallet.

“He is emblematic of everything that’s wrong with U.S. politics,” Champagne said.