יום שלישי, 12 ביולי 2016

What's next for Bernie?


Despite his forceful endorsement of Hillary Clinton, Sanders' role going forward remains unclear.

A few points of agreement have already been reached between the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders camps as they look toward the general election.

The Vermont senator has locked down a major speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention later this month, according to people involved with the negotiations. And Clinton agreed to tack toward Sanders on her health care and education proposals last week.

But beyond that, Sanders’ next steps — and the exact nature of the role he’ll play in the general election — remain largely unanswered even after extensive negotiations in recent weeks.

One thing is certain: On Tuesday, at his joint rally with Clinton, he offered a forceful endorsement that surprised some of his most die-hard supporters — leaving some in tears on the Portsmouth High School gym bleachers.

Many Democrats on both sides of the Clinton-Sanders divide expected Tuesday’s speeches from the candidates and their surrogates — environmentalist Bill McKibben and activist Jim Dean for Sanders, Gov. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen for Clinton — to focus on the importance of unifying the party against Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee. But, speaking before Clinton in the late morning, Sanders went significantly further, jabbing at the real estate developer while also embracing Clinton.

Twenty-two weeks to the day after trouncing Clinton by 22 points in this influential primary and battleground state, Sanders effectively took a version of his familiar stump speech and — in the policy sections where he excoriated Clinton as recently as weeks ago — inserted repeated instances of Clinton praise.

At times, it sounded like he was declaring victory by noting how close Clinton now stands to his positions: on raising the minimum wage, on education, on health care, on income inequality.

Sanders taunts Trump's 'big talk'

By Nick Gass

“Secretary Clinton has won the Democratic nominating process, and I congratulate her for that,” he said, bringing the crowd to its feet with the exception of a few stunned pockets of #BernieorBust true believers. “She will be the Democratic nominee for president, and I intend to do everything I can to make certain she will be the next president of the United States.”

“It is no secret that Hillary Clinton and I disagree on a number of issues. That’s what this campaign has been about, that’s what democracy is about,” he later added, pointing to the results of the Democratic platform negotiations as evidence of their unification. “Our job now is to see that platform implemented by a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House and a Hillary Clinton presidency. And I am going to do everything I can to make that happen.”

Top Clinton aides watching the speech live thought Sanders, unaccustomed to publicly praising his rival, looked awkward and pained standing next to Clinton — who nodded assiduously throughout his roughly half-hour talk — even when they hugged between speeches. But the speech, punctuated by grimaces among staffers in both camps, struck enough of the right notes to make it incontrovertibly clear to liberals and establishment Democrats alike that Sanders is standing squarely behind Clinton, however long it took him to get there.

“It was a long approach but a relatively smooth landing,” said David Axelrod, President Barack Obama’s longtime lead strategist. “He did what was needed, making the case without being disingenuous, and making it clear that he is fully invested.”

“I don’t think in the past I’ve ever seen a presidential nominee being so willing to embrace the other person and figure out how to work together to get policy enacted,” added Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett. “So he’s a great advocate who’s brought out on the trail to make sure people understand how Hillary Clinton’s policies are good on those issues, and why it’s so important that she beat Donald Trump. I mean, I was impressed so much of his message was pro-Hillary — what she brought to the table — as well as all the drawbacks of a Trump presidency.”

Sanders: 'Clinton will make an outstanding president'

By Louis Nelson

The most immediate question for Sanders’ aides is the uncertainty surrounding the timing of his convention speech — Monday or Tuesday of convention week — leaving them looking at precedents of previous runner-up convention appearances (Clinton spoke on Tuesday eight years ago).

The campaigns are also negotiating which of Sanders’ surrogates will get speaking roles, a process that has already caused some tension because of the anger that animated the closing months of the primary contest. Accordingly, some of Sanders’ most prominent supporters — like former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner, a Clinton backer-turned-harsh critic — are controversial figures within the former secretary of state’s political orbit.

To officials and operatives close to Clinton, the prospect of Sanders joining Clinton’s campaign as a prominent surrogate is an attractive one, so they’ve been willing to cave to his wishes more than even some of Clinton’s top backers expected. But concessions on health care and education policy are worth it, they figure, given Sanders’ appeal with two demographic groups with which Clinton struggled to connect in contest after contest during the primary season: young people and working-class white men.

Eyeing polls that show Sanders backers widely supporting Clinton in a general election contest, their teams are largely looking past the immediate bitter reactions on Tuesday, when some New Hampshire supporters in the crowd pledged to vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein and booed Clinton, echoing an angry chorus online that accused Sanders of being a sellout. Leading Democrats aligned with Clinton see their task now as determining exactly how Sanders, who on Tuesday pledged to travel to “every corner of this country” for Clinton, will make the pro-Clinton pitch to his core constituencies.

“What he says at the convention will be even more important [than Tuesday’s speech], as he will have a much larger audience,” said Axelrod. “But, clearly, he is in position to be a strong voice against Donald Trump, particularly on economic issues, where Trump is hoping to make inroads among white, working-class Democrats.”

The Clinton campaign doesn’t expect Sanders to hit the ground running as a high-profile surrogate hosting his own events for her anytime soon. And with polls showing Sanders voters flocking to her even faster than her supporters backed Obama in 2008, there’s little need for him to make a hard sell to his coalition.

Jill Stein shreds Sanders' Clinton endorsement

By Nick Gass

But as an important validator of her progressive credentials and a candidate with proven strength among younger voters, Sanders serves as a critical asset.

More than one month after clinching the nomination, Clinton is still laboring to persuade the youngest group of voters to trust her: A University of Chicago/Associated Press-NORC survey released on Tuesday showed that only about one-quarter of young white voters and roughly half of young Hispanic voters have a positive opinion of her.

Yet the people around Sanders remain divided over what shape his role should take, as many have long expected him to play the part of chief Trump attack dog and down-ballot cheerleader rather than traditional pro-Clinton surrogate. And since the senator himself has been singularly focused on winning concessions from Clinton on the platform in recent weeks, they have had little guidance on what he wants to do.

To some of his advisers, however, his likely role is obvious: campus ambassador, particularly in the battleground states where he won the primary.

Such an arrangement, which would let him speak to his most dedicated backers, is far from finalized, but it’s gaining support among Clinton’s close allies.

“There’s a strong constituency in a number of states that are going to be battleground states, like New Hampshire. Places like New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Minnesota,” said Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Scott Arceneaux, who is working closely with Clinton’s campaign in that state. “Places where he did really well, I’m sure, will be some of the places he goes to help Hillary’s campaign.”

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