Forty-three years ago, moments before the final debate of his first ever political campaign, Bernie Sanders turned to one of his rivals for Vermont's governorship, Fred Hackett, and made an unusual proposal: What if they switched outfits? The Republican could take off his tie, don Sanders' ratty blazer, and mess up his hair. Bernie could borrow Hackett's suit. "I tried to convince Fred that a great historical moment was at hand—that tens of thousands of people would turn on their TV sets and there, right before their uncomprehending eyes, would be a new Fred Hackett," he recalled in an essay a few months later. "Fred didn't take my advice—which is probably why he lost the election." (Sanders, who was running on the third-party Liberty Union ticket, also lost the election.)
That scenario is unlikely to repeat itself on Tuesday, when Sanders faces off against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the rest of the Democratic presidential field at the Wynn hotel and casino in Las Vegas. After four decades in politics, Sanders is as veteran a debater as they come—but is he any good at it?
Ohio Governor John Kasich told reporters in New Hampshire on Friday that he considers the death penalty and long prison sentences a better approach than gun control when it comes to reducing the number of mass shootings.
Kasich, who voted for a federal assault weapons ban as a Republican congressman two decades ago, demurred when asked what steps Washington should take in the wake of the Thursday massacre at Umpquah Community College in Oregon that left 10 people dead. "I don’t believe that gun control would stop this," he told a scrum of journalists after a town hall in Goffstown, during which the subject did not come up.
I think they have very tough gun laws in that state. The fact is that more and more people believe that they should be able to defend themselves. And if take guns away from people who are law-abiding the people who are going to cause these horrible things are still gonna have them. I don’t agree with that. That is not—you know I favor, in Ohio, the death penalty. I favor long prison sentences.That’s the way I would go.
When a reporter asked him what specifically he would do to curb mass shootings as president, Kasich said it wouldn't be his responsibility. "I don’t think any president can stop mass shootings," he said. "And again I think that all of these places that are soft targets need to be hardened. My own state, as I’ve said, it’s frustrating to see some school districts not taking it seriously. These are terrible tragedies and we need to find out more about who this person is. If this person’s had mental illness they should never have had a weapon. That’s the rules."
In an earlier interview with NBC News, Kasich offered a clearer idea of what he means by hardening "soft targets." He said he wants all schools, including universities, to implement warning systems that would allow them to go into "lockdown" mode if there is a campus threat.
Kasich's emphasis on the death penalty is curious given that more than half of the perpetrators of mass shootings over the last three decades took their own lives. The number goes up if you count "suicide by cop"—that is, those instances when a shooter was killed by law enforcement.
Moreover, Ohio's death penalty process is notoriously flawed. Last spring, a federal judge placed a seven-month moratorium on all executions in the state after a lethal injection left a convicted killer writhing on his deathbed for 25 minutes. On Thursday, an Ohio court struck down an inmate's death sentence, citing flaws in the state case.
Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign brought in $26 million in the third quarter of fundraising—just $2 million less than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination. For a candidate who's eschewed super-PACs and high-dollar fundraising, it's kind of an astounding figure. The New York Times's Nick Confessore puts it in perspective:
Mrs. Clinton has relied on the full force and reach of one of the most prominent Democratic politicians in the world, rousing small donors but also investing far more time and energy than Mr. Sanders in courting those who can give the maximum $2,700 for her primary campaign.
Mrs. Clinton attended at least 58 fund-raisers during the last three months, according to her campaign schedules, and sent her husband, former President Bill Clinton, or top aides to others.
Despite all of that, her overall haul was negligible. And Sanders' reliance on small-dollar donors means he can hit them up again and again if he needs to. Consider that on Wednesday, Sanders' presidential campaign also hit its one millionth individual donation—the most, by far, of any 2016 candidate. (By contrast, then-Sen. Barack Obama didn't reach 1 million contributions until February 2008.)
The national polls still point to a comfortable Clinton lead—and an overwhelming advantage with nonwhite voters—but Sanders just guaranteed he'll have plenty of money to get his message out in the first round of primaries and beyond.
Speaker of the House John Boehner is leaving Congress, and my boss David Corn says good riddance.
In November 2009, he and other GOP leaders hosted an anti-Obamacare rally at the Capitol, where enraged protesters chanted, "Nazis, Nazis," in reference to Democrats working to enact the Affordable Care Act. Boehner never tried to tamp down this sort of conservative anger. He did not tell the birthers to knock it off. He encouraged Obama hatred, allowing the Benghazistas to run free and filing a lawsuit against Obama to satisfy the Obama haters. Ultimately, he became a prisoner of these passions, and his speakership became mainly about one thing: preserving his own job.
This is all true enough. Allow me to present an alternative view: I kind of like John Boehner, and so should you.
Ah, fall. When the leaves turn, decorative gourds grace supermarket shelves, and fringe candidates film themselves firing shotguns at things they don't like.
When Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) defeated an incumbent Democrat five years ago by accusing him of supporting a 9/11 "victory mosque" in Lower Manhattan, she probably didn't expect to find herself in the crosshairs of tea party activists anytime soon. But since coming to Washington after an upset victory in the 2010 Republican landslide, she's dabbled in moderation. In just the last year, Ellmers voted against a bill that would have prohibited abortions after 20 weeks, and she opposed repealing President Barack Obama's executive orders on immigration. In 2014, she won a tough primary but cruised to victory against Democratic nominee (and American Idol contestant) Clay Aiken. In an act of heresy for a former tea party star, she's gone on record defending so-called RINOs—short for "Republican in Name Only."
In 2016, she faces stiffer competition. Her top primary challenger, a former county GOP chair named Jim Duncan, is neck and neck with her in fundraising. And another challenger, former North Carolina GOP spokeswoman Kay Daly, just aired an ad in which she blows Ellmers away with a shotgun. Metaphorically, of course.
But really, get a load of this:
What! Let's go scene by scene.
The first words of the ad are, "This feminist..."
"...[Ellmers] voted to let homosexuals pretend they're married!"
"She's a RINO who voted to fund Obamacare and raise the debt ceiling."
The ad then accuses Ellmers of offering special protections to immigrant child molesters.
A clip of Ellmers using air quotes as she says the word "RINO," looped three times.
Daly announces that she is "hunting RINOs," fires a shotgun, and invites others to do the same. And…scene.
In an email touting the ad on Thursday, Daly warned that Ellmers "Hispanders" to undocumented immigrants, whom the candidate refers to variously as "interlopers" and "deportables." She also took aim at Ellmers' support for gender equality, referring to the Ellmers-backed Equal Rights Amendment as "the one lesbians used to burn their bras over" and touting the congresswoman's support of "Hillary Clinton's Feminist Museum bill" (otherwise known as the National Women's History Museum).
Daly has her work cut out for her before she can take down the incumbent congresswoman. But she does have the backing of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, and her ad picked up steam after it was aired in the Raleigh market during last week's GOP debate. If nothing else, we'll always have this crazy ad.