Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sanders Sees Way to 2016 Democratic Nomination

AP sources: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to run for president

Wants to get off to a good start, too:

"Vermont senator proposes copying N.H. presidential primary day; Change would compete with longtime tradition" by David Gram, Associated Press  February 15, 2015

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Vermont is coveting its neighbor’s presidential primary, and New Hampshire is not amused.

A Green Mountain State lawmaker is pushing to have Vermont’s primary coincide with New Hampshire, which is traditionally home to the nation’s first primary.

The 2016 election will mark a century of New Hampshire’s presidential primaries. But since 1952, it has been a major feature on the political landscape, bringing the Granite State a quadrennial burst of media attention, hotel, and restaurant business and clout in presidential politics.

New Hampshire state law calls for its primary to be held at least seven days before any similar election — caucuses like the ones in Iowa don’t count.

That could be difficult to accomplish in the future if Vermont passes Senate Bill 76. It says, ‘‘In presidential election years, a presidential primary for each major political party shall be held in all municipalities on the same day as the New Hampshire presidential primary.’’

‘‘I think it would give Vermonters a louder voice in the early stages of choosing a presidential candidate and give us the ability to balance out the voices of our dear neighbors in New Hampshire,’’ said the bill’s sponsor, Senator Anthony Pollina.

Any map of New England will show Vermont and New Hampshire side by side, and several of Vermont’s more liberal lawmakers, like the Progressive-Democrat Pollina, spoke of nudging presidential politics a little to the left.

The idea was not expected to be popular east of the Connecticut River.

‘‘New Hampshire law gives the Secretary of State the authority to set the primary date in order to ensure it is before any similar event and will support his efforts to protect our First in the Nation presidential primary,’’ Governor Maggie Hassan said in a statement issued by her office Friday.

It is the national political parties that really have the final say, said Steve Duprey, a member of the Republican National Committee from New Hampshire and chairman of the party committee that organizes debates.

A state that violates the primary schedule loses 90 percent of the delegates it otherwise would have sent to the Republican National Convention, he said.

Candidates who filed to get on the ballot in a violating state could be denied participation in debates, he added.


May not even be a primary in Massachusetts.

"A less-crusty Sanders tests presidential waters" by Jessica Meyers, Globe Staff  March 02, 2015

DES MOINES — An environmental activist had just finished her demands for clean water when Bernie Sanders got a nosebleed.

The independent Vermont senator stood in front of 40 gray-haired supporters, crammed into a small office and late for his next stop. A national television camera was filming the wadded tissue pressed against his nose.

It was a potentially awkward moment for an issues-oriented class warrior who often seems to scowl more than smile. But as he tests the waters for a 2016 presidential run, Sanders has begun to loosen up on the stump, softening his curmudgeonly demeanor with an occasional joke.

So, with the activist’s demands still hanging in the air, he winked and quipped as his nose gushed blood: “The water, that’s what did it!”

Sanders is trying to show the media and left-leaning voters outside of Vermont that he knows the art of ground-level retail politics. He slaps strangers on the back and pauses for selfies. He admits to a frustration with his grandkids’ Legos and inserts references to Kim Kardashian in his stump speeches.

Why the change?

I don't see the point in covering this shallow and superficial slop. 


Sanders has yet to decide whether the appetite and finances exist for a run, or what he calls a “grass-roots revolution” that would attempt to upend the way money is used in politics.

Yeah, he can't be bought off by the military or anyone else!

He faces improbable odds. Only 5 percent of Democratic voters selected him as their first choice in a Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll in January.

Sanders would need to overcome voters’ discomfort with the socialist label, which he explains as a Scandinavian-model that embraces “free health care, free education, and a progressive tax system” but which others associate with authoritarian control. (He carries a keychain from a campaign for Eugene Debs, who ran for president five times as a Socialist.)

Wasn't Debs also thrown in jail for those views?

And he would need to determine whether it makes more political sense to abandon his proud independent title and run as a Democrat.

“If I thought someone who was a self-conscious outsider with a somewhat cantankerous streak, someone who was to the left of a lot of issues could be elected president, maybe I would have run,” said former Massachusetts representative Barney Frank.

Bernie also gay?

Frank once wrote that Sanders “alienates his natural allies.” But his views changed after they worked together on the House Financial Services Committee.

But there are limits as he introduces himself to a national audience....

“He’s having a good time, he’s being treated like a celebrity.”


Did you get an autograph?

"Vermonters skeptical of Bernie Sanders’ run for White House; Views will not sell nationally, some say" by Annie Linskey Globe Staff  April 30, 2015

BURLINGTON, Vt. — The president of the United States jokingly dismissed him last week as “a pot smoking socialist.” And while people in Bernie Sanders’ hometown were more polite, they reacted to his new quest for the White House Thursday with bemused skepticism.

Sanders and his iconoclastic, strident views will make a great Vermont export for a while — certainly a good deal livelier than maple syrup and wooden bowls. But the Oval Office? 

Sap would come in second.

“As a state, we’ve embraced characters,” explained longtime resident Mike Sarvak, 50, seated with his wife at U-shaped white counter at a local diner. “But nobody would say, ‘That’s the guy who could lead the country.’ ”

The Vermont senator and former Burlington mayor, who describes himself as an independent and a “democratic socialist,” became the first challenger to Hillary Rodham Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination Thursday when he blasted out an e-mail just after midnight announcing his campaign.

He laid out the populist message. “For most Americans, their reality is that they are working longer hours for lower wages,” he said Thursday outside the US Capitol. “How does it happen that the top one percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 99 percent?”

He hit on climate change, Republican mega-donors David and Charles Koch, and the need for more jobs.


Clinton, hoping to tamp down any notion of a challenge from the liberal wing, posted a message on her Twitter feed Thursday afternoon.

Clinton’s team also has sewn up some local support. Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, a Democrat, said in an interview that he is backing Clinton. “Bernie was one of the most effective mayors that Burlington ever had,” Weinberger said in a brief interview. “I’m supporting Hillary because I think she’s the right person at the right time, and I think she’ll be a great president.”

Sanders plans a trip to New Hampshire this weekend and will have a more formal campaign launch in Vermont. The Washington news conference Thursday included classic Sanders moments, the 73-year old senator held a folded paper in one hand and hunched over the podium. A breeze caught strands of his white hair, emphasizing a feature that’s commented on almost as frequently as Clinton’s various coifs.

“The hair kind of throws me for a loop,” offered Robert Palmer, a Burlington resident who was strolling with his dog near Lake Champlain Thursday, taking advantage of crisp clear weather. “Brush it. Fix it. Do something.”

Shave it.

Palmer wasn’t the only one to bring up Sanders unkempt look with no prompting. Dwight Stauffer, a 49-year-old shopping for collard greens at a Burlington market that specializes in local food put it like this: “He looks like Einstein.”

That's how we elect presidents, who has the best hair. Think about it for a minute.

Burlington knows Sanders — and his rants against the powers of corporate America — better than anyone. So the news of his candidacy generated a buzz in diners, coffee houses, and Ben & Jerry’s. Almost everyone interviewed Thursday for this story had some personal contact with Sanders, whether it was meeting him in person, hearing him speak, or serving him coffee.

Typically he orders a small, house roast and a cider doughnut at Uncommon Grounds – a local coffee house that roasts its own beans, according to barista Amelia Devoid.

“We have a different kind of life in Vermont, and I’m excited to have that system exported to the rest of the country,” said Devoid, 26. She said she sees him in the coffee shop about once a month and wishes the rest of the country could have that kind of access to their top elected officials.

Still, it’s not clear yet that there will be the same kind of enthusiasm for Sanders as there was for, say, Barack Obama. Devoid said Sanders is not as “marketable” as was former Vermont governor Howard Dean, who made an unsuccessful presidential run in 2004, she said. By comparison, she worries that Sanders comes across as “no-nonsense, grumpy, and tired.”

She hopes Sanders will talk about sustainable farming while on the hustings and the benefits of medical marijuana. “I’m just excited about him pushing his ideas,” she said.

The conversation at Handy’s Diner prompted Sarvak’s wife, Kathy, to wonder whether the whole country will believe Sanders’ far-left views are held by all Vermonters.

“He is our poster child?” she said. “Argh.’’

Diner owner Earl Handy, 40, joined the conversation after polishing off a stack of pancakes soaked in maple syrup. “Are people going to think we’re all like Bernie Sanders?” he asked. “A lot of us are really conservative.”

Even if they don’t agree with him, the locals can rattle off his political history. Kathy Sarvak reminded the group that Sanders should not be underestimated, recounting how won his first mayoral election here by 10 votes in 1981. He stayed on for four terms, and then was elected to Vermont’s sole US House seat in 1990. Sanders moved up to the Senate in 2006 and won reelection two years ago with 71 percent of the vote.

Despite the hometown doubt about his path to the White House, Sanders has said he would run only if he thought he could win. He would have to raise about $50 million, which would mostly come in via small online donations, in order to sustain a credible campaign, said a strategist close to his campaign. “Can Bernie raise $50 million? That is the question,” the strategist said.

There are some bright spots for him on the primary calendar. Two early states — Iowa and Nevada — have a caucus process to select a nominee. Sanders’ team believes these caucus-goers will more receptive to his populist message than the typical primary voter. And the early primary calendar also tilts toward Sanders’ home turf of New England — three of the six states in the region will have primaries in the opening weeks of the 2016 cycle.

Didn't work for Ron Paul.

And without any other alternative to Clinton in the race so far, Sanders will benefit from a blast of media attention in coming weeks. Obama’s humorous jab at Sanders during the president’s stand-up comedy at the White House Correspondents Association dinner Saturday was just one indication his national recognition is creeping higher. But some Burlington residents worried how Sanders will fare as conservative parts of the country become more familiar with him.

I have hardly seen anything regarding that collaborative session of self adulation. I suppose it would look bad, them joking around all while causing so much misery with their lies. 

On the other hand, I think "conservatives" -- whatever that means -- are just as open to that message, if not pushing it themselves.

“I lived in Nashville, Tennessee,” said Tamsin Laflam, 41, taking a morning stroll near Lake Champlain. “They would spit him out. There is no way he could be elected in the South.”

She said she would love to vote for him. But she does not think his run will last until the March 1 Vermont primary.


"In N.H., Bernie Sanders asserts he’s a credible candidate; Cites his early fund-raising as sign of support" by James Pindell Globe Staff  May 03, 2015

NORTH CONWAY, N.H. — As he hit the campaign trail for the first time as a presidential candidate, Vermont US Senator Bernie Sanders traveled New Hampshire Saturday hoping to convince like-minded liberals that he won’t be just the protest candidate against former US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton, but her credible alternative.

From a packed house party in Manchester to an outdoor labor union event with the White Mountains Presidential Range behind him, Sanders began a new stump speech with crib notes written on a folded sheet of yellow legal paper. It began with statistics on income equality and then went on through the progressive playbook on climate change, health care, college costs, and campaign finance reform.

No index cards?

At the end of his pitch to voters in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state, he acknowledged he is an underdog, yet not a lost cause.

“This campaign we are going to wage in New Hampshire and all over the country is going to be a very different campaign,” Sanders said. “I know people say, ‘Oh Bernie this and Oh Bernie that, but he cannot win.’ Let me tell you: We can win.”

To make his point, he noted that a day after he announced his campaign he raised $1.5 million from 35,000 donors, which is more than Republican presidential candidates Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio raised a day after they began their own bids this spring.


Sanders got mixed reactions, though.

“I am excited that he is running, but I don’t think he has a snowball’s chance in hell of actually winning,” said Mark Hounsell, a former New Hampshire state senator from Conway. “He does add a dimension to the race and could actually help Clinton appear less left-wing in the general election.”

Good $how!

But Mary Ellen Johansson of Manchester walked away from the house party very open to voting for Sanders, even though she backed Clinton in the state’s 2008 presidential primary.

She liked Clinton last time because of her celebrity and because she is a woman, but she is drawn to Sanders on the issues. “I feel like Sanders is really saying the things that need to be said that are relevant to a single mom like me,” she said.

Sanders never mentioned Clinton in his remarks. A Sanders adviser said this was intentional. “He is not going to build this campaign based on the competition,” Mark Longabaugh, a Sanders consultant, said. “But you are going to hear a lot about his real opponents: the Koch brothers, Citizens United, and the polluters responsible for climate change.”

Well.... Pentagon is the biggest one and they get an exemption. As for the Kochs, I'd rather it be left-wing billionaires (like George Soros). Right?

Separate polls of Democrats in New Hampshire and Iowa conducted last month showed Sanders performing better than all other potential primary challengers against Clinton except US Senator Elizabeth Warren, who says she is not running. In Iowa, Sanders trailed Clinton 62 to 14 percent in a Public Policy Poll. In New Hampshire, the same poll found him behind Clinton 45 to 12 percent.


But first, Sanders, the nation’s longest-serving independent in Congress, must qualify for the New Hampshire Democratic primary ballot. On Thursday, New Hampshire’s secretary of state said Sanders must prove he’s running as a Democrat. Vermont, like many other states, doesn’t have a way for voters to change their party registration.

“We are going to fulfill all the rules,” Sanders said of his intention to run as a Democrat.

Sanders is pushing a populist rhetoric aimed at the anxiety of the country’s middle class on the cost of college, stagnant wages, and trade policy, all of which he says redistribute wealth to those already rich.

He will be hammered for class warfare and fear-mongering.

“It is not just that the middle class is disappearing,” Sanders said. “The people on top are doing phenomenally well. Not well, not very good, but phenomenally well, and the disparity in wealth and income is literally beyond belief.”

Take it with a grain of $alt.

He is calling for free tuition for public colleges and universities, gradually increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, and increasing Social Security benefits.

“It feels so good to be with unapologetic left-wingers,” said Wayne Alteresio, president of the New Hampshire Association of Letter Carriers. “If he keeps it up, there will be a lot of support, not just clapping.”


I guess the only thing that matters is do you believe in Bernie or is it another stunt like Ron Paul?