In the news today…
Hello, and welcome to a special US news round-up. Some interesting things have occurred in the US of A over the past week, so I thought it would be only right to dedicate a blog post to cover some of the headlines I have enjoyed reading this week. There is a distinctive Presidential 2016 flavour with the articles of choice.
Honourable Mention: You may have noticed that the above photograph is taken from an US Student Visa; this is in fact my very own, from my time spent studying abroad in Iowa last year. Tuesday of this week (18th of August) marked my one year anniversary;one year since I flew out from Dublin to commence my studies on my scholarship programme. A year already? I cannot believe it.
Without further ado, let’s get to it.
- Clinton reneges on national interviews (via POLITICO)
~ Hillary Clinton has a famously tense relationship with the press, yet she was supposed to attempt to thaw this, by engaging with the press during her 2016 campaign. Well, this has not necessarily happened.
Ms Clinton announced her intent to run for President nearly five months ago. However, as this article details, she has given just two nationally televised interviews since her announcement. One interview was in English, the other conducted in Spanish, yet this has been it. This comes despite promises from both her and her campaign that she intended to participate more with the press and conduct further interviews.This prompts questions over both her campaign focus and strategy, whilst resulting in casting her in a negative light – she appears aloof and resistant to scrutiny. It does not help matters that she seems to brush off reporters and use the excuse of a hectic schedule.
In her first national interview, more than six weeks ago, Clinton said ‘Obviously I’ll be doing a lot more press.’ She said the lengthy wait to participate in an interview was due to her pledge to spent the first 90 days of her campaign ‘listening to American voters’. This 90 days listening spree concluded on the 12th July; 40 days later there has been only the Spanish interview.
Clinton’s disapproval rating registered at around 50% in a recent CNN/ORC poll, bringing it to more than double what it was in 2011. With the headache over her use of her personal server for her professional emails growing, a FBI investigation and a Committee hearing to attend, it is understandable why she may not wish to subject herself to tough questions. But she is not helping herself when the public perception of her hovers around ‘dishonest’, and a majority of Americans say they do not trust her.
2. Clinton Campaign On Alert For Undercover Conservative Sting (via Time)
~ In the UK, Labour have been making headlines for their belief that the leadership contest will be infiltrated by supporters of rival parties, and for the party’s screening method of applicant voters. Now, such concerns have travelled over the Atlantic, with Clinton’s campaign team concerned about infiltration.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign offices around the USA have been told to be on guard, after at least two women approached Iowa staff pretending to be Clinton supporters. This was an apparent effort to catch the campaign engaging in improper or illegal activity.
The women’s techniques are similar to those of Project Veritas, the conservative group run by James O’Keefe, which specialises in undercover stings with the intent to embarrass liberal groups and politicians.
In one of the incidents described by Clinton staff, a woman approached the campaign on the 19th August, stating both her parents had donated to Clinton the legal maximum of $2700 each and now wanted to funnel an additional donation through their daughter – a clear violation of federal law.
3. With the FBI Investigating Clinton’s Emails, Bernie Sanders Should Be Considered the Democratic Frontrunner (via The Huffington Post)
~ Touching on a point I made earlier regarding how the majority of Americans have an unfavourable view of Hillary Clinton – this apparently could work to the advantage of another Dem 2016 candidate – Bernie Sanders.
Once viewed as a rebel, too controversial and unelectable, Bernie Sanders is gaining ground. A recent poll from New Hampshire places Sanders ahead of Clinton, and he continues to draw vast crowds to his speaking events. Without serious interest from mainstream media, and without billions in campaign funding from millionaire donors, the Sanders has been able to build grassroots support.
As Sanders is regarded for his direct and forthright communication style, he will not have to buy costly adverts to convince voters that he is trustworthy.
Clinton has long been regarded as the favourite to secure the Democratic nomination; Sanders only entered the fray to end the criticism facing the party that Clinton would run unopposed. However, with major polls showing Sanders challenging or defeating Clinton, this has raised the possibility of Clinton possibly losing a second run at the presidency.
Oh, and Sanders happens to be the only Democrat gaining attention nationwide who is not linked to a FBI investigation.
4. Ellen Page confronts Ted Cruz at Iowa State Fair (via USA Today Politics)
~ Actress Ellen Page confronted Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz on Friday at the Iowa State Fair over his stances on religious liberty.
Throughout his campaign, Cruz has made religious liberty a theme at his speaking events. He has consistently mentioned he would stand up for the religious liberty of Americans – including those who have had to close their businesses after backlash over their religious beliefs.
Page, who is gay, approached Cruz and asked him about his views on the persecution gay and lesbian people face in other countries. Cruz did not appear to recognise Page, and replied that he believed there was no moral equivalency between instances in Jamaica with those in the Middle East, where ISIS militants have persecuted Christians.
The actress is hosting a TV show for Vice Media titled Gaycation With Ellen Page, and according to her publicist, her confrontation with Cruz will be part of that series.
ABC News filmed the exchange, which can be viewed here.
5. Democratic Blues (via POLITICO)
~ POLITICO discusses how, even if Clinton should win the Democrat nomination and go on to win the White House, Obama’s legacy as President could result in his leaving the Democrats in the party’s worst state since the Great Depression.
The article discusses how Obama and his party started strong following his landmark election in 2008. The 2010 and 2014 midterm elections, however, both started and continued a backlash against the Democrats.
‘… the 2010 midterms, which saw the loss of 63 House and six Senate seats. It was disaster that came as no surprise to the White House, but also proved a signal of what was to come.
The party’s record over the past six years has made clear that when Barack Obama leaves office in January 2017 the Democratic Party will have ceded vast sections of the country to Republicans, and will be left with a weak bench of high-level elected officials. It is, in fact, so bleak a record that even if the Democrats hold the White House and retake the Senate in 2016, the party’s wounds will remain deep and enduring, threatening the enactment of anything like a “progressive” agenda across much of the nation and eliminating nearly a decade’s worth of rising stars who might help strengthen the party in elections ahead.’
The article also discusses the lack of depth regarding new, young potential leaders in the party and the dilemma in relation to aging party stalwarts. The Democrats two leading presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, are 67 and 73 years old respectively.
6. Jeb Bush struggles to emerge from his brother’s Iraq shadow (via The Telegraph)
~ Jeb Bush, aka he who seeks to become President Bush the Third, has an ongoing dilemma: should he defend his brother’s decision to invade Iraq, or distance himself instead?
This comes as he was once again posed questions relating to Iraq at the Iowa State Fair. He was asked why he was using the same foreign policy advisers as his brother, Jeb Bush opted for a half defensive, half defeatist response.
Whilst Jeb Bush is widely tipped to win the GOP’s nomination for 2016, this is not without problems. The former governor of Florida has greater experience than his fellow Republican rivals and also name recognition. And being a member of the Bush dynasty comes with a wealthy donor base.
Yet, he must repeatedly deal with the legacy of his brother’s policies in the Middle East, particularly the 2003 Iraq war – which most of the American public consider to be a mistake.
7. Deez Nuts Has Started a Revolution (via National Journal)
~ Sometimes, news stories filter through that you cannot believe to be real. This is one of those stories, but it is genuine – American democracy and equality at play indeed.
An Iowan teenager, Brady Olson filed to run for president on the 26th July. He opted to register with the Federal Election Commission under a pseudonym, Deez Nuts. What we may safely believe to be a jone campaign has actually resulted in an influx of other, say we say less serious, 2016 filings.
Intriguingly – or rather, amusingly – Deez Nuts has support. A recent Public Policy Polling poll showed Deez Nuts with 9 percent support in North Carolina.
Over 60 new filings have been registered with the FEC, including a ‘Mr Tyrion Lannister’ and even ‘Frank Underwood’.
8. Lawrence Lessig pondering 2016 bid because ‘the system is rigged’ (via POLITICO)
~ Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig says he is considering a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination because ‘the system is rigged’.
He has stated his belief that lobbyists are among those able to exert their influence to a disproportionate degree, through channelling campaign donations.
Lessig has said that he will run for president should his crowdfunded campaign raise $1 million by Labour Day, and if none of the Democratic candidates makes campaign finance reform a central issue of their campaign. He says that he would resign as President after his campaign finance reforms were passed and implemented.
9. Three quotes that changed 2016 (via POLITICO)
~ To finish this post, I thought it would be good to reflect on three quotes uttered by aspiring Presidential candidates, and remember how words can come to define a candidate – and make or break a campaign. This is especially true in our 24 hour press coverage, social media and smartphone dominant modern world.
Firstly, we have Clinton’s “like with a cloth or something?” comment. She retorted with the comment (which may come back to haunt her) to Fox News reporter Ed Henry, who had asked her if she had ‘wiped’ the server she had sent to the FBI. The feeling produced by such words is that Clinton fails to comprehend the seriousness of the situation she faces over her own ‘Emailgate’.
Another comment (not mentioned in the article, but from my own external reading) uttered by Clinton which again simply adds fuel to the proverbial fire is ‘You may have seen that I recently launched a snapchat account. I love it. I love it. Those messages disappear all by themselves.’
At a time when the FBI are investigating her emails and believe they have found classified material – after she denied ever sending or receiving classified information – Clinton should be taking this matter seriously, which is not done by dismissing the situation with light words. Such words make for great soundbites that can be repeated endlessly by the press throughout the campaign.
Secondly, we have one Donald Trump and his apparent brain wave to prevent illegal immigration from Mexico into the US via the construction of a ‘great wall’, the full quote being: ‘We’ll have a great wall. We’ll call it the Great Wall of Trump. We’ll have a great wall and it will be — it’ll be actually — it can be a good-looking wall, as walls go, but we will have a really terrific wall and it will be done for the right price.’
‘Right price’ – such a scheme would easily cost in excess of millions of dollars yet Trump simply dismissed such claims.
Trump’s proposal for this tangible wall merely constructs a metaphorically one around himself and the GOP generally – with Hispanic voters. The Hispanic percentage of the electorate is set to increase by nearly 20% from 2012 to 2016. Trump’s stance on immigration comes across as racist and offensive, and the GOP cannot afford to alienate the Hispanic vote.
Lastly, we again turn to Jeb Bush and his recent comments regarding so-called ‘anchor babies’. Bush, who is married to a Mexican-born lady and speaks fluent Spanish, knows well of the need to woo the Hispanic electorate, and hopes to position himself as their candidate, exploiting Trump’s brashness to his advantage.
But, during the week he managed to sound both akin to Trump and the average Republican, ruining his hoped-for image: ‘If people are bringing — pregnant women are coming in to have babies simply because they can do it, then there ought to be greater enforcement…[We need] better enforcement so that you don’t have these, you know, ‘anchor babies’, as they’re described, coming into the country.’
(Anyone else reminded of the ‘binders full of women’ quote made by Romney?)
Jeb Bush is certainly in a better position compared to his Republican rivals with Hispanics, but a sound bite can define a campaign. This one is just at odds with his otherwise normal respectful and understanding tone. Whoops.
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