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Already feeling the Bern

Politics | Sen. Bernie Sanders upsets the Democratic establishment
by Harvest Prude
Posted 2/06/20, 05:15 pm

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently remarked that “nobody likes” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., but a sizable chunk of Democratic caucusgoers in Iowa apparently felt differently. Unofficial caucus results as of Wednesday showed Sanders won the popular vote and barely trailed former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg in the delegate race.

Sanders describes himself as a democratic socialist who supports government-paid healthcare and free college for all. Clinton easily defeated Sanders for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016, but she placed some of the blame for her loss in the general election on him. Clinton said Sanders’ supporters hurt her chances by refusing to back her once she won the nomination.

“All the way up until the end, a lot of people highly identified with his campaign were urging people to vote third party, urging people not to vote,” Clinton said on the Your Primary Playlist podcast Friday. “It had an impact.”

Sanders’ supporters remain intensely loyal. This time around, they are fighting the Democratic National Committee, who they say has it out for their candidate. The DNC recently changed the rules of qualifying for debates by removing the criteria of grassroots support. To make it to the stage on Feb. 19 in Las Vegas, candidates do not have to receive donations from thousands of individuals but can instead pay their own way. The rule change makes it easier for a candidate like Michael Bloomberg to qualify.

“To now change the rules in the middle of the game to accommodate Mike Bloomberg, who is trying to buy his way into the Democratic nomination, is wrong,” Sanders senior adviser Jeff Weaver said. “That’s the definition of a rigged system.”

The comments echo those of another candidate in 2016: Donald Trump, who accused the Republican National Committee of creating a system “stacked against” him after Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, won Colorado’s delegates.

“The rules are no good when you have to play dirty tricks to pick up delegates,” Trump said.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus tweeted in response, “Give us all a break.”

On the Democratic side, delegates known as “superdelegates” are not required to vote for the candidate who won their state’s primary. The practice gives the party leaders who serve as superdelegates a greater say in who gets the nomination. In 2016, the vast majority of superdelegates supported Clinton, even in states where Sanders overwhelmingly won the primary, like in New Hampshire.

A leak of DNC emails in 2016 showed that some senior party officials seemed to favor Clinton over Sanders. Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned as DNC chairwoman over the scandal, and the DNC issued an apology to Sanders. Interim Chairwoman Donna Brazile wrote a book alleging that Clinton’s team had “rigged the nomination process” because of a joint fundraising agreement between her campaign and the DNC. Brazile later walked back her remarks.

The Democratic Party changed the convention rules in 2018 to ensure that superdelegates have to wait until the second ballot to weigh in if the convention is still contested after the first ballot.

Now there are rumors that as Sanders surged in the polls and raised a whopping $25 million in January, a small group of DNC members floated a plan to weaken his campaign. About a half-dozen members discussed the idea of empowering superdelegates to vote on the first ballot at the convention.

Politico reported that one DNC member said in a text, “We should re-open the rules. I hear it from others as well.” Others, however, pushed back and said it would be an uphill battle to change the rules again.

In commenting on the report, former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein warned on Twitter against the DNC making changes to “stop Sanders” at risk of people leaving the party.

A DNC spokesman nixed the idea, saying that DNC Chairman Tom Perez “fought tooth and nail to ensure our nominee would be chosen by pledged delegates.”

Meanwhile, some Republicans are rejoicing at early signs of Democratic Party turmoil. Jesse Watters, a conservative Fox News Channel commentator, said Wednesday that establishment Democrats should be very concerned about Sanders because he cannot win against President Donald Trump due to his radical liberal policies.

“He’s only going to cause chaos,” Watters said. “It’s not going to be a good thing for Bernie or the Democrats, and that’s why I want Bernie to win [the nomination].”

Associated Press/Photo by Jose Luis Magana (file) Associated Press/Photo by Jose Luis Magana (file) Former Democratic presidential candidate John Delaney

2020 update

Former U.S. Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, the first Democratic candidate to announce his 2020 bid for the White House, ended his campaign the day before the Iowa caucuses.

Delaney announced his intention to run in July 2017 but struggled to build name recognition and excitement about his campaign. He called for a moderate approach instead of “impossible promises” and slammed grandiose plans like “Medicare for All.”

In announcing his withdrawal, Delaney threw his support behind candidates vying for the moderate lane in the Democratic primaries, including former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

After technical difficulties and data inconsistencies bogged down the Iowa caucuses, the Nevada Democratic Party announced it will not use Shadow Inc., the maker of the results reporting app that failed in the Hawkeye State. Nevada Democratic Party Chairman William McCurdy said in a statement that the state’s caucuses on Feb. 22 would not be a repeat of Iowa: “We had already developed a series of backups and redundant reporting systems and are currently evaluating the best path forward.” The state party paid $58,000 to the developer in 2019.

The next Democratic debate will take place Friday in Manchester, N.H., just four days before that state’s primary. Candidates have until 11:59 p.m. Thursday to qualify for the debate. Seven candidates are in so far: former Vice President Joe Biden; former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts; billionaire Tom Steyer; and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang. —H.P.

Associated Press/Photo by Mahmoud Illean Associated Press/Photo by Mahmoud Illean Palestinians protest the Middle East peace plan in Bethlehem, West Bank, on Jan. 29.

Waning support

Muslim nations are pouring cold water on the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan just days after sparking speculation about shifting alliances in the region. Ambassadors from Bahrain, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates initially signaled their support for the plan by attending the White House ceremony announcing it.

The 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), to which Bahrain, Oman, and UAE belong, denounced the plan formally on Monday at a summit in Saudi Arabia. The 22-nation Arab League also rejected the White House proposals at a meeting in Cairo on Saturday.

The OIC said the plan took a “biased approach” by endorsing an Israeli-takeover of contested land. The Arab League said the plan did not “meet the minimum rights and aspirations of Palestinian people.”

Neither group offered any concrete action for its members or presented an alternative plan. Instead, they voiced their support for increased diplomacy with the Palestinians.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said Saudi Arabia wants Israel and Palestine to negotiate a fair plan “through the creation of an independent state [for Palestine] with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

Saudi officials had initially expressed support for Trump’s efforts at negotiations. Palestinians immediately rejected the plan. —H.P.

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Harvest Prude

Harvest is a political reporter for WORLD's Washington Bureau. She is a World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College graduate. Harvest resides in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter @HarvestPrude.

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    Posted: Fri, 02/07/2020 06:09 pm

    I guess Warren is feeling the Bern now. ;-p