Saturday, April 9, 2016

California: When the other Clinton won a Nomination

Almost a year ago this month (on April 30, 2015), the Independent Senator from the State of Vermont, Bernie Sanders, took off a few minutes from work to stand outside in front of the U.S. capital to hold a short press conference.

While standing in front of a rickety podium, he announced his run for the President of the United States. There were no large crowds — maybe two dozen reporters were present.

One can only imagine that, after working inside Congress for the past 25 years, it must have been a humbling (and lonely) experience for him, knowing what he knew — that he would be challenging the most powerful political establishments the world has ever known.

That takes the sort of hootspa that real leaders require — a person who holds a deep and moral conviction about something they truly care about, and aren't just selfishly looking to personally profit or to elevate their own lot in life.

Bernie Sanders announces his presidency on April 30, 2015

After making a few remarks, and then politely taking a few questions from the media, as he turned around to head back to work, one reporter had rudely hollered at his back, "Are you now a Democrat?"

During his time in Congress, Sanders co-founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus (which includes 70 members of the House); and while known as The Amendment King, he has always voted with the Democrats.

After he had made his humble announcement, the DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement: "Sanders is well-recognized for his principled leadership and has consistently stood up for middle-class families. Throughout his service in the U.S. House and Senate, Bernie Sanders has clearly demonstrated his commitment to the values we all share as members of the Democratic Party."

But as CNN had reported, even back then, although Hillary Clinton was the dominant frontrunner, many in the progressive left of the party thought she was too "moderate" and were clamoring for a different candidate to support. President Obama had ran as a progressive in 2008, but had moved to the moderate center after taking office. 

After Obama once again became the Democratic nominee in 2012 (without a primary), it was either he or a Republican candidate for a choice in the general election — as either/or would have wanted the TPP trade agreement — a deal Hillary Clinton pushed 45 times (before "evolving" to be against it.).

So by the time the next election cycle had rolled around, many people had hoped that the real progressive, Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts, would throw her hat into the ring; and when she didn't, Senator Bernie Sanders did. 

After realizing how popular progressivism had become, Hillary Clinton repackaged her bona fides, and began selling herself as "a progressive who gets things done." Real progressives thought that, not only was that disingenuous, but downright silly, knowing her past record as they did. (During one Democratic primary debate, CNN moderator Anderson Copper called her out on this and had asked her if she was just being politically expedient.)

The following month after Sanders's announcement, in June 2015 the L.A. Times wrote about Hillary Clinton's visit to California to campaign:

Unlike the opponents her husband faced, [Hillary] Clinton's rivals are long shots at best, and have no substantial ties to California. Rather than worry about a contested primary, she can focus on California's other role in Democratic politics, the cash machine ... Before Bill Clinton's 1992 victory, in which he beat incumbent President George H.W. Bush 46% to 32% in the state, California had a healthy track record of electing Republican candidates ... In the 1992 election, it was not uncommon to see the Arkansas governor travel to South Los Angeles to meet with African American voters ... Such connections have stuck with the Clintons.

Two months later in August 2015, at a rally in L.A. Bernie Sanders rocked like a rock star with a crowd of over 27,500 people who showed up to hear him speak. The L.A. Times wrote:

They stood in a line that stretched for blocks around the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, eager for a glimpse of the star attraction: a sometimes cantankerous 73-year-old with unruly white hair and a populist message. "Feel the Bern!" they chanted. "Bernie! Bernie!" The object of their desire was Bernie Sanders, a presidential candidate whom pundits give no chance of winning the nomination, but who has touched a nerve in what has otherwise been a low-key Democratic contest.

Bernie Sanders at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, Aug 2015
Bernie Sanders -  Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena

A lot has happened since then. HuffPost Pollster shows that over the past year, Clinton is down 10.2% in California and Sanders up 38% — trailing her by a mere 7.6% — with one poll showing him down by only 6% — and still two months away from their primary election on June 7. California is the biggest of all prizes, which has about 546 delegates up for grabs in 2016 (The upcoming Democratic primary in New York on April 19 is the 2nd biggest prize, followed by Pennsylvania on April 26).

Just a few days ago, from the L.A. Times:

Campaigning for his wife ahead of California’s Democratic primary, former President Bill Clinton rallied supporters Sunday in downtown Los Angeles, saying his family has special ties to the state ... Clinton recalled clinching the Democratic nomination in California’s 1992 primary on his way to winning his first term in the White House. Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama in the hard-fought 2008 primary, but she ultimately lost the nomination ... Clinton praised California policies as a model for the nation, highlighting the $15-per-hour minimum wage bill that Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown is scheduled to sign on Monday: "God bless you for passing that minimum wage law. You should be proud. That’s what we’ve got to do for the country...Of all the people I’ve ever worked with, she’s the biggest change-maker I’ve ever known." During his visit, the former president also raised money for his wife’s campaign and met privately with elected leaders and labor chiefs ... While Clinton leads in New York and other states that vote later this month. But neither [Clinton nor Sanders] may win enough to secure the Democratic nomination before the California primary, among the last state contests held June 7 before the party convention in Philadelphia on July 25.

Note: In 1992, then-Governor Bill Clinton ran against the same Governor Jerry Brown in the Democratic primary for president. When Clinton first ran, as a Southerner from the conservative state of Arkansas, he positioned himself as a centrist New Democrat. He prepared for his presidential run that year amidst a crowded field seeking to beat the incumbent President George H. W. Bush.

In the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War, Bush seemed unbeatable. But an economic recession (which ultimately proved to be small by historical standards), spurred the Democrats on, who in the 1992 Democratic primary were: Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, former California Governor Jerry Brown, former senator Paul Tsongas, and senators Bob Kerrey and Tom Harkin.

Tom Harkin won his native Iowa without much surprise, but ran poorly in New Hampshire and other primaries. He was the first to drop out and throw his support behind Bill Clinton — a favor that led to a close relationship throughout the Clinton presidency (Note Tom Harkin for later in this post.)

Bill Clinton was still a relatively unknown national candidate before the primary season when a Penthouse model named Gennifer Flowers appeared in the press to reveal allegations of an affair. Clinton sought damage control by appearing on 60 Minutes with his wife Hillary Rodham Clinton for an interview with Steve Kroft (This was 3 years before the Monica Lewinsky scandal).

Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts won the primary in neighboring New Hampshire, but Clinton's second-place finish — strengthened by Clinton's speech labeling himself "The Comeback Kid" — re-energized his campaign. Bob Kerrey finished third in the New Hampshire primary, but soon dropped out of the race after finishing fourth in the Colorado primary.

Meanwhile, Clinton swept nearly all of the Southern Super Tuesday primaries, making him the solid front runner — similar to his wife's victories in 2016, that the media called her first "firewall" because of the Black vote in Southern States. (Her second "firewall" is superdelegates, but more on that later).

Jerry Brown, however, began to run a surprising insurgent campaign, particularly through use of a 1-800 number to receive grassroots funding. Brown called for term limits, a flat tax, and the abolition of the Department of Education. Brown scored surprising wins in Connecticut and Colorado and seemed poised to overtake Clinton.

On March 17, Paul Tsongas was the third of the five original contenders who left the race when he decisively lost both the Illinois and Michigan primaries to Clinton, with Brown as a distant third. Exactly one week later, Brown eked out a narrow win in the bitterly fought Connecticut primary.

As the press focused on the primaries in New York and Wisconsin, which were both to be held on the same day, Brown, who had taken the lead in polls in both states, made a serious "gaffe" . . . he announced to an audience of various leaders of New York City's Jewish community that, if nominated, he would consider the Reverend Jesse Jackson as a vice presidential candidate.

Bernie Sanders and Jesse Jackson

As an aside: Four years earlier in 1988, the Reverend Jesse Jackson had ran for President. The Jackson campaign won 13 primaries and caucuses with 7 million votes and 1,218 national convention delegates. One of the 13 states that Jesse Jackson had won was the Vermont caucus in a very close contest with Governor Michael Dukakis — who Bill Clinton had endorsed.

One of Jesse Jackson's key supporters in that surprise upset victory was the mayor of Burlington, Bernie Sanders — who had officially endorsed Jackson. "When it mattered", Jesse said, "Bernie stepped across the color line."

But Bernie's endorsement of Jackson ended up being an ungrateful slap in his face, as Jackson didn't return the favor and endorse Bernie in 2016.

The establishment politicos like Jackson can be more back-stabbing than anyone else, when favors and trades are everyday deals for personal gains — just ask Jackson's son, the ex-con Jesse Jackson Jr.

During the 1992 Democratic primary, Jesse Jackson was still considered somewhat of a controversial figure in New York City's Jewish community, and Jerry Brown's polling numbers suffered for it. On April 7, he lost narrowly to Bill Clinton in Wisconsin (37-34), and lost dramatically to Clinton in New York (41-26). Although Brown had continued to campaign in a number of other states, he won no other primaries. But despite this, he still held a sizable number of delegates, and a big win in his home state of California would have deprived Bill Clinton of sufficient support to win the nomination.

On April 8, after Bill Clinton had padded his lead by winning primaries in New York, Wisconsin and Kansas, the former national chairman of the party John White flatly told National Public Radio:

It’s now clear to most political leaders that I’m familiar with, that Bill Clinton is going to be the nominee of the party. He doesn’t have the numbers yet, but he is – he is very close. Certainly nobody else is within range of him. There’s not going to be a brokered convention. There’s not going to be anybody getting in late. And Bill Clinton’s going to be the nominee.

At that time the only remaining candidate was Jerry Brown, but by that time Bill Clinton already had won nearly half the delegates needed to secure the nomination — and he had seven times more than Jerry Brown. [As of April 8 2016, excluding superdelegates, Hillary Clinton has a little more that half the delegates needed].

On May 8, 1992, the New York Times reported:

Over the weekend, Mr. Clinton began to campaign in California, like an explorer discovering a strange new world. He addressed diverse audiences, from the politically conservative suburbs of San Diego, near the Mexican border, to affluent areas of Pasadena, Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley, to San Francisco, where he visited churches and a Mexican-American festival ... James Carville, senior strategist for the Clinton campaign, said that though the fight for the Democratic nomination had lost some of its intensity, the remaining primaries "offer us a good opportunity to have Governor Clinton get out there and define himself and talk about what he wants to do as President." Fund-raising needs will be almost as important as strategy in determining Mr. Clinton's itinerary in the next three weeks ... Mr. Clinton already has 1,665 of the 2,145 delegates needed to clinch the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in New York City from July 13 to 16 ... In California, Mr. Clinton is not well known ... Early polls showed Brown with a substantial lead. Mr. Wardlaw, the chairman of the Clinton campaign in California, said. "But I believe the gap will close as we introduce Clinton to more and more people in California. We have nowhere to go but up."

After nearly a month of intense campaigning in California, and multiple debates between the two candidates, Clinton managed to defeat Brown in his home State's primary by a margin of 47% to 40%. Up until then, Bill Clinton hadn’t secured a majority of delegates until the California primary on June 2, 1992 — but the New York Times had already declared on March 20, 1992, that Clinton had a "clear path to the nomination" with the withdrawal of his last serious rival:

Former Senator Paul E. Tsongas of Massachusetts withdrew from the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination today, a decision that many in his party said all but insured the selection of Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas.

During the 1992 Democratic Convention at Madison Square Garden in New York City (July 13 to July 16) the convention hall was plagued by the fact that independent candidate Ross Perot (a third party candidate) was tied with — or beating — Bill Clinton in opinion research polls.

However, as the last day of the convention convened on July 16, 1992, Ross Perot dropped out of the presidential race and left a gap for both George H. W. Bush. and Bill Clinton to scramble for newly undecided voters. This greatly led to the advantage of Bill Clinton, who later gave his nomination acceptance speech that night.

Jerry Brown never endorsed Bill Clinton. There was animosity between the Brown and Clinton campaigns, and Brown was the first political figure to criticize Bill Clinton over what became the Whitewater controversy.

Since then Hillary and Bill Clinton have both cited 1992 as the reason why Hillary was going to fight until the bitter end in her own bid for the presidency in 2008 — because it wasn't until the California primary did her husband secure enough delegates:

  • Hillary Clinton, March 6, 2008: "I think people have short memories. Primary contests used to last a lot longer. We all remember the great tragedy of Bobby Kennedy being assassinated in June in L.A. — My husband didn’t wrap up the nomination in 1992 until June, also in California. Having a primary contest go through June is nothing particularly unusual."
  • Bill Clinton, March 28, 2008: "I didn’t get enough votes to be nominated until June the 2nd, 1992."

In 2008, even though then-Senator Hillary Clinton had beaten then-Senator Barack Obama in California by a  margin of 51% to 43%, she still lost the Democratic nomination to Obama, when 28 superdelegates had switched to him (Unlike 2016, that year Hillary didn't like superdelegates so much).

Remember Senator Tom Harkin, the one who ran against Bill Clinton in 1992? He was also a superdelegate. In April 2008 CNN reported:

This morning, Sen. Tom Harkin — an undeclared superdelegate — became the latest politician to call for a cool-down, telling reporters on a conference call reported by Radio Iowa that former President Bill Clinton needs to “chill out.” A local journalist asked about a report of an alleged Clinton “meltdown” during a private meeting with California superdelegates, and asked whether he was doing his wife Hillary Clinton's campaign more harm than good ... Shortly before the Super Tuesday primary contests, Rep. James Clyburn [South Carolina] told CNN the former president should lower the temperature on his campaign rhetoric.

Speaking of which, Rep. James Clyburn endorsed Hillary Clinton last February — and the former senator Tom Harkin endorsed Hillary Clinton last August, but after lobbying Hillary Clinton to hire his daughter at the State Department. All these people know each other, with ties that go back for decades — the Democratic Party establishment (the political machine that Bernie Sanders and his supporters are currently up against, which includes the major media).

It will take a Herculean feat to overcome the powerful forces before Bernie Sanders — an epic David vs. Goliath battle — which would make a victory all the more sweeter if the forces he faces can be overcome. Sanders has no need to worry about the loyalty of his supporters — they are DIE HARD till the end, not fly-by-night carpetbaggers — and they will continue to generously fund his campaign long after the final sunset.

But before there is California, first there is Wyoming — today (April 9, 2016). Then after that, there will be New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Indiana, (Guam), West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, (Virgin Islands), (Puerto Rico) . . . and then California.

The 1992 California primary was held on June 2. In 2016 the California primary is on June 7 — two months away. Recently on April 7, 2016 the Sacramento Bee reported:

Rallying a crush of young people and independent voters to his campaign, Bernie Sanders has cut deeply into Hillary Clinton’s lead in California two months before the state’s Democratic presidential primary, according to a new Field Poll. Sanders, who trailed Clinton by double digits in January, now lags just 6 percentage points behind ... Clinton leads Sanders 47 percent to 41 percent. She and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have forged an expansive network of donors and political connections over a quarter-century campaigning in the state, and she remains the choice of women, older voters and registered Democrats here. But Sanders, the senator from Vermont, is pummeling Clinton by 25 percentage points among likely voters in their 30s, and by an even wider margin among younger voters ... Sanders leads Clinton by 10 percentage points among independent voters likely to vote in the Democratic primary. His campaign isn’t being a kid-glove campaign on Hillary any more. It’s actually doing damage and is changing people’s minds about Hillary ... The poll suggests vulnerabilities for Clinton that could carry over into a general election campaign. While more than 60 percent of Clinton supporters view Sanders favorably, according to the poll, Sanders’ supporters offer an assessment of Clinton that is more mixed – and more negative than in January. Nationwide, 25 percent of Sanders supporters say they would not support Clinton in the general election if she becomes the nominee, according to a McClatchy-Marist poll this week.

And after California, there's still Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Washington D.C. — So there are still millions of Americans out there Feeling the Bern — and Bernie Sanders, just like his supporters, want to count every single vote until the convention in July (while the corporate media will be relentlessly fighting them every second of the day 24/7).

Despite what Hillary Clinton claims — and everybody knows it's true (despite her denials) — she was really running for her husband's third term as President in 2008; and now she is running for Obama's third term in 2016. She evokes his name constantly on the campaign trail, at her rallies, at the forums, at the debates and in her interviews — and she says she'll continue with Obama's policies. Although, after numerous flip-flops on many of the issues, some people could swear she's really running in Senator Bernie Sanders's footsteps...

...........................Minimum wage
....oooO..............TPP trade deal
.....(....)...Oooo...Keystone pipeline
......\..(.....(....).....Universal healthcare
.......\_).....)../......Expanding Social Security
...............(_/.......College tuition
...........................Prescription drug prices

As of this post, we're little over half-way through the Democratic primary, and currently Bernie Sanders trails Hillary Clinton by about 249 regularly allocated state delegates (those that are won by the popular vote). Clinton currently has 1,274 to Sanders's 1,025 — and 2,382 are needed to win.

But of the 712 superdelegates (aka the Democratic Party establishment, the political machine that Bernie Sanders and his supporters are currently up against), Hillary Clinton currently has 469 pledged superdelegates (even from those in States where Sanders had won the popular vote!) — and most were pledged long before the very first vote in Iowa was even cast!

This is the Democratic (and Republican) political establishment's mentality: It's like a corporate ladder, where one works their way up through the party ranks, until by some pre-ordained consensus by the political insiders, the party bosses decide whose "turn" it is to move up the ranks, not the voters. In 2008, Hillary ran and lost. Now in 2016, she thinks it's her turn.

On the Republican side: In 2012 Mitt Romney thought it was his turn. In 2016, Jeb Bush thought it was his turn. Now Donald Trump (like Bernie Sanders) has so far been successfully challenging the establishment's status quo — and the political duopoly is NOT happy. We could see TWO contested conventions (with the accompanying riots) coming in July.

Technically, according to their rules (that the politicos make up anytime they want, and change anytime they want), the Democrat's "superdelegates" and the Republican's "unbound" delegates can change their minds at anytime before their conventions. But because they've been so bound by political favors and cronyism to each other (and maybe even some blackmail or threats) for so many years, that there's very little chance that very many will break ranks to support a political "outsider" candidate like Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders. It would take a brave and honest and respectable person.

Democratic delegate count as of April 8, 2016
Delegate count as of April 9

Bernie Sanders has been calling for a "political revolution" for months now (maybe even years); but if no superdelegates change their mind, and it's they who determines the nominee in July— then that could be when the REAL revolution begins. And of course, the BIG 6 media corporations* (appendages to the political parties) will be there to tape it all for advertising ratings.

* The media, which used to be known as the Fourth Estate


  1. P.S. If a slimy media pundit or creepy politician tries to convince you that it's YOU who voted for a superdelegate or un-bound delegate, tell them to get on the FU train --- because the politicos make the rules (remember?); so what they're telling you is, because you voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 to be President, in 1992 you were also voting for Bill Clinton to be a superdelegate in 2016. Are these elections RIGGED or what? And that's probably just the tip of the iceberg.

  2. Hillary Clinton

    The former New York Senator did everything possible to portray Barack Obama as unrealistic, a closet Muslim, and undermine Obama’s theme of hope and change. Sound familiar? Who’s drawing young people this election, offering hope and change, and appealing to the ideals of the average American? It’s certainly not the person under FBI investigation. Hillary Clinton is able to get away with this style of politics, in part because of white privilege. In terms of trying to crush hopes, dreams, and any genuine attempt at altering the status quo, Hillary Clinton is doing to Bernie Sanders what she and Bill tried to do against Barack Obama. The same complaints about tone and attempts at vilifying Obama in 2008 are today being witnessed by Bernie Sanders. Ultimately, aside from the racism and Islamophobia, Hillary Clinton has used the same playbook against Bernie Sanders in 2016.

  3. The Missing New York Daily News Cover