Hillary Clinton

Obama’s 2008 Backers: We’re Ready for Warren

Senator Elizabeth Warren | Chip Somodevilla/Getty

I am so on board with the idea of Elizabeth Warren as the Progressive/Democratic candidate for 2016…

The Daily Beast

The Massachusetts Senator says she’ll sit out 2016. But some Democratic diehards won’t take no for an answer, and are already building a campaign for her.

She is, she insists, not interested, telling The Boston Globe, “There is no wiggle room. I am not running for president. No means no.”

But for the organizers behind Ready for Warren, the SuperPAC trying to draft the Massachusetts senator into the 2016 presidential race, the door remains open for a potential run. So the group is staffing up in key early primary states and raising money in what they say will be an all-out blitz after the midterm elections designed to show Warren that there is a groundswell of support behind her.

And if many of the organizers and early supporters of the Warren for President seemed unfazed by the notion that Hillary Clinton is an all-but inevitable Democratic nominee, perhaps that is because many of them have seen this process play out before—when they backed a previously unknown freshman senator from Illinois named Barack Obama who went on to topple the Clinton machine.

“I was in the Obama world,” said Erica Sagrans, who is helping lead the draft Warren effort and who served as northeast digital director of the Obama re-election campaign in 2012 after working for the pro-Obama outfit Organizing for America in 2009. “There are a lot of people in that world who are Warren fans, who really like Warren. But this is still a moment when people aren’t entirely comfortable coming forward.”

A number of veterans of Obama-world, however, are now out and proud Warren-ites. There is Kate Albright-Hanna, most recently a spokesperson for Zephyr Teachout’s upstart New York gubernatorial primary against Andrew Cuomo, and who joined the Obama effort way back in 2007 as the director of online video. Now she is preparing to take an as of yet undefined role with Ready for Warren.

“I am interested in building the progressive movement,” she said, citing a campaign continuum that stretched from Howard Dean in 2004, through Obama in 2008 and Teachout in 2014. “Getting involved in Elizabeth Warren is just continuing along that same branch. “

She said that the excitement around Warren now was similar to that around Obama in 2007.

“Before ‘change’ became such a cliché and everybody became disillusioned, there was a moment where people got excited and thought that we can actually change the way politics is conducted. We don’t have to be beholden to entrenched interests. All of that was epitomized in the early days of the Obama campaign, and there is the same sense now, that we don’t have to settle for what we have been given.”

As for Clinton, Albright-Hanna said, “We can’t go back to the 1990’s.”

Deborah Sagner raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama’s campaign. Now, she calls herself one of the “first funders” of the Warren effort, having donated $20,000 to Ready for Warren already.

“I have a history of not supporting Hillary Clinton that goes back to 2007,” Sagner said. “I have never been particularly inspired by her. And I was very inspired by Barack Obama.”

Sagner said that she was concerned that Clinton was too hawkish and close to Wall Street, but added a point repeated by many Warren supporters: that robust debate, and a spirited primary, is good for the Democratic Party.

“I think it is good for the Democratic Party to have a progressive wing that challenges business as usual.”

And if Warren seems like an unlikely upstart now, so did Obama at this time eight years ago.

“[That campaign] made me think that it’s possible that this could happen. There are some parallels. And these things can just catch on and get going.”

There are also, of course, several non-parallels. Clinton, for one thing, is in a far stronger position than she was in 2000, back when voters still remembered her husband’s administration for its scandals rather than for its economic record, and back when Hillary was still paying for her Iraq War vote. Early polling shows her with a commanding—if not outright prohibitive—lead among Democratic voters. Additionally, Ready for Hillary, the SuperPAC supporting her effort, has already raised $8 million, and the bulk of the Democratic establishment has signed on, including some of the party’s most well-known political operatives.

Ready for Warren, meanwhile, has raised between $50,-100,000 according to organizers, and although it’s still preparing to open offices in New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina, it has so far signed up a few hundred volunteers. But there are as of yet no prominent political supporters, and perhaps its most well-known advisor is Billy Wimsatt, a longtime progressive political activist and the author of the cult classic Bomb The Suburbs.

“This is an inside/outside effort,” said Sagrans “There are people that have connections and roots in the DC political world, and there are people that are grassroots activists around the country.”

The group, however, recently bombarded the Harkin Steak Fry in Iowa, where Hillary made what many observers saw as her triumphant return to the national political stage. They are in discussions with several polling firms, and are planning a nationwide night of phone-banking later this month on behalf of Senate candidates that Warren has endorsed. They know that 2016 activity is on hold until November, but are aware that once the midterms are over, the presidential primary process begins in earnest. And if Warren is to feel that there is support out there for her, than the Ready for Warren team has a very short window to show it.

This means kicking up their fundraising in a major way. The group has already hired Bulldog Finance Group, a fundraising outfit founded by Scott Dworkin, who served on Obama’s inaugural committee in 2009, and which is staffed by another vet of the Obama 2008 campaign.

“We are helping Ready for Warren with two main goals,” said Jerald Lentini, vice-president of the firm and a former staffer with the AFL-CIO. “The first is encouraging Elizabeth Warren to run for president, because she is absolutely the best progressive out there. And the second is to build an organization that can help Senator Warren win when she decides to run.”

But the early Warren supporters are not just pulled from the ranks of people who helped derail Clinton’s ambitions in 2008. Audrey Blondin served on Hillary’s campaign in Connecticut in 2008, and as the elected state Democratic committeewoman, also worked on the campaigns of such establishment figures as Al Gore and John Kerry.

“That was then. This is now,” she said. Blondin is a bankruptcy lawyer, like Warren, and has known her for decades. She held a house party for Ready for Warren over the summer, and said she was unswayed by the senator’s denials.

“I understand that she says she is not interested in running. I have been in politics 35 years. I know what happens. You think she is not watching what we are doing? Of course she is. And that is going to make a difference. It’s all about timing and she is in the right place at the right time with the right message. In a few months it is going to take off. She won’t be willing to buck the tide that is carrying her forward.”

And if she does buck that tide, it does not necessarily mean that it is end of the Warren for President boomlet. According to Daniel Buk, a political consultant who raised $40,000 for Obama in 2012 but has given $20,000 to Ready for Warren this year, there is already talk of keeping the group together through the 2020 election cycle.

“There is real excitement here,” Buk said. “And there is a real potential, should Senator Warren reveal her plans.”

Republicans brace for 2016 free-for-all

Top row, left to right: Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney are shown. Middle row, left to right: Bobby Jindal, Mike Pence, Ted Cruz and Scott Walker are shown. Bottom row, left to right: Rob Portman, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan are shown in this composite. | AP Photos

There is no clear Republican frontrunner. | AP Photos

Politico

The message from Republican officials has been crystal clear for two years: The 2016 Republican primary cannot be another prolonged pummeling of the eventual nominee. Only one person ultimately benefited from that last time — Barack Obama — and Republicans know they can’t afford to send a hobbled nominee up against Hillary Clinton.

Yet interviews with more than a dozen party strategists, elected officials and potential candidates a month out from the unofficial start of the 2016 election lay bare a stark reality: Despite the national party’s best efforts, the likelihood of a bloody primary process remains as strong as ever.

The sprawling, kaleidoscope-like field that’s taking shape is already prompting Republican presidential hopefuls to knock their likely rivals in private and, at times, publicly. The fact that several candidates’ prospects hinge in part on whether others run only exacerbates that dynamic. Ultimately, the large pack won’t be whittled for many months: Republicans have no idea who will end up running, and insiders don’t expect the field will gel in any way until at least the spring of next year.

“It feels like a big traffic jam after a sporting event,” said Craig Robinson, a former executive director of the Republican Party of Iowa. “There’s a lot of competition for every segment of the party.”

At least 15 Republicans are weighing campaigns, with no clear front-runner. Contrast that with Clinton, who has solidified her Democratic support to a deeper extent than any candidate in recent memory.

There’s no indication that the reforms suggested by the national Republican party to protect the eventual nominee — fewer debates, friendlier moderators and a truncated primary calendar — have necessarily altered how potential candidates are thinking about campaigning against other Republicans. In fact, they already are jockeying to define themselves — and their opponents — in sharp terms.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is a prime example. Seeking to expand his base of support beyond tea party conservatives, Cruz, who has been working donors and elites aggressively, has routinely dismissed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in private conversations as the “Rudy Giuliani of this cycle,” multiple sources told POLITICO. (A Cruz adviser noted that the senator has often praised Christie.) Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) denounced Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), an establishment avatar, in a Senate floor speech last month over what turned out to be an Internet hoax, a photo that falsely identified the senator meeting with Islamic State militants. When outgoing Texas Gov. Rick Perry attacked Paul’s foreign policy views, Perry responded in kind.

The desire in some quarters for a new tenor in the Republican primary is a visceral reaction to the party’s bitter 2012 loss, and Clinton’s commanding position on the Democratic side.

“I think because we’ve been frozen out of the White House for two terms here, I think Republicans by and large are going to be really focused on winning the general election and not wanting to do things to handicap your eventual nominee,” Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told POLITICO. He said that there will be “pressure this time around to ask candidates to play nice with one another so that we can make sure we can focus on the general election.”

In an interview, Christie said, “It’s always important for us not to destroy each other — it’d be nice.”

“I think that after eight years in the wilderness, we should all be focused on winning,” he said. “That would help. And I think if we did that, people will conduct themselves” in a positive way.

Yet Christie and Paul spent a good chunk of 2013 savaging each other. And several Republicans point to a simple reality: After the GOP’s tea party wing notched big wins in the 2010 and 2012 congressional elections, and establishment forces battled back successfully this year, both sides are primed for a fight.

Newt Gingrich, one of the short-lived insurgent front-runners in the 2012 primary, dismisses the party’s desire to avoid bloodletting as “nonsense.”

“There’s a wing of the Republican party which would like life to be orderly and dominated by the rich,” said Gingrich, whose own candidacy was enabled by a super PAC funded by $21 million from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam. “And so they would like to take all of the things that make politics exciting and responding to the popular will and they would like to hide from it. The fact is, if you can’t nominate somebody who can win debates and come out of the contest stronger, they wouldn’t have a chance to beat Hillary in the general.”

For his part, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus pushed through major changes for 2016, including a condensed primary calendar and fewer debates.

“What I can do is follow through on what I can control,” Priebus said in an interview. “Limiting the process from a six-month slice-and-dice festival to 60-plus” days. Priebus added that he senses a “greater spirit of cooperation” among candidates who understand that the party is “not going to get ahead by killing each other.”

Continue here…

 

10 things you need to know today: September 27, 2014

Health workers load a man suffering from Ebola into a vehicle to be taken to a treatment center.

Health workers load a man suffering from Ebola into a vehicle to be taken to a treatment center. (AP Photo/Tanya Bindra)

The Week

Ebola outbreak death toll passes 3,000, the United Kingdom votes for airstrikes against ISIS, and more

1. Death toll from Ebola outbreak passes 3,000 people
The World Health Organization said on Friday that West Africa’s death toll from the Ebola virus has reached at least 3,080 people, marking the first time an outbreak has claimed more than 3,000 lives. Officials have confirmed more than 6,500 cases, and recent worst-case estimates show that as many as 1.4 million people could become infected by January. And as clinics and health workers struggle to keep pace with the outbreak, the hardest-hit countries are also facing “collateral” deaths. “The health services of West Africa have to a very large degree broken down,” Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust international health charity, said. [Time, Reuters ]

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2. The United Kingdom votes for airstrikes in Iraq, but not Syria
As expected, the British Parliament overwhelmingly approved Prime Minister David Cameron’s proposal to join the U.S.-led campaign of airstrikes against ISIS militants in Iraq on Friday. Parliament did not approve airstrikes in Syria, though, echoing Cameron’s political defeat last year, when he proposed airstrikes against Syrian government forces but was rejected. Britain’s contributions against ISIS are expected to be similar in size to that of nations such as France, the Netherlands, and Australia. “This is not a threat on the far side of the world,” Cameron told lawmakers as he opened the debate. [The Washington Post]

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3. Chelsea Clinton gives birth to baby girl
Bill and Hillary Clinton’s daughter Chelsea gave birth to her first child on Friday, a girl named Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky. The new mom announced the news via Twitter, saying she and husband Marc Mezvinsky “are full of love, awe and gratitude.” Chelsea Clinton, 34, married Mezvinksy in 2010, and she announced her pregnancy at a female empowerment forum in New York City, in April. New grandmother Hillary Clinton, who is reportedly eyeing another run for the White House, has nevertheless said that becoming a grandparent would be her “most exciting title yet.” [The Associated Press]

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4. Fire at Illinois FAA radar center grounds thousands of planes
A man set a deliberate fire at an FAA radar center in Aurora, Illinois, on Friday morning, grounding thousands of planes. Officials said the incident was a “local issue,” and there were no indications of terrorism. The fire caused the facility’s radio frequencies to die, which led to the grounding of all flights into and out of Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports. At least 800 flights were delayed, and more than 1,700 flights were canceled. Planes in the air were diverted to other air traffic control centers, and airlines said trying to rebook passengers onto later flights will be difficult because most of those planes are already full. [The Chicago Tribune]

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5. North Korean state TV: Kim Jong Un ‘suffering discomfort’
North Korean state media made its first official acknowledgement of leader Kim Jong Un’s “discomfort” in an hour-long documentary broadcast on Thursday. “The wealth and prosperity of our socialism is thanks to the painstaking efforts of our marshal, who keeps lighting the path for the people… despite suffering discomfort,” the voiceover says. Kim had not been photographed in public for several weeks, and was absent from a meeting of the country’s official parliament. He has also been seen walking with a limp, possibly from a case of gout, and he has gained a significant amount of weight since taking power following the death of his father Kim Jong Il. [Reuters]

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6. Recently fired man beheads former coworker at Oklahoma company
Police say a man fired from his job at Vaughan Foods Co., in Moore, Oklahoma, on Thursdaybeheaded one of his former coworkers (Colleen Hufford, 54) and stabbed another (Traci Johnson, 43). Employees told police that Alton Nolen had recently tried to convert his coworkers to Islam; Moore police have asked the FBI to assist in investigating the beheading. Mark Vaughan, the business’ chief operating officer and a reserve Oklahoma County deputy, confronted and shot Nolen; the attacker and his stabbing victim were transported to a nearby hospital, and officials said their injuries are not life-threatening. [The Oklahoman]

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7. ‘Bond King’ William Gross leaves Pimco for Janus Capital
William Gross, called the “Bond King” of Wall Street, left Pimco, a money management firm he helped create, for Janus Capital on Friday. Gross’ decision to leave reportedly came after he became aware that Pimco planned to either force him out or fire him. Gross, 70, headed Pimco’s $222 billion Total Return Fund, and he is personally estimated to be worth $2.3 billion. But sources at Pimco said Gross had displayed bizarre behavior in recent months, from showing up at an industry forum wearing sunglasses to waxing nostalgic on his dead cat in a monthly letter to investors. [The New York Times]

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8. The state of Kansas is auctioning off sex toys
In an effort to make up some of the $160,000 a Kansas business owner failed to pay in taxes, the state government has elected to auction off his inventory — which consists of sex toys and porn.“While we do not agree with the type of business involved here, it was nonetheless a legal business that was closed due to failure to pay taxes,” a spokesperson for Republican Gov. Sam Brownback said. “This is the same process used by previous administrations.” The items, which range from DVDs and drinking games to lingerie, will be auctioned off online in 400 lots of dozens of items each. [The Topeka-Capital Journal]

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9. Study finds cowbells could be hurting cows’ ears
Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology found that cowbells worn by Swiss cows could damage their hearing, and the bells may also be affecting the cows’ eating habits. The researchers studied more than 100 cows, all of which wore 12-pound cowbells, from 25 farms in Switzerland. The bells can create noise levels of 100 to 113 decibels, roughly equivalent to the noise level of a jackhammer. Some farmers said replacing the bells, which are used to track cows that escape their farms, with GPS chips could damage Switzerland’s traditional image. [The Local]

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10. Bruges City Council approves underground beer pipeline plans
The Bruges City Council, in Belgium, approved a proposal from brewery Brouwerij De Halve to construct a 1.86-mile-long tunnel, capable of transporting 6,000 liters of beer per hour. The brewery will handle the cost of the project, which is expected to begin next year. Brouwerij De Halve CEO Xavier Vanneste said the pipeline, which will move beer from the brewery to an offsite bottling facility, will eliminate the need for as many as 500 delivery trucks, clearing Bruges’ roadways and lowering environmental waste. [CityLab]

Chelsea Clinton Gives Birth to Baby Girl

Chelsea Clinton-Mezvinsky |Spencer Platt/Getty

Congratulations to the Mezvinskys and Clintons…

The Daily Beast

It’s a baby girl for the nation’s former First Daughter. Chelsea Clinton announced the birth of her first child with husband Marc Mezvinsky in a statement posted shortly after midnight on her Twitter feed. “Marc and I are full of love, awe and gratitude as we celebrate the birth of our daughter Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky,” the statement said. Clinton announced in April that she was pregnant during a speech in New York City, with her mother Hillary Clinton at her side. The pregnancy announcement by the daughter of former President Bill Clinton had gone viral on the Internet, setting off speculation about whether the child would be a boy or girl (the mother-to-be and her husband reportedly chose not to know in advance) and fueling suggestions and guesses about a name for the eagerly awaited child.

The birth announcement came just as the proud new grandparents had finished this year’s annual Clinton Foundation Global Initiative. Hillary and Bill have spoken often about their joy at the prospect of becoming grandparents. Their daughter’s Twitter reveal sparked an outpouring of responsive tweets, most congratulating Chelsea, also known for her work as an NBC News special correspondent–a job she resigned late last month. She is regarded by many as the once and future first daughter: her mother is widely expected to run for president in 2016, and is seen as having a good shot at winning if she does.

10 things you need to know today: September 15, 2014

Just another backyard barbeque in Iowa.

Just another backyard barbeque in Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The Week

Arab states offer to launch airstrikes against ISIS, Hillary Clinton triggers more 2016 talk, and more

1. Arab nations offer to hit ISIS with airstrikes
Several Arab governments have committed to carrying out airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Obama administration officials said Sunday. The offers came during Secretary of State John Kerry’s week-long trip to the Middle East to drum up support for the expanded fight against the Sunni extremist group. British Prime Minister David Cameron, calling ISIS militants “monsters” for beheading a British aid worker, pledged to support the U.S. effort against ISIS. [The New York Times]

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2. Hillary Clinton’s Iowa trip jumpstarts campaign talk
Hillary Clinton returned to Iowa — a crucial early primary-season prize — on Sunday, renewing speculation about the possibility that she plans to make a second run for president. The former secretary of State’s husband, former president Bill Clinton, joined her at an annual steak fry fundraiser held by Sen. Tom Harkin, the state’s powerful Democratic senator, who is retiring after four decades in Congress. “I’m back!” Hillary told supporters. “It’s true. I am thinking about it.” [The Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times]

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3. White House says it didn’t threaten to prosecute slain journalists’ families
The White House on Sunday denied threatening to prosecute the families of two murdered journalists if they paid ransom to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria to win their freedom. U.S. law prohibits ransom payments to terrorists. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said on Fox News Sunday that officials merely “made it clear what the law was.” Relatives of the murdered journalists — James Foley and Steven Sotloff — said officials threatened legal action if they tried to free them on their own. [USA Today]

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4. Post-truce fighting intensifies in Ukraine
Clashes between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatist rebels killed six people in the contested city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. It was the heaviest fighting since a long-term truce took effect 10 days earlier. “It’s not a cease-fire, it’s full-on fighting,” a rebel fighter said. The two sides have shelled each other daily since the cease-fire started, but the exchanges of fire have been far less intense than earlier battles. Each side has blamed the other for violating the peace deal. [The New York Times]

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5. European agency picks spot where Rosetta probe will land on comet
The European Space Agency on Monday announced the spot where the Philae lander from its Rosetta spacecraft will put down on the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, 250 million miles from Earth. The site was picked from a list of five sites deemed to be suitable for the risky Nov. 11 landing. Rosetta reached the three-mile-wide “ice mountain” after a 10-year journey. Its spider-like Philae robot will harpoon the surface and lower itself down slowly on a mission to learn more about comets. [BBC News]

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6. Sweden’s prime minister quits after election loss
Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt announced Sunday that he would resign after his center-right coalition lost a parliamentary election to opposition Social Democrats. With nearly all of the votes counted, the left-leaning bloc led by Social Democrat Stefan Lofven was ahead with 44 percent of the vote, compared to 39 percent for Reinfeldt’s coalition, which had been in power for eight years. [The Associated Press]

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7. Hurricane Odile slams into Mexico’s Cabo San Lucas
Hurricane Odile hit Mexico’s southern Baja California peninsula overnight with top sustained winds of 125 mph. The storm, which weakened over the Pacific before landfall, made a direct hit on the resort city of Cabo San Lucas, dumping more than six months’ rain in one hour. Authorities evacuated coastal areas, moving people into 18 hotels set up as shelters for 30,000 tourists and locals. California storm chaser Josh Morgerman said his hotel’s lobby “exploded in a heap of rubble.” [NBC News]

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8. Liberia sacks 10 officials for not returning home to fight Ebola
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has fired 10 senior officials — including six assistant ministers and two deputy ministers — for failing to return from abroad to help with the government’s efforts to contain an Ebola outbreak that has killed at least 1,100 people in the West African nation. The officials had been ordered to return in August. In Sierra Leone, a fourth top doctor died on Saturday. She was the 135th health-care worker in the region to die after being stricken while treating Ebola patients. [The Washington Post, Reuters]

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9. Actress detained after police allegedly mistake her for a prostitute
Django Unchained actress Daniele Watts, who is African-American, posted on Facebook that Los Angeles police officers briefly handcuffed her after they mistook her for a prostitute because she had kissed her white boyfriend, celebrity chef Brian James Lucas, in public. A police spokesman said Sunday the officers were responding to a complaint that a white man and a black woman were engaged in a sex act in a Mercedes near the gate of the CBS Studio Center in Studio City. Watts said she and Lucas were just “showing affection, fully clothed.” [CNN]

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10. U.S. basketball team wins world basketball championship… again
The U.S. men’s basketball team trounced Serbia on Sunday, 129-92, to defend its Basketball World Cup title. The U.S. team, playing without NBA superstars such as LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, won their games through the tournament by an average 32.5 points. Their closest game was a 21-point win over Turkey. The U.S. team now has won 63 straight games — including 45 in tournament play — qualifying for an automatic spot in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. [The Associated Press]

WORLD LEADERS NOMINATED TO TAKE ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE

No attribution

When the entire world latches on to a cause via social media…anything is possible.

The Huffington Post

All across social media, celebrities and regular citizens seem to be dumping ice water on their heads to raise money for and awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In fact, the vast majority of Americans have avoided the ice bucket challenge so far, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll shows, though they’re willing to suggest other individuals get wet.

Sixty percent of Americans said they had “heard a lot” about the challenge. Far fewer said they had actually participated: Just 4 percent said they had donated money, and a mere 3 percent said they had dumped ice water on their heads. Another 2 percent said they’d done both.

Knowledge about ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, remains limited as well. Only 21 percent of Americans said they are “very familiar” with ALS, while another 49 percent said they’re “somewhat familiar.” Twenty percent were “not very familiar” with the disease, and 10 percent were “not at all familiar.”

According to the ALS Association, as many as 30,000 Americans have the progressive neurodegenerative disease at any given time. New cases are diagnosed at a rate of about 15 a day.

Recently, the ice bucket challenge has been criticized by some observers as frivolous if the real point is to raise money for research. After all, by the terms of the challenge, dumping cold water on your head is a way out of donating.

But the survey shows most Americans aren’t buying the bad rap. Sixty-one percent said the ice bucket challenge is “a fun and effective way to raise money and awareness of ALS,” while only 28 percent said that “it’s silly and it would be better if people just donated money.”

Many public figures have posted videos of their cold showers already. Others face limits on their participation. Members of the House of Representatives and the military have been warned that government rules prohibit the use of official resources to promote or references to current military service in ice bucket videos. High-profile State Department diplomats have been barred from participating.

Those rules don’t bar us, however, from asking Americans which politicians they’d most like to see doused with ice cold water.

Asked to pick from a list of potential 2016 presidential candidates who they’d most like to see take the ice bucket challenge, Americans made former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the runaway winner, with 51 percent choosing her. Sixteen percent opted for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), 15 percent for Vice President Joe Biden, 8 percent for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), 6 percent for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), and 5 percent for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Support for Clinton didn’t vary much along party lines, though the motives may have differed widely. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans, 51 percent of independents and 46 percent of Democrats chose Clinton as the potential candidate they’d most like to see dump freezing water over her head.

Asked separately to pick a world leader for an international edition of the challenge, a 35 percent plurality of Americans rallied behind President Barack Obama, including 34 percent of both Democrats and Republicans. Unfortunately for them, Obama hasalready declined to dump ice water on his head, opting instead to give money.

Second and third place went to the leaders of countries with which the U.S. already suffers icy relations: North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, with 24 percent, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, with 19 percent. Queen Elizabeth II was fourth with 17 percent, narrowly missing a challenge from America, since three nominations are the usual limit. (Both Putin and the queen have been challenged by others, though neither has responded.)

Germany’s Angela Merkel and Cuba’s Raul Castro took just 3 percent and 2 percent, respectively, in the HuffPost poll.

10 things you need to know today: August 17, 2014

A man throws a gas cannister back at police in Ferguson, Mo.

A man throws a gas cannister back at police in Ferguson, Mo. Joe Raedie / Getty Images

The Week

Unrest returns to Ferguson, pro-Russian rebels down a Ukrainian jet, and more.

1. One shot, seven arrested in Ferguson, Mo.
One man was left in critical condition Sunday after being shot in Ferguson, Missouri, as protests continued over the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. In addition, seven people were arrested for failing to comply with a new midnight-to-five a.m. curfew intended to quell the unrest that has percolated since an officer shot to death Brown last Saturday. After a brief period of relative calm settled in following a few days of clashes between police and protesters, Gov. Jay Nixon (D) declared a state of emergency, and police late Saturday again fired waves of tear gas and smoke canisters to clear the streets. [Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal]

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2. Pro-Russian rebels shoot down Ukrainian fighter jet
Separatist forces on Sunday downed a Ukrainian MiG-29 fighter jet as clashes continued in a rebel-controlled part of eastern Ukraine. The plane was carrying out a mission against the entrenched pro-Russian rebels when it was shot down, according to Kiev. Also Sunday, Ukraine said it made significant progress toward reclaiming control of Luhansk, an eastern city that has for weeks been under rebel control. [AFP, Associated Press]

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3. Germany spied on John Kerry, Hillary Clinton
Germany’s intelligence agency eavesdropped on Secretary of State John Kerry’s and his predecessor, Hillary Clinton’s, private phone calls, according to the German magazine Der Spiegel. The agency allegedly collected conversations in 2012 and 2013, but did so “accidentally” while snooping for terror suspects. The revelation could further strain relations between Germany and the U.S. that have already been tested amid allegations that Washington spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel. [Associated Press]

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4. Montana Democrats pick new Senate nominee
In the wake of a plagiarism scandal that upended the Montana Senate race, Democrats on Saturday nominated state lawmaker Amanda Curtis as their new nominee. The little-known 34-year-old replaces incumbent Sen. John Walsh, who ended his campaign after The New York Times revealed he’d widely plagiarized material for a college paper. Republicans were already heavily favored to win the seat before Walsh’s scandal, and the race now seems like a surefire GOP pickup. [The New York Times]

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5. Rick Perry rejects indictment as ‘outrageous’
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) on Saturday shrugged off the criminal charges filed against him for alleged abuse of power, calling the claims “outrageous.” A grand jury on Friday indicted Perry — the outgoing governor and potential 2016 candidate — for making good on a threat to veto funding for a state oversight agency following a district attorney’s arrest for drunk driving. “We don’t settle political differences with indictments in this country,” Perry said. [Associated Press]

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6. One dead, dozens found hidden in shipping container
Authorities found 35 people, one of them dead, trapped inside a shipping container that arrived in England on Saturday. Police said the immigrants are suspected to have come from the Indian subcontinent, and that the lone death is being investigated as a homicide. Workers unloading the ship found the trapped people when they heard “screaming and banging” coming from inside the container. [BBC, The Guardian]

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7. Liberia establishes ‘plague villages’ to contain Ebola
Faced with the worst Ebola outbreak in history, Liberia has closed off some villages believed to be at the center of the crisis, drawing comparisons to medieval “plague villages.” To contain the outbreak, the country has imposed medical roadblocks and deployed troops to keep infected people from fleeing and coming into contact with uninfected areas. As of Friday, the death toll from the outbreak had risen to 1,145, according to the World Health Organization. [Reuters]

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8. 15 missing after Indonesian tourist boat sinks
An Indonesian boat carrying a small group of tourists sank Saturday, leaving 15 people missing. Amid bad weather, the boat reportedly struck a reef shortly after midnight. Ten people were pulled from the water Saturday, according to rescue workers, and at least four boats were searching for the remaining passengers and crew. [Associated Press, BBC]

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9. Dozens overdose on synthetic marijuana in New Hampshire
At least 44 people in New Hampshire have accidentally overdosed on synthetic marijuana in the past week, prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency. Twenty victims have been hospitalized though no one has died after ingesting the pseudo-pot, which is cleverly — and legally — sold as “incense.” By declaring a state of emergency, New Hampshire authorities were able to quarantine the alleged culprit: The “Bubblegum Flavor” of “Smacked!” [Boston Globe, New York Daily News]

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10. 99-year-old claims to set sprint record
A 99-year-old great-great-grandmother last week clocked what she believes is the fastest ever 100-meter time for anyone her age. Ida Keeling ran the race in 59.8 seconds at the Gay Games in Akron, Ohio, last week, with her daughter hailing it as the fastest time for a near-centenarian in an internationally-certified event. “I’m running from old age and arthritis,” Keeling joked. [Akron Beacon Journal, The Independent]

GOP’s ’16 consolation vanishes: Suddenly, Democrats have the deep bench!

GOP's '16 consolation vanishes: Suddenly, Democrats have the deep bench!

Elizabeth Warren, Ted Cruz (Credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts/AP)

Salon

After Romney’s 2012 loss, pundits raved about the GOP’s new leaders. But two years later, Democrats have the edge

In the wake of President Obama’s re-election in 2012, reporters found one soothing source of solace for the GOP. “One race the Republicans appear to be winning is the one for the deepest bench of rising stars,” wrote the Washington Post, and plenty of folks followed up. Democrats, meanwhile, had nobody on the bench but Hillary Clinton – a formidable candidate if she were to run, but that wasn’t even certain.

Beyond Clinton, there seemed to be a wasteland populated by ambitious governors no one had ever heard of (Martin O’Malley), some who were well known but not widely liked (Andrew Cuomo). Oh, and Brian Schweitzer.

The Republican list, meanwhile, seemed almost infinite: blue and purple state governors like New Jersey’s Chris Christie, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, Ohio’s John Kasich and Virginia’s Bob McConnell, and Tea Party senators like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Romney’s ambitious, “wonky” running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, had his fans, as did former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Even Texas Gov. Rick Perry, recovered from back surgery and sporting hot new glasses, could have another life in 2016.

But in two years, the situation has almost reversed itself. Promising GOP governors – McDonnell, Christie, Walker – find themselves dogged by scandal. The Tea Party trio of Paul, Cruz and Rubio still vies for media attention and right wing adoration, but Rubio’s immigration reform work doomed him on the right. Unbelievably, Paul is widely labeled the frontrunner (but don’t tell that to Cruz), while the party establishment and neocon hawks search for an alternative. Despite all that impressive talent, Mitt Romney leads the pack in New Hampshire.

Meanwhile, in what’s widely being reported as trouble for Hillary Clinton, because that’s the narrative the media know best, it turns out there are a bunch of popular and maybe even formidable Democrats. Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren wowed the crowd at Netroots Nation. (Check out this great New Yorker Biden profile if you want to know how the VP is keeping his options open). The Netroots buzz inspired the Washington Post’s Phillip Rucker and Robert Costa to survey the landscape of Democrats who’ve put a toe or more in the water for 2016.

We learned that Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is visiting Iowa (it is only one state away), while New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has a book coming out. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is said to be huddling with donors, believing the party could use a dose of red state common sense.

This is all framed as mildly ominous news for Hillary Clinton – the headline is “With liberals pining for a Clinton challenger, ambitious Democrats get in position” — but Klobuchar, Gillibrand and Nixon have all endorsed Clinton, and Warren has encouraged Clinton to run while insisting she won’t do so herself. The only Democrats listed who may still run even if Clinton does too are O’Malley and Vermont’s Bernie Sanders.

Regardless of the intent of the framing, the Rucker-Costa story actually pointed up the vitality in the Democratic Party, where lively debates over income inequality and foreign policy have so far fallen short of creating bitter divisions and factions, at least so far. Again, contrast that with the GOP, where Ted Cruz seems to be staking his 2016 hopes on his ability to humiliate every party leader and make sure Republicans will never make inroads with the Latino population. He’s blocking bipartisan emergency legislation to deal with the border crisis, and pushing to reverse President Obama’s deferred action on deportation for young people brought here by their parents.

Meanwhile Warren, the progressive elected the same time as Cruz, is touring the country campaigning for Democratic Senate candidates, even some who are more centrist than she is, like Kentucky’s Alison Lundergan Grimes and West Virginia’s Natalie Tennant.  She’s focused on growing the Democratic Party, not cutting down colleagues who are less progressive.

So: the GOP’s right wing firebrand is a loose cannon who is completely out for himself, while the Democrats’ left wing firebrand is working amiably with party leaders and deflecting talk of a primary challenge to Clinton. In the end, the rising number of possible alternatives to Hillary Clinton is a sign of Democratic strength, even if the media tends to bill it as weakness.

Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee. So why is anyone else running?

Television actor and Glee star, Chris Colfer, left, poses for a photo with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, a book signing event at Barnes & Noble at The Grove in Los Angeles Thursday, June 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

One thing is certain, Hillary will be considered the presumptive nominee until she announces whether or not she will run…

The Washington Post – Chris Cillizza

This week’s evidence came in the form of two polls – conducted by NBC and Marist College — of Democratic voters in Iowa and New Hampshire.  In Iowa, Clinton led Vice President Joe Biden 70 percent to 20 percent. In New Hampshire, Clinton led Biden by an even wider 74 percent to 18 percent. (That’s not to pick on Biden; he was the strongest of Clinton’s possible challengers.) Clinton’s approval ratings in those polls are stratospheric; 89 percent of Iowa Democrats have a favorable opinion of her while 94(!) percent of New Hampshire Democrats say the same.

“Hillary Clinton — if she runs — is going to have a cakewalk to the Democratic nomination, no matter how many political observers might want to see a race,” wrote NBC’s Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Carrie Dann. “She’s going to win the Democratic nomination, whether she faces actual primary opposition or not.”

Yup.  And yet, it’s a near certainty that Clinton will face some sort — or sorts — of primary opposition. Which begs the question: Why?

To answer that, it’s important to remember that not everyone runs for president to win. Some run to promote a cause or a set of beliefs. Others run because timing dictates they have to.  Still others run in hopes of improving their chances of either winding up on the ticket alongside Clinton or with a prominent spot in her Administration.

When it comes to 2016, the largest group of potential challengers to Clinton come from the “cause” category.  Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders seems intent on running, largely to push his belief in the need for serious campaign finance reform. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is circling the race, hoping to provide a liberal alternative — and a more populist perspective — to the contest. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is term limited out as governor at the end of this year and undoubtedly thinks a credible run for president might bolster his chances of a spot in a Clinton Administration. Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer just seems to want back into the political game and, like Dean and Sanders, thinks there is room for a populist messenger to make a little noise in the field. (He’s right.)

Below are my rankings of the 2016 field. Remember that if Clinton runs, she wins.

Tier 1 (The Clinton wing)

* Hillary Clinton: Still think she hasn’t made up her mind about running?  Check out what Clinton told Charlie Rose in an interview this week: “We have to make a campaign about what we would do. You have to run a very specific campaign that talks about the changes you want to make in order to tackle growth, which is the handmaiden of inequality.” Soooo….she is running.

Tier 2 (If she doesn’t run, these are the frontrunners)

* Joe Biden: The Vice President badly wants to run.  Just look at his travel schedule, which this week included a keynote address at Netroots Nation, an annual gathering of liberal online activists. And, his allies insist that his decision on the race has nothing to do with what Clinton decides. But Biden didn’t get this far in politics by being dumb; a race against Clinton is damn close to unwinnable for him — and he knows it. If Clinton for some reason decides not to run, Biden is in the next day.

* Martin O’Malley: The Maryland governor is getting some nice press in early primary states. And he is working those states like no one else on the Democratic field. Because O’Malley can’t really afford to wait four (or eight) years to run, I expect him to be in the race no matter what Clinton does. But, even his most optimistic supporters would have to see that bid as a chance for him to improve his potential as a vice presidential pick for Clinton.

Elizabeth Warren: The Massachusetts Senator is the only person who could credibly mount a challenge to Clinton. But, she’s not going to do it.  While Warren is on the record saying she will serve out her six year Senate term, which expires in 2018, I am hard-pressed to see how she would pass up a run if Clinton took a pass.

Tier 3 (Maybe running. But not winning)

Howard Dean: Dean has the presidential bug.  In 2004, he looked like he was going to be the Democratic presidential nominee — until people started voting. In 2013, Dean predicted Clinton would have a primary opponent and he may see himself as that person.

Bernie Sanders: Of everyone not named Clinton (or O’Malley) on this list, the Vermont Socialist Senator is doing the most to get ready for a presidential bid. No one — including Sanders — thinks he will win but his fiery style and liberal positions could make things uncomfortable for Clinton.

* Brian Schweitzer: Don’t say I didn’t warn you about Schweitzer’s tendency to stray off message. The former Montana governor proved he isn’t yet ready for primetime in a recent interview with National Journal’s Marin Cogan, making impolitic comments about California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor.  Schweitzer apologized but the damage was done. Schweitzer effectively doused any momentum he had built for a presidential bid.

Tier 4 (The four or eight more years crowd)

Andrew Cuomo: The New York Governor has a presidential bid in him but it’s not going to be in 2016. If anything, he has moved further away from a bid rather than closer to one as 2016 has drawn closer.  In 2020, Cuomo will be 62 — right in the sweet spot when it comes to presidential bids.  In 2024, he would be 68, the same age Hillary Clinton will be if she is elected in 2016.

* Kirsten Gillibrand: Like Cuomo, Gillibrand is an ambitious New Yorker who almost certainly will run for president at some point in the future. At age 47, she has plenty of time to wait and, as she has done over the past few years, use her perch in the Senate to build her liberal resume for an eventual national bid.

Deval Patrick: Patrick raised some eyebrows a few months back whenhe had this to say about Clinton’s coronation as the Democratic nominee: “She’s an enormously capable candidate and leader. But I do worry about the inevitability thing, because I think it’s off-putting to the average…voter.”  It seems very unlikely that the Massachusetts governor will take the plunge against Clinton but his resume in the Bay State could make for an intriguing profile in four or even eight years.

10 things you need to know today: July 16, 2014

A woman cries as Palestinians flee their homes in Gaza.

A woman cries as Palestinians flee their homes in Gaza. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

The Week

Israel resumes air strikes after Hamas rejects cease-fire, Buffett gives away a record $2.8 billion, and more

1. Israel launches more air strikes after Hamas rejects truce
Israel resumed its air strikes in Gaza on Tuesday after Hamas, which runs the Palestinian territory, rejected a cease-fire plan proposed by Egypt and approved by Israel’s security cabinet. Israel warned that Hamas “would pay the price,” and urged tens of thousands of Palestinians to leave their homes in northern and eastern Gaza, suggesting their neighborhoods would be targeted next. A fresh barrage of rockets from Gaza killed one Israeli man. [The Dallas Morning News]

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2. Buffett gives his biggest annual charity gifts ever
Investment billionaire Warren Buffett donated a record $2.8 billion in securities to charity this year, according to a report to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday. The contributions, which went to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and four Buffett family foundations, brought his contributions to $18.7 billion over the eight years since he pledged to give nearly half of his wealth to the foundations in annual gifts. [Omaha World-Herald]

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3. Typhoon kills 10 in the Philippines
At least 10 people were killed on Tuesday when a powerful typhoon struck the Philippines. Typhoon Rammasun, the strongest storm to hit the Philippines this year, knocked down trees, telephone wires, and power lines as it cut across the main island, Luzon, south of Manila on Wednesday. [Reuters]

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4. Officials impose fines for wasting water in California
California authorities approved drastic new water conservation measures on Tuesday to help the state handle historically low levels of rainfall this year. The new rules include fines of up to $500 per day for watering a garden, washing a car, or rinsing a sidewalk. Gov. Jerry Brown had already declared a drought emergency. “People don’t understand the gravity of the drought,” State Water Resources Control Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus said. [The New York Times]

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5. Nigeria catches a top Boko Haram commander
Nigerian police said Tuesday they had arrested a top Boko Haram commander, Mohammed Zakari. Police spokesman Frank Mba said Zakari, 30, was wanted in the recent killings of seven people. Nigeria has launched a push to round up members of Boko Haram, which is fighting to establish a state under sharia law. Boko Haram has been blamed for kidnapping hundreds of schoolgirls in recent months. [Xinhua]

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6. Survey finds that 2.3 percent of Americans are gay or bisexual
About 2.3 percent of U.S. adults are gay or bisexual, according to the annual National Health Interview Survey, which was released Tuesday. Gay or bisexual men and women far more likely to suffer anxiety or engage in self-destructive behavior than their straight peers. It was the first time questions about sexual orientation were asked in the annual survey. [Al Jazeera]

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7. Police free hundreds of abused children from group home in Mexico
Mexican police rescued 452 boys and girls from a children’s home where they were allegedly sexually abused and forced to beg in the streets. More than 130 adults were also rescued. The owner of House of the Big Family facility in the state of Michoacan was arrested along with eight employees. “I’m in utter dismay because we weren’t expecting the conditions we found at the group home,” local governor Salvador Jara said. [BBC News]

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8. SpaceX gets approval for private spaceport
The Federal Aviation Administration has granted approval to Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, to build the nation’s first private rocket-launching site, in Cameron County, Texas. SpaceX wants its own launch facility to give it more control so it can meet its ambitious schedule. It plans to send up 12 rockets a year from the site. The company plans to use the site to launch the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy orbital vertical launch vehicles, and other rockets. [Space.com]

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9. Jon Stewart tries to get Hillary to reveal her 2016 plans
Hillary Clinton withstood a grilling by Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, but she avoided shedding any light on whether she had decided to run for president again in 2016. The appearance came as Clinton wrapped up a tour to promote her book, but Stewart joked: “She’s here solely for one reason: to publicly and definitively declare her candidacy for President of the United States.” Clinton did say she wanted an office with “fewer corners.” [CNN]

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10. Jeter helps the American League win his last All-Star game
The American League beat the National League 5-3 in the 85th annual MLB All-Star game on Tuesday night. This year’s game was the last for New York Yankees star shortstop Derek Jeter and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, both of whom are retiring at the end of the season. Jeter got a three-minute ovation when he left the game in the fourth inning after getting two hits. “It was a wonderful moment,” Jeter said. [The Boston Globe]