Warren to go on attack for Clinton

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THE HILL

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is relishing her role as one of Hillary Clinton’s most effective attack dogs against Donald Trump.

Warren’s criticism of Trump in tweets and speeches has gotten under the Republican presidential nominee’s skin, provoking angry outbursts from the billionaire businessman.

She’s has shown a talent for irking Trump — mainly on Twitter — and moving him off message, which is something Trump’s GOP primary foes struggled to do.

Scott Ferson, a Boston-based Democratic strategist who voted for Clinton in the primary, said Warren’s attacks were effective because she knows where to aim and has the credibility to back it up.

“She knows how to hit Trump where he lives,” said Ferson. “I would have hated to be Elizabeth Warren’s younger brother.”

The liberal stalwart homed in on Trump’s business background and derogatory comments about women, labeling him a con artist who’s bilked his way into striking distance of the White House.

Soon after Trump announced Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate, Warren tweeted that the duo was a perfect match: “Two small, insecure, weak men who use hate & fear to divide our country & our people.”

Trump changed the subject and countered that Warren was a “fraud” who lied about having Native American ancestry. Warren shot back with comments about the lawsuits he faces over Trump University while defending her own credentials.

“It might blow your mind that a woman worked hard & earned a good job on her own,” she tweeted, “but it’s not the 1800s. It happens.”

Warren also joined a chorus of Democrats calling for Trump to publicly release his tax returns, implying that the real estate mogul is hiding a bombshell.

“Maybe he’s just a lousy businessman who doesn’t want you to find out he’s worth a whole lot less than he claims. We really can’t know for sure,” Warren said in a video for progressive nonprofit MoveOn.org.

And when Warren campaigned with Clinton for the first time, on June 27, she used the stage to knock Trump’s ethics.

“What kind of a man roots for people to lose their jobs, lose their homes, lose their life savings? I’ll tell you what kind of a man: a small, insecure money-grubber who fights for no one other than himself,” she said. “What kind of a man? A nasty man who will never become president of the United States.”

Democratic strategist Craig Varoga said Warren “expresses well thought-out plans in pithy sound bites.”

Trump has trouble with people attacking him, “especially a well-educated, forceful woman,” Varoga added.

Warren, a former law professor, has spent her career advocating for and proposing economic policies aimed at reining in Wall Street and big corporations and helping the middle class and the poor.

Her authenticity and credibility on economic issues could help energize people who backed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during the Democratic primary and persuade undecided voters to vote for Clinton.

“She’s uniquely suited to talk about economic solutions to the problems that both Trump and Sanders have identified and talked about so far,” such as bad trade deals and the struggles of the middle class, Varoga said.

Warren targeted Trump even before endorsing Clinton, and she continued as the presumptive nominee deliberated about choosing a running mate.

But Warren is unlikely to stop attacking Trump and pushing her economic message just because she won’t be the vice presidential nominee, say allies on the left.

“She’s motivated by a policy agenda she believes in,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “She’s not motivated by a desire to audition for a title.”

Ferson agreed, noting Warren’s past tension with Clinton gives her no reason to stick her neck out.

“She is really, really afraid of what Donald Trump will do if he becomes president,” said Ferson. “Elizabeth Warren has no reason from a personal standpoint to help Hillary Clinton.”

Warren energizes progressives and Democrats as a whole because “she is fearlessly willing to speak truth to power,” said Neil Sroka, communications director at Democracy for America. His group and MoveOn had partnered on the “Run Warren Run” campaign from December 2014 to June 2015 to encourage the senator to run for president.

Warren’s comments resonate with progressives and people across the political spectrum because she has a plain, easy-to-understand way of speaking and “her integrity is self-evident,” said MoveOn Communications Director Nick Berning.

She can also appeal to undecided voters who may be attracted to Trump’s economic message because she provides more substance, experts said.

Warren’s progressive credentials give Clinton a much-needed bridge to the left wing of her party.

Though Warren criticized Clinton’s economic stances long before she joined the Senate in 2013 and held out on an endorsement in 2016 until the former first lady had clinched the nomination, she’s insisted Clinton is the best person to fight for middle- and working-class families.

“For 25 years … the right wing has been throwing everything they possibly can at her. What she’s done is she gets back up, and she gets back in the fight,” Warren told MSNBC upon endorsing Clinton on June 9.

“You also have to be willing to throw a punch, and there are a lot of things people say about Hillary Clinton, but nobody says she doesn’t know how to throw a punch,” she said.

Warren is the “best person to raise money, excite the base and maximize turnout for the base,” said Ferson. “There’s no one who provides that excitement in the way that Elizabeth Warren does.”

By Naomi Jagoda and Sylvan Lane

Progressives Pressure Clinton Over Vice-Presidential Pick

SAUL LOEB VIA GETTY IMAGES

THE HUFFINGTON POST

ST. LOUIS ― With presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton set to announce her running mate in the coming week, many progressive activists and lawmakers fret that her choice may undo much of the work her campaign has done to court the party’s left wing.

At this weekend’s annual Netroots Nation conference, the year’s largest gathering of progressive activists, a number of attendees expressed concern that a more moderate choice ― such as Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who is widely considered the leading candidate ― would suppress turnout and engagement.

Asked about a Clinton/Kaine ticket, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), who is running in his state’s Democratic Senate primary, let out a disdainful chuckle. “What can I say? I worry he’s well to the right of the mainstream Democratic Party,” he said.

Adam Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a prominent liberal advocacy group, contended that a Democratic ticket with a moderate vice presidential candidate could hinder Clinton’s campaign operation. “An energizing vice presidential pick will get millions of people to not just vote, but volunteer and give money,” Green said, “as opposed to merely showing up on election day.”

Many Netroots attendees expressed hope that Clinton would name Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), citing Warren’s stance on a number of issues and her popularity.

“I think it signals the direction of the party,” said Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who was the only member of the Senate to endorse Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) presidential campaign, of a more liberal running mate. “It would very much capture a lot of momentum for progressive issues.” Merkley, who many attendees floated as a potential running mate, added that he would also be pleased if Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) or Sanders were tapped as Clinton’s number two.

Merkley declined to comment on anxiety about Kaine, only to say that the Virginia senator is “very capable.”

“I think most progressives would love to see Elizabeth Warren,” said Grayson. “There’s an obvious warmth that people feel toward Elizabeth Warren that isn’t duplicated by any other Democratic figure. People feel that they can believe in her, which is very important in motivating our folks to vote.”

GARY CAMERON/REUTERS

The Clinton campaign, for its part, has made a concerted effort to court the party’s progressive wing, both during the primary and after Sanders dropped out earlier this week. The campaign had multiple representatives at Netroots, appearing on panels dedicated to advancing progressive agendas. Many attendees spoke favorably of Clinton’s recent expansion of her proposal to reduce college debt to provide free tuition to working-class families. And, in a video message aired at Netroots, Clinton said she would introduce a constitutional amendment early in her administration to undo the Citizens United ruling that opened the door for today’s anything-goes campaign finance regime.

“I think the campaign has responded responsibly,” Grayson said.

Kaine, for his part, has been emphasizing the progressive aspects of his record on some issues of particular import to the party’s left flank. In an interview with CNN, Kaine said he is “a strong supporter of Roe v. Wade,” likely a reference to his past remarks that he personally opposes abortion. Many abortion rights proponentshave expressed concern over his stance on the issue.

Despite the rapprochement between the Clinton campaign and progressive activists, many in the party’s base, in particular Sanders supporters, remains deeply skeptical of Clinton’s move to the left and her vice presidential pick.

In a press release, a group of Sanders delegates released the findings of a survey of 250 Sanders-supporting delegates, saying a majority would “Nonviolently and emphatically [protest] in the convention hall during Clinton’s acceptance speech” if Clinton picked a running mate that didn’t support a liberal enough agenda.

“Can any Democratic presidential candidate afford to do without solid support from this base in a general election?” Karen Bernal, a delegate from Sacramento, said in the group’s statement. “That is the question Secretary Clinton and her advisers should think long and hard about.”

Eliot Nelson

Warren slams Trump and Pence as ‘two small, insecure, weak men’

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THE HILL

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Saturday turned her fire on the newly minted GOP presidential ticket, calling Donald Trump and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence “two small, insecure, weak men.”

She said Pence “is famous for trying to control women’s bodies,” and that the two Republicans’ “sexism” is “in line with the party platform.”

Warren’s tweetstorm came just minutes ahead of the scheduled joint appearance where Trump will introduce Pence as his running mate.

Warren is reportedly on the shortlist to be Hillary Clinton‘s running mate. Warren met with the presumptive Democratic nominee at her DC home Friday amid reports that Clinton is closing in on choosing a running mate.

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GOP angst grows over Trump

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THE HILL

By Alexander Bolton

The hope this week among Republicans was that Donald Trump would make headway on unifying the party in two pivotal meetings on Capitol Hill.

Instead, Trump called Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) a loser and bickered with Sen. Jeff Flake, warning he’d turn his ire on the Arizona Republican if he kept up with his criticism.

Trump also pointed to a recent Rasmussen poll showing him ahead of Hillary Clinton by two points nationally during the closed-door meeting on Thursday.

But it wasn’t lost on the GOP senators what was left unsaid: a string of other recent polls — including those from better-regarded sources such as Reuters, USA Today, Quinnipiac and Pew Research — show Clinton ahead.

With just more than a week to go before the GOP convention in Cleveland, angst over the presidential contest is growing in the Senate.

Republicans see Clinton as an entirely beatable candidate and believe this week’s scathing criticism from FBI Director James Comey over her private email system can be used against her.

But few in the GOP are convinced that Trump will win or that he is even the favorite, and this week’s meetings — and the events on the campaign trail surrounding them — did little to change things.

Several Republican senators said the meeting was far from a disaster.

While Trump traded barbs for three to four minutes, the vast majority of the meeting was positive.

“You in the media have it all wrong. That stuff was only three or four minutes. The rest of it was positive. It was a good meeting. We talked mostly about how do we unify to beat Hillary Clinton and fix the Obama economy,” said one Republican senator who has long been critical of Trump and will skip the convention in Cleveland.

Others took away the fact that Trump could be useful in delivering attacks on their Democratic opponents that would resonate with white working-class voters, his most loyal demographic.

At the same time, observers said Trump did little to move the needle during what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised would be a frank talk.

Republicans opposed to him being the GOP standard-bearer didn’t change their opinions, nor did his fans.

“I don’t think anybody came away with any higher opinion of Trump’s chances but I do think that Trump could be useful in attacking their opponents,” said a Senate Republican aide. “In a room full of people looking for any kind of silver lining, that was it. But there was no greater hope he can win.”

House lawmakers felt similarly.

“I don’t know that anything moved appreciably,” said a Republican strategist for a major business group who spoke with House lawmakers and aides Friday about Trump’s visit.

“For guys looking for more for the same and feeling underwhelmed by Trump, they left feeling exactly the same. If you were positively inclined before the meeting, you’re probably the same there too.”

“Anybody that was on the fence didn’t come off the fence,” the source added.

Republican Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.), who does not support Trump, said he didn’t think the meeting changed any minds.

“For me it didn’t make a difference. I heard from a lot of my colleagues in the House that they liked him more,” he said. “He’s likeable. Certainly people have strong disagreements with many of his statements but it doesn’t strike people as malicious but more like an uncle who says things that shouldn’t be said.”

Trump made members of the audience wince when he pledged to defend all articles in the Constitution, including, he vowed, Article 12, which does not exist because the founding document has only seven.

“Is it a little uncomfortable? Yeah,” said Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R), a Tea Party conservative from South Carolina. “Is it a big deal in the greater scheme of things? No.”

But Mulvaney also said the reception was generally positive.

Trump remains disconcerting to lawmakers because just as they’re starting to feel more comfortable with him, he says something puzzling or outrageous.

In an interview with The New York Times this week he did not rule out the possibility that he would opt out of serving as president if he beats Hillary Clinton to win the White House.

“I’ll let you know how I feel after it happens,” he said.

Trump told senators Thursday that he could win in Illinois, Michigan and Connecticut, states that have voted consistently Democratic in recent presidential elections.

He also told them that he would not write off New York, where he grew up and has had a major media presence for decades, and would not ignore California either, though he acknowledged receiving advice not to spend any time in the state.

Lawmakers questioned Trump’s political calculus in light of a new Field poll showing him trailing Clinton by 30 points in California in a head-to-head matchup.

Trump also appeared to be confused during a confrontation with Flake, who he predicted would lose re-election. It’s his home state colleague, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who’s running for re-election this year. Flake is up in 2018.

Some lawmakers where left scratching their head after Trump’s speech in Cincinnati on Wednesday night that veered all over the map.

Even though the speech was unorthodox, to say the least, it didn’t get all negative reviews.

Joe Scarborough, the former Republican Congressman from Florida and host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” declared afterward that the audience loved it and his co-host, Mika Brzezinski, said, “He’s got his groove back.”

Veteran GOP strategist Ron Bonjean, a former Senate aide, said the different views on Trump’s trip highlight his unique candidacy.

“What’s appealing about Donald Trump to millions of voters is that he’s not a Washington insider. At the same time, he doesn’t understand the levers of power, how the political process works and how to run a campaign,” he said.

“We’re seeing the turbulence around it right now, through some of the mistaken comments he’s made to having challenges assembling a professional staff,” Bonjean added

Howard Dean Blasts MSNBC For Focusing On Bill Clinton’s Tarmac Meeting: ‘This Is Crap’

CROOKS AND LIARS

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) lashed out at MSNBC host Alex Witt on Sunday after she claimed that former President Bill Clinton’s impromptu tarmac meeting with Attorney General Loretta was “inexcusable.”

During a Sunday discussion about Hillary Clinton’s email server scandal on MSNBC, Republican strategist Susan Del Percio focused on Bill Clinton’s recent decision to board the attorney general’s plane unannounced on a tarmac in Phoenix.

“No one else would have seen the spouse of someone else under investigation,” Percio said. “It does play into Donald Trump’s issue that the system is rigged.”

“As innocent as it may have been,” Witt said, turning to Dean, “politically, isn’t it almost inexcusable?”

“Here’s what’s inexcusable,” Dean shot back. “We’re spending all this time on television talking about a visit between Loretta Lynch and President Clinton. Why aren’t we talking about how to get jobs back in America? Why aren’t we talking about what we’re going to do about healthcare? Why aren’t we talking about foreign policy? This is ridiculous. This goes on and on and on and on. Nobody wants to take the serious issues seriously.”

“Should it not have been done?” Witt pressed. “Should Bill Clinton have known better? Should Loretta Lynch have known better?”

“Maybe they should have known better, maybe all kinds of things should have happened,” Dean replied. “Can’t we starting talking about issues that effect the American people in this campaign? How long is this going to go on? When are we going to talk about substance? When are we going to talk about jobs? When are we going to talk about healthcare? When are we going to talk about education? When are we going to talk about prison reform?”

“When Bill Clinton stops doing unforced errors,” Percio insisted.

“Nonsense!” Dean exclaimed. “This is crap. We ought be talking about serious stuff, not who did what to who. The reason this happens is because the right wing has got nothing on the Clintons, and all they can do is make up stuff like this.”

By David

Clinton VP candidates grab the spotlight

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) | Lauren Schneiderman

THE HILL

Several of presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s most prominent supporters took to the airwaves on Sunday, though their own chances of becoming her running mate often dominated the conversation.

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) who has been floated as a potential vice presidential candidate,dodged a question on “Fox News Sunday” about whether or not he was being vetted for the position. In the past, he’s said he has “no knowledge” about whether he’s being vetted.

“That’s a question that has to be asked to Secretary Clinton,” Becerra said.

Becerra, a tireless campaigner for Clinton, continued to defend the former secretary of State amid controversies regarding the investigation into her private email server.

But Becerra, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said Clinton had a great group of people to choose from to be her running mate.

“I have full faith and total confidence that she’s going to make a great decision.”

“And we’ll see,” he added.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) declined on Sunday to directly answer a question about whether or not he is being vetted by the Clinton campaign, something he has flatly denied in the past.

“I’m referring questions … to the woman that’s going to have to make this decision,” Booker said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“That’s not a no?” asked host Brianna Keilar.

“That is exactly what it is. If you have a question like that, please direct it to the Clinton campaign,” Booker said.

Booker strongly defended the presumptive Democratic nominee, saying it’s not possible she will by indicted in the FBI’s investigation into her personal email server.

“That’s just not going to happen,” Booker said.

The FBI interviewed Clinton for three and a half hours on Saturday, but Booker said the interview was routine. He said he expects the investigation will be closing up soon.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), also rumored to be among the contenders to be Clinton’s running mate, expressed a similar sentiment, saying he’s “not worried” about Clinton being indicted.

“She’s always been willing to talk to authorities,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”

He called the controversial meeting last week between Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton “unfortunate,” but said he still thinks the FBI will do its job.

“I think there won’t be an indictment. And I think that means she did what many secretaries of State have done in the past,” he said.

“I mean, she released more emails and more pages of emails and more records than any of her predecessors of secretary of State, even before she was actually running for president. I think that speaks to her integrity.”

Brown then launched into an attack on Clinton’s likely rival Donald Trump, slamming the presumptive GOP nominee for not yet releasing his taxes and noting “elections are about contrasts.”

“He hasn’t filled in any of the blanks in what he’s going to do. We see every week or two, we see another story of a small business that went out of business because Donald Trump,” he said.

Similarly, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, also reported to be under consideration for Clinton’s VP, slammed Trump on foreign policy, drawing contrasts between the real estate mogul and Clinton.

“Well, I haven’t run a Ms. Universe pageant, and I don’t own any golf courses in Scotland, Chuck, so I don’t have what Donald Trump has, and I’m very sorry about that,” Perez said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd when asked to describe his foreign policy philosophy.

“It’s all about judgment. And Donald Trump is such a volatile individual. And what I have seen working with Secretary Clinton is that she is a steady hand,” he said.

“We are in the midst of a very challenging set of circumstances around the world. And you need someone with a steady hand. And Secretary Clinton, with her experience, with her steady hand, and with her sound judgment. Judgment is what it’s all about. And I think she has exercised sound judgment throughout,” he said.

He added Trump was a “train wreck” for trade, the minimum wage, immigration and “American values.”

Perez said he’s excited to support Clinton because she “understands that when you attack Muslims, when you attack immigrants, you’re attacking the core of American values.”

Senate GOP deeply concerned over Trump effect

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THE HILL

Senate Republicans are deeply concerned that Donald Trump will cost them their majority, despite private assurances from leaders that voters opposed to the presumptive GOP presidential nominee will split their ballots.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll published last week shows Trump’s unfavorable rating has hit new a high, with 7 out of 10 respondents nationwide viewing him negatively.

One Republican senator facing a competitive re-election said he and his colleagues are “very concerned.”

“There’s deep, deep concern,” he added.

Republicans have to defend 24 seats while Democrats only have to protect 10. Six of the vulnerable GOP seats are in states that President Obama won in 2008 and 2012.

Almost every day, Republican senators see new evidence of Trump’s lack of mainstream appeal.

Major companies such as Wells Fargo and UPS, which sponsored the 2012 Republican convention in Tampa, are skipping this summer’s event in Cleveland.

“There’s a lot of anxiety out there,” said a second Senate Republican. “People are trying to figure out what’s going on in the political climate, what it means to us, to me. There’s anxiety.”

Yet there’s a growing sense of resignation that not much can be done to change their presumptive nominee.

At a meeting of Senate Republicans at the National Republican Senatorial Committee headquarters Wednesday, Trump didn’t even come up for discussion, according to two lawmakers who participated.

Republican leaders are trying to buck up their nervous colleagues by arguing they can win re-election even if Trump crashes and burns.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) predicted on Fox News that this will be a “ticket-splitting kind of year.”

He believes that many people who vote for Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, or Gary Johnson, the libertarian nominee, will also vote for Republican Senate candidates.

He is urging vulnerable incumbents to distance themselves from Trump and run their own races.

Republican Sen. Mark Kirk (Ill.), the most endangered Senate incumbent, has taken that advice and withdrawn his endorsement.

“He is too bigoted and racist for the land of Lincoln,” he told The Hill, adding that other Senate Republicans “could” be concerned about his effect on their own contests.

NRSC Chairman Roger Wicker (Miss.) said Trump won’t necessarily have a negative impact on Senate candidates.

“That hasn’t happened historically,” he said of fears that the nominee will create headwinds in Senate races. “Our candidates look very, very good. We’ll take [the races] one by one.”

Other Republicans make the same argument.

“I believe that people vote individually, evaluating each race. We have very strong Senate candidates and they will run their own races,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who is not up for reelection this year.

In recent elections, however, the macro political environment has had as big an impact on results and candidate quality, experts say.

“They’re whistling past the graveyard,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, when asked about GOP skepticism of a presidential coattail effect in 2016. “To deny there’s coattails is laughable. It’s a very polarized era.”

In a report published last year, UVA’s Center for Politics observed the correlation between presidential and Senate voting exceeded 80 percent in the past two presidential elections.

Democrats picked up two Senate seats when Obama was re-elected in 2012, winning races in five Republican-leaning states: Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia. They also won in the swing states of Florida, Ohio and Virginia.

Democrats won a net gain of eight Senate seats in 2008, when Obama first captured the White House.

Karl Rove, who served as former President George W. Bush’s top political advisor, predicted in December that the top of the ticket will have a major influence on November’s Senate races.

“In the past two presidential contests, the Republican ticket’s downward pull on the party’s Senate candidates was pronounced,” he wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, noting that Senate Republican incumbents lost in New Hampshire and Oregon in 2008 despite running ahead of their presidential nominee, John McCain.

Senate Republicans picked up four seats when Bush won re-election in 2004.

In 2014, losing Senate Democratic incumbents such as former Sen. Mark Begich (Alaska) blamed their losses on President Obama’s unpopularity.

Begich, who was thought to have run a near-perfect race, observed to the Alaska Dispatch that the Republican strategy that year was to make every race about Obama.

Republicans say this year will be different because unlike in past presidential elections, their candidates won’t embrace the nominee.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R), who has a tough race in New Hampshire, for example, has emphasized that she will support but not endorse Trump.

Democratic strategists say it will be impossible for Republican candidates to inoculate themselves from Trump’s unpopularity. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has launched a campaign branding the GOP as “the party of Trump.”

Adam Jentleson, a senior aide to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), on Thursday called Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and his fellow Republicans “puppets of Trump” after McCain blamed Obama’s national security policies for the mass shooting in Orlando. McCain is facing the toughest race of his Senate career,

Trump’s penchant for shooting from the hip and sparking media frenzies has overshadowed Republican accomplishments in Congress.

Senate Republicans were hoping to spend the week of June 6 discussing the disappointing May jobs report, which showed employers added only 38,000 workers to their payrolls.

Instead, Trump’s comments attacking a Mexican-American judge presiding over a lawsuit against Trump University dominated the political debate, putting vulnerable Senate incumbents on the defensive.

“If he had just said nothing and let the jobs report speak for him, it would have been a great week,” said another GOP senator facing a tough re-election.

Trump’s most stomach-churning characteristic, according to many Senate Republicans, is his sheer unpredictability.

He surprised allies by tweeting Wednesday that he would be meeting with the National Rifle Association about not allowing people on terror watch lists from buying guns, a position that most Senate Republicans oppose without sufficient due-process safeguards.

Trump’s unexpected statement immediately put Republicans who voted in December against legislation sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) banning people on the no-fly list from buying guns on the defensive.

The entire Senate GOP conference except for Kirk voted against it.

By Alexander Bolton

John Oliver ridicules Trump’s tweets: They’re like Tom Cruise — ‘short, unhinged and you can’t look away’

Last Week Tonight host John Oliver -- HBO screenshot
HBO Screenshot

RAW STORY

After opening his show with a stirring tribute to the victims of the Orlando shooter, Last Week Tonight host John Oliver got back to the business of comedy, lecturing Hillary Clinton to not get into a Twitter war with Donald Trump.

Last week Clinton responded to a tweet from Trump with the Twitter chestnut “delete your account,” which generated over a half million likes for the presumptive Democratic nominee.

As Oliver noted, “likes on Twitter” are worthless.

“Getting a lot of likes does not necessarily mean you’ve accomplished something good,” the HBO host stated. “Incidentally that is a sentence anyone under the age of twenty should frame and hang in their bedroom. Because there are two problems with telling Donald Trump to delete his account. First, he’s never going to to do that. Even when he’s dead for fifty years, he’ll somehow be tweeting from beyond the grave with, ‘Met God. Very disappointing, dopey beard. Can’t even lift a heavy rock that he himself created. Sad.’ And, second, you just moved this fight on to his turf, which is a huge mistake.”

Oliver warned Clinton to not engage with Trump online because he is an “ego goblin who feeds on verbal filth.”

Describing Trump’s tweets, Oliver summed them up quite accurately.

“Hillary, you are not going to beat Donald Trump at social media,” he explained. “His tweets are the Tom Cruise’s of tweets: short and unhinged — but you kind of can’t look away.”

Watch the video below via YouTube:

Obama Endorses Hillary Clinton

HUFFPOST POLITICS

President Barack Obama has endorsed presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, signaling he will fight to ensure that she succeeds him in the White House.

Obama made his endorsement via a video released Thursday:

President Barack Obama has endorsed presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, signaling he will fight to ensure that she succeeds him in the White House.

“I want to congratulate Hillary Clinton on making history as the presumptive Democratic nominee for the president of the United States,” Obama said in the video.

“I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office,” he said, adding, “I want those of you who’ve been with me from the beginning of this incredible journey to be the first to know that I’m with her.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) met with Obama at the White House earlier in the day, and said afterward during a press conference that he would work to ensure presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump does not make it to the White House. Sanders did not endorse Clinton or say that he would withdraw from the race.

Obama mentioned Sanders in his endorsement of Clinton, thanking the senator for “shining a spotlight on issues like economic inequality and the outsized influence of money in our politics, and bringing young people into the process.”

Obama emphasized that Clinton and Sanders have a shared vision of “the values that make America great.”

“Those are the values that are going to be tested in this election,” he said.

Clinton thanked Obama for his endorsement in a tweet:

Trump reacted to Obama’s endorsement in a tweet Thursday:

Clinton quickly responded to his criticism with a tweet of her own:

Clinton became the presumptive nominee on Monday, exceeding the 2,383 delegates required to be the party’s choice on the November ballot, according to The Associated Press. She declared victory Tuesday evening, after winning primary contests in four states and earning a majority of pledged delegates in the race.

Obama has hinted for months that he would endorse Clinton, but said it would be inappropriate to wade into the campaign until she clinched the nomination.

He is set to campaign with Clinton in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on June 15.

MORE>>>

Political scientist: Bernie isn’t the future of the Democratic Party. Barack Obama is.

VOX

Bernie Sanders may have lost the current battle for the Democratic nomination. But he’s winning the war for the party’s future.

That, at least, is the conventional wisdom about Sanders’s campaign — that while the Vermont senator may go down to defeat in this presidential cycle, his young supporters can expect sweeping victory within a generation or two.

“Whatever Sanders’s fate as a presidential candidate … his campaign is the harbinger of a deep change in the Democratic Party,” wrote the New Republic’s Jeet Heer after Sanders won New Hampshire. “In coming years, Democratic politicians will have to echo Sanders’s slashing critique of Wall Street and his call for a far more robust welfare state if they want to hold on to the rising generation in their party.”

But Dave Hopkins, a political scientist at Boston College, thinks these kinds of interpretations may be overstating the long-term significance of Sanders’s insurgency.

“There’s a temptation to assume that everything new in politics is a harbinger of the future. But lots of things are dead ends: They rise, and they go away,” Hopkins says. “There’s no reason to believe just definitionally that Sanders represents the future of the Democratic Party more than anybody else.”

For one, Hopkins sees little reason to believe that the young voters who have overwhelmingly backed Sanders will remain wedded to his political vision. And the title of most popular Democrat still belongs to the man in the White House: Barack Obama continues to command massive popularity among the Democratic rank and file — about 80 percent of Democrats approve of his job performance.

“It seems like [Obama] will go down in history as the key figure in current Democratic Party politics — he showed how the party’s new demographic coalition could come together. If you want to talk about the future of the Democratic Party, that’s where it is,” Hopkins said.

In a phone call earlier this week, Hopkins told me why he thinks Sanders has failed to transform the Democratic Party this time around, and why — media speculation aside — he probably doesn’t represent its future either.

A transcript of our conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity, follows below.

Has Bernie Sanders pulled the party to the left?

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders (Getty)

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. (Getty)

Jeff Stein: I want to get a sense of the extent to which you think Sanders has pulled the Democratic primary to the left. On some of these issues — the Trans-Pacific Partnership, wealth inequality, the minimum wage — hasn’t his message changed Clinton’s?

Dave Hopkins: I think Sanders has had a visible effect on the rhetoric of the Clinton campaign, where they clearly took seriously the critique that she was not really liberal enough and responded to Sanders’s presence in the race.

“I’M NOT SURE WHETHER WE’LL SEE A SUBSTANTIVE LASTING EFFECT OF THE SANDERS CAMPAIGN”

TPP is the one example where there may have actually been a substantive position change in response to him. The rest haven’t been substantive position changes but rhetorical and message differences — and, maybe, emphasizing Wall Street regulation, the public option on health care, and more debt free college.

But she didn’t adopt all of his positions, or even many of them. At most, she may have “me, too’d” some issues more than she would have otherwise.

JS: Okay, maybe Sanders didn’t force many substantive concessions. But didn’t he at least move the party to talk more about inequality? Clearly the primary at least showed future Democratic politicians the potency of his attacks on the 1 percent and the “millionaires and billionaires,” right?

DH: I think it was already there to a large extent. It’s an issue that Democrats more generally have come to talk about over the last few years even before Sanders started running. I think she was going to need to talk about it either way.

But in other ways she made other distinctions with him — at times trying to suggest he was too focused on just inequality and Wall Street and not on the other issues important to Democrats, like racial discrimination and gun control. Some of it was adapting to his candidacy by echoing him, and some of it was pushing back against him.

I’m just not sure Sanders really forced her to make any concessions that she wouldn’t have made otherwise. He never was quite enough of a threat to her actual nomination to really require her to change course in a fundamental way in this campaign. And I think a lot of where you see his influence is on the edges — in the rhetoric and the approach in the primary. And I’m not sure whether we’ll see a substantive lasting effect of the Sanders campaign.

It may be that after the conventions, the Clinton people feel they have a big problem appealing to Sanders voters and have to revisit his issues. But absent that, it’s not clear to me that there’s been a large-scale effect on the party in general.

JS: What if we look at something like campaign finance? Sanders was able to raise enough from his small-donor army to not suffer financially against Clinton and do so in a way that also redounded to his political benefit. Could there be a lasting lesson there?

DH: I think there’s probably something to that. He showed that you can raise a lot of money from small individual donations without making nice with business interests within the party, and the Clinton fundraising strategy going back to the ’90s was to sell themselves to wealthier interests as being somewhat business-friendly.

So Sanders does represent another path, and he was certainly much better-funded than most of his liberal insurgent predecessors. He showed that you can use the internet and publicity to raise an awful lot of money. That’s certainly one place where future presidential candidates could change.

Why Hopkins thinks Sanders is nowhere near remaking the party in his image

sanders

(Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

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