THE MORNING PLUM:
The signs are everywhere this morning: The Clinton and Sanders camps are now signaling how the Democratic primaries might wind down without too much noise, contentiousness, disruption, and anger. Could things still get very ugly? Yes. But at this point, that’s looking less likely than the alternative.
In an interview with me, Rep. Keith Ellison, a top supporter of Bernie Sanders who is also the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, suggested the Clinton camp had some work to do in order to appeal to Sanders’s supporters. But he also carefully noted that Sanders would not do anything to imperil the party unity that will be required to defeat Donald Trump.
“Young people have a set of priorities that make them want to support Bernie Sanders,” Ellison said. “If hypothetically she wins the nomination, in order to get people to support Bernie, she’s going to have to carry the banner that Bernie carried in an overt way. She’s going to have to make it clear to people who support Bernie that she gets where he’s coming from.”
But Ellison added: “Every Bernie supporter knows that this Supreme Court issue is looming. We’ll have party unity….everybody has a responsibility to make sure there will never be a President Trump. Bernie has been around a long time….he’s not going to hand this country over to Donald Trump.”
Meanwhile, Politico reports that Sanders is increasingly focused on seeking influence over the party agenda as a way to wind things down. He’s hoping for signs of genuine commitment to priorities like debt free college and a $15 minimum wage, and to reforms to the nomination process that might maximize participation among the sort of young, unaffiliated Sanders voters who were excluded from the New York primary.
On the Clinton side, the Post reports that a top Clinton backer, Senator Dianne Feinstein, is now calling for both camps to “work together, across our party, to have a platform that represents the views of Democrats.” And:
In 2008, after the divisive primary season concluded, Feinstein opened her Washington manse to host a secret unity meeting between Obama and Clinton. She said she would reprise that role for Clinton and Sanders. “I’d be very happy to offer that,” Feinstein said.
The other day, another top Clinton backer, Senator Sherrod Brown — who has great credibility among economic progressives — also offered in an interview with me to take part in any negotiating efforts to unite the camps. He even suggested that Clinton “should work with him on the platform,” and offered some areas of common ground they could reach on financial reform (an area of real disagreement), such as how to toughen up Dodd-Frank’s requirements for big banks’ plans to wind down in a crisis.
The Clinton campaign has regularly pointed out that Sanders could also aid any unity efforts by toning down his criticism of her. And it still remains unclear whether the Clinton campaign even sees any need for substantial unity efforts in order to swing his supporters behind her. But today’s New York Times reports: “Democratic leaders are especially sensitive to his following among young people, who have voted for him by staggering margins, and whose support Mrs. Clinton may rely on against Mr. Trump in the November election.”
It also remains unclear what sort of rapprochement around merged policy priorities would both appease Sanders and be acceptable to Clinton (should she decide she needs to do this). But as Ed Kilgore explains, it wouldn’t be that hard to work out some kind of solution, in which Clinton redoubles her vow to prioritize areas in which they agree (such as campaign finance and voting access reform) and firms up her commitments to broad goals in areas where they still differ (somewhat), such as the $15 minimum wage and efforts to combat climate change. Meanwhile, the party might punt the goal of nomination process reform to a “post-convention commission,” as Kilgore puts it.
And at the same time, high profile supporters of both, such as Ellison, Feinstein, and Brown, seem ready to help smooth — and sell — that process.
* SANDERS SEES WRITING ON THE WALL: In an interview with the New York Times, Bernie Sanders seems to dramatically scale back expectations:
Mr. Sanders said he would now refocus his efforts chiefly on the June 7 primary in California….By winning there, he said, he hoped to strengthen his hand ahead of the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, where he would push his core priorities into the party platform. “If we can win the largest state in this country, that will send a real message to the American people,” Mr. Sanders said, “and to the delegates that this is a campaign that is moving in the direction it should.”
This is consistent with an endgame in which Sanders enters into unity talks with Clinton after the voting ends and ends up reaching some kind of accommodation before the convention.
* REPUBLICANS GRAPPLE WITH TRUMP ALBATROSS: Politico reports that GOP Senators are effectively paralyzed with worry about how a Trump nomination might impact the party’s control of the Senate:
Republicans of all ideological stripes clearly aren’t ready to accept the bombastic TV reality star as their standard-bearer. A dozen GOP senators interviewed on Wednesday acknowledged only that Trump is doing well — quite the understatement after his clean sweep and mathematical elimination of Ted Cruz from winning the nomination without the help of a contested convention. Some said they’ll wait until the July convention to weigh in on Trump, let alone decide on an endorsement.
Yeah, that’s the ticket — maybe if you just sit tight, Trump will just disappear.
* SOME IN GOP COME TO TERMS WITH TRUMP: However, despite the above, CNN talks to some Republicans who are coming around to accepting Trump as their nominee:
The comments reflect the hardening reality among Republicans on Capitol Hill that despite how unnerved many are about Trump, they realize they must recognize the will of GOP voters and get behind the businessman — or risk seeing Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, as the next president. Moreover, many Republicans frankly fear that a messy nominating convention could be far worse than choosing Trump as their nominee.
It really is possible that, if Trump falls just short of a majority of delegates, many Republicans might decide that a contested convention is too unpredictable and risky.
* CRUZ HOPES TO CAPITALIZE ON TRUMP’S MISOGYNY: With Trump doubling down on his “woman’s card” comments about Hillary Clinton, the Associated Press observes:
Cruz…implicitly emphasized the front-runner’s turbulent relationships with women Wednesday as he tapped former candidate Carly Fiorina as his would-be running mate, praising her as someone who has “over and over…shattered glass ceilings.”
I guess we’ll find out soon enough if Trump’s affection for insulting women helps or hurts among GOP primary voters…
* STOP-TRUMP PLOT MAY BE BACKFIRING: Bloomberg Politics reports that the John Kasich and Ted Cruz plot to collaborate to block Trump may be backfiring in must-win Indiana:
From members of the donor class in Indianapolis unwilling to back Cruz to blue-collar voters in Elkhart outraged by the collaboration, the movement is not coalescing, and is even backfiring. “People who were supporting Kasich have been coming into the office to pick up Trump signs,” said Laura Campbell, Republican chairwoman of Hamilton County, whose residents earn more money than anyone else in the state. “People are not happy here with that alliance.”
That doesn’t seem like the intended effect. It’s another indication that Trump’s ongoing claims that the party is colluding against him may be working among GOP voters.
* DEMS MOCK TRUMP ON FOREIGN POLICY: The Clinton-allied Priorities USA is out with a new web video that mocks Trump’s big foreign policy speech from yesterday by interposing quotes from the speech with video of these quotes from Trump in the past:
“I love war…I know more about ISIS than the generals do…when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families.”
There is tons and tons of this footage, just sitting there waiting to be rotated into hundreds of millions of dollars worth of ads.
* AND THE QUOTE OF THE DAY, TRUMPING TRUMP EDITION: This GOP lawmaker apparently thinks taking on Clinton will be a piece of cake:
Bob Sutton, chairman of the Broward County GOP Executive Committee in Florida, voiced confidence that Clinton would be easy to defeat in a debate — with a comment not likely to endear him to some female voters. “I think when Donald Trump debates Hillary Clinton she’s going to go down like Monica Lewinsky,” he said.
It’s a real mystery why polls are showing such a big gender gap, isn’t it?