PARTY HEALING UPDATE: Today was the final Election Day of the primary season, and Hillary Clinton won it.
This wasn't a shock to anyone, least of all Sanders himself, who didn't seem to be dwelling on vote counts all that much today — not in D.C., where Democrats headed to the polls, or anywhere else. The Vermont senator had not actively campaigned in several days, and spent the day meeting behind closed doors with Senate Democrats, and attending the congressional picnic at the White House. Sanders just met with Clinton in D.C. tonight before heading home to Burlington; there's no election night gathering planned — but his campaign did tell supporters he would be speaking to them in a live video message Thursday.
So as of tonight, the primary season is really, finally, technically over. Sort of. Ahead of election night, "Bernie Sanders declined to endorse Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, saying that he would continue to push for a 'fundamental transformation' of the party up until its convention next month in Philadelphia.
"'The American people are hurting, and they are hurting badly,' Sanders said during a news conference outside his Washington campaign office near Capitol Hill. 'They want real change, not the same old, same old.'
"Sanders’s comments came as voters in the District were casting the final ballots of the long Democratic nominating contest, and as Sanders and Clinton were preparing for a highly anticipated meeting Tuesday night to discuss the party’s agenda heading into the fall election against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
"In the news conference, Sanders ticked off several policy priorities and political changes he would like to see, including new leadership at the Democratic National Committee, which he said has not focused enough on bringing new voters into the party."
We don't know how much of the wishlist that Sanders laid out today and discussed with top Democrats over the past week he'll ultimately get. We do know it is unlikely to be as much as it might have been if he'd had the same conversations back in May. Sanders wagered that the candidate who claimed a majority of the final primary contests might get a momentum boost. He was right! Unfortunately, that candidate was Hillary Clinton, who over the past month won eight of the last 11 Democratic contests, nabbed President Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren's endorsements, and saw her poll numbers start to rise.
MORE PARTY HEALING!
Donald Trump met with Republican governors today. He plans to meet with evangelical leaders next week. Then the presumptive GOP nominee takes Capitol Hill. "Donald Trump will meet with House Republicans next month to discuss policy priorities and how to unify the party ahead of the November election. The meeting will take place on July 7..."
Trump's latest speech is already boosting party unity among some members of the Hill GOP, as they realize reports of the TrumPivot may be greatly exaggerated. (Maybe not the sort of unity the mogul is looking for.)
"Top Republicans joined with President Obama and other Democrats Tuesday in sharply condemning Donald Trump’s reaction to the nightclub massacre in Orlando, decrying his anti-Muslim rhetoric and his questioning of Obama’s allegiances as divisive and out of step with America’s values," reported Sean Sullivan and Mike DeBonis.
(On the Muslim ban, Paul Ryan was on the same page as a presidential candidate. It just wasn't the GOP's.)
"Some of Trump’s most ardent backers defended his response to the Orlando attack, saying drastic measures were needed to keep the nation safe. But most Republicans on Capitol Hill tried to distance themselves from Trump’s comments following the terrorist attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando that killed at least 49 people. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) refused to respond to questions about Trump at his weekly news conference.
"Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) denounced Trump for trying to rally support for his anti-Muslim policies, while others castigated Trump for the accusations he has lobbed at Obama.
"'I do not think a Muslim ban is in our country’s interest,' Ryan told reporters. 'I do not think it is reflective of our principles, not just as a party but as a country.' He called for 'a security test, not a religious test' for immigrants." Here's a #stat for you: Ryan's endorsement of Trump 12 days ago may have been the last thing the two men agreed on — by our count, today was at least the sixth time since that the speaker has rebuked the presumptive GOP nominee for something he's said.
"...Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who has praised Trump at times for his willingness to shake up politics and recently met with the mogul, expressed serious unease Tuesday with how Trump responded to a national tragedy.
"'Traditionally, it is a time when people rally around our country, and it’s obviously not what’s occurred, and it’s very disappointing,' Corker said.
"Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a leading national security hawk, said he had 'run out of adjectives' for Trump. 'I don’t think he has the judgment or the temperament, the experience to deal with what we are facing,' said Graham, who does not currently support the mogul."
...which brings us to the Awkward Trump-Related Hill Encounter of the Day, via Benjy Sarlin. There was stiff competition today, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters he was "not going to be commenting on the presidential candidates" and House Speaker Paul Ryan said he was "not going to spend my time commenting about the ups and downs and the in-betweens of comments." But we think there was a clear winner:
Hillary Clinton and President Obama both pushed back at Trump today too. Clinton told supporters that "history will remember what we do in this moment."
And at the White House, "a visibly angry Obama also dismissed Trump’s repeated demands for him to use the term 'radical Islam' when speaking about the Orlando shootings and other attacks. 'Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away,' Obama said. 'This is a political distraction.'
In Greensboro, N.C., tonight, Trump pushed back at the pushback. "Once again we’ve seen that political correctness is deadly,” he said, reported Jenna Johnson. "...And just so you understand: I have many Muslim friends. There doesn’t seem to be assimilation. We don’t know what’s going on."
A new Bloomberg poll — conducted both before and after the Orlando attack and the candidates' national security speeches — suggested that voters gave Trump the edge on the question of which candidate was best equipped to fight terrorism. (More on the background here.) Stay tuned for surveys conducted this week — as of right now, it's far from clear whether his most recent comments could help or hurt him in November.
The same poll gave Clinton a 12-point national lead over Trump. Historical asterisk time!: "In June 2012, a Bloomberg/Selzer poll showed Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney by about the same margin, 13 points," points out Philip Bump.
"That led to some head-scratching and prompted Bloomberg to try and explain why its results were so far from other polls conducted in the same period of time. Mark Blumenthal of Pollster.com put it succinctly: 'The most likely possibility is that this poll simply represents a statistical outlier.'
"As may this one. But in this contest and at this moment, that seems somehow less likely. The poll came at a very good moment for Clinton, in a race that she has led by a decent margin for quite some time. The recent narrowing of the gap between the two was an abnormality in the pattern more than a Clinton lead has been. This poll may be an outlier in the way it was in 2012. It may also be an outlier in that it is capturing a shift in the race back to what we'd seen for months."
Here's what that long-term shift has looked like so far:
—Donald Trump may wonder what sort of dirt the DNC is planning to use against him. Someone in Russia probably knows already. "Russian government hackers penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee and gained access to the entire database of opposition research on GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, according to committee officials and security experts who responded to the breach," reported Ellen Nakashima. "The intruders so thoroughly compromised the DNC’s system that they also were able to read all email and chat traffic, said DNC officials and the security experts."
"The intrusion into the DNC was one of several targeting American political organizations. The networks of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were also targeted by Russian spies, as were the computers of some GOP political action committees, U.S. officials said. But details on those cases were not available.
"A Russian Embassy spokesman said he had no knowledge of such intrusions."
—Donald Trump entered his birthday on Twitter. This is what happens when one does that, apparently.
These women came prepared for Trump's 70th birthday today pic.twitter.com/GC5oaU286u— Jill Colvin (@colvinj) June 14, 2016
—Just in time for the big day: a new fundraising effort.
Just got a fundraising email asking me to join "Team Trump" pic.twitter.com/bJxxwMpY8j— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) June 14, 2016
—Donald Trump, in Greensboro, N.C. tonight, said he was "so happy" he took away The Washington Post's press credentials. "Where's the Washington Post? They're probably sitting up there in the back bleachers..." Close!
Here's a photo of the crowd at Donald Trump's rally in Greensboro, NC: pic.twitter.com/1aIsV7QPXC— Jenna Johnson (@wpjenna) June 14, 2016
—We knew tonight was likely to bring more information on what was next for Sanders and his movement. We can still only hope it will also deliver more details on the future of what may have been the single greatest parody account of the 2016 campaign: Bernie Thoughts.
You may have been following Bernie Thoughts for months; more than 110,000 people do. This week may or may not mark the end of the campaign, the account, neither, or both — but no matter what comes, we'd like to pause for a moment of appreciation for what has been achieved since its launch last year (the account, not the campaign.) It channeled, if not Bernie, "Bernie" — a character we recognized immediately. "Bernie" WAS ALWAYS SHOUTING AT US, but he would have had our attention regardless. Technically, "Bernie" was a Brooklyn millennial — yes, literally — because sometimes the universe arranges things more or less the way one might expect. But on some level, all of us — Republican, Independent, Democrat, or other — were "Bernie." And "Bernie" was us.
There was a lot to think about this year, and he had a lot of thoughts.
Thoughts about the animal kingdom:
THANK GOD SHARKS ARE TERRIBLE AT WALKING—LET ALONE RUNNING— Bernie Thoughts (@berniethoughts) June 14, 2016
WE DON'T NEED BOTH LLAMAS AND ALPACAS— Bernie Thoughts (@berniethoughts) February 14, 2016
Thoughts about food:
ONION NEVER GETS THE LEAD ROLES—NEVER GETS THE FAME AND ATTENTION—BUT IT'S ALWAYS THERE—WORKING HARD TO SUPPORT THE FLAVOR— Bernie Thoughts (@berniethoughts) May 16, 2016
TOO FREQUENTLY IS THE OMELETTE OVERCOOKED—AMERICA DESERVES BETTER— Bernie Thoughts (@berniethoughts) November 16, 2015
WHY SALAD A POTATO WHEN YOU CAN DO ANYTHING ELSE TO IT INSTEAD— Bernie Thoughts (@berniethoughts) April 13, 2016
Many, many thoughts about bagels:
I REFUSE TO CAMPAIGN IN THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA UNTIL THEY STOP CALLING BREAD BAGELS— Bernie Thoughts (@berniethoughts) November 17, 2015
THE CENTER OF THE BAGEL IS A REMINDER OF THE VOID AT THE CENTER OF ALL OF US— Bernie Thoughts (@berniethoughts) April 4, 2016
And thoughts about other things. Many, many other things.
TAPE IS MORE USEFUL THAN PEOPLE GIVE IT CREDIT FOR— Bernie Thoughts (@berniethoughts) March 23, 2016
I WOULD PAY EXTRA TO NOT SEE A MOVIE IN 3D— Bernie Thoughts (@berniethoughts) December 10, 2015
MANY WEBSITES ARE STILL MADE BY HAND RIGHT HERE IN AMERICA— Bernie Thoughts (@berniethoughts) May 16, 2016
If there's one thing we've learned this year, it is that while Bernie may hear your thoughts, in the end he will stay true to his own.
TOLD MY ADVISOR—I WILL WEAR SHOES OR SOCKS—PICK ONE—NOT BOTH— Bernie Thoughts (@berniethoughts) December 21, 2015
YOUR DAILY TRAIL PIT STOP: Tonight, Donald Trump's Greensboro campaign rally — which we attended! if you looked carefully, you could see reporter Jenna Johnson waving from the back! — closed with Neil Young's Rockin' In the Free World. (The rocker had called on Trump to stop using the tune — but as of last month, officially changed his position to ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.)
Anyway, there may be no better song to play us out of the primary season. Enjoy!