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The Daily 202: Bernie’s base problems

An irritated Bernie Sanders tries to speak as he is shouted down by minority protesters Saturday at a Netroots Nation town hall meeting in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)


PHOENIX—Bernie Sanders is unaccustomed to being heckled by protesters. The self-identified democratic socialist was caught off guard here Saturday when African-American and Latino activists jeered him at Netroots Nation. Sanders’ inability to control the audience – he tried to shut them up and then he tried to yell over them – underscores his broader struggle to expand his appeal and highlights why his summer surge is unlikely to last.

The huge crowds Sanders draws are overwhelmingly white, and polling consistently shows that virtually all of his support comes from whites. After Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two contests on the calendar, Latinos and African-Americans represent a massive share of the Democratic primary electorate in the next two: Nevada and South Carolina.

The senator’s standard stump speech – a call for political revolution – does not include much specifically aimed at Latino or African-American voters. Asked specifically what he’s done for black Americans Saturday, he cited his vote for Obamacare. Asked to offer concrete proposals on what he’d do to help blacks if elected, he initially responded: “We’re going to transform the economic system so we create millions of new jobs.” The generalities only made the protesters angrier. “I want Bernie Sanders to say my name,” they chanted as the senator tried to speak. The event went so off the rails that the moderator abruptly ended it 15 minutes early. “Okay, good,” said a peeved Sanders. He then skipped a scheduled meeting with black activists.

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Sanders aides’ point out that he attended the March on Washington, endorsed Jesse Jackson Jr.’s 1988 presidential campaign and has a 100 percent rating from the NAACP. “Black lives, of course, matter,” Sanders told the crowd here. But if Sanders cannot bring African-Americans into his coalition, his support in the nominating contest will be decidedly limited.

STRUGGLING TO SCALE UP—Will the Summer of Sanders be followed by the Fall of Sanders? One of his own strategists mused on that question to a Boston Globe reporter. “Already the Sanders campaign infrastructure is creaking under the weight of the unexpected interest in his candidacy,” reports Annie Linskey, who traveled with the senator on his weekend campaign swing. “Tens of thousands of bumper stickers were on back order. Venues for rallies need to be changed multiple times as the RSVPs pile high … He revels in this relative lack of professional help. To make his point, he briefly commandeered an interview with a reporter last week in Washington. ‘Ask me who my campaign finance director is,’ he said over coffee in a Senate cafeteria. ‘We don’t have one. Ask me who my pollster is,’ he said. ‘We don’t have one.’ He said he writes his own direct mail.” 

Watch a 13-minute clip of Sanders’ give-and-take with the hecklers in Phoenix on YouTube:

WEAK ON IMMIGRATION—Sanders helped kill comprehensive reform in 2007, siding with labor over Latinos. Some Latino activists have complained that Sanders does not talk about the issue as much as Hillary Clinton, something else that will prevent him from forming an enduring and viable bulwark of support. At the town hall, moderator Jose Antonio Vargas (an undocumented immigrant who formerly wrote for The Washington Post) pressed Sanders on his vote opposing the 2007 immigration bill, which Clinton supported. Sanders explained that, while he backs a pathway to citizenship, he worries about a flood of cheap labor entering the country and taking  jobs from blue-collar Americans. Back then, he spoke about his “strong support” for “securing our borders” and “to hold employers accountable for hiring illegal immigrants.” But he voted for the 2013 immigration bill that passed the Senate after getting money to help affected workers.

SOFT ON GUNS—The National Rifle Association played a pivotal role getting Sanders elected to the House. David A. Fahrenthold reports on the front page of today’s Post that the NRA actively opposed the reelection of a Republican incumbent after he sponsored an assault weapons ban: “As a candidate in 1990, Sanders won over gun rights groups by promising to oppose one bill they hated — a measure that would establish a waiting period for handgun sales. In Congress, he kept that promise. The dynamic served as an early demonstration that, despite his pure-leftist persona, Sanders was at his core a pragmatic politician, calculating that he couldn’t win in rural Vermont without doing something for gun owners.” Amazing quote: “Bernie Sanders is a more honorable choice for Vermont sportsmen than Peter Smith,” Wayne LaPierre, who was — and still is — a top official at the national NRA wrote members that year.

— FIRST LOOK — The first ad from the Chris Christie super PAC focuses on the New Jersey governor’s opposition to the Iran deal. America Leads will put $1.1 million behind the spot in New Hampshire between tomorrow and August 6, including an ad buy on Boston TV and a strong digital component. The 30-second ad shows Christie at a town hall meeting in Sandown, New Hampshire. “This president is allowing Iran, the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world, to have a glide path towards a nuclear weapon,” the Republican tells the crowd. “A strong American military is not built to wage war; it is built to prevent war. I am the only candidate who has actually been responsible for fighting terrorism and has prosecuted terrorists and put them in jail. And if I become president, we’re going to protect the homeland, not lower our defenses against them.”

The group, led by former Republican Governors Association executive director Phil Cox, reported raising $11 million last week. America Leads has also reserved $2.8 million worth of airtime during the three months leading up to next February’s New Hampshire primary.

This is part of a broader strategy to “let Christie be Christie” and go positive from the start. With a cameraman at every town hall, the super PAC is developing a library of footage of the governor taking on every issue out there so that when an issue moves to the forefront, like Iran, they can quickly get up on the air with Christie in his own voice saying where he stands. “Christie’s persona and authenticity lend itself to this kind of approach,” a strategist for the group explained. Watch the 30-second spot here:


— Hillary Clinton’s campaign floated details of a revamp in capital-gains tax rates that she will propose later this week. The Wall Street Journal reports on its front page that her plan “would hit some short-term investors with higher rates … to prod companies to put more emphasis on long-term growth.” The paper says the details of the plan are being finalized, but she “would create a sliding scale with at least three new rates that change depending on how long an investment is held.” And there’s a nod to the Elizabeth Warren wing: “The Clinton campaign hasn’t ruled out taxing such investments at the regular income-tax rate.”

— Cuba’s embassy in Washington officially reopened at midnight after being closed for five decades. There will be a flag raising ceremony later this morning with 500 guests, including a 30-member delegation of Cubans. The foreign minister is scheduled to meet with John Kerry later today. Kerry is slated to go to Havana next month to raise our flag over the U.S. Interests Section.

— Greek banks reopened this morning after being closed for three weeks, “but new austerity taxes meant that most everything was more expensive — from coffee to taxis to cooking oil.” The Associated Press reports from downtown Athens that “people queued up in an orderly fashion as the banks unlocked their doors at 8 a.m., but restrictions on most transactions remained. The daily cash withdrawal limit stayed at 60 euros ($65) but the government added a weekly limit of 420 euros ($455).”


  1. Secretary of State John Kerry and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz pulled off a Full Ginsburg on Sunday, appearing on all five Sunday shows to defend the Iran nuclear deal, as Defense Secretary Ash Carter flew to the Middle East to reassure to Israel, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
  2. Some lawmakers, including top Democrats, express frustration that the U.N. Security Council gets the chance to vote on the deal this week, signaling the international community’s intention to dismantle the sanctions against Iran before Congress votes on it. (NYT)
  3. Members of both the Ku Klux Klan and Black Panthers protested at the South Carolina state house on Saturday, but then local churches gathered peacefully on the grounds Sunday to pray for peace in the state. (The State)
  4. Mitsubishi apologized for using U.S. prisoners of war as forced labor in mines during World War II, the first such apology by a Japanese company. (BBC)
  5. The widow of Eric Garner and hundreds of protesters rallied to call on federal prosecutors to indict the white police officer who put the black New York City man in a fatal chokehold exactly a year ago, per the New York Post.


  1. George H.W. Bush, 91, was discharged from a Maine hospital yesterday after falling at home and fracturing a bone in his neck last week.
  2. Scott Walker said he does not know whether being gay is a choice: “I don’t have an opinion on every single issue out there … I don’t know the answer to that question.” (CNN)
  3. Rick Perry came out against the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to allow openly gay leaders: “I believe that scouting would be better off if they didn’t have openly gay scoutmasters.” (NBC‘s “Meet the Press”)
  4. Rand Paul apparently threatened to filibuster the highway bill in a bid to defund Planned Parenthood.
  5. Ron Paul, breaking with his son, endorsed the Iran deal in a column posted on his institute’s web site.


Angry protesters in Chattanooga: When’s the government going to do something?” by Greg Jaffe and Thomas Gibbons-Neff: “The attack in Chattanooga, and the raw anger it has provoked here, illustrate the increasingly daunting odds that U.S. counterterrorism agencies face in an era marked by surging Islamist propaganda and a proliferation of disparate, self-radicalized, one-off threats. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have launched sweeping initiatives aimed at shoring up their ties to Muslim communities across the country…But in many ways the bureau is working against itself. Arrests of suspects accused of planning travel to Syria, sting operations and expanded surveillance have at times alienated the Muslim communities that security agencies depend on for cooperation.”

California drought makes quest for water a consuming grind,” by Eli Saslow: “For a few days now, they had been without running water in the fifth year of a California drought that had finally come to them. First it had devastated the orchards where Gamboa and his wife had once picked grapes. Then it drained the rivers where they had fished and the shallow wells in rural migrant communities… ‘Come live your California dream in this cute ranchette!’ the real estate listing had read, but now the ranchette was another California house with no running water. In a county where half of all residents depend on well water, their well was the 1,352nd to go dry.”


— ZIGNAL VISUAL: TRUMP’S TIPPING POINT CAME SATURDAY. “It was only a matter of time before Donald Trump crossed the kind of line he did on Saturday, when he questioned the heroism of Sen. John McCain, a Vietnam War POW,” Dan Balz writes in this morning’s paper. “The question now is whether Candidate Trump is immune from the laws of political gravity or soon will be isolated and regarded as an object of scorn or curiosity rather than of presidential seriousness … Many Republicans said Sunday that they think his attack on McCain (R-Ariz.) marks a turning point for Trump the politician.” Here’s a great graphical representation from our partners at Zignal Labs of what a difference one day can make in presidential politics–

This is the word cloud of Trump-related mentions on Friday:

An analysis shows that the conversation about Trump was actually more positive than negative Friday:

But, by the end of the day Saturday, there was a 15-point swing in sentiment as Twitter turned on Trump:

And this word cloud shows the extent to which the McCain comments totally overshadowed everything else:

NO APOLOGY: Trump has an op-ed in today’s USA Today defending himself. “No, not at all,” he replied yesterday when asked on ABC if he owes McCain an apology. Speaking to Martha Raddatz, he repeatedly accused McCain — who still bears the physical scars from the torture he was subjected to during more than five years in a North Vietnamese prison camp — of having “done nothing” for veterans.

More analysis from Balz on why the Trump comment is so significant: “Trump’s candidacy for the GOP nomination is a knot of contradictions. He disparages the Affordable Care Act but has called for a universal national health-care program. He calls himself pro-life after earlier saying he was pro-choice. He wants to expand Social Security benefits. He has repeatedly mocked his opponents in the most personal ways. Could someone like that unite the Republican Party or the country? Such questions have been avoided, along with those of temperament and judgment. What happened Saturday could give license to his rivals and his critics to subject his candidacy — what he says and how he says it, where he stands vs. where he once stood — to the kind of scrutiny he has largely escaped.” McCain will make his first comments about the insult on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”


Picture of the day:

John Kasich does a walk-through at The Ohio State University, where he will kick-off his presidential campaign tomorrow:

Bernie Sanders posted this knowing shot from backstage at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Hall of Fame Dinner:

Tweets of the day:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) celebrated a special holiday:

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) commemorated the anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention:

Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) took a casual ride on horseback. “This is what senators do if they’re not running for President,” Flake joked:

Instagrams of the day:

Sunday was Star Wars Day at Nationals Park — pretty epic President’s Race:

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) remembered meeting Ray Charles:

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) marked Mandela Day:

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) took a flight on a Boeing EA-18G Growler at Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada (Top Gun). “I feel the need … FOR SPEED,” she wrote.


Los Angeles Times, “Obama pushes to extend gun background checks to Social Security,” by Alan Zarembo: “Seeking tighter controls over firearm purchases, the Obama administration is pushing to ban Social Security beneficiaries from owning guns if they lack the mental capacity to manage their own affairs, a move that could affect millions whose monthly disability payments are handled by others. The push is intended to bring the Social Security Administration in line with laws regulating who gets reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, which is used to prevent gun sales to felons, drug addicts, immigrants in the country illegally and others.”

Des Moines Register, “In Iowa, Walker aims for Broad Appeal,” by Brianna Pfannenstiel: “Walker told the Register he’s counting on broad appeal to win over conservatives from every segment of the party, as well as independents and ‘discerning Democrats,’ to win Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses. ‘Part of the reason we play well in Iowa is we don’t just fit into one field,’ he said. ‘And this is consistent with how I’ve won in Wisconsin. I do well with everything from the tea party to the so-called establishment, from social conservatives to independents.'”

Los Angeles Times, “Hillary Clinton’s political director brings key lessons from her own (losing) campaign,” by Evan Halper: “Last year, Amanda Renteria returned home to California’s Central Valley to run for Congress and got crushed. The race in the heavily Latino district exposed blind spots in Democratic strategy with Latino voters, who largely stayed home…Now, as Clinton’s political director, Renteria is putting the campaign’s vast resources to work avenging the 2014 midterms, when Democrats were unable to mobilize the coalition of minority voters that had helped elect President Obama twice…Clinton’s massive Latino outreach machine is unprecedented for this stage in a primary. Most Latinos don’t even know the name of Clinton’s closest challenger for the Democratic nomination, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, according a new Univision poll.”

BuzzFeed, “Can Bill deBlasio turn Uber into the NRA?“, by Ben Smith: “So will Bill de Blasio pry the Uber app from his constituents’ cold dead hands? That is the experiment the New York mayor will start running on Tuesday, when he imposes a cap on the growth of what is one of the fastest-growing businesses in the world…He is walking into a political buzzsaw: Uber has endless cash, real panic about getting capped in its biggest market, and every incentive to make an example of the high-profile New York mayor. The campaign is being run by David Plouffe, who once pulled off the rather impressive feat of persuading Democrats to hate the Clintons, and who immediately made it personal…’Mayor de Blasio’s plan to stop Uber will cost 10,000 jobs, hurt underserved areas and make wait times for Uber cars skyrocket,’ Plouffe told BuzzFeed in an emailed statement. ‘With this view, New York City riders can see for themselves how much time this political payback to big taxi owners will cost them.’

Wall Street Journal, “Dodd Frank Creators on Wall Street Reform, Five Years Later,” by Victoria McGrane and Andrew Ackerman: “WSJ: Do you feel confident that you can declare ‘too big to fail’ dead? [Ex-Sen. Christopher] Dodd: I think so. … For the first time, insisting at least four times a year that these regulators sit down together to look over the horizon and what’s occurring, it’s made a difference already….WSJ: How much success do you think the financial industry has gotten in watering down the congressional intent of Dodd-Frank? Dodd: Not much. I know people complain about [Democratic Massachusetts Sen.] Elizabeth Warren [who has criticized regulators for not implementing Dodd-Frank more forcefully]. Elizabeth cares about this stuff and she’s not antibanking. I know sometimes the rhetoric can be rather excessive. That’s not new to politics. But overall she’s watching carefully what’s going on and I’m grateful to her for that.”


— The Associated Press, “Christmas in the Capitol? Congress’ to-do list grows,” by Andrew Taylor: “Congress’ midsummer to-do list may take until Christmas to clear. At the top are maintaining the flow of highway funding, easing automatic budget cuts to the Pentagon and domestic agencies, renewing tax breaks and raising the debt limit. A misstep at any of several points could trigger a partial government shutdown … An eventual repeat of a government shutdown is a real possibility, though a short-term government-wide funding measure is likely in September and would buy time for negotiations.”

— Reuters, “Congress to examine FBI handling of Tennessee shooter,” by Andrea Shalal: “Lawmakers will examine possible shortcomings in law enforcement or intelligence in the case of a Tennessee shooting that killed five servicemen, a top Republican said on Sunday, adding that the case may be linked to Islamic State. Rep. Mike McCaul, who heads the U.S. House of Representatives homeland security committee, told ABC’s ‘This Week’ program the case highlighted growing concern about Internet-based directives from Islamic State leaders in Syria.”

— The Hill, “Dems worry Iran deal may wilt in dog days of August,” by Alexander Bolton: “Democratic lawmakers are holding back their support for President Obama’s controversial nuclear deal with Iran, knowing the political dynamic surrounding it could change dramatically in the coming months. Political firestorms tend to erupt during the long, hot days of August, when lawmakers meet face-to-face with constituents in town-hall meetings that can quickly grow contentious. Pro-Israel and other political advocacy groups know this and plan to spend tens of millions of dollars over the next two months to build a firestorm of opposition to the deal.”

— Politico, “Democratic self-funder preps U.S. House run in Florida,” by Marc Caputo: “Self-made multimillionaire Randy Perkins is becoming a Washington Democratic favorite to replace Rep. Patrick Murphy after the businessman met last week with party congressional-campaign honchos and said he’d spend as much as $5 million of his own money on the race … Perkins, owner and founder of AshBritt Inc., a debris-removal service, isn’t yet ready to announce his candidacy. But all signs point toward a bid for the 18th Congressional District, the South Florida swing seat Murphy’s leaving to run” for Marco Rubio’s open seat.


New bill would allow companies to fire unwed mothers. From the Huffington Post: “In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage, Republicans are pushing legislation that aims to protect Americans who oppose these unions on religious grounds. But critics say the language is so broad, the bill creates a license to discriminate that would let employers fire women for getting pregnant outside of wedlock … This scenario isn’t merely hypothetical. There are a number of recent cases where religious schools have fired unwed teachers for becoming pregnant.”


In an IS training camp, children told: Behead the doll. From The Associated Press: “The children had all been shown videos of beheadings and told by their trainers with the Islamic State group that they would perform one someday. First, they had to practice technique. The more than 120 boys were each given a doll and a sword and told, cut off its head … It is part of a concerted effort by the extremists to build a new generation of militants, according to AP interviews with residents who fled or still live under IS in Syria and Iraq.”


–What’s happening today on the campaign trail: Jeb Bush will deliver a policy speech at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida, about taking on federal power (“Mount Washington”). Chris Christie will hold town hall meetings in Mt. Pleasant and Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Marco Rubio will campaign in Merrimack and Londonderry, New Hampshire. Bobby Jindal will hold events in Grand Mound and Davenport, Iowa. 

–On the Hill: The House will meet in pro forma session at 2 p.m. The Senate will not convene again for votes until Tuesday, but a lot of members will be back in their offices.

–At the White House: President Obama will hold a bilateral meeting with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and deliver remarks at a reception marking the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Press Secretary Josh Earnest will brief the media at 12:30 p.m.


“Eat your heart out, Zuckerberg” — Jeb Bush tries on a hoodie sweatshirt he received as a gift while visiting San Francisco


— “Like Sunday, today is miserably hot and humid and Tuesday is only modestly better,” the Capital Weather Gang forecasts. “It’s downright muggy from the moment you step out the door (today), especially around the city (near and above 80 degrees even early in the morning). Under variably cloudy skies, temperatures heat up to near 90 by noon, and low-to-mid 90s for mid-late afternoon highs. Factoring in the humidity (dew points in the 70-75 range, slightly lower than Sunday but still very uncomfortable), it feels like 100 or so.”

The Nationals lost 5-0 to the Dodgers yesterday, losing the series 2-1. 


Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) kicked off the weekend with a wacky throwback to “Soul Train”:

In the weekend’s scariest viral video clip, pro surfer Mick Fanning is shown fighting off an attacking shark during a competition in South Africa. Fanning escaped unharmed, and the competition was cancelled shortly after: