It wasn’t what she planned on, it wasn’t what she wanted — but it might be what she needed.
Hillary Clinton barely scraped out a win over Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Iowa Caucus Monday night, beating the insurgent socialist by less than half a point, 49.9 percent to 49.5 percent. It was just the narrowest of margins. But as they say in ping pong, a win is a win.
A loss, even by a slight margin, would have been devastating, resurrecting in voters’ minds the upset she had suffered at the hands of Barack Obama in 2008 and leading toward what likely would have been another long slog through the primaries with the ultimate result unclear.
She still may get that. But prevailing in at least one of the two legendary early primaries gives voters some sense that she can win — or at least avoids the perception that she is a loser — and puts her in a position to start playing the expectations game in New Hampshire. There, Sanders is ahead by 14 points in the most recent RealClearPolitics average. If she can even get close to him, she can claim a “win” and perhaps be on her way to the nomination.
That’s because Clinton dominates Sanders in the primary following New Hampshire, South Carolina, where she’s ahead in the RealClearPolitics average of two January polls 62-32.5 percent. There, black voters may step up to save her candidacy, just as they helped sink it by supporting Obama in 2008. Clinton also leads handily in most other states where polling has been done recently.
But with Bernie Fever and unpredictable disease, anything could still happen. Having gotten so close in Iowa, Sanders can and will spin his narrow loss there into a win. If he can use this to trounce Clinton in New Hampshire, he could generate new waves of support in the upcoming primaries, making the Democratic nomination another long slog.
He has every right to his spin. Clinton had been ahead by anywhere from 20-40 points all summer and was leading in polls by about 15 points as recently as last week. But as evidence mounted that she must have knowingly harbored extremely sensitive classified information on her private server as Secretary of State and as enthusiasm for Sanders grew into a kind of political ecstasy, the contest closed and Iowa nearly got away from her.
Sanders also has the rare fortune of facing an opponent under federal investigation. If it becomes known that the FBI has recommended an indictment or if there is new and more damaging information about her possible criminal behavior as Secretary of State, she may become all but unelectable. That could move voters by default into the Sanders camp.
But Clinton at least emerged a near-death experience and showed her fearsome campaign operation and its cadre of Establishment allies can still win when it matters.
“Anybody who knows me knows you can’t buy me,” Hillary says, one of the great non sequiturs of the campaign so far. Like, that line would get a laugh on Saturday Night Live.
She’s responding to the possibility of a negative attack ad by Sen. Bernie Sanders. Note how she wails against him for going negative with personal attacks. She doesn’t like it, not because she can’t play that game, but because she know she presents so much negative material for Bernie to use.
Hillary Clinton used a CNN Democratic town hall event Monday in Iowa to pillory Donald Trump for “dangerous” rhetoric targeting Muslims, calling the GOP front-runner “shameful” even as her own behavior as secretary of state is under investigation by the FBI.
Clinton also refused to admit an “error in judgement” for keeping a private email server in her home, sending classified emails on unsecured networks and destroying more than 30,000 emails she said were purely “private.”
“I’m not willing to say it was an error in judgment because what — nothing that I did was wrong. It was not —- it was not in any way prohibited. And so …” she said.
Clinton appeared at the event along with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. Each showed up onstage separately and mostly took questions from the audience.
One of those questions was from an American Muslim woman who seemed almost cast for the role by CNN as counterpoint to Trump’s argument that Muslim immigration should be temporarily halted until safeguards are in place. Though garbed in a hijab, she was listed as an Air Force veteran and said she was a mother of three who wanted to know: “How can we make sure that the United States today is — that we protect the constitutional rights of all groups of people without marginalizing any one community?”
Hillary knew just what to do.
“One of the most distressing aspects of this campaign has been the language of Republican candidates, particularly their front-runner, that insults, demeans, denigrates different people,” Clinton said. “He has cast a wide net. He started with Mexicans. He’s currently on Muslims. It’s not only shameful and contrary to our values to say that people of a certain religion should never come to this country, or to claim that there are no real people of the Muslim faith who share our values, and to have the kind of dismissive and insulting approach. It’s not only shameful and offensive, which it is. I think it’s dangerous. And it’s dangerous in several ways.”
The New York Post, meanwhile, reported that, “The FBI is investigating whether members of Hillary Clinton’s inner circle ‘cut and pasted’ material from the government’s classified network so that it could be sent to her private email address.” The peril presented to U.S. security and secret operatives abroad might also be considered, by reasonable people, “dangerous in several ways.”
Host Chris Cuomo eventually got around to asking Clinton about the “email issue,” noting that the Des Moines Register newspaper said “when she makes a mistake she should just say so.” Clinton’s answer was classic Clinton.
“You know, I had no intention of doing anything other than having a convenient way of communicating, and it turned out not to be so convenient. So again, we’ve answered every question and we will continue to do so. But you know, maybe being faster, trying to scramble around to find out what all of this means, I probably should have done that quicker.”
Cuomo said: “You’re willing to say it was an error in judgment, you should’ve apologized …”
Clinton, waving her hands wildly as she paced the stage, replied: “No. I’m not willing to say it was an error in judgment because what — nothing that I did was wrong. It was not — it was not in any way prohibited. And so … But part of the problem, and I would just say this as, not an excuse but just as an explanation. When you’re facing something like that you got to get the facts. And it takes time to get the facts. And so when I said hey, take all my emails, make them public. That had never been done before, ever, by anybody. And so we’ve been sorting our way through this because it is kind of a unique situation.
“I’m happy people are looking at the emails. Some of them are, you know, frankly a little embarrassing. You know. You find out that sometimes I’m not the best on technology and things like that. But look, I think it’s great. Let people sort them through. And as we have seen, there is a lot of — you know a lot of interest. But it’s something that took time to get done.”
With the Iowa caucuses just seven days away, Clinton and Sanders played to their strengths, with Clinton emphasizing her experience and Sanders his leftist, insurgent message.
Much as the Republicans are divided between Establishment candidates and the base, the two leading Democrats separated along outsider-insider lines. Both Sanders and Clinton pitched themselves as the candidate “of the people,” willing to work with the other party to get things done in Washington. But the way they would go about it and the qualifications they touted for doing so were very different.
Clinton made little effort to hide her lofty place in the Democratic hierarchy, emphasizing her time as secretary of state and even presenting herself as having had something to do with the economic expansion during her husband’s presidency.
Not only is she trying to eliminate inequality, but she’s been doing it forever, Clinton noted.
“I think it’s fair to say I have a 40-year record in going after inequality,” said Clinton.
Her main departure from the Establishment character she is was a kind of spastic excitement she tried to show, perhaps trying to convince the youths swooning for Sanders that she still has vigor.
Sanders drew fierce contrasts to Clinton, embracing socialism and calling for a political revolution. He noted that while experience is important, it’s not the only thing that matters — citing the crises our nation faces today that are so serious “we need to go beyond Establishment politics” to solve them.
“We are touching a nerve with the American people who understand that Establishment politics just aren’t bold enough,” Sanders said.
Sanders was able to draw a strong contrast to Clinton on foreign policy — mainly the war in Iraq — and Wall Street.
Both candidates needed to bring their A-game Monday night, and they did. Clinton needed to show up and discuss her record, and do so in a way that didn’t alienate any potential Sanders voters. Sanders needed to continue his anti-Wall Street rhetoric and appear as the same genuine, personable and relatable candidate that many Democratic voters — especially millennials — are attracted to. Each succeeded.
Sanders’ refusal to distance himself from his leftism seems to be working. Ahead of Monday’s town hall, CNN’s Poll of Polls averages show Sanders inching ahead of Clinton in Iowa with 46 percent to 44 percent. Perhaps that’s in part because recent polling from Selzer & Co. shows that 43 percent of Democratic caucusgoers in Iowa say they would use the word “socialist” to describe themselves, which is bad news for Clinton.
Just moments before the town hall, both sides were playing the expectations game. Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, said his candidate needs to do well in Iowa, but doesn’t need to win there. Joel Benenson, chief strategist for the Clinton campaign, downplayed New Hampshire, arguing the campaign always knew that would be a tight race.
What a sense of deja vu she must be feeling. She’s the prohibitive favorite, the moderate, steady alternative, and then a socialist comes out of nowhere and evens out the race.
Hillary may be indicted for her email woes. She is a walking time bomb for the Democrats. They have no serious alternative. Bernie Sanders can never win a general election, and if he can, the country is irretrievably lost. But the country is not irretrievably lost.
The only way the Republicans can lose is if Donald Trump is nominated and the Establishment walks away from him. And that could happen.
The latest batch of Hillary Clinton emails released by the State Department early Friday contain what may be the smoking gun that forces the Justice Department to charge the former secretary of state with a crime, according to former federal prosecutor Joseph diGenova.
“This is gigantic,” said diGenova. “She caused to be removed a classified marking and then had it transmitted in an unencrypted manner. That is a felony. The removal of the classified marking is a federal crime. It is the same thing to order someone to do it as if she had done it herself.”
On the June 17, 2011, email chain with senior State Department adviser Jake Sullivan, Clinton apparently asked Sullivan to change the marking on classified information so that it is no longer flagged as classified.
Clinton, using her private email server, asks for “the TPs,” apparently a reference to talking points being prepared for her. Sullivan, who is using his official State Department email, responds, “They say they’ve had issues sending secure fax. They’re working on it.” Clinton responds, “If they can’t, turn into nonpaper w[ith] no identifying heading and send nonsecure.”
It’s not clear if Sullivan actually followed through on Clinton’s orders. But if he did, it may expose Clinton to serious legal jeopardy.
“This makes it impossible for the bureau not to recommend charges,” diGenova said of the FBI. “This makes it impossible not to go forward, and it certainly ties the hand of the attorney general.”
Some have speculated that while the FBI may recommend charges, Attorney General Loretta Lynch might try to avoid doing so for political reasons.
The revelation also appears to put to the lie Clinton’s claim that she never handled classified information on her server.
“I did not send nor receive anything that was classified at the time,” she has claimed. By instructing her aide to send her material marked classified, it is clear that she not only may have received classified information, but that it was indeed “classified at the time.”
“This means that when she said, ‘I never received anything marked classified,’ she in fact did,” diGenova said.
David Bossie, president of the watchdog group Citizens United, said the email could become the emblem of Hillary’s email scandal.
“It proves that Hillary Clinton affirmatively instructed senior staff to send classified data to an unsecured server,” he said. “With that, it cements into history, much like the famous Bill Clinton finger wag.”
Hillary Clinton has denied ever sending unclassified email over her private unsecured network. But according to the latest batch of emails released, not only did she send classified information over her a private network, she encouraged the practice.
According to Fox News:
One email thread from June 2011 appears to include Clinton telling her top adviser Jake Sullivan to send secure information through insecure means.
In response to Clinton’s request for a set of since-redacted talking points, Sullivan writes, “They say they’ve had issues sending secure fax. They’re working on it.” Clinton responds “If they can’t, turn into nonpaper [with] no identifying heading and send nonsecure.”
Is this a criminal offense? Seems like the “accident” and “it wasn’t marked classified” defense is gone now.
Monday was the day the Hillary campaign unleashed Bill Clinton, once again sending him out to stump for his wife.
While she is the Democratic front-runner, email investigations are swirling and her favorability ratings are down in the dumper, so it was thought the better-liked Bubba could add some pleasant pizzazz to his bland wife’s bland campaign.
But the Great Unveiling was more like a viewing.
The rail-thin Clinton, 69 but looking far older, stood there in New Hampshire appearing as a kind of muted version of his old self. His voice was thin, his delivery flat and dull, the music of days past mostly gone. He looked like a nicely presented, well coiffed grandpa — but a grandpa nonetheless, his hands shaking as he wagged a crooked finger, his movements stiff and brittle.
Clinton’s appearances may be most notable for his contrast with Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who is the same age as Bill, but cuts a figure of far greater vigor. Energy and health are two of Trump favored weapons. He’s aimed them at GOP opponents younger than he to great effect and has already deployed them against Hillary, who has had her own share of health scares.
“She’ll do a couple of minutes in Iowa, meaning a short period of time. And then she goes home,” Trump said recently in Davenport, Iowa. “You don’t see her for five or six days. She goes home, goes to sleep. I’m telling you. She doesn’t have the strength. She doesn’t have the stamina.”
The sight of creaky Bill may only play into this line of attack. Even worse for Hillary than Bill’s current stiffness is his past suppleness. Trump has made clear that with Hillary Clinton presenting herself as the candidate of women, Bill’s reputation as a ladies’ magnet of a different sort is fair game. The more often he appears, the more opportunities present themselves for Trump to remind voters that Bill Clinton is an accused serial sexual harasser who turned the Oval Office into his private pleasure palace.
After his speech Monday, Bill was asked by Cecelia Vega of ABC News if his tawdry past was indeed “fair game.” The former president dodged, mumbling something about how he wants to talk about Hillary and how he cares about the people.
That won’t work for long.
All that said, though, the former president lost his deft political touch years ago. It seems he either doesn’t fully get politics anymore or he has some deep-seated, Freudian urge to sink his wife’s campaign. There was the time in 2014 when he revealed that it took Hillary six months to recover from a December 2012 concussion and blood clot that resulted from a fainting spell, and that her health was “a serious issue.” That opened up a big can of worms for her.
Then there was the moment during the 2008 campaign when he ruined her chances in the South Carolina primary by comparing President Obama to Jesse Jackson, injecting the race issue into the campaign. Now, older and less and less wiser, Bill has been unfurled to do new, unknown damage to Hillary’s final crusade for the office he once held.
Get ready for an oldies tour featuring the many women Clinton has allegedly wronged and who no doubt perceive another chance to get a little of the justice they feel they were denied. And get ready for the other oldies tour, featuring and effete former president who threatens to help Hillary only in that he might protect her from the burden of being president.
Donald Trump Sunday called Hillary Clinton a liar, indicating that contrary to her claim Saturday night, ISIS is not using videos of him as a recruiting tool. And the Clinton campaign agreed. With the lack of a video part, at least. “He’s being used in social media by ISIS as propaganda,” said Clinton campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri.… Continue Reading
Hillary Clinton on Saturday laid out what could be themes for her upcoming general election campaign, saying Donald Trump is a bigot and guns help terrorists, not average Americans. Clinton spoke during the third Democratic debate, which was staged at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire. The almost-certain Democratic nominee characterized the leading GOP prospect — and by implication, the… Continue Reading
Here’s some dramatic video from today’s Benghazi hearing showing the paucity of emails by Hillary related to Libya in 2012. Either she wasn’t too concerned about it, or those emails were deleted. Continue Reading
Polls show that Hillary Clinton won the Democratic debate last week – one poll saying by 54-24 percent – and got a boost in the polls, leading Bernie Sanders now even in New Hampshire, where she had been behind. Here’s a good rundown. Bernie of course was trying to show he was a man of… Continue Reading