Donald Trump backs down on Bernie Sanders debate challenge after saying he’d ‘love to debate’ Hillary Clinton’s Democratic primary opponent

WASHINGTON — After saying he wanted to debate Bernie Sanders one-on-one, Donald Trump chickened out of the whole thing on Friday. Trump, in a statement, said “it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher,” referring to the Vermont senator. “Therefore, as much as I want to debate Bernie Sanders — and it would be an easy payday — I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.” Earlier in the day, the Sanders campaign had called out The Donald, saying the real-estate mogul was too afraid to take on the Vermont senator. “There’s a little bit of foot-dragging now it seems on their side,” Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said of Trump. “It may be that, you know, there may be some chickening out or, you know, an unwillingness to stand on stage and really debate with Bernie Sanders because they know Bernie Sanders is going to do quite well in that debate, frankly.” Weaver said there has “been some communication between the campaigns” — but indicated that Trump wasn’t likely to agree. Trump seemed to be joking on Wednesday night when he told Jimmy Kimmel that he wants to debate Sanders. But after Sanders’ campaign looked to make hay out of the proposal — likely as a way to goose fundraising — Trump seemed slightly more serious. Trump, speaking on Friday before closing the door on the debate, had continued to tease the idea, while putting up new obstacles for it actually happening. “I want to debate him so badly. I’d love to debate Bernie,” he said before saying it wasn’t likely to happen because he wanted $10 million for charity to do it and claimed the networks “want to keep the money to themselves.” Sanders continued to hold Continue Reading

Hillary Clinton’s remaining opponents feel pressure, ready to take off gloves at next debate

WASHINGTON — There will likely be some fireworks at the next Democratic debate — though it's unclear how many people will be around for the show. Hillary Clinton has emerged as the heavy favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination in the last month, partly due to her strong performance at the last debate. And her remaining opponents are signaling they're ready to take the gloves off after months of a mostly cordial campaign. TUESDAY'S SLOW-MOVING REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE GETS LOWEST RATINGS YET "The roles have changed. The first debate, Hillary Clinton needed a very strong performance, to look presidential, and she came through beyond anyone's wildest hopes," said said former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a longtime Clinton ally. "Bernie Sanders, whether he likes it or not, he has to give people a reason to not want to vote for Hillary Clinton. … He's got to be more on the attack than he was on the first debate." The Vermont senator and progressive favorite has drawing a sharper contrast with Clinton in recent days, highlighting everything from her Iraq War vote to his more forceful Wall Street reform stances to her belated, cautious opposition to the Keystone XL oil pipeline and a a major trade deal he's railed against. That's a shift from his approach earlier in the campaign — including in the last debate, when he told Clinton that voters were "sick of hearing about your damn emails," a gift for the front-runner. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has been even more critical of Clinton in the last few days, accusing her of "poll-tested triangulation" and flip-flopping on gun control and immigration reform while pointing to his record in Maryland to show he's someone who actually accomplishes progressive goals. But while the duo are ready to scrap, it seems unlikely that many people will tune in to the Saturday evening brawl in Des Moines, Iowa. That includes voters in the politically savvy Continue Reading

Hillary Clinton has strong lead in polls ahead of Democratic debate

Heading into Tuesday’s first 2016 Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton remains in a strong position in the race for her party’s nomination, a slew of new polls show. According to a new CNN/ORC International poll released Monday, Clinton got the support of 50% of registered Democratic voters in the key early-voting state of Nevada. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders came in a distant second, with 34%, while Vice President Biden, who hasn't decided whether he's running, got 12%. The pollsters also found Clinton far in front in South Carolina — which hosts another early primary — where she got the support of 49% of likely Democratic primary voters. Sanders followed with 24%, while Biden got 18%. The poll results were released just a day ahead of the party’s first 2016 debate, which will air Tuesday night on CNN. Continue Reading

Twitter-verse reacts to second debate, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders jump in with their social media jabs

The Twitter-verse had a lot to say during the four hours of debates that took place on Wednesday night. The second round of the GOP debate got off to an ugly start, with Donald Trump immediately taking jabs from the moment he opened his mouth, which Twitter users weren’t happy about. But some users weren’t surprised at all by Trump’s bully-ish comment. Even Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders took time to chime in. As Trump decided to tell candidate Carly Fiorina she had a “beautiful face,” Clinton tweeted out this jab: As the candidates attempted to convince the world they were the second-coming of Ronald Reagan, Sanders zeroed in on the Republican idol. After Jeb Bush defended his brother, George W., grammy-winning artist John Legend took to Twitter to call out the GOP candidate. While there is no official winner, Twitter users have chosen their victor: Carly Fiorina. Continue Reading

On fixing pot laws, Dems blow smoke: Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders stop short of saying we should remove marijuana from the government’s list of schedule 1 narcotics

At the first Democratic debate last week, the presidential contenders spoke to the party’s growing liberal base by taking on the NRA, honoring immigrants, outbidding each other on paid leave and college costs and making the case for building on Obamacare. But on no issue — except maybe the fate of Edward Snowden — did they seem more out of touch with their base, and much of America, than marijuana. DEMOCRATICS KICKED OFF THEIR FIRST 2016 DEBATE Hillary Clinton refused to go beyond allowing Colorado, Oregon and Washington to play out their experimental phase of pot legalization. Even Bernie Sanders, who seems as if he’d be as comfortable passing a joint in a lava-lamp lit room as he is in front of a crowd of 30,000, only reluctantly went as far to say he’d vote for legalization in Nevada, one of five states that will decide in 2016 whether or not to make pot legal. Clinton’s stand is essentially a “states’ rights” case for letting legalization creep along. This iffy doctrine has been used for progressive causes in the past. But it’s especially unfortunate to hear the right’s favorite excuse for racial inequality invoked by the left when it comes to The New Jim Crow, one of the most vexing civil rights issues of our times. POT ISN'T ALL THAT BAD: STUDY Unequal enforcement of drug laws has help ensnare African-American men in our criminal justice system in far greater numbers than whites. Even though blacks use marijuana at about the same rate as white people, they’re arrested for the offense four or more times more frequently. I’m not suggesting that Clinton or Sanders should come out for national legalization now. There is a place for states to make their own decisions on this. But leading Democrats should definitively call on Congress to decriminalize the drug — to remove it from Schedule 1 of the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, where dangerous narcotics Continue Reading

Hillary Clinton challenges Gov. Rick Snyder’s concern for Flint, Mich., over poisoned water supply: ‘The governor of that state acted as though he didn’t really care’

A Michigan city plagued by a poisoned water supply found another ally at Sunday’s Democratic presidential debate. Hillary Clinton criticized Gov. Rick Snyder’s response to the dangerously high level of lead contaminating Flint’s water as lacking concern for a city whose population is mostly black and low-income.  “The governor of that state acted as though he didn’t really care,” said Clinton, bringing up Flint in her final statement of the NBC News debate in Charleston, S.C. “If the kids in a rich suburb of Detroit had been drinking contaminated water and being bathed in it, there would’ve been action,” the former secretary of state added. The water crisis garnered tough response from Clinton’s opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who asked Snyder to step down in the wake of Flint’s ordeal. PRESIDENT OBAMA SIGNS DECLARATION OF EMERGENCY OVER FLINT WATER CRISIS Clinton did not call for Snyder’s resignation. “Secretary Clinton was right,” Sanders said. “What I did, which I think is also right, is demanded the resignation of (the) governor. A man who acts that irresponsibly should not stay in power.” Following Clinton’s remarks, Snyder defended his handling of Flint’s tainted water and took to Twitter to say “political statements and finger pointing from political candidates only distract from solving the Flint water crisis.” The exchange of words follows Saturday's protests outside Flint’s city hall where documentary filmmaker Michael Moore pleaded for Snyder’s arrest. Moore, a Flint native, also dared President Obama to visit and face its water crisis.  “We need the President of the United States here,” said Moore, who stood by about 200 protesters outside city hall Saturday. BERNIE SANDERS CALLS FOR RESIGNATION Continue Reading

Our View: Hillary Clinton wins the debate (again)

For the first time in the presidential debates, Hillary Clinton the litigator arrived crisp and sharp, meeting Donald Trump’s generalities with steel-point facts.He was no match for the lady in white. Not on Wednesday night.His answers were heavy on sarcasm and light on substance, more befitting the bluster of a high-school sophomore than a man seeking America’s highest office.But it was his refusal to say he would accept the outcome of the election that demonstrated his utter lack of fitness for the presidency.That is an affront to this nation’s enviable history of the peaceful transfer of power. It demonstrates a profound selfishness and lack of respect for voters and the voting process, which is controlled in many states by Republicans.Trump is challenging our democratic system from the platform of one of the major parties. This is a deeply irresponsible and a glaring example of his disrespect for our system of government — and for the Republican Party he has hijacked.Clinton had a ready answer to his corrosive effort to cast doubt on the integrity of an election he apparently thinks he won’t win. She listed a series of failures — including his failure to win an Emmy — that Trump attributed to a “rigged” system. MORE: Is election rigged? Arizona GOP says noBeing a sore loser is not a presidential quality.This final debate was Trump’s best chance to “be so presidential you people will be bored,” which he promised to do last spring.In fact, he was more restrained. But his references to Clinton as a “nasty woman” and a “liar” who should not be allowed to run for the presidency showed his disturbing void of civility.Imagine unleashing this kind of name calling from the Oval Office. This man’s emotional immaturity would be a disaster when cloaked with the most awesome power on earth.When Clinton quoted Sen. Bernie Sanders saying Trump is the most dangerous person Continue Reading

Hillary Clinton says Bernie Sanders’ attacks ‘paved the way’ for Trump

Excerpts released from Hillary Clinton's upcoming book What Happened, looking at her failed 2016 presidential campaign, shows that the former secretary of State blames her defeat at least partly on her primary rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders. In passages shared on social media, Clinton said that because she and Sanders agreed on most policy issues, the Vermont senator resorted to "innuendo and impugning my character." "His attacks caused lasting damage, making it harder to unify progressives in the general election and paving the way for Trump's 'Crooked Hillary' campaign," wrote Clinton. Clinton said she didn't "know if that bothered Bernie or not." "He certainly shared my horror at the thought of Donald Trump becoming president," she said, adding that she was grateful for his support during the general election. But Sanders is an independent and "isn't a Democrat," Clinton said. "He didn't get into the race to make sure a Democrat won the White House, he got in to disrupt the Democratic Party," she wrote. Clinton said Sanders was right that Democrats needed to focus more on working-class families and less on wealthy campaign donors, but she said he was "fundamentally wrong about the Democratic Party." Citing some of the party's successes Clinton said, "I am proud to be a Democrat and I wish Bernie were too." Former president Barack Obama and Clinton's campaign team urged her not to hit back against Sanders out of concern that she would alienate his supporters, wrote Clinton. "I felt like I was in a straitjacket," she said. The 2016 Democratic nominee also accused Sanders' supporters of harassing her supporters online. The attacks from the "Bernie Bros" got "ugly and more than a little sexist," Clinton said. In the months since the election, Clinton has also blamed misogyny, former FBI director James Comey, Wikileaks and Russian interference for her 2016 defeat. Read more: The Continue Reading

Body language experts debate Hillary Clinton speech – did she mean it?

She took the podium to boost Barack Obama's profile, but Sen. Hillary Clinton's demeanor drifted from "egocentric" to "authentic," four top body language experts said. Long Island communications consultant Maxine Fiel said Clinton's speech was short on emotion and long on Hillary. "There were no high notes and there were no low notes. It was sort of like a general telling the troops, 'Don't stop,'" Fiel said. Fiel said Clinton's hunched shoulders, raised eyebrows and hand gestures were "really quite egocentric." "It was all about her, what she has done, what she wanted," Fiel said. "It was as if she was still campaigning." Boston communications consultant Arnold Zenker countered that Clinton conveyed a sense of sincerity with her smile and forceful voice. "She was more relaxed than she was when ambition was at the forefront. She's a team player and followed the script," Zenker said. "I watched her throughout the campaign and there was always a tension that you could feel," Zenker said. "I watched the softness of her face, and there wasn't tension tonight." Mary Ellen Drummond, a California speech coach, said Clinton's finger-pointing and earnest stares into the camera were "persuasive, dynamic and energizing." "I have to say that I've criticized her in the past, where she would shake her head 'yes' and say 'no.' She didn't do that tonight. She came across as authentic," Drummond said. Gerard Nierenberg of Manhattan, author of "How to Read a Person Like a Book," said he "couldn't find anything negative" about the speech. "When she puts her hand on her chest ... she didn't have any negative gestures at all," Nierenberg said. "She was believable in her gestures." Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

During debate, Hillary Clinton takes big swing at Barack, but no knockout

AUSTIN, Tex. - Hillary Clinton's best shot at Barack Obama was a dud, so she switched gears and tried to win voters back by connecting on a warmer, personal level in Thursday night's critical debate. The New York senator came to Austin Thursday night trying to play Texas hold 'em, with Obama eating away at her lead in the Lone Star State and her other March 4 firewall, Ohio. She looked to score with a canned putdown of Obama when a question arose over whether Obama had too liberally borrowed others' words for his arena-packing speeches. "Lifting whole passages from someone else's speeches is not change you can believe in - it's change you can Xerox," zinged Clinton. The crowd at the University of Texas booed. So she went instead for voters' heads and their hearts with a passionate policy argument on health care and an "I-feel-your-pain" finale that was classic Clinton - Bill, that is. "The hits I've taken in life are nothing compared to what goes on every single day in the lives of people across our country," Clinton said. "I resolved at a very young age that I'd been blessed and that I was called by my faith and by my upbringing to do what I could to give others the same opportunities and blessings that I took for granted. "That's what gets me up in the morning," she said. "That's what motivates me in this campaign." She even extended her hand, literally, to Obama, the competitor she has called a plagiarist and a phony in recent days. It was a gracious moment, but also one that could be read as a concession preview if her teetering campaign doesn't rebound. "No matter what happens in this contest - and I am honored, I am honored to be here with Barack Obama; I am absolutely honored - Whatever happens, we're going to be fine," she said. The crowd stood and cheered when she added, "I just hope that we'll be able to say the same thing about the American people, and that's what this election should be about." Obama's most commanding moment Continue Reading