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- 02/26/16--17:04: _Clinton and Sanders...
- 02/26/16--17:04: _Shields and Ponnuru...
- 02/27/16--11:30: _Iran deal divides C...
- 02/27/16--11:34: _Despite nuclear dea...
- 02/27/16--12:00: _Enforcing Iran sanc...
- 02/27/16--12:40: _Sanders supporters ...
- 02/27/16--13:07: _High voter turnout ...
- 02/27/16--13:12: _Fragile peace holds...
- 02/27/16--14:02: _Cruz, Rubio continu...
- 02/27/16--14:04: _Trump threatens to ...
- 02/27/16--14:47: _Millions vote in Ir...
- 02/27/16--15:02: _Debate over solar r...
- 02/27/16--15:16: _Saudi court sentenc...
- 02/27/16--15:52: _Rubio’s tax returns...
- 02/27/16--16:07: _Hillary Clinton win...
- 02/27/16--17:00: _With breezy South C...
- 02/27/16--17:22: _Exit poll: African ...
- 02/28/16--08:54: _Black voters see fi...
- 02/28/16--09:41: _Should primary vote...
- 02/28/16--09:56: _Cruz, Rubio scrambl...
- 02/26/16--17:04: Clinton and Sanders battle for black votes in South Carolina
- 02/27/16--11:30: Iran deal divides Chicago Democrats in competitive primary
- 02/27/16--12:40: Sanders supporters may soon have to choose between Clinton and Trump
- 02/27/16--14:02: Cruz, Rubio continue barrage of attacks on Trump
- 02/27/16--14:04: Trump threatens to weaken First Amendment protections for reporters
- 02/27/16--14:47: Millions vote in Iran as moderates appear to make gains
- 02/27/16--15:02: Debate over solar rates simmers in the Nevada desert
- 02/27/16--15:52: Rubio’s tax returns show steady salary, boosted by book deals
- 02/27/16--16:07: Hillary Clinton wins Democratic primary in South Carolina
- 02/27/16--17:22: Exit poll: African Americans drove Clinton’s primary victory
- 02/28/16--08:54: Black voters see fight over next Supreme Court justice as Obama snub
- 02/28/16--09:41: Should primary voters be worried about aging voting machines?
- 02/28/16--09:56: Cruz, Rubio scramble to catch Trump ahead of Super Tuesday
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to South Carolina.
Donald Trump scored a commanding win there last weekend on the Republican side. Tomorrow, Democrats head to the polls.
I just got back from the Palmetto State, where victory hinges on a key group of voters.
For Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, South Carolina represents not only the largest electorate they have faced so far this year, but the first big test of popularity among a crucial Democratic voting bloc.
MAN: We have got somebody that definitely will stand with us.
JUDY WOODRUFF: African-Americans, in the last election, they accounted for 55 percent of the primary vote here. It’s no coincidence both candidates have been targeting their messages almost exclusively at that audience.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: Something’s wrong when African-Americans are three times as likely to be denied a mortgage as white people are.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), Democratic Presidential Candidate: When African-American youth unemployment is 51 percent, you know what? We’re going to create jobs and educational opportunities for our kids, not more jails.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Clinton has a long connection with this state, dating back when she was a young law student, working on juvenile justice issues, and continuing through her husband’s presidency.
The mayor of the capital city, Columbia, Stephen Benjamin..
CHILDREN: We present to you the 45th president of the United States.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JUDY WOODRUFF: … says many African-Americans think of the Clintons as champions of the disenfranchised.
MAYOR STEPHEN BENJAMIN, Columbia: Fighting for criminal justice reform, fighting for education, fighting for health care.
JUDY WOODRUFF: That affection has given Clinton a solid base in this state, particularly among older African-American women, the voting bloc that turned out at the highest rate of any group in 2012, and which is expected to do so again this year.
It’s one of the reasons why women were prominently featured at nearly every Clinton event in South Carolina this week.
State Representative Chandra Dillard was in the audience when Clinton spoke to her black sorority group.
CHANDRA DILLARD (D), State Representative: I see her as someone being able to bring people together, which will enhance policy-making, hopefully, with our Congress, because Secretary Clinton has been in that position to bring parties together to work on issues. She’s done it. She can do it again.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Dillard’s colleague, state Representative Justin Bamberg, acknowledges Clinton has a built-in advantage, but he hopes that when people listen to Sanders’ message, they will do as he did and switch their support.
JUSTIN BAMBERG (D), State Representative: The younger folks aren’t thinking about history as much. They’re thinking forward. They’re looking at the fact that, man, I’m in my early 20s, and when I graduate college, I’m going to owe more in student loan debt than I would if I had not gone to college and just went and bought a house.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Bamberg says Sanders’ promise of free college tuition and a plan to narrow the income inequality gap has helped him gain some traction in the state, as has his tough stance on Wall Street donors.
JUSTIN BAMBERG: I don’t think he will waver to the special interest or those large groups with the most money that oftentimes can cause decisions to be made that aren’t in the people’s best interest.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Sanders supporter Gloria Bromell Tinubu is even more pointed in her criticism of the Clintons’ relationship with big money.
GLORIA BROMELL TINUBU, Bernie Sanders Supporter: It’s clear that they were are the leaders and are the leaders of what is called the new Democrats, which is pro-big business, pro-big money, pro-war, right, anti-welfare, anti-government that will support poor people, but always for a government that will support rich.
JUDY WOODRUFF: University of South Carolina political scientist Todd Shaw says, while Sanders still lags in the polls here — most show him more than 20 points behind Clinton — his predominantly young followers seem to be more enthusiastic.
TODD SHAW, University of South Carolina: Sanders supporters say that he has the vision thing down. He’s visionary. Yes, these are bold and idealistic questions, but they should be questions that we’re raising. And he may be — he’s certainly appealing to a pent-up frustration about what hasn’t occurred.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Shaw says Clinton has been wise to tie herself closely to President Obama, who’s enormously popular among black Democrats here.
TODD SHAW: It’s a pretty smart move, because, of course, she can make that claim, having been the secretary — his former secretary of state, that she can say, well, he — and she does say, in effect, it was Hillarycare before it was Obamacare, but I give him credit that he carried it out. And now here’s where I’m going to now carry this football forward.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Twenty-year-old Jada Williams says that’s why she’s volunteering for Clinton, and not Sanders.
JADA WILLIAMS, Hillary Clinton Supporter: I think that we don’t need a big revolution. I don’t think we need to make America great again. I feel like we’re doing well. And Hillary is the person who is going to make us continue to do well and put us towards what people feel like is the American dream.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The other factor at play here and in next week’s Super Tuesday contests is a focus on racial injustice.
It’s an issue keenly felt in a state where a white gunman killed nine black people worshiping in church, as well as several highly publicized cases of alleged police misconduct.
This past week, Clinton campaigned alongside the mothers of victims of violence, including Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin.
SYBRINA FULTON, Mother of Trayvon Martin: And we have an opportunity to have someone that’s going to stand up for us as African-Americans, for us as women. I say my vote goes to Hillary Clinton.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JUDY WOODRUFF: And in a TV ad narrated by actor Morgan Freeman, Clinton tackles the issue head on.
MORGAN FREEMAN, Actor: She says their names. Trayvon Martin.
HILLARY CLINTON: Shot to death.
MORGAN FREEMAN: Dontre Hamilton.
HILLARY CLINTON: Unarmed.
MORGAN FREEMAN: Sandra Bland.
HILLARY CLINTON: Sandra Bland did nothing wrong.
MORGAN FREEMAN: And makes their mothers’ fight for justice her own.
JADA WILLIAMS: She’s saying: I want to help the African-Americans here in this community. I want everyone to come together because we do have a problem here and it needs to be addressed.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Sanders tackles racial injustice in part by linking it to his central rallying cry of economic inequality.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: There is nothing we cannot accomplish.
Vouching for him, movie director Spike Lee.
SPIKE LEE, Director: Ninety-nine percent of Americans were hurt by the great recession of 2008 and many are still recovering, and that’s why I am officially endorsing my brother Bernie Sanders.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But Sanders also stresses his lifelong activism for civil rights, going back to the 1960s.
NARRATOR: He was there when Dr. King marched on Washington, unafraid to challenge the status quo to end racial profiling, take on police misconduct, and take down a system that profits from mass imprisonment.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: There is no president who will fight harder to end institutional racism.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GLORIA BROMELL TINUBU: He’s consistently fought for rights for all people, equality and justice. And it’s not just a passing thing with him. It’s something that he’s being doing for close to 50 years.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Sanders’ camp acknowledges she’s ahead. Their goal is to hold down the size of her margin here, as they to try to pick off some of the delegate-rich Super Tuesday states.
But with African-Americans making up a powerful portion of many states coming up, Clinton’s advantage with blacks in South Carolina amounts to a serious and enduring challenge for him.
The post Clinton and Sanders battle for black votes in South Carolina appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And that brings us to Shields and Ponnuru. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Ramesh Ponnuru of “The National Review.”
David Brooks is away.
And, welcome, gentlemen.
MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: Thank you, Judy.
RAMESH PONNURU, The National Review: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, hold that thought about the Democrats and about South Carolina. I want to ask you about that.
But, Mark, I have to start with the Donald Trump endorsement by Chris Christie today. What did you make of this, the timing of it, the fact of it?
MARK SHIELDS: Judy, the old line of Speaker Tip O’Neill, who said all politics is local, all politics is personal.
Chris Christie, who was going to be the “tell it like it is” candidate in 2016, was eclipsed totally by Donald Trump, and blames his defeat, where he concentrated all his effort, energy, attention and resources in New Hampshire, where he finished sixth, he blames it on Marco Rubio’s super PAC, which ran a negative ad on Christie as Christie was just starting to get some traction in that state which highlighted Chris Christie’s physical embrace of the president of the United States, Barack Obama, who was bringing aid to the devastated state of New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy, just prior to the election of 2012, and mentioned the nine credit lowering rating — the times that the state’s credit rating had been lowered in Chris Christie’s administration.
And he — it was really quite personal why he endorsed Donald Trump. He said he’s known him and all the rest of it. I think that’s essentially the reason.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You’re saying payback.
RAMESH PONNURU: Well, Christie spoke about Rubio negatively almost as much as he spoke positively about Donald Trump today.
MARK SHIELDS: That’s exactly right.
RAMESH PONNURU: I think that the endorsement helps Chris — excuse me — helps Trump in two ways. It also helps Christie.
But it helps Trump in two ways. One is, it signals that it’s OK for elected Republican officials to support him. And, in fact, right after he did, Maine’s Governor Paul LePage, who had endorsed Christie, went ahead and endorsed Trump too.
And the second thing it does is, it takes the coverage away from questions about his university defrauding people, away from his hiring illegal immigrants, and puts it onto his momentum, which is where he needs it to be.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Which is all about last night’s debate, which was a remarkable spectacle, Mark Shields.
I don’t know that we have seen anything — I guess we haven’t seen anything like it in this cycle.
MARK SHIELDS: No.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you account for Rubio and Cruz finally coming out and going after Donald Trump?
MARK SHIELDS: Desperation.
Donald Trump now stands on the cusp of Super Tuesday. Just a little check of history, this in — the Southeastern Conference, SEC primaries, these are states that include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Texas.
MARK SHIELDS: Oklahoma and Tennessee.
But these states were all won by the previous winners of the Iowa caucus, Mike Huckabee or Rick Santorum, by one or both of them. They’re states with large evangelical populations. There, cultural and religious candidates expect to do well.
We recall that this was going to be where Ted Cruz of Texas ran up the score.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
MARK SHIELDS: And what do we find out is going on prior to the debate last night? That, in all these states, Donald Trump, the most aggressively secular candidate running in either party, is, in fact, leading.
So there had to be a sense of stopping him. The biggest winner of the night, in my judgment, were former President George H.W. Bush and first lady Barbara Bush, who honored their obligation to show up in their hometown at a time when they accepted expecting that their son Jeb would be one of the main competitors, and they still graciously showed up. And they just deserve…
JUDY WOODRUFF: We saw them seated in the back of the room.
MARK SHIELDS: They just deserve, I think, our admiration and respect.
But I just thought it was remarkable. I will just close by quickly saying Marco Rubio showed something that had been missing this entire campaign, humor. There had been no humor. It had been a humorless campaign in both sides. And I thought he really did it very well, in a natural way, comfortable in his own skin, and really put Donald Trump right back on his heels.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But it certainly was at the expense of Donald Trump.
Did Rubio damage Donald Trump last night with some of these very, very tough comments, Ramesh, about the fact that he inherited his money, what he did with so-called Trump University and on and on?
RAMESH PONNURU: Maybe even more surprising than how well Donald Trump has been doing in the Republican primaries has been that he has faced almost no real resistance in the debates or in the ad war so far.
And that ended last night, and I thought Senator Rubio did do a good job, and Senator Cruz did as well to a lesser extent, in pointing out all of the many vulnerabilities that Trump has on the questions of, does he really tell it like it is? Is he really on your side?
The question, of course, is, is it too late?
JUDY WOODRUFF: And is it? What do you think?
RAMESH PONNURU: Well, it’s the — by drowning it out with the Christie endorsement, that, I think, shows you that the Trump people thought that it was a potential problem, because it’s not as though Christie makes sense in terms of swaying voters in Alabama, Tennessee and Texas.
MARK SHIELDS: No.
RAMESH PONNURU: That is because he is at risk of suffering in the polls everywhere because of this onslaught of attacks.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You’re saying they did this to move the bad performance or not the strongest performance in the debate.
RAMESH PONNURU: Yes, I think the timing of it makes the most sense.
MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think it was trying to change the story, no question about it.
But what was interesting, Judy, was that Marco Rubio, who had been terminally nervous the last time we had seen him in New Hampshire, not South Carolina, but New Hampshire, in suffering from chronic thirstiness and all the rest of it in that debate there, came on last night, and what he did was he out-Trumped Trump.
He bullied the bully. He used Trump’s tactics, got right up in his face, used mocking humor, wouldn’t let him finish a sentence, and really took Trump’s game away from Trump, and, I mean, changed himself in the process.
But it does show you Trump’s game plan is seen by even his adversaries as the winning game plan, that is, the New York values, in your face. Same to you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So does it help? Mark, does it help Marco Rubio? Does it hurt Donald Trump? Is it too late?
MARK SHIELDS: We will find out. We will find out, certainly, the early indication on that, on Tuesday, Judy.
But I just think you had — your perception of Marco Rubio had to change. I think your perception of Donald Trump had to change last night. I mean, this was Donald Trump on the defensive saying, when he was asked about the Trump University, I have won most of those lawsuits.
Now, that hardly sounds like somebody who’s founding Amherst or Wesleyan or Notre Dame, saying with pride. So, I just — I thought he was very much on the defensive.
RAMESH PONNURU: When is the last time you heard a presidential candidate boast about being audited, as though that were a defense of…
JUDY WOODRUFF: And why he’s not putting his tax returns out.
RAMESH PONNURU: Right. Exactly.
It was important for Rubio not to just land a punch on Trump in order to take him down. It was also to address this lingering concern that Republicans have that maybe he’s not tough enough.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
RAMESH PONNURU: So, I do think it doesn’t just hurt Trump, but also helps Rubio.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask you about Ted Cruz, though, because this is the one other Republican besides Donald Trump who has won a contest.
MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: He won the Iowa caucuses. Marco Rubio hasn’t won anything yet.
MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, everybody’s saying Cruz has to win his home state of Texas. Do you agree with that?
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What else does he need to do right now?
MARK SHIELDS: He has to win. Well, I think he has to win another state.
But you’re right about Marco Rubio. Marco Rubio has yet to win anywhere. And he’s, according to polls, trailing in his home state, where there have been already been, I found out today, 200,000 early ballots cast. And it’s hard to believe…
JUDY WOODRUFF: In Texas.
MARK SHIELDS: And in Florida.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Oh, in Florida.
MARK SHIELDS: Already in Florida, which is not until the 15th.
And the speculation is that a pretty sizable proportion of those are Trump votes at this point. So, Donald Trump has changed the Republican electorate. He’s increased it. He’s increased it dramatically. He’s brought people in.
And so Marco Rubio has to win somewhere. He certainly has to win in Florida, but — his home state. And I just think the same thing is true for John Kasich in his home state. If he’s not going to win his home state, I think he will get out before losing his home state, which Rick Santorum, you will recall, did in 2012 before the Pennsylvania primary, which is — it’s just an embarrassment to lose your home state.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Ramesh, where do you see the path for Cruz? And what about John Kasich?
RAMESH PONNURU: Well, because of the calendar, Senator Cruz faces this home state test before Kasich and Rubio do.
So, if he loses Texas on Tuesday, then I think that it becomes very hard for him to stay in the race. He was supposed to do well in a lot of states on Tuesday…
MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.
RAMESH PONNURU: … but especially Texas would be a problem.
The stakes aren’t quite as high for Rubio, but let’s not forget, we’re not just talking about momentum at this point. We’re talking about actual delegates. And people do start to be — need to start winning some of these delegates.
MARK SHIELDS: If he wins Massachusetts and Alabama, he being Trump, that is quite an achievement.
And he’s running ahead in both those states. Can you imagine two states more demographically and ideologically different, even to Republicans. But, I mean, so he’s showing strength at this point that the others have to disprove.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Let’s talk about the Democrats.
You just heard our report from South Carolina last night.
MARK SHIELDS: I did. Excellent report.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you.
But, Mark, my question is, where does the Democratic race stand? Hillary Clinton right now way ahead in the polls in South Carolina. Bernie Sanders’ people themselves don’t expect him to win. They’re focusing on Super Tuesday. What is — who needs to do what at this point?
MARK SHIELDS: Well, she needs a convincing victory, but she also more than anything else has to demonstrate enthusiasm, some passion on the part of voters.
The Democratic turnout has been down, in spite of the excitement generated by Bernie Sanders among younger voters, especially in New Hampshire and Iowa. But it’s been down.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Compared to the Republicans.
MARK SHIELDS: Compared to 2008, and the Republican is up.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Oh.
MARK SHIELDS: And that is an early indicator of where both parties are in any given presidential year, when there is that kind of intensity and passion on one side and the absence of it.
So, I think Senator — Secretary Clinton has to demonstrate that she is able to generate enthusiasm, intensity, passion. I think she has to win decisively there, no more four-point, five-point victories, a la Nevada.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And cutting right into Super Tuesday, which is just a few days away.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes. That’s right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Ramesh, how do you see the Democratic — the challenge both that Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders face?
RAMESH PONNURU: Well, the problem for Senator Sanders is not just that he is so far behind in South Carolina. It’s that he is behind because he’s not doing well with African-Americans.
And that is a sign of his great weakness in these primary contests. You can’t win the Democratic nomination if you can’t get a lot of African-American votes.
The problem for Hillary Clinton is that there’s no putting Senator Sanders away. That is, I think he got into the race as a cause candidate, as somebody who wanted to make a point. And then it became possible for him maybe to win. If it stops being possible for him to win, his original rationale doesn’t disappear, and there is no reason for him to drop out of the race. He just stays in there and makes his point.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But you’re not saying we’re at that point now, are you?
RAMESH PONNURU: I’m not. but I’m saying that even if Clinton does very well in South Carolina, it just causes him to go back to protest mode.
It doesn’t mean that he’s — I think there is no reason for him to drop out because he’s angling for a Cabinet appointment in the Clinton administration, the way a normal primary candidate would be.
MARK SHIELDS: Two quick points to support Ramesh’s central point.
First is that Democrats have proportional representation. So, Bernie Sanders, with 40 percent of the delegates at the Democratic Convention, and if that’s the case in Philadelphia, what does he want? Does he want a platform? Does he want Hillary Clinton…
JUDY WOODRUFF: Because you expect him to win some contests.
MARK SHIELDS: Oh, I expect him to win.
JUDY WOODRUFF: More contests.
MARK SHIELDS: Even if it goes the best way for Clinton from this point forward, yes, I do think he will win states and he will surprise us.
But I say that because this gives him enormous leverage, and he does — and the other — second thing is, you already see Senate candidates, Democratic Senate candidates echoing and mimicking his words and his issues, talking about the economy being rigged in the very language that Bernie Sanders has used.
So he’s already having an impact and an influence far beyond what anybody expected, perhaps even himself, when this began.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Coming out of her Nevada win last weekend, Ramesh, Bernie Sanders says words to the effect, Hillary Clinton is already adopting some of what we believe, so that’s already taking place.
RAMESH PONNURU: That’s right.
She’s talked about having a public option in health care again. And that is, I think, the Sanders influence.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Ramesh Ponnuru, Mark Shields, it couldn’t get any more exciting than it is right now. Thank you both.
MARK SHIELDS: Thank you, Judy.
RAMESH PONNURU: Thanks for having me.
MARK SHIELDS: Thank you, Judy.
The post Shields and Ponnuru on Christie endorsing Trump and the 10th GOP debate appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. — After fueling months of fights in Washington, President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran is now popping up in an unusual place: a Democratic primary north of Chicago, splitting party leaders’ loyalties and making Republicans giddy about a potentially weakened opponent in one of 2016’s most competitive U.S. House races.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the minority whip who had the monumental job of securing Democratic support for Obama’s plan, is backing suburban mayor Nancy Rotering over former U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider in the 10th Congressional district primary, largely because she expressed support for the pact and Schneider initially opposed it.
A one-time White House counsel and prominent Democrat who held the seat in the 1970s, Abner Mikva, also abandoned Schneider for Rotering, writing in an open letter that he was disappointed in Schneider for “opposing your president and your party.”
Schneider, who held the seat for one term before losing to Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Dold in 2014, has endorsements from Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi, other current House members and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He also has a fundraising advantage.
But it’s unclear how much sway the Iran deal or big-name endorsements might have when voters go to the polls next month.
Elliott Hartstein, a voter attending a recent primary debate, said the 10th is “a pretty independent-minded district,” and Durbin’s role in the deal isn’t lost on people.
“I wouldn’t say Brad is being punished,” said Hartstein, a former mayor from the suburb of Buffalo Grove who’s backing Schneider. “I’d say Nancy’s being rewarded for basically supporting the president on the issue.”
The accord negotiated with Iran and five world powers aims to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for billions in relief from economic sanctions. Dold has called the agreement “historically bad” because he says it will endanger Israel and the United States.
Buffalo Grove resident Dan Wiczer said the Iran deal isn’t a big issue for him. After seeing Democrats lose in previous general elections, he said he’s more concerned about who will be strongest against Dold in November.
“I give him a lot of courage for wanting to get back in there,” Wiczer said of Schneider returning to the campaign trail after his loss to Dold. “Time will tell.”
Almost immediately after Durbin’s fundraising email endorsed Rotering earlier this month, the National Republican Congressional Committee pounced, saying Democrats would be forced to “waste precious resources.”
“Democrats’ worst fears about an expensive and bloody primary in IL-10 are coming true,” NRCC spokesman Zach Hunter said.
In 2014, the GOP spent close to $7 million nationally to win back the seat, which the party had held for decades before Schneider won it in the first election under new Democrat-drawn maps. Dold’s campaign spent millions on TV ads that didn’t mention he was a Republican.
Schneider expects Democratic turnout this year will be better because there’s a presidential race, and believes the 2014 loss was due to a unique circumstance: Dold’s district is home to Gov. Bruce Rauner, the GOP businessman who unseated an unpopular Democrat. (Since then, the state has been mired in a record budget impasse that’s hurt social services and higher education.)
Rotering counters she’s the strongest candidate not just to take on Dold, but also to hold on to the seat in 2018. She says she’s shown “courageous leadership” by passing an assault weapons ban that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court and ripped Schneider for having “stood with Republicans” on the Iran deal.
She says the endorsements have given her campaign “strong momentum.”
The district has a large number of Jewish voters who may be more inclined toward Schneider because of his initial stance.
But now that the deal is in place, Schneider says he supports it “100 percent” and disagrees with GOP attempts to undo it. He said he read the deal six times and consulted multiple experts before concluding he couldn’t support it – a decision he said represented “the values of 10th District.”
He declined to comment on Durbin, Mikva and others backing his rival, saying he prefers to focus on his supporters.
“We both have our endorsements,” Schneider said. “I look at the folks who’ve endorsed me, who know my work, who’ve been with me, who believe in me and I feel that their support as a reflection of all that I have done will carry the day.”
This news report was written by Sara Burnett of the Associated Press.
The post Iran deal divides Chicago Democrats in competitive primary appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Hopes were high this week as million of Iranians went to the polls to elect new members of parliament and council clerics in the first national election since international sanctions were lifted against the country in January.
But even after Iran and six world powers, including the U.S., agreed to the deal to lift some restrictions on oil and financial institutions in exchange for Tehran’s promise to curb its nuclear ambitions, new sanctions appeared and others remained in tact for Iranian-Americans living in the U.S.
And while experts agree that the U.S. government never intended for those sanctions to burden Iranian-Americans, some critics say the legislation has already led to civil penalties and criminal prosecutions, raising questions about the impracticality and ambiguity of the laws.
“The problem here is, the laws are so complex,” Jamal Abdi of the National Iranian-American Council told PBS NewsHour. “The U.S. embargo that remains in place, and the continued enforcement, is going to make it so that this deal is limited to this one-off arms control agreement, and that the potential for a true opening between the United States and Iran, may never come to fruition.”
An immigrant success story, tarnished
In one prominent case, federal agents on the morning of January 7, 2010, stormed the home of Mahmoud Reza Banki, an Iranian immigrant and U.S. citizen working for McKinsey & Co., a global consulting firm, in New York.
“Federal agents burst into my home, slammed me up against a wall and handcuffed me,” Banki, 39, recounted to PBS NewsHour.
“By 7 a.m., my U.S. citizenship, Princeton PhD, published biotech book, years of hard work and aspiring to be my best — none of it mattered. I was an Iranian accused of breaking the law.”
Banki, born in Tehran, Iran, became a U.S. citizen in 1996. He attended Purdue University and the University of California, Berkeley before obtaining a doctorate in chemical engineering from Princeton University.
To prosecutors, a multi-million dollar money broker to Iran
Prosecutors claimed Banki had violated trade sanctions with Iran by accepting about $3.4 million from family members in Iran. He was accused of running a “hawala,” or informal money transfer business, without a license, that moved money to and from Iran in violation of the U.S. embargo.
Banki said the money, which he declared on his taxes and used partly to purchase a New York apartment, came from his mother’s divorce settlement.
Denied bail repeatedly, Banki, then 33-years-old, said he was immediately fired from his job and forced to watch news reports surface implicating him as a criminal.
“This press release (went) out to various news outlets — Bloomberg, Associated Press, New York Times — they’re all covering my case,” Banki said. “And they’re all pitching the prosecution’s version of how I am a criminal. Do I have a chance at being innocent? At that point, I (was) just pedaling backwards.”
In the video above, Banki recounts his story during the 2014 TED Week UCLA Anderson School of Management.
Federal sentencing guidelines suggested that his charge would carry a prison term of at least five years after a conviction. He was ultimately convicted of conspiracy to violate sanctions laws and sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison.
“Two tough years in prison plunged me into my darkest hours, weeks and months,” he said. “It nearly cost me my sanity. It could have easily cost me my life.”
The ‘collateral damage’ of ‘lost liberty’
Banki’s case is just one example of the complexity of the sanctions against Iran, which have stretched into hundreds of pages of laws, executive orders and regulations, with about a dozen government agencies involved in enforcement.
Eventually, an appeals court overturned his conviction and closed the case in June 2012, but not before prosecutors had moved for a retrial on the same charges. All told, Banki served 22 months in jail, 11 of which were spent in a high-security prison.
In clearing Banki’s prison record, Judge Paul Engelmayer called Banki a “talented man, even brilliant,” saying, “the damage to Mr. Banki’s life brought about by his lengthy incarceration, occasioned by his confinement, cannot be measured only by the 22 months in which he lost his liberty and which he cannot get back.”
See a full timeline of United States of America v. Mahmoud Reza Banki here.
“What I can tell you is my experience as an Iranian-American and how the sanctions have impacted me,” Banki said. “And what I would say to those two sides who are advocating for more sanctions or less sanctions, regardless of the path that you choose, there is collateral damage.”
Richard Nephew, a professor at Columbia University and former National Security Council Director, agrees.
“Obviously we can find cases where we went too far, and when there was criminal justice, you know, proceedings started against somebody who wasn’t doing anything wrong,” Nephew said.
“I think ultimately this is just a tension that exists when you’re trying to remain open and accessible and permitting these kinds of people-to-people interactions, while at the same time safeguarding your own security.”
Guilty until proven innocent?
Banki said the effects of his incarceration weighed heavily on him, as he reflected on the broader American criminal justice system.
“I couldn’t help but wonder why it took 22 months of keeping me in prison,” he said. “At what point did the burden shift from innocent until proven guilty, to guilty until proven innocent?”
“What was most difficult for me was being in prison knowing I was wrongfully charged. We do so many things so incredibly well in this country. Not justice. Not yet.”
Watch the full report on the unexpected effects of sanctions on Iranian-Americas in the video below.
NewsHour’s Ivette Feliciano and Zachary Green contributed to this report.
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IVETTE FELICIANO: U.S. relations with Iran are symbolized by these closed doors to the Iranian embassy in Washington, reflecting more than three decades of severed diplomatic and economic ties. Sanctions restricting interactions with Iran not only put pressure on Iran’s government — they also pose roadblocks, and sometimes legal trouble, for many Iranian-Americans living here.
MAHMOUD REZA BANKI: A dozen agents stormed into my apartment. They slammed me against the wall, and they handcuffed me in my underwear. And then they just took me away.
IVETTE FELICIANO: When FBI agents arrested Mahmoud Reza Banki at his Manhattan apartment in 2010, he thought it was a mistake. A naturalized American citizen, he emigrated to the US in 1994 at the age of 18 to attend college. He then earned a doctorate in chemical engineering at Princeton and worked for the consulting firm McKinsey and Company.
MAHMOUD REZA BANKI: I went from being an ordinary citizen with a shot at the American dream, sleeping in my bed, in my home, to a maximum security cell in an orange jumper.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Federal prosecutors said Banki illegally received more than three million dollars over three years from his family in Iran…and that he posed a flight risk, which persuaded a judge to deny him bail.
MAHMOUD REZA BANKI: This notion of innocent until proven guilty. I never felt that way.
IVETTE FELICIANO: To a lot of people watching this show, $3.4 million is going to sound like a lot of money. What did your parents do in Iran? How did you come into that money?
MAHMOUD REZA BANKI: It was basically money that my parents had saved up over the years and had invested in my uncle’s company.
IVETTE FELICIANO: The uncle who owned three power companies and a pharmaceutical company.
Prosecutors accused Banki of violating sanctions by running an unlicensed money transfer business. Because of strict banking regulations under sanctions, his family had used a money transfer system called a “hawala,” popular in the Middle East and South Asia…and legal under US sanctions.
Cash doesn’t cross borders but is given to a broker in one country, who contacts a broker in another, who gives a matching amount to the intended recipient. Both brokers keep a tally on who owes what and settle the debt in future transactions.
Banki admits the family used the hawala system to send him the funds, and he reported the money on his tax returns. But he denied operating as an unlicensed money broker, as he was charged.
At trial, a jury found Banki guilty of conspiring to violate sanctions and making false statements. After spending 11 months in jail pre-trial, Banki was sentenced to 30 more months in prison.
ERICH FERRARI: You need to understand that it’s not illegal to receive money from a family member in the United States. The type of activity he engaged in is extremely common.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Attorney Erich Ferrari didn’t represent Banki but has represented dozens of other individuals and companies investigated for violating US sanctions on Iran. After Banki was convicted, Ferrari was flooded with calls from worried Iranian-Americans.
ERICH FERRARI: So this is where it gets really, really tricky. There’s a caveat there that there can be no debiting or crediting of Iranian accounts by a US bank. So people who are engaged in these kind of innocuous, everyday transactions have to go through these other routes.
And the other routes involve money exchangers and hawala brokers. And really a lot of these investigations are centered on the people who are the ones providing the money, making deposits, as opposed to the beneficiaries. But the beneficiaries oftentimes get caught up in the investigations and come under additional scrutiny as a result.
IVETTE FELICIANO: While Reza Banki was in prison, a federal appeals court ruled his trial jury was not properly instructed about some of the regulations, which it called “ambiguous”…and tossed out parts of his conviction, leading to his early release in 2011.
Banki’s case is just one example of how complicated the sanctions against Iran can be.
For instance, you can sell property in Iran that you inherited from someone who died, but you can’t sell a property that someone who is alive gave you as a gift.
Or…it’s legal for an American to sell certain items to an Iranian company, but brokering the sale on behalf of an Iranian company is prohibited — considered to be exporting a service to Iran.
ERICH FERRARI: I think one of the issues there is that the Iranian-American community doesn’t understand the sanctions in that level of detail.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Ferrari points to the case of a researcher currently facing prosecution for attempting to ship a sanctions-permitted medical device to an Iranian hospital without first obtaining a license to do so.
ERICH FERRARI: They’re not getting into the weeds of every legal program to understand the ins and outs of it. They just hear something, okay, medical devices are authorized. You can sell your property in Iran. You can sell food to Iran. Things of that nature.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Since the 1980s, sanctions against Iran have stretched into hundreds of pages of laws, executive orders, and regulations — with about a dozen government agencies involved in enforcement.
Richard Nephew helped strengthen Iran sanctions for the u-s state department during the Obama administration, and is now teaching at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.
RICHARD NEPHEW: Sanctions are only as good as the psychological fear they create in people engaged in illicit conduct. You want them to be afraid of breaking the rules.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Nephew credits sanctions for pushing Iran to agree to the nuclear disarmament deal implemented in January.
RICHARD NEPHEW: If we hadn’t gone through the sanctions regime that we had, I don’t think the Iranians would fear the re-imposition of sanctions if they cheat. I would just have to ask the question, would life be much better if Iran had nuclear weapons than if not? And what is the tradeoff you’re prepared to take in exchange for not having Iran possess nuclear weapons?
IVETTE FELICIANO: Does it make us safer to have somebody in prison because they were receiving funds from family back in Iran?
RICHARD NEPHEW: Obviously we can find cases where we went too far, and when there was criminal justice, you know, proceedings started against somebody who wasn’t doing anything wrong.
There are also cases in which people have been able to get access to financing, get access to money from illicit sources, and be able to do harm with that. I think ultimately this is just a tension that exists when you’re trying to remain open and accessible and permitting these kinds of people-to-people interactions, while at the same time safeguarding your own security.
IVETTE FELICIANO: The Justice Department’ handles all criminal investigations of sanctions violations, mostly against individuals. A spokesman told the NewsHour:
“Our priority is to focus on violations that pose the greatest threat to the national security…” such as “… any goods or services relating to weapons of mass destruction or missile technology.”
He went on to say: “That the U.S. criminally prosecutes Iran’s procurement agents has had a chilling effect on their conduct….[and] shuts down a channel for Iran to obtain restricted commodities.”
The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, handles civil violations of Iran sanctions…and since November of 2013 has imposed fines, totaling nearly 530 million dollars in 28 cases, all but one against companies or financial institutions for prohibited commercial activity.
It’s impossible to know how many people are investigated, because the government does not make those numbers public. But some Iranian-Americans say sanctions enforcement intensifies scrutiny on them, not only by the government, but also by institutions like banks and universities.
JAMAL ABDI: There were cases of Iranian-Americans who their bank accounts were closed because they were believed to have at some point been in Iran, and so the banks decided that they couldn’t take any risks.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Jamal Abdi is a policy director of the National Iranian-American council, in Washington.
Some people might say, it’s the law, if somebody is violating that, whether they’re doing it willingly or unknowingly, those are the rules. Why shouldn’t they be investigated?
JAMAL ABDI: It’s a fair point. There are laws. We’re expected to follow them. The problem here is, the laws are so complex. It is a spider’s web of laws. And so you have a lot of people who are not the intended targets of these sanctions, who are not doing anything that actually was of concern regarding Iran’s nuclear program or proliferation.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Narges Bajoghli, a dual Iranian-American citizen and New York University anthropologist, says tougher sanctions made NYU nervous about her research.
NARGES BAJOGHLI: It was kind of this scare frenzy that was going around.
IVETTE FELICIANO: In 2013, NYU delayed her planned field study in Iran until attorneys the university hired produced a 30-page document for OFAC to vet — about her work, her upbringing, and personal life. The process took nine months.
NARGES BAJOGHLI: It definitely was beyond the parameters of the research// It really puts the onus, I think, especially on dual nationals to sort of prove where their loyalties lie.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Reza Banki, facing a possible retrial, decided to settle his pending charges. He forfeited $710 thousand, but got to keep the Manhattan apartment he bought with the money his family initially sent him. But he says his criminal conviction has ruined his reputation and made him mostly unemployable. He supports himself doing freelance consulting in technology and finance.
MAHMOUD REZA BANKI: My family insists that I should leave the US. I want to believe that this country, my country, will come through. I choose to move ahead. I choose to look forward. I choose to rebuild this life.
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ORANGEBURG, S.C. — Okee Grant is not looking forward to the general election.
A staunch supporter of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Grant, 48, said she would vote for the Democratic presidential nominee in November, even if the party selects former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has a commanding lead over Sanders heading into today’s primary in South Carolina.
“I don’t see a Republican candidate I can vote for,” Grant said at a Sanders rally in Orangeburg yesterday on the eve of the primary. If Clinton wins the party’s nomination, “I’ll vote for her. But I wouldn’t be excited about it.”
With Clinton poised to win by a wide margin in South Carolina and several other southern states on Tuesday, Sanders backers have started preparing themselves for the possibility of voting for Clinton in the fall.
Voting for Clinton appears to be easier for some Sanders loyalists to imagine than others, though most share the view that the alternatives — not voting, backing a third-party candidate, or supporting the Republican nominee — are unacceptable, especially if Republicans choose Donald Trump, the current GOP front-runner.
“It depends on who the Republican candidate is,” said Erin Reagan, 23, a Pennsylvania native who traveled to South Carolina this week to volunteer for the Sanders campaign. “If I’m terrified of him, I will probably vote for Clinton.”
In 2008, many disappointed Clinton backers vowed not to vote for Barack Obama in the general election after the two waged a prolonged and bitter primary battle which lasted until June.
Democrats sided overwhelmingly with Obama in the end, following a longstanding tradition in both parties of primary voters falling in line with their party’s nominee in November.
Signs point to that pattern continuing this year. But the process could play out faster than it has in recent presidential races.
If Clinton and Trump move on to the general election, an outcome that now appears increasingly likely barring a major upset by Sanders or Republican Senators Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio in the March primaries, voters would have to decide between two candidates with unusually divergent personalities and ideals.
The contest would drive many Sanders supporters to embrace Clinton without much hesitation, said Willie Legette, a political science professor at South Carolina State University.
“For the most part, people who supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries will find it very difficult to vote for Trump” in the general election, Legette said.
Most Democrats, he said, “never vote for a Republican for president. Period.”
That theory could be tested by Trump, should he emerge as the Republican nominee. Though he has staked out conservative positions on immigration and gun control during his campaign for president, he’s had a long track record of taking more moderate views on social issues during his career as a real estate developer.
Trump’s wide-ranging platform and unorthodox style could attract moderate voters in a general election matchup against Clinton. But Trump has done little to win over Democrats in states like South Carolina that have large African-American populations.
As he waited for Sanders to speak in Orangeburg yesterday, John Mack, 21, ruled out voting for Trump. Mack said he plans to vote for Sanders in the primary today.
“The ideas that he stands for are very progressive, and that’s what this country needs right now,” Mack said. Come November, however, “I’d still vote for Hillary.”
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Relative calm prevailed in parts of Syria as most fighting between government forces and rebel groups stopped and Russia halted airstrikes on Saturday, the first day of a fragile cessation of hostilities that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called “our best chance to reduce the brutal violence” in the country’s devastating five-year-long conflict.
The government of President Bashar al-Assad and many of Syria’s fractious rebel groups agreed to the deal, which was brokered by Russia and the U.S. and endorsed by the U.N.
The agreement stipulates that fighting should stop in order to allow aid deliveries to beleaguered civilians and create space for negotiations to end the country’s civil war, which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced more than 10 million people. Notably, it does not cover some powerful jihadist groups, including the Nusra Front and the Islamic State, which launched several attacks Saturday.
Although the agreement, which took effect at midnight, has so far resulted in a marked reduction in violence, sporadic clashes continued between the parties involved.
Around 2:15 p.m. local time, a rebel leader told The Associated Press that government forces had committed several breaches of the cease-fire.
Lt. Col. Fares al-Bayoush, commander of the U.S.-backed Fursan al-Haq Brigade, a rebel group based in northern Syria, said that his forces were observing the truce, but cautioned the government against further violations.
“If they continue with these violations we will be forced to retaliate accordingly,” he said.
Other rebel groups reported that government forces dropped several barrel bombs in the western province of Latakia.
Syria’s state-run news agency reported Saturday afternoon that rebel factions in Damascus suburbs had fired shells on residential areas of the capital, the first time the government accused opposition groups of violating the agreement.
The truce, the most ambitious international effort to stem the violence in Syria to date, reflects the Kremlin’s recent efforts to prop up Assad. Since September, Russian air strikes and ground forces have considerably improved the Syrian government’s military and diplomatic positions, stymieing the opposition’s long-held hope of toppling the regime by military force alone.
The Russian Defense Ministry promised to suspend air strikes in areas held by groups that have agreed to the cease-fire, and not to carry out any flights on Saturday.
“Given the entry into force of the U.N. Security Council resolution that supports the Russian-American agreements on a cease-fire, and to avoid any possible mistakes when carrying out strikes, Russian military planes, including long-range aviation, are not carrying out any flights over Syrian territory on Feb. 27,” the ministry said, according to Reuters.
— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) February 27, 2016
Russia pledged to continue fighting the Islamic State and the Nusra Front, however, which some of the rebel groups party to the agreement fear will be used as an excuse to attack them. Russia has carried out previous airstrikes against U.S.-backed rebels under the pretense of fighting the Islamic State.
At a Friday night press conference in Geneva, U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura expressed tentative hope for the nascent truce.
“Let’s pray that this works because frankly this is the best opportunity we can imagine the Syrian people has had for the last five years in order to see something better and hopefully something related to peace,” he said, according to a Reuters report.
De Mistura plans to restart peace talks on March 7, provided the truce holds.
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ATLANTA — With Super Tuesday approaching, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz escalated their argument Saturday that Donald Trump is a conservative impostor, trying to make the case to voters they can keep the ascendant billionaire from claiming the Republican presidential nomination.
At a rally outside the Georgia Capitol, Cruz went after Trump’s positions on immigration and gun control, criticized his ethics and hammered him for his frequent use of profanity.
“You don’t know what he’s going to say,” Cruz told reporters. “To the parents: Would you be proud of your children if they came home and repeated the words of Donald Trump?”
Rubio kept up a barrage of insults aimed at Trump. Speaking at a football stadium at Mount Paran Christian School in suburban Atlanta, Rubio said Trump has “the worst spray tan in America.”
“Donald Trump likes to sue people,” Rubio said. “He should sue whoever did that to his face.”
The quip drew laughs. Rubio quickly turned to immigration and kept up his criticism that the real estate mogul has employed people living in the country illegally.
“I will do whatever it takes,” Rubio said. “I will campaign as long as it takes.” He said: “Donald Trump, a con artist, will never get control of this party.”
Georgia is one of 11 states that will hold GOP presidential primaries Tuesday, when 595 delegates will be at stake.
Super Tuesday is the biggest single-day delegate haul of the nomination contests and, says Cruz, “the single best opportunity to defeat Donald Trump.” Democrats also vote in 11 states, as well as in American Samoa.
The Texas senator appealed for each supporter to get nine others to vote for him Tuesday.
In Tennessee, Ohio Gov. John Kasich won the endorsement of former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, now dean of Belmont University’s law school.
Gonzales was White House counsel under President George W. Bush before becoming the nation’s first Hispanic attorney general in 2005. He resigned in an uproar over allegations of torture of terrorism suspects and controversy over politically motivated firings of U.S. attorneys.
Kasich praised Gonzales for his work “in a very difficult time in our nation’s history.”
“Sometimes you have to take a stand, and that’s what Judge Gonzales did when he was attorney general of the United States,” he said.
Trump, the GOP front-runner who has won three states in a row after losing in Iowa’s caucuses to Cruz, held a campaign rally in Arkansas with Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor and former presidential candidate who dropped out of the race after a sixth place finish in New Hampshire.
“This guy has a fresh mouth,” Trump said of Rubio. He called him a “light little nothing.” Their raw feud flared in the last debate, when a newly aggressive Rubio went relentlessly after the billionaire, and it hasn’t subsided since. Trump took specific issue with Rubio’s new line that the billionaire is a “con artist.”
“I built a great business,” he said, adding that he wished his father had given him $200 million as Rubio alleged in the debate. Trump said he got a $1 million loan, which he said he paid back.
Piling on, Cruz said if Republicans nominate Trump, Americans will make Hillary Clinton the next president, a prediction that assumes she wins the Democratic nomination over Bernie Sanders. Cruz slammed Trump’s past support for the Brady Bill, gun control legislation that President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1993.
“Anybody who would support Bill Clinton’s ban on some of the most popular weapons in America is not a committed conservative,” Cruz said.
Cruz supporter John Wical, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, a retired law enforcement officer, said the GOP race underscores the frustrations of many Americans but Trump’s backers have settled on the wrong answer.
“He’s a Trojan horse,” said Wical, 54. “He’s just this cult of personality.” He said Trump supporters are “operating on emotion.”
Yet if Trump goes on to win the nomination, Wical said, he would support him in November “to keep Hillary-the-liar or Bernie-the-socialist out of the White House.”
WASHINGTON — Feeling maligned by the media, Donald Trump is threatening to weaken First Amendment protections for reporters if he were president and make it easier for him to sue them.
“I love free press. I think it’s great,” he said Saturday on Fox News Channel, before quickly adding, “We ought to open up the libel laws, and I’m going to do that.”
The changes envisioned by the celebrity businessman turned Republican front-runner would mean that “when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money,” he said at a rally Friday in Fort Worth, Texas.
Trump added that, should he win the election, news organizations that have criticized him will “have problems.” He specifically cited The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Trump last month threatened to sue the Post after the newspaper wrote an article about the bankruptcy of his Atlantic City casino. On Twitter, Trump has routinely criticized reporters who cover him and their news organizations, including The Associated Press.
“The press has to be fair,” he said in the broadcast interview.
First Amendment advocates condemned Trump’s suggestions.
“His statement shows why we need libel protections,” said Gregg Leslie, legal defense director for the Washington-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “Trump gets offended, he gets upset and he wants to sue to retaliate. That’s not a good reason to sue someone.”
Libel law in the United States generally makes it difficult for public figures to sue reporters or other people who criticize them. To win such a case, the plaintiff must demonstrate that factually incorrect statements were made with actual malice or a reckless disregard for the truth.
Trump said he would like to lower that standard. “We’re going to have people sue you like you never got sued before,” he said.
Because the Supreme Court has repeatedly endorsed the existing legal standard, Trump could not change libel laws as they affect public figures by executive order or even with an act of Congress, Leslie said.
“I’ve never heard of politicians say they would repeal case law established under the First Amendment,” he said. “You’d really need a constitutional amendment to do that.”
Trump’s comments on libel law are not the first time he has disagreed with widely held conceptions of constitutional law. Last year, he said he saw no obstacle to deporting children born to undocumented immigrants in the United States. Courts have regularly found that such children are natural born citizens entitled to the same rights as any other American. Trump has said he does not believe a constitutional amendment would be necessary to get his way.
“You don’t have to do a constitutional amendment. You need an act of Congress. I’m telling you – you need an act of Congress,” he said in an interview with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News last year.
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Moderate Iranian candidates on Saturday appeared to gain significant traction in national elections, early polling indicated, in what may be a strong backing of the country’s reformist President Hassan Rouhani, who is credited with forming a nuclear pact that helped ease sanctions imposed by the west after crippling the country’s economy in recent years.
Millions of Iranians flooded to the polls on Friday to choose hundreds of parliamentary and dozens of assembly seats, with both bodies ultimately deciding who will be the country’s supreme leader, a position outranking even the president.
On Saturday, partial results collected showed a turn from the hardline candidates that have largely dominated Iran’s political landscape for years, with those advocating for greater freedoms in Iran and favoring the nuclear agreement.
State news agencies reported reformist party members were on course to have their best showing in more than 10 years, while all of Iran’s three leading parties failed to capture a majority, according to the Associated Press.
Rouhani said to the Iranian news agency the results, which would be finalized on Monday, showed that voters supported engagement with the west and “gave more credibility and strength to their elected government” by choosing candidates who favor reforms. About 30 million people voted this week.
“The competition is over,” Rouhani was quoted as saying. “It’s time to open a new chapter in Iran’s economic development based on domestic abilities and international opportunities,” the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying. He added that the government would cooperate with anyone elected to build Iran’s future.
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With more than 300 days of sunshine a year, Nevada seems like the perfect place for rooftop solar.
And with the help of state and federal incentives, the amount of rooftop solar in the state has exploded, increasing by more than 400 percent from 2014 to 2015. But the future of the rooftop solar industry in this state is now very cloudy after a decision late last year by the state’s Public Utility Commission to change the rates for customers with solar panels.
At stake is a system known as “net metering,” which allows rooftop solar customers to get credit for the excess energy they send back to the grid when it’s sunny.
Versions of ‘net metering’ are on the books in more than 40 states and the effect for many rooftop solar customers is a dramatically reduced electric bill. But in lowering their bill, utilities and regulators around the country have been trying to determine if solar customers are paying their fair share of the electric grid’s operating costs.
In Nevada, the Public Utility Commission ruled that there was a cost-shift from non-solar customers to solar customers.
“The customers who are participating in net metering were not sharing in the costs of the utility’s distributions and transmission system – the pipes and the wires that get the electricity to your home,” said Anne-Marie Cuneo, Staff Director of Regulatory Operations for the Nevada Public Utilities Commission.
In December, the Public Utility Commission increased the basic connection fee and reduced the value of the credit that homeowners receive for excess energy to help close the gap between non-solar and solar customers, which utility NV Energy calculated to be about $16 million a year.
Solar advocates say the change threatens the whole industry and many companies said they were moving operations out of the state, including SolarCity, which laid off 550 workers in January. Advocates argue that utilities have been pushing for changes in ‘net metering’ rules because they see solar as a threat to their business model.
“Solar is becoming real,” said Marco Krapels, Executive Vice President for Strategy and Structured Finance at Solar City. “The utility monopolies are saying, ‘well wait a minute, we’ve got to crush it before it gets too big.’ And that’s what’s happening now.”
Read the full transcript of this segment below:
PROTESTERS: We’re not going to take it! We’re not going to take it!
JOHN LARSON: The rhetoric in Nevada sounds, at times, less like testimony on electricity rates and more like the run-up to a Las Vegas prize fight.
MAN: We should be promoting solar energy, not destroying it!
MAN: Talk to your representatives and fix this!
JOHN LARSON: That’s because the clash between the state’s most powerful electrical utility, NV Energy, and the surging solar power industry has all the makings of a heavyweight bout.
MARCO KRAPELS: We bait-and-switched on our own citizens!
JOHN LARSON: At stake is the future of solar energy in one of the sunniest places in the country. And how that will affect everyday Nevadans…like Pat and Craig Carrell.
PAT CARRELL: The day we moved here, the temperature was 115 degrees, so that was a welcome to Nevada.
JOHN LARSON: Former academics, the Carrells moved to a retirement community outside of Las Vegas in 2002.
JOHN LARSON: What did you notice about the energy bills as it crept towards summer?
Craig Carrell: They crept higher and the air conditioning kicks in, and our bills, over time rose to over $450.
JOHN LARSON: A month?
CRAIG CARRELL: Yeah.
JOHN LARSON: To reduce their electric bill, the Carrells added insulation to the attic and sun-blocking ultraviolet film to the windows. Then in 2014, they decided to go solar.
PAT CARRELL: So we’ve got panels up there and there.
JOHN LARSON: The Carrells spent $45,000 dollars on roof solar panels for their two-bedroom home. Federal government rebates and credits from the energy company reduced their out-of-pocket cost by more than 40%, and they expected the rest of the investment to pay for itself through lower electric bills. On average, their bills dropped by about 95%.
JOHN LARSON: So in the hottest days of the summer, what you had been paying $400 or more, now what was it?
PAT CARRELL: That’s when it went down to about $15.
JOHN LARSON: Their bill was so low, because their solar panels produced most of their power, and because of a special arrangement with the utility company called “net metering.” Across the country, net metering allows customers to sell excess power their solar panels generate during the day to the utility company, and buy the power back at night.
JOHN LARSON: That, along with federal and state incentives, helped Nevada increase the amount of rooftop solar installed from 2014 to 2015 by more than 400 percent, becoming one of the fastest-growing solar markets in the country. For customers worried about climate change, rooftop solar is carbon-free.
SOLARCITY EMPLOYEE: So once they inspect it and it passes inspection, three to four weeks after that you can turn it on.
JOHN LARSON: In a state with one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation Nevada saw thousands of new solar-related jobs…some created by “SolarCity,” the nation’s largest rooftop solar company, which with a state grant built its national customer call center in Las Vegas.
MARCO KRAPELS: You see all the trucks sitting here…
JOHN LARSON: Marco Krapels is SolarCity’s Executive Vice President for Strategy.
MARCO KRAPELS: Nevada is a great state for solar. There’s 320 days of sunshine, rising utility rates. And we’re giving people choice and the ability to fix their cost of power. It’s a fantastic state.
JOHN LARSON: But Krapels says the utility has a monopoly on electricity that is threatened by rooftop solar.
MARCO KRAPELS: Now solar is becoming real. The utility monopolies are saying, ‘well wait a minute, ‘We’ve got to crush it before it gets too big.’
They want to build more plants so they can make more money, and if we take a little bite out of that apple, and we say, ‘Hey guys, we’ve got solar panels everywhere on all these homes, you don’t need to build them any more power plants.’ then the utility goes, ‘Well, wait a minute, how am I going to make more money next year?’
JOHN LARSON: Now, after heavy lobbying by the utility company and solar companies, Nevada’s solar landscape has changed. Last December 23rd Nevada’s three-member Public Utilities Commission decided, to triple the basic service fee for rooftop solar — from $12.75 a month, to more than $38 a month. The increases began January 1 and will be fully phased in over 12 years.
JOHN LARSON: The Commission also decided NV energy no longer needed to credit customers with rooftop solar the retail rate for electricity, but instead would credit them closer to the wholesale rate – a 75 % cut.
JOHN LARSON: In other words, the power company will gradually charge people with rooftop solar more to be connected to the grid and then give them less, a lot less, for the power they generate up on their roofs.
JOHN LARSON: Citing the pending rule changes, none of the Public Utility Commissioners would agree to an interview. But staff member Anne-Marie Cuneo, who directs regulatory operations for the commission, did.
ANNE-MARIE CUNEO: The customers who are participating in net metering were not sharing in the costs of the utility’s distribution and transmission system — the pipes and the wires that get the electricity to your home.
JOHN LARSON: Cuneo says the rate changes were based on data provided by NV Energy showing that solar users were not paying their fair share of the electric grid’s operating costs.
ANNE-MARIE CUNEO: They were avoiding those costs, and those costs were getting shifted onto non-participating customers.
JOHN LARSON: How much cost was being shifted?
ANNE-MARIE CUNEO: According to the utility’s figures, it was about $16 million a year.
JOHN LARSON: No one from NV Energy would agree to an interview, but in a written statement to the NewsHour,the company said, “The net metering debate is not about NV Energy being pro or anti-solar, it’s about who pays for solar….the new net metering rules and rates adopted in Nevada will phase out the subsidy non-solar customers pay, which will be $100 million over the next 12 years.”
JOHN LARSON: Ashley Brown is the Executive Director of the Harvard Electricity Policy Group, which receives funding from utility and energy companies. He believes rooftop solar owners are being paid too much for the energy they sell utility companies.
ASHLEY BROWN: Because of the way it’s priced, which is you’re basically paying a retail price for what’s a wholesale product, it’s way overpriced. What’s happened is the electricity market has become far, far more competitive. We’ve also seen the cost of renewable energy declining dramatically.
JOHN LARSON: Opposing sides strongly disagree on whether there really is a cost to non-solar owners, and if there is, what that cost might be. But last year when the Nevada Legislature directed the Public Utility Commission to review the issue, it asked the commission to consider only the costs of rooftop solar, but none of its benefits.
JOHN LARSON: So, the benefits of distributed rooftop solar weren’t really weighed into your recommendation?
ANNE-MARIE CUNEO: It wasn’t, because this wasn’t a cost-benefit study. This was a cost study. And we were attempting to determine what sort of cost shift there was to the other customers.
JOHN LARSON: In Nevada’s third-largest city, Reno, customers at another solar company, called SUNWorks began putting their orders on hold as soon as they heard of the rate changes.
TRAVIS MILLER: We’ve got his blueprints ready to go.
JOHN LARSON: Project Manager Travis Miller says more than one million dollars of work is in limbo.
JOHN LARSON: So they froze your business?
TRAVIS MILLER: Frozen business – not a dime in revenue has come in our office since December 23rd.
JOHN LARSON: Adding to its troubles, SUNWorks recently signed a three-year lease for more office space and a bigger warehouse.
JOHN LARSON: So literally it’s empty for the next, well, however?
TRAVIS MILLER: For the foreseeable future, yeah.
MARCO KRAPELS: There’s not a single truck arriving…there’s not a single truck leaving.
TRAVIS MILLER: Back in Las Vegas, at SolarCity, 550 jobs are gone.
MARCO KRAPELS: This was bustling. People were coming in and out, trucks in and out. This was one of our best warehouses in the country.
JOHN LARSON: None of the existing 17,000 Nevada homeowners who already have rooftop solar panels, like Pat and Craig Carrell, are exempt from the new solar rates. They will see their energy bills go up, at least triple by 2028.
PAT CARRELL: It’s not the rules that we bought into, they changed the game on us. That was hard earned savings, but we decided it was worth it to put it up on our roof, to have that kind of energy independence, and now it seems like it’s gone.
CRAIG CARRELL: We have created a generator out here, we’re like a little power company, that they did not have to pay for.
JOHN LARSON: You put it up?
CRAIG CARRELL: I put it up. I built the plant, and they’re deriving the benefit from it.
JOHN LARSON: The Public Utility Commission’s regulatory operations staff director rejects the notion that solar homeowners are being unfairly penalized with retroactive rate changes.
ANNE-MARIE CUNEO: I don’t know where they got the idea that they were going to have a deal. The utilities interconnection agreement that I read says that the law can change and the rates can change.
JOHN LARSON: In the meantime, rooftop solar installations have effectively ground to a halt in Nevada.
JOHN LARSON: Ashley Brown of the Harvard Electricity Policy Group argues net metering – the paying of solar panel owners a full retail rate for their excess power — has outgrown its usefulness.
ASHLEY BROWN: It was never meant to be a permanent subsidy. Why would we devise a permanent subsidy for any technology. If you’re going to have a subsidy, it’s short term. It’s designed to get things past the commercial hump. Solar costs are declining rapidly. It’s past the commercial hump.
SOLARCITY EMPLOYEE: We would design a system at this size first…
JOHN LARSON: Back in SolarCity’s new national call center in Las Vegas, the company is suddenly in the odd position of reaching out to customers almost everywhere — except Nevada.
JULIO GAMBOA: It should be up to the public to decide.
JOHN LARSON: And laid off solar workers, backed by SolarCity, hope the state’s voters will restore the previous rates for rooftop solar.
MAN: Sorry you lost your job…
JOHN LARSON: They are gathering signatures, hoping to get a referendum on the ballot in November.
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A court in Saudi Arabia has handed down a guilty verdict in the case of a professed atheist accused of posting hundreds of tweets denying God’s existence and criticizing religion.
His sentence: a decade in prison, a fine and a flogging.
According to a Saturday report in the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice — the Saudi religious police force whose duties include monitoring social media — found more than 600 tweets posted by an unnamed 28-year-old dissenter.
According to the report, the man refused to repent for the tweets and said that he had the right to assert his opinions.
In addition to the 10-year prison term, the court sentenced him to pay 20,000 riyals — about $5,330 — and receive a beating consisting of 2,000 lashes. Such floggings are generally broken up into weekly bouts of 50 lashings each and administered according to specific guidelines.
The legal basis of the court’s decision is a series of Interior Ministry regulations introduced in 2014 under the late Saudi King Abdullah.
The laws ostensibly seek to combat terrorism, but also allow authorities “to criminalize virtually any expression or association critical of the government and its understanding of Islam,” according to the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch.
These regulations contain provisions — including one that criminalizes “calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based” — that Human Rights Watch says have been used to silence activists and peaceful dissidents.
Atheism is a taboo subject in Saudi Arabia, where the government derives legitimacy from its adherence to an ultraconservative form of Islam, but a 2012 WIN/Gallup International poll found that 5 percent of Saudi respondents described themselves as atheists, and anecdotal reports suggest that unbelief may be on the rise in the kingdom.
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WASHINGTON — Marco Rubio released summaries of his last five years of tax filings on Saturday, revealing him to be a candidate with a senator’s steady annual income of $176,000 who reaped repeated windfalls from book deals. During his first four years in the Senate, Rubio and his wife Jeanette together earned an average of $531,000 a year.
Since winning election to an office in Washington, Rubio’s income has ranged from $276,059 to $938,963, and he has paid between $46,500 and $254,894 in federal income tax. Most of the income came from a business that collected royalties on two books, based on a comparison with personal Senate financial disclosures.
In 2012, his most lucrative year, his effective tax rate topped out at a little more than 31 percent.
The documents Rubio has released are not complete tax filings, as Mitt Romney provided in 2012 and Hillary Clinton produced last year. Instead, Rubio released the first two pages of his 1040 form, which summarizes the details of his income and taxes.
Rubio’s release of his most recent tax returns comes after Republican front-runner Donald Trump said in Thursday’s GOP debate that his tax returns have been the subject of audits for at least a dozen consecutive years. He said he would not release them until that process concludes.
“We’re putting these out today to put pressure on Trump and the other candidates to release theirs,” said Rubio campaign spokesman Alex Conant. “To the extent there are additional questions about Marco, we won’t rule out providing more information in the future.”
The disclosure makes Rubio the only of the top three Republican candidates to fulfill pledges to disclose their tax information. Despite criticizing Trump during the debate for not disclosing his tax filings, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz did not meet a self-imposed deadline of Friday to release his tax returns for the years since he ran for Senate.
Cruz campaign spokeswoman Catherine Frazier on Saturday did not offer a new timeline for releasing the records.
“We are pulling them together,” she said. “They will be released. These things take time.”
For Rubio, the records add to 10 years of previous tax returns he released when running for the Senate. Those returns show how the young lawmaker’s finances benefited from high-paying jobs at law firms as he rose in state and national politics.
In 2000, Rubio and his wife reported a combined income of $82,710. The family’s income grew to more than $330,000 in 2005, the year he became speaker of the House in Florida, and by the time he left the statehouse in 2008, he reported nearly $400,000 in income.
Between 2004 and 2008, Rubio gave nearly $50,000 to Christ Fellowship in Miami and more than $16,000 to First Baptist Church of Perrine, Florida, according to the documents released at the time.
No such calculation of charitable contributions is possible for the years covered in Saturday’s release, however, because Rubio did not make public the part of his tax returns that itemizes deductions.
The post Rubio’s tax returns show steady salary, boosted by book deals appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Hillary Clinton overwhelmed Bernie Sanders in Saturday’s South Carolina primary, drawing staggering support from the state’s black Democrats and seizing an increasingly strong position as the presidential race barrels toward Super Tuesday’s crucial contests.
Clinton’s lopsided win — she led by almost 50 points with about three-fourths of the vote counted — provided an important boost for her campaign and a moment to wipe away bitter memories of her loss to Barack Obama in South Carolina eight years ago. She won the support of nearly 9 in 10 black voters, crucial Democratic backers who abandoned her for Obama in 2008.
During a raucous victory rally, Clinton briefly reveled in her sweeping support from South Carolina voters, hugging backers and posing with them for selfie photos. But then she pivoted quickly to the contests to come.
“Tomorrow this campaign goes national,” she said. “We are not taking anything, and we are not taking anyone, for granted.”
Sanders, expecting defeat on Saturday, left the state even before voting was finished and turned his attention to some of the states that vote in next Tuesday’s delegate-rich contests. In a statement, Sanders vowed to fight on aggressively.
“This campaign is just beginning,” he said. “Our grass-roots political revolution is growing state by state, and we won’t stop now.”
Clinton’s victory came at the end of a day that saw Republican candidates firing insults at each other from Super Tuesday states. Donald Trump, working to build an insurmountable lead, was campaigning in Arkansas with former rival Chris Christie and calling Marco Rubio a “light little nothing;” Ted Cruz was asking parents in Atlanta if they would be pleased if their children spouted profanities like the brash billionaire, and Rubio was mocking Trump as a “con artist” with “the worst spray tan in America.”
Clinton allies quickly touted the breadth of her victory. Besides blacks, she won most women and voters aged 25 and older, according to early exit polls.
Sanders continued to do well with young voters, his most passionate supporters. He also carried those who identified themselves as independents. All registered voters could vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary but not in both.
A self-described democratic socialist, Sanders has energized his supporters with impassioned calls for breaking up Wall Street banks and making tuition free at public colleges and universities. But the senator from Vermont, a state where about 1 percent of the population is black, lacks Clinton’s deep ties to the African-American community.
Still, he did invest heavily in South Carolina, with 200 paid staff on the ground and an aggressive television advertising campaign.
Exit polls showed 6 in 10 voters in the primary were black, by far the largest proportion in any of the contests so far. About 7 in 10 said they wanted the next president to continue Obama’s policies, and only about 20 percent wanted a more liberal course of action, according to the polls conducted by Edison Research for The Associated Press and television networks.
Clinton’s sweeping victory suggested South Carolina voters had put aside any lingering tensions from her heated 2008 contest with Obama. Former President Bill Clinton made statements during that campaign that were seen by some, including influential South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, as questioning the legitimacy of the black presidential contender.
This time around, Clyburn endorsed Clinton, and her husband was well-received as he traveled the state on her behalf. She focused on issues with particular resonance in the black community and held an emotional event with black mothers whose children died in shootings.
Clinton’s second White House bid lurched to an uneven start, with a narrow victory over Sanders in Iowa and a crushing loss to the senator in New Hampshire. She pulled off a 5-point win over Sanders in last week’s Nevada caucus, a crucial victory that helped stem Sanders’ momentum.
Clinton’s campaign hopes her strong showing in South Carolina foreshadows similar outcomes in states like Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Virginia that vote Tuesday and have large minority populations.
Taken together, 865 Democratic delegates are up for grabs in the Super Tuesday contests in 11 states and American Samoa. Sanders is hoping to stay close to Clinton in the South while focusing most of his attention on states in the Midwest and Northeast, including his home state of Vermont.
Sanders has built a massive network of small donors and has the money to stay in the race deep into the spring. Still, Clinton’s campaign sees a chance to build enough of a delegate lead to put the race out of reach during the sprint through March.
Clinton’s will pick up most of South Carolina’s delegates, widening her overall lead in AP’s count. With 53 delegates at stake, Clinton will receive at least 37, Sanders at least 12.
Going into South Carolina, Clinton had just a one-delegate edge over Sanders. However, she also has a massive lead among superdelegates, the Democratic Party leaders who can vote for the candidate of their choice at this summer’s national convention, regardless of how their states vote.
Pace reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Catherine Lucey in Austin, Texas, and Ken Thomas in Washington contributed to this report.
The post Hillary Clinton wins Democratic primary in South Carolina appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: “Politico” reporter Annie Karni is covering the South Carolina Democratic primary. She joins me now by phone from Columbia, South Carolina.
So, Annie, big win for Hillary tonight.
ANNIE KARNI, “POLITICO” REPORTER (via telephone): Big win. They call to race pretty much at the second the polls closed at 7:00 p.m. It was not — there is no chance at all that Bernie would take this. Huge win for Hillary.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And she didn’t even spend most of the day campaigning in South Carolina. She’s kind of moved on.
ANNIE KARNI: She popped out to southern Alabama and then came back to this. I think they knew by now that the race is over. They’ve done a lot of hard work here. They’ve actually spend more time than Bernie did though. The past four days, Hillary and Bill Clinton have both been here this Wednesday night, Thursday morning, without leaving the state.
And Bernie has been making trips to Oklahoma and to other Super Tuesday states where he thinks he has a shot and he kind of seems to have given up a little bit (INAUDIBLE) earlier.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And why have the Clintons focused so heavily on this and what do they hope to take with them to the next set of states after this win?
ANNIE KARNI: Well, what’s significant about this win is that it showed he has not made the inroads with African-American voters he would need to do well on Super Tuesday. The early exit polls show that she’d beat him with black voters by 5-1. That’s after he spent $2 million here and have 200 staffers here.
And then we’re going into Georgia and Arkansas and Tennessee and a lot of southern states with the similar population to South Carolina where he has spent less money and less time and (INAUDIBLE) to be able to complete well there.
So, this is kind of precursor to what the (INAUDIBLE) Clinton operatives are telling me now is that they think that the math will not add up for him even if he wins the five states he thinks he can win on Super Tuesday, which is Colorado, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Massachusetts and his home state of Vermont, even if he wins those, they still look like to come out of Tuesday with a 50-delegate lead and they don’t think he will ever catch up again.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Is there anything she did on the campaign trail in terms of changing or refining her message?
ANNIE KARNI: Well, what happened here, it was actually really interesting to watch. The script was sort of flipped in her favor for the first time. Here, among older African-American women voters, she’s the authentic candidate who’s been fighting for civil rights her entire life, who’s had Barack Obama’s back for the past eight years. That rings like the authentic candidate.
Bernie Sanders, they don’t really know. They look at his big ideas about free college and Medicare for all with some skepticism.
So, it’s him who’s having to convince them he’s an authentic candidate and that she that comes across as — it’s like a race she wanted to run her whole life here. She’s seen as that authentic, strong leader and these voters talk about how they feel like they have a duty to support her.
So, all the embracing of Barack Obama she’s done, it really resonated here where these voters feel like she supported him and now they owe her.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Annie Karni of “Politico” — thanks so much for joining us.
ANNIE KARNI: Thank you.
The post With breezy South Carolina win, Clinton commands race ahead of Super Tuesday appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton won a clear and commanding victory in South Carolina’s Democratic presidential primary on Saturday thanks to the overwhelming support of black voters.
South Carolina was the first contest of the 2016 race in which nonwhite voters have outnumbered whites. Clinton was also supported by three-quarters of women, and even ate into Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ support among young people by earning the majority of votes from blacks under age 45, according to preliminary results of the exit poll conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research.
Here’s a look at what the exit poll found:
Black voters overwhelmingly for Clinton
About 6 in 10 voters in South Carolina’s Democratic primary were black, by far the largest proportion of African Americans in any of the contests so far. And more than 8 in 10 black voters supported Clinton.
By contrast, Sanders was supported by about 6 in 10 white voters.
Black primary voters were more likely to say they trust Clinton than Sanders to handle race relations, with 4 in 10 saying they only trust her and less than 1 in 10 saying they only trust him. Just over 4 in 10 said they trust both.
Among all primary voters Saturday — black and white — 8 in 10 said the issue of race relations was important to their vote. Among black primary voters, a third said it was the most important issue to them.
Younger women flip to Clinton
Six in 10 South Carolina primary voters were women, and three-quarters of them said they voted for Clinton. She was also supported by about 6 in 10 men.
White women were evenly divided between the candidates, while 7 in 10 white men said they voted for Sanders.
Clinton ate into Sanders’ advantage among young voters. Although he was supported by about two-thirds of primary voters under 30, she was supported by about two-thirds of those between the ages of 30 and 44, as well as three-quarters of those over age 45.
Clinton won a majority of women under 45, a group that backed Sanders in the previous contests. This time around, he was supported by 6 in 10 women under 30, but 7 in 10 of those between age 30 and 44 said they voted for Clinton.
White voters under 45 overwhelmingly supported Sanders, but among blacks, that group went overwhelmingly for Clinton.
Clinton won the support of majorities of liberals, moderates and conservatives in Saturday’s contest. Eight in 10 primary voters said they were Democrats, and three-quarters of them were Clinton voters. Among independents, 6 in 10 backed Sanders.
What honesty problem?
Clinton was supported by 9 in 10 voters saying experience was the most important quality in choosing a candidate, and 8 in 10 of those saying it was most important to choose a candidate who can win in November. She was also supported by 6 in 10 voters saying they want a candidate who cares about people like them.
Sanders held only a slight lead among those looking for a candidate who is honest and trustworthy, after Democrats looking for those two qualities overwhelmingly supported Sanders in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. He was supported by large majorities of white voters who cared most about a candidate being honest or caring about people like them.
Questions about Clinton’s honesty have dogged her throughout the campaign and appeared to be a weakness in earlier contests. But in South Carolina, 7 in 10 voters said Clinton is honest, slightly more than the two-thirds who said the same of Sanders
Clinton trusted on foreign policy
Half of voters said they trust only Clinton — not Sanders — to handle an international crisis, while another third of voters said they trust both of them. Only 1 in 10 said they trust Sanders over Clinton.
Clinton won majorities of voters saying they think the economy, health care or terrorism are the most important issue facing the country, and she even appeared to lead among those saying income inequality is most important.
Four in 10 South Carolina primary voters said the economy is the most important issue, more than in any other state so far.
Experience and continuity
Seven in 10 voters said they want the next president to generally continue President Barack Obama’s policies, while just 2 in 10 want the next president’s policies to be more liberal. Clinton was supported by 8 in 10 of those wanting a continuation of Obama’s policies, while Sanders was supported by two-thirds of those wanting more liberal policies.
Eight in 10 primary voters Saturday said they prefer a candidate with political experience to an outsider, and three quarters of those voters said they supported Clinton.
The survey was conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks by Edison Research as Democratic voters left their polling places at 30 randomly selected sites in South Carolina. The preliminary results include interviews with 1,398 Democratic primary voters and have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
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PHILADELPHIA — Watching the fight unfold between President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans over who should choose the next Supreme Court justice, Michael A. Bowden got angry at what he saw at the latest affront to the first black president.
And then his thoughts turned from Washington to his own state.
Obama won’t be on the ballot this fall, but Pennsylvania GOP Sen. Pat Toomey will – and Bowden has made defeating him in November a priority.
“This kind of thing really burns me to the core,” said Bowden, a 56-year-old Air Force veteran from Philadelphia. “I’ve already started planting the seed in people’s heads that Sen. Toomey is one of those people in lockstep with the Republicans. This could give him a wake-up call that he could be vulnerable as well.”
Democrats are pressuring senators in Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Hampshire, Illinois and Wisconsin to back down from their refusal to confirm or even consider Obama’s nominee to succeed the late Antonin Scalia or face the consequences in November. In some states, they may get help from African-Americans who see the court battle as the latest GOP snub of Obama – one rooted in racism, which could galvanize a crucial component of the Democratic voting bloc.
“The Obama presidency has been mobilizing for African-Americans,” said Daniel Hopkins, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania whose research focuses on racial and ethnic American politics. “The Supreme Court nomination is part of a much broader story of deeply polarized and sometimes racialized hostility between Obama and his political opponents. It’s potentially quite a potent issue in a state that has backed Obama twice.”
Many African-Americans trace what they see as similar insults back to Obama’s historic election in 2008, when questions were raised about his U.S. citizenship and family in Kenya. In the days after Scalia’s Feb. 13 death, Republicans quickly signaled their opposition to Obama nominating a successor, saying they would refuse to hold hearings on a nominee and calling for the conservative justice’s replacement to be chosen by the next president.
Toomey, running for a second term after narrowly winning in 2010, echoed those sentiments.
In a recent Associated Press interview, Toomey said: “The president intends to change the balance of the court and I am not going to support him changing the balance of the court with nine months before an election, I’m not going to do that.”
The Democrats looking to challenge Toomey in the fall say he should do his job.
Among voters, Donnell Regusters of Yeadon said the issue could be an opportunity for Democrats this year. The 40-year-old videographer voted and campaigned for Joe Sestak in 2010 against Toomey and is considering supporting the former congressman again.
“It’s something I hadn’t thought about, honestly,” Regusters said. “I just kind of thought it was out of his way to win, but this could be an opportunity. … Right now would be a perfect time to use that whole Supreme Court fight.”
Toomey’s re-election bid will hardly hinge on support from black voters, but their opposition could hurt.
Sabrina Singh, a spokeswoman for Katie McGinty – among the four Democrats in the Senate primary – said the candidate has heard from African-Americans who are frustrated with Republicans like Toomey “disrespecting President Obama and attempting to delegitimize his presidency.”
“Republican obstructionism as related to the Supreme Court vacancy and other issues will be real motivating factors to turn out African-American voters in Pennsylvania,” Singh said in a statement.
A recent Pew Research Center poll shows 56 percent of Americans think the Senate should hold hearings and vote on Obama’s nominee. Toomey scored his highest unfavorable rating since August 2009 – 21 percent of respondents – in a Franklin and Marshall College poll released Thursday and conducted the week after Scalia’s death.
In the presidential campaign this past week, Democrat Hillary Clinton called on black women at an Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority alumnae event in South Carolina to “see if we can’t find a handful of Republicans who understand and will do their duty, who believe they are called by the Constitution to do just that.”
G. Terry Madonna, director of the Franklin and Marshall College poll, said it’s still unclear to what extent the Supreme Court fight will be an issue in the fall.
“It won’t be that Toomey will change his mind, but Democrats can use this to energize their voters. Will it work? We don’t know,” Madonna said.
For black voters like Mecca Bey, if Toomey wins, it won’t be for lack of trying on her part.
“I will make sure I motive my friends to get rid of him,” said Bey, 40, of Landsdowne. “I’ve been educating people on what he’s actually doing right now so they don’t forget in the fall what he’s involved in.”
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NEW YORK – As this year’s presidential primaries move beyond the First Four states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, and into the dozen “Super Tuesday” states voting on March 1, millions of Americans will find themselves exercising their right to vote on computerized machines from the pre-iPhone era running on software like Windows 2000 with hardware like 512 kilobyte memory cards.
“It’s concerning because this is the infrastructure for our elections,” said Lawrence Norden, co-author of America’s Voting Machines at Risk, a recent Brennan Center for Justice report found 43 states have counties using voting equipment 10 to 15-years-old.
“The most immediate short-term concern is that we get more failures on election days – that machines crash or shut down or have to be taken out of service, because they’re not working like they’re supposed to,” Norden said. “That can create chaos at the polling place and long lines.”
An ‘impending crisis’ on Election Day?
His concern is bolstered by what happened in the 2012 general election, when an estimated 500,000 to 700,000 people did not vote because of long lines, according to a study by the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project, Waiting in Line to Vote.
The study found average voter wait times on November 6, 2012, ranged from a minute-and-half in Vermont to 39 minutes in Florida, though reduced early voting days and long ballot referenda text contributed to the lines.
With 8,000 separate election jurisdictions using equipment of their own choosing, the recommendation that states increase the number of voting machines and poll workers is easier said than done.
The CalTech/MIT study was commissioned by the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration, which issued its own report in 2014 forecasting “an impending crisis” with voting machines.
In a January 22 presentation updating the commission’s work, Republican co-chair Ben Ginsberg said there is a “crisis of technology that our machines are about to fall apart on us.”
The machines in need of replacement were purchased following the disputed 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, when a recount of the Florida vote was stymied by the state’s use of punch cards at the polls.
After the election was settled, in 2002, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) which appropriated $3.6 billion for states to buy new electronic voting equipment.
Initially, about 70 percent of the machines purchased were ATM-style touch screens, but by 2008 shrinking confidence in their reliability led to states like Iowa, New Mexico, Maryland and Florida to pull the plug on them.
Now touch-screens facilitate less only one-third of registered voters, with two-thirds of registered voters using optical scannersthat read voter-marked paper ballots, according to a November 2015 summary by Election Data Services.
“Due to aging machines, we are seeing some strong movement away from the electronic systems to the optical scan systems in the past six months,” said EDS president Kimball Brace.
Decade-old voting machines to be used on Super Tuesday and beyond
In Texas, the biggest Super Tuesday prize, more than 40 percent of the counties will use voting machines that are 10 or more years old, according to the Brennan report, while Travis County – Austin – bought its machines in 1999.
Georgia purchased 88 percent of its machines in 2002. In Arkansas, machines in 80 percent of the counties are a decade old, as are the machines in 95 percent of Tennessee’s counties.
Looking ahead to the March 15 primaries, around 90 percent of Ohio’s and North Carolina’s counties use touch screen machines that are 10 or more years old. In Florida, one-third of the counties use decade-old machines.
“I don’t think there will be large scale problems,” said Matt Masterson, the vice chairman of the federal Election Assistance Commission, which helps states manage their election equipment. “Election officials are prepared, they are taking the steps to test the systems, to do the maintenance that needs to be done, and they have a backup plan.”
Masterson said backup plans range from keeping spare machines in roving trucks that can be sent to a precinct in need to poll workers stocking paper ballots that can be filled out and counted by hand.
Norden said his survey of elections officials found it was common for them to cannibalize old machines and scavenge eBay for replacement parts, particular for machines that are no longer manufactured.
“There are security vulnerabilities associated with using machines that are so old,” Norden says.
Fear of hacking clouds reliability of touch-screen machines
In 2015, Virginia’s election board decertified 3,000 touch-screen machines in its largest county, Fairfax, after an independent examination found the machines could be hacked.
A report by the Virginia Information Technologies Agency said the machines “use insecure security protocols, weak passwords, and unpatched software” that “would not be able to prevent a malicious third party from modifying the votes.”
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe requested $28 million from the state legislature to replace old machines statewide, but last year legislators turned him down.
Arkansas scaled back a $30-million-plan to replace its machines and instead spent $2.5 million last year for new machines to be deployed Tuesday in only four counties.
This month, Michigan governor Rick Snyder proposed spending $10 million of the state’s leftover HAVA funds to replace decade-old optical scanner vote-counting machines.
Rolling out new machines in a handful of states
Maryland is one of the few states using all-new machines this year. Colorado has begun a three-year plan to roll out new optical scanners that are already in use in Denver. A dozen Florida counties have announced a plant to jointly purchase new voting machines before November.
“We need to fork over the money — there is no choice,” Norden says. “The longer we wait, the more likely we are to have problems and the more likely that voter confidence in the system is going to increase.”
In a written statement, the nation’s leading voting machine manufacturer, Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software (ES&S) said it was working to ensure the sustainability of its machines.
“We have voting systems which have performed well for 15-plus years and work constantly to ensure the software used meets present day standards,” said Kathy Rogers, ES&S senior vice president of government relations.
Rogers said the company runs a helpdesk for election officials to call and deploys field technicians as needed.
“Preventative maintenance, proper storage, and pre-election testing is the key to longevity with any system, and ES&S works to provide our customers with resources in these areas,” Rogers said.
Masterson conceded few Americans have computers running on technology as old as their voting machines, but he believes there won’t be a voting machine meltdown during the primaries or in November.
“Machines that are three years older than the iPhone pose a challenge that needs to be addressed moving forward,” he said.
The post Should primary voters be worried about aging voting machines? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
ATLANTA — Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio continue to swing at Donald Trump ahead of the Super Tuesday presidential primaries that could help the Republican front-runner expand his delegate lead in an increasingly caustic nomination fight.
From Rubio mocking “Hair Force One” to Cruz dismissing Trump’s wealth as a result of “picking the right Daddy” and suggesting the billionaire has business ties to the Mafia, the two first-term senators have unleashed a personal and policy-based barrage. And they’re using the Sunday talk show circuit to warn that nominating Trump would be catastrophic for the party in November and beyond.
“We’re about to lose the conservative movement to someone who’s not a conservative and (lose) the party of Lincoln and Reagan to a con artist,” Rubio said Sunday on Fox News.
Trump, for his part, relishes his position, mocking the Republican establishment and his flailing rivals ahead of a glut of Tuesday primaries that offer up almost a quarter of the GOP’s total delegate count.
“It’s amazing what’s going on,” he told NBC, calling his campaign a “movement.”
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton received another burst of momentum Saturday after her lopsided victory in South Carolina, fueled by an 84-16 advantage among African-Americans, a key Democratic constituency that will also play a dominant role in several Super Tuesday states.
“We got decimated, that’s what happened,” Sanders said on ABC, though he promised to continue his campaign against what he describes as a political and economic oligarchy.
On CNN, Trump explained his own brand of populism. “I’m representing a lot of anger out there,” he said on CNN. “We’re not angry people, but we’re angry at the way this country’s being run (and) angry at the way the Republican Party is being run.”
Trump also rejected calls from Rubio – who he repeatedly referred to Sunday as “Little Marco” – and Cruz to release his tax returns, saying he can’t share returns that are under IRS audit. The senators on Saturday released summary pages of several years’ worth of their personal returns. Trump says he’s already shared his personal financial details in separate disclosure forms.
“You can’t tell much from tax returns” anyway, Trump said on CNN.
Trump sidestepped questions about former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke this week urging his followers that a vote against Trump is a “treason to you heritage.”
Asked whether he wanted to explicitly reject Duke’s backing, Trump said, “I don’t know, did he endorse me or what’s going on, because, you know, I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about white supremacists.”
Separately, Cruz warned conservatives that the “Trump train” could become “unstoppable” if he rolls to big victories Tuesday. Cruz cast Trump as a carbon copy of Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton and suggested that not even Trump “knows what he would do” as president.
Tuesday, Cruz said, “is a battle to determine where conservatives go.”
Rubio added on CBS that Trump “is trying to pull off the biggest scam in American political history.”
Still, Cruz confirmed to CNN’s Jake Tapper that he “will support the Republican nominee, period, the end.” Rubio has recently sidestepped questions about whether he would support Trump, insisting that the first-time candidate will not win the nomination.
The line-up Tuesday includes several Southern states that form the core of Cruz’s desired path to the nomination, but he finds himself trailing Trump everywhere but his home state of Texas. Rubio does not lead anywhere, leaving the two senators mostly to scramble for second-place finishes and as many delegates as possible.
“I’ve been an underdog my whole life both in life and in politics and we’re going to do well. We’re going to pick up a lot of delegates,” Rubio said on CBS. “We’re going to be in as many states as it takes to ensure that I’m the nominee.”
Both Rubio and a fourth candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, are looking ahead to home state primaries on March 15. Kasich admitted Sunday on NBC that “if I don’t win Ohio, then, you know, ballgame over.”
Among Democrats, South Carolina was a moment for Clinton to wipe away bitter memories of her loss to Barack Obama there eight years ago. She won the support of nearly 9 in 10 black voters, crucial Democratic backers who had abandoned her for Obama in 2008. Clinton picked up most of South Carolina’s 53 delegates, winning 39 to Sanders’ 14.
Sanders, expecting defeat on Saturday, left the state before voting finished and turned his attention to states outside the South that vote in next Tuesday’s contests.
On ABC, Sanders noted that he still garnered strong support from voters under the age of 30, and he predicted he would fare better overall in Super Tuesday states like Minnesota, Oklahoma, Massachusetts and his native Vermont. All have much whiter electorates than South Carolina and other Southern states that vote in March.
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