May, 2015

Sanders Gains Momentum in Iowa

New York Times: “The first evidence that Mrs. Clinton could face a credible challenge in the Iowa presidential caucuses appeared late last week in the form of overflow crowds at Mr. Sanders’s first swing through that state since declaring his candidacy for the Democratic nomination. He drew 700 people to an event on Thursday night in Davenport, for instance — the largest rally in the state for any single candidate this campaign season, and far more than the 50 people who attended a rally there on Saturday with former Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland.”

“The first-in-the-nation caucuses, on Feb. 1, loom as a major test for Mrs. Clinton: She came in third in Iowa during her presidential run in 2008, and anything less than a decisive victory this time would rattle her shell of inevitability and raise questions about her strengths as a standard-bearer for an increasingly liberal Democratic Party.”

The Fix: “Yes, there’s actually some Bernie-mentum to the campaign of the senator from Vermont.”

Beau Biden Dies of Brain Cancer

Former Delaware Attorney General Joseph “Beau” Biden III, who grew up in the political spotlight because of his father’s career, died Saturday night after a long battle with brain cancer, the Wilmington News Journal reports.

“During his two terms as attorney general, Biden was beset by health problems. He suffered a minor stroke in 2010 that kept him out of office for several weeks. In 2013 he was treated at the University of Texas MD Anderson Center Center in Houston after becoming weak and disoriented on a family vacation, undergoing what a member of his medical team later described as surgery to remove a ‘small lesion’ in his brain. Yet after completing two terms in January, Biden said he wanted to run for governor in 2016 and in recent weeks his law firm said he had expanded his role.”

Clinton Seeks Billionaire Donors

New York Times: “Over the last few months, Harold M. Ickes, a longtime ally of Hillary Clinton, has helped organize private meetings around the country with union leaders, Clinton backers and Democratic strategists. The pressing topic: Who will step up to be the Democrats’ megadonors in the 2016 presidential race?”

“Republican contenders have already secured hundreds of millions of dollars in commitments from a stable of billionaires, including a Wall Street hedge fund executive, a Las Vegas casino magnate, a Florida auto dealer, a Wyoming investor and, of course, the Kansas-born billionaires David H. and Charles G. Koch. But none of the biggest Democratic donors from past elections — for example, the Chicago investor Fred Eychaner, the climate-change activist Tom Steyer and the entertainment mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg — have committed to supporting Mrs. Clinton on nearly the same scale.”

Graham’s Entry Shakes Up Race in South Carolina

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) “barely registers in national surveys testing support for Republican presidential candidates. But here in South Carolina, which holds an early slot on the primary-election calendar, he is a household name who has won every race he’s run for 23 years,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“That makes Mr. Graham, who is expected to launch his presidential campaign on Monday, a wild card in an important state. Even if Mr. Graham doesn’t win here, his pull among voters, donors and campaign operatives is likely to change the calculation of other candidates.”

Hastert’s Contradictory Post-Congressional Career

“Dennis Hastert’s political winter in Washington has been defined by two seemingly contradictory traits. He shrank almost completely from the spotlight while becoming so dogged in the pursuit of wealth that it puzzled his longtime friends,” the Washington Post reports.

“After retiring from Congress in 2007, the Illinois Republican did not avail himself of the traditional perks afforded elder statesmen. He didn’t serve on commissions or join think tanks, never became an ambassador and rarely made media appearances to dole out wisdom. At the same time Hastert, 73, was relentless in pounding the K Street pavement, serving as a rainmaker for a law firm for the past seven years.”

Walker Leads GOP Pack in Iowa

Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Poll: “Scott Walker’s popularity streak in Iowa is real: He’s seven percentage points ahead of his nearest competition in the presidential horse race here, chased by a tight pack of four in a clear top tier: Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee.”

“Marco Rubio lags in a single-digit scrum, but a deeper look into the numbers shows that if Walker is the hare in Iowa, Rubio may be the tortoise, potentially positioned to pull ahead if he campaigns hard.”

Politics in the Late 1990s

Orin Kerr: “If I understand the history correctly, in the late 1990s, the President was impeached for lying about a sexual affair by a House of Representatives led by a man who was also then hiding a sexual affair, who was supposed to be replaced by another Congressman who stepped down when forced to reveal that he too was having a sexual affair, which led to the election of a new Speaker of the House who now has been indicted for lying about payments covering up his sexual contact with a boy.”

Hastert Passed Law That Led to His Indictment

Huffington Post: “On Oct. 24, 2001, then-House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) shepherded the Patriot Act through the House of Representatives… Little did Hastert know at the time that the law he helped pass would give federal law enforcement the tools to indict him on charges of violating banking-related reporting requirements more than a decade later.”

Paul Will Force Expiration of Patriot Act

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced “that he will force the expiration of the Patriot Act’s surveillance authorities this weekend by refusing to allow any votes that would extend them beyond their June 1 sunset,” National Journal reports.

Said Paul: “I believe we must fight terrorism, and I believe we must stand strong against our enemies. But we do not need to give up who we are to defeat them. In fact, we must not. There has to be another way.”