Bernie Sanders Snubs AIPAC Over ‘Providing a Platform for Bigotry,’ Pro-Israel Lobby Group Denounces His ‘Odious Attack’
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, riding high from his string of presidential primary successes, took a strong on the pro-Israel lobbying group, AIPAC, on Sunday.
His Twitter posts criticizing the group came as part of a highly contentious day, which included him telling Anderson Cooper on a 60 Minutes broadcast that he would “absolutely” militarily intervene if China invaded Taiwan while drawing the ire of Florida’s Cuban-American population for praising Fidel Castro in the same interview. Sanders, who is Jewish, has never AIPAC’s annual conference, and he publicly announced his intent to keep that streak alive, while accusing the group of providing a platform “for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights.”
The Israeli people have the right to live in peace and security. So do the Palestinian people. I remain concerned about the platform AIPAC provides for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights. For that reason I will not attend their conference. 1/2
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 23, 2020
As president, I will support the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians and do everything possible to bring peace and security to the region. 2/2
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 23, 2020
AIPAC issued their own blunt rebuke a few hours later, noting that Sanders had never attended their annual policy conference — scheduled this year from March 1–3 in Washington, D.C. — and calling his comments “outrageous” and “odious.” AIPAC also noted the many bipartisan attendees who had historically attended their conference, including “over 18,000 Americans from widely diverse backgrounds — Democrats, Republicans, Jews, Christians, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, progressives, Veterans, students, members of the LGBTQ+ community.”
Senator Sanders has never attended our conference and that is evident from his outrageous comment.
— AIPAC (@AIPAC) February 24, 2020
This is not the first time AIPAC and Sanders have locked horns. The pro-Israel lobby group was running ads last spring targeting the Vermont senator’s campaign in the key primary states of California, Texas, and Florida. But this latest stinging pushback from AIPAC goes far beyond the typical, “stand with Israel” language it uses when addressing major party political candidates.
Axios reporter Jonathan Swan called it the “strongest statement AIPAC has ever made against a top presidential candidate.”
The strongest statement AIPAC has ever made against a top presidential candidate. https://t.co/xqw02iSsAw
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) February 24, 2020
The Guardian‘s Ben Jacobs concurred, tweeting that AIPAC’s comments were “a pretty remarkable statement from an organization that has long gone out of its way to avoid entanglement in partisan politics.”
This is a pretty remarkable statement from an organization that has long gone out of its way to avoid entanglement in partisan politics https://t.co/HBxemhBFy1
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) February 24, 2020
Karol Markowicz, a New York Post columnist, mocked Sanders for refusing to go to the “milquetoast” AIPAC event.
I don’t expect a lot from my fellow Jews but I’m starting to think it’s not too much to expect that they shun the guy who won’t go to the milquetoast AIPAC conference. If AIPAC is too extreme for Bernie, what does that mean for you?
— Karol Markowicz (@karol) February 24, 2020
BREAKING: Key South Carolina Democrat, Rep. James Clyburn, Will Reportedly Endorse Joe Biden in 2020 Race
Congressman James Clyburn (D-SC) will reportedly endorse former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential primary, giving Biden a big vote of confidence heading into that state’s critical primary on Saturday.
According to Politico, Clyburn, the House Majority Whip, is expected to announce his support for Biden on Wednesday, one day after that state’s debate and three days before the primary. Clyburn function as something of a kingmaker in South Carolina politics and securing his endorsement is seen as a crucial step in winning the state’s large African-American base.
Clyburn had played coy about his endorsement earlier on Sunday’s Meet the Press, telling host Chuck Todd only that he would be announcing his choice on Wednesday. His decision to go with Biden is not exactly surprising; the pair are longtime friends and colleagues in Congress. But his reluctance to weigh in on the 2020 race until now has cast some doubt on whether he would make a surprise pick of someone else.
Previously the Democratic frontrunner, Biden has notably struggled in the 2020 race so far, stumbling to fourth and fifth-place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire. He regained some momentum with a distant second-place finish in Nevada on Saturday, but stands in danger of badly losing face in his “firewall” state after a recent CBS News/You Gov poll showed his once commanding lead in South Carolina dwindling to just five points over the new frontrunner Bernie Sanders.
Clyburn’s endorsement could be the boost Biden needs to hold off a surging Sanders and help him in the massive Super Tuesday primary next week.
‘Say Goodbye to Florida’—Bernie Sanders Torched for Equivocation Over Fidel Castro’s Cuba: ‘It’s Unfair to Simply Say Everything Is Bad’
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders set Twitter on fire with his comments about Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in a CBS News 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper that aired Sunday evening, with many critics opining that Sanders’ path to winning Florida just became more uphill.
Cooper played a video clip of Sanders from the 1980s discussing the Castro regime. “Here he is explaining why the Cuban people didn’t rise up and help the U.S. overthrow Cuban leader Fidel Castro,” said Cooper to introduce the video.
“He educated their kids, gave them health care, totally transformed the society, you know?” Sanders said in the clip.
Given a chance to respond, Sanders told Cooper:
We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba, but you know, it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad. You know? When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing? Even though Fidel Castro did it?
Cooper noted that there were “a lot of [political] dissidents imprisoned in Cuba.”
“That’s right,” said Sanders, “and we condemn that. Unlike Donald Trump, let’s be clear, you want to— I do not think that Kim Jong-un is a ‘good friend.’ I don’t trade love letters with a murdering dictator. Vladimir Putin, not a great friend of mine.”
Sanders’ qualifications of his remarks were insufficient to many critics, who pointed out this type of view was toxic among Cuban-American voters in Florida.
Many comments were in reply to a tweet by National Journal politics editor Josh Kraushaar, who described Sanders’ words as “go[ing] out of his way [to] praise elements of Castro’s reign of Cuba.”
In “60 Minutes” interview, Sanders goes out of his way praise elements of Castro’s reign of Cuba.
“We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba but it’s unfair to say everything’s bad. When Castro came into office you know what he did? He had a literacy program.”
— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) February 24, 2020
“Say goodbye to Florida,” tweeted political strategist Rory Cooper, summing up the prevailing reaction.
Say goodbye to Florida. And prepare to spend money in New Jersey. If he’s the nominee. https://t.co/SgGActS5L7
— Rory Cooper (@rorycooper) February 24, 2020
National Review Editor Charles W. Cooke, himself a Florida resident, shared Kraushaar’s tweet with a sarcastic “Welcome to Florida,” as well as highlighting Sanders’ characterization of the Cuban Revolution — a bloody coup that culminated in thousands of Cubans executed after kangaroo-court trials, not to mention the countless journalists, dissidents, family members, and various innocent civilians who were killed, jailed, tortured, or disappeared in the years since — as Castro passively “com[ing] into office.”
Welcome to Florida. https://t.co/oXWqUKe4pN
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) February 24, 2020
Also: “Came into office” is a euphemism for the ages. https://t.co/oXWqUKe4pN
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) February 24, 2020
The criticism wasn’t just coming from the right. Fernand Amandi, a liberal political consultant and commentator, posted video of Sanders’ remarks and warned his fellow Democrats that “nominating this man will absolutely re-elect” Trump.
Here is @BernieSanders TONIGHT defending Fidel Castro’s murderous totalitarian Communist regime in Cuba
— Fernand R. Amandi (@AmandiOnAir) February 24, 2020
Donna Shalala, the former Clinton Secretary of Health and Human Services and current Democratic Congresswoman representing Miami, expressed her exasperation at Sanders’s comments, which she equated to singing “the praises of a murderous tyrant.”
I’m hoping that in the future, Senator Sanders will take time to speak to some of my constituents before he decides to sing the praises of a murderous tyrant like Fidel Castro. https://t.co/Iwvmay9LOH pic.twitter.com/KT9sQ0pfkh
— Donna E. Shalala (@DonnaShalala) February 24, 2020
Miami Herald political reporter David Smiley called Sanders’ remarks “the sound of Bernie’s Latino voter wave crashing on the shores of Miami.”
That’s the sound of Bernie’s Latino voter wave crashing on the shores of Miami https://t.co/FwN64IOlY7
— David Smiley (@NewsbySmiley) February 24, 2020
Other Twitter users like @ReaganBattalion posted additional clips of Sanders praising Castro and the Cuban Revolution.
— Reagan Battalion (@ReaganBattalion) February 24, 2020
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, also a former Democratic presidential hopeful, found out exactly how hot anti-Castro sentiment still burns in Miami last summer, when he quoted Che Guevara at a rally of striking airport union workers. After scorching responses from both the right and left, de Blasio apologized, claiming he didn’t know the phrase was associated with Guevara.
Watch the video above, via CBS News.
Bernie Sanders Tells Anderson Cooper That, as President, He Would ‘Absolutely’ Intervene Militarily If China Invaded Taiwan
Fresh off his victory in the Nevada Democratic caucuses, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders sat down for a 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper, discussing several foreign policy issues that he might face if he were elected president, including when military intervention would be warranted and if he would be willing to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Cooper noted that Sanders had criticized President Donald Trump as likely to “get us into an unnecessary war,” and asked the senator if he believed there were situations where American military intervention was necessary.
“Absolutely, of course I do,” replied Sanders, adding that such action would “hopefully be as rare as possible,” but that “we have the best military in the world.”
Cooper then asked Sanders what his criteria would be for sending in the military.
“Threats against the American people, to be sure. Threats against our allies,” said Sanders. “I believe in NATO. I believe that the United States, everything being equal, should be working with other countries in alliance, not doing it alone.”
Specifically asked about the possibility of China took military action against Taiwan, Sanders again replied affirmatively that as president, he would authorize military intervention.
“That’s something, yeah,” said Sanders. “I think we have got to make it clear to countries around the world that we will not sit by and allow invasions to take place, absolutely.”
American support for Taiwan has been a source for tensions with China for decades, with the United States’ official position long established as preserving the status quo and opposing China using any military force against Taiwan.
The U.S. has also sold billions of dollars worth of arms to Taiwan since the late 1970s. The Trump administration approved an $8 billion sale of Lockheed Martin F-16V fighter jets last year, and before that, President Barack Obama‘s administration announced multiple arms deals with Taiwan during his two terms. China has always strongly objected to these sales, threatening a variety of military and economic sanctions over the years.
“Would you meet with Kim Jong-un?” asked Cooper.
“Yeah,” replied Sanders, noting that he had criticized Trump for “everything under the sun,” but while the meeting itself was “not a bad thing to do,” Trump “went into that meeting unprepared.”
“I think it was a photo opportunity and did not have the kind of the diplomatic work necessary to make it a success. But I do not have a problem with sitting down with adversaries all over the world.”
Watch the video, above, via CBS. The full interview will air Sunday on 60 Minutes at 7:00 pm ET.
Marianne Williamson Switches 2020 Support from Andrew Yang to Endorse Bernie Sanders in Fiery Speech
Former 2020 Democratic primary candidate Marianne Williamson made a surprise appearance at a Bernie Sanders rally in Austin, Texas, to offer him her endorsement for president.
Williamson, who dropped out of the race in early January and expressed her support for 2020 rival Andrew Yang just one month ago, reprised her endorsement of Sanders, who she had also endorsed in the 2016 presidential primary.
Jumping on stage to wild cheers, Williamson started by recalling her days as a schoolgirl in Houston and being moved by the “liberty and justice for all” portion of the Pledge of Allegiance, adding that it “turned me into a woman who gets really pissed when I see it not happening.”
“You know what else I learned in that public school in Houston, Texas, I learned my history,” she said. “I learned that were other generations just like this one for whom it was time to stand up.” Invoking abolitionists, women suffragists, and civil right protestors, Williamson compared their social justice movements to the current one fueling Sanders’ rise to be the Democratic frontrunner.
“It was the people who rose up and the people who woke up and the people who stepped in…and now it is our turn,” Williamson declared to cheers. “And, of course, we’re being told, ‘It can’t happen, he can’t beat Trump, Bernie can’t beat Trump. It can’t happen. Well, what do you think they told the abolitionists? They said ‘Abolishing slavey is impossible. It can’t happen.’ And they said to the women suffragettes: ‘Oh, it’s impossible, it can’t happen.’ And they said to the civil rights workers, ‘It’s not possible, it can’t happen.’”
“They stood up for what America can be,” she added. “We have been trained in American over the last few decades to expect too little. To say, ‘pretty please’ about things that should be the right of every American.”
“Today, we are tired of saying ‘pretty please,’” Williamson proclaimed, winding up an emotional conclusion. “Because we’re going to stand up and we’re going to show up because we woke up and we’re going to say with grace and we’re going to say with style and we’re going to say to all those who say liberty and justice cannot be done: ‘Sure as hell can be, because we’re here and we’re with Bernie!”
Williamson’s speech begins at the 11:00 mark in video below.
Veteran journalist Sam Donaldson is backing Michael Bloomberg in 2020, and today he appeared on Fox News to defend that support.
On MediaBuzz Sunday morning, Howard Kurtz brought up the criticisms of Donaldson’s endorsement, the idea that it’s “a misuse of your considerable journalistic credibility and reputation.”
Donaldson argued it’s not as if people will say “yes, if he’s for Bloomberg I’m for Bloomberg” because of his endorsement.
Kurtz questioned whether this will set off a lot of people saying they always knew he was a liberal, going back to the days he shouted questions at Ronald Reagan.
“Do you think that reporters anywhere in Washington — do you think reporters at Fox News have personal opinions?… They will present facts as I think they are facts. I think what kind of a ninny would be in the news business for all those years — and I’m not the brightest bulb, but I’m not really a ninny — and have no idea, ‘I don’t know who I like, I don’t know what I think is the right for the country,’ of course, reporters are just like anyone else, but when you’re a working journalist as you know full well, because you’ve done it, Howard, and still doing it, you try keep your personal opinions out of reporting the facts that you assemble as a reporter.”
Of course, the other reason Kurtz questioned Donaldson about his Bloomberg support was the former mayor’s near-universally-panned performance at last week’s debate.
Donaldson made a prediction that after the next debate, people will say, ‘He’s improved, I now understand what he’s saying and where his heart is.”
“He’s still in the game, very much so,” he added.
You can watch above, via Fox News.
Biden Rips Trump Admin Over Russian Interference: They’re ‘Incapable’ of Dealing With It, ‘They Like This’
Former Vice President Joe Biden slammed the Trump administration’s inability to stop Russia’s 2020 election-meddling as he spoke about the impact it has had on his campaign.
Biden defended the strength of his campaign on Sunday as CBS’s Margaret Brennan asked him about the setbacks he has seen so far in the 2020 Democratic primary. As Biden dismissed concerns about whether he can beat Senator Bernie Sanders, he pivoted to say “the Russians don’t want me to be the nominee.”
“They spent a lot of money on bots on Facebook – and they’ve been taken down – saying ‘Biden is a bad guy,’” Biden said. “They don’t want Biden running. No one’s helping me to try to get the nomination.”
When asked who informed him of attempts to meddle with the election at his expense, Biden said he hasn’t heard from anyone in the intelligence community, but they “should inform the rest of us who are running what they told Senator Sanders.”
The topic remained an underlying theme of the interview, and Biden doubled back to it when he spoke about how President Donald Trump is “angry because the intelligence community, in fact, informed Bernie Sanders and I guess others and members of the Intelligence Committee that, in fact, the Russians want to see Trump reelected. And they like Bernie.” This led to Biden hammering the Trump administration for denying Russia’s election interference and not doing more to safeguard future elections.
“Why in God’s name haven’t we hardened the electoral process, provided hundreds of millions of dollars to states to be able to harden their voter rolls, make sure they can’t be attacked?” Biden asked. “This is outrageous.”
After Biden disputed Brennan on whether the Obama administration didn’t do enough to protect the 2016 election either, she asked him if there are any lessons the Trump administration should learn from what happened back then.
“Look, this administration is incapable of learning elections [sic],” Biden said. “They like this. Come on. Let’s be fair here. They’ve known this for a long time, for three years. Every intelligence agency has told them and they continue to engage in this activity…What is he doing? Zero.”
Watch above, via CBS.
WH Official Marc Short: Roger Stone ‘Should Be Prosecuted,’ Trump’s Frustrated at Lack of ‘Equitable Justice’
Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, defended President Donald Trump’s comments about hoping to see Roger Stone get exonerated on Fox News Sunday.
Chris Wallace reviewed the ‘treasure trove of evidence” against Stone and asked, “Why does the president think he should be exonerated?”
“You know it’s possible he’ll get exonerated, Chris,” Short said.
“I’m asking you, why does the president think he should be?” Wallace asked.
“I don’t know Roger Stone. I think that lying to federal investigators, he should be prosecuted for,” Short responded, “and that’s what the Department of Justice did. But I think the president’s frustration is you see a Department of Justice that comes out with the original sentencing guidelines four years beyond what it’s supposed to be for sentencing guidelines for his offenses. And yet when you see people like Andy McCabe, who also lied to federal investigators, referred for investigation, what they get is a lucrative contract at CNN. That doesn’t seem to be equitable justice. I think that’s what the president’s primary frustration is.”
Wallace pointed out that Bill Barr called the Stone case a “righteous prosecution” and more directly asked Short, “When the president talks about wanting to see Roger Stone get off, to be exonerated, and even raises the possibility that he might pardon him, is that because Roger Stone protected him in the Mueller investigation?”
Short again said Trump’s frustration is about wanting an equitable system, reiterating that “people who lie to Congress should be prosecuted” before adding, “Those who also were trying to prevent this president from being elected inside their positions at the Department of Justice, lied about it, leaked information, the inspector general refers them for prosecution and what they get is a lucrative contract at a TV network. How is that equitable justice?”
You can watch above, via Fox News Sunday.