At least, the odds are heavily in his favor. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Trump’s last remaining serious rival in the race, suspended his campaign tonight after losing resoundingly to Trump in Indiana’s primary. The state was widely considered Cruz’s last stand, and his campaign poured resources into winning over the state’s conservatives.
But it wasn’t enough.
“From the beginning, I’ve said that I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory,” Cruz told supporters. “Tonight I’m sorry to say it appears that path has been foreclosed.”
Cruz was mathematically eliminated from clinching the GOP nomination after Trump steamrolled through five Northeastern primaries late last month. Cruz supporters held out a slim hope that he could still keep Trump from scoring the 1,237 pledged delegates he needs to secure the nomination, leading to a contested convention. Had Cruz stayed in after tonight, he could have tried to pull out an upset in delegate-rich California. But the latest polls had Trump up in the Golden State with more than twice the support of Cruz.
With Cruz out, the GOP establishment—which has not been shy about expressing its loathing for Cruz or Trump—is faced with a choice. The #NeverTrump movement claimed to stand on principle in its opposition to the upstart real estate mogul. But Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus didn’t wait long to try to get a new hashtag trending.
— Reince Priebus (@Reince) May 4, 2016
In a campaign season this ugly, bringing the GOP back together will probably take more than a tweet.
More than a hundred rowdy protesters blocked the entrance to the hotel, where Trump was scheduled to give a speech to conservative activists. They beat on drums, danced, chanted. They wore full-body costumes, including masks or bandannas, and brandished Donald Trump mascots. They waved signs. They wrapped themselves in Mexican flags.
— Davey Alba (@daveyalba) April 29, 2016
Naturally, the press was there to cover the show too, mingling with protesters in one of the most progressive pockets of the nation. And in 2016, that means not just the full-on local news crews with 3-pound video cameras. Among the livid crowd shouting “No hate in our state!” and “Donald Trump, get out of the bay—immigrant rights are here to stay,” were BuzzFeed reporters, using a phone to broadcast the protest to Facebook Live. They kept it up for nearly two hours, garnering thousands of reactions and hundreds of shares.
The San Francisco protest was quite the scene, but not a new one. Such is the state of the national election today: Old and new media fully coexist and cross boundaries. No cable? No matter. It’s likely your feeds are clogged with all this live content anyway. Even a USA Today reporter used her phone to Periscope—in between taking notes for a newspaper story.
I Snapchatted the topless protestors and those that set fire to a Trump piñata. I tweeted prolifically. For extra info, I obsessively checked social media.
From the looks of it, that’s what everyone around me was doing, too. When social media informed the crowd Trump had snuck into the hotel through the back, protestors migrated to try to block his exit. (He seemed to evade them, though.) And they stayed hours after his noon speech, continuing to shout their protests.
Around half past two, when the police finally told the throng to disperse, they reluctantly did so, but not before one protester, standing on a barricade, yelled triumphantly through a megaphone: “Trump had to come through the back, but we’re leaving in the front.”
But lately the Republican frontrunner has been expressing what appears to be true compassion for Senator Bernie Sanders. The latest example is a tweet urging Sanders to go rogue and run as an independent:
Bernie Sanders has been treated terribly by the Democrats—both with delegates & otherwise. He should show them, and run as an Independent!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 26, 2016
It’s not the first time Trump has made such comments about Sanders’ relationship to the Democratic Party. Just last week, during his victory speech after sweeping the New York primary, Trump cast Sanders as a victim of the “rigged system” in politics. “By the way, I am no fan of Bernie,” Trump said, “but I’ve seen Bernie win, win, win, and then I watch and they say he has no chance of winning.”
Of course, Trump’s statement ignores the fact that Hillary Clinton has amassed millions more votes than Sanders, despite Sanders’ winning streak in late March and early April.
Trump may seem an unlikely ally for Sanders. After all, they appear to stand at polar opposite ends of the political spectrum. Where Trump plans to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, Sanders supports a path to citizenship. While Trump has claimed the concept of climate change was fabricated by the Chinese, Sanders has called climate change the greatest national security threat of our time.
Despite those differences, however, both candidates embody the populism that has radically altered this election cycle. Everyday Americans, far removed from the political elite, are now driving the national conversation, and their disdain for “the system,” however they define it, has created an unlikely overlap between Trump and Sanders supporters.
Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver, for his part, sent a fundraising email to supporters today, asserting that the Clinton camp is going out of its way to align Sanders and Trump in the public eye. In the email, Weaver reminds supporters that “there is one candidate in this race Donald Trump said would make a ‘great president,’” referring to a 2008 blog post Trump wrote about Clinton.
While Trump’s empathy may be completely unwanted as far as Sanders is concerned, it’s in Trump’s best interest to continue laying it on thick. As a Clinton nomination grows ever more likely, it seems Trump is angling to absorb at least some of Sanders’ impassioned supporter base in the remaining primaries. And of course, a third-party run by Sanders could peel off votes from Clinton in the general election. Trump may appear to be backing Sanders, but really it’s still ultimately about so much winning.
The US territory is now one of more than 40 countries and territories where the virus is active, according to the CDC. Clinton’s goal, according to a statement, is to research ways to stop Zika’s spread and to help the Puerto Rican population cope.
“I want to be sure that we are truly doing all we can to fight the Zika virus from spreading,” Clinton said in a statement. “That’s why I’m sending two of my senior advisors to travel to Puerto Rico on a fact-finding mission to learn more about how Zika is impacting the island, and to determine what more we can do to assist Puerto Rico in responding to this health crisis. Zika is an urgent problem and we need to act now.”
Clinton is not the only candidate paying attention to this crisis. Last month, fellow presidential candidate Bernie Sanders joined 22 Democratic senators in calling for Congress to approve $1.9 billion in spending to fight Zika. That request has been less than effective, however, as Congressional Republicans continue to hold up the emergency spending. In the face of their inaction, President Obama was forced to move $600 million in money earmarked for Ebola response toward Zika instead.
Both candidates have also spoken out about Puerto Rico’s ongoing debt crisis and urged Congress to pass a bill that would help relieve that burden by giving Puerto Rico the same Chapter 9 bankruptcy protections that US municipalities already have.
“We’re not talking about a bailout, we’re talking about a fair shot at success,” Clinton said in a statement.
“We cannot allow Puerto Rico’s budget to be balanced on the backs of the most vulnerable people—working families, veterans, the elderly, children and the poor,” Sanders said. “It is not only morally wrong, it is also economically unsustainable.”
The economic problems in Puerto Rico are not completely unrelated to the Zika outbreak there, either, as experts have pointed out that it is lower-income communities that are more at risk for the disease, due to poor sanitation and fewer resources to pay for protective measures such as window screens.
Of course, both candidates have political reasons to pay closer attention to Puerto Rico: the Democratic primary there is June 5. While Clinton is leading in pledged delegates and raw votes, and looks poised to win today’s primary in New York state, Sanders has promised to continue campaigning all the way through to the convention in July, meaning even late races like Puerto Rico—and, in particular, California on June 7—will be contested.
Regardless of whether it’s for political reasons, however, it’s important that both candidates are talking about Zika on the national stage. Already, a majority of US states have had at least one reported case of the virus, which the CDC has confirmed causes birth defects in the brain. Notably, these US cases were not transmitted locally within the US, but were travel-related.
In Puerto Rico, however, the virus is actively being transmitted, and health officials expect that as the summer warms, cities in the southern US where certain mosquito types are present will very likely see outbreaks, as well. Figuring out a way to stop the spread of the virus and deal with outbreaks as they arise will, no doubt, be a crucial task of the next administration.
It was, in other words, the same stump speech from a different stump. That is, if you can call the walled palatial grounds of Vatican City a stump.
Sanders was the only presidential candidate invited to a conference at the Vatican today, which was hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. According to The New York Times, Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, the academy’s chancellor, said Sanders was invited because he is “the candidate who cites the pope the most in his campaign.”
The conference marks the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s Centesimus Annus encyclical, which called for social and economic justice at the end of the Cold War. In that encyclical, the Pope spoke out against the “illicit exploitation, speculation, or the breaking of solidarity among working people” in pursuit of profit. That made the conference fertile ground for Sanders to discuss his core campaign issues, including income inequality and corporate greed.
But while Sanders is often challenged to explain the mechanics of his plans to decrease income inequality in the United States, the speech at the Vatican was a rare chance to lay out a purely moral argument for doing so.
“The issue of wealth and income inequality is the great economic issue of our time, the great political issue of our time, and the great moral issue of our time,” he said. “It is an issue that we must confront in my nation and across the world.”
Though Pope Francis wasn’t in attendance at the conference, Sanders invoked the Pope’s speeches and writings, showcasing the similarities between himself and Pope Francis.
“As Pope Francis has stated: ‘Man is not in charge today, money is in charge, money rules,’” Sanders said. “And the Pope has also stated: ‘We have created new idols. The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.’”
Over the last few weeks, as he’s campaigned in New York City, Sanders has made much the same argument about companies like Verizon and GE, which he says are putting profits before people by offshoring jobs at the expense of American workers.
Though Sanders is often quick to mention Hillary Clinton’s ties to Wall Street whenever the subject of the financial system comes up, at the Vatican, he curtailed such blatantly political rhetoric. Still, Clinton’s criticisms about what she perceives to be the impracticality of some of Sanders’ proposals were there in the Vatican speech, however subtly.
“I am told time and time again by the rich and powerful, and the mainstream media that represent them, that we should be ‘practical,’ that we should accept the status quo,” Sanders said. “Yet Pope Francis himself is surely the world’s greatest demonstration against such a surrender to despair and cynicism. He has opened the eyes of the world once again to the claims of mercy, justice and the possibilities of a better world.”
You can find Sanders’ full remarks here.
And the answer, according to a new survey of 2,000 people by Airbnb and Harris Poll is Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Twenty-four percent of respondents would prefer to have Clinton in their home. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders tied for second place with 20 percent of the votes. The least popular choices were Ted Cruz and John Kasich, who each got 8 percent of the vote. Ouch.
According to Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s head of global policy, the home-sharing company conducted this survey because it believes it’s a kind of short-hand for assessing a candidate’s likability.
“That type of response sort of goes to some of those deeper issues about who people want to have in their living rooms in the next four to eight years,” he said on a press call this morning. “The vote for the president is a very personal vote.”
Plus, it’s just a fun thought experiment.
While more people expect Clinton to be a better guest (c’mon, you know she’d leave your place spotless), if the tables were turned and they were looking to be guests in a candidate’s home, more would want to rent out Trump’s digs. On that question, Trump got 30 percent of the vote. And can you blame them? He’s a real-estate mogul known for his lavish dwellings. The guy is worth—well, we don’t know how much exactly, but it’s a lot.
Interestingly enough, liberals were more likely to say Trump would be a better host. But conservatives were more interested in raiding Clinton’s fridge. The one thing both ideologies agreed on, though, was that Clinton would probably have the best food. (Let’s hear it for the long grasp of gender stereotypes!)
The poll asked more serious questions, too, like whether people thought having a candidate in their homes would help candidates better relate to the middle class; 72 percent said it would.
It may sound like a crazy idea, but Lehane says it’s not actually unheard of. When Lehane was Vice President Al Gore’s press secretary, he said, Gore used to travel the country, staying in people’s homes and, sometimes, even accompanying them to work.
“What this poll shows is there would be tremendous value for the voter and for the candidate to spend some time with each other,” Lehane said.
It’s hard to account for the fact that Trump scores so highly in this poll, despite having an unfavorable rating of nearly 65 percent.
It’s just as hard to understand how Clinton, who has a persistent likability problem, ended up on top. All we can say is these results are far from scientific. Plus, there’s the fact that Lehane used to work in the Clinton White House, so take it all with a grain of salt.
Cruz and Kasich’s weak showing, on the other hand, isn’t all that surprising. Their scores roughly mirror their campaigns.
Besides, a bed made out of hundreds of cans of Chunky soup doesn’t sound very comfortable.
1Correction 3:38 PM EST 4/14/16: This story has been updated to reflect that the poll was conducted with 2,000 Americans, not just Airbnb members.
This week, those words are sounding eerily prophetic, and the Sanders campaign, for one, would like to remind you of that fact.
As the world reels from the so-called Panama Papers leak, which exposed the offshore tax havens of world leaders from Russia’s Vladimir Putin to Icelandic Prime Minister Davíð Gunnlaugsson, Sanders is calling attention to his opposition to the 2011 Panama Trade Agreement.
“I was opposed to the Panama Free Trade Agreement from day one,” Sanders said in a statement today. “I wish I had been proven wrong about this, but it has now come to light that the extent of Panama’s tax avoidance scams is even worse than I had feared.”
As president, Sanders says he would terminate the agreement within his first six months in office and “conduct an immediate investigation into US banks, corporations, and wealthy individuals who have been stashing their cash in Panama to avoid taxes.”
So far, news on Americans implicated in the Panama Papers scandal has been scarce, though early reports show that 211 names included in the leak correspond to US addresses. Still, given just how much data was leaked—a whopping 2.6 terabytes—it will likely be a while until the journalists involved in the investigation can sort through it all.
The Panama Papers scandal fits nicely into the story Sanders has already been telling on trade. In an interview with the New York Daily News‘ editorial board this week, the Vermont senator promised to renegotiate “all of the trade agreements that we have.”
But when pressed for specifics, Sanders repeatedly struggled, prompting the News to press him on answers and even compare him to Donald Trump, who’s fond of saying he’ll get rid of the “bad deals” the US has struck and replace them with good ones.
The Panama scandal gives Sanders a specific trade talking point all wrapped up in a giant, international-headline-grabbing bow. It also gives Sanders a chance to take a shot at his opponent, Hillary Clinton, for opposing the agreement during the 2008 election, then pushing it forward as Secretary of State. At the time, Clinton said the agreement would “create jobs here at home” by making it easier for businesses to sell abroad.
Now, the Sanders campaign is capitalizing on that transition. “When it really mattered she quickly reversed course and helped push the Panama Free Trade Agreement through Congress as Secretary of State,” Sanders writes. “The results have been a disaster.”
Perhaps the most mind-boggling part of the 2016 election is the possibility of a so-called contested convention in the Republican party, which would prevent Trump from clinching the nomination, even though he has, so far, amassed the most delegates of any candidate. But what is a contested convention and how does it work, you might ask?
The GOP has got you covered. Today, the party launched a new explainer website called Convention Facts in an effort to demystify the arcane process. It includes definitions of everything from what a delegate is and how delegates are chosen to who writes the rules of the convention to how a contested convention works.
Lesson 1: Don’t call it a contested convention. The GOP apparently prefers the term “open convention.” It’s less, well, contentious that way. As the site makes clear, an open convention occurs when no single candidate can secure 1,237 delegate votes by the convention. At that point, the delegates, who were initially bound to the candidate their district supported in the primaries, become unbound and can vote for whoever they want. Whoever gets to 1,237 delegates by the end of the week-long convention wins the nomination.
The website makes it all seem simple enough. And, technically, it is. But the very need for this type of site reflects what a total mess the Republican party has found itself in at a late stage in the nominating process. Typically, the nomination is sewn up well before the convention, making the actual event a prolonged celebration of the party’s newly anointed one. There hasn’t been a contested GOP convention since 1976. This year, all the byzantine rules (which, by the way, are subject to change every four years) might actually matter.
The simplicity of the website also belies all the backroom dealmaking and negotiating that the Cruz and John Kasich campaigns will have to do before the convention if they want to convince unbound Trump delegates to join their teams. For Trump’s campaign, of course, it’s just the opposite.
Still, the site is a handy way to wrap your head around a system that will only get more complicated in the coming months.
Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was charged today with misdemeanor battery after allegedly grabbing former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields following a Trump event in Jupiter, Florida, in early March.1
Since the incident, the Trump campaign and Lewandowski himself have been involved in a he-said-she-said battle with Fields, as well as Washington Post reporter Ben Teriss, who says he witnessed Lewandowski grabbing Fields. But according to the Jupiter Police Department’s arrest report, what clinched the charges against Lewandowski was this surveillance video:[embedded content]
According to the police report, the video “parallels” Fields’ story and clearly shows Lewandowski grabbing “Fields’ left arm with his right hand, causing her to turn and step back.” For the police, it was enough to bring charges against Lewandowski.
But the Internet—at least, the pro-Trump corner of the Internet—isn’t buying it. Of course, for anyone who’s been following Trump’s campaign, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. As we’ve written in the past, when it comes to the Republican frontrunner, no amount of fact-checking or evidence-finding ever seems to convince his followers to get off the Trump train.
Instead, the Internet gives people an outlet to become super sleuths, crafting their own theories and banding together with other believers who will validate those ideas and troll the common enemy. It’s become an all too predictable roadmap for how people respond to controversy online. Often, trying to disprove those ideas with fact—or in this case, video—becomes nothing more than an exercise in futility.
Already, the YouTube comments section on the surveillance video is filling up with comments like “Oh its nothing. Moving on. Trump 2016,” “That’s it?” and “HE DID NOTHING, FREE COREY.”
Meanwhile, on Twitter, Trump supporters are similarly unconvinced.
— Mark Dice (@MarkDice) March 29, 2016
— JLC (@cyvault) March 29, 2016
Just me or is Michelle Fields physically contacting Mr Trump here or standing so close as to threaten him? pic.twitter.com/wPziIVFRP9
— Bill Mitchell (@mitchellvii) March 29, 2016
The hashtag #IStandWithCorey even started to surface:
This does nothing but prove their desperation!
— Dirty Harry (@DOW_12000) March 29, 2016
— Shannon Crane (@TheKrankyGirl) March 29, 2016
The Trump campaign, for its part, has released a statement: “Mr. Lewandowski is absolutely innocent of this charge. He will enter a plea of not guilty and looks forward to his day in court.”
We have little doubt as to who Trump supporters are more likely to believe.
1. Correction: 4:45 PM ET 3/29/2016 An earlier version of this story said Lewandowski was charged with misdemeanor assault. He was charged with misdemeanor battery.
Which is why Tusk Ventures, a political strategy firm, and Engine, a tech policy organization, developed a report card for the candidates based on their support for several key issues the tech industry cares about: strong encryption, patent reform, STEM education, high-skilled immigration reform, the gig economy, net neutrality, and broadband access.
Unfortunately for techies heading to the polls, nobody received straight A’s. But Hillary Clinton, the candidate with the most VIP support in Silicon Valley, did score the highest. With her B+ average, she just edged out her Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders, who received a B. While both Democratic candidates got A’s for their ambitious plans to expand broadband access in the US, Sanders got a D+ in the immigration reform category, because he’s been critical of H-1B visas for high-skilled workers in the past.
On the Republican side, John Kasich and Marco Rubio tied with a C+ each, despite the fact that Rubio, who has advocated for H-1B visas in the past, received an A for his work on immigration reform. But his opposition to net neutrality and his support for government surveillance brought his grade down substantially.
Ted Cruz’s strict stance on limiting immigration, his votes against patent reform, and his reference to net neutrality as “Obamacare for the Internet” earned him a D.
As for Donald Trump’s grade? We’ll give you one guess. “When he has talked about tech issues,” the report says, “he has done so in the only way he knows how: brashly and inaccurately.”
Check out the complete report card here.
The group, which also includes PayPal co-founder Max Levchin and venture capitalist Ron Conway, co-signed a friend-of-the-court brief filed today, roughly a month before the Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in United States v. Texas. The case will decide the fate of two so-called “deferred action” programs the President proposed in late November 2014, which would prevent undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children from being deported, as well as adults whose children are lawful residents of the United States.
“Instead of inviting the economic contributions of immigrants, our immigration enforcement policies have often inhibited the productivity of US companies and made it harder for them to compete in the global marketplace,” the brief reads. “America’s immigration enforcement policies should ensure that immigrants’ ingenuity, skills, and entrepreneurial spirit are contributing to the US economy—and deferred action policies are a helpful start.”
The two programs at issue—Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, or DAPA—have been opposed by several states. Last February, one federal judge in Texas issued a preliminary injunction against the President’s orders. The Supreme Court case is the US Justice Department’s attempt to appeal this injunction and allow the programs proceed.
The Economic Impact
Now, the tech industry, ever-eager to hire overseas talent, is throwing its weight behind immigration legislation. Zuckerberg’s group, FWD.us, is leading this effort, and was the convening power behind the amicus brief. In a statement, FWD.us president Todd Schulte said, “Entrepreneurs and business leaders across the country support the President’s executive actions, because they know that these critical policy changes will boost our economy and create American jobs.”
For the tech industry, being a vocal player in the comprehensive immigration reform movement is critical. While the industry is most interested in expanding the number of H-1B visas for high skilled workers, leaders like Zuckerberg know there is power in numbers, and the numbers exist in the broader immigration movement.
Which is why FWD.us has committed to spend as much as $10 million on immigration reform ad campaigns during the 2016 election cycle, an investment largely driven by the vitriolic language about immigration that has defined this election season. While candidates, Donald Trump in particular, have argued that immigrants, both documented and undocumented, are a drain on the US economy, Zuckerberg and his crew are arguing just the opposite.
That was the case for Hillary Clinton Thursday morning when the hashtag #WhichHillary started trending, eliciting more than 88,000 tweets by 1 pm ET. The hashtag, which has been used intermittently on social media to point out times that Clinton has supposedly flip-flopped on issues, gained steam after an altercation between Clinton and Black Lives Matter activist Ashley Williams at a private fundraiser in South Carolina Wednesday.
Williams stood beside Clinton, holding a sign that included the hashtag and a quote: “We have to bring them to heel.” The quote refers to a speech Clinton gave as First Lady in 1994, in which she referred to gang members as “super-predators.”
“I’m not a super-predator, Hillary Clinton,” Williams said, before being escorted out of the event. Video of the moment (posted below) soon went viral, as did the hashtag itself.
Now it’s being used to challenge everything from Clinton’s relationship with Wall Street to her record on gay marriage to her record on mass incarceration. But the hashtag isn’t just being fueled by the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s also getting a boost from Bernie Sanders’ army of Twitter supporters.
The hashtag reflects a new reality for political campaigns. Even if Sanders has vowed not to go negative, his followers online haven’t taken the same oath. Social media gives them the microphone to do it. For Clinton, the timing couldn’t be worse, as both she and Sanders have been working to court black voters in the lead up to the South Carolina primary.
Still, with some polls showing that Clinton is leading Sanders in South Carolina 60 to 32 percent, it’s unlikely even the strongest Twitter army could thwart this win.
Now, after winning just 4.5 percent of the vote in the Iowa Caucus this week, Senator Paul has announced he’s withdrawing from the race in an emotional video released on Twitter expressing thanks to his supporters.
— Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) February 3, 2016
Paul’s departure from the race is just the latest sign that the great winnowing we’ve all been waiting for has begun. He’s the third candidate to withdraw from the crowded field of candidates this week alone, following former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on the Republican side and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on the Democratic side.
Paul is not, however, the next candidate we would have expected to drop out. After being bumped to the undercard debate in mid-January, Paul hosted a Twitter Q&A instead, making him one of the most talked about candidates of the night. That surge in attention landed Paul back on the main debate stage in Iowa last week. And while Paul eked out only a small percentage of votes in Iowa, he still finished head of candidates like Jeb Bush and John Kasich, two candidates who are still being closely watched as we head into the New Hampshire primaries next week, despite also having low polls numbers. A recent CNN/WMUR poll of New Hampshire voters showed support for Kasich at 9 percent and Bush at 6 percent.
Back in 2012, Paul’s father Ron Paul finished second in New Hampshire, garnering nearly 23 percent of the vote. And yet, that CNN/WMUR poll pegged the younger Paul’s chances in New Hampshire at just 3 percent of the vote, which, along with serious funding issues, seems to have inspired his withdrawal.
Paul’s departure from the race also means that Internet privacy advocates have lost their most outspoken advocate in the race. Paul was undoubtedly the most vocal critic of the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection program. At times, he went so far as to praise NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden for exposing the program, even as his fellow candidates called Snowden a traitor.
He was also, we’re not afraid to say, our favorite candidate to follow on Twitter, always good for a snarky aside. Here’s hoping dropping out of the race doesn’t mean dropping out of the social media game.
According to Bing’s forecast, Trump will be the winner in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, while Hillary Clinton will walk away with victorious from all of the first four races, except for New Hampshire. Bing predicts that race will go to Bernie Sanders.
Bing’s prediction, of course, is similar to what we’re seeing in other polls across the country, but it offers, perhaps, a more complete look at the race, because it synthesizes data from prediction markets, polls, and its own search data to generate a result. It used this model to accurately predict 34 out of 35 Senate races, 419 of 435 House races, and 33 of 36 gubernatorial races back in 2014. Bing Predicts has also correctly predicted the winners of everything from American Idol to last year’s Super Bowl.
These predictions are just one of many ways Microsoft is inserting itself into the political process this year. The company has also launched the so-called Bing Elections Experience, which appears at the top of Bing searches on the election. It shows you how conservative or liberal candidates are compared to each other and to the US population as a whole, allowing you to dig into where candidates stand on certain issues.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has also partnered with both the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee to build an app for the Iowa Caucus. On Caucus night, Iowans around the state can use the app to report the results in their precincts back to the party leaders in Des Moines.
Bing’s predictions are, of course, subject to change as the election season continues, and it’ll be interesting to see whether sitting this debate out will boost or shrink Trump’s lead going forward. For what it’s worth, when Rand Paul protested the last undercard debate, opting for a Twitter Q&A instead, social media interest in the long-shot candidate spiked (not that Trump ever needs help ginning up interest on social media).
For now, according to Bing, the real estate mogul seems to have support to spare. With the exception of Iowa, where he leads Ted Cruz by just 9.3 percent, Trump has at least a 19-percent lead over his fellow candidates in every other state holding a vote this month.
Toward the end of this weekend’s Democratic debate, NBC moderator Lester Holt asked all three candidates if there was anything they wanted to say that they hadn’t had a chance to yet. Martin O’Malley used his time to talk about immigration reform and Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. Bernie Sanders decried the “corrupt campaign finance system.”
Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, focused on an issue that is far more local in scope, but no less important: the toxic water crisis in Flint, Michigan that began in April, 2014. Now, Flint Mayor Dr. Karen Weaver, who was elected in November of last year, is repaying Clinton for shining the national spotlight on Flint with a full-throated endorsement of the former Secretary of State.
“We want a friend like Hillary in the White House,” Weaver said on a press call today organized by the Clinton campaign. “We need a fighter. We need someone fighting for the city of Flint.”
Asked whether that means she’s endorsing Clinton, Weaver said, “Yeah it does sound like it, doesn’t it?” Then, she repeated the phrase, “I want Hillary. I want Hillary.”
Weaver says she spoke personally with Clinton about how to fix the problem in Flint, where high levels of lead in the city’s public water system have left its nearly 100,000 residents at risk of serious health issues and neurological damage. During the debate, both Clinton and Sanders called for the resignation of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who they say knew about the problem long before he acted on it. But Weaver says Clinton is the only candidate, Democratic or Republican, who has personally reached out to her to talk about Flint’s needs.
During Sunday’s debate, Clinton claimed some of the credit for Governor Snyder’s decision to ask President Obama to declare a state of emergency in Flint and $96 million in federal aid.
“I issued a statement about what we needed to do, and then I went on a TV show, and I said it was outrageous that the governor hadn’t acted, and within two hours he had,” Clinton said. “I want to be a president who takes care of the big problems, and the problems that are affecting the people of our country everyday.”
On Monday, Clinton reiterated her support for Flint, a predominantly black town where nearly 42 percent of citizens are living in poverty. “It’s a civil rights issue,” Clinton said, during a Martin Luther King Day rally in Columbia, South Carolina. “We would be outraged if this happened to white kids, and we should be outraged that it’s happening right now to black kids.”
Gov. Snyder, for his part, has criticized Clinton for politicizing the crisis. “Politicizing the issue doesn’t help matters,” he told The Detroit News. And yet, on today’s call, Mayor Weaver said that getting Flint on the national stage the way Clinton did on Sunday night has helped capture public attention. “People just started calling and texting and saying how thankful they were to her for bringing this up,” she said.
It may also give Clinton an advantage over Sanders, who has struggled to woo black voters. By framing this as a civil rights issue and securing an endorsement from Flint’s mayor, Clinton stands to solidify her support among a critically important base of Democratic voters.
Not only did the Senator refuse to participate in the earlier “kids table” debate, where he would have faced off against Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum, but he’s also urging people to turn off their TVs and instead, join him for a Twitter Q&A during the frontrunner debate at 9 pm ET tonight. Because, you know, Twitter Q&As always go so, so well.
— Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) January 14, 2016
It’s an unprecedented move for any of the presidential candidates so far this season. Other undercard debaters like Governor Bobby Jindal, Senator Lindsey Graham, and former Governor George Pataki either showed up on debate night or dropped out of the race altogether. Paul, on the other hand, is turning this loss into a statement on what he believes is the Republican party’s desire to exclude him for his often contrarian views. “I refuse to be banned, and I refuse to be silenced,” Paul said in a Twitter video. “Instead, I’ll take my message directly to the people.”
— Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) January 15, 2016
In a way, the move may have been a smart one. Earlier this evening, Paul was trending on Facebook, which is likely more exposure than he ever would have gotten from appearing at the early debate. And because Twitter has become the modern day spin room for debates this election season, there’s a good chance Paul could still capture some of the debate audience on the much-touted “second screen.”
Update: 01/15/16 10:34 am EST
It looks like Paul’s protest worked out for him after all. According to Twitter, over the course of the debate, Paul had the second highest follower growth of any of the presidential candidates, Republican or Democrat. Donald Trump, as usual, was No. 1. What’s more, on Yik Yak, the anonymous app that’s a hit with millennials, Paul walked away from the night with an 84.9 percent approval rating—the highest of any Republican candidate.
And of course, we mustn’t forget the chants of “We want Rand” that broke out in the middle of the debate.
We pointed out the success of his strategy on Twitter last night, and the Senator had this to say (Heads up, the video gets cut off at the end. If you’re reading, Senator Paul, we’d love to hear the rest).
— Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) January 15, 2016
What it’s like to be the Candidate #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
If you’ve ever wondered what it must be like to see the world through Donald Trump’s eyes, here’s your chance.
Google, which is partnering with the Republican National Committee for tonight’s Republican Debate, provided WIRED with a nifty little tool that lets you to take a 360-degree sneak peek of the debate hall from the perspective of Trump’s podium (just click on the image above to look around).
While you can’t see it in the video, Google is also giving the media’s filing center and spin room at this and other future Republican debates a major upgrade, complete with virtual reality demos, 360-degree cameras, and overhead screens broadcasting Google data on the top trending searches for candidates and issues broken down by geography and demographics.
Oh, and there’s food from local restaurants and a barista serving pour-over coffee. (When Twitter hosted the debate in Des Moines in November, I subsisted on Goldfish and lukewarm tea—just sayin’.) Journalists, suffice it to say, are not disappointed:
— Jordan J Frasier (@jordanjfrasier) January 14, 2016
— Gina McCarthy (@GinaEPA) January 13, 2016
This is the third year in a row that the Obama administration has hosted its so-called Big Block of Cheese Day. The idea comes from an episode of The West Wing in which President Bartlet requires White House staffers to hold face-to-face meetings with concerned citizens. The name Big Block of Cheese Day is a nod to President Andrew Jackson, who once welcomed the public to the White House to share a two-ton block of cheese.
The theme of the episode is what can happen when elected officials actually sit down and listen to the people they represent. “I assure you that listening to the voices of passion in Americans is beneath no one, and surely not the people’s servants,” White House chief of staff Leo McGarry says in one scene.
So the fact that the Obama administration wanted to adopt this practice is admirable. It’s the execution that’s all wrong. Instead of inviting people into the White House, the bulk of Big Block of Cheese Day is conducted online through platforms like Twitter. People can submit a question using the #BigBlockofCheeseDay hashtag, and people like First Lady Michelle Obama, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Vice President Joe Biden, and others answer via tweet, or in some cases, Periscope live-streams.
The problem with that setup is that most of the interactions during Big Block of Cheese Day end up completely flat. For instance, asked why there are such “drastically different” opinions on climate change, EPA administrator Gina McCarthy offered this answer:
— Gina McCarthy (@GinaEPA) January 13, 2016
That may be true, but it doesn’t get the person who asked the question any closer to understanding why climate change has become such a politically loaded issue in recent years. Other times, questions elicited little more than an uninspired talking point plus a link to a website laying out the administration’s policy, like when one Twitter user asked Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz how his staff planned to help poor countries get clean energy. His answer:
This might appeal to a handful of policy wonks who probably already have that page bookmarked. But on Twitter, a medium that thrives on spontaneity and informality, its only value is as a sleep aid. Few if any users are going to come away more enlightened. A few other gems from Moniz, for those of you looking to take a nap:
On whether the US needs more energy innovation or a focus on existing technologies:
— Ernest Moniz (@ErnestMoniz) January 13, 2016
On the possibility of limiting automobiles to benefit the environment:
— Ernest Moniz (@ErnestMoniz) January 13, 2016
On what stood out to him during the State of the Union address on Tuesday:
— Ernest Moniz (@ErnestMoniz) January 13, 2016
Twitter and other tech platforms can connect us in ways that were unimaginable 17 years ago when the episode first aired, and it’s important for government to try new ways to reach the public with its message. And yes, we’re aware that Jed Bartlet’s White House was a Democratic utopia born of an Aaron Sorkin fever dream.
But the fact is, the conversations that were meant to result from an experiment like Big Block of Cheese Day take more than 140 characters. If the next administration wants to do it right in 2017, it’s important to realize that revolutionary as it may be, there are limits to the technology that connects us. If they don’t realize that, then this experiment in government transparency may never be any more transparent than a standard stump speech or press release.
And it’ll certainly never help any of us understand the social equality implications of inaccurate cartography (watch and learn):
Bernie Sanders may be the oldest candidate running for president, but his team is well aware that it’s young people who are the most enthusiastic about the 74-year-old’s campaign. Which is why, today, the Sanders camp is launching a new website aimed at getting high schoolers in Iowa to show up on February 1 to caucus for Bernie.
The new site, called Prove Them Wrong, urges young Iowans to sign a pledge to caucus for Sanders. They can also sign up to earn points for volunteering, sharing on Facebook and Twitter, and starting groups at school—earn enough points and get a t-shirt. Anyone who will be 18 by the general election in November is eligible to Caucus in February.
It’s a simple enough strategy, old-school really, but its focus on the youth vote is smart. The site’s name, Prove Them Wrong, is a nod to the fact that young voters have a reputation for being disconnected from and uninterested in the political process. That reputation is well-earned in Iowa, where in 2012, just 4 percent of Iowans under the age of 30 showed up to caucus, according to The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement.
“All these talking heads say things like, ‘Oh, they’re not going to turn out. They don’t care,’” says Rania Batrice, Sanders’ Iowa communications director.
And yet, history shows what can happen when young voters do turn out. Back in 2008, some 30,000 people under 30 turned out to caucus for an underdog candidate named Barack Obama, helping him secure a win in Iowa against the then-presumptive frontrunner, Hillary Clinton.
Eight years later, the Sanders campaign is hoping to mobilize the same generation against the same opponent, and early signs show that strategy may be working. Sanders amassed a massive national following of young, digital-savvy supporters on platforms like Reddit—and now, in Iowa, he’s steadily advancing. A new Quinnipiac University poll of likely Caucus-goers released today shows Sanders ahead of Clinton in Iowa for the first time.
This surge reflects the Sanders campaign’s apparent success in stirring up enthusiasm among Iowans who may not be steadfast caucus-goers. By shaking up the population of potential participants in this year’s caucus—which includes driving the youth vote—the Sanders campaign is also shaking up the odds.
Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign is threatening to take the Democratic National Committee to court after the Committee suspended the campaign’s access to valuable voter data. The DNC accuses the campaign of exploiting a technical breach to obtain information collected by Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
The data breach was discovered Wednesday by the Democratic party’s voter data software vendor, NGP VAN. The glitch broke down the firewall between the Sanders campaign and Clinton operation. According to The Washington Post, at least four Sanders staffers took advantage, briefly viewing data the Clinton campaign had collected.
As a reprimand, the DNC has cut the Sanders campaign off from its voter list until it can prove that any data that was accessed inappropriately has been disposed of, and a thorough audit has been conducted by NGP VAN.
“We are working with our campaigns and the vendor to have full clarity on the extent of the breach, ensure that this isolated incident does not happen again, and to enable our campaigns to continue engaging voters on the issues that matter most to them and their families,” said DNC spokesperson Luis Miranda in a statement.
The Sanders campaign, however, is framing this as an “unprecedented” overreaction by the Democratic party and an effort to give Clinton’s campaign an unfair advantage. “By their action, the leadership of the Democratic National Committee is now actively attempting to undermine our campaign,” campaign manager Jeff Weaver told reporters outside the campaign’s Washington DC headquarters. “This is unacceptable. Individual leaders of the DNC can support Hillary Clinton in any way they want, but they are not going to sabotage our campaign – one of the strongest grassroots campaigns in modern history.”
Weaver said this was not the first time that such a breach has occurred. He said that two months ago, the Sanders campaign discovered another glitch that caused the firewall between campaigns to break down and notified the DNC about it. NGP VAN CEO Stu Trevelyan denies the company ever received word of that breach, however, and the DNC has not yet responded to WIRED’s request for comment on it.
The Sanders campaign has already fired its data chief Josh Uretsky, who was among those who looked at the data. In an interview with CNN, Uretsky said his team was “just trying to understand it and what was happening.”
“To the best of my knowledge,” he said, “nobody took anything that would have given the (Sanders) campaign any benefit.”
For now, however, the Sanders campaign is at a standstill, unable, Weaver says, to even generate phone numbers of potential donors and voters. Weaver stressed the fact that much of the data being withheld is data that the campaign’s own volunteers collected and that its own donors supplied. “It’s impossible to mobilize the kind of grassroots campaign we have without access to that data,” he said.
Weaver also said that “[I]f the DNC continues to hold our data hostage, and continues to try to attack the heart and soul of our campaign, we will be in federal court this afternoon seeking an immediate injunction.”
Such a move may sound drastic, but it reflects just how a huge a problem this could be for Sanders. The Iowa Caucus, the first electoral event of the campaign season, is less than two months away. The New Hampshire primary takes place shortly after that. One-to-one communication with voters in key districts is more crucial than ever, and these voter data files are the only way for campaigns and volunteers to know which voters to target.
While the breach is, no doubt, troublesome for the Sanders campaign, it’s equally scary for the party as a whole. NGP VAN is the lifeblood of Democratic campaigns. It has been building tools to manage the entire party’s data for nearly two decades, a consolidation of information that has become a major strategic advantage for Democrats. A technical glitch like this reveals the risks associated with entrusting all that sensitive data to just one vendor.
According to a blog post written by Trevelyan, shortly after the breach was fixed, the company audited its system and determined that only the Sanders campaign, and no other outside parties, could have possibly retained any of the exposed data. On Thursday, the DNC requested that NGP VAN suspend the Sanders campaign’s access to its records. “We will continue to work with and report to the DNC regarding this issue to ensure that this isolated incident does not recur,” Trevelyan wrote. “We have and will do better.”
That won’t, however, do much to help the Sanders campaign. At this point, it’s unclear how or when it will regain access to the data. The DNC is even considering contracting an independent security firm to conduct an audit, a move that could further delay the campaign’s access to the voter file. Meanwhile, Weaver says the campaign is carefully combing through staff emails, Google Docs, even emails that were deleted at the time of the glitch to find out who was implicated and ensure no records have been retained. While Weaver laid much of the blame on the party and on NGP VAN, he acknowledged that the staff was wrong to look at the information in the first place.
“In the heat of these campaigns,” he said, “sometimes young people make misjudgments.”
In a video posted online this week, Anonymous has committed to fighting back against Trump’s highly publicized proposal that all Muslim people be banned from traveling to the United States.
“This policy is going to have a huge impact. This is what ISIS wants,” the masked figure in the video says. “Donald Trump, think twice before you speak anything. You have been warned, Donald Trump.”[embedded content]
The group has already launched a campaign called #OpTrump, aimed at taking down the presidential candidate’s online footprint. According International Business Times, the initiative has so far comprised a distributed denial of service attack on trumptowerny.com that lasted for several hours Thursday night.
Meanwhile, the group’s strange, multi-pronged approach to the vigilante war on terror continues apace. Anonymous has declared today its “Anti-ISIS Day of Rage,” urging people to troll ISIS using the hashtag #Daeshbags, a reference to Daesh, the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State.
Of course, we’re pretty sure ISIS can handle some meme-ified taunting online. But we’re also pretty sure this isn’t the only trick Anonymous has up its sleeve, whether its target is a caliphate or the leader in the GOP polls.
Posted just two days ago, the petition has already reached 458,230 signatures and counting. At the time this story was written, it had garnered 7,861 signatures in the last hour alone. That puts the Donald petition ahead of a September petition urging the government to accept more asylum seekers and increase support for refugee migrants in the UK, which led to Parliament’s announcement that the country would resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees.
Not that Great Britain doesn’t have its own immigration opponents. In third place is a petition to do just the opposite, asking the government to shut down all immigration completely, an idea that has already been struck down by Parliament.
Because the Trump petition has gotten more than 100,000 signatures, the government will now consider debating the issue in Parliament. While banning Trump outright may seem outlandish in the US (though not nearly as outlandish as banning an entire faith group from entering a country whose Constitution protects freedom of religion … just sayin’) there is precedent for this kind of thing in the UK.
The country has banned people for “unacceptable behaviour” in the past, including celebrities like Martha Stewart, Chris Brown, and Mike Tyson. The UK has also banned promoters of hate speech, like Stephen Donald Black, a Ku Klux Klansman and founder of the white supremacist internet group Stormfront, which, incidentally, has had to upgrade its servers thanks to the traffic boost it’s getting from Trump-related content.
The UK government, for its part, is already signaling that the Trump ban won’t stick.
Either way, it seems Trump is, as ever, undeterred. Though we have to say it’s fairly disconcerting to see a presidential candidate making international enemies before he’s even gotten the nomination—especially when that enemy is a long time ally.
The United Kingdom is trying hard to disguise their massive Muslim problem. Everybody is wise to what is happening, very sad! Be honest.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2015
The US presidential election may still be nearly a year away, but in 2015, it was the most talked-about issue on Facebook. That’s not just in the United States, but around the world.
The swirl of conversation surrounding the stateside election overshadowed other, more global topics, including the refugee crisis and the terror attacks in Paris. Or, should we way, it “trumped” them.
There’s no doubt that Donald Trump’s incendiary remarks about his fellow candidates, immigration, terrorism, and, most recently, banning Muslim people from traveling to the US, have had a big hand in turning this election into an international scandal. He has singlehandedly thrown the primary season—which even most Americans typically ignore—into such a state of chaos that the rest of the world can scarcely look away. As we speak, “Donald Trump petition” is now the second-most-searched term attached to the real estate mogul’s name on Google in the UK, a reference to a viral petition to ban Trump from traveling there.
Trump isn’t the only reason that the election season is dominating the global conversation on Facebook, though. For one thing, the US is, by far, Facebook’s biggest audience, with 193 million users in the US alone, out of just over a billion daily visitors worldwide. That almost certainly dictates which issues receive the most attention on the platform.
Other US-centric events and tragedies, including the Supreme Court’s historic marriage equality vote, the Baltimore protests following the death of Freddie Gray, and the Charleston shooting and the debate over the Confederate flag, all fall within the top 10 global issues.
But the international focus on the election also signals a significant shift in the way information about this election season is being shared. While local and national news stations have traditionally been the gatekeepers of political coverage, now more of that news is being shared and discovered on the borderless world of the Internet.
According to a Pew Research Center report, some 63 percent of Americans now get their news from Facebook, compared to just 47 percent in 2013. That change has taken place just as Facebook’s international presence has spiked, driving the bulk of the company’s user growth in recent years. That means not only is Facebook becoming a more powerful global news force, but there are now many more people overseas on the receiving end of that news.
Facebook’s 2011 topics list did include several US-centric stories, like the Packers winning the Super Bowl and the Casey Anthony verdict. But most of those were spikes off of specific events, compared to the global pervasiveness of the election this year. In fact, in 2011, the presidential election didn’t even make the cut.
As the biggest social platform in the world, Facebook has certainly risen to the occasion. It has already sponsored several primary debates and struck deals to help television networks gather data on what Facebook’s audience cares about most. In that way, the tech giant is amplifying the already robust conversations taking place on its platform.
The full list of topics is below. Here’s hoping next year’s isn’t quite so grim.
Capturing the most viral of such moments, Twitter today posted its list of the top political tweets on Twitter from the past year. And the results show that President Obama—whose 2008 campaign essentially invented political Twitter—has still got it. Between his two handles, @BarackObama and @POTUS, Obama accounts for 14 of the top 27 political tweets of the year. His most popular tweet, following the Supreme Court’s historic decision that made same sex marriage legal, received 448,061 retweets.
Perhaps more telling, Hillary Clinton was the second-most retweeted politician of the year. What’s more, her Tweet announcing her run for president earlier this year is still the most popular tweet among the 2016 presidential candidates.
The top ten:
1. When the Supreme Court issued its marriage equality ruling:
Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else. #LoveWins
— President Obama (@POTUS) June 26, 2015
2. When 14-year old Ahmed Mohamed was arrested after bringing a homemade clock to school:
Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.
— President Obama (@POTUS) September 16, 2015
3. When President Obama got his own Twitter handle. “Really!”
Hello, Twitter! It’s Barack. Really! Six years in, they’re finally giving me my own account.
— President Obama (@POTUS) May 18, 2015
4. Also following the Supreme Court’s marriage ruling:
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 26, 2015
5. When NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden joined Twitter:
Can you hear me now?
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) September 29, 2015
6. When the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office responded to a woman’s plea for weed:
Where should we meet you? https://t.co/5YjcB0kLET
— PBSO (@PBCountySheriff) July 21, 2015
7. When Obama spoke about the criminal justice system during the NAACP national convention:
We could eliminate tuition at every public college and university in America with the $80 billion we spend each year on incarcerations.
— President Obama (@POTUS) July 14, 2015
8. When Clinton announced her candidacy:
I’m running for president. Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion. –H https://t.co/w8Hoe1pbtC
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) April 12, 2015
9. NASA’s flashback to when One Directioner Niall Horan visited Johnson Space Center (For the record, the top Tweet of the year, with a staggering 730,315 retweets, was written by fellow 1D-er Harry Styles after Zayn Malik left the group):
— Johnson Space Center (@NASA_Johnson) August 21, 2015
10. When President Bill Clinton asked President Obama whether a certain someone might get to keep the @POTUS handle in 2017:
— Bill Clinton (@billclinton) May 18, 2015
The US needs to lead the fight against ISIS, and Silicon Valley needs to help, Hillary Clinton said during a speech this morning in New York City in which she laid out her plan to combat ISIS.
“We must deny them virtual territory, just as we deny them actual territory,” the former secretary of state said.
The speech followed nearly a week of debate after the terrorist attacks in Paris over whether encrypted technology threatens national security by preventing law enforcement from monitoring potential terrorists’ communications.
Candidates in the Republican party have been quick to call for an increase in government surveillance capabilities. Jeb Bush said this week that as president, he would fight to restore the PATRIOT Act’s metadata program, which was curbed following revelations by Edward Snowden. Bush said the communications-monitoring program was needed “to ensure we have the ability to connect the dots between known foreign terrorists and potential operatives here in the United States.”
In her speech, Clinton walked a finer line between the government’s surveillance interests and the public’s privacy interests. “We should take the concerns of law enforcement and counterterrorism professionals seriously. They have warned that impenetrable encryption may prevent them from accessing terrorist communications and preventing a future attack,” she said.
“On the other hand we know there are legitimate concerns about government intrusion, network security, and creating new vulnerabilities that bad actors can and would exploit.”
Finding the Balance
Finding that balance, if one indeed exists, will require the help of the companies that build this technology, Clinton said—not just resistance. “We need Silicon Valley not to view government as its adversary,” Clinton said. “We need to challenge our best minds in the private sector and work with our best minds in the public sector to develop solutions that would both keep us safe and protect our privacy.”
This, of course, is a lot to ask of an industry that has grown suspicious of the US intelligence community in the aftermath of Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of private data. The NSA scandal strained ties between Silicon Valley and the Obama administration. And it may prove to be a substantial challenge for the next administration, as well, as companies like Apple and Google use their substantial influence in Washington to protect their encryption capabilities. Clinton’s one advantage, however, is that she has deeper ties in the Valley than most, if not all, of her opponents in the 2016 race.
But encryption isn’t the only point of tension. Clinton also said today that social media sites also have a role to play in shutting down known terrorist accounts “so they’re not used to plan, provoke, or celebrate violence.”
The Offline Fight
Stopping the spread of ISIS online is just one critical step toward defeating the terrorist group on the ground. Clinton’s plan also includes increasing air and drone strikes in Iraq and Syria; pressuring countries like Saudi Arabia to stop funding terrorist groups; improving intelligence sharing with Europe; and enforcing a no-fly zone over the northern region of Syria. But Clinton stopped short of suggesting sending ground troops to Syria.
“Injecting some large contingent of American forces complicates that in my opinion,” she said. “Right now, we need to keep the pressure on the people on the ground and get them to change their priorities and work together.”
After the most recent Democratic debate, Clinton’s opponents in the Republican party tore into her assertion that the fight against ISIS “cannot be an American fight.” During today’s address, the presidential hopeful struck a different tone, instead, emphasizing the role America should play going forward. “The entire world must be part of this fight,” she said, “but we must lead it.”
Ben Carson’s campaign has succeeded at making a radio ad go viral online. Just maybe not in the way it intended.
Its unexpected reach is the only upside to the disaster that is this old-school rap ad that the Carson campaign is releasing this week on radio stations in eight markets, including Birmingham, Alabama and Detroit.[embedded content]
The ad’s biggest problem? Its ham-fisted pandering to black voters comes across as pure condescension. Not only that, but the rapping itself is so dated that the very people the campaign is trying to connect with probably weren’t even born when that particular style was popular.
Thankfully, Twitter users, including prominent leaders of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, aren’t about to let the Carson campaign off the hook. Here’s just a small sampling of what they had to say:
Is there a think piece about Ben Carson’s rap ad? I’m ready to read.
— Johnetta Elzie (@Nettaaaaaaaa) November 5, 2015
— April (@ReignOfApril) November 5, 2015
@acnatta It feels like a McDonald’s commercial
— Mark S. Luckie (@marksluckie) November 5, 2015
That Ben Carson radio spot is essentially a political payday loan ad.
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) November 5, 2015
NO. This can’t really be the real Ben Carson ad. I am crying. This gotta be an Undercover Brother outtake. https://t.co/sQ2DhC9tZi
— best of both worlds. (@MichellCClark) November 5, 2015
CARSON CAMPAIGN: how can we appeal to urban youth
SUBURBAN MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL: leave this to me
— Philip Bump (@pbump) November 5, 2015
For Democrats, at least, this could serve as excellent attack ad fodder. We can see the ad copy now: “Ben Carson wants to bring hip hop—and America—back to 1984.”
For some of us, Facebook is a place to share photos, watch videos, and catch up on the top news stories making the rounds. For others, it’s a platform for talking politics and bashing anyone who’d dare to disagree.
You know the type. Maybe it’s your uncle, who’s always sharing stories about LGBT issues, or your family friend who likes every pro-gun “Page” she can find, or that guy you knew in college who kept posting media reactions to the Benghazi hearing. They’re the people who are most likely to get in heated comment feuds and who, depending on your political leanings, the people you’re most likely to unfollow as the 2016 election season heats up. They’re also the people that the presidential candidates want on their sides. Now, Facebook is making it even easier to get in front of them.
This week, Facebook is rolling out a new feature that enables advertisers to target so-called “political influencers.” These are people who like lots of political Pages, click on political ads, and share content from political parties and organizations. Facebook uses all of these actions to determine if users are liberal or conservative, then segments that audience for political campaigns.
“People are more likely to trust information that their friends share,” says Matt Idema, Facebook’s vice president of monetization product marketing, “so it is valuable for campaigns to reach people who frequently share political information on Facebook.”
Preaching to the choir isn’t always at the top of a political campaign’s to-do list. More often than not, it’s the undecided voters and the people who don’t have much voting history that campaigns spend the bulk of their time and money trying to convince. And yet Idema is right that word of mouth recommendations are far more effective than advertisements could ever be, making this segment particularly important to campaigns.
Of course, there are already plenty of ways for candidates to target supporters—and potential supporters—on Facebook. With Facebook’s custom audiences, they can even upload their own supporter databases and target ads directly to those people. The problem is, they have no way of knowing whether or not those people even talk about politics online. By layering the political influencer filter on that audience, it’s all but guaranteed. The hope is that all these noisy Facebook users will amplify the candidate’s message, and help lead the grassroots movement online.
The good news for Bush’s social media team is that the hashtag quickly began trending on Twitter. The bad news is it was mostly because of Tweets like this:
Jeb can fix it just like he “fixed” his brother’s vote count in Florida.
— MJ⛳️ (@MJGWrites) November 2, 2015
And memes like this:
— Memeographs (@memeographs) November 2, 2015
This slogan-jacking shows just how difficult it has become for political campaigns to control their own message in the digital age. It’s no longer just up to the campaigns to steer the conversation and their opponents to counter it. Now we can all play a role in spinning the new narrative, which dramatically changes the power structure in campaigns.
That’s why this election cycle, the candidates who have had surprisingly successful online campaigns aren’t necessarily the ones who have had the most savvy slogans and advertisements. Instead, it’s candidates like Bernie Sanders, who has won over an online audience by embracing #FeelTheBern, a slogan created not by his campaign, but by his supporters. This approach has been key to Donald Trump’s Twitter success, too. His feed, unlike most candidates’, is filled with retweets from his supporters. In other words, Trump lets them do the talking (at least some of the time).
For political operatives, this is a new way of doing business, but it’s key to winning the race online. Campaigns can no longer spoon-feed the story to the public in newspaper op-eds, television ads, and Sunday morning talk shows. Instead, they need to elevate the voices of their supporters and turn them into the story.
Now, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is fighting back, issuing a letter today saying the RNC is suspending the February debate, which NBC was to sponsor.
I just sent this letter to NBC News suspending our partnership for the February Debate: https://t.co/MVke5m2EBm
— Reince Priebus (@Reince) October 30, 2015
In the letter, Priebus criticizes CNBC for failing to monitor candidates’ speaking time, and says some of the questions were “downright insulting.” He points in particular to a question aimed at Donald Trump: “Is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?”
“While debates are meant to include tough questions and contrast candidates’ visions and policies for the future of America, CNBC’s moderators engaged in a series of “gotcha” questions, petty and mean-spirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates,” Priebus writes. “What took place Wednesday night was not an attempt to give the American people a greater understanding of our candidates’ policies and ideas.”
This is not entirely unexpected. Controversy between Republican operatives and the network started brewing even before the debate ended. One Politico reporter spotted Jeb Bush’s campaign manager Danny Diaz in a heated discussion with a producer while the candidates were still on stage. NBC, for its part, issued this statement:
— NBC News PR (@NBCNewsPR) October 30, 2015
The RNC says the debate will still take place as scheduled on February 26, 2016, but that it will be “working with our candidates to discuss how to move forward.”
“If you were to be in my office in the State Department, I didn’t have a computer,” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the Select Committee on Benghazi today.
For modern-day office workers everywhere, forever chained to our desks and screens, this was perhaps the most shocking revelation in Clinton’s drawn-out and repetitive hearing before the committee today (which is still ongoing. If you’ve got a few extra hours in your schedule, you can tune in here).
Clinton offered up this answer in response to questioning by US Rep. Susan Brooks about Clinton’s emails before and after the attacks on American diplomats in Benghazi in 2012. Brooks came armed with props, presenting the committee with a stack of nearly 800 emails about Libya that Clinton sent in 2011, compared to the much smaller stack of emails she sent in 2012, the year of the attacks.
“What kind of culture was created in the State Department that your folks couldn’t tell you in an email about a bomb in April of 2012?” Rep. Brooks asked.
“Congresswoman, I did not conduct most of the business I did on behalf of our country on email,” Clinton responded, and not only because she didn’t have a computer in the office. Due to the “great deal of classified information” that was being brought to her, Clinton says she received the bulk of her information in meetings, memos, and even top secret documents that “were brought into my office in a locked briefcase.” How very James Bond.
Of course, it’s not entirely unusual for people serving in the highest levels of public office to forgo a computer. In her opening statement, which was just as much a campaign speech on foreign relations as it was testimony, Clinton said she travelled to 112 countries as secretary of state, which wouldn’t have left her much time to surf the web from the comfort of her office desktop. At least she had that BlackBerry.
Carl Icahn—one of the most feared activist investors in tech—is coming for Congress.
In a letter posted on his website today, Icahn announced he is committing $150 million of his own money to a yet-unnamed new Super PAC, which will also raise funds from third parties. The primary focus of the Super PAC, he says, will be to push Congress to stop U.S. corporations from moving overseas for tax purposes, a process that’s become known as “corporate tax inversions.” For Icahn, that trend is among the biggest threats to the country’s economy.
1/2 I am starting a Super PAC with my initial commitment of $150 million to help end the crippling dysfunction in Congress
— Carl Icahn (@Carl_C_Icahn) October 21, 2015
“If this exodus is allowed to accelerate, there will be disastrous consequences for our already fragile economy, as well as meaningful and unnecessary job losses,” Icahn writes.
While Icahn has focused on the tech industry in recent years, as the 2016 election season heats up, he’s made no secret of his political interests. Donald Trump has even floated the possibility of making Icahn his Secretary of Treasury if he becomes president, though Icahn recently told WIRED he planned to keep his day job.
Now Icahn will put some financial muscle behind those opinions (thought not, it seems, behind the Trump candidacy specifically, at least in this instance). The billionaire writes that he is uniquely positioned to do this, given his understanding of what motivates businesses. “While they can contribute greatly to America, they are not ‘patriots,’” Icahn writes. “They are motivated to take actions that are in the best economic interests of their shareholders, which include leaving the country if it offers a compelling opportunity to dramatically increase profits.”
Icahn wants the U.S. to make it easier for American companies to repatriate the money they’ve earned abroad, by lowering the tax rate on that money once it’s returned. He writes that the taxes collected through this repatriation could help fund the Highway Bill, which would fund highway infrastructure. According to Icahn, both Senator Charles Schumer and Representative Paul Ryan support the passage of this legislation. Icahn hopes that his PAC will be able to push Congress to pass it before December, before the 2016 primaries begin.
“I promise, the PAC we have started will leave no stone unturned to find out who is most responsible for this ridiculous and unconscionable situation and what can be done about it,” Icahn says, referring to the stalemate in Congress. “The inability of Congress to enact desperately needed legislation because of certain members not willing to compromise is reprehensible, and the members responsible must and will be held accountable.”
Icahn says he’s sent the letter to all relevant members of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. Of course, Icahn is far from the only person calling for an end to Washington deadlock. The difference is, when Icahn demands something, he tends to get his way.
In fact, the senator was right. It wasn’t great politics. It was brilliant politics. The hashtag #DamnEmails began trending on Facebook and soon became the top social moment of the night, according to the company. It was also the most retweeted Tweet of any presidential candidate during the debate, according to Twitter.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) October 14, 2015
The comment earned Sanders a handshake from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (whose much publicized private email scandal was in question); a standing ovation from the crowd; and a groundswell of activity online, all while shutting down the email topic for the rest of the debate. In one sentence, Sanders offered Clinton a hand and gave himself a boost, and he didn’t have to attack Clinton the way the GOP candidates have to do it.
Of course, it helps that the most engaged state on Facebook during tonight’s debate was Sen. Sanders’ home state of Vermont, where a huge grassroots operation has been preparing to amplify his message online. That may have played a role in helping to spread the hashtag. That, or, you know, everyone is actually sick of those damn emails.
On the NSA whistleblower’s fate in the United States, the Democratic candidates are decidedly divided. Unfortunately for Mr. Snowden, the only one who wholeheartedly supported welcoming Snowden back to the US, penalty-free, was longshot (and hoo boy do we mean longshot) candidate Lincoln Chafee, former governor of Rhode Island.
“I would bring him home,” Chafee said. “The courts have ruled that the American government was acting illegally.”
Frontrunner Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, painted Snowden as a criminal and a thief, who didn’t take the steps he should have taken to become a whistleblower. “He could have gotten the protections of being a whistleblower. He could have raised all the issues he’s raised, and I think there would have been a positive response to that,” the former Secretary of State said. “He stole very important information that has unfortunately fallen into the wrong hands, so I don’t think he should be brought home without facing the music.”
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley wasn’t far behind. “He put a lot of Americans’ lives at risk,” he said. “Snowden broke the law. Whistleblowers do not run to Russia and try to get protection from Putin.”
Meanwhile, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose anti-surveillance stance aligns him more closely with Republican candidate Rand Paul than some of the other Democratic candidates, said he believes Snowden ought to face a penalty, but that “what he did in educating us should be taken into consideration.”
Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, pretty much ducked the question and said he’d leave it to the courts.
Snowden, a new and already prolific Twitter user, hasn’t yet chimed in on the debate, but we’re dying to hear what he has to say—if only to see if his epic social media sway could raise Chafee from the dead.
As the Democratic candidates prepare to face off for their first debate tonight, religion and guns top Facebook’s ranking of popular political topics, followed by the economy, homeland security and terrorism, and racial issues. Mexico, LGBT issues, and immigration have dropped out of the top five altogether.
If Facebook chatter is a good barometer of public sentiment—though that could be a sizable if—then this shift shows just how much our priorities have changed in a short period of time, and just how likely they are to change many times over by November 2016. You can even guess the reasons behind some of the shifts; a mass shooting generating national headlines will elevate the profile of “guns,” while a visiting pope likely pushes conversations about religion to the forefront. With thirteen months until ballots are cast, shifting sentiments and national news have plenty of time to generate plenty more turnover. In other words, it’s going to be a long, long election season.
Already, Facebook conversation around the candidates, themselves, is beginning to change, too, as Ben Carson has quickly overtaken earlier favorites in the GOP, like Jeb Bush. Meanwhile, Facebook’s calculations back in August showed about twice as many people talking about Hillary Clinton as they were about Bernie Sanders. Today, they’re nearly neck and neck.
Of course, it’s important not to draw many concrete conclusions about what this all means. After all, Facebook analyzes only the volume of conversation, not the context, tone, or sentiment. People complaining about Clinton or Carson register the same as those celebrating them. So it’s understandable that some strategists are reluctant to put too much weight on all the social media data being produced this year. And yet, when you see just how closely Facebook’s data mimics recent polling activity, the issues and candidates that rise to the top on Facebook become that much tougher to ignore.
— deray mckesson (@deray) October 9, 2015
The fact that the meeting happened at all shows just how powerful the #BlackLivesMatter movement has become—and by extension, the social media platforms that spawned it. Though it was amplified by platforms like Twitter, it’s grown far beyond the realm of purely online activism.
So how did the in-person meeting go? Responses are still mixed, which is to say, it went a heck of a lot better than the last time Clinton spoke with #BlackLivesMatter leaders. The YouTube video of that awkward encounter, which made Clinton appear out of touch with an important part of her base, soon went viral. Things seem to have improved since then, as Clinton’s positions on prison reform and gun control have started to take shape in the public consciousness (Though, to be fair, Clinton laid out her stance on criminal justice reform months ago).1 Brittany Packnett, a self-described educator, activist, and protester who works for Teach for America, tweeted her thoughts after the meeting.
2. Since my last conversation with @HillaryClinton, she was a bit more willing to consider the federal-not just community-role in change.
— Brittany Packnett (@MsPackyetti) October 9, 2015
3. I was glad to hear @HillaryClinton be open to a national use of force policy + stronger funding formulas to address the racial margins.
— Brittany Packnett (@MsPackyetti) October 9, 2015
5. I am still, however, anxiously awaiting @HillaryClinton‘s clear, specific, urgent policy platform on racial and social justice.
— Brittany Packnett (@MsPackyetti) October 9, 2015
6. Black millennial votes care most about fighting racism according to polling. Thus, general attn to “justice” absent of race won’t work.
— Brittany Packnett (@MsPackyetti) October 9, 2015
Clearly, there’s still work to be done. But at least some candidates, including Clinton, are realizing that #BlackLivesMatter is more than a hashtag. It’s a political force they have to answer to.
Here’s hoping they’ll come up with the right answers.
1. Update: 9:16 PM EST 10/09/2015 This story has been updated to include Clinton’s earlier comments on criminal justice reform in April.
Rising GOP star Kevin McCarthy, the leading contender to replace John Boehner as Speaker of the House, has fallen to earth. The California congressman reportedly announced today that he was withdrawing from the race for the position. Political journalists in Washington pride themselves on their savvy, their ability to stay out ahead of Capitol intrigue. So they kept their cool when news of McCarthy’s move broke, right?
There is CHAOS here. Standby for more.
— Steven Portnoy (@stevenportnoy) October 8, 2015
“What?” “What?” “Whoa” — heard across the newsroom — @DanaBashCNN live on CNN now covering McCarthy dropping out of the House speaker race
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) October 8, 2015
The White House press file just straight up erupted into cries of “WHAT?????”
— Byron Tau (@ByronTau) October 8, 2015
— Joseph Weisenthal (@TheStalwart) October 8, 2015
Oh shit. https://t.co/nqjsBxfmBx
— Jamelle Boooooo-ee (@jbouie) October 8, 2015
Somewhere, Nancy Pelosi is taking THEE MIGHTIEST sip of tea.
— Brian Chillmeade (@jteeDC) October 8, 2015
Kevin McCarthy wants you to vote for Hillary Clinton. No, not that Kevin McCarthy, the one who’s being eyed as John Boehner’s successor for Speaker of the House.
— Kevin T. McCarthy (@KevinMcCarthy) September 25, 2015
“You know it was really funny at first, and then they just kept going and going and going,” the other Kevin McCarthy says in a smart new video produced by the Clinton campaign. We’ve said before that Clinton and other candidates have sometimes fumbled in their attempts to appeal to millennials. This is not one of those times. This video—which features the other Kevin McCarthy pouring himself a stiff drink, sitting on the couch with a bearded guy in a Hillary Clinton t-shirt, and watching the former first lady’s Saturday Night Live appearance—is spot on. And it gets its point across.
“Instead of focusing on the American tragedy they said they’d focus on, they’re spending our taxpayer dollars to play electoral politics. I get it. It’s gross. But it’s not my fault,” the other Kevin McCarthy says. “It’s the House Republicans. So please, stop with your tweeting. My Twitter account just can’t handle it.
“Oh, and by the way, vote Hillary.”
— Drew (@FigDrewton) September 30, 2015
Trump’s team, in all likelihood, won’t be too worried about this photo going viral. So far, the campaign and the Donald seem to have subscribed to the motto that all press is good press—or else it’s totally, completely stupid. And yet, this photo does say a lot about just how far we’ve come from politics as usual. Political strategists are always on the lookout for gaffes and other candidates pulling skeletons out of their bosses’ closets. But when before in history have they had to worry about someone slapping a man bun on their head, spreading it around on Twitter, and seeing it replicated almost instantly by media outlets (like our own)? And just wait until Halloween.
I’m going as Bunald Trump for Halloween and you better not steal my idea
— Drew (@FigDrewton) October 1, 2015