August 12th, 2020


Three Things To Keep An Eye On --- Unless You've Taken A Campaign Brexit

Bill Whalen

By Bill Whalen

Published June 28, 2016

With the calendar about to flip from June to July, here’s a suggestion: take some time off (presumably there are travel bargains to be had in the U.K.) and rest up for the fun of next month’s national conventions.

The Brexit vote notwithstanding, the June-July pivot in presidential years historically has offered a lull. The two parties have chosen their nominees, there’s only so much running-mate speculation to be tolerated, just as reporters push the envelope on the significance of the two convention sites (an overreacted factor – Republicans, for example, having failed to carry the states that hosted their last five national conventions).

But if you’re a political junkie who can’t let go – even for a little summertime rest – here are three things to keep you going in the weeks ahead.

Bernie Berning Out. By my count, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has owed Hillary Clinton an endorsement for nearly three weeks now.

Actually, it’s not my count – it’s history’s. Eight years ago, Clinton endorsed Barack Obama on the first Saturday in June (you might recall her “18 million cracks” in the glass ceiling speech). Here we are about to close out the month, and Sanders is still dragging his feet.

The funny thing: Clinton’s campaign could take her 2008 concession words practically verbatim and, after deleting the stuff about remarkable women and Bill and Chelsea being so invaluable, load the cheery farewell into a TelePrompTer and have Bernie read it.

Especially this passage: “The way to continue our fight now, to accomplish the goals for which we stand is to take our energy, our passion, our strength, and do all we can to help elect [Barack Obama] the next president of the United States.”

What’s holding back Sanders? Two guesses – the first being ego. His 15 minutes in this election are almost up (he was a Brexit side-story; the media have moved on to Clinton-Trump). Second, as Sanders isn’t a party regular, it’s tougher for Clinton’s campaign to both bully and sweet-talk him into submission.

Asked the other day why he hasn’t endorsed Clinton, Sanders offered a vague: “Because I have not heard her say the things that I think needs to be said.” And then he got very specific: “I want her to say among other things, we have a crisis in higher education – public universities and colleges should be tuition free. Raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. I believe that healthcare should be a right of all people. I would love her to say that and I would love her to move aggressively to make that happen.”

Remember those three items when Clinton takes her star turn in Philadelphia.

Personnel Twists. Corey Lewandowski lost his job as Donald Trump’s campaign manager (he wasn’t unemployed for long). Let’s see if the Clinton campaign does any high-level tweaking.

Trump and Clinton could announce their vice-presidential picks before their conventions to begin. I’m not sure why they would – especially if neither choice is seen as much of a game-changer.

What does intrigue: the idea of Trump rolling out his cabinet picks far sooner that any previous nominee. The obvious downside: if his campaign does a clumsy job of vetting, Trump will look amateurish as his choice suffers a death of a thousand media cuts.

On the other had, Trump has several hours of television to fill in Cleveland. Trotting out a Treasury or Defense pick to talk policy is one way for the nominee to show he has a strategy.

Cleveland. “The Land” has never had a better June, what with LeBron James ending the city’s six decades of sports futility.

In the moments after “King James” had made basketball history, the man who signs his paycheck (that’s Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert) told the world: “God loves Cleveland, Ohio”.

The Trump Circus coming to town will test that affection.

Three things I’m looking for in the buildup to the 2016 Republican National Convention: the appetite for any “dump Trump” maneuvers (that begins with the 112 members of the party’s rules-writing committee); the messy convergence of party loyalists and rabid protestors, a city trying to maintain civil order, and the uncertainty of where the First Amendment does and doesn’t apply; how many delegates, fearing what might be going on outside the arena, come to Cleveland packing heat (in the immortal words of Junior Soprano: “come heavy or not at all”).

Now that’s a show – one worth resting up for.

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Bill Whalen is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he studies and writes on current events and political trends. In citing Whalen as one of its "top-ten" political reporters, The 1992 Media Guide said of his work: "The New York Times could trade six of its political writers for Whalen and still get a bargain." During those years, Whalen also appeared frequently on C-SPAN, National Public Radio, and CNBC.