U.S. Politics

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sanders Tells Disruptive Members of Town Hall Meeting Crowd to "Shut Up!"

Posted By on Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 7:11 PM

Interrupted repeatedly at a town hall meeting last weekend, an irate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) yelled at disruptive audience members: "Shut up!"

The meeting, at Cabot's Willey Building Auditorium on Saturday, grew so heated that Sanders' outreach director, Phil Fiermonte, called the cops, according to Vermont State Police spokeswoman Stephanie Dasaro. Four troopers arrived partway through the event, but took no action.

"They basically were just there as a presence," Dasaro said. "Other than that, we didn't get involved. There was no disorderly conduct. No one was arrested."

A seven-minute video of the meeting was posted to YouTube Sunday by Marie Countryman, a Montpelier activist:

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Jim Jeffords, Vermont Icon With an Independent Streak, Dies at 80

Posted By and on Mon, Aug 18, 2014 at 11:55 AM

Updated at 4:53 p.m.

Former U.S. senator Jim Jeffords, an iconic independent and veteran Vermont politician, died Monday at age 80.

Near the end of his 40-year career in public office, the Rutland Republican stunned the nation in May 2001 when he left his party to become an independent. The move handed control of a closely divided Senate to the Democratic Party for the next 18 months and earned Jeffords a place in political history.

But according to his longtime chief of staff, Susan Boardman Russ, Jeffords’ most important contribution was not his defection from the GOP, but his decades of work fighting for education, the environment, dairy farmers and the disabled.

“That’s his legacy. That’s what mattered to him,” Boardman Russ said. “The publicity he got for switching parties I sometimes wish hadn’t happened because all those incredible things he did over those years got lost.”

Jeffords died Monday morning at the Knollwood Military Retirement Residence in Washington, D.C., where he had lived since the death of his wife, Liz, in 2007, according to former spokeswoman Diane Derby. 

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Shumlin: No Large Sites in Vermont for Undocumented Children

Posted By on Mon, Jul 28, 2014 at 6:39 PM

Gov. Peter Shumlin - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Gov. Peter Shumlin
Vermont does not have a site that can host 1,000 undocumented children who have crossed the southern border into the United States, Gov. Peter Shumlin wrote a federal official Monday, while also expressing the state's "willingness to help with this humanitarian crisis."

The governor said smaller sites could be available, though that’s not what the federal government is seeking to accommodate the influx of unaccompanied youngsters. The New York Times reports that roughly 57,000 minors, mostly from Central American nations, have crossed into the U.S. since last October.

“ … Working together with some of our organizations like the Red Cross, leaders from the City of Burlington, and other partners, we have developed a few potential options for housing much smaller groups of closer to 75 to 100 children, fully recognizing that is not specifically what your Agency is looking for at this time," Shumlin wrote in a letter to Christie L. Hager, regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “My administration would be happy to discuss these options in greater detail if that would be helpful to you.”

Further, Shumlin's letter says that the state has reached out to Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, offering to assist his state after he offered the Camp Edwards military base in Bourne and Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee as options.

Shumlin's letter closed, "Our hearts go out to these families – parents and children – who have made these dangerous journeys and are now in custody. We support your efforts to find a safe and humane solution to this serious problem. Please let us know if we can help."

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Sanders to Return to Iowa in September

Posted By on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 8:54 AM

Updated at 12:38 p.m.

As he continues to explore a 2016 run for president, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will return to the first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa this September.

Sanders plans to hold town meetings in Dubuque, Waterloo and Des Moines the weekend of September 13, according to spokesman Michael Briggs. Sanders will combine the trip with a previously scheduled appearance in Wisconsin at the Fighting Bob Fest, an annual gathering to celebrate the life of progressive icon — and senator-turned-presidential candidate — Robert La Follette.

September's trip will mark Sanders' second to the Hawkeye State this year. He traveled to Iowa City in May to headline the Clinton County Democratic Party's Hall of Fame Dinner and, according to the Daily Beast, met with activists there and in Des Moines. Sanders has also held political events twice in New Hampshire this year, in April and June.

Last week, Sanders reported raising an unusually large sum of money for a year in which he does not face reelection. The Vermont independent collected nearly $716,000 in the past three months, boosting his campaign treasury to $4.4 million. Sanders, who was reelected to a second six-year term in 2012, will not have to defend his Senate seat again until 2018.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

City Attorney Suspends Burlington's Buffer Zone After Supreme Court Ruling

Posted By on Wed, Jul 2, 2014 at 4:02 PM

File photo
  • File photo
Anti-abortion protesters can now bring their message right up to Burlington's Planned Parenthood.

In response to last Thursday's Supreme Court ruling, Burlington city attorney Eileen Blackwood announced Wednesday that the city has stopped enforcing its buffer zone, which had prevented protestors from coming within 35 feet of reproductive health centers since 2012.

The Supreme Court decision struck down a similar law in Massachusetts, nullifying that state's 35-foot buffer zone on the basis that it violated protesters' free speech.

Blackwood noted in a statement that while the city has suspended the buffer zone, she's determined that the second piece of the ordinance, which prevents people from "knowingly obstructing, detaining, hindering, impeding, or blocking a person’s entry to or exit from such a facility" still stands. The city attorney said she'll ask the City Council to amend the city ordinance accordingly when it meets on July 14.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Castleton Poll Says Vermonters Support Sanders for President

Posted By on Tue, Jun 3, 2014 at 8:08 PM

Sanders at a press conference Monday in his Burlington office. - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Sanders at a press conference Monday in his Burlington office.
In a development sure to rock the political world, a new Castleton Polling Institute survey has found that a majority of Vermonters would support a presidential bid by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Oh wait, nobody cares.

This isn't Iowa. Or New Hampshire. In fact, it's hard to think of a state with less influence on the presidential nominating contest than lowly Vermont, which sent just 27 delegates to the Democratic National Convention in 2012 — out of a total of 5,554. (Remember who Vermont Democrats backed in 2004? Yep, their former governor, Howard Dean, who won no other states.)

If anything, the Castleton poll tells us what we already know: Vermonters, by and large, love Bernie. 

Of the 608 people surveyed early last month, 53 percent said they'd send him to the White House. Just 33 percent said they wouldn't, while 13 percent said they weren't sure or didn't have an opinion. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 4 percent.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Morning Read: A Texas-Sized Flap Over Shumlin's Wendy Davis Comments

Posted By on Wed, Apr 30, 2014 at 8:09 AM

Gov. Peter Shumlin learned a valuable lesson Tuesday morning during a quick trip to the nation's capital: Don't mess with Texas.

Speaking to beltway reporters at a forum organized by the Third Way, a centrist think tank, the Democratic Governors Association chairman summed up his party's prospects of regaining gubernatorial seats this November.

Reported Real Clear Politics:

Shumlin listed Maine, Pennsylvania, and Florida as states where the DGA has “very high hopes” of defeating Republicans. He added that Democrats have “good shots” in Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Shumlin also offered Georgia, South Carolina, Kansas, and Arizona as red states that the DGA is “optimistic” about Democrats’ chances in. 
Whom did Shumlin fail to mention?

You guessed it: Texas Democrat Wendy Davis, who rose to prominence last June after an 11-hour filibuster against new abortion regulations. She's now running for governor.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

In Latest Fundraising Reports, Leahy Bests Sanders

Posted By on Wed, Apr 16, 2014 at 7:31 AM

Sen. Patrick Leahy at a fundraiser in fall 2013 at the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy at a fundraiser in fall 2013 at the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) may be the one flirting with a run for president, but Vermont's senior senator is the one raking in the campaign cash. 

During the first three months of 2014, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) raised more than $223,000 between his two campaign accounts, according to documents filed this week with the Federal Election Commission. In that same period, Sanders' campaign accounts brought in $114,00, while Congressman Peter Welch's (D-Vt.) took in nearly $105,000.

Of the three, Sanders is still sitting on the biggest pile of cash. The second-term senator has more than $4 million in his reelection campaign account and another $196,000 in his leadership political action committee, called Progressive Voters of America. If he sits out the 2016 presidential race, Sanders won't face another election until 2018.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sanders Speaks in New Hampshire, Weighs Bid for White House

Posted By on Sat, Apr 12, 2014 at 8:07 PM

Sen. Bernie Sanders at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. - KEVIN J. KELLEY
  • Kevin J. Kelley
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H.
Sen. Bernie Sanders was in New Hampshire on Saturday, denouncing U.S. economic inequality in a speech at St. Anselm College in Manchester. He had to feel pleased with the first comment from the audience. “If you could give this address in every home in America,” a middle-aged man declared, “I think you'd be elected president.”

Indeed, that's why Sanders was there — New Hampshire hosts the nation's first presidential primary, and Vermont's junior senator acknowledges that he's considering a race for the White House in 2016.

The 200-plus, mostly older listeners who filled the auditorium at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm were predisposed to Sanders' message, despite its unrelievedly bleak tone. They voiced their enthusiasm by giving him a standing ovation before he spoke.

Sanders, 72, did not rely on notes as he segued smoothly from topic to topic, at times jabbing his index finger, waving his arms and shouting in cadenced tempos. He let loose lines such as: “a $7.25 minimum wage is obscene” and “it's morally grotesque to talk about cutting Social Security” and “health care in America is to a very significant degree about making money for private health-care companies.”

The audience was on its feet again at the conclusion of the socialist politician's 70-minute talk. His themes would have been familiar to many Vermonters, but clearly struck some Granite State residents as novel in their radicalism.

Caroline French, a Dover, N.H., resident, expressed delight with Sanders' remarks. “What he's saying isn't being addressed by any other candidate,” French observed following the speech. “He has a solid platform to run on. Inequality is getting worse and worse and could be the demise of this country.”

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Bernie 'Prepared' for Possible Presidential Run

Posted By on Thu, Mar 6, 2014 at 3:39 PM

  • Andy Bromage
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders could be edging closer to a 2016 presidential run.

In an interview with the Nation published today, Vermont's junior senator said "I am prepared to run for president of the United States."

"What I do wake up every morning feeling is that this country faces more serious problems than at any time since the Great Depression, and there is a horrendous lack of serious political discourse or ideas out there that can address these crises, and that somebody has got to represent the working-class and the middle-class of this country in standing up to the big-money interests who have so much power over the economic and political life of this country," Sanders told the Nation. "So I am prepared to run for president of the United States. I don’t believe that I am the only person out there who can fight this fight, but I am certainly prepared to look seriously at that race."

While stopping short of declaring that he will run, Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, openly discussed for the first time what a campaign might look like, acknowledging it would be "unconventional" and rooted (no surprise) in the fight against inequality.

He spoke of the disparate groups he would have to bring together and said he would continue to travel around the country meeting with people in the near future. Most surprisingly, he said he is unsure whether he would run as a Democrat or independent, but discussed that dilemma in some detail.

"I think we’ve got a message that can resonate, that people want to hear, that people need to hear. Time is very important. But I don’t think it makes sense — or that it is necessary — to start a campaign this early," Sanders said.

The author of the piece, John Nichols, is a long-time Sanders chronicler.

As Seven Days noted in a piece last October speculating about Sanders' presidential ambitions  the senator has developed a national, small-dollar fundraising network that brought in 146,460 contributions from roughly half as many people during his last six-year election cycle.

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