U.S. Politics

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Hillary Clinton Wins Vermont

Posted By on Tue, Nov 8, 2016 at 7:02 PM

Hillary Clinton, accompanied by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, right, greeting supporters in Chappaqua, N.Y., after voting on Tuesday - AP PHOTO/ANDREW HARNIK
  • AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
  • Hillary Clinton, accompanied by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, right, greeting supporters in Chappaqua, N.Y., after voting on Tuesday
Democrat Hillary Clinton lost the presidency to Republican Donald Trump Tuesday, but she did pick up Vermont's three Electoral College votes.

The Associated Press called Vermont for Clinton at 6:59 p.m. — just before polls closed around the state — making it the first in the nation to land in the Democrat's column.

The outcome in Vermont was never in doubt. The state has not backed a Republican presidential candidate since 1988, when then-vice president George H.W. Bush defeated Massachusetts' Democratic governor, Michael Dukakis. Though Trump narrowly won Vermont's presidential primary election in March, he never came within 25 points of Clinton in state general-election polling.

With nearly every precinct reporting early Wednesday, Clinton was leading Trump in Vermont 56.3 to 30 percent. Nearly 6.5 percent wrote in another option — many, presumably, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Libertarian Gary Johnson took 3 percent of the vote and Green Party nominee Jill Stein 2 percent.

Over the past year, a series of prominent Vermont Republicans distanced themselves from Trump, saying they would write in other candidates for president. Those included Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, who would go on to win the governor's race Tuesday, lieutenant gubernatorial nominee Randy Brock, U.S. Senate nominee Scott Milne and the party's legislative leaders, Sen. Joe Benning (R-Caledonia) and Rep. Don Turner (R-Milton). On Tuesday, Scott said he'd decided in the end to cast his presidential ballot for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who came in a close second to Trump in Vermont's presidential primary.

Vermont played an outsized role in the early months of the 2016 presidential election, when home-state Sen. Sanders mounted a spirited campaign to seize the Democratic nomination from Clinton. But after Sanders endorsed Clinton in July, the state largely dropped off the presidential map.

Clinton did not once campaign in Vermont, while Trump held a single rally at Burlington's Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in January.

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Sunday, November 6, 2016

In Winooski, Leahy Draws Cheers Reading New Comey Letter Clearing Clinton

Posted By on Sun, Nov 6, 2016 at 4:07 PM

Sen. Patrick Leahy reads a letter from FBI Director James Comey at a campaign event Sunday in Winooski.
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy reads a letter from FBI Director James Comey at a campaign event Sunday in Winooski.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) broke some news Sunday afternoon as he campaigned with Vermont's Democratic ticket Sunday afternoon in Winooski.

A few minutes into his prepared remarks at Waterworks Food + Drink restaurant, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee pulled a smartphone out of his pocket and told a crowd of three dozen supporters that he had received an "extremely important" email "in the last few minutes."

"I thought you might be interested if I read it," he said, pausing as he searched his inbox for the message, which had not yet been reported on by the national news media.

The letter, which Leahy proceeded to read in full, was an update from FBI Director James Comey, who had stunned the political world a week earlier with the news that his agency had discovered new emails on a laptop owned by former congressman Anthony Weiner involving Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. In his update, according to Leahy, Comey told top members of Congress that an expedited review of the new emails had found nothing requiring further law enforcement action.

"Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusion that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton," Leahy read as a rapt audience of Democrats listened closely.

Audience members let out a roar of approval.

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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Sarcasm Trumps Substance as Milne and Leahy Debate at VPR

Posted By on Thu, Nov 3, 2016 at 1:04 AM

Scott Milne, Peter Hirschfeld and Sen. Patrick Leahy prepared for a Vermont Public Radio debate Wednesday in Colchester. - ANGELA EVANCIE, COURTESY OF VPR
  • Angela Evancie, courtesy of VPR
  • Scott Milne, Peter Hirschfeld and Sen. Patrick Leahy prepared for a Vermont Public Radio debate Wednesday in Colchester.
Republican Senate candidate Scott Milne's voice was dripping with sarcasm Wednesday afternoon as he prepared to pose a question to his rival, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), at Vermont Public Radio's Colchester studios.

"Sen. Leahy, thanks again for agreeing to our first debate, five days before the election," Milne said, noting that the New Hampshire Senate and Vermont gubernatorial races had each featured more than a dozen such forums. "So, uh, thanks for really stepping up and giving Vermonters a chance to understand what the differences are between the two of us."

In fact, the VPR debate was their third of the campaign season, though it was their first — and last — one-on-one encounter. Judging by its bitter tone, neither candidate seemed happy to be there — or with one another.

"You've admitted that you've taken, I think, about $20,000 of travel from special interests to places like Las Vegas and Paris," Milne continued, asking whether Leahy felt "uncomfortable" having accepted free airfare and accommodations.

The incumbent Democrat said he'd cleared his 2004 trip to Paris — sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies — with the Senate Ethics Committee and later worked with then-senator Barack Obama to enact "very strong restrictions" on free travel.

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Monday, October 31, 2016

Seven Questions for Journalist and Activist Shaun King

Posted By on Mon, Oct 31, 2016 at 5:09 PM

Shaun King - COURTESY OF SHAUN KING
  • Courtesy of Shaun King
  • Shaun King
New York Daily News senior justice writer Shaun King has emerged as a leading voice in the Black Lives Matter movement and a must-read on criminal justice issues. King was also a vocal supporter of Bernie Sanders during the Vermont senator’s presidential campaign.

King spoke with Seven Days ahead of a talk he is scheduled to give at Middlebury College on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Mead Chapel. The conversation was edited for clarity and brevity.

Seven Days: Has this election season made the national conversation about race and police better or worse?
Shaun King:
I would probably say worse. It hasn’t helped it. The few times the presidential candidates have talked about it, it’s been a pretty one-dimensional conversation. For most mainstream Democrats and virtually all Republicans, law enforcement and their families and supporters are still a part of their voting base and they refuse to talk tough about it. We’ve struggled to get these presidential candidates to talk about it in any serious way, but that’s no different than any mainstream issue right now. It’s just been an ugly race altogether. I hear a lot of activists say we’re all looking forward to the presidential race being over because we feel like it dominates the news cycle in so many ways that the country will be able to talk about more substance.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Minter Radio Ad Starring Obama to Debut Wednesday

Posted By on Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 12:15 AM

Sue Minter on Sunday at the University of Vermont, with Congressman Peter Welch and Sen. Patrick Leahy - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Sue Minter on Sunday at the University of Vermont, with Congressman Peter Welch and Sen. Patrick Leahy
A new radio advertisement featuring President Barack Obama singing Sue Minter's praises is set to debut on Vermont radio stations Wednesday morning.

The Democratic gubernatorial candidate has purchased $10,500 worth of air time to run the ad, according to a disclosure filed Tuesday with the Secretary of State's Office. 

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Sanders Puts National Fundraising List to Work for Minter, Zuckerman

Posted By on Mon, Oct 24, 2016 at 8:25 PM

Sen. Bernie Sanders stumps for Sue Minter, far left, and David Zuckerman, far right, Sunday in Burlington at the University of Vermont. - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders stumps for Sue Minter, far left, and David Zuckerman, far right, Sunday in Burlington at the University of Vermont.
Updated at 9:48 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) spent the weekend stumping for Vermont's Democratic slate. Now he's putting his fundraising might behind two of its top candidates. 

In a message sent Monday afternoon to his national email list, Sanders called on his loyal base of donors to contribute to Democratic gubernatorial nominee Sue Minter and Democratic/Progressive lieutenant gubernatorial nominee David Zuckerman. The email encourages Sanders' supporters to split their donations evenly between Minter, Zuckerman and three out-of-state candidates and causes: California State Senate candidate Jane Kim, California State Assembly candidate Eloise Reyes and California's Proposition 61, a ballot initiative designed to lower the price of prescription drugs. 

A Sanders web page designed to raise money for five candidates and causes. - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • A Sanders web page designed to raise money for five candidates and causes.
By 8:30 p.m. Monday — six hours after Sanders sent the email — Zuckerman had already raised roughly $20,000 from 2,800 donors, he told Seven Days. Minter's campaign declined to comment on its haul but issued a statement thanking Sanders for his support.

"We're excited to have Bernie Sanders highlighting Sue as a candidate who shares his values, who will strengthen the middle-class and truly tackle Vermont's affordability issues, rather than simply rehashing trickle-down economics and the national Republican line," said Minter spokesman Elliott Bent.*

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Friday, October 21, 2016

At UVM Roundtable, Biden Calls for Renewed Focus on Cancer Research

Posted By on Fri, Oct 21, 2016 at 2:21 PM

Vice President Joe Biden speaks Friday morning at the University of Vermont. - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Vice President Joe Biden speaks Friday morning at the University of Vermont.
Updated at 4:27 p.m.

Nine months after President Barack Obama asked him to lead a national effort to expedite cancer research, Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Burlington Friday to outline the recommendations of his “Cancer Moonshot” initiative.

During a morning roundtable at the University of Vermont, Biden said that researchers had in recent years reached “a real inflection point” in the fight against the disease. But he argued that the medical community continued to face structural deficiencies that hobble communication and collaboration.

Vice President Joe Biden Friday morning in downtown Burlington - POOL: GLENN RUSSELL/BURLINGTON FREE PRESS
  • Pool: Glenn Russell/Burlington Free Press
  • Vice President Joe Biden Friday morning in downtown Burlington
“We are so far behind the curve on some of the simple things that can make a gigantic difference,” the vice president said. “This is a worldwide problem, and we need an organizational structure that will take us to a different place.”

Specifically, Biden said, those fighting cancer struggle to access information about their malady, find clinical trials or even share their medical records with far-flung hospitals. Moreover, he argued, the pharmaceutical industry charges too much for life-saving drugs.

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Morning Read: Obama to Star in Minter Radio Ad

Posted By on Fri, Oct 21, 2016 at 10:16 AM

morningread.post.png
President Barack Obama plans to appear in television and radio advertisements for down-ballot Democrats campaigning across the country, according to a new report from the Washington Post. Among the beneficiaries will be Vermont’s own Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Sue Minter:

On the radio, Obama cut ads for Vermont Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, who is challenging incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. He’s also on the radio for [North Carolina Senate candidate Deborah] Ross and [Pennsylvania Senate candidate Katie] McGinty and Senate candidates Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada, and Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire.

Minter campaign spokesman Elliott Bent confirmed the Post's story Friday morning.

“In the ad, the president endorses Sue because she shares his values: economy for the middle class, education, fighting climate change, protecting women’s right to choose,” he said in a brief written statement.

Bent said the campaign itself, not a supportive super PAC, would pay for the Obama ad. He did not reveal when it would go on-air. 

Read the full story here.

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Jane Sanders Calls Shumlin’s Clinton Endorsement ‘Worthless’

Posted By on Thu, Oct 20, 2016 at 2:21 PM

Jane O’Meara Sanders in May 2015 - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Jane O’Meara Sanders in May 2015
Updated at 3:07 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) wife, Jane O’Meara Sanders, attacked Gov. Peter Shumlin over Twitter Thursday after an email emerged claiming she “begged” him not to endorse Hillary Clinton for president last year.

“1st, I don’t beg,” O’Meara Sanders tweeted Thursday morning. “Knew Gov Shumlin endorsement of HRC worthless,told him his timing as @BernieSanders announced was pathetic crass politics.”
The senator’s wife was responding to an internal Clinton campaign email allegedly obtained by Russian hackers and posted online by WikiLeaks. In the May 2015 message, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook told the candidate that he had just spoken with Shumlin and an unnamed political adviser. 

“He called Bernie a few hours ago and said he’s endorsing you, Madame Secretary,” Mook wrote of the governor. “It will be public at 3:30 today. This was a bold move for him so it would be great if you can call and say thanks.”

Mook added, “Apparently Jane Sanders has now called him twice and begged him to change his mind and he’s stood firm.”

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

VPR Poll Shows Tie in Governor's Race, 28-Point Lead for Clinton

Posted By on Wed, Oct 19, 2016 at 8:21 AM

Sue Minter and Phil Scott are in a dead heat, the new poll shows. - FILE
  • File
  • Sue Minter and Phil Scott are in a dead heat, the new poll shows.
Updated at 9:01 a.m.

A new poll
commissioned by Vermont Public Radio finds that the leading candidates for governor are statistically tied.

Among likely voters surveyed over the first two weeks of October, 39 percent said they support Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott and 38 percent prefer Democratic former transportation secretary Sue Minter. That's within the poll's 3.9 percent margin of error.

Some 14 percent of voters remain undecided in the gubernatorial race and another 2 percent back retired Major League Baseball pitcher Bill "Spaceman" Lee of the Liberty Union Party.

The survey, which was conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute, found that the presidential race isn't even close in Vermont.

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is supported by 45 percent of likely voters, while only 17 percent plan to vote for Republican nominee Donald Trump. Libertarian Gary Johnson picked up just 4 percent and Green Party nominee Jill Stein 3 percent. Another 4 percent said they would vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — even though the former presidential candidate isn't on the ballot.

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