Bloomberg decides not to run

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FILE - In this Jan. 29, 2019 file photo, Michael Bloomberg speaks to workers during a tour of the WH Bagshaw Company, a pin and precision component manufacturer, in Nashua, N.H. Bloomberg is not running for president. The 77-year-old former New York City mayor, one of the richest men of the world, announced his decision not to join the crowded Democratic field in a Bloomberg News editorial on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

FILE - In this Jan. 29, 2019 file photo, Michael Bloomberg speaks to workers during a tour of the WH Bagshaw Company, a pin and precision component manufacturer, in Nashua, N.H. Bloomberg is not running for president. The 77-year-old former New York City mayor, one of the richest men of the world, announced his decision not to join the crowded Democratic field in a Bloomberg News editorial on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

Ex-NYC Mayor Bloomberg won’t run for president in 2020


Associated Press

Wednesday, March 6

WASHINGTON (AP) — Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York City mayor, announced Tuesday that he will not join the crowded field of Democrats running for president in 2020.

Instead, Bloomberg said he planned to focus his energy and considerable resources on outside efforts aimed at defeating President Donald Trump, as well as on combating climate change and addressing gun violence.

Bloomberg spent months weighing a White House run, traveling to early voting states and building a team of experienced political advisers. But aides said internal polling suggested Bloomberg’s path to the Democratic nomination was narrow, particularly if Vice President Joe Biden — who shares some of Bloomberg’s moderate positions — decides to run.

In an editorial for Bloomberg News — the media company Bloomberg owns — he said he was “clear-eyed about the difficulty of winning the Democratic nomination in such a crowded field.”

Bloomberg has flirted with a presidential run before, but as an independent. He registered as a Democrat last fall and began pitching himself to primary voters as a political centrist. But as an older white man with strong ties to Wall Street, he may have struggled to win over the Democratic Party’s energized liberal base that’s increasingly embracing diversity.

He encouraged Democrats on Tuesday to unify behind a nominee who could beat Trump, a not-so-subtle dig against candidates pushing the party to embrace liberal priorities such as “Medicare-for-all.”

“It’s essential that we nominate a Democrat who will be in the strongest position to defeat Donald Trump and bring our country back together,” he wrote. “We cannot allow the primary process to drag the party to an extreme that would diminish our chances in the general election and translate into ‘Four More Years.’”

Bloomberg aides said Biden’s likely White House run was a factor in the mayor’s decision. The team’s internal polling showed that there is an opportunity for a moderate, like Bloomberg or Biden, to win the Democratic primary, but there wasn’t room for both.

Biden may not announce his final decision until April. But Bloomberg concluded that was too long to wait to make his own decision, and he informed advisers on Monday that he would not be running for the White House.

Bloomberg does plan to keep his political network together as he considers how to play a role in the 2020 election from the outside. He’s consulting several top advisers to former President Barack Obama, including David Plouffe, the architect of Obama’s 2008 campaign, data guru Dan Wagner and Mitch Stewart, Obama’s battlefield-states director.

While details of the effort are still being discussed, aides said the goal is to build a robust and well-funded effort to target Trump even as Democrats are still locked in a competitive primary that could stretch deep into 2020.

“Making sure Trump doesn’t have the field to himself is really important,” Plouffe said.

It’s unclear how much money Bloomberg is willing to plunge into the effort. He invested more than $100 million to help Democrats in the 2018 midterm election and his team has discussed going much further in 2020.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is now the only candidate in the 2020 race putting climate change front and center in his campaign, but he declined to speculate Tuesday at a campaign stop in Iowa on whether Bloomberg’s departure from the field would boost his bid.

“Whether we were in the same race or he is doing work as a private citizen, I know we will be allied in some sense eventually, one way or another, because he has just been so visionary on this for such a long period of time,” Inslee said. “So I look forward to working with him one way or another.”

Follow Steve Peoples at and Julie Pace at

Associated Press writer Alexandra Jaffe in Ames, Iowa, contributed to this report.

Sanders vs. Clinton: 2016 rivalry proves hard to overcome


Associated Press

Wednesday, March 6

NEW YORK (AP) — Bernie Sanders was minutes away from walking onto a Brooklyn stage last weekend to launch a second presidential campaign that he insisted would be all about the future. The problem: Some of his allies were still fighting Hillary Clinton.

Shaun King, the activist and writer who was introducing the Vermont senator, hinted at what might have been had Sanders won the 2016 Democratic nomination.

“In 2016, like so many of you, I campaigned hard for Bernie to be president. And to this day, I still believe that he would have beaten Donald Trump,” King told a cheering crowd gathered on a snowy college lawn and waving signs with the same logo that Sanders’ campaign used in 2016.

The 2020 Democratic primary may be in full swing, but the bruising 2016 contest between Sanders and Clinton never ended for some. In the opening days of Sanders’ latest campaign, Clinton’s supporters have warned that he will drag the party to the extreme left and have threatened to reveal unsavory details about him. Sanders and some of his backers have been strikingly dismissive of the first woman to be a major party’s presidential nominee. In the process, the entire Democratic field risks getting bogged down in the last campaign instead of positioning themselves to beat President Donald Trump.

“One of the biggest cliches in politics is that elections are about the future, not the past, and there’s a reason that cliches are cliches — because they’re true,” said Mo Elleithee, a former Clinton spokesman who now leads Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service. “To sit here and relitigate what happened in the 2016 Democratic primary means we’re not talking about the 2020 Democratic primary. How’s that good for anybody?”

But the 2016 campaign — and all the fallout from its surprise result — isn’t going away without a fight.

Trump lamented on Twitter on Tuesday that he won’t be able to take on Clinton for a second time after she ruled out running for president again. Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, sought to move past the ambiguity over his party affiliation by signing a Democratic National Committee pledge to seek the presidency as a Democrat and govern as one if he’s elected. And in recent interviews, Sanders has sought to deflect criticism that he divided the party and contributed to Clinton’s loss by painting himself as a relentless surrogate for the 2016 nominee, something he doesn’t think he gets enough credit for.

The 2016 hangover is following some candidates on the campaign trail. Pressed in Iowa this weekend about why she didn’t back Sanders in 2016, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts encouraged Democrats to “keep our focus on how we’re going to win in 2020.”

It’s the long-simmering feud between the Clinton and Sanders camps that’s proving the hardest to overcome. In 2016, Sanders and his supporters said the primary was stacked against them because of perceived favoritism among Democratic leaders toward Clinton. Her backers argued that Sanders left her bruised heading into the tough fall campaign against Trump.

Those lingering hard feelings have been amplified by a debate among Democrats in the Trump era over whether the ambitious liberal proposals championed by Sanders could backfire. Bill and Hillary Clinton don’t believe Sanders can beat Trump, according to people who have spoken to them and requested anonymity to discuss private conversations.

From nearly the minute Sanders announced his second campaign last month, Clinton supporters worried he would drag the party too far to the left. Sanders, meanwhile, spoke of his “differences” with Clinton during an appearance on ABC’s “The View” and said he wasn’t interested in her advice.

Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill tweeted that “crap like this 613 days before Election Day is irresponsible, counter-productive, & sets us all back.”

By the time Clinton and Sanders made a rare appearance together on Sunday in Selma, Alabama, the tension was clear. Clinton and Sanders shared only a brusque exchange, in contrast to the hug she gave to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

There’s no sign that the strain will fade away soon. David Brock, who in 2016 ran the pro-Clinton super PAC Correct the Record, helped produce opposition research against Sanders. He said only a limited amount of the group’s work was released during the campaign because they were “waved off (from) going very hard on Bernie” to avoid alienating his supporters.

“He wasn’t really scrutinized,” said Brock, who also founded the Democratic opposition research group American Bridge.

Brock wouldn’t provide details on what he learned about Sanders but said he and Clinton supporters won’t hold back in 2020.

“It’s extremely unlikely that he is going to be the nominee, and yet he can cause a lot of problems along the way,” he said.

Jeff Weaver, who ran Sanders’ 2016 campaign and serves as a senior adviser to his second run, brushed off such threats, saying that there’s a small group that could be described as the “Bitteratti” who is interested in fighting the last primary and that he isn’t one of them.

“There is a very small sliver, particularly within some donor circles, who for their own class interests would be very disappointed to see Bernie Sanders be the nominee of their party,” Weaver said. “David Brock is paid by and represents those people.”

“Fortunately,” Weaver added, “the rank and file of the Democratic Party does not agree with the small group of millionaires who holds the leash of David Brock.”

Rebecca Katz, a New York-based liberal strategist, said, “Establishment Washington has to come to terms with the fact that, yes, Bernie Sanders might indeed be the nominee.”

“Not only that, but they also need to know that Bernie Sanders is very well admired outside of Washington, and they can’t discount that just because they don’t like him,” he said.

Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe in Waterloo, Iowa, and Julie Pace in Washington contributed to this report.

Omar’s Israel remarks expose Democrats’ simmering divisions


Associated Press

Wednesday, March 6

WASHINGTON (AP) — Back in January, the Democrats welcomed their brash young newcomers to Congress with smiles and hugs. That was before the new colleagues dragged the party’s simmering divisions over Israel out in the open.

Provocative comments from Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota have thrust the Democrats into an uncomfortable debate over Israel policy a few weeks before a high-profile conference at which senior Democrats typically make a show of support for the Jewish state. Increasingly, the rift appears as much generational as ideological, with newly elected Democrats showing less deference to the party line.

Omar became the flash point after she suggested last week that Israel’s supporters are pushing U.S. lawmakers to take a pledge of “allegiance to a foreign country.” It’s at least the third time she has forced older, pro-Israel Democrats who run the House into awkward territory over U.S.-Israeli policy.

Republicans have been happy to stoke the furor, with President Donald Trump calling Omar’s remarks “a dark day for Israel” and posting a photo of himself in Jerusalem. Inside the Democratic family, meanwhile, leaders are in a bind, torn between a need to admonish Omar and their desire to defend one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress.

This time Omar is not apologizing. And this time pro-Israel Democrats led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi are not just warning her about the dangers of Jewish tropes. They’re expected to offer a resolution condemning anti-Semitism on the House floor. Although no vote on the resolution is yet scheduled, Democrats said it could come as soon as Thursday.

“Accusations of dual loyalty generally have an insidious, bigoted history,” an early draft of the resolution reads in part. “The House of Representatives acknowledges the dangerous consequences of perpetuating anti-Semitic stereotypes and rejects anti-Semitism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States.”

Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced in a meeting of leading Democrats late Tuesday that the text will be updated to include anti-Muslim bias, according to a senior Democratic aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting. Other Democrats said an outpouring of support for Omar prompted leaders to consider broadening the measure to avoid dissension. Omar did not speak to reporters outside her office on Tuesday evening.

“There is a lot emotional disquiet about the situation, and it’s a good time to restate our values,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, who is Jewish and a member of leadership, as he exited a meeting in Pelosi’s office. “That’s what I hope our resolution can do.”

The text, which includes a history of bigotry against Muslims and blacks as well as Jews, sounds unobjectionable by itself. But the fact that senior Democrats felt obliged to put the House on-record on the topic points to a transformation in the country — mostly among Democrats — about supporting the Jewish state.

In a poll by the Pew Research Center in January of last year, 46 percent of Americans said they sympathized more with Israel and 16 percent with the Palestinians in their Middle East discord.

But Democrats are about evenly divided, with about a quarter sympathizing with each side and the rest saying they side with neither or don’t know — and in recent years they have become less likely to sympathize with Israel. Liberal Democrats were nearly twice as likely to say they sympathize more with the Palestinians (35 percent) than with Israel (19 percent). Older Americans were much more likely to say they sympathize with Israel than with the Palestinians, with more division among younger Americans.

Omar, a Somali-American, says that what she’s questioning is the influence game in Washington and she worries that anything she says about Israel and its treatment of Palestinians will be construed as anti-Semitic.

“Being opposed to (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu and the occupation is not the same as being anti-Semitic,” she tweeted on Sunday. “I am grateful to the many Jewish allies who have spoken out and said the same.”

Democrats in Congress remain largely supportive of Israel. Pelosi, for example, often attends the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington, which is coming up this month.

Omar on Tuesday got a boost from allies who point out that she, too, has been the target of threats and bigotry.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggested in a tweet that her fellow freshman was being treated unfairly.

“No one seeks this level of reprimand when members make statements about Latinx + other communities,” the New York Democrat wrote.

Jewish groups generally said they support the resolution — but …

“We are concerned that the timing of this resolution will be seen as singling out and focusing special condemnation on a Muslim woman of color as if her views and insensitive comments pose a greater threat than the torrent of hatred that the white nationalist right continues to level against Jews, Muslims, people of color and other vulnerable minority groups,” said J Street, a nonprofit that says it’s a home for “pro-Israel, pro-Peace Americans.”

Back home in Minnesota, a collection of elected officials started a #StandWithIlhan hashtag with a statement that reads in part: “We call on Democrats to stand with Ilhan against Republican efforts to pit Jews and Muslims against each other.”

But there also was talk of finding a candidate to challenge her in 2020.

“She is rapidly making herself a pariah in Congress, rather than an effective representative for her constituents,” said state Sen. Ron Latz, who is Jewish, lives in her district and has been critical of her recent statements on Israel.

Earlier this year, Omar apologized for a 2012 tweet in which she said Israel had “hypnotized” America. And last month, she apologized for suggesting that members of Congress support Israel because they are paid to do so.

That earned her stern rebukes from Pelosi and House Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, among others. This time, Engel declared that Omar’s suggestion about divided loyalties was a “vile” stereotype that had no place on his committee.

Republicans, meanwhile, demanded that Democrats throw Omar off Engel’s panel. There was no sign of that happening Tuesday.

“I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee,” Omar tweeted.

Associated Press writers Andrew Taylor, Emily Swanson and Hannah Fingerhut in Washington, and Doug Glass in Minneapolis contributed to this report.

Follow Kellman on Twitter at

The Conversation

Hoda Muthana wants to come home from Syria – just like many loyalist women who fled to Canada during the American Revolution

March 6, 2019

Author: G. Patrick O’Brien, PhD Candidate in History, University of South Carolina

Disclosure statement: G. Patrick O’Brien received funding from The Massachusetts Historical Society and the University of South Carolina.

Partners: University of South Carolina provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.

American emigrant Hoda Muthana begged American authorities last month to let her return to the United States.

Muthana, who was 19 when she left her family in Alabama in 2014 to join the proclaimed Islamic State caliphate, married three IS fighters after her arrival in Syria and was widowed twice.

Ultimately, Muthana claims, the birth of her son in May 2017 allowed her to see how foolish she had been.

Despite her insistence that she no longer harbors any radical sentiments, many Americans remain skeptical of Muthana’s intentions and believe she forfeited her American citizenship when she joined the enemy organization.

While the case has its own modern intricacies, early Americans confronted similar questions concerning the return of colonists who had supported Britain during American Revolution.

Much like Muthana’s insistence that she wants to return to America for the good of her young son, these exiled mothers also played a significant role leading their families back to their American homes after 1783 – despite resistance from their husbands.

Stay or leave?

During the American Revolution (1775-1783), roughly 1 in 5 white American colonists sided with the British. These colonists called themselves “Loyalists.”

When the war ended, the majority of these Loyalists stayed in the United States and reintegrated into American society.

Others chose to leave.

The formal conclusion of the war in 1783 began a series of evacuations from the last British strongholds of the eastern seaboard. In all, more than 60,000 people fled the American states during and after the war, with the majority of these refugees heading north to British Nova Scotia and the newly organized colony of New Brunswick.

Thomas Robie of Marblehead, Massachusetts, was one of the approximately 2,000 people who fled the state early in the conflict. A wealthy merchant, Robie resisted the colonial effort to boycott British-made goods in the late 1760s, angering the town’s patriot majority.

Fearing for his family’s safety as attacks against Loyalists turned increasingly violent, Robie left New England bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia, with his wife and four young children in late April 1775.

While Thomas’ business decisions had initially stirred up the locals’ anger, his wife made a more inflammatory denunciation of the town’s rebels.

“I hope that I shall live to return, find this wicked rebellion crushed, and see the streets of Marblehead so deep with rebel blood that a long boat might be rowed through them,” Mary Robie is recorded to have said.

According to Massachusetts lore, it was only her sex that saved her from physical harm.

Making home in exile

As a historian studying Loyalist refugees in Nova Scotia, I highlight how these colonists, and women in particular, navigated the physical and emotional hardships of exile.

All told, roughly 32,000 Loyalists arrived in Atlantic Canada, more than doubling the population and overwhelming the unprepared and poorly funded British colonial government.

In contrast to the fertile land the crown promised, the majority of refugees found Nova Scotia to be a barren and forbidding wilderness.

Of the widespread hunger, poverty and despair in Loyalist Halifax in June 1784, the oldest Robie child recorded in her diary, “If I look round me, what thousands I may see more wretched than myself.”

‘Reception of the American Loyalists by Great Britain in the Year 1783’ from Benjamin West’s portrait of John Eardley Wilmot, 1812. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

Rather than passively accept their fate, loyalist women took on important public roles in exile. From visiting new arrivals, to mourning at the funerals of total strangers, loyalist women’s empathetic actions built the intangible bonds of community that united a diverse group of refugees.

But few women ever warmed to their adoptive home.

The end of the war in 1783 forced thousands to move north, but it also offered earlier refugees, who had already tired of life in Nova Scotia, the opportunity to return to the United States. Loyalist wives and daughters became among the most outspoken proponents of repatriation.

Homesick for America

Although she had condemned the Revolution in 1775, Mary Robie quickly became a critic of life in Loyalist Halifax. She often complained about the dreary Nova Scotian weather and the monotony of her daily routine.

But after giving birth in March 1784 to her last child, a daughter named Hannah, Mary began to frame her desire to return in terms of her family’s future. She begged her husband “to give up on self” for sake of their children.

Thomas was unconvinced. In 1778, the Banishment Act of the State of Massachusetts named him among the Loyalists who had fled the United States “and joined the enemies thereof.” As an enemy of the state, and with his property confiscated in 1779, Thomas had little interest in returning.

The influx of refugees in 1783 had also brought a number of virulent diseases to Halifax; and when both mother and newborn daughter fell gravely ill, Thomas was forced to yield to his wife’s wishes. He reluctantly allowed his eldest daughter to accompany his wife and newborn back to Marblehead to find medical care.

Mary and her daughters arrived back in Marblehead in July 1784, where she became only more convinced that the family needed to come back for good.

“In short you must come here,” Robie wrote back to Thomas in Halifax, “for I shall never be content to live in the way I have done there.”

Even though she informed her husband that the people of Marblehead “would be glad to have you return and former animosities are all forgot,” Thomas remained unmoved.

Recovered from her illness, Mary had no choice but to bring her daughters back to Nova Scotia in October.

But Mary did not abandon her plan. For the next four years she continued to plead with her husband, eventually convincing him to let her and their eldest daughter return to Massachusetts again in 1788 to sell some of the hardware items he had trouble moving in Halifax.

During this trip, Mary encouraged a rival merchant in town, Joseph Sewall, to marry her daughter. With a concrete familial connection, Mary Robie had gained the upper hand.

“If you ever expect to see me again,” she wrote to Thomas in 1789, “you must come here.”

Thomas relented to his wife’s demands and landed in New England in July 1790. Although three of the Robie children had returned to Massachusetts, they left behind a son, Simon Bradstreet, who would go on to be one of the leading Loyalist politicians in Nova Scotia. Their daughter, Hetty, remained in Nova Scotia as well. Her husband, Jonathan Sterns met a more tragic end when a rival politician beat him to death in a street fight.

Although he had been proscribed from returning in 1778, facing a number of economic problems after independence, most New Englanders welcomed the return of merchants like Robie who had transatlantic connections.

Finding his former neighbors amiable, Thomas re-established himself as a merchant in the nearby town of Salem, while his wife traded visiting strangers with long walks in her garden.

“What fools we were to leave such a place,” she was fond of reminding her husband.


Joe Dirk: Leaving the country because of an internal war is a bit different than leaving the country to go fight for someone else. The loyalists had to either stay and fight, or leave to find peace. ISIS recruits left a (relatively) peaceful place to go join a fight against their home country.

I am leaning towards not allowing re-entry. Every year I hire about 6 interns to help out with my tax preparation business. These college interns range from 18 to 21 years of age. These interns have figured out their stance on political and social issues, and have set a path to follow in their life. They are ADULTS. My point is that you cannot say “oh, well, she/he was only 19 when they made their choice – they didn’t understand”.

Perhaps they can be re-integrated, perhaps not. Either way, we need to send a strong message that if you illegally take arms against your country you will not be welcomed back. It’s not like they changed their minds in the middle of being victorious. Their defeat is the only catalyst for them wanting to return to the people they took arms against.

The question remains, however, where can these people go?

FILE – In this Jan. 29, 2019 file photo, Michael Bloomberg speaks to workers during a tour of the WH Bagshaw Company, a pin and precision component manufacturer, in Nashua, N.H. Bloomberg is not running for president. The 77-year-old former New York City mayor, one of the richest men of the world, announced his decision not to join the crowded Democratic field in a Bloomberg News editorial on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File) – In this Jan. 29, 2019 file photo, Michael Bloomberg speaks to workers during a tour of the WH Bagshaw Company, a pin and precision component manufacturer, in Nashua, N.H. Bloomberg is not running for president. The 77-year-old former New York City mayor, one of the richest men of the world, announced his decision not to join the crowded Democratic field in a Bloomberg News editorial on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
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