US Presidential primaries – FAQs after Super Tuesday III

March 17th, 2016 at 8:52 am by kiwi in america

The biggest question on the minds of almost everyone following the US Presidential election race is: can Donald Trump be stopped? I will cover that question last as it is the most consequential but there are a number of other questions that Kiwi followers of the race might have. Let’s cover off the Democrats side first as things are more clear cut there.

Can Sanders beat Clinton?
No. Even if he was coming close to Clinton in the recent Democrat primaries (thus garnering only slightly less delegates proportionally as all Democrat primaries/caucuses award delegates proportionally), the presence of the so-called super delegates (who are pretty much all pledged to support Hillary-the current super delegate split is 467 to 26) would ensure he’d lose the nomination. However, last night on Super Tuesday 3, despite Clinton’s shock lost last week in Michigan, Clinton bested Sanders by substantial margins and in a series of delegate rich states such as Florida and Illinois. The delegate count stands at 1,599 vs 844 or almost 2:1.

Will Sanders drop out soon?
Unlikely. He has plenty of money; actually more than any other candidate running for either party and he has captured the activist base of the Democrat party and enjoys an almost iconic status among the young and idealist more left leaning voters. Sanders will continue to pick off the odd state with favourable demographics (such as his narrow win in Missouri last night) but it will be impossible for him to overhaul Clinton’s lead. Sanders will be secretly hoping that Clinton will be forced to drop out of the race if indicted for breaches of intelligence secrecy laws with her use of an external private email server to transmit top secret material during her tenure as Secretary of State.

Will Clinton be indicted?
A $64,000 question. In terms of the sheer volume of secret material that was transmitted via her unsecured home brew email server (over 2,000 emails marked secret and 22 marked with the very highest designation: Top Secret/Special Access Programs), the answer should be yes. The 22 SAP emails had material so sensitive to national security that they could not be released by the State Department (under the court ordered release) even in redacted form. General Petraeus was indicted for passing a smaller amount of less secret material to his girlfriend who was writing his memoirs. If Clinton was an employee at an intelligence agency, she’d be in jail already but Clinton is no ordinary person. The FBI seems to be playing a straight bat with their investigation but the granting of immunity from prosecution to the man tasked by Clinton to set the whole separate email system up is an ominous sign for her. The FBI Director James Comey is known to be independent and unswayed by political machinations but the decisions to prosecute will not be his – that will be made by the Department of Justice and by three layers of Obama political appointees including the Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Will Obama throw Clinton under the bus? Given the detrimental effect of an indictment then leading to a Republican win, not likely. But any decision not to indict runs the risk of mass leaking of the facts by the FBI investigators of Clinton’s reckless disregard for national security that even the Democrat leaning media would find hard to ignore.

If she’s indicted, what might happen?
Democrat insiders are reportedly very nervous about Clinton and not just because of the vulnerability over the email server issue. Plan B however is to not let Sanders prevail at the Convention as he is deemed to be too left wing to be electable even against a flawed candidate like Trump. Most likely they will parachute Vice President Joe Biden into the Convention as a ‘salvation’ candidate whom the delegates will rally around to win in the November General Election. There is no other option as the Democrats’ front bench is so devoid of talent.

Switching now to the Republican side which is where all the drama is!

Can Trump still win a majority of delegates?
Yes, but he would have to win the remaining primary races by a margin of 53% or more which is doable but above the average of the mid 40’s he has been achieving in recent primaries. Trump is still going to face Cruz and Kasich whose combined vote will likely deny Trump the majority he seeks. If all remaining contests were winner-take-all this wouldn’t matter but they aren’t and there are still states where Cruz will likely win (e.g. Utah). Most intelligent analysts of the race are picking the race will go to what is called an open or contested Convention.

What is an open (or contested) Convention?
The US political parties formally nominate their Presidential flag bearer at their quadrennial conventions held in the mid/late summer of the Presidential election year. Most conventions are a carefully staged managed coronation as the party’s preferred nominee has emerged from the primary election season with a majority of delegates. In the case of the Republican Party, it has 2,472 delegates from each of the states with delegates proportionate to each state’s population. The GOP nominee has to win a majority of the delegates or 1,273 [edit 1,237]. Delegates arrive at the 2016 Republican Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on July 18th nominally bound to their candidate (and some are more bound than others as each states’ electoral laws and thus internal party primary/caucus/nominating procedures differ). If no candidate comes with a majority of the delegates, then no candidate can win the first round of voting. Depending on governing state election laws and internal state GOP procedures, most of the delegates become unbound in the second round leaving them free to support a different candidate than the one they came to represent. The outcome will depend on a myriad of factors but most heavily on the respective strengths of the 2nd and 3rd ranked candidates and the on the horse trading and enticements that can be made. Abraham Lincoln for instance arrived at the 1860 Republican Convention in 4th place and after 4 rounds of voting, emerged as the victor due to the shifting allegiances to his three higher polling rivals as each failed to win an outright majority with each voting round.

Could Ted Cruz ever manage to win a majority of delegates before the Convention?
Cruz currently holds 397 delegates to Trump’s 646 (the remaining delegates are distributed: Rubio 169 Kasich 142  Carson 8 Bush 4 Fiorina, Paul and Huckabee 1 each). For Cruz to win outright, he’d need to win the remaining races by a margin of around 70%. Based on current trends, that’s a near impossibility. Cruz’s only pathway to the nomination is to deny Trump his majority and secure nomination on a second or subsequent ballot at the Convention.

But won’t it be easier for Cruz if Rubio and Kasich both drop out leaving it as a one on one race?
First off whilst Rubio has suspended his campaign yesterday after his heavy loss to Trump in his home state of Florida, Kasich’s clear win in Ohio (his home state where he has had some success as Governor) will buoy him to continue. Some of the establishment donors that initially funded Bush, then switched to Rubio for a time, will donate to Kasich enabling him to keep running. He will fancy his chances in Wisconsin (a winner take all primary where Kasich enjoys the support of Governor Walker who remains popular amongst WI GOP voters). Kasich cannot win (indeed his pathway to a majority is he’d have to win 90% of votes in the remaining primaries) but he will stay in to bolster his bargaining power at the Convention.

Primary voters don’t move in simple binary ways so to assume that everyone not voting for Trump is vehemently anti Trump is a mistake. Let’s assume Kasich did drop out, it is wrong for Cruz’s campaign to assume that all of the Rubio and Kasich voters would come to him. A majority would but not all of them. Cruz is banking on that happening and that Trump is stuck at 45%. The other thing is that not all the remaining primaries are winner take all and so even if Cruz was to consolidate the anti-Trump vote behind him, Trump would still win enough delegates to deny Cruz a majority. California is the biggest prize awarding a whopping 341 delegates (172 from the primary then 169 alternates) but it awards delegates incrementally to the candidate who wins a plurality in each of the 51 Congressional districts making it very costly and complicated for one candidate to prevail. Its primary isn’t until June 2nd making it the first time in living memory that a California primary has any influence on a nomination race. For those who want to stop Trump reaching 1,271 [edit 1,237] then the longer it is a three-man race, the greater the likelihood of a contested Convention. Thus the Cruz v Trump head to head race that Cruz so desires, will not be happening until Kasich runs out of money and starts to poll so low that he can’t cross minimum vote thresholds in proportional states to be awarded delegates.

If he wins 1,271 [edit 1,237]delegates before the Convention, no – he will be the nominee. But if he doesn’t, then look to the party establishment to use a variety of tactics to deny him the nomination. The playbook to do this is detailed by Sasha Issenberg of Bloomberg. Reader Digest version: the selection of GOP delegates to the Convention is a shadow hidden primary campaign of back room deals, arm twisting, granting of favours and controlled by state and local level Republicans who are much more likely to support a mainstream candidate. Whilst a few states force their delegates to stay bound to their candidate throughout, almost all states allow their delegates to be unbound after the first ballot. The race is on to fill these delegate slots across the country with anti-Trump people who can be counted on to desert Trump after the first ballot. Arcane rules will be used to challenge any questionable primary or caucus results (e.g. the known chaos at the Nevada caucus and the public role of Trump supporters in dominating enrollment procedures at key caucus sites). Some states control the delegate appointment process in the hands of very few. For example, in South Carolina you can only be a delegate if you attended the 2015 State GOP Convention and that was held before Trump even announced his candidacy. The delegate appointments are controlled by Governor Nicki Hayley known to be anti-Trump and will be supported by both SC Senators Graham and Scott who both supported candidates other than Trump. Because Trump won every SC congressional district, he was awarded all of its 50 delegates but he could find come July that none of the 50 will support him in the second round.

Stage 2 of secret campaign to deny Trump the nomination would occur at the Convention. Senior party officials will control the all-important Rules Committee and we know that this has been used to control convention floor activities before. Fearing a Ron Paul revolution in 2012, Romney ensured that the Rules Committee imposed Rule 40 requiring that a candidate can only receive votes at the convention if they had won a majority in 8 states effectively shutting down Paul’s potentially rowdy and disruptive delegates. Control of convention floor procedures down to who is the Sargent at Arms and can legally eject querulous delegates, will be how the establishment will handle the likely uproar from delegates who are loyal to Trump if he cannot win in subsequent voting rounds.

If Trump does not get to 1,271 [edit 1,237] and the Convention is contested, we’re going to see rambunctious political theatre not seen since the infamous Democrat Convention in 1968. Buckle up people – we’re going to be in for a rough ride. There are lots of other questions such as: if Trump is denied the nomination won’t he and his supporters get ugly and won’t he run as a third party candidate? If it is Hillary v Trump, is the conventional wisdom that Hillary will easily beat him true? Could the GOP establishment parachute in someone like Mitt Romney into the Convention (IMO a silly idea despite my support for Romney in 08 and 12) and could Trump continue to defy all political conventions (as he has to date) and still win the nomination and the Presidency? These questions will need to wait – there is still some water to go under the exciting and chaotic bridge that is the 2016 GOP Primary!

[Disclaimer: I supported Rubio from the earliest beginnings of the campaign but will vote for Cruz in the upcoming Arizona primary next week and then for whoever is the Republican nominee in the November election even if it is Trump or some mainstream candidate like Jeb Bush foisted on the party at the convention. Either is preferable to Clinton.]

Trump leads Clinton for the first time

September 6th, 2015 at 8:05 am by David Farrar

The Hill reports:

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump leads Democrat Hillary Clinton head-to-head, according to a new poll released Friday.
The poll by SurveyUSA finds that matched up directly, Trump garners 45 percent to Clinton’s 40 percent.
In other head-to-head matchups, Trump beats out Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) by 44 percent to 40 percent; Vice President Joe Biden by 44 percent to 42 percent; and former Vice President Al Gore by 44 percent to 41 percent.
Trump’s surge past Clinton marks a dramatic turnaround in the polls.
A CNN/ORC sampling of national voters in late June — just days after Trump entered the race — found that 59 percent supported Clinton to 34 percent picking Trump in a head-to-head race.
So Trump is up 11% and Clinton down 15%. A huge swing.
Polls at this early stage aren’t generally that important. It is still highly likely Clinton will be the Democartic nominee and highly unlikely Trump will be the Republican nominee.
However momentum is important, and this Shows Trump has it and Clinton going backwards. A major argument against Trump is he could not win the general election. A few more polls like this, and that conventional wisdom will go the same way as all the other conventional wisdom Trump has smashed.
The demographic breakdowns are interesting:
  • Men – Trump +15%
  • Women – Clinton +5%
  • Under 35s – Clinton +19%
  • 35 to 49 – Trump +12%
  • 50 to 64 – Trump +15%
  • 65+ – Trump +17%
  • Whites – Trump +17%
  • Blacks – Clinton +34%
  • Hispanics – Clinton +19%
  • Asians – Trump +2%
  • Independents – Trump +13%
  • Moderates – Trump +4%
  • North East – Clinton +4%
  • Mod West – Trump +18%
  • South – Trump +6%
  • West – Clinton +2%

Sanders closing on Clinton in Iowa

August 31st, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports:

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s once-commanding lead in Iowa has shrunk to just seven percentage points, while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has surged in the state whose caucuses will kick off the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, according to a poll released Saturday evening.

The Des Moines Register-Bloomberg Politics poll, considered the gold standard of Iowa surveys, found Clinton with the support of 37 percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers, followed by Sanders at 30 percent.

There is little doubt that Clinton’s campaign is in trouble, and that she is inspiring Democrats.

However that does not mean she will not win the nomination. She almost certainly will. It is more about how much damage she takes along the way.

It’s not good when the most left wing Senator in the United States is only 7% behind you. In May she led him by 40%.

What is interesting is the net favourabilities (with Iowa Democrats) for the three possible contenders:

  • Biden +65%
  • Clinton +58%
  • Sanders +67%

Obama by the way is +79%.

If you look just at those who are strongly favourable, and strongly unfavourable the net differences are:

  • Obama +39%
  • Biden +23%
  • Clinton +18%
  • Sanders +35%

Sanders supporters are more excited about him.

Sanders is also leading the polls in New Hampshire by 3%. So he could win both Iowa (1 February) and new Hampshire (9 February).

However after that it is Nevada and South Carolina, where Clinton should romp home. Sanders has little support outside a small geographic area. However the danger to Clinton is that if he wins Iowa and New Hampshire, the media attention he’ll get might move others towards him.

Clinton favourability dropping

August 2nd, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Washington Post looks at Hillary Clinton favourability poll numbers.

Some decline was inevitable as she went from Secretary of State to candidate, but the degree of change is pretty huge. Here’s het net favourability by year”

  • 2012 +37%
  • 2013 +33%
  • 2014 +19%
  • 2015 – 3%

Her current breakdown is interesting also:

  • All -3%
  • Democrats +70%
  • Republicans -68%
  • Independents -24%
  • Whites -26%
  • Non-whites +33%

Will it be Bush vs Clinton again?

June 17th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Jeb Bush has announced he is standing for the US Presidency. This is not unexpected, but is news. Donald Trump has also said he is standing. That is now serious news.

Could it be Bush vs Clinton again? Let’s look at the current polling for each primary.

Bush is averaging 9.7% in the heavily contested Republican race, behind Marco Rubio 12.4%, Scott Walker 11.0% and Ben Carson on 10.1%. Behind behind the flaky Carson is not good.

Clinton is averaging 58.5%, miles ahead of socialist Bernie Sanders on 12.0%.

What are their respective favourabilities?

Bush has 32% favourable and 50% unfavourable for a net -18%

Clinton has 46% favourable and 49% unfavourable for a net -3%

In a direct match up the average is Clinton 51%, Bush 42%. A landslide.

Of course 16 months to go, but hard to see Jeb Bush in the White House.

Clinton’s cash problem

April 26th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The NY Times reports:

The book does not hit shelves until May 5, but already the Republican Rand Paul has called its findings “big news” that will “shock people” and make voters “question” the candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich,” by Peter Schweizer — a 186-page investigation of donations made to the Clinton Foundation by foreign entities — is proving the most anticipated and feared book of a presidential cycle still in its infancy.

The book, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, asserts that foreign entities who made payments to the Clinton Foundation and to Mr. Clinton through high speaking fees received favors from Mrs. Clinton’s State Department in return.

“We will see a pattern of financial transactions involving the Clintons that occurred contemporaneous with favorable U.S. policy decisions benefiting those providing the funds,” Mr. Schweizer writes.

His examples include a free-trade agreement in Colombia that benefited a major foundation donor’s natural resource investments in the South American nation, development projects in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake in 2010, and more than $1 million in payments to Mr. Clinton by a Canadian bank and major shareholder in the Keystone XL oil pipeline around the time the project was being debated in the State Department.

Correlation is not causation, but what you may still have here is foreign governments thinking this is a way you could thank the Clintons for favourable US decisions.

The book will be very interesting. I don’t think anything can stop her winning the nomination, but this could hurt her in the general election. Americans seem to accept their politicians being on the take for US companies, but may be less tolerant if they think you are on the take for foreign governments,

The GOP and the last 16 years

April 23rd, 2015 at 11:20 am by Lindsay Addie

Charles Cooke in the National Review discusses the strategy the Republican party should adopt with the 2016 Presidential elections in mind.

It should by now be obvious to conservatives that the last American Golden Age obtained not during George W. Bush’s rather disappointing tenure, but in the mid- to late- 1990s, when the Republican party ran both houses of Congress and Democrat Bill Clinton ran the executive branch. If they are to run a successful campaign — and, crucially, if they are to capitalize upon the electorate’s present dissatisfactions — Republicans will need to acknowledge that they are not only running against the Obama administration, but against a broader national melancholia to which they themselves have contributed.

What Cooke is arguing is that if Jeb Bush is the GOP nominee (considered the frontrunner by many) will that force the GOP into defending the George W Bush Presidency?

Despite his early wins, moreover, both Barack Obama and his agenda have descended into unpopularity and into fatigue. But it would be a considerable mistake to conclude from this that there is any great yearning to return to 2005. If they are offered a choice between “Clinton” — a name that evokes peace and prosperity — and “Bush” – a name that has been rather run through the mud – they will almost certainly choose the former.

I don’t agree that Hillary Clinton is a near certainty to defeat Jeb Bush but in a ‘back to the future’ style contest between the two she wouldn’t be without a realistic chance of winning. The Clinton political machine is looking rather clunky at times, but is the Bush machine any better?

So what does Cooke think the GOP should do?

Instead, the conservative play should be to put up an attractive newcomer and to hope that he can persuade the electorate to turn its back on the established machine. Who should that be? Well, that depends primarily on aesthetics rather than policy. I take no pleasure in writing this: In an ideal world, our elections would be held on paper, our candidates would be expected to eschew the superficial, and the president would be heard from only if there were a war or a tsunami. Policy, and not television commercials, would rule the political roost. In the real world, however, messaging matters a great, great deal. If they are serious about winning in 2016, conservatives should make sure that they pick a candidate who is capable not only of tapping into the contemporary dissatisfaction, but of breaking with his own party’s past, too.

An ‘attractive newcomer’ as Cooke calls them would also I think need to have some sort of executive experience and be able to motivate conservatives AND moderates/independents to go the polling booths and vote for them. Neither Romney nor McCain excited the conservative base in their respective campaigns for President.

Finally to come back to the premise of Cooke’s article, I agree with him that the GOP should run against the last 16 years. They also need to come up with some sound new policy ideas and not just for the next year and a half rail against Obama and Hillary Clinton (assuming she is the nominee).

No surprise – Clinton confirms

April 13th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

This is the least surprising announcement in recent times. From the day she stood down as Secretary of State, this was obviously the game plan.

Her chances of getting the Democratic nomination are very high. The average of the polls has her at 60%, Joe Biden at 12%, Elizabeth Warren at 12% and then Bernie Sanders at 5%.

Warren has said she won’t stand. Sanders is more a socialist than a Democrat and unelectable. Biden is seen as too buffoonish.

So long as Clinton doesn’t appear to be taking the nomination for granted, she should win t comfortably to become the first female nominee for President from a major party.

Becoming President will be harder. However she currently polls around 10% ahead of Jeb Bush and Scott Walker in general election match ups. Her challenge will be not to be seen as an extension of the Obama presidency.

Fiorina vs Clinton

March 22nd, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The National Journal reports:

“Like Hillary Clinton, I too have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles around the globe,” said Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard. “But unlike her, I’ve actually accomplished something. You see, Mrs. Clinton, flying is not an accomplishment; it is an activity.”


Fiorina, the only Republican woman actively considering a run for the White House, is taking on Clinton more forcefully and directly than any other GOP contender. It’s a deliberate strategy meant to make headlines, differentiate her from the pack, and elevate her position on the national stage. And in the process, it’s winning her friends, as Fiorina assumes an attack role that many Republican strategists think male GOP candidates need to avoid.

Smart. A female candidate can attack another female candidate without risking gender based attacks.

But Fiorina’s offensive is in a class of its own, and for one reason: She’s a woman, so she can.

“She tweets about women’s rights in this country and takes money from governments that deny women the most basic human rights,” Fiorina said at CPAC. “She tweets about equal pay for women, but won’t answer basic questions about her own office’s pay standards—and neither will our president. Hillary may like hashtags, but she doesn’t know what leadership means.”

Wouldn’t it be amazing if both parties’ nominees were women!

Populism in the Democratic Party

December 27th, 2014 at 12:05 pm by Lindsay Addie

Dan Balz from the Washington Post reports on the debate underway amongst Democrats prior to the 2015-16 presidential primaries.

That there is such a debate over the direction of the Democratic Party is without question, and the differences have become louder in the wake of the drubbing the Democrats suffered in the midterm elections.

What is in question is the degree to which the rising populist movement on the left can materially shape the party’s future. More specifically, absent some sign from Warren that she is going to run, can these Democrats successfully pressure Hillary Rodham Clinton, the party’s dominant prospective presidential candidate, to adopt much of their agenda?

It is well known that Hillary Clinton is seriously considering running for the nomination and would be a potentially strong establishment candidate for the Democrats. But further to the left of Clinton is Elisabeth Warren the Senator from Massachusetts. Warren has been building a higher profile in US politics at the national level. Her supporters have already been stating clearly where they stand.

Those trying to encourage Warren to run in 2016 argue a different case. Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.Org Civic Action, said there are important policy differences that need to be aired before Democrats pick their 2016 nominee.

She cited issues such as how the party should address income inequality, who holds positions of power in the executive branch — a cause taken up by Warren when she opposed Obama’s nomination of investment banker Antonio Weiss as treasury undersecretary — and whether it is even possible for Democrats to have a discussion about expanding, rather than constraining, Social Security benefits. “We are not debating style here,” she said. “We are debating substance.”

This is urging the Democrats to move to the left. Which leads to the obvious question how will Clinton respond? So far there haven’t been a lot of specifics from Clinton and as yet it remains uncertain what her strategy will be.

Balz goes on to cite examples of the debate within the Democrats and observes that not all within the party are as yet convinced of the populist message Warren is pushing.

Populist energy pulsates within the party to the point that Democrats cannot agree on whether it has become its dominant ideological strain. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who has championed a populist message as much as Warren, said: “It’s a good, strong message, and it’s a message that she’s carried very well, and it’s a message that a number of us have put out there for a number of years, and it’s catching on. . . . I don’t think it’s there yet.”

But Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware, who comes out of the centrist Democratic tradition, said he believes the party has tipped in favor of Warren’s anti-Wall Street, populist message. “I don’t think there’s any question,” he said of a shift that he finds worrisome for the party’s future hopes of winning over independents and swing voters.

Relating to and winning over independents and swing voters is a key issue not just for Democrats but also the GOP. Also the Republicans would probably welcome a presidential nominee such as Warren with her big government style agenda. Whether they would be good enough to defeat her populist message in a presidential campaign is yet to seen. They haven’t won the Presidency since 2004.

Debates such as the current one inside the Democratic Party can be very healthy in any political movement and shouldn’t be automatically categorised as a split.

US politics cartoons of the week – 22 December 2014

December 22nd, 2014 at 3:27 pm by Lindsay Addie

Most of the US cartoons this past week have been about either the normalizing of relations with Cuba or the Sony/North Korea spat. So I chose the possible Hillary Clinton vs Jeb Bush contest in 2016. Both cartoons speak for themselves without any explanation.

The first is by Steve Sack of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.


© Steve Sack: found at

The second cartoon is by Dave Granlund


© Dave Granlund: found at

I’m far from convinced either Hillary or Jeb would make a good POTUS. Two peas from the same pod.

Dotcom will help Hillary get elected!

December 3rd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom says he will be “Hillary’s worst nightmare” as he revealed plans for a US version of the Internet Party.

Dotcom, who is fighting extradition to the US where he is wanted on piracy charges took to Twitter today to announce the new political movement.

“The Internet Party is coming to the United States in 2015. Stay tuned for our celebrity founders from the music, film and Internet industry,” Dotcom posted.

Well the major impact of the Internet Party and Dotcom on the NZ election was to get the man he hates, John Key, re-elected Prime Minister with an increased number of MPs. So on that basis, Dotcom campaigning against Hillary Clinton, should secure her the presidency.

Minutes later he clarified that his role in the party would be limited.

“The Internet Party US will be well funded and run by American citizens. I will help with Public Relations ;-)”.

I think he should do a speaking tour in the US, to help them.

Hillary Clinton Back Pedals on Job Creation Comments

October 28th, 2014 at 5:55 pm by Lindsay Addie

Three days after saying that business doesn’t create jobs Hillary Clinton has found it necessary to back pedal CNN reports.

Friday at a campaign rally for Massachusetts Democratic gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley, the former secretary of state told the crowd, “Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs,” going on to say trickle-down economics “has failed rather spectacularly.”

Republicans seized on the sentence, seemingly made for an anti-Hillary Clinton campaign ad. America Rising, the main anti-Clinton super-PAC, is featuring it on the header of its website.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Clinton’s attempt to walk back her original remarks.

“I shorthanded this point the other day, so let me be absolutely clear about what I’ve been saying for a couple of decades,” said Mrs. Clinton, who is widely expected to run for president in 2016.

“Our economy grows when businesses and entrepreneurs create good-paying jobs here in an America where workers and families are empowered to build from the bottom up and the middle out — not when we hand out tax breaks for corporations that outsource jobs or stash their profits overseas.”

It is a certainty that if Hillary does become the Democratic Party nominee more will be heard of this. As CNN also point out it isn’t the first gaffe on things economic this year by Clinton.

In early June, during her book tour, Clinton made a major gaffe when she said, “We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt,” a comment that critics cited as evidence she is out of touch with everyday Americans.

Loose lips can hurt a prospective run to win the White House. Mitt Romney found this out the hard way when his remarks were secretly taped at the private fundraiser in September 2012.

[]UPDATE]: Corrected typo.

Utu via traffic jams

January 10th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Chris Christie, the early front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, was facing a crisis yesterday after emails appeared to show senior aides conspired to inflict an extraordinary act of revenge against the town of a political foe.

The emails detailed how advisers to the New Jersey Governor brought traffic gridlock to the town of Fort Lee after its Mayor Mark Sokolich had refused to endorse his re-election campaign last year. The revelations left Christie, a Republican star who claims a rare ability to forge bipartisan co-operation, open to charges of political bullying in his leadership of the “Soprano state”.

Christie, 51, had previously denied he or his close aides were behind the mysterious closure of access roads to the George Washington bridge, which links New Jersey with New York, in September. Yesterday an “outraged and deeply saddened” Christie said he was misled by an aide. He denied any involvement. The emails do not directly implicate him.

For Christie to get through this he needs to sack those responsible very quickly, and also have a full independent inquiry into it. Otherwise this will haunt him.

The winner from this is Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee. Christie is the only Republican who polls ahead of her in a match up. Most poll well over 10% behind her.

Clinton has also come out looking good in a recent book by Robert Gates. Gates was Defence Secretary to Obama and Bush (and had a security role in every administration since Nixon except Bill Clinton). Gates lashes Joe Biden, Congress, the Obama White House and many others. But he praises Clinton often, which is significant as Gates in Republican.

UPDATE: Christie has sacked staff and apologised, and did a two hour press conference which most observers said he handled very well. But there will be more hearings and information retrieval, so I doubt the issue is over – yet.

UPDATE2: Love this Onion article”

Following revelations this week that staffers under New Jersey Governor Chris Christie manipulated traffic in a small New Jersey town to punish its mayor, mortified Americans across the nation reported that they were shocked to learn the potential 2016 presidential candidate could possibly fumble such an easy political cover-up. “Man, this guy wants to be President of the United States and he can’t even conceal an act of corruption this rinky-dink and run-of-the-mill from voters? It’s crazy,” Newark resident Carolyn Baum said in agreement with millions of stunned Americans, adding that she holds potential presidential candidates to much higher standards of subterfuge and graft. “I mean, this is a total softball. If he can’t even bully one little small-town mayor into submission by oppressing his constituents and get away with it, how can we reasonably believe he’s politically skilled enough to cover up national scandals like orchestrating a foreign war, illegally colluding with big business, or violating the civil liberties of millions of Americans? It’s a little scary, to be honest.”


Hillary is running

June 14th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Any doubts over whether Hillary Clinton will run for President in 2016 are gone for me. She has joined Twitter, which is a first step for candidates. But her Twitter bio is what is attracting praise and attention:

Wife, mom, lawyer, women & kids advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US Senator, SecState, author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, TBD…

A but of humour at her own expense with the pantsuit reference and the TBD a clear hint to watch this space.

Her first tweet also went down well:

Thanks for the inspiration @ASmith83 & @Sllambe – I’ll take it from here… #tweetsfromhillary

They ran the very funny Tweets from Hillary – so again she is trying to show she has a sense of humour.

I can’t see her not winning the nomination, if she stands. The Republicans will need a good candidate with strong appeal to beat her.


Death and the US President

February 17th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Jack Tame writes in the HoS:

There’s more to health than just his fat, Christie retorted this week. He appeared on late night TV smashing a doughnut. Unless the doctor gives him a physical or examines his family history, Christie says Mariano should “shut up”.

But surely the doctor has a point.

It’s true Obama continues to struggle with cigarettes, and that his nicotine addiction could one day spell his end. But one need only look at Christie to know he probably risks a much more sudden departure.

If tax returns, birth certificates and religious leanings are considered fair fodder for Presidential nominees, I don’t think it entirely unreasonable for a pulse to be a prerequisite, too. Being obese might not stop a person doing the job, but being dead would be a hindrance.

David Letterman makes Chris Christie fat jokes almost non-stop, so it was hilarious when Christie went on the show and after a few minutes pulled out a donut and ate it, saying he didn’t realise how long the interview would be. People love someone who can mock themselves.

Christie’s weight and health will be issues if he stands for President. However the chance of Christie departing from office prematurely is hugely overblown by commentators such as Tame.

Paul Campos at Time writes:

In January 2017, Christie will be 54, while the current Democratic front runner for her party’s presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton, will be 69. It is true that with all other things being equal, compared with normal-weight people like Clinton, very obese people like Christie have an elevated mortality risk. Specifically, the most recent, detailed and sophisticated study of the question, published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that people as heavy as Christie have a 29% increase in mortality risk vs. otherwise similar people of normal weight.

Now, 29% may sound like a significant elevation in risk, but let’s compare it with another factor, one that has a vastly more powerful effect than body weight: age.

Government actuarial tables reveal that with all other things being equal, the odds that a 69-year-old woman will die between January 2017 and January 2021 are 115% higher than the odds that a 54-year-old man will die during that four-year period. In other words, age poses almost exactly four times the mortality risk to Hillary Clinton as weight does to Chris Christie, in regard to the chances that either would die during a first presidential term.

So Clinton’s age is four times greater a mortality factor than Christie’s weight. How many pundits will write on the possibility that Clinton would die in office?

The Clintons

October 6th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The bitter and negative 2012 American presidential election has left few political reputations intact.

Republican challenger Mitt Romney has run a staggering, gaffe-prone campaign, while President Barack Obama is battling a listless economy and a disenchanted Democratic base.

But, through all the attacks ads, missteps and heated controversies, both Bill and Hillary Clinton have emerged with their reputations and status not only intact but greatly enhanced. In a remarkable development, and 12 years since they vacated the White House, the Clintons have rarely seemed more influential or more relevant.

Rather than slipping away into obscurity, Bill Clinton is hitting the campaign trail hard for Obama after his stirring performance at the Democratic convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, overshadowed the President.

During the first debate the words that would most often send the worms upwards were “small businesses”, “jobs” and “Bill Clinton”.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is trotting the globe as America’s top diplomat amid feverish speculation that, whichever of Obama or Romney wins on Tuesday, November 6, she will again run for the White House in 2016. That could make her the first female US President and conceivably extend Clintonian domination of US politics to 2024.

I think she will, if Obama wins. Maybe even if he does not.


November 4th, 2010 at 8:20 pm by David Farrar

To my surprise my status as co-chair of The American Politics Appreciation Society got me an invite to the reception for US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Around two dozen people there all expressed amazement – not at me being there, but that I was wearing a suit. I explained that if they were the most powerful woman in the world, then I’d might wear a suit for them also.

Audrey Young snapped this photo of my brief conversation with Hillary, which mainly consisted of me saying how popular Chelsea was with those who got to meet her, when she was here in 1999.

Clinton and McCully spoke for around 20 minutes. Clinton is the absolute political professional – excellent at speaking with few notes, and working a room. She of course spent over a year campaigning to be President and came closer than any other woman has to winning that job. A lot of the discussion was about whether she might still manage it – either in 2016 (my theory) or 2012 (the theory of the stupid people who don’t understand a Cabinet Minister can not challenge a President). By 2016 she will be 69, but the US is not so anti older politicians – plus she looks considering younger than she is.

I’m actually more optimistic about Obama’s chances of re-election than most I chatted to there. If the economy improves, his chances will improve. Also the GOP controlled House may overplay its hand and get a backlash. Last but not least the choice of Republican candidate will be crucial.

Net censorship

January 23rd, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Reuters reports:

China has attacked Washington’s call to lift internet censorship and warned the Obama administration to heed alarm bells over trade, Taiwan and Tibet.

China said that US calls for greater internet freedom were harmful to bilateral ties and that the Chinese government banned any form of hacking, in response to a speech by the US Secretary of State.

The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for China and other authoritarian governments to lift their curbs on citizens’ use of the internet in a speech on Thursday (Friday NZ time).

It was a good speech which is in full here.Also an interesting Q&A.

This is not just about what China do behind their own borders, but the threat they may pose to the greater Internet with state sanctioned cyber attacks.

“A new information curtain is descending across much of the world,” said Clinton, calling growing internet curbs the present-day equivalent of the Berlin Wall, contravening international commitments to free expression.

Clinton also urged Beijing to investigate the complaint about cyber spying from China that Google said targeted it and dozens of other companies, as well as Chinese dissidents.

One of the best parts of the speech was:

As I speak to you today, government censors somewhere are working furiously to erase my words from the records of history. But history itself has already condemned these tactics. Two months ago, I was in Germany to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The leaders gathered at that ceremony paid tribute to the courageous men and women on the far side of that barrier who made the case against oppression by circulating small pamphlets called samizdat. Now, these leaflets questioned the claims and intentions of dictatorships in the Eastern Bloc and many people paid dearly for distributing them. But their words helped pierce the concrete and concertina wire of the Iron Curtain.

The Berlin Wall symbolized a world divided and it defined an entire era. Today, remnants of that wall sit inside this museum where they belong, and the new iconic infrastructure of our age is the internet. Instead of division, it stands for connection. But even as networks spread to nations around the globe, virtual walls are cropping up in place of visible walls.Some countries have erected electronic barriers that prevent their people from accessing portions of the world’s networks. They’ve expunged words, names, and phrases from search engine results. They have violated the privacy of citizens who engage in non-violent political speech. These actions contravene the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which tells us that all people have the right “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” With the spread of these restrictive practices, a new information curtain is descending across much of the world. And beyond this partition, viral videos and blog posts are becoming the samizdat of our day.

A speech by itself won’t change anything, but the focus of the US Government at the highest levels is a good thing.

US on Internet freedom

January 21st, 2010 at 12:29 pm by David Farrar

The US Embassy has e-mailed:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver a major policy address on Internet freedom live from the Newseum in Washington, D.C. January 21, 2010, 9.30am EST, Friday 3.30AM NZ time.  Secretary Clinton will lay-out the Administration’s strategy for protecting freedom in the networked age of the 21st Century.

Following her speech, there will be a panel discussion on this issue. To participate, either by watching a high quality video stream of the speech and panel discussion or by submitting questions and comments while viewing go to: From here, you may choose the high quality video option or the interactive CO.NX room. As always, no password is necessary. Enter as a guest and type the username of your choice.

For further information please visit

Information is also available at’s feature page on Internet Freedom. You can also follow the speech on Twitter:

When released, a transcript of Secretary Clinton’s remarks will be available at

I will be very very interested to watch this. Not quite enough, to be up at 3.30 am, but once I get up.

Hat Tip: Clare Curran

A potential huge win-win for NZ foreign policy

March 30th, 2009 at 7:07 pm by David Farrar

The Tailor of Panama Street blogs:

As we have posted before, New Zealand is currently running for a seat on the 57 member UN Human Rights Council.  Elections will be held in May and New Zealand is currently one of three candidates for three vacancies that will come in the Western European and Other Group (WEOG).  The other declared candidates are Norway and Belgium.

Now this is not a good thing. The HRC is just as bad as its predecessor that was abolished because it was a repulsive joke. The current Council is more into taking rights away than defending them. It is trying to make it compulsory for countries to ban virulent criticism of religion.

There are signs President Barack Obama may be about to reverse another George W. Bush policy and take a fresh look at the HRC.  Bush shunned the Council, arguing it was biased against Israel and ignored flagrant human rights abusers (indeed, many of its members fall into this categrory).   However, as part of a campaign to improve the US’s image in the world, Obama seems to be taking a more cautiously supportive line.  On 1 March, the US announced it was sending an observer to the Council’s current session, to “use the opportunity to strengthen old partnerships and forge new ones.”  Now, UN scuttlebutt suggests that the US might be looking to run for a spot on the Council in the May elections.

This is a golden opportunity.

So far, so good. There is no doubt that the Council can only benefit from having the US actively engaged. But with four candidates for three WEOG spots, someone is going to miss out.  The Progressive Realist suggests that the US has already sounded out the Belgians to see if they would step down to let Washington run unopposed. No word on this yet, but is it too cheeky to speculate whether New Zealand might offer to step aside for Washington? From Minister McCully’s point of view, wouldn’t this advance two foreign policy goals: improve relations with the new US administration and get out of the foreign affairs equivalent of a “polar bear hug”?

That would be a brillant move. It is the best of all worlds. We escape having to serve on the Council (imagine the shame as we have to explain vote after vote), the US rejoins it (the only country that can temper it a bit) and Uncle Barack and Aunt Hillary owe us a big favour.

Hopefully McCully will make the offer to withdraw to make room for the US to stand, when he meets Clinton.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

November 22nd, 2008 at 1:41 pm by David Farrar

Barack Obama campaigned on change, but luckily he didn’t really mean it. Instead of hiring a bunch of inexperienced friends to run the United States, he has appointed dozens of former Clinton Administration staffers and experienced Senators to top jobs.

His most brillant, yet risky, move is to appoint Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State (NY Times say she has decided to accept). It unites the Democratic Party, gets his rival out of the Senate, and as an added bonus she’s probably one of the best Democrats for the job.

What is the risk? Well when has anyone ever managed to control Hillary, let alone Bill who is an inevitable part of the package? Will Hillary run her own foreign policy programme or Obama’s? Most likely outcome is his foreign policy will change to be hers. This is not all bad, as that allows him to focus on domestic issues.

But there is that risk of a falling out, which would be explosive. Thinks of Truman sacking MacArthur.

SNL on Palin

September 22nd, 2008 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Saturday Night Live did a very funny sketch of Sarah Palin with Hillary Clinton. Tina Fey looks and sound remarkably like Palin and is hilarious. The Clinton actress isn’t anywhere near as close a look, but is also bloody funny. Only five minutes and worth watching.

Oh and if you watch it and wonder what a FLURGE is, check here.

The Barack Obama Speech

August 29th, 2008 at 12:27 pm by David Farrar

I’m off to the United States Embassy to watch Barack Obama’s acceptance speech. It is going to be an incredible moment, regardless of the fact I don’t like his policies. It is a milestone for the United States to have an African-American candidate for President, when just one generation ago they had segregation.

So offline most of the afternoon, but any breaking news I can blog from my blackberry. I’ve been doing that a lot this week.

I’m at the Embassy next week also for McCain’s speech. He should be announcing his Vice-Presidental candidate over the weekend, which will be fascinating. The choice of Biden doesn’t seem to have changed the polls much. I am picking a big spike after the speech today.

Oh one has to give Bill Clinton full marks in his careful use of language, where he declared Barack Obama the best man for the job of President of the United States. That is, well, just so Clintonian! Both can’t fault either of their speeches.

McCain vs Obama on JibJab

July 24th, 2008 at 9:18 pm by David Farrar
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The latest JibJab – God those guys are good.