Nigeria summons representative of US ambassador over Trump comments
ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria’s government on Monday summoned a representative of the the U.S. ambassador to explain reported remarks by President Donald Trump that immigrants from Africa and Haiti come from “shithole countries”, the foreign ministry said.
Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama “sought clarification on the veracity or otherwise of the substance of the remarks, stressing that if they were true, they were deeply hurtful, offensive and unacceptable”, the ministry said in a statement.
Trump reportedly made the remarks at a private meeting with lawmakers on immigration on Thursday. A U.S. senator who attended the gathering said the president used “vile, vulgar” language, including repeatedly using the word “shithole” when speaking about African countries.
The Nigerian foreign ministry statement noted the “very warm and cordial relations that presently exist” between Nigeria and the U.S.
The United States, represented by Deputy Chief of Mission David J. Young as the ambassador was not in Nigeria, said there were contradictory accounts as to whether the remarks were made, the statement said.
In a separate statement, a U.S. embassy spokesman said Young “reiterated the excellent relations that exist between the United States and Nigeria and they discussed future cooperation between the two countries”.
The U.S. president on Friday denied using such derogatory language. But he has been widely condemned in many African countries and by international rights organisations. African Union countries demanded an apology on Friday.
(Reporting by Felix Onuah and Camillus Eboh; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram and Paul Carsten; Editing by Andrew Roche)
Donald Trump – 100 days of supervisory garbage
God’s own country is plunged into a filthy sea of inexplicable leadership challenge and policy-making ambiguity
The psychological relevance of Tao Te Ching’s Art of War “The Journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step” basically signifies the strategic importance of operating goals, tasks, and actions – definitely not a journey from Trump Towers to the White House.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States understood this philosophy, when in 1933, he used his first three months in office to lay the foundation of his executive mandate. Following this, the “First 100 Days” has been strategically imbedded by default as an exceptional period in foretelling the values of governance and tenure effectiveness. It sets the tone of administration’s potential and substance – or lack of it.
Without twisting words, it is unquestionable that in just less than three months of Trump’s inauguration, God’s Own Country has already been hurled into chaos. From cutting regulations, creating jobs, through his actions on trade, ethics, national security, immigration, public safety, women, and minority’s affairs, Trump has operated haphazardly, without strategies, thus, exhibiting exceedingly, a disgraceful show of paucity of vision, purpose, arrogance, ignorance, and mediocrity.
Intoxicated by his supervisory mandate without the required strategies to move the country forward, Trump wildly relied on autocratic executive actions to induce a bulk of his accomplishments, but that is not selling. Some commentaries, especially those spewing from the right wing had structured their assessment of Trump’s stewardship to reflect his pugnacious determination to fulfill his electioneering promises. However, abusive use of executive orders to hurriedly fulfill incredibly questionable electioneering vows to generate Twitter likes and shares remain one of Trump’s policy-making miseries.
Most controversial among his orders was Executive Order 13769, signed on January 27, 2017, curtailing refugees and stone-heartedly suspending the entry of Syrian refugees indefinitely. Trump was not done – this order also blocked nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries — Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States, signaling the harshest immigration policy in generations.
Trump’s Immigration policy excess was punctuated by the legal system he chose to sideline. Two judges restrained him. A Federal Judge in Hawaii issued a nationwide order blocking his ban on travel from parts of the Muslim world, whereas another in Maryland issued a separate Order, forbidding the core provision of the Trump’s travel ban from going into effect.
Trump’s move to retaliate against States opposed to his immigration enforcement policies also met another waterloo, just as his tenure sailed into the 100-day threshold. A Federal District Court Judge William Orrick issued a ruling, blocking his Executive Order seeking to cut federal funding to “sanctuary cities” – jurisdictions that refuse to help the Federal Government apprehend and deport undocumented immigrants. According to San Francisco city attorney, Dennis Herrera, “This is why we have courts – to halt the overreach of a President and an Attorney General who either don’t understand the Constitution or choose to ignore it.”
It is a fact that Trump campaigned and won on imaginable election promises. However, it has been established that electioneering victory is neither a proof of decision-making aptitude nor a test of exemplary leadership, but purely, a process of democracy.
Trump already admitted he was more of a negotiator than a transformational leader. He lied to his constituents that he was a dealmaker, and bragged about negotiating the country into economic possibilities. Yet, he has shown no talent for bargaining policies. For instance, he dabbled into a so called Trump/Ryan Care as a substitution to Obamacare and crashed beyond redemption; he bombarded Syria in a raid that turned out as lavish social media promotion; and then, dropped a so-called “Mother of all Bombs” in Afghanistan with absolutely no strategic purpose on negotiating North Korea.
Trump’s cohorts argued that his iron-handed approach to foreign issues signals seriousness and superiority over rogue nations. Again, this issue is not just about his recklessness in discharging ammunitions, it is all about leadership integrity.
Trump had initially dismissed the Syrian issue and vowed not to spend America’s monies on global wars and security. He swore, “I’m not, and I don’t want to be the President of the world. I’m the President of the United States, and from now on it’s going to be America first.” Therefore, directing airstrikes in Syria reveals a fluidity of a foggy vision – the height of deception, and shows a total lack of integrity. Any leader who speaks from both sides of his mouth must neither be trusted nor respected. Hence, Trump remains a monumental train-wreck with fatalities on stand-by.
Trump’s policy catastrophe might be worse than the tsunami. The LA Times Editorial Board in a few sentences captured a profile of a President that was wrong on arrival:
“He is a man so unpredictable, so reckless, so petulant, so full of blind self-regard, so untethered to reality that it is impossible to know where his presidency will lead or how much damage he will do to our nation. His obsession with his own fame, wealth and success, his determination to vanquish enemies real and imagined, his craving for adulation — these traits were, of course, at the very heart of his scorched-earth outsider campaign; indeed, some of them helped get him elected. But in a real presidency in which he wields unimaginable power, they are nothing short of disastrous.”
In his 100 days, he has accomplished absolutely nothing, but pour drums acid on the cord that unites the country. Already, he has plunged this God’s Own Country into a filthy sea of inexplicable leadership challenge and policy-making ambiguity. Till date, the only entity that has benefited from Trump’s 100-day policy wreckage is the Saturday Night Live – a late-night live television comedy and variety show constantly lampooning Trump’s decision-making meltdown and presidential disgrace.
Russian President, Vladimir Putin might have succeeded in leading a notorious cyber-hacking squad that fraudulently created the path to Trump’s election victory. But the truth remains: Trump is, not just an America’s problem, he is a Global Agony.
China remains America and the world’s greatest geopolitical threat – not Russia
Mitt Romney may have been correct, in 2012, when he said that Russia was America’s greatest geopolitical threat. Notwithstanding Russia’s current bad behavior, Romney’s assessment is no longer correct.
China is now America’s (and the world’s) greatest geopolitical threat. China has allegedly hacked the federal government, something some foreign policy experts consider an act of war. This is in addition to hacking American companies and stealing their intellectual product.
China wants to be the world’s new singular economic and military superpower. China wants to control the China Sea – a vital global economic artery – through military force so that it can intimidate and dominate its regional neighbors and control global trade.
While Americans are focused on the Russian email intrigue, China is militarizing man-made islands in the China Sea to eliminate the international norm of freedom of the sea.
The U.S. needs to deploy more aircraft carriers to Asia and help Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan build missile defense systems similar to the “Iron Dome” system in Israel. America must also strengthen our relationships and alliances in our own hemisphere, especially in Latin-South-and Central America as well as the Caribbean. This includes building on the Obama opening to Cuba.
Additionally, America needs to invest in Africa. We must help the nations on the continent strengthen and grow their economies and fight terrorists and work with India to strengthen its economy and military including a missile defense system.
Rebuilding America’s infrastructure, cutting taxes and deporting undocumented immigrants will not be enough to make America richer so it can spend more on the military.
To create more jobs and grow the American economy to have the funds to reduce the national debt and invest more in the military, there must be people around the world who can afford to buy American goods, services and products, and have the willingness to do so.
America must help build foreign markets for American goods, services and products and help ensure freedom of the sea and sky to protect the movement of global commerce.
Our nation will have to work with Russia, Jordan and the Saudis to bring peace and stability to Syria and the broader Middle East. Part of that effort will have to include strengthening America’s energy security and independence from Middle Eastern oil.
America has been trying to maintain a post WW II structure of the world that is just no longer realistic. The new reality of the 21st Century has to be acknowledged and used to inform the creation of a new American foreign policy framework and global consensus.
Investigating and responding to Russia’s hacking of the DNC and John Podesta’s email accounts must also include a serious and objective analysis of how to respond to China and North Korea’s hacking of the federal government and American businesses.
The failure to properly respond to prior incidents of foreign hacking, in the United States, is a part of the reason why Russia felt emboldened enough to hack the DNC and John Podesta’s email accounts.
The reality is that America is not fully prepared to defend the nation against cyber war.
It’s time to put partisanship aside and get to work on properly preparing our nation for the new challenges and adversaries before us and those to come.
Finally, journalists need to understand that their hyperbolic coverage of investigating the Russia hacking story is strengthening Putin on the world stage as a grand geopolitical strategist, (Ivan Krastev, Russia Isn’t Pulling All The Strings, The New York Times, December 21, 2016.)
Domestically, so-called establishment and mainstream media outlets are also significantly undercutting their own credibility. Far too many journalists are now engaged in ahistorical partisan advocacy as opposed to objective fact based reporting historically contextualized.
Putin has destabilized and further divided our nation without firing a shot while elevating his own stature on the world stage. This has been accomplished, in part, by media coverage. The safety and prosperity of our nation depends on how we view the world and respond to its changing needs and circumstances.
♦ Robinson and Adams are members of the faculty of the Political Science Department at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas.
In Photos: The US celebrates Independence Day
Nigerian lawmakers should sue the Americans if they are bold enough
The Cable – Last week, the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria accused three Nigerian lawmakers of bad behaviour. In a strongly worded letter, James Entwistle accused Samuel Ikon (PDP, Akwa Ibom), Mohammed Gololo (APC, Bauchi) and Mark Gbillah (APC, Benue) of various sexual misconducts, while they visited the U.S. state of Ohio as participants for the International Visitor Leadership Programme.
The ambassador made these allegations on behalf of the hotel the lawmakers were lodged in Cleveland. For Gololo, the ambassador accused him of grabbing a housekeeper in his hotel room and soliciting for sex, while Ikon and Gbillah were accused of soliciting the assistance of a hotel park attendant to help get prostitutes.
Ordinarily, this wouldn’t have made headlines in any of Nigeria’s gossip magazines. But, the Americans are taking these accusations very seriously – actually all civilized countries do – they have even said it might affect the future of the well-intentioned leadership programme, the accused lawmakers attended, which is designed to benefit Nigerians.
The ambassador did not mince words in describing how these allegations have cast Nigeria and its Parliament in a bad light. And this is where it affects every Nigerian.
All three Parliamentarians have denied these allegations. Honorable Gbillah has threatened to demand compensation for such defamation of character, while Gololo has demanded for evidence from the Americans to substantiate their claim.
This is where it gets interesting. I have no doubt in my mind that the Americans knew the implications of the allegations they made. The U.S. Missions abroad have strong legal teams which peruse such letters before it is sent out. They know the implications of law suits – mainly those involving a deformation of character.
Part of the ambassador’s letter read: ‘’The U.S. Mission took pains to confirm these allegations and the identities of the individuals with the employees of the hotel in Cleveland’’.
From the tone of James Entwistle’s letter, I doubt if the Americans are going to press any charges. The letter looked more like a warning.
But, one of the accused lawmakers says he is a family man and such allegation could cause an irreparable damage to his family. This is true, but will he be courageous enough to sue. I doubt.
Some lawmakers believe that this was a calculated attempt to rubbish the National Assembly. Wow! This is enough reason for the whole Parliament to instigate a class action, but they might not.
If the accused lawmakers sue, they might become billionaires if they win. And you can only sue if you are sure you are innocent because you might never know if the Americans have other electronic evidence. You never know. Little wonder, one accused lawmaker demanded for a video evidence. You need not demand for such evidence, all you need to do is to sue.
One lawmaker queried if the Americans could treat their congressmen the way they were treating these accused Nigerian lawmakers. The answer is a simple YES. They even treated Dominque Straus Khan, a former IMF boss, like that. So, that question is immaterial at this moment.
The Americans have even attempted to impeach a former President because of these kind of allegations. Of course, such allegations, or even act, will never lead to a big man’s impeachment in Nigeria – this is why some people believe Nigeria is still the best place to live – you can get away with murder in Nigeria.
If it turns out that these allegations are false, it might have resulted in a stigma that cannot be removed. This is why I employ the whole National Assembly to sue, if they are bold enough.
Of course, if the accused lawmakers decide to allow these accusations die a natural death in Nigeria, it might not in America. They might be denied entry into America in future (some reports say their visas have been cancelled) or be asked to answer to charges anytime they enter America. Since America is not like Nigeria, I urge the lawmakers to sue and make sure this is ironed out. It will be a shame if they decide to play the ostrich- sometimes Nigerian politicians threaten to sue, but don’t
Some Nigerians have been accused of this kind of offence in the U.S. A recent example is Timaya’s story. Timaya, one of Nigerian’s musical sensation, denied that he raped the lady, who accused him of rape, arguing that they were both consenting adults.
Well, I understand some of these accusations could be settled amicably. I suspect Timaya has followed that route. For our lawmakers, I only pray and hope their case is that of ‘mistaken identities’. These allegations are really damaging to the country and to the individuals involved.
There are many lessons to be learnt here, but the most important one is this: if you are a public officer, representing Nigeria abroad, you should know that it is not everything you do in Nigeria that you can do abroad. Though you might argue that some people in your host country get away with these things, you might not know how they do them and get away because you are just ‘’a new kid on the block’’.
Nigeria MPs threaten to sue over US sex claims
A group of politicians in Nigeria has threatened to sue the US embassy over accusations that they groped a hotel chambermaid and tried to solicit prostitutes while visiting the US.
The incidents allegedly occurred as the MPs were in Cleveland in April.
The three politicians identified in a letter from the US ambassador to Nigeria have denied the accusations.
He told Nigeria’s parliament speaker that such alleged conduct could put future visits by Nigerian MPs at risk.
Envoy James Entwhistle wrote that three of the 10-man delegation to a good governance exchange programme had allegedly been involved in behaviour that “left a very negative impression of Nigeria”.
He wrote that Mohammed Garba Gololo “allegedly grabbed a housekeeper in his hotel room and solicited her for sex”, while Mark Terseer Gbillah and Samuel Ikon “allegedly requested hotel parking attendants assist them to solicit prostitutes”.
The Speaker of the Nigerian parliament, Yakubu Dogara, has begun an investigation.
‘Shocked and embarrassed’
But one of the MPs, Mohammed Gololo, told the BBC the accusations were “false” and “unfounded” and that he demanded a retraction.
“I was shocked. I was embarrassed. There is nothing as such that has happened,” he said.
He went on to detail reasons why he believed the story did not stand up.
“You can imagine if one attempted to rape someone or grabbed someone, what stopped the person from screaming? What stopped the person from shouting?
“Remember we were there in April. Now we are in June. What stopped them from alleging or stopped them from reporting from April until now? What stopped them from bringing footage or some video clips of how it happened and where it happened?
“It’s false, it’s unfounded, and it’s really embarrassing.”
Mr Gololo said he was demanding an apology from the US government over the allegations or would take legal action, and that he was considering paying for himself to return to Cleveland to clear his name.
One of the other accused men, Mr Gbillah, said the allegation was a baseless attempt to tarnish the reputation of Nigeria’s House of Representatives.
A US Embassy spokesperson declined to comment on “private diplomatic correspondence”.
America’s most expensive warship ever built will undoubtedly change naval warfare
The US Navy’s 10 Nimitz-class flat-top aircraft carriers are the envy of the world, and yet the Navy has a newer, more powerful, and more advanced carrier in the works: the Ford-class.
This outsized power-generation capacity provides the Fords an opportunity to grow into new technologies that come up during their service life.
With ample power to draw from, the Fords could one day house directed-energy weapons like the Navy’s upcoming railgun.
Don’t Bend the Law to Fight Terror in Nigeria, U.S. urged
Edward McKinney – The National Interest
Earlier this month, the Obama administration revealed that it is poised to sell up to twelve light attack aircraft to Nigeria in a bid to support the country’s fight against Boko Haram.
This might sound laudable at first glance, but in reality, selling arms to Nigeria would mean the United States essentially breaking the so-called Leahy Law. Passed in 1997 by amending the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act, it prohibits the United States from exporting arms to “any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.”
The Leahy Law’s three-stage vetting process is stringent. It begins with the appropriate U.S. embassy carrying background checks on the individuals or units applying for assistance, by analyzing the Department of State (DoS) International Vetting and Security Tracking (INVEST) system, DoS Country Reports, cooperating with local police forces or even interviewing individual victims where necessary. If any credible information is found, the embassy can bar further support or refer to Washington.
In Washington, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) receives the results of the ambassadorial vetting and conducts investigations of its own. Again, if credible information that the violation or issue is serious enough to prohibit U.S. involvement is found, support is refused and the findings recorded in INVEST. Lastly, if further review of the information is required, then DRL will assemble a broader team of State Department representatives, who may request further information from the embassy in the country in question before a decision is made. With such a meticulous evaluation process, it is puzzling that there is any expectation that the Nigerian military will possibly pass the test.
Indeed, the Nigerian military is currently being investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of illegal killings and unlawful incarcerations. In June of last year, an Amnesty International report claimed that, in the course of Nigeria’s war against Boko Haram, brutal conditions while in government detention have led to the death of at least seven thousand people, while an additional 1,200 have been “extrajudicially executed” by Nigerian security forces. A further twenty thousand have been “arbitrarily arrested.”
And the man elected to clean up the country, President Muhammadu Buhari, seems to be either thoroughly naive or thoroughly complacent. In June of last year, he called for a lifting of the Leahy Laws, arguing that the “unproven allegations” of Nigerian security forces’ human-rights violations had rendered his forces impotent against the might of Boko Haram. His statement ignored two very crucial facts. The first that, as the later proven human-rights abuses showed, the Nigerian military was certainly not sitting on its hands waiting for U.S. support in the fight against Boko Haram and second, the application of the Leahy Laws, never results in a “blanket ban” on whole countries, it is individuals or units who are assessed before assistance is either granted or refused.
Buhari’s questionable relationship with reality came to the forefront once more in December 2015, when he declared that Boko Haram had been “technically defeated”—a curious statement given the fact that the group’s body count rose by 62 percent in 2015, and in the first quarter of 2016 more than thirty-six attacks that left 422 dead were staged. And worryingly, Muslim herdsmen of the Fulani tribe also seem responsive to the clarion call of Islamic extremism, launching systematic attacks on the people of the largely Christian Benue state in north central Nigeria.
Terrorism and human-rights abuses aside, the country is, in UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s words, “fantastically corrupt.” And despite Buhari’s spokesman Garba Shehu retorting that Cameron “must be looking at an old snapshot of Nigeria,” the evidence suggests otherwise. In a survey of 168 countries carried out by Transparency International in its annual “Corruption Perception Index,” Nigeria ranks thirty-second from bottom. Sambo Dasuki, a former national security advisor in charge of weapons procurement was arrested in 2015 and accused of “stealing more than $2 billion from the military” by awarding phantom contracts to buy twelve helicopters, four fighter jets, bombs and ammunition—they were never delivered.
In a country like Nigeria, adding weapons contracts would only fan the flames of corruption and provide, quite literally, further ammunition to an army that is already making a name for itself for its flagrant disregard of human rights. The Leahy Law is there for a very good reason. The process of vetting individuals and countries is rigorous, and individuals and entities are considered on a case-by-case basis.
If Nigeria’s military keeps failing the assessment, the solution is for it to address the serious issues that permeate the nation, not for the United States to bend the rules.
A US oil company just filed for bankruptcy — for the second time this year
For the second time in less than a year, oil services provider Hercules Offshore is heading for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection by entering a restructuring support agreement (RSA).
The Wall Street Journal writes that ”In a prepackaged bankruptcy, companies line up creditor support for their debt-payment plans before seeking chapter 11 protection, allowing them a speedier—and cheaper—trip through bankruptcy.
Last August, Hercules filed for Chapter 11 protection—the first time. At the time, the company showed US$13 billion in debt and just over US$546 million in assets, trying to restructure with a new US$450-million credit line.
It resurfaced from this bankruptcy only in November, but the perpetual low oil price environment led to a slump in exploration investment and project cancellations.
Under the new Chapter 11 filing, Hercules is selling assets to pay off investors. The company has reportedly agreed to transfer the right to buy the Hercules Highlander jack-up rig to a subsidiary of Maersk Drilling for US$196 million.
The company said that its international units will not be included in the Chapter 11 filing, but will be part of the sale process.
In just the first four months of 2016 there were double the the number of energy company bankruptcies than in all of 2015. The total secured and unsecured defaults rose to $34 billion, double the $17 billion total for all of 2015. In 2015, 42 oil companies filed for bankruptcy.
In April this year, 27 North American oil and gas companies filed for bankruptcy—11 of them filing under Chapter 11, according to a Haynes and Boone report. Some 69 North American oil and gas producers have filed for various forces of bankruptcy.
Thomson ReutersFile photo of pump jacks at Lukoil company owned Imilorskoye oil field outside West Siberian city of Kogalym
More than one-third of public oil companies globally face bankruptcy, according to a new Deloitte report that paints a fairly gloomy picture of the US shale patch as it struggles to survive under mountains of debt.
The Deloitte report—the first high-profile report on the current financial situation of global oil and gas companies—surveyed 500 companies and found that 175 are facing “a combination of high leverage and low debt service coverage ratios”.
Shale producers amassed huge debts that they are now struggling to service in the oil price downturn. These debts totaled $353 billion for US and Canadian energy companies at end-2015. To compare, Deloitte puts the combined debt of those 175 bankruptcy-threatened companies at more than $150 billion, nearly half of the total for U..S and Canada.
After Oregon win, a defiant Bernie Sanders vows to fight Hillary Clinton until ‘the last ballot is cast’
Bernie Sanders took another state from Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primaries with a win in Oregon on Tuesday night. Democratic voters also headed to the polls in Kentucky, but that race remains too close to call.
This victory won’t dent Clinton’s lead, but an undaunted Sanders promised to remain a loud presence heading into the last weeks of the primary at an election night rally.
Heading into these two states, Sanders needed to win over 67 percent of all the remaining pledged delegates to pass Clinton. In other words, he needed a pair of landslides to meaningfully close the gap with Clinton. Anything else meant falling short.
Speaking before results were finalized, Sanders insisted there is a “possibility” he could pull ahead of Clinton. He acknowledged this would be improbable and would take multiple major victories among the six states that will vote on June 7. Nevertheless, Sanders vowed to take his “fight” to the party’s nominating convention, which will take place in Philadelphia in late July.
“We have the possibility. It will be a steep climb, I recognize that, but we have the possibility of going to Philadelphia with a majority of the pledged delegates,” Sanders said. “Some people say that we’ve got a steep hill to climb to do that. And you know what? That is absolutely true. But you know what? Together we have been climbing that steep hill from day one in this campaign.”
Clinton did not make a speech, but she sent out a tweet declaring victory in Kentucky before the Associated Press called the results there. In that brief message, Clinton emphasized party unity.
“We just won Kentucky! Thanks to everyone who turned out. We’re always stronger united,” she wrote.
Polling was scant in both Kentucky and Oregon. Clinton may have been slightly favored to win in Kentucky. Her campaign made a push to win the state in the last two weeks leading up to the primary. Both Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, campaigned in Kentucky. Her team also reversed course and launched a television ad campaign in the state after previously indicating it would no longer be spending money on commercials for the primary. This strategic shift by Clinton provided a dramatic example of the protracted battle with Sanders preventing her from making a planned pivot to the general election.
Both Kentucky and Oregon were closed primaries, meaning only previously registered Democrats could vote. This dynamic has generally favored Clinton, while Sanders does better in open primaries. However, Kentucky and Oregon were potentially fertile ground for Sanders. He has done well in the Pacific Northwest, which has a white and liberal electorate. Sanders has also performed well in states similar to Kentucky, including his win in last week’s primary in neighboring West Virginia.
Sanders’ chance of winning the nomination is now incredibly slim. But he has repeatedly vowed to stay in the race until the convention. Sanders had already moved forward on Tuesday. He made his election night speech from California, the biggest remaining state on the primary calendar. And in it, Sanders made it clear he isn’t going anywhere.
“Many of the pundits and politicians, they say Bernie Sanders should drop out, the people of California should not have the right to determine who the next president will be,” Sanders said. “Well, let me be as clear as I can be: We are in till the last ballot is cast!”
And as long as Sanders remains in the Democratic primary, he presents an obstacle for Clinton.
Sanders and his team have increasingly criticized the Democratic Party’s primary process and leadership. This dissent in the ranks could make it harder for Clinton to ultimately achieve party unity. Though Clinton dominated early in the primary calendar and in the delegate-rich states of New York and Florida, she has been unable to score a big enough margin to finish off Sanders.
The Vermont senator has said he hopes to help reform the way Democrats choose their nominees going forward. He wants to eliminate closed primaries in favor of open races. Sanders also called for the party to “rethink” its superdelegate system. The Democrats have over 700 superdelegates, party officials and elected leaders who may pick a candidate regardless of how their respective states voted. Clinton currently has an overwhelming lead among these party insiders, with over 500 superdelegates, while Sanders has only 40.
Along with calling for reform, the Sanders campaign has raised questions about voting issues in various states won by Clinton. Sanders’ calls for superdelegate reform and other critiques of the process have fanned flames of anger among some of his supporters who believe Clinton has had an unfair advantage. However, the elements of the primary process Sanders has disputed do not seem to be the reasons he is in second place.
Superdelegates are generally expected to back whoever gets the most pledged delegates from the state primaries, and Sanders has a significant deficit even counting only pledged delegates. A CNN analysis published Tuesday showed that Sanders would still be behind Clinton if some of the reforms he’s pushing for were already in place for this year’s election. And Sanders’ campaign has actually attempted to take advantage of the current system by encouraging superdelegates to switch sides in spite of the election results. The Sanders team’s superdelegate pitch is based on some national polls showing he would perform better than Clinton in a hypothetical matchup against Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.
Tensions between Sanders supporters and the party establishment boiled over during the weekend at Nevada’s state Democratic convention. There were allegations that furious Sanders supporters resorted to throwing chairs and making death threats online over disagreements with party leadership. Clinton won Nevada in February, but Sanders’ campaign made a push to win over delegates and emerge out of the convention ahead.
And Sanders hasn’t exactly pushed for peace. On Tuesday evening, he issued a striking statement in which he said it was “nonsense” for local Nevada Democrats to suggest his campaign has a “penchant for violence.” He also accused the state’s Democratic leadership of using “its power to prevent a fair and transparent process from taking place.”
“I condemn any and all forms of violence, including the personal harassment of individuals,” Sanders said. “But when we speak of violence, I should add here that months ago, during the Nevada campaign, shots were fired into my campaign office in Nevada, and the apartment housing complex my campaign staff lived in was broken into and ransacked.”
Clinton may need to heal some of these wounds if she manages to fend off Sanders and secure the nomination. And while Clinton remains in a contentious primary, Trump has already cemented his presumptive-nominee status.
In a fundraising email sent to supporters last week, top Clinton campaign staffer Marlon Marshall lamented the position they are in. Marshall explained that Clinton is essentially fighting a two-front war.
“We’re opening offices every week in battleground states like Ohio and Florida, AND we’re fighting every day before the California primary,” Marshall wrote, adding, “Here’s the deal: Bernie’s not opening field offices in Ohio, because he’s only focused on the primary. Donald Trump isn’t opening field offices in California, because he’s only focused on the general. We’re the only ones running two races, which means we need this team to step up twice as much.”
Clinton’s latest win makes it even more likely she will survive this dual battle for now. But it also seems clear her inability to decisively finish Sanders off earlier will cost her in the meantime. During his speech in California, Sanders was briefly interrupted by supporters who chanted “Bernie or bust!” The slogan is popular among Sanders backers who say they will never vote for Clinton.
Sanders didn’t respond to the chant. He simply smiled.