TIME 2016 Election

Democratic Contenders Make Their Case to Party Leaders

Democratic Presidential Candidates Speak At DNC Summer Meeting In Minneapolis
Adam Bettcher—Getty Images Hillary Clinton speaks at the Democratic National Committee summer meeting in Minneapolis on Aug. 28, 2015.

Four of the five Democrats running for president spoke at the DNC summer meeting

One candidate wants everyone to relax over those emails. A second is convinced he can start a political revolution. Another demands more debates. The other hopes you remember who he is.

What began as an orderly quorum to rally Democrats for the 2016 general election spiraled on Friday into a chaotic pageant of candidates slamming debate schedules, assuaging fears over emails, lambasting Donald Trump and demanding political revolution.

Four of the five Democratic candidates for president addressed the Democratic National Committee members and leaders at the party’s summer meeting in Minneapolis, each seeking something different.

The three-day confab is a key forum for the Democratic candidates to garner establishment support for their campaigns. Their speeches on Friday evinced tensions within the party and a wide range of interests. But one battle line was clear: there’s the establishment wing of the party, and there’s everyone else.

Here’s what each of the candidates aimed to prove at the DNC summer meeting, in the order that they spoke.

Lincoln Chafee: The former Rhode Island governor and senator, who has the mild demeanor of a mid-level manager, is polling at an unenviable 0.5%.

So Chafee spent most of his brief speech reminding the Democratic Party who he is. He boasted of his qualifications, telling the audience that as a prescient senator from Rhode Island in the early 2000s he voted against the Iraq War, warned of the dangers of climate change and supported a bipartisan immigration bill.

Plus, he has never been accused of a major scandal. “And all through these 30 years of public service, I’ve had no scandal,” Chafee said. “I’m proud of that.”

Hillary Clinton: The Democratic frontrunner, firmly in the lead for the nomination with nearly 50% in an average of recent national polls, aimed to assure the DNC’s leadership that she is the strongest candidate to rebuild the party after bad losses in the 2010 and 2014 midterms.

She vowed on Friday to help rebuild a Democratic Party whose ranks have been thinned by losses at the local and state level, telling top leaders of the Democratic National Committee that her campaign will help Democrats “win up and down the ticket.”

“I’m building an organization in all 50 states with hundreds of thousands of volunteers who will help Democrats win races up and down the ticket, not just the presidential campaign,” Clinton said. “You know, in 2010 Republicans routed us on redistricting, not because they won Congress but because they won state legislatures. It’s time to rebuild our party from the ground up. And if you make me the nominee that’s exactly what I’ll do.”

Meanwhile, her surrogates rounded up super-delegates at the DNC three-day meeting in an effort to build up a bulwark of support before the primary contests next year. Her goal is to assure Democrats uneasy after a rough August of press around her use of a personal email server.

Clinton also told reporters after her speech that the obsession with her emails is a passing fad. “I’m not frustrated,” she said in response to a reporter’s question, who asked her how she is feeling about a kerfuffle that has damaged her trustworthiness among voters. “I’m just trying to explain for people who have never had to follow this before that is is complicated. There’s nothing unique about [the] process being conducted around my emails.”

Clinton, whose Priorities USA super PAC was trailing behind Jeb Bush’s fundraising efforts by nearly $100 million as of June, compared high-dollar fundraisers to the wealthy industrial magnates of old. “The robber barons of the late-19th century handed public officials bags of cash,” Clinton said. “Now we have secret unaccountable money that distorts our elections and drowns out the voices of everyday Americans.”

The Republican Party, Clinton said, is scrambling over itself to look backwards. “The party of Lincoln has become the party of Trump,” she said.

The Democrats, on the other hand: “We’re building something that will last long after next November,” she said.

Martin O’Malley: O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland, has had the most trouble gaining momentum in the race despite months of campaigning and 15 years as an executive first in Baltimore and then in the Annapolis statehouse.

What’s more, the governor’s impassioned calls in primetime national television interviews for more Democratic debates have gone entirely unheeded. DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has repeatedly defended the debate rules, which limit the number of debates to six and prohibit candidates from participating in any others.

That may explain why O’Malley delivered a barn-burning speech attacking the Democratic establishment for limiting the number of debates.

“The Republicans stand before the nation, malign our President’s record of achievements, denigrate women and immigrant families, double-down on trickle-down, and tell their false story,” O’Malley said. “We respond with crickets, tumbleweeds, and a cynical move to delay and limit our own Party debates.”

And then—with Wasserman-Schultz standing feet away from O’Malley—the kicker.

“This is totally unprecedented in our party,” O’Malley continued. “This sort of rigged process has never been attempted before. Whose decree is it? Where did it come from? To what end? For what purpose? What national or party interest does this decree serve?”

The Sanders section of the crowd roared their enthusiasm.

“We are the Democratic Party, not the undemocratic Party,” O’Malley continued. “Our party must not cower from this debate, we must engage the debate.”

When the speech was over, Wasserman-Schultz gave O’Malley a terse handshake. “Thank you, Governor O’Malley,” she said.

Bernie Sanders: The Vermont Senator has convinced much of the Democratic base that he’s the strongest candidate for the job. The next big step for his campaign began on Friday, with the Independent from Vermont aiming to convince the Democratic leadership that he is the best candidate for the Democratic nomination.

At the heart of Sanders’ message: Clinton can’t win the same grassroots support he can.

“Democrats will not retain the White House—will not regain the Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives, will not be successful in dozens of governors races all across this country—unless we generate excitement and momentum and produce a huge voter turnout,” Sanders said.

Sanders offered somber advice for the party heads. But he was more polite than O’Malley. “With all due respect, and I do not mean to insult anyone here, that turnout—that enthusiasm—will not happen with politics as usual.”

He also aimed some subtle jabs at Hillary Clinton, reminding his audience that he voted against the Iraq War (Clinton voted for it), and he opposes the Keystone Pipeline and the Trans Pacific Partnership (which Clinton has declined to take a stance on).

Jim Webb: The former senator for Virginia, who is at 1% in national polls, was the only candidate to skip the DNC meeting. Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz explained that Webb is “taking his daughter to college.”

Webb’s campaign, however, added another perspective. “His daughter off to college, yes,” spokesman Craig Crawford in an email to TIME. “But also think, just my opinion, you don’t have to read Machiavelli in his native language to understand that the DNC has picked their nominee. The DNC/HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton] hookup is a shotgun wedding with no need for bullets.”

Also, Crawford told the IJReview that Webb talking to the DNC is “about as useful as sticking one’s hand into a wood chipper.”

By July 2016, the party will have chosen its candidate for president, and the DNC hopes that the losing candidates will fall in line. To hear the DNC leadership tell it, that won’t be a problem. “We are very happy with the cooperation and thank the candidates for the cooperation that we’ve seen from them to date,” Wasserman-Schultz said at the end of her prepared remarks Friday morning. “On to victory in 2016, my fellow Democrats, thank you so much!”

Read next: History Indicates That Donald Trump’s Campaign Could Be Trouble for the Left

TIME 2016 Election

Democrats Obtain Key Obama Campaign Email Lists

US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-OBAMA
Jim Watson—AFP/Getty Images US President Barack Obama celebrates re-election on stage in Chicago on Nov. 7, 2012.

Obama used the list to raise $690 million online in 2012

The Democratic National Committee has inherited the most prized voter email list on the market: President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign email data.

The Obama 2012 campaign list, which the DNC obtained this month and includes details about the amount donors gave and how they prefer to be contacted, will be a key tool in winning the 2016 election. With it, the Democratic nominee next year will gain access to a trove of millions of names and likely donors.

“The email list will help the DNC expand its reach online, build support for a new generation of leadership, and test new tactics for activating Democratic voters in future elections,” said DNC digital director Matt Compton. “Email is critically important tool for fundraising, grassroots engagement in support of key issues, and setting the record straight about the Republican candidates as well.”

The Obama 2012 campaign used its extensive, highly targeted email list to bring in small-dollar donations. The campaign raised $690 million online, and $214.3 million from donors giving less than $200.

The email list is the second strategic victory the DNC announced on Thursday: earlier, the Democratic party said it had concluded an agreement with Hillary Clinton that allows the party frontrunner to raise money for the DNC, to be allocated for a general election contest.

Obama’s turnout models and voter information were handed over to the Democratic party in late 2013.

TIME

Hillary Clinton to Coordinate Fundraising with Democratic Party

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 27:  Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to guests gathered for a campaign meeting on the campus of Case Western Reserve University on August 27, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. Clinton made her first official campaign stop in Ohio.     (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
Jeff Swensen—2015 Getty Images Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to guests gathered for a campaign meeting on the campus of Case Western Reserve University on August 27, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.

The DNC aims to make similar agreements with the other candidates

In the latest sign that Hillary Clinton is looking ahead to the general election, the Democratic frontrunner’s campaign has signed an agreement with the Democratic Nation Committee party allowing her to raise additional funds for the November 2016 contest.

The agreement lets Clinton raise funds in excess of $2,700 from individual donors, the limit candidates can raise in primary dollars. The additional amount goes to a fund managed by the DNC and can be used to help the Democratic nominee in a general election.

“In the face of unlimited soft money donations from billionaires funding the Republicans, Democrats will need a strong effort to counter and we are glad for the opportunity to work with the DNC on this,” Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, said in a statement.

Clinton and the DNC have agreed to coordinate fundraising far earlier in the cycle than in previous years. In the last Democratic primary, then-Sen. Barack Obama didn’t sign a similar agreement with the DNC until May 2008. By signing the agreement early, Clinton can lay the groundwork for a tough general election contest against the Republican nominee—a contest most Democrats expect her to fight.

The Clinton campaign raised more than $45 million in the first fundraising quarter of the campaign, three times the amount her next rival for the nomination, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. But the pro-Clinton super PAC, Priorities USA has been struggling to bring in big-dollar donations compared with Republicans: Jeb Bush’s campaign and super PAC raised well over $100 million in the last quarter, while Priorities raised just $15 million.

Clinton can now effectively double the amount she is raising during house party fundraisers, and hand over the excess to a war chest controlled by the DNC. The DNC will then manage and allocate the money, spending it on technology, voter outreach, advertising and media. “This funding will go toward the eventual nominee, whoever that is,” a source with the campaign said. “We are confident that will be Hillary Clinton, but thought getting the fundraising going now was important.”

Though Clinton aides say she is squarely focused on the primary, she has kept an eye on November 2016. The frontrunner has recently increased her attacks on Republicans for their views on women’s health and voting rights, and invested in a 50-state effort to secure support across the country at the start of her campaign. She has also held numerous events in general election swing states.

Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley have accused the DNC of being biased in favor of a Clinton candidacy. They’ve pointed in particular to the schedule of six debates, which they argue is designed to limit Clinton’s exposure on a national stage.

The DNC said it hopes to sign similar agreements with the other Democratic candidates soon.

“The DNC has an impressive track record with presidential elections. Through this agreement and others we will sign with our party’s candidates, we are building the organization we will need now to make sure that whoever our nominee is, they are in the best possible position to win next November,” DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement.

The agreement was announced to state party chairs and members at the DNC’s summer meeting in Minneapolis on Thursday afternoon.

TIME 2016 Election

Hillary Clinton Wants Joe Biden to Do ‘What’s Right for Him’

Biden has been meeting with key Democrats

Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that Joe Biden should have “space” to make his own decision about running for president, telling reporters she has “a great deal of admiration and respect” for her one-time colleague and potential adversary for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“Vice President Biden is a friend of mine. He and I were colleagues in the Senate, I worked with him as first lady, I worked with him in President Obama’s first term, and I have a great deal of admiration and respect for him,” Clinton said Wednesday in Ankeny, Iowa. “I think he has to make what is a very difficult decision for himself and his family, and he should have the space and opportunity to decide what he wants to do.”

Biden has been openly considering running for president for weeks, reaching out to donors and supporters and thinking ahead to a run. He’s spoken with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a key leader of the progressive wing of the Democratic party, and President Barack Obama’s former counsel Bob Bauer.

His son, Beau, who died earlier this year of brain cancer urged him for years to run for president, but Biden would face a tough frontrunner in Hillary Clinton, as well as the disadvantage of jumping into a presidential contest late and without an experienced staff or organization.

TIME Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton Calls For Greater Investment in Rural America

Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers remarks during a campaign stop at Dr. William U. Pearson Community Center on August 18, 2015 in North Las Vegas, Nevada.
Isaac Brekken—2015 Getty Images Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers remarks during a campaign stop at Dr. William U. Pearson Community Center on August 18, 2015 in North Las Vegas, Nevada.

She makes her pitch on Wednesday in Iowa

Hillary Clinton announced a multi-step plan on Wednesday to grow the economy and local services in rural areas, marking the latest effort for the Democratic frontrunner to firm up support for her candidacy in Iowa and broaden her appeal outside major metropolitan areas.

The proposal, which Clinton will officially announce Wednesday in Iowa, calls for increased investment in rural areas through a series of public-private partnerships that increase federal capital in rural areas.

“America’s rural communities lie at the heart of what makes this country great,” says Clinton’s white paper, provided to reporters. “The affordability of our food, the independence and sophistication of our energy supply, and the strength of our small communities all depend on a vibrant rural America. Despite their critical role in our economy, too many rural communities are not sharing in our nation’s economic gains.”

Several parts of Clinton’s rural agenda have already been announced in other plans, including the creation of an infrastructure bank, her goal of increasing the number of solar panels to more than 500 million in five years, as well as comprehensive immigration reform.

But the plan also includes a pitch directly to Iowa farmers: She would doubling federal loan guarantees for bio processing plants and technologies, long a boon to rural Iowa’s farming industry. Clinton also reiterated her support for strengthening the Renewable Fuel Standard, which her policy paper said “drives the development of advanced cellulosic and other advanced biofuels.”

She would also double federal funding for a program that educates beginning farmers, and build on Clinton’s “Farm-to-Fork” initiative as New York Senator by doubling funding for farmers markets and direct food sales.

Clinton’s proposal would increase the number of Rural Business Investment Companies—government-funded capital networks—that make investments in small rural businesses. She would expand the New Markets Tax Credit, which gives investors a federal tax credit for investments in businesses located in low-income areas. The program expired in 2014 but has bipartisan support in Congress.

The plan also calls for improving healthcare in rural areas by expanding telehealth and remote patient monitoring It also called for better prevention and treatment of substance abuse, noting that drug-associated deaths have grown fastest in rural areas.

Clinton has a strong lead in Iowa over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, according to recent polls showing her with 54% compared with Sanders’ 20%. She’s also earned major endorsements from key Iowa leaders in recent weeks, including former Senator from Iowa Tom Harkin, and Tuesday, from Secretary of Agriculture and former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack.

“Her strong support for the Renewable Fuel Standard and bio-based manufacturing as important parts of a revitalized rural economy makes clear she will work hard to promote meaningful economic opportunity throughout the country,” Vilsack wrote in an op-ed announcing his support.

In New Hampshire, the primary contest after Iowa, Clinton is trailing Sanders, according to recent polls.

TIME 2016 Election

Donald Trump and Univision’s Jorge Ramos Spar on Immigration

Trump sought to silence the Spanish-language journalist

Donald Trump attacked the most important journalist on Spanish-speaking television in a face-off with Univision’s Jorge Ramos on Tuesday in Iowa, the latest in a series of verbal assaults against journalists by the billionaire presidential candidate.

The latest kerfuffle began when Ramos tried to ask Trump about his immigration plan before he called. Trump responded by telling anchor Ramos to “go back to Univision.”

Earlier this month Trump insulted Fox News anchor Megan Kelly after she asked him tough debate questions, saying she had “blood coming out of her wherever.” This week Trump continued to taunt Kelly, using the word “bimbo” to describe Kelly in tweet and saying he liked her show better without her.

In another spat with journalists, Trump launched into a tirade against the Des Moines Register last month after the newspaper’s editorial board called on him to drop out of the race. In a statement, Trump said the paper had “lost much circulation, advertising, and power” and would “do anything for a headline.”

At a press conference this week, Trump pounced on Ramos as he stood up and asked Trump a question about his immigration plan before he was called. “Sit down. You weren’t called sit down. Sit down.”

“I have the right to ask a question,” said Ramos.

“No you don’t,” Trump said. “You haven’t been called. Go back to Univision.”

As Ramos continued to speak, Trump appeared to glance at his regular, traveling bodyguard and click his lips. The bodyguard then approached Ramos and escorted him out of the room.

When a reporter asked Trump about the exchange moments later, Trump said, “I don’t really know much about him… I didn’t escort him out. Whoever security is escorted him out.”

Trump added “Somebody just walked him out, I don’t know where he is, I don’t even mind if he comes back, frankly… He’s obviously a very emotional person.”

About ten minutes later, Ramos was allowed back into the room, and again challenged Trump on his immigration policy, saying “Your immigration plan is full of empty promises. You cannot deport 11 million people. You cannot deny citizenship to the children. You cannot—”

Trump cut him off. “Why do you say that? Excuse me, no, no. A lot of people think that’s not right, that an act of Congress can do that,” referring to citizenship by birth, a constitutional principle that grants citizenship to children born in the United States.

Trump interrupted Ramos several times, continuing to make his argument. “Excuse me, no. No, no, some of the greatest legal scholars, and I know some of those television scholars agree with you,” he told Ramos as they disputed birth citizenship.

The exchange between journalist and real estate mogul was so tense partly because it centered on one of the most controversial planks of Trump’s candidacy, his immigration platform. The real estate mogul has called for the deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants and the construction of a 1900-mile wall between the United States and Mexico. Trump’s plan has won him the support of the Republican conservative base, and anger among immigrant advocates, moderates, Democrats and Hispanics.

Ramos has been a persistent critic of Trump, questioning the Republican candidate’s scanty immigration white paper and the expense and chaos that deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants might cause.

Trump defended his plan to Ramos, saying “We’re going to do it in a very humane fashion,” said Trump. “I have a bigger heart than you do.”

TIME Bernie Sanders

Why Bernie Sanders Won’t Add Debates Without Hillary Clinton

Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Campaigns In Chicago
Scott Olson—Getty Images Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks to supporters gathered for a meet-and-greet fundraising reception at the Park West on August 17, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.

Strategic interests of the various candidates have frozen the Democratic debate plan

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has been hearing it from all sides. A former governor’s top staffer begged him to consider participating in an additional Democratic primary debate. A television outlet reached out repeatedly, eager to sponsor one. Thousands of the Vermont Senators’ fans signed petitions, appealing for more televised contests.

But the surging Democratic presidential candidate has been unmoved. In the midst of ongoing pressure for more Democratic primary debates, it’s increasingly unlikely that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will flout the Democratic National Committee’s strict rules that threaten punishment for any candidate who attend more than the six official debates.

Fearful of risking exclusion from a major national debate against Hillary Clinton, or elevating some of his lesser rivals, Sanders’ campaign has said he will not debate unless all the Democratic candidates for president are on the stage.

For former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is stalled at 1% in national polls despite months of campaigning and 15 years of executive experience, an appearance in a Democratic debate could be a decisive factor in his campaign, giving him a wide national audience to boost his name recognition. But Sanders is already attracting huge crowds of as large as 28,000 and has already surpassed Hillary Clinton in two polls in New Hampshire. “The O’Malley campaign was instantly excited and ready to go,” said a source at the TV outlet, referring to his efforts to organize an additional debate. “Sanders’ campaign has been impossible to get in touch with.”

“Sanders holds all the cards,” the source continued. “But right now he’s not playing.”

O’Malley and Sanders have both repeatedly called for more debates than the six sanctioned by the Democratic party, whose leadership has said it will punish presidential candidates who debate outside its framework by disqualifying them from further debate. At stake is crucial airtime and publicity for upstart candidates on a national stage, and the Democratic party’s chance to hash out its differences and policies from social security, immigration reform to Wall Street regulation.

“At a time when many Americans are demoralized about politics and have given up on the political process, I think it’s imperative that we have as many debates as possible,” Sanders said in a statement earlier this month. “I look forward to working with the DNC to see if we can significantly expand the proposed debate schedule.”

In recent days, however, Sanders’ campaign has rebuffed at least one TV outlet’s efforts to draw Sanders into an additional debate outside the six sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee. Earlier this month, his campaign manager brushed off a call from Gov. Martin O’Malley’s staff seeking further debate.

“It is not in Sanders’ self-interest to give up the possibility of debating Hillary Clinton,” said Kathleen Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. “His advantage is to be in the same stage as her, demonstrating that he can hold his own. He is doing well enough in the polls that forgoing that would be foolish.”

For each candidate, the debates are a challenge and an opportunity. It’s in frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s interest to hold fewer debates and minimize exposure; she is sticking with the debate schedule, which rivals say was crafted by her party allies. It’s in low-polling O’Malley interest to get as much airtime as possible; he wants many more debates, and appears willing to debate without Clinton. And with Sanders surging in the polls, it benefits him most to challenge Clinton directly.

The DNC “has created a structure of mutual self interest,” Jamieson said.

Meanwhile, progressive activists, including many Sanders supporters, have accused the party of sheltering Hillary Clinton from a potentially damaging debate against her rivals for the nomination. Sanders’ base is calling on the DNC with increasing urgency to open up the debate schedule, tweeting and calling the DNC at a furious rate. “The Democratic National Committee isn’t playing fair,” said Bernie activists and VoteForBernie.org.

An angry group repeatedly booed Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz at the Iowa State Fair’s soapbox on Saturday. Some in the annoyed audience scuffled with the protestors in a tense standoff.

On Tuesday, the Concord Monitor published an op-ed by two New Hampshire Democrats accusing “the Democratic hierarchy” of allowing Donald Trump and the Republicans to seize the spotlight. And Sanders’ Reddit following has called at an unceasing pitch for more debates.

Critics compare this year’s six debates to 2008, when Clinton and Barack Obama debated more than a dozen times before the Iowa caucus, mostly outside of the DNC framework. Supporters of the DNC’s rule point to 2008’s grueling schedule and the wearying effect it had on candidates.

Sanders has hinted he’s open to debates with labor union groups, “environmental groups, women’s groups, gay groups,” and “different constituencies,” adding “the more debates, the better.” But only, it seems, if Clinton is there, too.

“Our view is that there should be more debates, but that they must involve all of the candidates,” said spokesman Michael Briggs in a recent statement to TIME.

In a petition circulated by the Sanders campaign earlier this summer, Sanders said “I know that if Secretary Clinton wants more debates, we’ll get them.”

]

TIME 2016 Election

Pollster’s Legs Wobble After Fawning Donald Trump Focus Group

"My legs are shaking," the pollster Frank Luntz says of the results

A flock of two dozen mad-as-hell supporters of Donald Trump agreed to assemble on Monday night in a political consultant’s office to explain their passion for the Republican frontrunner. Gathered in a corporate-looking room with the shades drawn, they railed against Washington politicians who hire consultants, and sang their admiration for the one presidential candidate who promises to go his own way.

“I think America is pissed. Trump’s the first person that came out and voiced exactly what everybody’s been saying all along,” one man said. “When he talks, deep down somewhere you’re going, ‘Holy crap, someone is thinking the same way I am.’”

Frank Luntz, a fast-talking Republican pollster who frequently appears on television and writes newspaper op-eds, urged them on. When did you first decide you liked Trump? he asked. And why are you mad as hell?

“When Trump talks, it may not be presented in a pristine, PC way, but we’ve been having that crap pushed to us for the past 40 years!” said another man. “He’s saying what needs to be said.”

This 29-person focus group, conducted by Luntz and observed by a group of national press reporters from behind a pane of one-way glass, had gathered to explain the phenomenon of Trump. Why is a billionaire real estate mogul, TV celebrity and oft-accused demagogue who has never held office leading the Republican field with some 22% support in the polls?

After the first Republican debate, Luntz had held a similar focus group of likely Republican voters that found Trump had performed poorly. In trademark fashion, Trump responded by attacking Luntz on Twitter at 3:28 a.m. the following morning. “@FrankLuntz is a low class slob who came to my office looking for consulting work and I had zero interest. Now he picks anti-Trump panels!” Trump wrote.

Luntz’s firm paid each of the participants $100 for the two-and-a-half hour session. (They wore tags with their first names that were mostly illegible to reporters behind the glass.) The group was not a representative sample of the Republican party, or early state voters, as all of them had been selected because they like (or love) Trump and live in Washington or its suburbs in Maryland and Virginia. But they offered a glimpse into the Trump mystique, a lucrative brand whose success has caught the national media, the Republican establishment and experienced pollsters like the veteran Luntz off guard.

The Donald devotees sang a contrapuntal tune, simultaneously a dirge to national decline and an ode to Trump. They believed Washington politicians and the Republican party had repeatedly misled them, and that the country is going down the tubes. They looked for relief in Trump.

“I used to sleep on my front porch with the door wide open, and now everyone has deadbolts,” one man said. “I believe the best days of the country are behind us.”

“I’m frustrated beyond belief. I feel like I’ve been lied to,” a woman said. “Nothing’s getting better.”

Many sounded like relations of an ill patient, furious that all the previous doctors have botched a test or fumbled the scalpel. To them, Trump actually is the real-deal fixer-upper, and he is going to make America great again.

“We know his goal is to make America great again,” a woman said. “It’s on his hat. And we see it every time it’s on TV. Everything that he’s doing, there’s no doubt why he’s doing it: it’s to make America great again.”

The focus group watched taped instances on a television of Trump’s apparent misogyny, political flip flops and awe-inspiring braggadocio. They watched the Donald say Rosie O’Donnell has a “fat, ugly face.” They saw that Trump once supported a single-payer health system, and they heard him say, “I will be the greatest jobs president God ever created.” But the group—which included 23 white people, 3 African-Americans and three Hispanics and consisted of a plurality of college-educated, financially comfortably Donald devotees—was undeterred.

At the end of the session, the vast majority said they liked Trump more than when they walked in.

“You guys understand how significant this is?” Luntz asked the press breathlessly when he came back into the room behind the glass. “This is real. I’m having trouble processing it. Like, my legs are shaking.”

“I want to put the Republican leadership behind this mirror and let them see. They need to wake up. They don’t realize how the grassroots have abandoned them,” Luntz continued. “Donald Trump is punishment to a Republican elite that wasn’t listening to their grassroots.”

The group said Trump has their best interests in mind, while other Republicans are looking out for themselves. “We’ve got to show the Republicans that we’ve had it with them, that we will not be there every single time. They treat us like crap and they lie to us and promise us things and then they expect us to vote again,” said a Republican woman. “That’s why we want Trump.”

The crowd in the room was angriest about national security. Nearly all of them, it appeared, had an unshakeable feeling that U.S. border was porous as a sieve and that the very things that once defined the nation: army, border and national pride—were fading. They complained of America’s reduced standing in the world, and Obama’s apparent ineptitude in challenging Russia, Syria and ISIS.

When the group listened to a clip of Trump claiming that as president “the military is going to be so strong” that “nobody is going to mess around with the United States,” nearly everyone registered approval on their dial meters of 100—a seldom occurrence among focus groups.

“We love our country and we love what our country stands for,” said a woman who added she comes from a military family. “I look at where we are now as a country where entitlements are just totally out of control. Our borders have completely dissolved. We’re not what we used to be. I want to people to represent my interest.”

Trump’s unapologetic focus on strengthening the border—he wants to build a wall and deport all 11 million immigrants before letting many back into the country—excites many conservatives, as well as some who don’t traditionally vote Republican. Though he has announced scant specific plans, Trump has said he will expand the military, commit to veterans, and take a tough line on dealing with China and Iran.

“He’s not afraid,” said a woman who voted twice for Obama. “He keeps prodding on even if people give him negative press. He doesn’t change and apologize.”

Much of Trump’s support in the room seemed to stem from a weakness in the Republican party. The 2014 midterms did not usher in the conservative renaissance Republicans expected. Obamacare has still not been repealed, Congress is looking less likely to override a veto on the Iran deal, and there are still 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States.

The group of 29 went around the room, each supplying a single adjective for the legislative body that let them down after the 2014 elections. Congress “does nothing.” It’s “too old.” “Useless.” “Lame.” “Inept.” “Wrong party.” “Cocktail party.” “Gridlock.” “Costly.” “Sold out.” “Sucks.” “Douchebags.”

Then, the group did the same for Trump. This time: “Tough.” “Businessman.” “Great.” “Successful.” “Not afraid.” “Leader.” “Has guts.” “Charismatic.” “A true American.” “Kicks ass and takes names.”

Congress’ failures were Trump’s gains. The worse Congress and everyone else falls, the more the businessman has to gain. These supporters were evidence that Trump is winning by a new political paradigm, where disappointment and enchantment go hand in hand.

TIME 2016 Election

Donald Trump Trolls Jeb Bush With a Little Help from Bush’s Mom

"Mother knows best, Jeb!"

Donald Trump delivered another well-placed jab at Jeb Bush on Monday with a video quoting the former Florida governor’s mother, Barbara saying “We’ve had enough Bushes” run for president.

The video, which the campaign posted on the real estate mogul’s Instagram account, quotes a 2013 clip of the former First Lady responding to a question from NBC asking whether she “would like to see her son run for president.”

“No,” Barbara Bush answers in the clip. “I really don’t. I think its a great country. There are a lot of great families. There are other people out there that are very qualified, and we’ve had enough Bushes.”

“Mother knows best, Jeb!” the text in Trump’s video says tauntingly over footage of the former first lady saying her son should not run for president.

Even Barbara Bush agrees with me.

A video posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

In the last few days, the Republican presidential frontrunner has repeatedly attacked Bush, calling him “low-energy,” criticizing his immigration plan and his views on women’s issues. Jeb has struck back, accusing Trump of having until recently held Democratic positions and supporting a single-payer healthcare system.

Barbara Bush has since changed her mind about her son’s candidacy, saying in the months before Jeb announced his candidacy that “our problems are so profound that America needs a leader who can renew the promise of this great nation.”

Trump added an additional sting in his attack on Jeb: When Barbara Bush says “great families,” Trump’s video shows footage of the billionaire with his family. When Barbara Bush says “other people out there that are very qualified,” Trump’s video shows footage of himself delivering a speech.

TIME France

French-American Professor Was Shot in Effort to Take Down Train Gunman

Mark Moogalian was shot when he rushed toward the gunman

The French-American professor who was praised by President Francois Hollande for trying to bring down an AK-47-wielding gunman on a high-speed train on Friday was shot during the scuffle, according to his wife.

Mark Moogalian saw a man walk into a bathroom with a suitcase for a suspiciously long time, said his wife Isabella Moogalian in an interview with Europe1 radio. Mark Moogalian then rushed toward the man after he emerged with an AK-47.

He then saw the suspect being “grabbed from behind by a different person,” his wife said. That person is thought to be a 29-year-old French banker who has chosen to stay anonymous, according to NBC.

“I did not see my husband get shot, it happened too quickly and I was pretty much hiding behind seats,” Isabella Moogalian said. “But I look at my husband through the seats at an angle and he looked straight at me and said, ‘I’m hit!’ … There was blood everywhere. I ran towards him and I could see that he a wound on his back, I then saw another wound by his neck.”

The gunman was finally subdued in the neighboring car by a British businessman and three vacationing Americans, one of whom sustained moderate injuries. Spencer Stone, a 23-year-old U.S. airman who was among the Americans called “heroes” by President Hollande, helped staunch the bleeding from Moogalian’s neck.

[Europe1]

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