Tag Archives: vice president

Biden: Progress on ‘moonshot’ to find cancer cure

 Vice President Joe Biden said this week the White House’s “moonshot” to find a cure for cancer has been making real progress in the past year, but more needs to be done as the nation prepares to elect a new president.

Speaking to a crowd of hundreds of health care professionals and researchers gathered in Boston, the 73-year-old Democrat touched on a range of initiatives the “Cancer Moonshot” task force he chairs has been working on since President Barack Obama announced the effort in his final State of the Union in January.

Biden, who lost his son, Beau, a former Delaware attorney general, to cancer last year, said the administration is trying to speed up the federal drug approval process and make it easier for cancer patients to take part in clinical trials.

He also said the administration is encouraging cancer researchers to share more information among themselves, something that he says doesn’t happen as much as it should.

“We’re just getting started,” Biden said. “We’re on the cusp of enormous, enormous progress.”

He said more work also needs to be done to enhance cancer prevention and detection efforts, particularly among disadvantaged populations.

“This country has the capacity to do anything it sets its mind to,” Biden said. “We’re on the verge of some astounding breakthroughs, I promise you. Stuff that will absolutely take your breath away.”

Biden chairs a task force comprised of the heads of at least a dozen federal departments and agencies, including the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The task force aims to double the rate of progress in cancer research and treatment, accomplishing what could be achieved in ten years in five.

Biden has been making a series of stops since providing the president with a progress report on the “moonshot” effort earlier this week. He told the Boston crowd that he was in New York just hours earlier speaking about the initiative at another event, which was the reason why he was more than an hour late.

Among the dozens of public and private sector initiatives highlighted in the “moonshot” report is a collaboration between Microsoft, Amazon and the National Cancer Institute to build an online repository for cancer genomic data.

The report also mentions commitments from Uber and Lyft to expand free or reduced ride programs to help cancer patients get to medical appointments, and a new study by the Department of Defense to investigate the “biological basis of cancer.”

The report was meant, in part, to serve as a blueprint for future administrations. But Congress has so far yet to approve hundreds of millions of dollars in funding the outgoing Obama administration has sought for the effort.

Biden has promised he’d devote the rest of his life to finding a cure for cancer, though he’s publicly dismissed the notion of working as a member of the next presidential administration on the effort.

Transgender man sues Gov. Mike Pence over Indiana’s prohibition on name change

A transgender man prohibited from changing his legal name because of his immigration classification is suing Indiana state officials, including Gov. Mike Pence.

Pence is Donald Trump’s running mate.

The lawsuit, filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Transgender Law Center on behalf of a 31-year-old Indiana resident, alleges that a 2010 state law requiring proof of citizenship to obtain a change of legal name is unconstitutional.

“I want to use a name that is in line with my true identity,” said the plaintiff, who was granted asylum in the U.S. last year. “Without a legal name change, I am forced to use an I.D. that is inconsistent with who I am and puts me in danger of harassment, violence, and being outed as transgender whenever I present it. I am simply asking for equal treatment under the law.”

The plaintiff, listed as “John Doe” in the complaint, was born in Mexico and raised in Indiana, where he moved with his family when he was six years old. He has lived his adult life as a man and is recognized as a male on all official U.S. documents and his Indiana state ID.

However, he remains unable to change his legal name in Indiana because of the 2010 state law that precludes non-citizens, including legal residents, from petitioning the state for a change.

“There is no legitimate reason for Indiana to prevent non-citizens from living consistently with their gender identity,” said Matthew Barragan, a staff attorney with MALDEF. “Each of us should have the right to be known by the name of our choice.”

The suit alleges the citizenship provision of the Indiana law is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause that guarantees individuals will not be discriminated against based on their alienage. Additionally, it violates the First Amendment right to freedom of speech by compelling speech from the plaintiff that betrays and falsely communicates the core of who he is, according to the complaint.

“Everyone should be able to live as their authentic selves no matter their gender identity or immigration status,” said Kris Hayashi, executive director of Transgender Law Center. “Transgender immigrants already experience disproportionate violence without the government further jeopardizing their safety and privacy with this unnecessary and discriminatory rule.”

“This law is a Catch-22 for the plaintiff and other transgender individuals in Indiana who are not yet able to become citizens. Their immigration status should not prevent them from obtaining a change of legal name so that they can safely navigate their daily lives with identity documents that are consistent with their gender,” said local counsel Barbara J. Baird.

Holt, Wallace to moderate presidential debates

NBC News chief anchor Lester Holt will moderate the first of three scheduled debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on Sept. 26, with ABC’s Martha Raddatz, CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace lined up for the others.

The Commission on Presidential Debates also said CBS News’ Elaine Quijano will moderate the vice presidential debate between Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Tim Kaine on Oct 4.

The third presidential debate, to be moderated by Wallace on Oct. 19, and first will be traditional question-and-answer sessions with the journalist choosing the topics. Raddatz and Cooper will team up for the second session on Oct. 9, a town hall-style meeting with half of the questions to be posed by audience members.

Each of the debates is scheduled for 90 minutes, with a 9 p.m. EDT start time.

Clinton has said she will participate in all three debates.

Trump as of Sept. 6 had not formally agreed, although he has reportedly been preparing to debate.

There was no immediate reaction from the candidates to the chosen moderators. The campaigns have no say in who is selected.

Moderating is one of a journalist’s most visible, and risky, roles.

Millions of people will be watching and ready to critique performances. Trump’s anger with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly was one of the primary campaign’s biggest stories, and it began because he didn’t like a debate question she asked about his attitude toward women.

The commission is bringing in new faces; none of those selected has moderated a general election debate before, although Raddatz did the 2012 vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan.

Before Wallace’s selection, no Fox News personality had been a general election moderator.

It will be the first time since 1984 that the general election campaign’s much-anticipated first debate won’t be moderated by the now-retired Jim Lehrer of PBS. Two other 2012 moderators, Candy Crowley of CNN and Bob Schieffer of CBS, are also no longer active in TV news.

The leadoff position is a coup for Holt, who took over as NBC “Nightly News” anchor last year for Brian Williams and kept the broadcast on top of the ratings. The commission avoided potential political problems by not selecting Kelly or ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, who was a White House aide of Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Fallout, however, included a letter of protest sent to the commission by the president and CEO of Univision, the nation’s most popular Spanish-language network.

Randy Falco said he wanted to express his “disappointment, and frankly disbelief” that no Latino journalist was selected as a moderator.

“It’s an abdication of your responsibility to represent and reflect one of the largest and most influential communities in the U.S.,” Falco wrote.

Univision’s Jorge Ramos, who celebrates 30 years as anchor of the network’s evening newscast this fall, said this week that it was “high time” a Latino journalist was considered. He said he was interested, and suggested others like Jose Diaz-Balart of Telemundo and Maria Hinojosa of NPR.

Quijano is of Filipino descent. At 42, she’s the freshest face of the selections. She’s an anchor and leads political coverage at CBSN, CBS’ 24-hour streaming service, and anchors CBS’ Sunday evening newscast.

Although he hasn’t done a general election debate, Wallace has moderated GOP primary debates with colleagues Kelly and Bret Baier. During the primaries, Cooper moderated two debates and seven town halls on CNN.

Fox’s Wallace said he was excited by the opportunity.

“They knew I was interested,” he said. “You kind of put the word out there to the debate commission, but you can’t lobby for it. You can’t do anything. They end up deciding it.”

The commission, chaired by former Republican National Committee head Frank Fahrenkopf and former Bill Clinton press secretary Mike McCurry, says little about its selection process.

Delegates: Kaine appeals to moderates, not disenchanted Sanders supporters

Delegates to the Democratic National Convention say Hillary Clinton’s choice of Tim Kaine for VP will appeal to moderates, but do little to soothe disenchanted Bernie Sanders supporters.

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia received praise for his wide-ranging experience, even as many delegates acknowledged that he would not generate the level of enthusiasm or party unity as a progressive or first-ever Latino pick.

Sanders delegates in particular hoped for the selection of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who aligns more closely with Sanders on positions such as regulating Wall Street.

“People are going to discount Tim Kaine, and have in the past, and it’s going to be a lot more exciting than maybe what Bernie Sanders delegates will think,” said Katie Naranjo, a Clinton superdelegate from Austin, Texas.

She said Kaine may seem like a “conventional choice,” but he will balance the ticket well for the general election, as the Democrats take on billionaire Donald Trump and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

Delegates this weekend are heading to Philadelphia for their convention that starts Monday, with those who support Sanders indicating uncertainty about embracing a Clinton ticket. Sanders endorsed Clinton earlier this month.

It “was a horrible pick,” Angie Morelli, a Sanders delegate from Nevada, said of Clinton selecting Kaine. “In a time when she is trying to cater to Sanders supporters, it was more catering to conservative voters and she’s not going to get any wave from it.”

Morelli said she’s bothered by Kaine’s association with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a global trade pact that Sanders and Clinton say they oppose.

Dwight Bullard, a Florida state senator, said not one of the 70-plus Sanders delegates in his state including himself is happy with Kaine’s selection.

He worried the centrist choice could magnify progressives’ view that Clinton will backtrack on issues important to them, such as climate change and tuition aid for college students.

“If you bring in someone with great credentials, that’s fine, but inclusivity of the progressive agenda can be a more important message,” Bullard said.

Sanders delegates were mulling ways to show support for Sanders during the convention, such as a walkout after the roll call of states on July 26, according to excerpts of a Slack thread on July 22 obtained by The Associated Press.

But many others also said they wanted to get direction from Sanders, who was scheduled to meet privately with his delegates on July 25.

“Delegates are intensely discussing and considering options,” said Norman Solomon, a San Francisco delegate who called Kaine’s selection “unacceptable.”

Solomon leads the Bernie Delegates Network, a loose organization of more than 1,200 delegates.

Clinton settled on Kaine after vetting a diverse group of candidates that included Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and Labor Secretary Tom Perez. U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, one of two black senators, also was considered.

Clinton delegate Roger Salazar of California said he had been  rooting for Clinton to select U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra, a Hispanic and one of the most powerful Democrats in the House.

But Salazar, a longtime party strategist, called Kaine “a pretty solid choice.”

Jocelyn Bucaro, an Ohio superdelegate and Clinton supporter, praised Kaine as someone who would appeal to a broad range of voters in swing states, including Republicans who are uncomfortable with Trump.

“The most important consideration is his ability to step in as president, and he clearly has the experience, knowledge, intelligence and temperament to do that,” Bucaro said.

Trump taps anti-gay Indiana governor as running-mate

Donald Trump told Republican officials he picked Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate, a Republican source said.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee is to announce his choice on Friday at 11 a.m. in Manhattan.

Trump told national Republican officials that he had settled on Pence, according to the Republican source, who is familiar with the campaign’s operations. Sources had told Reuters earlier that Trump had been leaning toward Pence but cautioned that he could still change his mind.

Trump is to be formally nominated as the party’s candidate for the Nov. 8 election at the Republican National Convention next week in Cleveland. Traditionally, the vice presidential choice is used to build enthusiasm among party loyalists.

Trump’s choice of running mate is seen as critical because his defeat of 16 rivals in the Republican primary race left the party divided and some party leaders are still uneasy about some of his campaign positions, and his style.

Roll Call, which first reported the news, said Trump was reportedly impressed with Pence’s calm demeanor, his experience on Capitol Hill and as a governor, and Pence’s potential to assist in governing if Trump wins in November. Trump, a New York businessman, has never held elected office.

Trump had also considered former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, 73, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, 53, as finalists.

Gingrich told an ABC News correspondent he would not be surprised if Trump chose Pence.

Pence, 57, a former congressman, is seen as a safe choice, not too flash and popular among conservatives. He made a national reputation for himself with his aggressive defense of legislation allowing business owners to use their religious beliefs to discriminate against gay people. His position sparked a national boycott of his state.

Pence also has strong ties to billionaire donors Charles and David Koch, including current and former staff members who have worked for them.

Pence is to the right of Trump on other issues, signing restrictive abortion legislation and pushing to defund the Planned Parenthood women’s health care organization. Trump has said he opposes abortion, but his views have been inconsistent, and he has said Planned Parenthood provides some valuable services.


Pence and Trump met on Wednesday at the governor’s residence in Indianapolis. They were joined by members of Trump’s family.

Pence had backed a Trump rival, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, in April before the Indiana primary, but he praised Trump and said he would work on behalf of the eventual Republican nominee. Trump won Indiana anyway, prompting Cruz to drop out of the race to be the party’s nominee.

Pence had considered running for president in 2016 before deciding to run for re-election as governor. Conservatives had urged him to seek the White House, but his anti-gay reputation hurt his national profile.

This year, he was the target of a mocking social media campaign by women outraged at a law he signed creating new restrictions on abortions. Feeling that the law invaded their privacy, women responded by calling Pence’s office to describe their menstrual periods or tweeting similar messages.

Pence ran unsuccessfully for Congress twice before he won election to the House of Representatives in 2000, where he was chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservatives.


In what has been an unusually public process of making his choice of running mate, Trump, 70, sat down with both Pence and Gingrich separately in Indianapolis on Wednesday.

He also met with a fourth potential No. 2, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, 69, of Alabama, who has been one of Trump’s closest advisers.

Trump had dinner with Pence on Tuesday night after they appeared together at a rally. Joined by daughter Ivanka and sons Donald Jr. and Eric Trump, Trump also had breakfast with Pence and his wife, Karen, on Wednesday at the governor’s residence in Indianapolis.

Trump adviser Ed Brookover told CNN that Trump “first and foremost” wants a running mate who he has good chemistry with and someone who can help him govern best.


About Pence … a latecomer to the Trump bandwagon

Shortly before Indiana’s Republican primary election in May, Mike Pence endorsed Trump’s rival, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Pence praised Trump at the time, but he compared Cruz to former Republican President Ronald Reagan and called him a “principled conservative.”

Trump won the state anyway and Cruz dropped out of the Republican race. Trump and Pence have since met to discuss the running mate position.


Pence has strong ties to billionaire donors Charles and David Koch, including current and former staff members who have worked for them.

After saying he was primarily self-funding his campaign during the Republican primaries, Trump has been holding fundraisers during the general election, with support from the Republican National Committee. The New York businessman comes to the money race at a considerable disadvantage, however, compared with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.


Pence sometimes describes himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.”

Pence in 2015 signed a so-called religious freedom law that opened the door to anti-gay discrimination. When he was in Congress, he opposed repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy barring gay people from serving openly in the Armed Forces.

He also has pushed restrictive abortion regulations and has pushed for Congress to defund Planned Parenthood.


He was a vocal opponent of the 2008 Wall Street bailout.

In September 2008, Pence, then a U.S. House member, argued against the $700 billion package to stabilize the U.S. financial system, saying it would “nationalize almost every bad mortgage in America.”

Pence also said the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation passed in 2010 would hurt jobs. Trump has vowed to dismantle Dodd-Frank, though he has not said how he would replace it.


Pence opposed allowing Syrian refugees coming to the United States to settle in Indiana.

In November 2015, the governor directed state agencies to suspend the resettlement of Syrians there. A family that was supposed to arrive in December was instead sent to Connecticut. A federal judge later ruled the order “clearly discriminates” against refugees from a particular country.

However, Pence tweeted disapproval in 2015 for Trump’s idea to ban Muslims from entering the United States. Pence called it “offensive and unconstitutional.”

Warren, Kaine and Castro on Clinton’s short list for VP

U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Tim Kaine of Virginia, and Julian Castro, the U.S. housing secretary and former mayor of San Antonio, are on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s short list of vice presidential picks, the Associated Press reported on this week.

The report cited Democratic sources.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who waged a populist challenge to Clinton during an unexpectedly long primary campaign, was not on the list, the AP reported, citing one of several unidentified Democrats.

The AP said some advisers believe Clinton should pick a running-mate that would energize Democrats: a woman, a staunch liberal or a minority but others are arguing Donald Trump’s unpopularity gives Clinton an opportunity to win over a share of independents and Republican-leaning voters with a more centrist pick, such as Kaine.

Clinton and Warren are expected to campaign together in Ohio next Monday.

U.S. senatorial candidate and former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine addresses the first session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Jason Reed/File Photo
U.S. senatorial candidate and former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine addresses the first session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Jason Reed/File Photo
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., waves at the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation's 2015 Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference in Washington. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., waves at the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation’s 2015 Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference in Washington. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

Ryan gives definite ‘no’ to presidential run

House Speaker Paul Ryan today made his most definitive statement to date about whether he’d accept the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in the event of a brokered convention: “Count me out,” he said.

Ryan, who represents Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District, has been the focus of intense speculation as a possible solution to his party’s dilemma over who to head its ballot in November. It now appears certain that none of the three candidates remaining in the primary race will have enough delegates to secure the nomination going into the party’s July convention in Cleveland. Frontrunner Donald Trump is viewed unfavorably by 70 percent of Americans, and his closest rival Sen. Ted Cruz is despised by the Republican establishment.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who’s in third place, lacks a broad base of support.

But Ryan, an establishment favorite who became nationally known when he ran for vice president on Mitt Romney’s ticket in 2012, is viewed as a strong compromise candidate.

Although Ryan has been persistent in saying that he would not be drafted into the race, many observers have been speculated that he might change his mind. Ryan said he would not accept the position of Speaker of the House when John Boehner stepped down, but he later relented and took the job.

Ryan, however, said today that he was not changing his mind this time, insisting that it would be wrong to select a standard bearer from outsid the group of candidates who pursued the GOP nomination.

“So let me speak directly to the delegates on this: If no candidate has a majority on the first ballot, I believe you should only choose a person who actually participated in the primary. Count me out,” Ryan said. “I simply believe that if you want to be the nominee — to be the president — you should actually run for it. I chose not to. Therefore, I should not be considered. Period.”

Ryan said his hands were full trying to create a budget that would be accepted by both the tea party extremists in his party and Democrats. He put together four budgets as chairman of the Budget Committee from 2011–2014, but he’s falling short in the role of speaker.

Rules require the House to produce a budget by April 15. But now the tea party is revolting over his approval of last year’s bipartisan deal with President Obama. The primary goal of the Republican right is to thwart anything that Obama wants.

“We have too much work to do in the House to allow this speculation to swirl or have my motivations questioned,” said Ryan, who was the 2012 vice presidential nominee. “Let me be clear: I do not want, nor will I accept, the Republican nomination.”

Scott Walker offers $45 T-shirts to pay off campaign debt

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is giving away T-shirts in exchange for $45 donations to help pay off the $1.2 million debt left over from his short-lived presidential campaign.

The Republican sent an email to donors Sunday saying, “If there is one thing the American people learned about me during our presidential campaign, it is that I am thrifty.” He cited his habit of using coupons and shopping at sales racks — a practice that he emphasized repeatedly during his campaign.

Walker told one story about the purchase of a sweater at Kohl’s so many times that it was ridiculed by Jimmy Fallon on ‘The Tonight Show.’

But Walker’s campaign failed because of his extravagant spending. He spent more than $90,000 a day during his 70-day presidential run. He was forced to withdraw from the race because he ran out of money.

Critics, including Republicans, chastised Walker for his fiscal imprudence, although apologists blamed it on his advisers.

Walker’s email offering said anyone who donates the $45 will receive a campaign T-shirt, but he’s unable to honor size and color requests because of a lack of resources.

Still, Walker suggested that the shirts could be framed or used for “crafty things,” such as pillows or bags, instead of being used as clothing.

In other Walker news, Donald Trump told USA Today that he would consider the governor as a possible running mate.

“I like Walker actually in a lot of ways,” Trump told the newspaper. “I hit him very hard. … But I’ve always liked him. There are people I like, but I don’t think they like me because I have hit them hard.”

During a rally in Janesville just two weeks ago, Trump blasted Walker’s poor handling of Wisconsin’s economy, which lags the rest of the region.

Walker said he was “shocked” by the article, but he declined to rule out the possibility of running as Trump’s vice president.

When Walker withdrew from the GOP presidential race last September, he urged other GOP candidates to follow suit in order to give the party a chance to coalesce around a suitable candidate other than Trump.

Walker endorsed Ted Cruz shortly before the Wisconsin presidential primary election. Cruz won that race.

AP writer Scott Bauer contributed to this article.


Sarah Palin endorses Donald Trump

Donald Trump, the reality television star-turned-politician, was endorsed by Sarah Palin, the politician-turned-reality TV star, in his front-running bid to be the next Republican U.S. president, his campaign said on Tuesday.

To voters, it may seem a natural fit. Though she never made it to the White House after becoming the party’s vice presidential pick in 2008, Palin’s style, which showed a candidate could be popular by eschewing policy minutiae in favor of plain-speaking, is seen as a precursor to Trump’s recent success.

“I’m proud to endorse Donald J. Trump for president,” Palin said in a statement provided by his campaign.

Trump said he was “greatly honored” by the endorsement, according to his campaign’s announcement. “She is a friend, and a high-quality person whom I have great respect for,” his statement said.

Palin was due to join Trump later on Tuesday at a campaign event in Ames, a city in central Iowa, the first state in the nation to vote for the Republican and Democratic parties’ nominees in two weeks.

Trump is in a tight contest with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for the support of Iowa Republicans, who lean conservative and whose evangelical Christians comprise a major voting bloc.

Palin was in her first term as governor of Alaska in 2008 when U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona, the Republican nominee in that year’s presidential election, picked her as his running mate.

She liked to suggest there were no fiercer fighters for conservative values than a small-town “hockey mom.” She was a former beauty-pageant winner who professed a love of hunting with guns and thought it more important that the United States increase drilling for oil than fret about climate change.

Trump is a real estate billionaire from New York City who has taken to vigorously insulting politicians in both parties while demonizing Muslims and some Mexicans, an unusual approach in U.S. presidential politics. He has been polling as the voters’ favorite on the Republican side for months, with Hillary Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of state, the leading Democratic candidate.

McCain and Palin lost the 2008 election to Barack Obama and Joe Biden, but by then Palin’s transformation from a little-known politician to national celebrity was complete. 

In 2009, she resigned as Alaska’s governor, and has since worked as a conservative political commentator and as the producer and star of lightly staged television shows about her large family enjoying Alaska’s rugged landscapes.

But even some onetime admirers wondered if her moment had passed, saying they found a speech she gave a year ago before conservative voters in Iowa to be unintelligible at times.

Joe Brettell, a Republican strategist in Texas, said he thought Palin would not help Trump much “beyond a jolt in the news cycle.”

Lindsey Graham – a Republican senator from South Carolina who last month ditched his own effort to become president and has endorsed former Florida Governor Jeb Bush for the nomination – said in an interview with CNN that he liked Palin.

Still, he added, “Sarah Palin can’t save Donald Trump from being crazy,” referring to some of Trump’s proclamations, such as a plan to ban Muslims from entering the country, which Graham said made Trump unelectable.

Sanders: This is what oligarchy looks like

Earlier this year, a number of Republicans flew to California to make fundraising pitches to more than four hundred wealthy conservative donors attending a private conference hosted by the Koch brothers.

It’s worth taking a moment to ask the question, who are the Koch brothers, and what do they want?

The Koch brothers are the second-wealthiest family in America worth $82 billion. For the Koch brothers, $82 billion in wealth apparently is not good enough. Owning the second-largest private company in America is apparently not good enough. It doesn’t appear that they will be satisfied until they are able to control the entire political process.

This issue isn’t personal for me. I don’t know the Koch brothers, but I do know this. They have advocated for destroying the federal programs that are critical to the financial and personal health of middle class Americans.

Now, most Americans know that the Koch brothers are the primary source of funding for the Tea Party, and that’s fine. They know that they favor the outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and that’s their opinion. It’s wrong, but that’s fine as well.

But it is not widely known that David Koch once ran for Vice President of the United States of America on the Libertarian Party ticket because he believed Ronald Reagan was much too liberal. And he ran on a platform that included the following:

  • “We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt and increasingly oppressive Social Security system.”
  • “We favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.”
  • “We support repeal of all laws which impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws…”
  • “We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.”

In 1980, David Koch’s presidential ticket received one percent of the vote from the American people. And rightly so. His views were so extreme they were rejected completely out of hand by the American people.

But fast forward almost thirty-six years, and one of the most significant realities of modern politics is just how successful David Koch and the like-minded billionaires attending his retreat have been at moving the Republican Party to the extreme right. The ideas above that were dismissed as downright crazy in 1980 are now part of today’s mainstream Republican thinking.

The Koch brothers, and billionaires like them, have bought up the private sector and now they’re buying up the government. It’s up to us to put a stop to them, but it will require all of us standing together with one voice on this issue. 

Here’s the truth: The economic and political systems of this country are stacked against ordinary Americans. The rich get richer and use their wealth to buy elections, and I believe that we cannot change this corrupt system by taking its money. If we’re serious about creating jobs, health care for all, climate change, and the needs of our children and the elderly, we must be serious about campaign finance reform.

So far in this election, less than four hundred families have contributed the majority of all the money raised by all the candidates and super PACs combined. According to media reports, one family will spend more money in this election than either the Democratic or Republican Parties.

This is not democracy. This is oligarchy.

Our job is not to think small in this moment. The current system of campaign finance in this country is utterly corrupt. That is one of the reasons I am so proud of how we have funded our campaign — over 2.5 million contributions from working Americans giving less than $30 at a time. But our campaign is unique.

We must pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, and I will not nominate any justice to the Supreme Court who does not make it abundantly clear that she or he will overturn that decision. We need legislation that requires wealthy individuals and corporations who make large campaign contributions to disclose where their money is going. And more importantly, I believe we need to move towards the public funding of elections.

Our vision for American democracy should be a nation in which all people, regardless of their income, can participate in the political process, can run for office without begging for contributions from the wealthy and the powerful.

Tomorrow afternoon (Jan. 5) I’ll be in New York City to deliver a major speech about our need to create a financial system that works for all Americans, not just the few.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders