Challenging the superdelegates –> The Sanders campaign is taking on the Democratic superdelegates who are backing Hillary Clinton, with some activists reaching out to the delegates and asking them to feel the Bern. Daniel Strauss reports for Politico: “Bernie Sanders lost by a hair in Iowa and won by a landslide in New Hampshire. Yet Hillary Clinton has amassed an enormous 350-delegate advantage over the Vermont senator after just two states. Outraged by that disconnect – which is fueled by Clinton’s huge advantage with Democratic superdelegates, who are not bound by voting results – Sanders supporters are fighting back.”
On CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday, Sanders said, “If we continue to do well around the country and if superdelegates — whose main interest in life is to make sure that we do not have a Republican in the White House — if they understand that I am the candidate and I believe that I am who is best suited to defeat the Republican nominee I think they will start coming over to us.”
Soul-searching continues –> Some liberal economists are questioning the true cost associated with Bernie Sanders’ policies, writes Jackie Calmes at The New York Times: “The reviews of some of these economists, especially on Mr. Sanders’s health care plans, suggest that Mrs. Clinton could have been too conservative in their debate last week when she said his agenda in total would increase the size of the federal government by 40 percent. That level would surpass any government expansion since the buildup in World War II. The increase could exceed 50 percent, some experts suggest.”
AND: Dave Weigel reports for The Washington Post that since their last debate, Clinton has been campaigning on the idea that Sanders is a single-issue candidate, too preoccupied with reducing the influence of the wealthy. “‘Not everything is about an economic theory, right?’ Clinton asked her audience of a few hundred activists, most of them wearing T-shirts from the unions that had promoted the rally. ‘If we broke up the big banks tomorrow — and I will, if they deserve it, if they pose a systemic risk, I will — would that end racism?'”
The future of the Court –> The New York Times points out that Supreme Court justices appointed in election years are usually confirmed. Republicans are arguing that Obama should leave to the next president the appointment of a successor to Justice Antonin Scalia.
AND: Election law scholar Rick Hasen writes at The Washington Post, “Think of the Scalia battle not as a hurricane, but as the first in a series of storms that will come through our increasingly polarized Congress. And with all the liberals on the Court now appointed by Democratic presidents, and all the conservatives on the Court now appointed by Republican presidents, we can expect the nominations process to be much more partisan and polarized than it has been in the past.”
ALSO: Amanda Terkel points out at The Huffington Post that Scalia’s death means all branches of government are up for grabs in the 2016 election, and that Democrats stand a chance of winning the Senate and the presidency, which could change the ideological balance of the Court. At The American Prospect, Peter Dreier looks at nine battleground states that could determine the future of both the Senate and the Court.
Man of teflon –> Even after the supposed heresy we noted yesterday — criticizing George W. Bush’s handling of 9/11 and the wars that followed — Donald Trump is leading the polls in South Carolina. Jamie Self reports for The State newspaper in Columbia, SC, that Trump has 35 percent of GOP voters. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz each have 18 percent.
GOP splintering? –> “Donald Trump is again hinting at a possible independent run for president if the Republican National Committee (RNC) doesn’t condemn Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for his recent barrage of political attacks against the billionaire. On Monday, Trump said that the RNC would be ‘in default of their pledge to me’ if they don’t condemn Cruz for his attacks, which include a recent ad stating Trump would appoint Supreme Court justices who would erase the Second Amendment,” Emily Atkin reports for ThinkProgress.
Threatening the ceasefire –> Suleiman Al-Khalidi and Lisa Barrington for Reuters: “About 50 civilians were killed when missiles hit five medical centers and two schools in rebel-held Syrian towns on Monday, the United Nations and residents said. The carnage occurred as Russian-backed Syrian troops intensified their push toward the rebel stronghold of Aleppo.”
AND: Kevin Liptak for CNN: “President Barack Obama urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to end his air campaign against Syrian opposition forces during a phone call Saturday, the White House said, a day after Putin’s deputy described relations between Moscow and Washington sinking to Cold War depths. In a description of the phone call, the White House said Obama stressed ‘the importance of rapidly implementing humanitarian access to besieged areas of Syria and initiating a nationwide cessation of hostilities.'”
Parting ways –> Neva Rockefeller Goodwin — great-granddaughter of petroleum tycoon John D. Rockefeller — explains at the Los Angeles Times why she “lost faith” in ExxonMobil, and donated the shares she had in the company to the nonprofit Rockefeller Family Fund’s Environmental program: “As the enormity of the effects of its lies becomes more evident, Exxon Mobil is positioned to supplant Big Tobacco as global Public Enemy No. 1. This is not good for a company’s bottom line. The attorneys general in New York and California have launched investigations into whether Exxon defrauded its shareholders by hiding what it knew about climate change.”
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