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PBS NewsHour

How 2016 candidates are fundraising their war chests

Former United States Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton smiles on
         stage during a campaign event in Hanover, New Hampshire, United States, July 3, 2015. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter - RTX1IY4X

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GWEN IFILL: Fourth of July brought parades, patriotism and even a few fireworks to the campaign trail.

No better time, then, for Politics Monday, our weekly look at the state of the campaign.

Joining me tonight, Tamara Keith of NPR and Susan Page of USA Today.

Ladies, let’s follow the money. Let’s talk about what some of these candidates have said they have been raising. We see that in the three-month period that people have been measuring, Hillary Clinton says she’s raised $45 million, Bernie Sanders in that same period of time, for someone who has not taken as being a real challenge to her on some levels, $15 million, Ted Cruz $14 million, and Ben Carson $8.3 million, which is also not chicken feed.

So, where is all this money coming from and from whom?

TAMARA KEITH, NPR: Well, for Hillary Clinton, it’s coming from a mix.

She has been doing a lot of big-dollar fund-raisers, about $2,700 fund-raisers per head. That’s the max that someone could get for the primary. She has done these like three, four fund-raisers a day, where if you add it up it’s something like $1 million in a single day.

At the same time, she’s also been trying to get a lot of small donors, and when this number came out, her campaign was careful to say, and look at this; 91 percent of our donations were for $100 or less. They definitely want to promote the lower number.

Bernie Sanders, he isn’t having any big-dollar fund-raisers and his campaign is very proud that the average donation is something like $33. And it’s pretty remarkable to raise $15 million $33 at a time.

GWEN IFILL: I’m also interested that a lot of candidates, including Ted Cruz, who, even though he raised $14 million, put out a statement that he — that plus his uncoordinated — uncoordinated PAC has actually — political action committee — has actually raised a lot more.

How much are these candidates informally depending on the PACs?

SUSAN PAGE, USA Today: Well, a lot.

And even though we’re breaking records here, Hillary Clinton broke the record that Barack Obama set in the 2016 campaign for first-quarter fund-raising, $45 million. That is going to be dwarfed by what Hillary Clinton-related super PACs and PACs are going to be raising and spending on her behalf.

And they’re not supposed to be coordinated. It’s interesting that Ted Cruz felt free to cite that as part of his total, not illegal, but it does give the lie to the technical rule that they’re supposed to be uncoordinated. In fact, they’re staffed by the people who used to work for the candidates. There is all kinds of relationships there that they can count on.

GWEN IFILL: OK.

Let’s talk about the squeeze from the right and the left, especially starting with the Democratic side. On the right, we have Jim Webb getting into the race and basically running to the right of Hillary Clinton. And we have Bernie Sanders, who is attracting huge crowds running to the left of Hillary Clinton, and near as we can tell. Is this having an effect on Hillary Clinton?

TAMARA KEITH: I think that what Hillary Clinton would say is that she’s continuing to run her own race.

And if you look at what she’s doing — tomorrow, she’s doing an interview on CNN. This will be her first sit-down televised interview, national televised interview of this campaign. Her campaign had told us a couple of months ago that they were planning to start rolling these interviews out over the summer.

So even things that seem like it might be like she’s running scared, actually, it all seems to be part of their playbook. It doesn’t seem like they have changed the playbook just yet.

GWEN IFILL: What about that, Susan?

SUSAN PAGE: I think that they’re concerned.

And I think they’re concerned because, number one, not so much that Bernie Sanders is going to take the nomination away from her. I think that’s extremely unlikely. He is getting these huge crowds. And he’s got a message that is resonating with a lot of Democrats. It’s a more liberal message, a more progressive message than she would naturally articulate. That is putting pressure on her on things like the free trade pact.

And, also, his manner. She has got all kinds of problems in looking approachable and looking like she’s a fully-fledged human being. And he’s all — he’s just totally approachable. He’s 100 percent authentic, approachable Bernie Sanders. So I think the contrast is not helpful to her.

TAMARA KEITH: Yes.

GWEN IFILL: Go ahead.

TAMARA KEITH: I was just going to say that when I talk to people out when I’m reporting, they say things like, gosh, Bernie Sanders is just so real.

And it creates that contrast with Hillary Clinton, who has been in public life for so long. She’s had her picture taken so many times that she has that smile down just right. And Bernie is just out there being Bernie. And so it does create sort of a stylistic contrast for people.

GWEN IFILL: On the Republican side, the pressure, the squeeze seems to be brought on Republican candidates by one Donald Trump, who, because of what he said in his announcement about Mexicans and many of them being rapists, even though he’s sure some of them are OK, has put a lot of Republican candidates into the position of having to respond, denounce, distance themselves?

SUSAN PAGE: But not that eager to do so, because the fact is Donald Trump has a message that appeals to some Republican voters with a very hard line on immigration.

It took a while. It took a week for other Republican candidates to come out and to be critical of him, even though this is very bad news, I think, for the Republican Party in a general election. The Republicans will not win the White House unless they do better among Hispanic voters than Mitt Romney did. And they are not going to do better among Hispanic voters if they have a line on immigration that is offensive to so many Hispanics.

GWEN IFILL: How difficult — for instance, Jeb Bush came out today and said he found it offensive. He’s married to a woman who was born in Mexico. And Donald Trump’s response was, well, he had to do that because of his wife.

Which…

TAMARA KEITH: Well, Donald Trump has deleted that tweet.

GWEN IFILL: Did he really?

TAMARA KEITH: He did.

I think, in some ways, Donald Trump is the ultimate Twitter troll, and a lot of these candidates were trying not to feed the troll for a while. And then they realized, oh, wait, he is saying things that are damaging.

And so, Jeb Bush came out relatively early, though, fact is Donald Trump made these remarks June 16. It is now July 6 — 7.

GWEN IFILL: Took a long time.

TAMARA KEITH: It took a very long time.

But Jeb Bush did ultimately, Marco Rubio, several other candidates. Ted Cruz is the only one who said he didn’t want to get involved in this Republican-on-Republican fighting.

GWEN IFILL: Yes.

Well, the other interesting thing this and other things do is make candidates like Chris Christie, who was once considered to be the moderate in this race, and Scott Walker, considered to be social conservative, they’re not necessarily exactly where they started out, are they?

SUSAN PAGE: Well, Chris Christie has now a very narrow path ahead of him.

And you saw him go straight to New Hampshire after his announcement, because that New Hampshire straight talk express, that is what he’s hoping to get on. He has got a tough road ahead of him.

Scott Walker, it’s interesting, because he has made a good early impression. But his chips are all in Iowa. He needs to win. If Chris Christie has to win in New Hampshire, Scott Walker has to win in Iowa. And we know that social conservatives, evangelical voters are a really powerful part of the Iowa caucuses.

GWEN IFILL: Fifteen seconds on Scott Walker.

TAMARA KEITH: The interesting thing about Scott Walker is that when he was running for reelection in Wisconsin, he was all about, I can be a blue state governor.

Now he’s running in Iowa, needs to win Iowa. And his preacher’s son, social conservative side is coming out more than it did in that reelection not that long ago.

GWEN IFILL: Candidate’s got to do what a candidate’s got to do.

Tamara Keith and Susan Page, thank you both very much.

SUSAN PAGE: Thank you.

TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.

The post How 2016 candidates are fundraising their war chests appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Congress heads back to work with looming funding deadline

Congress returns today after the long July 4 weekend. Photo by Gary Cameron

Congress returns today after the July 4 holiday. Photo by Gary Cameron

WASHINGTON — Members of Congress return Tuesday from July Fourth fireworks and parades facing a daunting summer workload and an impending deadline to fund the government or risk a shutdown in the fall.

The funding fight is shaping up as a major partisan brawl against the backdrop of an intensifying campaign season, with Republicans eager to avoid another Capitol Hill mess as they struggle to hang onto control of Congress and take back the White House next year. Already they are deep into the blame game with Democrats over who would be responsible if a shutdown does happen, with House Speaker John Boehner denouncing Democrats’ “dangerously misguided strategy” and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi accusing Boehner and his Republicans of pursuing “manufactured crises.”

The funding deadline does not even arrive until Sept. 30, but lawmakers face more immediate tests, too. Near the top of the list is renewing highway funding before the government loses authority July 31 to send much-needed transportation money to the states right in the middle of summer driving season.

Legislative maneuvering over the highway bill may also create an opening to renew the disputed federal Export-Import Bank, which makes and underwrites loans to help foreign companies buy U.S. products. The bank’s charter expired June 30 due to congressional inaction, a defeat for business and a victory for conservative activists who turned killing the obscure agency into an anti-government cause celebre.

Depending on the progress of the Obama administration’s nuclear negotiations with Iran, lawmakers could face debate on that issue, too. Leading Republicans have made clear that they are prepared to reject any deal the administration comes up with.

Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said Sunday: “Well, we have gone from dismantling their program to managing proliferation. That’s the biggest concern. That’s already done.”

Corker, R-Tenn., said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he has told Secretary of State John Kerry: “‘Look, you create just as much of a legacy walking away from a bad deal as you do headlong rushing into bad deal.'”

On a less partisan note, the Senate opens its legislative session this week with consideration of a major bipartisan education overhaul bill that rewrites the much-maligned No Child Left Behind law by shifting responsibility from the federal government to the states for public school standards.

“We’re seven years overdue” for a rewrite, said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the bill’s chief sponsor.

The House also is moving forward with its own, Republican-written education overhaul bill, revived after leadership had to pull it earlier this year when conservatives revolted.

Even if both bills pass, though, it’s uncertain whether Congress will be able to agree on a combined version to send to President Barack Obama. Indeed the prospects for any major legislative accomplishments arriving on Obama’s desk in the remainder of the year look slim, though there’s talk of the Senate following the House and moving forward on cybersecurity legislation.

That means that even though Obama was so buoyed when Congress sent him a major trade bill last month that he declared “This is so much fun, we should do it again,” he may not get his wish.

But all issues are likely to be overshadowed by the government funding fight and suspense over how — or if — a shutdown can be avoided.

Democrats are pledging to oppose the annual spending bills to fund government agencies unless Republicans sit down with them to negotiate higher spending levels for domestic agencies. Republicans, who want more spending for the military but not domestic agencies, have so far refused. If there’s no resolution by Sept. 30, the government will enter a partial shutdown.

It’s an outcome all involved say they want to avoid. Yet Democrats who watched Republicans pay a steep political price for forcing a partial shutdown over Obama’s health care law in 2013 — and come within hours of partially shutting down the Department of Homeland Security this year — claim confidence they have the upper hand in forcing negotiations.

“Given that a Democratic president needs to sign anything and you need Democratic votes in both chambers, the writing is on the wall here,” said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill.

Republicans insist Democrats are running a risk by opposing spending bills for priorities like troop funding — but are not yet discussing how they will proceed if Democrats don’t back down.

As a result it looks likely current funding levels could be temporarily extended beyond Sept. 30 to allow more time to negotiate a solution.

And that’s not the only consequential deadline this fall. The government’s borrowing limit will also need to be raised sometime before the end of the year, another issue that’s ripe for brinkmanship. Some popular expiring tax breaks will need to be extended, and the Federal Aviation Administration must be renewed. An industry-friendly FAA bill was delayed in the House recently although aides said that was unrelated to the Justice Department’s newly disclosed investigation of airline pricing.

In the meantime, the presence of several presidential candidates in the Senate make action in that chamber unpredictable, Congress will be out for another recess during the month of August — and in September Pope Francis will visit Capitol Hill for a first-ever papal address to Congress.

Associated Press writers Laurie Kellman and Joan Lowy contributed to this report.

The post Congress heads back to work with looming funding deadline appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

‘I salute Donald Trump’ on immigration, Cruz says

Senator Ted Cruz speaks with reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., June 23, 2015. Cruz voiced support Sunday
         for Donald Trump's positions on immigration. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Senator Ted Cruz speaks with reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., June 23, 2015. Cruz voiced support Sunday for Donald Trump’s positions on immigration. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz voiced support Sunday for embattled fellow Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has drawn widespread criticism for statements he made last month about Mexican immigrants.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, Cruz expressed admiration for the business magnate’s outspokenness on immigration, and criticized media coverage of Trump’s remarks.

“I salute Donald Trump for focusing on the need to address illegal immigration,” Cruz said told host Chuck Todd.

“He has a colorful way of speaking,” Cruz added. “It’s not the way I speak, but I’m not going to engage in the media’s game of throwing rocks and attacking other Republicans.”

In a June 16 speech announcing his presidential run, Trump said of Mexican immigrants, “They are bringing drugs. They are bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Trump, himself the son of a Scottish immigrant, has stood by his statements, even as a series of companies cut ties with him.

Both Trump and Cruz support a legal path to immigration, advocate for strong border security and denounce so-called amnesty policies that provide a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the United States without documentation.

“The Washington cartel supports amnesty,” Cruz said Sunday. “The Washington cartel does not support securing our borders.”

The post ‘I salute Donald Trump’ on immigration, Cruz says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Legislative battles loom as Congress gets back to work

People walk near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. July 4. Members of Congress returning to work Tuesday after the
         Fourth of July holiday face a pending deadline to fund the government, among other items on a daunting to-do list. Photo by
         Sait Serkan Gurbuz/Reuters

People walk near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. July 4. Members of Congress returning to work Tuesday after the Fourth of July holiday face a pending deadline to fund the government, among other items on a daunting summer to-do list. Photo by Sait Serkan Gurbuz/Reuters

WASHINGTON — After July Fourth fireworks and parades, members of Congress return to work Tuesday facing a daunting summer workload and a pending deadline to fund the government or risk a shutdown in the fall.

The funding fight is shaping up as a major partisan brawl against the backdrop of an intensifying campaign season. Republicans are eager to avoid another Capitol Hill mess as they struggle to hang onto control of Congress and try to take back the White House next year.

Already they are deep into the blame game with Democrats over who would be responsible if a shutdown does happen. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has denounced Democrats’ “dangerously misguided strategy” while House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California accuses Boehner and his Republicans of pursuing “manufactured crises.”

The funding deadline does not even arrive until Sept. 30, but lawmakers face more immediate tests. Near the top of the list is renewing highway funding before the government loses authority July 31 to send much-needed transportation money to the states right in the middle of summer driving season.

The highway bill probably also will be the way lawmakers try to renew the disputed federal Export-Import Bank, which makes and underwrites loans to help foreign companies buy U.S. products. The bank’s charter expired June 30 due to congressional inaction, a defeat for business and a victory for conservative activists who turned killing the obscure agency into an anti-government cause celebre.

Depending on the progress of the Obama administration’s nuclear negotiations with Iran, lawmakers could also face debate on that issue. Leading Republicans have made clear that they are prepared to reject any deal the administration comes up with.

Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said Sunday, “Well, we’ve gone from dismantling their program to managing proliferation. I mean, that’s our biggest concern, that’s already done.”

Asked on CBS’s “Face the Nation” what assurances he had received on this issue in discussions with Secretary of State John Kerry, Corker, a Tennessee Republican, replied, “Well, obviously they’re very anxious. I mean, I think they look at this as a legacy issue.”

Corker said he has told Kerry, “Look, you create just as much as a legacy walking away from a bad deal as you do head-long rushing into breaking into a bad deal.”

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said Iran “should have faced a simple choice: they dismantle their nuclear program entirely, or they face economic devastation and military destruction of their nuclear facilities.”

Beyond the issue of Iran, the Senate opens its legislative session with consideration of a major bipartisan education overhaul bill that rewrites the much-maligned No Child Left Behind law by shifting responsibility from the federal government to the states for public school standards.

“We’re seven years overdue” for a rewrite, said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn, the bill’s chief sponsor.

The House also is moving forward with its own, Republican-written education overhaul bill, revived after leadership had to pull it earlier this year when conservatives revolted.

Even if both bills pass, though, it’s uncertain whether Congress will be able to agree on a combined version to send to President Barack Obama. Indeed the prospects for any major legislative accomplishments arriving on Obama’s desk in the remainder of the year look slim, though there’s talk of the Senate following the House and moving forward on cybersecurity legislation.

That means that even though Obama was so buoyed when Congress sent him a major trade bill last month that he declared “This is so much fun, we should do it again,” he may not get his wish.

But all issues are likely to be overshadowed by the government funding fight and suspense over how – or if – a shutdown can be avoided.

Democrats are pledging to oppose the annual spending bills to fund government agencies unless Republicans sit down with them to negotiate higher spending levels for domestic agencies. Republicans, who want more spending for the military but not domestic agencies, have so far refused. If there’s no resolution by Sept. 30, the government will enter a partial shutdown.

It’s an outcome all involved say they want to avoid. Yet Democrats who watched Republicans pay a steep political price for forcing a partial shutdown over Obama’s health care law in 2013 – and come within hours of partially shutting down the Department of Homeland Security this year – claim confidence they have the upper hand.

“Given that a Democratic president needs to sign anything and you need Democratic votes in both chambers, the writing is on the wall here,” said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill.

Republicans insist Democrats are running a risk by opposing spending bills for priorities like troop funding – but are not yet discussing how they will proceed if Democrats don’t back down.

As a result it looks likely current funding levels could be temporarily extended beyond Sept. 30 to allow more time to negotiate a solution.

And it’s not the only consequential deadline this fall. The government’s borrowing limit will also need to be raised sometime before the end of the year, another issue that’s ripe for brinkmanship. Some popular expiring tax breaks will also need to be extended, and the Federal Aviation Administration must be renewed. An industry-friendly FAA bill was delayed in the House recently although aides said that was unrelated to the Justice Department’s newly disclosed investigation of airline pricing.

In the meantime, the presence of several presidential candidates in the Senate make action in that chamber unpredictable, Congress will be out for another recess during the month of August – and in September Pope Francis will visit Capitol Hill for a first-ever papal address to Congress.

The post Legislative battles loom as Congress gets back to work appeared first on PBS NewsHour.