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Bloomberg courts black vote in Democratic candidate countdown

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US billionaire Michael Bloomberg has launched a charm offensive to convince black voters, an important bloc in Democratic politics, that he is the right candidate to take on President Donald Trump in November.

The former New York mayor rallied supporters in Texas on Thursday, with his sights set on so-called “Super Tuesday” on March 3, when voters in 16 states and territories will cast their ballots in the Democratic primary.

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It is Bloomberg’s sixth visit to the Lone Star state since he entered the race to be the party’s presidential candidate.

“This month, we look back and celebrate black history together, because black history is American history,” Bloomberg said at the Buffalo Soldiers museum, named after a Civil War regiment of African-American soldiers, where he kicked off his “Mike for Black America” campaign.

With 19 campaign offices and 150 employees in Texas he now has a larger presence than any other candidate in the state.

Texas is key to the Democratic primaries because it has such a large number of delegates, 228, more than the total of all the other states that vote in February, where the billionaire chose not to run.

If a candidate obtains a majority of delegates, or 1,991, he or she will take on Trump in the presidential election.

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Bloomberg has thrown large amounts of money from his personal fortune into the campaign — spending more than $300 million across the country and about $29 million in Texas alone, according to the Kantar/Campaign Media Analysis Group.

The 77-year-old’s campaign in the state has focused on black voters, who will be key to deciding the Democratic nomination.
‘Unintended pain

When he first visited Houston at the end of January, Bloomberg spoke of an economic program aimed at black business people and home-owners.

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On Thursday he again apologized for backing arbitrary “stop-and-frisk” searches by the New York police when he was mayor.

“I defended it, looking back, for too long, because I didn’t understand then the unintended pain it was causing to young black and brown families and their kids”.

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Bloomberg had already apologized over the scandal, but it surfaced again after a recording was spread widely on social media — and retweeted by Trump — in which he said police should be deployed to minority neighborhoods because “that’s where all the crime is.”

He received the support Thursday of the influential, black Democratic mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner.

“It’s important for me to hear the recognition that the policy that was put in place was not the right policy, that it was flawed, that it was insensitive,” Turner said.

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“You don’t judge the people by the mistakes they make, you judge people by their ability to fess up and then work collectively to move you forward.”

The scandal did not appear to have put off his supporters however.

“I really have been impressed how he was very apologetic on the mistake that he made,” said Yolanda Richard, who came to listen to Bloomberg speak.

“It takes a lot to come back and stand before people and apologize and admit he was wrong.”

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Although Bloomberg has yet to put himself to the vote in a Democratic primary, he is rising briskly in the polls and in third place on average country-wide.

Some, like retiree Niiobli Armah, think Bloomberg is the person to beat Trump.

“We’ve all seen what has been going on in this country, we know what has been going on in the White house, and we really need an alternative.”


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2020 Election

Some Democratic allies are weaponizing disinformation tactics favored by the right. That can only backfire

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Democrats are increasingly worried about losing the 2020 presidential election to Donald Trump. The party is in seeming disarray from the botched Iowa caucuses and the failure of an "electable" frontrunner to emerge early in the primary season. Trump's fundraising and digital operations are humming, buoyed in part by his acquittal at the Senate trial which refused to remove him from office for soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 elections and obstructing the House's investigation of it.

As reported recently in The Atlantic by McKay Coppins, many Democrats believe Trump's success stems in part from an extended campaign of disinformation across social media, aided by malign foreign actors, and that it is time to fight fire with fire. But these nascent Democratic efforts at media manipulation and misinformation will only make things worse and can undermine an intelligent democracy in the long run. They are also likely to be ineffective and even counter-productive.

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2020 Election

If Democrats fight right-wing ‘fake news’ fire with fire, we all lose

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Democrats are increasingly worried about losing the 2020 presidential election to Donald Trump. The party is in seeming disarray from the botched Iowa caucuses and the failure of an "electable" frontrunner to emerge early in the primary season. Trump's fundraising and digital operations are humming, buoyed in part by his acquittal at the Senate trial which refused to remove him from office for soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 elections and obstructing the House's investigation of it.

This article first appeared in Salon.

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2020 Election

‘Nice deflection, Mr President’: Adam Schiff busts Trump for trying to blame him for his leaky administration

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Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) took a shot at President Donald Trump on Sunday morning after the president tried to blame him for the leak describing a classified meeting lawmakers had with an intelligence official who warned the bipartisan group that the Kremlin is trying to help the president get re-elected.

As the president prepared to leave the White House for India, he told reporters that Schiff was to blame for the leaked meeting story, with the president insisting he personally had not been briefed on the report explosive report.

Responding to a 'Meet the Press" clip of the president making his accusation, Schiff tweeted back: "Nice deflection, Mr. President. But your false claims fool no one. You welcomed Russian help in 2016, tried to coerce Ukraine’s help in 2019, and won’t protect our elections in 2020. Now you fired your intel chief for briefing Congress about it. You’ve betrayed America. Again."

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