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Democratic Primary News

Castro drops out. Sanders raises the most money. An airstrike in Iraq divides the candidates.

Bernie Sanders
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders makes a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, July 18, 2015 (Gage Skidmore)
  • Julián Castro, Barack Obama’s housing secretary, has ended his presidential bid.
  • Bernie Sanders out-fundraised the other candidates in the final quarter of last year, bringing in $34.5 million against $22.7 million for Joe Biden. President Donald Trump raised $46 million for his reelection campaign in the same period.
  • Trump’s airstrike against Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Iraq has divided Democrats. Only Sanders and Andrew Yang opposed it outright.

Killing Soleimani

All Democratic candidates have questioned the wisdom of killing Soleimani, fearing it might lead to wider conflict with Iran, but only Sanders and Yang opposed it outright.

  • Sanders: “We must invest in the needs of America, not spend trillions more on endless wars.”
  • Yang: “I would … restore the historical balance between Congress and the executive branch concerning military action.”

Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren all made a point of calling Soleimani, who is held responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers and thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of civilians in Iraq and Syria, a “murderer”.

To the left

The Democratic primary tends to be framed as a battle between the “moderate” Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg and Klobuchar, and the “leftist” Sanders and Warren.

This isn’t wrong. There is a difference between allowing Americans to buy into Medicare and forcing them onto it. There is a difference between debt-free and tuition-free college. There is a difference between decriminalizing border crossings and giving undocumented migrants free health care.

But these discussions are taking place in a party that is more to the left than it was even a decade ago.

Roge Karma and Ezra Klein argue in Vox that on everything from climate to criminal justice to health care to immigration, even Biden and Buttigieg are to the left of Barack Obama.

Their conclusion: “We are living through the most progressive Democratic primary of all time.”

Read more

  • Jonathan V. Last argues (again) that Biden is the man to beat: “There are still ways Biden could lose, but they’re lower-probability and most of them involve long-march delegate fights or a brokered convention.”
  • Eric Levitz on “Medicare for all who want it”. It may be politically smarter than abolishing private health insurance, but it is hardly more affordable. A public option would likely crowd out most private insurance. If you missed it, also read my analysis from November: the best argument against Medicare-for-all is not cost.
  • Nathan J. Robinson on Biden’s weak fundraising, dearth of volunteers and lack of an inspiring message. Robinson — a Sanders supporter who doesn’t think any Democrat is good enough — overstates his case when he predicts Biden would lose against Trump. The polls suggest otherwise and Robinson simply dismisses that as “sure, for now.” But he does make some good points.

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