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Mike Pence To America: Trump Never Said Those Things He Said

Pence and Kaine.

Donald Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), spent much of the first and only vice presidential debate Tuesday night doing his damnedest to get Americans to forget all of the offensive things Trump has said. Pence repeatedly tried to skirt around statements Trump actually said — or simply shook his head and ignored the question. 

“I’m happy to defend [Trump],” Pence said.

But Pence rarely actually defended Trump. Instead, he dodged or outright denied his running mate’s statements. Some examples:


When Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Hillary Clinton’s running mate, accused Trump of praising Russian president Vladimir Putin as a “great leader,” Pence denied it and called Putin a “small and bullying leader.” But Trump has repeatedly praised Putin.

When Kaine said that Trump recently claimed Putin was not going into Ukraine, Pence denied it. But Trump did say, “He’s not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He’s not going to go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down. You can take it anywhere you want.” Putin took the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.

Pence himself also recently said, “I think it’s inarguable that Vladimir Putin has beena stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country.”


When Kaine challenged Pence to defend Trump’s comment that more nations should get nuclear weapons, Pence said “he never said that.” But Trump did.


When Kaine pointed out that Trump had once promised to release his tax returns, Pence replied, “He said he will do it.” Trump has repeatedly said he can’t release his returns because he is being audited by the IRS. (The IRS has said nothing prevents him from releasing them.) There is absolutely no evidence that Trump will actually release his returns. His son, Donald Trump Jr., has admitted that there’s a more political reason the campaign is not releasing the returns: It would be a distraction and create too many “questions.”


Kaine said Trump wants to have a “deportation force”: “They want to go house to house, school to school, business to business, and kick out 16 million people.” Pence called Kaine’s statement “nonsense.” Last year, Trump himself used the term “deportation force” in an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”: “You’re going to have a deportation force, and you’re going to do it humanely. And you’re going to bring the country – and frankly, the people, because you have some excellent wonderful people, some fantastic people that have been here for a long period of time.”


Pence tried to defend Trump’s comments about Mexicans after Kaine pointed out that the GOP presidential candidate has called immigrants from the country “rapists.”

“He also said, ‘many of them are good people,’” Pence replied.

Trump’s actual quote last year was: “When Mexico sends its people they’re not sending their best. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.”


When Kaine said that Trump had said women should be punished for abortion, Pence said, “Donald Trump and I would never support legislation that punished women who made the heartbreaking choice to end a pregnancy.” But Trump did say that women who have abortions should be punished.


Immediately after the debate, GOP operatives piled into the spin room and dismissed the idea that Pence had dodged any topic.

“What didn’t he stand up for?” asked Sean Spicer, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. “That’s silly to suggest. He defended Trump on every single issue.”

When The Huffington Post cited Pence’s pivot away from the question about Trump’s comments on Putin invading Ukraine, Spicer opted to ... pivot.

“I think Trump had clarified at the time...” he said, trailing off. “Frankly, if I were Democrats right now, I’d be ashamed of the job that Tim Kaine did. He didn’t defend Hillary Clinton.”

Democrats, of course, said Pence spent the whole night trying to avoid Trump’s controversies.

“What you saw was Pence not defending Donald Trump and, frankly, lying or running away,” said Clinton campaign spokeswoman Karen Finney. “The most egregious example was on Vladimir Putin. Donald Trump said he believed Vladimir Putin is a better leader than Barack Obama. When asked about it, Pence said he absolutely agreed with that. Tonight, he said something completely different.”

For his part, Pence argued that Clinton is the truly offensive candidate in the race for president.

He attacked Clinton and Kaine for suggesting that a black police officer could be biased. People “seize upon tragedy as a reason to use a broad brush to accuse law enforcement of implicit bias or institutional racism,” Pence said. “That really has got to stop.”

And he slammed Clinton for suggesting that many of Trump’s supporters are motivated by bigotry. “Hillary Clinton said that half of our supporters were a basket of deplorables,” Pence said. “She said they were irredeemable, not American. It is extraordinary. She nailed one after another ‘ism’ on millions of Americans who believe we can end illegal immigration once and for all.”

Pence was “gaslighting,” MSNBC’s Chris Hayes tweeted. As Huffington Post reporter Melissa Jeltsen explained in March, gaslighting — questioning and undermining someone else’s sense of reality — is a favorite tactic of Trump’s. And Pence used it repeatedly. 

Kaine wasn’t having it. Trump “started his campaign with a speech where he called Mexicans rapists and criminals, and he has pursued the discredited and outrageous lie that President Obama was not born in the United States,” he said. He deployed a tactic that the Clinton campaign has used in its TV ads: Simply repeat what Trump himself has said. But Pence deflected or denied each time, calling it part of his opponents’ “insult-driven campaign.”

Because it takes a while to see any changes in polling, we won’t know who “won” the debate for a few days. But there’s not much evidence that winning or losing the debate will swing the election. Presidential debates don’t normally change voters’ views much. Vice presidential debates matter even less. 

Nor is there any evidence that Pence or Kaine will help their running mates carry their home states. “A vice presidential candidate’s state of residence generally has no effect on how a presidential candidate performs in that state,” Politico Magazinefound in April. “The vice presidential home state advantage is, essentially, zero.”

Here’s the real reason you should care about what happened Tuesday night: One of these men could very well become president. Fourteen of the 44 presidents of the United States served as veep. Eight of them got the top job because the president died in office.

“You’re not going to take it, are you?” Grace Coolidge asked her husband, Calvin, when he was picked for the vice presidency in 1920. “I suppose I’ll have to,” he replied. Three years later, he was president.



Angela Davis: ‘I Am Not So Narcissistic to Say I Cannot Bring Myself to Vote for Hillary Clinton’

Angela Davis—scholar, freedom fighter, former political prisoner, icon and my personal hero—told attendees at the “Black Matters: The Futures of Black Scholarship and Activism” conference at the University of Texas at Austin that she is not so “narcissistic” to say that she won’t vote for Hillary Clinton.

“I have serious problems with the other candidate, but I am not so narcissistic to say I cannot bring myself to vote for her,” Davis said.

Davis also talked about the importance of this election, the need to stop Donald Trump at any cost, and that too much is at stake not to vote: “Too much energy went into the struggle for voting rights not to go to the polls.”

Davis has previously declined to endorse political candidates, instead staying true to an independent politic that centers the need to build a third party that is dedicated to the liberation of oppressed and marginalized people. In March, Democracy Nowˆs Amy Goodman asked Davis if she would be endorsing a candidate. Davis responded:

Endorsing? I don’t endorse. But let me say that, well, to be frank, I’ve actually never voted for one of the two-party—two major parties in a presidential election before Barack Obama. I believe in independent politics. I still think that we need a new party, a party that is grounded in labor, a party that can speak to all of the issues around racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, what is happening in the world. We don’t yet have that party. And even as we participate in this electoral process, as it exists today, I think we need to be looking ahead toward a very different kind of political process. At the same time, we put pressure on whoever is running. So I’m actually more interested in helping to develop mass movements that can create the kind of pressure that will force whoever is elected or whoever becomes the candidate to move in more progressive directions.

Goodman also asked Davis how she felt about Clinton’s use of the word “superpredator” (I outline the history of the term and Bill and Hillary Clinton’s racial politics in the ’90s here) and her impatience with black activists. Again, Davis responded:

I think it’s really wonderful that Black Lives Matter activists are participating in this electoral period in this way, forcing candidates to speak on issues about which they might not speak. And, of course, Hillary Clinton should have said, “Well, I was wrong to use the term ‘superpredators.’ What I know now, I didn’t necessarily know then.” There are many ways in which she could have disavowed it. And we know, of course, that the Clinton administration was responsible, at least in part, in large part, for the buildup of what is now called mass incarceration with the passage of the 1994 crime bill. It seems to me that if she’s interested in the votes of not only African Americans and people of color, but of all people who are progressive and attempting to speak out against the racism of overincarceration, she would simply say, “I was wrong then,” that “superpredator” is a racially coded term. It’s so interesting that she is—she tends to rely on a kind of universalism that prevents her from acknowledging the extent to which racism is so much a force and an influence in this country.

Also on The Root: “For the Record: ‘Superpredators’ Is Absolutely a Racist Term

As I noted previously, Clinton did eventually acknowledge that “superpredator” was the wrong term to use and that the Clinton tough-on-crime policies of the ’90s had a traumatic impact on black and Latinx communities in particular. Bill Clinton, however, stumping for his wife in Philadelphia earlier this year, doubled down on the policies and HRC’s support of it:

“I don’t know how you would describe the gang leaders who got 13-year-olds hopped up on crack and sent them out in the streets to murder other African-American children,” said Clinton. “Maybe you thought they were good citizens, [Hillary] didn’t. You are defending the people who kill the lives you say matter.”

Hillary Clinton did not distance herself from those statements.

She has also voiced strong support for Israel, despite its violent occupation of Palestine. However, Davis, author of Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement, is committed to liberation for the Palestinian people.

Also of note, Davis began the evening acknowledging that they were assembling on “colonized land”—bringing the genocide of indigenous people into the space. This was particularly powerful in this moment as the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other First Nations fight against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a hypercapitalist project that threatens their water and desecrates their sacred burial grounds. The tribes and their allies have faced violence from security officers, yet neither of the two major-party candidates has even uttered their names.

These vast differences in ideology between Davis and Clinton seem as if they would pose a problem for Davis—and perhaps they do. But she still made her position clear today, saying, “We should have learned by now … the arena of electoral politics militates against the expression of radical militant perspective.”

Davis seems to have joined the ranks of justice seekers and freedom fighters who believe that stopping Trump—by any means necessary—should be the priority.

This, of course, does nothing to dismantle a political duopoly that continues to deprioritize and terrorize black, brown, indigenous and poor people. But it is a perspective that is gaining louder support as November draws near: that this election is different because Trump is different and that voting for third-party candidates—which is not synonymous with continuing to build independent parties—can wait.

The Black Matters bonference was organized by the University of Texas at Austin’s black-studies department. Davis’ entire keynote can be seen here once it becomes available.




Bernie Sanders: Hillary Clinton ‘Absolutely Correct’ About My Supporters

Sanders and Clinton.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says he agrees with Hillary Clinton’s characterization of his young supporters, whom the former secretary of state described as “living in their parents’ basement” after buying into a “false promise” in the wake of the Great Recession. 

Clinton’s comments surfaced on Friday after the conservative website The Washington Free Beacon posted audio of the remarks, which were delivered by the Democratic nominee at a private fundraiser in February and taken from a Clinton campaign staffer’s hacked email.

“If you’re feeling like you’re consigned to, you know, being a barista, or, you know, some other job that doesn’t pay a lot, and doesn’t have some other ladder of opportunity attached to it, then the idea that maybe, just maybe, you could be part of a political revolution is pretty appealing. I think we all should be really understanding of that,” Clinton said.

Over the weekend, Republican nominee Donald Trump sought to capitalize on the hacked audio, tweeting that Clinton “is nasty to Sanders’ supporters behind closed doors,” and is “owned by Wall Street and politicians.”

“HRC is not with you,” he added, in a late appeal to Sanders supporters. 

Asked Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” whether he agreed with the New York businessman, Sanders, who has endorsed Clinton, said she was “absolutely correct” in her assessment of his supporters.

“I think what she said ― and, by the way, during the campaign, we do have our differences, Secretary Clinton and I do disagree on issues,” he said. “But what she was saying there is absolutely correct. And that is, you’ve got millions of young people, many of whom took out loans in order to go to college, hoping to go out and get decent-paying, good jobs.”





The 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party Movement was honored at Morehouse College’s Crown Forum After Dark program, Sept 28, with former Black Panther Party leaders Bobby Seale, Kathleen Cleaver and Bob Brown. The Bank of America Auditorium was filled well past its 350-seat capacity as the three iconic figures stood in front of students and faculty, vividly detailing their experiences during their time in the party.

The Party was co-founded by Seale, along with Huey P. Newton, on October 15, 1966 in Oakland, Calif. The vision was to protect African Americans from acts of police brutality and the violation of other civil rights laws. Cleaver served as the communications secretary, spokesperson and press secretary, while Brown co-founded his own Chicago chapter of the party in late 1967.

Brown’s PowerPoint presentation dispelled a few of the many myths that surrounded the creation of the Black Panthers and what they stood for. One of the things he disclosed was that the black panther used in the logo of his wing of the party was taken from Clark Atlanta University’s logo.

Brown emphasized, to students in particular, the importance of having a “correct interpretation of history.” He said it was important to properly document history moving forward so it can be told correctly, and avoid being “whited out” of history like the Panthers.

“You are students, you have an obligation to know history, and you have an obligation to make history,” Brown said. “Do not make the mistakes Kwame (Ture) and I did, we made history, but we did not write history.”

Unity also was a focal point by Cleaver, especially after a question was posed about leadership, and how students can be more effective in protest in current events today.

“You can’t be a leader by yourself,” she Cleaver. “You can be a failure by yourself, but you cannot lead by yourself, that is important to remember.”

Seale said he became interested in the party after looking back at the history of how African Americans had been treated in this country. He also pointed to slave rebellions and the need to be part of the political process to make change happen in America. Seale encouraged students to be more involved in acts of protest and other issues that impact all facets of the black community if they wish to improve as leaders and spark change

“You have got to be involved,” Seale said. “And when you get involved, get involved with the most pressing issues that effects everybody’s life.”




I Wrote That I Despised Hillary Clinton. Today, I Want To Publicly Take It Back.

When this election began, I was like millions of millennial men: a “Bernie bro” rooting hard for Sen. Sanders. Watching the candidate of my dreams get steam late and lose in the primary wasn’t so different from watching my favorite football team not have enough energy to complete a fourth quarter rally. Hopeful, exciting, but ultimately deflating and disappointing.

When Hillary Clinton became the presumptive Democratic nominee, I was distraught. Months before I had written about her on Huffington Post, explaining that I despised her not for her gender — as some of her supporters accused — but for her hawkishness, her center-left policies, her husband’s crime bill that incarcerated so many people of color, her support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and her inability to get progressive on climate change policy.

I’ve spent almost every waking hour of every day following this election, reading about Hillary, Donald Trump, both parties’ platforms, and the under-qualified Libertarian and Green Party candidates running. During these months of obsessing over my choice, I’ve watched my position slowly shift. I’ve felt myself start advocating for Hillary more than advocating a vote against Trump, culminating in last night’s debate when she finally, totally, completely won me over.


While it’s easy to make the case for voting against Trump, it occurred to me during the debate last night how much we’ve taken Clinton for granted.

In an election that features one of the most well-documented liars and scam artist businessmen to ever run for public office, much of the attention has been on him — how we can’t put him in office, give him keys to a nuclear warhead, trust him in the most powerful position in the world. Some of it has been more positive: how he’d turn the system on its head, be a Washington outsider, completely rewrite the script. While it’s easy to make the case for voting against Trump, it occurred to me during the debate last night how much we’ve taken Clinton for granted.

Let’s start with a simple but important position: Hillary Clinton is the most qualified person to ever run for president.

Measuring qualifications, of course, is somewhat subjective. She’s never served in the military and never run her own business, something previous candidates have done. But she was a secretary of state for four years, a U.S. senator for eight years, a first lady who lived in the White House, saw the challenges of being president up close and personal for eight years, a first lady of Arkansas, and a law professor to boot. If she were elected, she’d be the first former cabinet member to become president in almost 100 years.

Just months before 9/11, Hillary Clinton became a U.S. senator in New York. She served for eight years in the city and was a key architect of the $21 billion federal aid bill that helped rebuild the city after her term started with the worst tragedy New York had ever seen. But perhaps what she is most remembered for is fighting for the health bill that served first responders in the first 48 hours after the attack. WhileDonald Trump bragged about his building now being the tallest in New York City, Clinton was fighting the Environmental Protection Agency to admit the air wasn’t safe to breathe. That’s why Clinton has the support of so many 9/11 first responders and survivors: they remember her work as a senator of New York.

But guess what? Google “Clinton health bill 9/11” and you’ll find nothing but results about her nearly fainting outside a 9/11 memorial service, one she attended while diagnosed with pneumonia.

That wasn’t the first time Clinton had advocated for a strong health care bill, though. In 1994, a universal health care bill that Hillary Clinton pushed for had failed as the Clinton administration came into office. Then Democrats lost the House and then lost the Senate for the first time in 40 years. Democrats had essentially given up on health care reform, until First Lady Clinton helped the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). She’s largely credited with getting the bill into law, and it became the largest expansion of taxpayer-funded health insurance in three decades.


[Hillary] Clinton has traveled the world advocating a better life for women in places where that concept wasn’t even on the radar.

Today, the bill has resounding bi-partisan support, and 8.4 million children — many of them low-income — are enrolled in its program.

As she mentioned in the debate, her time as secretary of state required everything from traveling to 112 countries and debating peace deals and ceasefires, to negotiating the release of dissidents — men and women who pushed back against authoritarian regimes. What she didn’t mention was just how real that “stamina” was: She set records for travel as secretary of state.

But during Clinton’s time as secretary, she also advocated a powerful, important worldview: that the United States could be a force of good and progressivism across the world, advocating for human rights, development, and equality in nations that may not know any of those things. She pushed for investment and accommodation with Asian powers such as China, who she knows we can share mutual goals with like preventing war in the Asian Pacific and spurring economic growth by investing in the future of technology.

In the beginning of her term as secretary of state, Clinton had to win over President Barack Obama — something that, at the time, was not guaranteed. They had a heated primary battle and many thought they may never mend those wounds. But today, Obama is one of her biggest advocates. Despite publicly disagreeing with her at times, most notably on the specifics of Syrian intervention, he’s come to trust her counsel and had her present for some of their biggest moments in the situation room, such as when she helped him coordinate the assassination of Osama bin Laden.

Perhaps Clinton’s greatest blemish on her record is the destabilizing of Libya, which led to the Benghazi diplomatic compound attack. Certainly, it was one of the career bullet points that made me despise her. But despite $7 million dollars spent on Benghazi investigations, 1,982 published pages of reports on Benghazi, 10 congressional committees participating in investigations, 3,194 questions asked in a public forum, Clinton and her administration have been found guilty of zero wrongdoing. No “stand down” call was ever found, one of the cornerstones of the Republican claims. The family of Chris Stevens — the ambassador who became the face of the Benghazi tragedy after he was killed in the siege — has publicly objected to blaming Clinton for Benghazi.

Even more lost in the Benghazi witch hunt is a simple reality: during George W. Bush’s presidency, there were 13 attacks on U.S. embassies that killed 60 people. Yet his career and record were not marred by these. Despite that, Trump and his campaign still thought it should have been brought up in last night’s debate.

Throughout her time in public service, Hillary Clinton has negotiated ceasefires in Israel, put the Lilly Ledbetter Pay Equity Act into law, authored the Pediatric Research Equity Act (which helped re-label drugs to keep millions of children safe), and she got the EU, Russia, China and other world powers to participate in the crippling sanctions on Iran that forced the country to negotiate its nuclear plan out of existence. All while enduring propaganda that thrust Benghazi and the Clinton Foundation — from which there’s also been no evidence of wrongdoing, in fact,quite the contrary — into the public’s mind.

And throughout all that time, Clinton has traveled the world advocating a better life for women in places where that concept wasn’t even on the radar. She’s pushed for paternity leave here in the United States, and became a symbol of women’s rights and women’s progress everywhere. Looking at Secretary Clinton and reading about her accomplishments, it’s tough to think that it was just 100 years ago the U.S. elected the first woman to Congress. That 100 years later, she’s our first female candidate for president to win a primary.

Secretary Clinton, I’m sorry. ... You have accomplished far more in your life as a public servant than just about anyone that’s run for this office...

And what does she get for all of this work? As the debate wrapped up on Monday night, Clinton endured Trump’s threats to mention her husband’s adultery despite the fact he’s had three marriages, and been accused of rape and is a known adulterer. As she eviscerated him on calling women pigs and dogs, Trump lied about his position on the Iraq War, lied about his reasons for not releasing his tax returns, lied about his belief that climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese, lied about his feeling that pregnancy is an “inconvenience” for businesses, lied during his defense of unconstitutional stop and frisk, lied that crime is getting worse in New York, and then lied when he said his temperament was his greatest quality. And what did Clinton get?

On Fox News, they cut to their political analyst Brit Hume describing Clinton: “The TV audience saw the faces of the two candidates,” Hume said. “And she looked composed, smug sometimes ... not necessarily attractive.”

All this work, and what did Clinton get? She got an actual smug, young journalist named Isaac Saul writing about how I despised her, when I hardly knew the depth of her accomplishments, when I was clinging to the pipe dream of a Bernie Sanders presidency that may have never been in the cards, when my own father got ignored while he tried his best to talk some sense into me.

Secretary Clinton, I’m sorry. And I retract my previous position of hatred and angst towards you. You have made mistakes, some of them grave, and some of them unforgivable. Unfortunately, that comes with decades of life in the public eye, pressure and microphones in your face. But you have also accomplished far more in your life as a public servant than just about anyone that’s run for this office, and certainly far more than I ever will. When November rolls around, you’ll have my vote.

And you’ll get it enthusiastically.




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