02-19-2017  3:30 pm      •     

Democratic presidential frontrunner and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton confirmed to the Los Angeles Sentinel in an exclusive interview this week that she has hired two high-powered and influential African Americans to help run her historic race for the White House and she's assembling a team of African American advisors across the country.
"I want to have as inclusive and diverse a campaign as I can because that's the way I want to govern," Clinton said. "We just want to do things right."
Clinton announced that Chicago-based banker and longtime friend Bob Nash would soon become her deputy campaign manager. Previously, Nash had worked as the director of White House personnel for President Bill Clinton for six years.
Former CEO of the Democratic National Committee and former White House political advisor Minyon Moore, who worked as principal political advisor in the Bill Clinton White House, officially re-enters the Clinton camp.
"Minyon is a class act. She's brilliant and brings a lot to the campaign. She's been helping me before I even thought about doing this," Sen. Clinton said.
Nash and Moore are two of about a dozen of African Americans expected to be named to the Clinton inner circle.
"I feel very committed to working with and involving Black voters and Black citizens in whatever I do. That's the way I've lived my life and that's the way my husband and I believe our country works best," Clinton said.
Nash said Hillary Clinton was his "strongest supporter" as it relates to helping the president have an administration that looks like America.
"It was an honor for me to serve and that's why I'm leaving my job and everything to help her continue being for issues important to Black people," Moore said. "Sen. Clinton has always championed issues that impact people of color in general and African Americans in particular. It's a pleasure to work with such a diverse team of smart and committed people."
When asked to identify those African Americans in Southern California who have signed on under the Clinton column, Sen. Clinton named legendary entertainer Quincy Jones, music mogul Clarence Avant and his wife Jackie and well-known businesswoman Alice Huffman.
Although it's still early in this heated race, it's clear the battle for Black votes is on. Democratic Party officials believe this will be one of the most competitive scrambles for Black supporters since the Voting Rights Act was passed four decades ago. And what's also clear is that the Black vote is not a guarantee for a Black candidate.
When Illinois Sen. Barack Obama threw his hat into the political ring, many African Americans — some longtime Clinton supporters — were excited about the man who could become the country's first Black president, yet they found themselves in a political quagmire: How do you abandon a team that's been there for Black America?
"Bill and Hillary Clinton have been in the trenches — side by side with us for decades," Avant said. "They're like family and you have to respect that."
In the one-on-one interview, Clinton, who could become the first female president of the United States, told the L.A. Sentinel she understands the "difficult decision" facing African Americans, who see Obama as standing on the brink of history too.
"It will be a difficult choice, but I'm hoping I can earn their vote," Clinton said.
However, she said she doesn't believe the Black community "owes her."
"I've been blessed. I've been able to participate in many of the good things and stand against some of the bad ones in the last decade. But I don't think in politics you can ever assume that anybody owes you anything," Clinton said. "We're all free people and we have a right to make our minds about who we vote for based on any factor whatsoever."
She is hoping, however, that African Americans remember the Clinton record on civil rights.
"But what I hope is that people will see in me someone who has been in these struggles for a long time who has worked particularly to provide opportunities for our children, who has spent time both as a public servant and public official trying to create better conditions for people to live their lives and live out their dreams," Clinton said.
So far, both Sens. Obama and Clinton have been careful to not attack each other. When pressed to say if Obama presents a problem in her race for the White House, Clinton empathically stated she "doesn't see it that way."
"Sen. Obama is running a very strong race as an accomplished African American. Bill Richardson will be the first Hispanic. I will be the first female president," Clinton said. "I'm thrilled that the Democratic Party can offer this to the people of this country. I think we're stronger because of who we all are running. I think it should be a hard competition. This is a very difficult job we're asking to have. It's not going to be easy no matter who is elected. I think I'm the best-qualified and experienced person to do it. I wouldn't be running if I didn't feel like I was the best candidate."
Clinton is campaigning on a platform of "Renewing America's Promise," which includes goals of creating jobs, affordable higher education, universal pre-kindergarten education, energy independence, economic empowerment and universal healthcare.
"I want to set a goal of universal health care coverage for every single American. It's a disgrace that we have 47 million uninsured Americans and we have a lot of people in effect underinsured," Clinton said.
As for ending the war in Iraq, Sen. Clinton agreed with the House vote last week to start withdrawing the troops out of the Middle East, but understands and believes "special forces" will be needed in the region possibly until 2009.
"I don't think the president (Bush) is going to do much to start pulling troops out of Iraq. And what that means is, as president I will have to start doing that," she explained. "You can't do it overnight. You have to do it in an orderly way. You have to make sure the troops are safe as they're withdrawing. I want to get most of our troops out as quickly as possible."
Clinton also stressed she wants to "restore respect for America around the world."
Although voters are one year away from casting a ballot in the presidential primaries, Clinton fully plans to have her popular husband, former President Bill Clinton described as "her closest and best advisor" out on the stump. For the first time since she announced her candidacy, the former president recently joined his wife in Alabama to commemorate the 42nd anniversary of the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery.
The Selma march was the first time the 2008 presidential contenders had shared the same turf, but it surely won't be the last. And it's no doubt President Bill Clinton was a big boost for his wife that day. Georgia U.S. Representative John Lewis told one reporter he was prepared to endorse Sen. Obama that day – "until Bill Clinton called."
"It's thrilling for me when he's out there," Sen. Clinton said of her famous husband. "He and I know that I have to get out there and run the beginning of this campaign on my own. He will certainly be out there during the campaign but more importantly when I'm president he will be out there."
As for the future of this country, Clinton said there are a lot of problems left over from the Bush Administration.
"We have a lot of problems," Clinton said. "This president (George W. Bush) we have now has done a lot of damage to our country. We are going to be left with a big hole to dig ourselves out of so I'm going to hand my husband a big shovel along with a lot of other people and we're going to start digging together."

—The Black Press

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  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
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