Bernie Sanders and his celebrity supporters dart across California to rally voters


Bernie Sanders is the lone presidential candidate stumping in the state today ahead of the June 7 primary.

In Bakersfield, Bernie Sanders tries a Donald Trump tactic -- mockery -- against Donald Trump

Donald Trump is usually the presidential candidate who taunts his competitors, but on Saturday night Bernie Sanders gave him a dose of his own tactics.

Sanders has been trying to pressure Trump into a debate; at one point this week, Trump indicated he was interested, prompting Sanders’ quick acceptance. But then Trump backed out, with a slight at Sanders.

“Now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second-place finisher,” Trump said in a statement.

Before 3,000 Bakersfield fans gathered at the Kern County Fairgrounds, Sanders paid him back in mockery.

“And I say to Donald Trump — you’re a big macho guy,” Sanders said. “If you have any guts, come on down and let’s debate.”

He noted Trump’s back-and-forth over whether to meet with Sanders and encouraged him to “change his mind again — let us have a debate.”

Sanders wants a debate in order to draw a contrast with Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner who has refused to debate Sanders before the last major primaries on June 7.

He did not mention her stance, but did slightly increase what has been a muted criticism of Clinton in recent days. He expressed pride in not accepting support from a super PAC — he has benefitted from one but it’s dwarfed by those helping Clinton — and noted that was “one of the major differences” between Clinton and himself.

Later, he expanded his criticism to her position on fracking, the oil and gas extraction method blamed by many in the region for spoiling the water supply.

“One of the looming crises facing our country and the world is whether or not we will have enough clean drinking water,” he said.

“Which is why I believe we have got to end fracking. Now that is not Secretary Clinton’s point of view, and I urge her to change her mind.”

The crowd booed, and Sanders moved on with his speech.


‘Dream ticket’ of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld faces skepticism from Libertarian faithful

Gary Johnson, who is looking to win his second consecutive nomination as the Libertarian presidential candidate, plainly reveres his vice presidential pick, Bill Weld.

Weld, the former Massachusetts governor, was central to “my earliest indoctrination” to Libertarian principles, Johnson, the former New Mexico governor, told reporters Saturday. “He was the Libertarian.”

But not everyone gathered for the Libertarian Party’s convention in Orlando, Fla., this weekend feels the same way.

Weld, a recent convert to the party from the GOP, has been eyed with skepticism from the die-hard activists who will pick the party’s ticket on Sunday.

On Saturday, a speech by Weld turned into an impromptu Q&A to allay wary delegates. Johnson, at his side, was eager to prop up his running mate, even at his own expense.

“I don’t mind being the lesser half of the ticket. I’m comfortable in my own skin,” Johnson said.

Weld’s pitch leaned heavily on his work in the federal Justice Department, and his tenure as governor, in which he slashed state payrolls and appointed the Massachusetts Supreme Court justice who authored the state’s landmark case ruling gay people had a right to marry.

Such fiscal conservatism and social liberalism should fall right in the Libertarian sweet spot, and some attendees found his argument appealing.

Susan Aquino, a longtime party member from Ventura, said the informal speech convinced her.

“His track record — even if only half of it is true — he’s Libertarian, no question,” Aquino said.

Still, some delegates remained unimpressed, such as David Stewart, a high school math teacher from Oklahoma, who was displeased with Weld’s implementation of standardized testing in Massachusetts.

In a crowd that looks suspiciously upon Weld’s involvement in GOP establishment politics, the vice presidential hopeful at times would inadvertently stoke, not calm, those doubts.

He referred to former President George W. Bush as his “good friend,” even as he blamed him and President Obama for accumulating national debt. Answering a question on how to pull back the U.S. intelligence agencies from the Middle East, he noted his great-uncle, Kermit Roosevelt, helped orchestrate the 1953 coup in Iran.

Weld, in an interview, said he always expected tough scrutiny from the convention delegates.

“This ain’t going to be unanimous. This ain’t going to be close to unanimous. Nobody’s entitled,” he said. “You’ve got to earn it the old-fashioned way, one delegate at a time.”

Johnson, for his part, insisted that Weld was pivotal to the party’s hope to capitalize on dissatisfaction by many in the electorate with the two major parties. The addition of the well-known former governor, he said, would add crucial media exposure and fundraising heft to propel the party, which so far has not made a major mark in presidential contests.

Delegates will separately select the presidential and vice presidential candidates on Sunday, meaning Johnson could be paired with a different candidate.

But Johnson did not sound bullish on his chances, should that happen.

“If I go forward [without Weld], I’m not going to be president of the United States,” he said bluntly.


These Hollywood stars are crisscrossing California in an RV for Bernie Sanders

California is a sprawling state. And Hollywood actress Shailene Woodley, a die-hard Bernie Sanders supporter, had access to a motor home.

So this week, Woodley decided to take the RV on the road to campaign for Sanders ahead of California’s June 7 Democratic primary. She invited a few celebrity friends and fellow Sanders fanatics, including actors Rosario Dawson and Kendrick Sampson.

They didn’t hire a driver, instead taking turns at the wheel for a 12-city tour of the state.

They started Thursday, with stops at the U.S.-Mexico border and San Diego. On Friday, more than 500 miles later, the big tan motor home rolled into a quiet residential neighborhood in the Bay Area suburb of Hayward, where a couple dozen Sanders supporters were preparing to spend the afternoon knocking on doors.

The celebrities, looking a bit rumpled and sticky after many hours on the road, disembarked and thanked the volunteers in a rousing pep talk.

“It’s easy to feel isolated and to feel lonely in this movement,” said Woodley, known for her starring roles in “The Fault in Our Stars” and the “Divergent” film series. “But there’s millions of us around the country who are doing this.”

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Presidential candidates weigh in on the feud over Norwegian Air

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has jumped into the dispute over whether Norwegian Air International is competing fairly against its U.S.-based rivals — and she is taking a position critical of the Obama administration.

Norwegian Air, a subsidiary of Norway-based Norwegian Air Shuttle, one of Europe’s biggest low-cost carriers, has been accused by U.S.-based carriers and their unions of skirting U.S. and European labor laws by establishing a base in Ireland but hiring pilots out of Asia to save money.

Norwegian has denied the charges, and a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation said the agency investigated and found no basis to deny Norwegian a permit to fly to the U.S. from Ireland on that basis.

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More Bernie Sanders and DNC drama

And in a quick response, the Democratic National Committee said it was “compelled to dismiss” Sanders’ request.


Trump praises police for handling ‘thugs’ in San Diego; 35 arrested

San Diego police arrested 35 people Friday during protests that followed Donald Trump’s rally here, drawing praise from the presidential candidate on Twitter.

“Fantastic job on handling the thugs who tried to disrupt our very peaceful and well attended rally. Greatly appreciated!” Trump wrote.

At least 18 people received medical attention. San Diego police reported no property damage during the protests, which drew an estimated 1,000 people.

In the Gaslamp Quarter, police declared an unlawful assembly because of violence about 4:40 p.m., announcing in Spanish and English that crowds needed to disperse. Officers with riot gear were moving among the crowd.

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Snapshot from the trail: Bernie Sanders dines at The Grove


On the stump, Bernie Sanders makes pitch for legal pot in California

(Frederic J. Brown/AFP)

For Californians resolved to one day entering a dispensary and purchasing pre-rolled joints or marijuana-infused cookies — all for recreational use — a high-profile ally who lives 3,000 miles away has emerged.

As Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders darts across the state ahead of the June 7 Democratic presidential primary, he’s seamlessly woven into his pitch to voters an unyielding message of support for an effort that would legalize recreational pot in California.

“It makes sense to legalize marijuana at this particular point,” Sanders told supporters this week on a dusty softball field at a park in East Los Angeles where, like at many of his outdoor events in California, a slightly pungent pot aroma wafted through the air. “So if I were here in your state, I would vote yes on that issue.”

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