Sanders and his celebrity friends rally supporters
It was a political rally, but felt like a rock concert. And in many ways it was both.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and his celebrity friends made a home-stretch push for votes Saturday during a festive concert and rally outside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Sanders again promised to fight on until the Democratic National Convention and said his campaign needs a record turnout to emerge victorious in Tuesday’s California primary. California voters, he said, “are going to help lead us into the political revolution.”
The Sanders campaign said Coliseum officials estimated the crowd at more than 13,000. They gathered Saturday afternoon outside the stadium and listened to a slew of indie rock bands before Sanders spoke. The crowd more resembled a typical California music festival than a political rally, with kids running around as vendors hawked T-shirts and buttons. More than a few people smoked marijuana.
As Los Angeles band Ozomatli warmed up the crowd, Marisol and Jorge Ruvalcava of Palmdale swayed to the music holding a “Bernie” sign.
“I trust him; he is honest,” said Jorge, 27, a computer technician. “I love his message. I can’t go for Trump, and I really can’t go for Hillary.”
He proudly said this was the fifth Sanders rally he has attended in California, including one in Fresno.
Actors Dick Van Dyke and Susan Sarandon introduced Sanders, who delivered his stump speech for over an hour. (The 90-year-old Van Dyke got a big laugh by saying, “Ladies and gentleman, I’m what’s left of Dick Van Dyke.”)
Sanders peppered his speech with jabs at Donald Trump, claiming he was the best suited to defeat the presumptive Republican nominee in a general election.
After his speach, Sanders was joined onstage by the bands for a rendition of “This Land Is Your Land.” Sanders sang along, and that ended the night.
Jacqueline Vergara, a 33-year-old community college teacher from Koreatown, stood nearby with her niece. She said she was energized and ready to go home and start reminding her friends to head to the polls Tuesday.
“I’m inspired,” she said.
Hillary Clinton in drought-plagued Fresno: ‘We’re going to get to work on water’
It’s a good political rule of thumb in the drought-stricken Central Valley: When in doubt, talk water.
Here in Fresno, attendees who lined up in triple-digit heat to see Hillary Clinton speak Saturday at a high school said the state’s parched condition was one of their top concerns.
Sure enough, Clinton sprinkled a number of mentions of water into her standard stump speech, promising the crowd that if she’s elected president, “we’re going to get to work on water.”
Her proposals were vague. She noted the “water systems here [were] built before our time,” before pledging to invest anew in infrastructure.
New water projects have been a top priority for Fresno’s agriculture industry, which has struggled to adapt to the state’s lingering drought.
In another nod to the local industry, Clinton changed her standard riff promising to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws.
“I will make sure that right here in Fresno and the surrounding area — where we see such productive agriculture, where the farmers and farmworkers produce half of the food that we eat — that 1.2 milllion farmerworkers in California will not be rounded up and deported,” she said.
In her final event on a Saturday blitz of campaign stops, in a nearly full gym at Thomas Edison High School, Clinton touted the recent endorsement of Gov. Jerry Brown.
“I was honored to be endorsed by Jerry Brown just a few days ago. It meant a lot to me because he’s a problem-solver,” she said. “He gets good ideas wherever they come from. He listens to all kinds of people. Then he makes up his mind and gets to work.”
Does Bernie Sanders back Latinos? ‘If he does, I’ll vote for him four times,’ says one woman
After visiting Echo Park, Bernie Sanders made an unscheduled stop Saturday in the working-class city of Huntington Park, south of downtown Los Angeles.
The city of about 60,000 is more than 97% Latino, a group Sanders is wooing ahead of Tuesday’s primary.
Sanders strode down a busy stretch of Pacific Boulevard, stopping to take selfies and pose for photos with people running errands.
A typical encounter involved a person asking for a picture, and Sanders asking in return whether he or she was registered to vote.
“For sure,” one man said to Sanders while snapping a photo. “For sure.”
One woman walking down the street asked a reporter who Sanders was and whether he supported Latinos.
“If he does, I’ll vote for him four times,” she said.
Bernie Sanders praises Muhammad Ali and jabs at Donald Trump
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders praised Muhammad Ali on Saturday, calling him not only a boxing icon but a man of “incredible courage” for his early opposition to the war in Vietman.
“The reason Ali struck a chord in the hearts of so many Americans was not just his great boxing skill; it was his incredible courage. At a time when it was not popular to do so, Ali stood up and said, ‘I am opposed to the war in Vietnam, and I am not going to fight in that war,’” Sanders said at a news conference in Los Angeles.
Ali died Friday; he had had Parkinson’s syndrome for years.
Sanders, who described himself as a boxing fan, also made a not-so-subtle jab at Donald Trump, who was criticized after he tweeted condolences for Ali. Some saw it as hypocritical because Ali was Muslim and Trump, in response to the Paris and San Bernardino attacks last fall, proposed banning Muslims from entering the U.S.
Sanders said he has met many Muslims around the country who feel intimidated by Islamaphobia.
“Don’t tell us how much you love Muhammad Ali and yet you’re going to be prejudiced against Muslims in this country,” he said.
Sanders and Clinton duel for Latino votes in Southern California
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton courted Southern California Latinos at competing immigration forums Saturday, both seeking to turn out a crucial voting demographic days before the Democratic primary.
In stark contrast to the mass deportation policies proposed by presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, Sanders and Clinton both affirmed their support for legislation that would allow millions of immigrants in the country illegally to stay. Both committed to slowing deportations until such legislation is passed.
But they also highlighted their differences.
At a cooking school in Sylmar, Clinton criticized the Vermont senator’s opposition to a 2007 immigration reform bill that she supported. At the time, Sanders warned that, among other problems, the bill would drive down wages for low-income workers, an argument made by labor unions.
Speaking at a Mexican-American cultural center in Boyle Heights, Sanders signaled his support for a new policy that would provide protection from deportation for immigrants in the U.S. illegally who are cheated out of wages by their employers.
The proposed policy, backed by immigrant labor groups, is modeled on the U Visa process, which allows immigrants who are undocumented and have been victims of crimes to eventually apply for citizenship.
“It’s important that immigrant workers get treated fairly,” Sanders said, adding that paying anybody lower than the minimum wage “is a part of the race to the bottom.”
A spokeswoman for the Clinton campaign didn’t immediately say whether Clinton would support such a policy.
While Sanders appeared alongside several far-left immigration activists, including Pablo Alvarado, director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, and U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Clinton shared a table with several Democratic Party stalwarts.
Her event featured Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles) and state Senate President Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles).
Speaking to an audience that included Latino students and farmworkers from Ventura County, Clinton spoke of the time, when, as an adolescent, she babysat the children of migrant farm workers in Illinois. She said the experience made her realize that immigrant workers are “just like our family.”
Clinton spoke at length about Trump, who has pledged mass deportations and a massive border wall.
She said that if she is elected president, she will “put the faces and stories of immigrants front and center, so that when someone like Donald Trump talks in these hateful, very prejudicial, really unacceptable ways, that more Americans will see the face of someone they know.”
A recent USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll of California voters found a generational divide in the Latino vote, with Sanders ahead of Clinton 58% to 31% among Latino voters younger than 50 in advance of the state’s primary on Tuesday. Among older Latinos, Clinton led 69% to 16%.
Latinos are a critical voting group in California, making up nearly 1 in 5 voters.
What happens when Bernie Sanders stumps for votes in Echo Park
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ motorcade raced down Sunset Boulevard, past the trendy Silver Lake brunch crowd and came to a stop at Echo Park for a surprise stroll Saturday.
A quiet afternoon for the Latino families and hipsters picnicking at the lakeside park suddenly turned boisterous as Sanders made the rounds wearing a Golden State Warriors hat.
Felix Garcia leapt from the park bench he was sitting on with friends when he saw Sanders approach.
“We are going to win! We are going to win,” he said to Sanders as he shook their hands.
Garcia, a 45-year-old cook who emigrated from Michoacán, Mexico, said his son at UC Santa Barbara turned him on to Sanders’ campaign. With another son in college, Garcia said he trusted Sanders to shape the best future for his kids.
“That’s my guy,” he said.
Michel Martinez, 34 of Echo Park, was lounging on a blanket with a friend when Sanders approached her.
“We are burning up,” Martinez said, playing on Sanders’ name.
“You guys gonna vote on Tuesday?” Sanders asked.
Martinez nodded. She said she had re-registered as a Democrat just to vote for him.
Sanders walked toward the next group as Secret Service agents tried to keep a growing crowd of gawkers at bay.
“Let’s go disturb some more people,” Sanders said to nobody in particular.
Clinton praises GOP presidents as she rips Trump as unqualified
It’s rare for a Democratic presidential candidate to rally the base by praising the Republicans who have held the White House in recent decades. But Hillary Clinton did just that on Saturday as she argued that Donald Trump is unqualified to hold the office.
Clinton noted that she had met Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, as well as her husband, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, for whom she served as secretary of State.
“They were of different political parties, we know that, and I sure didn’t agree with everything they did,” she said of the Republicans to hundreds of cheering supporters in a stuffy high school gym. “I will tell you this, they all carried themselves, presented themselves, as men who understand the seriousness and responsibility of the job. They each, with their own backgrounds and experiences, came to the office of the presidency and to the duties of commander in chief with a sense of awe and honor.”
Trump fails to meet this standard, she said, pointing to his recent attacks on a San Diego-based federal judge as another example of his divisiveness.
Judge Gonzalo Curiel is presiding over a civil lawsuit that accuses Trump University of defrauding its students. In recent days, Trump has repeatedly said Curiel is incapable of fairly overseeing the trial because of his Mexican heritage.
“This is not just another outlandish, insulting comment from Donald Trump and it is not normal politics,” Clinton said. “This is something much more dangerous.”
Clinton recounted Curiel’s life story – he was born in Indiana to immigrant parents and became a federal prosecutor who had to live in hiding because he was threatened by Mexican drug cartels. He was named to the California state court by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and then to the federal bench by Obama.
“This, my friends, is the story of America,” Clinton said. “This is an inspiring story of someone who worked for everything he had. It’s a story that makes me proud. Judge Curiel is as much of an American as I am, and he’s as much of an American as Donald Trump is.”
Clinton noted boxer Mohammad Ali’s passing as she said that in the United States, people are judged by their actions, not their race, ethnicity or religion.
“Donald Trump’s not just wrong about Judge Curiel, he’s wrong about what makes this country great,” she said. “It’s time to judge Donald Trump by his words and deeds. And I believe that his words and his deeds disqualify him from being the president of the United States.”
The Oxnard rally was the second of four events she had scheduled Saturday in California, as she and her husband barnstorm the state ahead of Tuesday’s primary. Clinton is expected to clinch the Democratic nomination before polls close here on Tuesday, but her campaign has been working hard to avoid an embarrassing loss in this state to rival Bernie Sanders.
Clinton did not mention the Vermont senator in her half-hour of remarks. She did mention him earlier in the day during a discussion about immigration in Sylmar.
As Clinton courted the state’s Latino voters, she recalled the 2007 bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill.
“I was in the Senate then. So was President Obama. So was Sen. Sanders. And President Obama and I voted for it. Sen. Sanders voted against it,” she said. “And that ended what many people ... said at the time was the best chance we had. It was heartbreaking.”
Bernie Sanders insists the Democratic race will go all the way to the convention
Using a bit of mathematical sleight of hand, Bernie Sanders on Saturday insisted that Hillary Clinton would not clinch the Democratic presidential nomination in coming days and that he planned to fight for it through the summer convention.
Sanders’ effort, described at a news conference in downtown Los Angeles, was the political equivalent of playing the refs. In the waning days of the voting season, the Vermont senator is trying to prevent the race being called — and the loss of momentum that would mean for his campaign.
He also sought to apply pressure to television networks to avoid calling Clinton the victor when the polls close in New Jersey on Tuesday — despite the strong possibility that she will win there, albeit under calculations with which Sanders disagrees.
Sanders is also trying to prevent a circumstance under which the California turnout is depressed by a nomination call after New Jersey’s polls close, a full three hours before voting ceases in California.
Sanders’ arguments rest on his objections to superdelegates, who are party officials and leaders who can choose which candidate to back. Other delegates, the so-called pledged delegates, are tied to the actual vote.
But Sanders also is applying some tricky math.
He said that by the end of voting, no candidate will have the backing of the requisite 2,383 delegates, or a majority of those available. He then cited figures showing his and Clinton’s numbers among pledged delegates.
But the majority number he cited included superdelegates. By including them in the target figure, but not in the standings so far, he effectively raised the bar in a way detrimental to Clinton.
According to a Los Angeles Times count, Clinton now has 2,316 delegates, including 1,769 pledged delegates. Sanders has 1,547 delegates, including 1,501 pledged delegates.
The bottom line for Sanders: At least for now he plans to fight for the support of delegates until the convention officially nominates a standard-bearer for the fall.
“At the end of the nominating process no candidate will have enough pledged delegates to call the campaign a victory. They will be dependent upon superdelegates,” Sanders said. “In other words, the Democratic National Convention will be a contested convention.”
For those who call Clinton the presumptive nominee before July’s meeting in Philadelphia, he had this message: “You are in error. You’re wrong.”
Asked what that suggests for party unity, Sanders said unity rested on the Democratic Party welcoming all of his supporters. He did not indicate that he felt any responsibility to try to persuade his backers to eventually support Clinton as the party nominee.
He had particularly sharp words for Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Florida congresswoman who leads the national party. Sanders, who has raised money for her Democratic primary rival, archly noted that he wanted the Democratic Party to embrace his supporters “who have never attended” one of her fundraisers.
“Party unity is a big word,” he said, adding of his supporters: “I want them to feel welcome. That is unity.”
Clinton leads the Democratic race by any measure — the number of votes cast, the number of pledged delegates and the number of superdelegates.
To the latter group, Sanders is insisting that he would have the best chance of defeating Donald Trump in the general election. But that argument is undercut by the fact that he has not overcome his primary season opponent, Clinton.
The party’s proportional delegate allocation rules mean that, barring victories by margins not seen in this election, he will not catch up to Clinton in pledged delegates.
Superdelegates have had the option of switching from Clinton to Sanders at any time — and the fact that they have not, except minimally, suggests they are not buying his argument that he would be the most potent November candidate.
Sanders said Saturday that he had seen “a trickle” of support recently from superdelegates. But he said he still has time to make his case.
“We have time to do this,” he said, “and let me repeat for the umpteenth time: We understand that we have a steep climb.”
But, he added, “We don’t know what the world will look like in five weeks’ time.”
Sanders also acknowledged that, while he hopes to change the nominating system in the future, the rules he’s operating under were set before his candidacy.
“I don’t use the word ‘rigged,’” he said. “I knew what I was getting into.”
Bill Clinton slams Donald Trump: ‘We’ve got to start acting like Americans again’
Former President Bill Clinton slammed Donald Trump at a campaign stop in Inglewood on Saturday, saying “we’ve got to start acting like Americans again and stop dumping all over each other.”
Clinton, who was campaigning for his wife ahead of California’s Democratic primary Tuesday, suggested Trump’s campaign slogan and frequent pledge to “make America great again” is a “signal” to some voters who might be uneasy about the country’s demographic change.
“He means: ‘I’ll make it the way it used to be,’” Clinton said. “Well it wasn’t so great for a lot of people.”
Clinton spoke to spoke to an audience made up mostly of African American and Latino voters from the bed of a pickup truck adorned with American flags. The late-morning rally in a sunny city park was one of about a dozen appearances he has planned across Southern California in the home stretch before Tuesday’s election.
His wife, Hillary Clinton, is locked in a tight battle with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in California’s Democratic primary. Still, the former president barely mentioned Sanders, instead focusing his comments on Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, as well as President Obama.
Clinton heaped praise on Obama, touting his work to avert economic collapse during the Great Recession and his work to increase the number of Americans covered by health insurance.
“President Obama has done a way better job than he often gets credit for,” Clinton said after being introduced by Inglewood Mayor James Butts and U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), two of the region’s best-known African American politicans.
The Clinton campaign will need high turnout from black voters to pull ahead of Sanders, who polls show has split the Latino vote and has made significant inroads among young voters.
The Clintons have a long history with African American voters, many of whom helped elect Bill Clinton president. That relationship was tested eight years ago when Hillary Clinton lost to Obama in a hard fought Democratic primary.
Those divisions seem to have mostly healed. Clinton has done well among African Americans, especially older blacks, in several state primary elections this year.
Inglewood resident Zanetta Robinson, 52, who attended Saturday’s rally, said it meant a lot to her that Hillary Clinton went on to serve as secretary of State under Obama.
“I was really appreciative of that,” she said.
She said she has fond memories of Bill Clinton’s time as president. “I really loved him,” she said. “I thought he did the economy great.”
In part because of that, she said she and her whole family plan to vote for Clinton on Tuesday.
Showcase in Washington features artists supporting Bernie Sanders
As an artist in Washington, Shani Shih said creating a showcase around Bernie Sanders was a natural idea, given how his messages resonate with members of the artistic community.
“It really brings like-minded artists who have that sort of orientation to come together and do something like this,” she said.
Shih is one of the organizers of the Bern The System showcase at the Fridge, a gallery in the Eastern Market neighborhood of Washington.
The three-day exhibit features works from local artists and others from across the country who were inspired by Sanders’ campaign.
Monolith, a featured artist and organizer of Bern The System, said Sanders brings attention to overlooked issues, including mass incarceration, corruption in politics and the war on drugs.
“I think a lot of artists mobilized behind Obama because of the same issues,” he said.
Sanders’ consistency and experience working to address these issues has artists excited, according to Monolith.
Of the pieces featured at Bern The System, Matthew Riegner’s draws a strong parallel to popular culture.
Riegner, who creates under the name WHO?, was inspired by the film “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” in his painting of Sanders. Ben Stiller is one of the stars of the film, and his character has a massive, muscular portrait of himself grabbing a bull by the horns hanging behind his desk.
To Riegner, that portrait served as a metaphor for Sanders’ campaign in terms of the unexpected reach of his message. The piece also serves as a form of satire.
“It feels like there’s been a huge amount of satire in general by the public,” Riegner said of this election cycle, referencing memes and social media trends.
“If it’s not one scandal, it’s another,” he said of Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. “There’s nothing that seems to be genuine or sincere about her stuff.”
Sanders’ sincerity is often identified as one of the hallmarks of his campaign. For Gregg Deal, a member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe, Sanders “puts his money where his mouth is.”
According to Deal, Sanders’ strength lies in his ability to unite different groups who feel shortchanged by government.
“Overall, artists tend to sort of take this line of revolution without actually saying revolution,” he said. “The things that he’s saying really inspires that sort of spirit of defiance against the system.”
Superwaxx, who has a piece featured in the showcase, said Sanders’ message unites people regardless of race, sexuality or class.
“He doesn’t really segregate anyone,” she said. “If you go to a Bernie Sanders rally, you see a rainbow of people.”
Sanders’ policies on issues of social justice, economic inequality and the school-to-prison pipeline also resonate with the artistic community who helped create Bern The System, according to Rose Jaffe, whose caricature of Sanders harkened back to the political cartoons she created in college.
“A lot of this group of ours is more socialist, anti-capitalist,” Jaffe said. “Bernie is speaking to the people that we work with and we live with.”
Sanders campaign accuses L.A. city councilman of blocking event at Greek
Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign has accused a Los Angeles city councilman who backs Hillary Clinton of obstructing his effort to stage a weekend campaign event at the city-owned Greek Theatre in the Hollywood Hills.
The campaign sent an announcement to supporters Friday saying its plan for staging a get-out-the-vote concert at the Greek had been abandoned and relocated to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Olympic Plaza in South Los Angeles. The campaign also suggested that favoritism was being shown to the campaign of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has her own event planned at the Greek on Monday.
“Unfortunately, after reaching terms with the professional staff at the Greek to host our rally, interference from a local Los Angeles city councilman forced us to move from this iconic venue, even though Secretary Clinton has scheduled an identical event two days later — an event to which no objection has been raised,” the Sanders campaign message said.
A Sanders campaign aide was more explicit in an email to the Greek, saying that Councilman David Ryu, who represents the Greek and the surrounding neighborhood, had set up “roadblocks” that caused the venue to be changed. Ryu has endorsed Clinton and attended a fundraiser for her last month in Koreatown.
Ryu spokesman Estevan Montemayor called those messages “an inaccurate depiction of the last 24 hours” — saying the councilman’s office had been trying to help the campaign stage a successful event. Sanders’ campaign did not have a ticketing system or a plan for addressing traffic congestion, which is required of every group that holds a rally or concert at the Greek, Montemayor said.
“Any person or organization that chooses to have an event at the Greek Theatre needs to follow all the same guidelines,” Montemayor said. “The Sanders campaign was asked to work with L.A. city staff on a traffic mitigation plan and a ticketing system, just as the Clinton campaign has done for their event on Monday evening. The Sanders campaign chose not to move forward, all while the city held resources for tomorrow’s event.”
Traffic mitigation plans typically address the level of city resources needed for a major event, such as traffic control, street closures and parking enforcement, Montemayor said. “The Sanders campaign is politicizing something that is solely a public safety issue,” he said.
Montemayor said Ryu will not be attending Clinton’s event on Monday.
Asked about Montemayor’s comments, a Sanders aide said the campaign already had reached a deal with the Greek’s management when the councilman intervened.
“We were literally about to wire the money, and we get word there’s now an issue, that the councilman’s office stepped in,” the aide said.
A representative of the Greek did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Sanders and Clinton are mostly in sync on immigration. So why are Latino activists so bitterly divided?
Federal agents came for Erika Andiola’s mother in 2013.
A well-known immigrant rights activist in Arizona, Andiola was able to stop her mother’s deportation after mounting a public campaign. But nearly having her mother kicked out of the country by the administration of a Democratic president eroded any allegiance the young activist felt to the Democratic Party.
Today, Andiola is part of a group of Latino advisors to Bernie Sanders who are vocally critical of President Obama and his party’s record on immigration. She and other Sanders supporters frequently mention the record number of deportations carried out under Obama’s watch and at times have called on Latinos not to vote for certain Democrats who they believe have blocked efforts to limit deportations.
Their prominence in Sanders’ campaign underscores how much the race between the Vermont senator and Hillary Clinton has become entangled in another fight — a long-running battle between Obama and his party’s left wing over immigration enforcement.
Sanders’ backers get the attention, but Clinton has passionate supporters too
Eight years ago, Ginny Roemer could have been described as “Clinton or bust.”
Furious that Hillary Clinton was being edged out of the Democratic nomination by Barack Obama, she spent days protesting outside the party’s national convention in Denver. When November came around, she didn’t cast a ballot.
This year, if everything goes according to plan, Roemer will be inside the Democratic convention in Philadelphia as a delegate, backing the woman she has long hoped would be the country’s first female president. Outside the convention will likely be “Bernie or bust” protesters, die-hard supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders who feel much the way Roemer did eight years ago.
“I know how they feel,” Roemer said. “I don’t want to see him humiliated.”
But she does want to see him lose.
California voter registration hits record high ahead of Tuesday presidential primary
With one of the most closely watched presidential primary seasons in modern times, California’s voter rolls grew by almost 650,000 in the final six weeks of registration. And three of every four new voters were Democrats.
On Friday, Secretary of State Alex Padilla released the final report of voter registration prior to the June 7 statewide primary. The deadline to register for Tuesday’s election was May 23.
Of the 646,220 people who joined the final rush between April 8 and May 23, 76% registered as Democrats.
Meet one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest donors. They hardly ever talk politics
When Hillary Clinton parachuted into Los Angeles recently, some of the well-heeled donors who swarmed her brought unsolicited campaign advice, while others brought ambitions of White House appointments. Susie Tompkins Buell brought a bag of dry-roasted chickpeas.
It was fitting that Buell, a wealthy San Franciscan who ranks near the top of the sprawling national network of Clinton benefactors, was obsessing about the candidate’s nourishment. Few people in the orbit of the Clintons have done more for their care and feeding than this 73-year-old fixture of Bay Area philanthropy and salon society who wanted nothing to do with politics — she didn’t even vote — until a chance meeting with Bill Clinton well into her adult life.
Buell not only has become a fundraising powerhouse since then. She has also become Hillary Clinton’s soul mate. Theirs is among a handful of friendships that have been key to fueling the candidate’s ambitions, providing emotional and financial sustenance. It reflects the uncanny Clinton ability to build and maintain unyielding loyalty from the people positioned to help them the most – even people, like Buell, who have no business interests or political aspirations the couple might advance. In many cases, the bonds have only solidified through the stresses of scandal, electoral disappointment and Democratic Party rivalries that the Clintons have powered through.
The network has been most valuable in California, where Hillary Clinton is raising more cash than anyplace else. How Susie Tompkins Buell became a hub of that operation is a uniquely California story.