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Politics

California Delegates Boo Speakers at Convention Breakfast

PHILADELPHIA — Democratic discontent with Hillary Clinton was on full display at the California delegation breakfast Monday morning ahead of the first night of the Democratic National Convention.

Members of the delegation repeatedly disrupted the lineup of speakers, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, with protestations against Clinton and cheering for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Sanders won 43 percent of California's Democratic primary vote, compared to Hillary Clinton’s 56 percent.

But whenever a speaker talked about uniting to elect Clinton in November, the crowd balked. They booed Rep. Mike Honda. And chanted “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie!” during Rep. Barbara Lee’s address.

[Wasserman Schultz Will Step Down As DNC Chair ]

Pelosi tried to unify the room by emphasizing the commonalities in the room rather than the divisions. “The differences that we have are not so great compared to the chasm between us and Republicans.”

The crowd wasn’t having it. When a Bernie sign was thrust in Pelosi’s face on stage, she remained calm. “I don’t consider it a discourtesy even if it is intended as one.”

[Democrats to Promote Positive Vision Amid Divisions ]

She said she’d always opposed super delegates and praised Sanders for staying in the race through the California primary because he helped boost turnout that resulted in more down-ballot Democrats finishing in the state’s top-two primary system.

With one final call for unity, and rallying calls to take back the House and Senate, Pelosi walked off stage to more “Bernie” chants.

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In her statement on Sunday announcing her resignation as chair of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz said she was focusing on serving her congressional district in Florida.

That tidy statement belied a messy situation back home as she runs for a seventh term in the House.

Wasserman Schultz's fall from her lofty party perch on the eve of the presidential nominating convention in Philadelphia was tied to Bernie Sanders.

He had long complained that the DNC favored his victorious rival, Hillary Clinton, in the primaries. That grievance wasn't going far until last week's release of DNC emails that seemed to back him up.

When Wasserman Schultz arrives in South Florida after the convention for the stretch run of her campaign, she'll face Tim Canova, who on his own probably wouldn't stand a chance in the Aug. 30 primary.

But Sanders is playing hardball with his new-found political power and has come through on his vow to make his fellow native New Yorker a private citizen again by backing the law professor and political novice with fundraising muscle. And so far, that's paying off.

Federal Election Committee reports show Canova raised $1.7 million in total contributions in the latest quarter compared to $1.2 million for Wasserman Schultz.

Because the district is so heavily Democratic, the winner of the primary likely will take the seat in November.

Android.

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Media outlets are reporting some grumbling about Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's leadership of the Democratic National Committee and whether she can bring the party back together after a divisive presidential primary between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Wasserman Schultz was a rising star from a swing state when President Barack Obama selected her for the chairwoman post in 2011 . Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., in a letter to supporters, said Obama picked her for her "tenacity, her strength, her fighting spirit and her ability to overcome adversity." [ Reports: Murmurs About Ousting Wasserman Schultz at DNC ]

But those qualities have at times rubbed some in her party the wrong way. Here are a few of those times:

She was already in hot water for criticizing the Obama administration's policy of sending undocumented immigrant children back to their home countries a couple weeks earlier.

Contact Akin at stephanieakin@rollcall.com and follow her on Twitter at @stephanieakin .

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Norman Solomon, a Sanders delegate from California, said the choice of Sen. Tim Kaine as Hillary Clinton's running mate shows "demonstrable contempt for the progressive wing of the party."

[ Clinton Picks Virginia's Tim Kaine for VP ]

Solomon told reporters at a news conference that there are "very serious" discussions about forcing a challenge to the Kaine nomination on the convention floor.

Solomon heads the The Bernie Delegates Network, an independent group of Sanders delegates which claims 1,250 in their ranks. The group conducted a survey of some delegates 10 days ago, in which some 88.1 percent said Kaine would be a "not acceptable" choice.

"We're going to be very quickly doing another straw poll," to see what action the delegates would like to do, Solomon said. He expected that survey of delegates within the network would take place within the next 24 hours.

[ Kaine the Attack Dog Goes After Trump ]

Solomon said that under the Democratic National Convention rules, it would take 300 signatures, no more than 50 of which could originate from any individual state, in order to put a second name in for nomination as vice president. "There has been outreach to specific individuals" about possibly being involved, said Progressive Democrats of America Executive Director Donna Smith, speaking at the same news conference.

Sanders said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he would have preferred another person for vice president, but the choice was up to Clinton. But, he said, Kaine was not the choice he was hoping for. “Tim is a very very smart guy. His is a very nice guy. His political views are not my political views. He is more conservative than I am," Sanders said. "Would I have preferred to see somebody like Elizabeth Warren selected by Secretary Clinton? Yes I would have.”

Bridget Bowman contributed.

Contact Lesniewski at NielsLesniewski@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter @nielslesniewski.

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PHILADELPHIA — Delegates in town to support Sen. Bernie Sanders have grievances, but their candidate will be fully behind the presumptive Democratic nominee when he takes the stage Monday night.

His campaign seemed to want to make clear to supporters that despite their concerns — whether about the contents of leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee that indicated some staffers there had been plotting against him, or the selection of Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as Clinton's running mate — that Clinton is the obvious choice for November.

A Sanders campaign aide promised a speech touting Clinton's policies on key domestic issues, including the environment and health care.

Sanders said in an interview on ABC's "This Week" that he will use his speech to make the case for his "revolution" to continue.

"We have got to continue to get people involved in the political process at every level," Sanders said. "And that means not just the U.S. Senate but school board, at every level."

[ Sanders Endorses Clinton ]

Sanders also plans to say that his movement is going to, "continue the fight to create a government which represents all of us, and not just the 1 percent — a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice," according to the aide.

The Sanders campaign did claim victory Saturday night with an agreement to establish a commission designed to curtail the power of super delegates.

The deal prevents what could have been a complicated floor fight at Wells Fargo Arena on Monday.

"This is a tremendous victory for Senator Sanders' fight to democratize the Democratic Party and reform the Democratic nominating process," Jeff Weaver, Sanders' campaign manager, said of the commission on superdelegates. "We were pleased to work with the Clinton campaign to enact this historic commission."

As proposed, the commission would feature appointees from both campaigns, as well as the Democratic National Committee.

[ Roll Call's 2016 Election Guide: President ]

"We haven't completely eliminated superdelegates, so this fight is not over. But a guaranteed recommendation of two-thirds fewer superdelegates is a major step, and one that I'm excited to continue building on in future years," said rules committee member Aaron Regunberg, a state lawmaker from Rhode Island who had pushed an effort to completely eliminate the use of superdelegates.

The coming together on reducing the number of party insiders who get to cast votes as delegates without being bound to election results tracks well with the news reported by CNN that Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is expected to no longer have a leading role on the convention stage.

Wasserman Schultz has long been criticized by supporters of Sanders over concerns the DNC put a thumb on the scale in favor of Clinton during the primary process, and the deluge of internal emails released by Wikileaks only added fuel to that fire.

Sanders said Sunday that Wasserman Schultz should step down.

“I think she should resign. Period," Sanders told ABC. "And i think we need a new chair who is going to lead us in a different direction.”

Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.

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Despite Donald Trump's post-convention bounce in the polls, Republicans still think the party is divided and almost half prefer a different candidate than Trump, a new poll shows.

A CNN poll released Monday shows that about a quarter of Republicans believe that the GOP won't unite behind Trump before election day while 49 percent think the party is not united but will be by election day.

But even though the party appears to be divided now, Sen. Ted Cruz's "vote your conscience" speech lost him considerable support among Republicans.

Going into last week's Republican convention, 60 percent of Republicans had a favorable view of Cruz. But after Cruz refused to endorse Trump, only 33 percent of Republicans now have a favorable view of the Texas Republican.

[ Cruz: I'm Not Trump's 'Servile Puppy Dog' ] Although the party is not completely sold on Trump, the CNN poll has him ahead of Hillary Clinton.

In a head-to-head matchup, Trump leads Clinton 48 percent to 45 percent. Trump still leads when the poll takes into account third-party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. Trump leads Clinton 44 percent to 39 percent while Johnson's support is 9 percent and Stein pulls in 3 percent.

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Convention Preview: Philadelphia Freedom

By Cody Long, David Ellis
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Hillary Clinton's campaign launched a mobile app on Sunday to make campaign organizing easier.

The Clinton campaign said the app is centered around what it calls a "virtual campaign field office" and said it took the best experiences from gaming applications.

The app includes daily challenges like quizzes on policy and allows them to get real-world signed merchandise from the Clinton campaign. It also allows users to compete against friends.

The app comes as many Republicans have been concerned about nominee Donald Trump campaign's weak ground game.

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Donald Trump’s biggest selling point is his brilliance as a manager.

Yet if this week’s Republican National Convention is any guide, a Trump administration would marry the micromanaging of Jimmy Carter, who refused to delegate even the scheduling of the White House tennis courts, with the incompetence of, say, James Buchanan, who held that Southern secession was illegal, but that going to war to keep the country together was, too.

The unlikely theme of the day here in Cleveland is “Making America One Again.”

Doing that would never have been easy in a moment so polarized that even the weather is a political topic. (“It’s so cool here for this time of year,” my climate change skeptic dad often tells me in midsummer. “Really? Because it’s beastly here,’’ I often answer.)

But this GOP convention has itself made “making America one again” a little harder.

A conspiracy theory-loving person like the GOP nominee might not have to think too hard before concluding that yes, Donald J. Trump's party is out to sink him with the goings-on here, which have featured daily booing on the floor by what he’s called a tiny minority of embarrassed losers.

[ The Latest From Day 4 ]

John Kasich, the governor of the state hosting Trump’s nominating party, has not only stayed away but let slip that he was offered the vice presidency – and told by Donald Trump Jr. that if he took the job, his portfolio would include both foreign and domestic policy. (The nominee’s son has denied making any such offer, which would presumably have left Trump free to pursue other interests.)

Then we have the whole Melania speech fiasco , George W. Bush wondering aloud whether he will go down in history as the last Republican president, and Ted Cruz urging Americans to “vote your conscience” — a decision that the party, if it does survive, may yet come to see as principled even if it also involved score-settling.

[ Who Came Off Worse — Cruz or Trump? ]

After that performance, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called the Texas senator "selfish,” to which Cruz's former campaign manager, Jeff Roe, responded, “That guy turned over his political testicles long ago.”

All in all, you have to wonder how Trump can run a country when he can’t run a convention, or how he might bring the country together when the Quicken Loans Arena is the site of so many civil war skirmishes.

The speakers squarely in Trump’s corner are busy making the drawing together of our countrymen less likely with over-the-top rhetoric like Christie's, when he essentially asked for a thumbs up or thumbs down during a mock trial of Clinton on Tuesday that recalled entertainment in the Roman Colosseum . And when Ben Carson linked Clinton to Lucifer, Dana Carvey’s old “Church lady ” skit on Saturday Night Live was officially surpassed by reality.

In his speech accepting the GOP nomination tonight, Donald Trump would have to change course radically to even start to unify the country. And though I’m sure we will hear a few words about love and kindness, any suggestion that we’re not that different or all that far apart would be so out of character that his supporters wouldn’t recognize him even if he did.

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New York Republican Rep. Peter King has never been a fan of Sen. Ted Cruz. But in an interview with Roll Call in the hours after Cruz refused to endorse fellow New Yorker, Donald Trump, at the Republican National Convention, King unloaded on the Texas senator as a "liar and a self-centered fraud" who should never be considered again for president of the United States.

"I was sitting in the front row, dead center, with the New York delegates and they're all shouting at him and yelling at him, "Endorse! Endorse!"" King said, recounting the moment Cruz spoke to the Republican National Convention. "And the guys are shaking their fists. And he has that lizard smirk on his face."

King and Cruz famously clashed after Cruz derided Donald Trump's "New York values" in an early presidential debate. King stepped in at the time to defend his state and its values, and warned Wednesday night that Cruz's convention performance, just like his debate performance, was all about Ted Cruz.

"He probably thinks he's on top of the world, like he's the messiah," King said. "He's terrible. He's going to do all he can to undercut Trump and then emerge as a savior. But Trump's going to win."

No matter the outcome of the November elections, King predicted doom for Cruz's future presidential ambitions, especially after his performance in Cleveland.

"He's hurting himself. He's going to be yesterday's mail," he said. "I can't see any real Republican even considering Cruz again." As for Trump's best response to the snub? King said the less reaction the better.

"Leave him out where he is. Leave him out in the wilderness. Leave him in the desert without water."

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CLEVELAND — The final case of openly mutual contempt between Donald Trump and one of his Republican rivals, the stylistically opposite Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio, can now be fairly described as a clash of the escalators.

Last year Trump launched his improbable path to the party’s presidential nomination by riding down a moving staircase in the atrium of his iconic New York office tower, stagecraft symbolizing his unabashed descent into the art of the negative campaign.

And on Tuesday Kasich did the opposite, riding up an escalator through the atrium of his home state’s iconic Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, logistics instantly embraced by his campaign’s lingering fan base as evidence Kasich’s politics of positivity hasn’t changed.

The afternoon event, which drew a capacity crowd of about 2,000 campaign supporters from across the country to the museum, had all the trappings of a rally for a politician who has no plans to leave the national stage. It offered no sign whatsoever that Kasich has any interest in succumbing to the entreaties of some party leaders, not to mention many delegates to the Republican National Convention, that he make some measure of peace with the nascent nominee in the name of party unity.

Kasich spoke for seven minutes. He did not mention Trump’s name or even allude to the convention, entering its second day a mile down the road.

Instead, he offered a shorthand version of his stump speech — some familiar phrases about his personal and political philosophy now sounding like someone with 2016 in the rearview mirror and 2020 already in sight.

“I’m just a slob trying to get through the day and do the best I possibly can realizing I’ve got another chance tomorrow to maybe get it right,” he said.

“I’ve never been more satisfied,” both personally and professionally, he said. “I’m an optimist about America. We’re good people. Believe that you can stand and make a difference in the way the world spins, believe that standing on principle and having ethics and integrity can make a huge deal.”

His stand on principle has caused considerable contention in recent days, when he’s maintained it would be emblematic of a politician’s situational hypocrisy if he endorsed Trump in time for the convention after being so critical of him during the primaries.

The victor would "have to change everything that he says" in order for Kasich to speak at the convention, Kasich told NBC on Monday, and so he committed to spending the week totally clear of the Quicken Loans Area, where he ended up with 120 votes during the balloting that formally anointed Trump as the nominee Tuesday evening.

He planned to remain moderately visible on the periphery, however. The Rock Hall party was his highest profile convention-related event, but he also spoke Tuesday to the Illinois and Michigan delegations, appeared on a panel discussion at the conservative International Republican Institute and attended a U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce reception.

“He’s embarrassing his party in Ohio,” the Trump campaign chief, Paul Manafort, said Monday in explaining why Kasich would not appear on the podium. “Negotiations broke down,” Manafort asserted, because Kasich campaign chief John Weaver concluded his client “will have a better chance to be president by not supporting Donald Trump.”

The charge stung enough that a "'John is not an embarrassment” declaration was proffered by Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who also has stayed away from the convention floor this week so as to distance himself from Trump during an intense re-election fight in their swing state.

Kasich, who is term limited as governor in two years, will turn 68 in the middle of the next round of presidential primaries

As a thank you present, Kasich has given his supporters an Ohio-shaped plaque with a quote from the speech he gave when he suspended his campaign, which drew a clear contrast between his aspirational approach and Trump’s fearfulness: "It is from this higher path that we are offered the greater view. Our strength resides within ourselves. The spirit of our country rests in us."

The so-called two paths speech has become Kasich’s rhetorical touchstone since his race ended. He also, for example, made it the theme of a fundraising appeal on behalf of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan — another potential presidential candidate in four years, if Trump loses this fall, who could be counted on to start with messages of optimism and inclusion.

Ryan, though, has forged a balky path to endorsing Trump without ever embracing him. And even some of the governor’s most fervent fans, believing party unity is the most important priority heading toward November, warn that he’s making a mistake in not doing likewise if he has a presidential comeback bid in mind.

“Not a word about Trump,” declared an incredulous Karen Funk of Youngstown as the party broke up. "What a disappointment, because I think it will come back to haunt him.”

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Freshman Republicans who won in 2014 dominate Roll Call's Top 10 List of House incumbents most likely to lose in November.

Elected in low-turnout midterms, they're now on the defensive in districts that often vote Democratic in presidential years.

Roll Call's rankings are based on the general election. The rankings take into account voter registration by party and past presidential results in each district as well as the fundraising and campaign strategy of the candidates.

A few members not on this list — Democratic Rep. Michael M. Honda and GOP Rep. Scott DesJarlais — still face competitive challenges from members of their own parties that could keep them from returning to Congress.

[ Roll Call's Senate Challenger Rankings ]

And although Republicans are mostly on defense this year, they’ve got a few targets that make Democratic members vulnerable, too. But they're not necessarily as vulnerable as the 10 members listed here.

California Rep. Ami Bera sits in the Leans Democratic 7th District, but he may be facing an especially tough re-election after his father pleaded guilty to making illegal contributions to his son’s campaigns.

[ Roll Call's 2016 Election Guide ]

Nebraska Democrat Brad Ashford is also endangered. The former Republican represents a district that Mitt Romney carried by 7 points in 2012. His recent endorsement by the Chamber of Commerce should help him win over conservative voters. But he still needs to convince a lot of voters to split their tickets, and he’s not going to great lengths to remind his constituents that he’s a Democrat.

One Democrat who was on November’s list has disappeared from the rankings: Florida’s Gwen Graham is not seeking re-election to her redrawn heavily Republican district.

[ One Third of Florida Delegation Retiring ]

Democrats must net 30 seats to win a majority in the House — a tall order given that the party doesn’t have recruits in all competitive districts .

But they've fielded competitive challengers in most of these 10 districts, which, combined with the partisan fundamentals of these seats in a presidential year, make these 10 members the most likely to be looking for new jobs in 2017.

The rise of Donald Trump from underestimated candidate to presumptive GOP nominee has complicated the lives of many of these congressmen. Some lawmakers in tossup districts have disavowed him. Others, like Long Island's Lee Zeldin, find themselves on this list, in part, for embracing Trump.

The top four members on Roll Call's list are widely recognized to be the most vulnerable. But with so many members in tossup districts, determining the middle and bottom of the pack becomes more difficult. Roll Call will be updating these rankings as November draws nearer and we learn more about the challengers in these races.

Blum represents a district that Obama has twice carried by double digits. But the Freedom Caucus member has made little effort to moderate his votes. Blum could kick more of his own money into his campaign, but he’s facing a competitive challenger in Democrat Monica Vernon , and it’s unclear how much help he’ll be getting from the National Republican Congressional Committee, which still hasn’t added him to the Patriot Program.

Rating: Tilts Democrat

Obama carried this district by a hefty margin in 2012, making this large Nevada seat unfriendly territory for the freshman Republican. He unseated former Rep. Steven Horsford, a Democrat, by less than 3 points in a low-turnout year, and this year he’ll be going up against Harry Reid-backed Ruben Kihuen in a state where Trump’s comments about Hispanics will likely be a liability down-ticket.

Rating: Tilts Democrat

Jolly bowed out of the Senate race in mid-June, and he’s now the only member sitting in a district rated safe for the opposite party. Recent redistricting made this Gulf Coast district much safer for Democrats, and former Gov. Charlie Crist, now a Democrat, has a financial edge. Jolly’s pledged not to directly solicit money for his campaign, and the NRCC likely won’t be helping him .

Rating: Safe Democrat

In his second nonconsecutive term, Guinta faces a double threat in this swing district: Before entertaining another rematch with former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter , he needs to survive his September primary. Settling a campaign finance violation with the FEC has left him with very little money and waning support from Granite State Republicans . Democrats would much prefer to run against Guinta, especially with an independent now complicating the general election.

Rating: Tossup

It’s another rematch for Dold and former Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider, whom Dold knocked off by less than 3 points in the off-year. Dold has said he will not support Trump , but working in Schneider’s favor is the strong Democratic lean of this suburban Chicago-based district.

Rating: Tossup

Obama twice won Katko’s Syracuse-based district by double digits, leaving this freshman in a precarious position against Democrat Colleen Deacon. He’s kept his distance from Trump, saying that the presumptive GOP nominee needs to earn his vote, and he’s got a hefty war chest. But the “R” next to his name might be too much for Katko to overcome here in a presidential year.

Rating: Tossup

This freshman voted against funding the Department of Homeland Security in March, endorsed Trump and dug himself into an even deeper hole with moderates recently by suggesting President Obama is racist. He’ll face a well-funded challenger in a blue state. And yet, Trump’s appeal shouldn’t be totally written off in this Long Island district.

Rating: Tilts Republican

Republicans praise this south Florida congressman for doing everything he should be doing: He’s said he won’t vote for Trump , and he’s staked out moderate positions on gay rights and clean energy. Also working in his favor is a Democratic primary that won’t be resolved until August. But the 26th District, which voted for Obama by 7 points in 2012, became even more Democratic in recent redistricting, putting Curbelo at risk.

Rating: Tossup

Poliquin impressed early with strong fundraising in his rematch against Democrat Emily Cain , whom he beat by 5 points in the off-year. She recently outpaced him in fundraising, but he maintains a large cash-on-hand advantage. Democrats are hoping Poliquin’s evasiveness on Trump and his Wall Street ties will persuade voters he’s out of touch with his blue collar district , which votes Democratic at the presidential level.

Rating: Tossup

The former aide to Sen. Charles E. Grassley won this open seat in the off-year, but the district’s preference for Democrats at the presidential level may make it tough for him to hold. He’s facing Iraq War veteran Jim Mowrer, who won a competitive Democratic primary last month. But so far, Young has a healthy cash advantage.

Rating: Tossup

Contact Pathé at simonepathe@rollcall.com and follow her on Twitter at @sfpathe .

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