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White House 2016: First flickers of efforts on LI

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders with a

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders with a supporter after walking in a Fourth of July parade, Saturday, July 4, 2015, in Waukee, Iowa. Credit: AP / Charlie Neibergall

Long Island is seeing glimmers of local involvement in the 2016 presidential race.

Last week, an initial "Long Island for Bernie Sanders" meetup was held in a Panera Bread restaurant in West Babylon, where backers of the independent-registered Vermont senator began groundwork on the crucial policies of labor, environment and small business. Some backers found it encouraging that Sanders drew 33 percent in a Quinnipiac poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers in Iowa, second to Hillary Rodham Clinton's 52 percent.

Further right, Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) revealed that after months of mulling a long-shot White House bid, he plans to run instead for re-election. Having expressed interest in stopping the prospects of Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), he said, "I was able to raise the issues I wanted to raise." King has yet to endorse another candidate.

For some, support becomes a moving target. Eight years ago, then-Suffolk Legis. Jon Cooper became an early supporter of Sen. Barack Obama for president as most New York Democrats backed Clinton. This time Cooper, a businessman, balked at raising funds for Clinton, then co-hosted a fundraiser for Democrat Martin O'Malley.

Then, last week, Cooper became national finance chairman for a group organized to draft Vice President Joe Biden. "So many of the prominent fundraisers from 2012 have been waiting for a candidate who can inspire even a fraction of the energy we felt in the Obama campaign," Cooper said in a statement. "Joe is that candidate."

Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood), who has said he's considering a run for King's congressional seat, edged a bit into presidential politics last Monday by leading a demonstration in front of Macy's on 34th Street in Manhattan against billionaire Donald Trump, who in his declaration for the GOP nomination linked illegal Mexican immigration to drug dealing and rape.

Before Trump's June 16 announcement in Manhattan, the Garden City-based government relations firm of Brad Gerstman, David Schwartz and Bob Malito sent out invitations to the event that hailed Trump as "our client and good friend" and said those on hand would "have the opportunity to be part of a campaign to make our country great again."

Soon after, Schwartz emphasized that they don't work for the campaign and added, "I believe all voices and all points of view should be heard in order for the people to decide the best direction for our country."

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