The first round of Democratic primary debates will happen this week, as 20 candidates will square off against each other over two nights on June 26 and 27. The debate is expected to play a pivotal role in how the candidates will be positioned in the coming months, and many have spent the last week preparing themselves for the big night. With the debate looming, the gloves are coming off for many candidates as they jockey for frontrunner status.
What have the candidates been up to in the week leading up to the first debate? Find out with AR/Intel’s 2020 round-up below:
Former Vice President Joe Biden (D-DE)
According to The New York Times, at a New York fundraiser last week Biden said that that “he had already amassed 360,000 donors with an average contribution of $55 — a disclosure that appeared to reveal he has raised $19.8 million for his presidential bid.”
The gaffe-prone former vice president once again came under fire last week. During a fundraiser in New York, Biden dismissed criticism that he is too conciliatory toward political adversaries, saying that one of his strengths was “bringing people together.” As an example, Biden chose to highlight that he was able to get along with segregationist senators even though they “didn’t agree on much of anything.” The comments were panned by his 2020 rivals and other high-profile Democrats. Biden was reluctant to apologize for his comments, and he reportedly called Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) to try to smooth tensions. After receiving a week worth of attacks, Biden finally relented and said he never intended to offend anyone.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Observers are starting to comment that Sanders’ campaign appears to have stalled while rivals like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are rising. Although his campaign got off to a fast start, polls show that he has not made significant progress in building a larger coalition. In response to Warren’s rise, last week Sanders appeared to attack her as part of the “corporate wing of the Democratic Party.” Sanders, however, denied the comment was aimed at Warren.
Sanders’ campaign has continued to expand in early primary states, NBC News reports. In Iowa, his team has grown to include to 43 field organizers — a significant increase from just a few weeks ago. Advisers say similar moves are taking place in South Carolina and Nevada.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Warren continues to unveil new policy proposals, maintaining her “I’ve got a plan for that” mantra. Last week she introduced legislation to provide universal access to child care and other early childhood education options. She also reintroduced a bill that would allow same-sex couples to amend past tax returns and receive refunds from the IRS and rolled out a plan to ban private prisons.
The string of proposals appears to have boosted Warren, as the latest RealClearPolitics national average puts her in third place — just three points behind Sanders. Despite the rise, Warren still faces the challenge of convincing voters that she can beat President Trump.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), meanwhile, launched the “Switch to Warren” campaign, which is working to identify and highlight primary voters who were previously undecided or backed other candidates who then threw their support behind Warren.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Seeking to help unemployed workers, Harris rolled out a new plan to help them obtain the job training they need to enter a particular field by giving them up to $8,000 to pay for training and any additional costs that might accompany that commitment, such as transportation and child care. According to Harris’ office, the legislation could benefit as many as 78 million unemployed or underemployed workers.
Harris picked up several high-profile endorsements this week, including from Rep. Alcee Hastings, an influential figure in Florida Democratic politics and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Rep. Al Green (D-TX).
Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN)
Buttigieg has taken sharp criticism following news last week that a police officer in South Bend had shot and killed a black suspect. An article from The New York Times noted that “Buttigieg has had to confront concerns about his complicated history with the police and the black community.” Buttigieg left the campaign trail to address the incident, and his handling of the situation has not inspired confidence from activists and protestors.
It appears that some supporters of Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) are experiencing buyer’s remorse. After speaking to more than a dozen small-dollar donors, BuzzFeed reported that the contributors were initially excited about O’Rourke’s campaign, but are now disappointed in his performance. Perhaps in response to the negative coverage, O’Rourke’s campaign hired four “Democratic communications veterans” last week.
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) “unveiled a list of well over 100 actions she would take in her first 100 days as president if she were elected, a show of policymaking force that is intended to provide a crystal-clear view of the early days of her administration.”
Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT), after being left out of the first debate, has chosen to visit Iowa and New Hampshire this week.