Last Friday, 13 Democratic presidential candidates attended the Liberty and Justice Celebration dinner, the biggest gathering of Iowa Democrats before next year’s caucuses. Although the candidates united in their focus of defeating President Donald Trump, each touted familiar talking points as to why they are most qualified for the job. Recent polling shows that Iowa is still up for grabs, and the candidates will no doubt be making a strong play for the state in the months ahead.
On the campaign trail, Biden formally launched his super PAC while Warren released her pay-for plan for Medicare for All. Check in with the biggest stories of the Democratic primary with this week’s 2020 Dems recap.
Fmr. Vice President Joe Biden
PAC Launch: After switching his position on the topic, the super PAC supporting Biden’s campaign for president launched last week. The group, Unite the Country, will be chaired by Mark Doyle, a former Biden aide who led the veterans-focused nonprofit Rags of Honor. Per Politico, “The super PAC’s other board members are: ex-Biden aide John MacNeil, who will work as its secretary; strategist Larry Rasky, a past Biden spokesperson during his presidential bids, who will be the group’s treasurer; Democatic strategist Mark Riddle, who also operates the group Future Majority; and Michelle Taylor, former vice chair of the Democratic National Committee.”
New Iowa Ad Push: The Biden campaign announced it is spending $4 million on broadcast and digital ads in Iowa ahead of the Feb. 3 caucus. Similar to his Democratic rivals, Biden is portraying himself as seeking to help average Americans, in contrast with President Donald Trump, who they argue is focused on the wealthiest.
Co-Opting Buttigieg: Last week, Biden referred to his health care plan as “Medicare for All Who Want It,” employing the same phrase used by Pete Buttigieg.
Sen. Bernie Sanders
Health Care Jealousy: Perhaps feeling jealous that Warren has taken some of the wind out of his sails, last week Sanders defended his Medicare for All plan, saying it is “more progressive in terms of protecting the financial well-being of middle income families” than Warren’s proposal.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Paying For Medicare For All: After taking heat for not explaining how she intends to pay for Medicare for All, Warren released her revenue plan for the proposal last week. Warren’s campaign estimates a single payer health care system will cost $20.5 trillion (despite third party reports that put the number upwards of $30 trillion). She intends to pay for the legislation through a mix of sources, including requiring employers to pay trillions of dollars to the government, creating a tax on financial transactions like stock trades, changing how investment gains are taxed and ramping up her wealth tax proposal to be steeper on billionaires. She is also counting on savings from cuts to military spending.
Fuzzy Math: While some supporters heralded Warren’s proposal (MSNBC host Hallie Jackson called it “the ultimate clapback” to her critics), others have pointed out that Warren’s promises are based on dubious math. Axios noted that middle class workers will still end up paying for Medicare for All plan and Reuters said the “plan relies on big assumptions.”
Hurting Down Ballot Races: Warren’s rise is apparently hurting the party’s down ballot fundraising efforts. According to CNBC, “Some finance executives have recently told Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that they are, for the moment, holding back from donating to Democrats running for Senate in 2020, the report says, due to their concerns with Warren becoming a front-runner in the race for the party’s presidential nomination.”
Sen. Kamala Harris
Slashing Staff: Amid continued speculation that Harris’ presidential campaign is in a death spiral, Politico reported last week that Harris is once again restructuring her campaign and moving staffers to Iowa. According to reports, the California senator is “laying off dozens of aides at her Baltimore headquarters.” Per Politico: “The staff reductions and increased focus on Iowa underscore the trouble Harris has experienced in retaining top-tier status within the 2020 Democratic primary field.”
Debate Qualifier: Despite looming questions about the viability of her campaign, Harris became the fifth candidate to qualify for the December presidential debate, joining Biden, Warren, Sanders, and Buttigieg.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Gains In Iowa: Buttigieg’s “middle of the road” campaign approach appears to be working in Iowa. Just three months ahead of the caucuses, Buttigieg is polling ahead of Biden in the Hawkeye state where he now finds himself in a four-way horse race with Warren and Sanders.
Early State Expansion: Per Reuters: “Buttigieg is poised to tap into his deep financial resources to boost operations in several early-voting states in coming weeks, joining other top-tier candidates in the race to Super Tuesday in March. The planned hiring and office openings in Nevada, South Carolina and California will put Buttigieg on more equal footing with his top rivals, U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden.”