The DNC finalized its list of candidates that qualified for the first presidential primary debate on Friday. Among the top tier candidates, most will appear on Thursday night, while Elizabeth Warren gets the stage to herself (so to speak) on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, new polls indicate Joe Biden’s commanding lead of the field might be soft; young Democrats prefer Biden and Sanders; and the vast majority of Democrats and independents just want a candidate who can beat Trump.
For these stories and much more, check out out AR/Intel’s 2020 round-up below:
Former Vice President Joe Biden (D-DE)
Is Biden’s national lead built on a house of cards? A recent survey of nationwide Democrats found that 32 percent supported Biden, followed by 15 percent for Sanders, Warren (13), Harris (12), and Buttigieg (7). But a staggering 77 percent of Biden’s supporters said the could still change their minds about backing the former VP. “Voters may be ‘dating’ Joe Biden, but they have not ‘married’ him,” one Democratic strategist said.
Meanwhile, some are beginning to question just how effective Biden is on the campaign trail. Reporters are calling Biden “rusty” and “incoherent.” During the Poor People’s Forum on Monday, Biden laid out a lengthy defense of working with Republicans in Congress to get things done for the country, upsetting many Democrats.
Still, Biden’s best asset in the Democratic primary might just be that he’s viewed as someone that can defeat Trump. In a recent Ipsos poll, 82 percent of Democrats and independents said it’s important that Democrats nominate a candidate that can beat Trump. Just 40 percent said the same thing about nominating a woman, and 38 percent said the same about nominating a minority. Biden is viewed as the candidate most likely to defeat Trump, whether or not that’s true.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Sanders gave an impassioned, 45-minute defense of democratic socialism last week. Thanks to President Trump’s focus on the topic, socialism has become a focal point during the 2020 race thus far, with moderate Democrats criticizing the economic theory and liberal Democrats defending it. “It is my very strong belief that the United States must reject that path of hatred and divisiveness and instead find the moral conviction to choose a different path, a higher path, a path of compassion, justice and love,” Sanders said in Washington, D.C. last week. “And that is the path that I call democratic socialism.”
But some are beginning to question whether Sanders has reached his ceiling of support. With Elizabeth Warren steadily rising in the polls, at least one theory states that some of Sanders’ moves, like his vocal defense of socialism, is helping carve out a path for Warren. “She is also more rigorous, and has a plan for everything,” Washington Monthly’s Joshua Alvarez wrote. “But unlike Sanders, perhaps because of him, she does not concern herself with ideological labels.”
A poll of young adults aged 18-36 found African Americans and Asian Americans back Biden, while Latino and white voters back Sanders.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
The DNC held a lottery on Friday to determine which candidates appear on each night of the two-day debate event. Warren is appearing on the first night of the debate, but she’s virtually alone: Biden, Sanders, Harris, and Buttigieg are all appearing on the same stage the second night. Technically, that could be good or bad for Warren, but given her debating skills, it’s likely she wanted to appear onstage with Biden to get in a few whacks against the front runner.
Meanwhile, Axios published a story Monday detailing Biden’s “Warren problem.” Warren could undermine Biden, “win or lose,” by teaming up with some of Biden’s more liberal and well-liked adversaries (Sanders and Harris are both viewed as more liberal than Biden). “Warren has the ability to unify the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, especially if she locks arms with AOC in attacking Biden’s more cautious and conventional politics.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Perhaps one of the most provocative claims from the early 2020 campaign came last week from Harris, who said that as president, she would have “no choice” but to prosecute then-former President Donald Trump for what she believes to be obstruction of justice involved in the Russia investigation. “There has to be accountability,” Harris added. “I mean look, people might, you know, question why I became a prosecutor. Well, I’ll tell you one of the reasons — I believe there should be accountability. Everyone should be held accountable, and the president is not above the law.” One writer at The Atlantic called it “Kamala Harris’s Mistake.”
Meanwhile, Harris has demonstrated that her governing philosophy would rely much more on executive order than going through Congress. Harris pledged to address immigration, gun control, and equal rights through executive order. “But leaning on executive action also carries risks that have deterred past Democrats from embracing it so thoroughly. Such actions can be tied up for years in litigation and lay a road map for a future president to undo the work,” per the San Francisco Chronicle.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN)
Buttigieg sat down for an interview with “Axios on HBO” Sunday and made a bit of news. First, he said he would not reverse Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He told Mike Allen that he suffered from depression for about a year after returning from a deployment to Afghanistan. And he said he believed he would not be the first gay president, just the first openly gay president. “I would imagine we’ve probably had excellent presidents who were gay — we just didn’t know which ones,” he said.
Buttigieg’s campaign also announced Monday that it raised a staggering $7 million in the month of April alone. He raised roughly the same amount during the first three months of the year. His team is going for a massive Q2 fundraising figure to demonstrate to voters that his campaign is no joke. According to Politico, he has 21 fundraising events scheduled between now and the end of June, when the second quarter comes to a close. Buttigieg may not be leading any polls, but this strategy is clearly designed to show voters he is a viable choice and that he’s not going anyway.
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday and said illegal border crossings should still be a criminal offense.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) came in fourth place in a poll of Minnesota Democrats on Monday. She trailed Warren, Sanders, and Biden. Not exactly the showing you want in your home state.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) built his campaign message on “love,” but he’s adding a bit of “anger” directed at Trump into the mix, per Bloomberg News. Booker also hinted that he may be getting married to his girlfriend, actress Rosario Dawson.
The Atlantic’s Edward-Isaac Dovere noted that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) presidential campaign “isn’t going according to plan.” But she did get a slot in this month’s DNC debates where she’ll share a stage with Biden, Sanders, Harris, and Buttigieg.
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is targeting Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) is his home state of Colorado over corporate welfare, according to the political blog Colorado Politics.
The DNC denied Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) a debate focused solely on climate change, but he’s not giving up. He’s recruited 9 Democratic Party state chairs and 50 DNC members to submit a formal resolution demanding a debate focused on climate. A poll shows Democrat voters overwhelmingly support the idea.
Former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) is making a name for himself as the candidate most willing to go after Bernie Sanders and his socialist policy proposals. He called Medicare for All “wrong.” ““Democrats must say loudly and clearly that we are not socialists,” he said, or else they risk losing to Trump in 2020.
Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) did not qualify for the DNC debate stage, and he’s throwing a fit about it. Bullock needed to earn 1-percent support in any qualifying poll and/or reach 65,000 donors. He did neither.
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) admitted that Biden rightly identified the fact that Democrats need to address the middle class’s economic situation. But he argued on MSNBC that he’s the one who can fix it with “innovative solutions.”
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) held a rally on Friday in San Francisco where he called for Trump’s impeachment and for gun reform. He’s expected to attend a Young Democrats event in Birmingham, Alabama on Thursday.
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) also failed to qualify for the first debate. “I knew getting in the race so late that there was a really good chance I wouldn’t make the debate,” he said. “But what’s important right now is that everywhere I go my message is resonating. …”
An opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal notes that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) holds a series of unique positions for someone running for president in the Democratic Party.
Days after complaining that there’s “too much talk about impeachment” in the Democratic Party, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said it’s time to impeach Trump for “treason.”
Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro (D-TX) said the U.S. needs to increase federal spending to address homelessness.