A lot has been happening in the past week since our previous news roundup back in April. The Democratic primary continues to develop, and President Trump continues to take more and more notice of his political opponents, namely Joe Biden, on the campaign trail. The President has taken to referring to Biden as “Sleepy Joe,” an obvious reference to Biden’s age but also to his tendency, at times, to fall asleep in public.
Anyway, on with the roundup. Here is what’s happening around the world of the 2020 Democratic primary, and on the campaign trail of the 2020 Presidential election in general.
Biden doubles Bernie in New Hampshire
Much ado is being made about a new poll out of New Hampshire that shows Biden with an impressive lead over Bernie Sanders. The poll is noteworthy, of course, because Sanders, being from next door in Vermont, should poll well in the Granite State:
Biden has support from 36 percent of registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters deemed likely to vote in the 2020 primary. Sanders is in second with 18 percent, followed by South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s 9 percent, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s 8 percent, and 6 percent for Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
Out of all of the candidates who are familiar to at least half of the electorate, Biden has the highest net-favorable rating (+65 percentage points) by far, followed by Sanders (54), Harris (50), Buttigieg (47), Booker (42) and Warren (39).
Biden at 36 percent is double Sanders at 18 percent. That’s huge news for Biden since New Hampshire is basically a must-win for Bernie. Of course, it’s early, so the usual caveats apply, but the fact that Biden is stealing that much attention in a state that Bernie Sanders won by 22 points over Hillary Clinton speaks volumes at this point in the race. It Bernie can’t keep his numbers up in New Hampshire, perhaps his first and last firewall state, it does not bode well for him in states where he is far less competitive.
Elizabeth Warren gets Time magazine cover
Time magazine will feature Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on its cover on May 20 — continuing a trend of spotlighting Democrats out to challenge President Trump in the 2020 election.
The magazine appeared to be focusing on Warren’s policy proposals — which conservatives have derided as socialist, too expensive and unrealistic — as “big ideas.”
“Elizabeth Warren is bettng that Americans are ready for her big ideas,” the cover read. It also highlighted Warren’s oft-repeated line “I have a plan for that.”
Noting the senator’s series of “complex policy proposals,” Time editor Haley Sweetland Edwards portrayed Warren as the catalyst behind a “populist political revolution.”
The Time article frames Warren as pushing for a “populist political revolution,” though she’s often tagged as being a policy “technocrat,” always focusing on the details of her extensive legislative plans.
Buttigieg makes Time magazine, too
We can’t mention Warren’s Time magazine cover without also mentioning Pete Buttigieg who just received the honor last week of a cover shoot and an extensive article on his candidacy and personal life, as the Indy Star reported:
The mayor of South Bend and Democratic presidential candidate just landed on the cover of the May 13 issue of Time magazine alongside his husband, Chasten Glezman.
The couple is pictured, arms around each other, standing in front of their Indiana home. The main headline reads “First Family” and underneath it says: “The unlikely, untested and unprecedented campaign of Mayor Pete Buttigieg.” The issue hits newsstands on Friday.
The article discusses Buttigieg’s surge in popularity amid a crowded field since he announced his campaign in mid-April. The story’s author, Charlotte Alter, details the uphill battle for Buttigieg, which includes the enormous jump from mayor to president and how to reach minority voters.
Alter writes about Buttigieg’s ability to speak eight languages, noting that he is “particularly fluent in the dialect of the neglected industrial Midwest.” She writes that in a lot of ways, Buttigieg is “Trump’s polar opposite.”
Warren is much more well-known across political circles, but for Buttigieg, a Time magazine cover is a big step in raising his national profile. Maybe he’ll start to seem less boring?
Bernie Sanders joins Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on credit card interest
Appearing alongside the newly minted Congresswoman from New York, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders joined Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in calling for various banking reforms, and pushing a plan to cap credit card interest rates at a maximum of 15%, as the Washington Post reports:
Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will introduce legislation on Thursday to cap credit card interest rates at 15 percent, a steep reduction from current levels.
Sanders (I), the Vermont senator running for the Democratic nomination for president, told The Washington Post in an interview that a decade after taxpayers bailed out big banks, the industry is taking advantage of the public by charging exorbitant rates. “Wall Street today makes tens of billions from people at outrageous interest rates,” he said.
Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) will introduce the House version of the bill. “There is no reason a person should pay more than 15% interest in the United States,” she said on Twitter. “It’s a debt trap for working people + it has to end.”
Ocasio-Cortez has already stated that she likes Bernie, as well as Elizabeth Warren, so it’s no surprise to see her partner with him to push a shared agenda. This type of legislation would play well among the Democratic base and probably wouldn’t fare too badly among the general population considering the $1 trillion in credit card debt held by Americans. All-in-all, a good move for Sanders.
Beto O’Rourke slumps into a campaign rough patch
Well, calling it a “rough patch” might be a little harsh, it’s more of a slump in terms of campaign excitement. Beto started very strong, raised a lot of money out of the gate, but has now settled into a distant sixth-place in national polling. The Texas Tribune, one of Beto’s home state newspapers, wrote an article this week about the long road ahead of the Texas native:
The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate is continuing to campaign aggressively, but after a highly anticipated launch about two months ago — and a heady opening stretch — he has settled into a more conventional position: one of over 20 contenders, grinding it out on the road while working to stand out from the massive field. His poll numbers have ticked down, the press corps following him has thinned a little and a couple of rivals have replaced him on center stage. And yes, he is back down in more ways than one, no longer hopping on tables as much as he did during those very early days.
O’Rourke may no longer hold rock star status — crowds mobbing him before he takes the stage, cameramen pushing and shoving to get to him — but to be sure, his campaign is anything but flagging. Across five days in Iowa, O’Rourke easily filled most spaces and got warm receptions, with people often waiting around long afterward for photos.
And among those firmly in O’Rourke’s corner, there is plenty of optimism about his ability to navigate this phase of the race. Bill Donehoo, who drove his family 300 miles from the Chicago area to see O’Rourke on Sunday night in Newton, Iowa, said he was “immensely confident” in O’Rourke at this point based on door-knocking he is already doing in Illinois.
Beto can turn things around pretty easily, especially given his immense war chest. The debates will be a great place for him to shine, as he did when he debated Sen. Ted Cruz during the Senate race last year. However, the stench of being stuck several spots back from the leaders, even sitting behind Pete Buttigieg in most polls, can start to wear on a campaign.
Amy Klobuchar gets Fox News town hall treatment
Sen. Amy Klobuchar is the second Democrat to appear on the Fox News Channel with a town hall program. Bernie Sanders was the first a few weeks back. During the event, Klobuchar painted herself as a “capitalist,” though not one who believes in unregulated or unbridled capitalism. The obvious dig was to get outside the “socialist” box which some 2020 Democratic contenders are embracing, as the New York Times reports:
Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota defended her presidential candidacy as one that could appeal to both moderate and liberal voters, calling herself a “proven progressive” and casting her record as one of bipartisan accomplishment.
Appearing on Fox News on Wednesday evening for a town hall event in Milwaukee, Ms. Klobuchar described herself as “Heartland Amy,” an experienced pragmatist who could win over independent voters and, if elected, work with Republicans to break the gridlock in Washington.
But when asked whether the Democratic Party’s liberal wing should support her candidacy, Ms. Klobuchar insisted they should — while offering, perhaps, a subtle dig at some of the more far-reaching policies being backed by her rivals on the left.
“Progressives should support me,” she said. “The last time I checked, if you want to be a progressive and support progressives then you’re supposed to make progress.”
“Progressives should make progress” is a direct dig at the lofty ideas held by some on the far left of the party that have almost a zero chance of being passed into law. Klobuchar is positioning herself to the center-left on most issues, someone who believes in progressive causes, but also sees that pushing a far-left agenda means little actual progress can be achieved in a highly divided Congress. Events like these can only help Klobuchar by raising her profile and giving her an opportunity to stand out from the field, though she has a long way to go to become a serious contender and shut must fight a primary where her candidacy is more along the lines of a Joe Biden than an Elizabeth Warren, and Biden has that lane pretty much occupied right now.
Cory Booker pushes national firearms registration
Sen. Cory Booker released a proposal this week to enact a national registration on all firearms sold in the United States. Some media outlets are calling the plan “bold,” while others are questioning the constitutionality of requiring a national license for gun ownership. U.S. News offers some details on Booker’s plan:
Cory Booker unveiled a bold plan Monday to combat gun violence around the country, calling for universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and closing loopholes that “allow people who should never have a gun get one.”
The Democratic senator from New Jersey tweeted that “an aggressive approach” is needed “to end the epidemic of gun violence.”
“We won’t wait for more thoughts and prayers for communities that have been shattered by gun violence –— from Pittsburgh to Parkland to Charleston to communities where kids fear the fireworks of Fourth of July because to them they sound like gunshots,” Booker wrote. “We will bring a fight to the NRA like they have never ever seen before. And we will win.”
Under Booker’s plan, which he released on Medium.com, individuals must visit a local office to apply for a gun license, submitting fingerprints, providing background information and showing evidence of completion of a certified gun safety course. The FBI would then verify completion of the requirements and run a background check before issuing a federal license.
States that have already implemented state licensure programs may continue to do so if they meet baseline federal standards.
That’s very aggressive, to say the least, and not something that would sell well during a general election campaign, especially when appealing to moderate red states where gun ownership rates are very high. However, Booker has to win a Democratic primary, and taking the strongest stance on gun control, and using his personal story on gun violence in his home state of New Jersey, is a good recipe for turning the heads of some voters. It may be risky since gun control is still a very controversial political topic, but Booker needs some risk to score points and make a name for himself in the primary.