Flake avoids endorsing successor in Arizona Senate GOP primary
Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake would not endorse any of the candidates running in Tuesday’s primary to replace him during a Sunday interview where he lamented how that primary has become dominated by fealty to President Trump.
Speaking with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the retiring Flake demurred when asked if he’d endorse a successor. Rep. Martha McSally, former state Sen. Kelly Ward and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio are all running in the GOP primary.
“No, I wish them well,” he said when prompted to give an endorsement.
“Nobody would be asking for it in the Republican primary, I can tell you that,” he said of his blessing.
“I’m not happy about it, but this is the president’s party right now. And I think we’ll be sorry for that in the future, but that’s the case right now.”
Flake’s decision to become one of the party’s most stalwart critics of Trump has made him a pariah among the president’s supporters who make up the lion’s share of the GOP primary base. Facing a primary from Ward, and amid polls showing either a close race or even Ward leading Flake in the primary, Flake announced his impending retirement in October of 2017 in a Senate floor speech where he excoriated the president.
All three of Flake’s possible replacements have sought to hug Trump tight.
McSally has framed herself as a productive ally of the president's in office, pushing back against challenges to her conservative credentials. She recently attended a Trump address in New York where he signed the defense spending bill, winning a shout-out from the president.
Ward's campaign repeatedly points to Trump's encouraging tweet from last year, when she was the only candidate formally challenging Flake, as proof of her pro-Trump credentials.
And Arpaio is a former campaign surrogate who received a high-profile pardon from Trump, which included a statement from the White House praising his controversial tenure as sheriff.
Democratic candidates stump at the Iowa Steak Fry – Part 2
DES MOINES, IA – Seventeen Democratic presidential candidates took the stage at the Iowa Steak Fry on Saturday to address the crowd of potential caucus-goers. Here are some highlights from the second half of those candidates:
Michael Bennet: Bennet played up his moderate side during his time at the steak fry podium when he reminded the crowd that “We won the House back in 2018 with Democrats running on a public option not Medicare for All,” and in 2020, “We need to nominate somebody who has run tough races as I have in Colorado who says the same thing in the primary as they say in the general election.”
Julián Castro: Paging House Democrats, Castro opened his stump speech with a simple call, “It is time for you to do your job and impeach Donald Trump. How many crimes does this president have to commit before Congress will act and impeach him?”
Tulsi Gabbard: Gabbard addressed President Trump's decision to deploy troops to Saudi Arabia and said that she is running for president to end these “regime change wars.” She called the reality of never-ending wars “insanity.”
Tom Steyer: Tom Steyer spearheaded his presidential campaign with his organization "Need to Impeach", and he continued that message in Iowa: "You're never gonna see someone from this stage conspire with the president of Ukraine to use American tax dollars for his political purposes - I can promise you that. That's why I started Need To Impeach two years ago - cause I knew he was a criminal."
Joe Sestak: Sestak introduced himself to the crowd in Iowa and called out President Trump for dodging the draft during the Vietnam War, while touting his own Navy service.
Marianne Williamson: By the time Williamson took the microphone, the crowd had thinned at the steak fry but she stuck to her normal campaign speech about only being able to change the "era of political theatre" by creating a new phenomenon.
Steve Bullock: Steve Bullock stuck to his campaign stump focusing on this next election being the "most important" in "our lifetimes" and that Democrats need to pick up seats in some areas that they lost "along the way." Of course, that did not lead to a Senate candidacy announcement.
Tim Ryan: When Tim Ryan grabbed the microphone, the crowd had thinned as it started to pour. But Ryan told the remaining crowd that, "we don't stop playing football" when it rains, so he wouldn't stop politicking either. Ryan told the remaining crowd that he understands rural America and he will "rebuild" small towns.
Democratic candidates stump at the Iowa Steak Fry – Part 1
DES MOINES, IA – Seventeen Democratic presidential candidates took the stage at the Iowa Steak Fry on Saturday to address the crowd of potential caucus-goers. Here are some highlights from the first half of those candidates:
Beto O’Rourke: O’Rourke capitalized on his “hell yes” comments regarding mandatory buybacks for certain assault weapons: “People will ask us, they'll say, 'Hey Beto, aren't you afraid that you've gone too far, that you really pissed off the NRA this time?', I'm not afraid of that. No, I'm not afraid of that. I would be afraid if I were a school teacher in a kindergarten classroom and those kids for whom I'd already sacrificed so much were up against a gunman with an AR-15 because we didn't have the courage to stop him while we still had time.”
Kamala Harris: Harris gave an abbreviated version of her stump speech, plugging the joke that she’s going to move to Iowa. She focused on her message of “prosecuting the case of four more years with Donald Trump.” The crowd briefly echoed her, chanting “Dude’s gotta go.”
Cory Booker: Booker did not mention his fundraising needs while at the microphone, and rather stuck to talking about bringing people together: “We will win this election not by dividing democrats but have people who unite us and bring us together.”
Elizabeth Warren: Warren, who was one of the first presidential candidates to call for the impeachment of President Trump began her stump speech with seconding that call: “He has solicited another foreign government to attack our election system, it is time for us to call out this illegal behavior and start impeachment proceedings right now.”
Bernie Sanders: Sanders stuck to his stump speech at the steak fry and discussed combatting white nationalism “in all of its ugly faults.” Per the NBC team, Sanders’ voice seemed to be fading and he has 12 events this week.
Andrew Yang: While Yang waited until about halfway through his speech to discuss his freedom dividend plan, Yang called on Iowans to “solve the biggest problem of all time” – Donald Trump. While the crowd seemed a bit unfamiliar with Yang, the Yang campaign told NBC he will be making more frequent trips to Iowa.
Joe Biden: Biden dug in on a line he made at the last Democratic debate that he’s “with Barack” when it comes to health care. During his time at the microphone Biden said, “I'm opposed to anybody who wants to take down Obamacare,” and, “we have to finish the job and we can do it because the American public now understands what they had and were given by Obamacare as Trump tries to take it away.”
Pete Buttigieg: Buttigieg had a hearty reaction from the crowd with continued cheers throughout his speech, and he took a pretty direct aim at former Vice President Joe Biden’s line that President Trump could be an “aberration.” Buttigieg said, “We are not going to be able to replace this president if we think he's just a blip. Just an aberration. It's going to take more than that. We want to win and deserve to win we can't water down our values.”
Amy Klobuchar: The Iowa Steak Fry comes at the end of Klobuchar’s “Blue Wall Tour” and she hit on the need to win back blue wall states during her stump: “I went to Wisconsin, I met with our farmers and then I went to Iowa and all that way from Pennsylvania to Iowa in 2020, my friends, we are going build a blue wall and we are going to make – we are going to make Donald Trump pay for it.”
2020 Democrats make big entrances at the Iowa Steak Fry
WASHINGTON – Before the Democratic presidential candidates take the stage at the Iowa Steak Fry and speak with potential caucus-goers, they need to make an entrance.
The NBC team in Des Moines watched as the candidates marched into the steak fry with waves of supporters, a mariachi band and a drum line. Here's a look at how some of the candidates made their appearance:
Bernie Sanders releases new plan to eliminate medical debt
DES MOINES, IA – Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on Saturday released his plan to eliminate $81 billion in past-due medical debt and remove and exclude future medical debt from credit reports.
Under the Sanders plan a public credit registry would be created to replace for-profit credit reporting agencies like Equifax and TransUnion.
The campaign first previewed the plan on Aug. 30 at a town hall in South Carolina when he was asked about what plan he would offer to people dealing with medical debt. At the time Sanders said he was looking at legislation to offer that would eliminate such debt.
Sanders is holding a medical debt and health care bankruptcy town hall tomorrow in Iowa where he's expected to talk about the new plan.
Some specifics of the plan are:
- Eliminate $81 billion in past-due medical debt. Under this plan, the campaign says the federal government will negotiate and pay off past-due medical bills in collections that have been reported to credit agencies.
- End what the campaign calls “abusive and harassing” debt collection practices, by:
- Prohibiting the collection of debt beyond statute of limitations
- Limiting the number of times collectors can attempt to get in contact with individuals regardless of number or about of past-due bills
- Limit what can be seized/garnished in collection, to ensure Americans do not lose homes, jobs or primary vehicles during this process.
- Under a Sanders campaign, the IRS would be asked to review “billing and collection practices” of non-profit hospitals to ensure they are following charitable care standards to align with their non-profit tax status
- Sen. Bernie Sanders also wants to create “public credit registry.” The campaign says this will “end racial biases in credit scores,” and ensure that those with medical debt are not penalized for getting sick
- This would allow Americans to receive credit score for free.
- This would also end the use of credit checks for rental housing, employment and insurance.
- All medical debt would be removed and excluded from existing and future credit reports
DNC offers conditional approval for Iowa’s plan to satellite caucus
DES MOINES, Iowa — The Democratic National Convention Rules and Bylaws Committee announced Friday that it has granted conditional approval for the Iowa Democratic Party’s plan to host a satellite caucus in 2020.
This comes exactly two weeks after, the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee struck down the state Democratic Party's proposal to host a “virtual caucus,” due to security concerns.
While presenting the new plan on a conference call, Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price acknowledged that setback, but focused on the future.
“I know these last few weeks have been filled with some uncertainty over our process,” he said. “With your approval, we will put an end to that, and allow for all of us, the IDP, the campaigns, and most importantly our voters to get back to the task at hand.”
A satellite caucus, which was was first offered in 2016, allows people to caucus in other locations beyond designated precincts. For example, workers on the third shift at a factory or seniors at a nursing home could gather in those locations to caucus. In addition, Iowa caucus-goers living outside the state will have the option to satellite caucus.
Much like in a traditional precinct caucus, each satellite location will have a trained captain who’s charged with overseeing the room, managing volunteers and reporting the results.
Each satellite site will be considered its own precinct and all the satellite “precincts” within a given congressional district will be counted at one county. Congressional districts will receive an additional percentage of delegates based on the number of people who “satellite” caucus.
According to the plan, Democrats in Iowa would have less than two months to apply to satellite caucus by the Nov. 18 deadline. Price promises a “robust education effort” in October to inform voters of this option, which includes hiring additional staff to focus on outreach and accessibility.
Concerns have been raised around legal protections for workers looking to satellite caucus while at work, but Price said an accessibility organizer will work with people in that situation to determine how best to proceed.
While these plans were born out of a new DNC requirement aimed at making caucusing easier following the 2016 Democratic primary, it remains to be seen how many people will actually take advantage of this option. According to the Des Moines Register, in 2016 only four sites participated in the satellite caucus, a disparaging number considering the state has more than 1,600 traditional precincts.
Nonetheless, Price says that he’s confident this plan will increase participation, “I am confident that our 2020 caucuses will be the most successful in our state’s history.”
Black progressives condemn 'racist' attacks on Working Family Party leaders after Warren endorsement
More than 100 black progressive leaders penned a letter Thursday condemning "hateful, violent and racist threats" levied by self-described supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders at the minority leadership of the Working Families Party, a campaign of harassment that began after the party endorsed his progressive rival, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, for the Democratic presidential nomination earlier this week.
"These incredible leaders who led an organization to take a risk by lifting up the leadership of Black, Latinx, Asian and Pacific Islander and white communities in coalescing around a candidate with enough time to engage their communities deeply ahead of the 2020 election, are being threatened on a daily basis, by self-identified Sanders supporters, with hateful, violent and racist threats," said the letter, which was obtained by NBC News.
"'Uncle Tom.' 'Slave.' 'C***.' These kinds of threats have no place in our movements, and are reminiscent of the threats Black people would receive when daring to vote even though the white supremacists would try and discourage Black people from doing so," the letter continued.
Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza, one of the letter’s signatories, also penned a Medium blog post condemning the attacks, saying, "It's agonizing, it’s painful, it's demoralizing.”
Splinter first reported the story.
Earlier this week, the Working Families Party, a minor political party, endorsed Warren over Sanders after a three-month endorsement process in which Warren snagged 61 percent of the vote to Sanders’s 36 percent. The party previously endorsed Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primary.
The party’s national director, Maurice Mitchell, the first black man to hold the post, said in a statement announcing the endorsement that Warren “offers hope to millions of working people.”
The leaders who wrote the letter said Mitchell and Nelini Stamp, also a black Working Families Party leader, have received a deluge of threats since then. The Working Families Party did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Mitchell told The Hill on Friday that the threats he, Stamp and others received were “some of the most violent, disgusting, racist and sexist attacks.”
In a tweet on Thursday, Sanders condemned the attacks against the Working Families Party leaders.
“This campaign condemns racist bullying and harassment of any kind, in any space. We are building a multiracial movement for justice — that’s how we win the White House.”
Sanders struggled with black voters during the 2016 Democratic primary against Clinton. In 2020, former vice president Joe Biden is leading among African American Democratic primary voters and Warren is doing well with liberal and white Democrats, according to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.
For Democratic presidential field, timing has been almost everything
WASHINGTON — Timing has been almost everything in the 2020 Democratic presidential race — at least when it comes to the candidates who’ve made the debate and those forced to end their candidates.
On Friday morning, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ended his presidential campaign, just four months after he started it on May 16.
And get this: Among the six Democratic presidential candidates who’ve exited the race — de Blasio, Seth Moulton, Eric Swalwell, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee and Kirsten Gillibrand — five announced their bids after February (after Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Bernie Sanders were already in the contest).
The one exception is Gillibrand, who announced her exploratory committee (and thus started raising money) on Jan. 15, but ended her candidacy on Aug. 28.
By contrast, eight of the 10 candidates who qualified for September’s debate in Houston announced before March 1, giving them more time to raise money and boost their name identification, given the money and polling requirements to make the debate.
The two Democrats who announced after March 1 but still made September’s debate stage: Joe Biden and Beto O’Rourke.
- Tom Steyer (announced July 9)
- Former Rep. Joe Sestak (announced June 23)
- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (announced May 16) Exited on Sept. 20
- Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (announced May 14)
- Sen. Michael Bennet (announced May 2)
- Former VP Joe Biden (announced April 25) Made Sept. Debate
- Rep. Seth Moulton (announced April 22) Exited on Aug. 23
- Rep. Eric Swalwell (announced April 8) Exited on July 8
- Rep. Tim Ryan (announced April 4)
- Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke (announced March 14) Made Sept. Debate
- Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (announced March 4) Exited on Aug. 15
- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (announced March 1) Exited on Aug. 21
- Sen. Bernie Sanders (announced Feb. 9) Made Sept. Debate
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (announced Feb. 10) Made Sept. Debate
- Marianne Williamson (filed candidacy on Feb. 5)
- Sen. Cory Booker (announced Feb. 1) Made Sept. Debate
- South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (formed exploratory committee Jan. 23, announced April 14) Made Sept. Debate
- Sen. Kamala Harris (announced Jan. 21) Made Sept. Debate
- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (formed exploratory committee Jan. 23, announced March 17) Exited on Aug. 28
- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (announced Jan. 11)
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (formed exploratory committee Dec. 31, announced Feb. 9) Made Sept. Debate
- Former San Antonio Mayor and HUD Secretary Julián Castro (formed exploratory committee Dec. 12, announced Jan. 12) Made Sept. Debate
- Andrew Yang (filed candidacy Nov. 6, 2017) Made Sept. Debate
- Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney (announced presidential bid back on July 28, 2017!!!!)
Congress holds first DC statehood hearing in 25 years
WASHINGTON – Lawmakers held the first congressional hearing on DC statehood in 25 years Thursday, as advocates hope to reinvigorate the decades-long push to give the city’s residents full representation in Congress.
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.’s non-voting delegate to Congress, has again led the charge, introducing a new statehood bill in January and amassing a record 220 cosponsors in the House.
If passed, the bill would admit the “State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth” — a territory that would exclude an enclave of monuments and federal buildings. District voters would elect three voting members of Congress, two Senators and one House member, for the first time in U.S. history.
The legislation faces staunch opposition from Republicans, who call it unconstitutional. GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, said at Thursday’s hearing that the move was “not what the Founding Fathers intended.”
And it remains a non-starter in the Republican-controlled Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has derided it as “full bore socialism.”
Still, advocates say the issue is getting more high-profile national attention than ever before, even beyond Thursday’s hearing.
All current 2020 Democratic candidates support the idea of D.C. statehood. And a new national advocacy group, 51for51, has been sending young advocates to early primary states to press presidential hopefuls on the issue. Norton confirmed Thursday that she expects a vote in the House on the statehood issue for the first time since 1993.
Many Democratic backers of the legislation have framed the debate in terms of the disenfranchisement of black voters in a city where about half of residents are African-American.
At the hearing, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez said, “The issue of D.C. statehood is rooted in a different evil in our history, which is the history of slavery.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also framed D.C.’s lack of representation as part of a broader conversation about voting rights and disenfranchisement in the U.S.
Despite the looming stonewall in the Senate, advocates say they’re prepared to fight beyond merely a debate in the lower chamber.
Stasha Rhodes, the campaign manager of 51for51, a national advocacy group, said that the group’s goal will require not only more national awareness but a structural reform of the rule requiring 60 votes to pass most bills through the Senate.
“We want [the bill] to pass the House, but we also want success in the Senate,” Rhodes said. And the only way to get success in the Senate is to circumvent the filibuster and get 51 votes.”
Trio of Senate candidates stare down history as they look to rebound from high-profile House losses
WASHINGTON — In early 2017, still reeling from the election of Donald Trump and facing Republican dominance on Capitol Hill, Democrats across the country turned their lonely eyes to a 30-year-old documentary filmmaker from the Atlanta suburbs named Jon Ossoff.
Ossoff was running for Congress in a special election in a traditionally Republican district, but Democrats were hopeful that a growing suburban backlash against the president could lead to an upset. Ossoff’s candidacy became a liberal cause célèbre, but despite raising a record $31 million, he lost the election by 3 percent.
After passing on another House run in 2018, Ossoff is now aiming higher, challenging incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue in 2020.
Ossoff is the third high-profile House loser from the 2018 cycle to pivot to the Senate. MJ Hegar, whose viral ad highlighting her military service helped her raise $5 million, lost a narrow race to incumbent Rep. John Carter in Texas’s 31st District and is now running against Sen. John Cornyn. And Amy McGrath, a former Marine pilot who also raised millions from a viral ad campaign during her unsuccessful campaign in Kentucky’s 6th District, is now challenging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
All three — despite their losses — became stars of the midterms by taking once-solid-red districts to nail-biting finishes.
Now they’re looking to use that star power to accomplish something few have done in the past 40 years: parlay a losing House bid into a winning Senate one.
History is not on their side, and the political odds appear to be long, too. All three candidates are running in states Trump won handily in 2016.
But as Dave Wasserman, House Editor for The Cook Political Report and an NBC contributor, notes, “The route to Congress is changing quite rapidly, and voters are looking for nonpoliticians at a higher rate than ever.”
Since 1978, 246 people have won a Senate seat for first time (Dan Coats, Frank Lautenberg, Kent Conrad, and Slade Gorton were all elected as “freshmen” twice during this period). Of those, 111 were already members of the House of Representatives; another 30 were state governors.
According to an NBC News analysis, only nine were able to do what Ossoff, Hegar, and McGrath are attempting. And none have done it as quickly – just one election cycle after a House loss.
Of the nine, John Kerry, D-Mass., Joe Lieberman , then a Democrat from Connecticut, Paul Coverdell, R-Ga., and Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, attained statewide or nationally prominent posts after their initial losses, providing springboards for eventual Senate runs.
Only five people since 1978 have lost a House race and then won a Senate race without holding a statewide elected office or national post in the interim. Three of them, Republicans John East of North Carolina, Mack Mattingly of Georgia and Frank Murkowski of Alaska won their Senate races in the Republican wave year of 1980 after losing House elections in the 60s and 70s.
Peter Fitzgerald, an Illinois State Senator, lost a Republican House primary in 1994, but in 1998 he defeated incumbent Senator Carol Moseley Braun. Fitzgerald served just one term in the US Senate before retiring.
The man who replaced him is the fifth of these cases; also an Illinois state senator at the time. He suffered a bruising House primary defeat in 2000 and returned to the state legislature before a successful U.S. Senate run four years later.
His name was Barack Obama.
It remains to be seen if Ossoff, Hegar, or McGrath can replicate Fitzgerald’s success, let alone Obama’s. All three have nationwide donor lists, broad name recognition, and substantial organization from their previous runs.
But the three Democrats face daunting odds attempting to unseat Republican incumbents in red states, especially during a presidential election year.
The three, Wasserman notes, “are betting big, and it’s too early to say whether 2020 as favorable for Democrats as 2018. They ran in a pretty good year and lost.”
And if they fall short again?
“If you lose two races in two years,” Wasserman says, “it’s a sign you should probably take some time off before reentering the political area.”
Joe Biden picks up three Congressional endorsements
WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden picked up three congressional endorsements for his presidential campaign today from Reps. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., and Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo. Biden now has 16 endorsements from members of the House of Representatives, which is the same amount as Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
Butterfield and Cleaver's endorsements, both former chairs of the Congressional Black Caucus, come days after the latest NBC News/WSJ poll showed Biden has a 30-point plus lead among African American Democratic primary voters. Biden's polling at 49 percent in that group, while the next highest-polling candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., sits at 13 percent. While Biden's been criticized on his civil rights record, Butterfield noted Biden's commitment to civil rights in his endorsement.
"Civil rights brought Joe Biden into the fight, and I know he’ll continue that fight – the fight for equality and the opportunity for economic success. That’s why I proudly endorse Joe Biden for President of the United States," Butterfield said.
Crist served as governor of Florida as a Republican but switched his party registration to Independent before leaving office. He now serves as a Democratic congressman whose district went for President Trump in 2016, but previously supported President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.
All three Congressmen expressed Biden’s experienced leadership in bringing consensus on numerous issues as a reason why they’re endorsing him.
The Biden camp's endorsement release highlighted that these three endorsements followed Rep. Vincente González, D-Texas, flipping his endorsement from former HUD Secretary Julián Castro to Biden after the last Democratic debate.
Harris campaign vows "strong top three" Iowa finish, announces doubling of Iowa staff
WASHINGTON — Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign announced on Thursday a doubling of staff in Iowa and a commitment that the candidate would spend “about half of October” in the state to ensure the California senator finishes in the top-three on caucus night next February.
“We want to make sure that we have a strong top-three finish,” said Juan Rodriguez, Harris’ campaign manager, on a call with reporters on Thursday morning. “I think that will kind of continue to give us a slingshot to go into that early primary state calendar and then make sure that we’re also competitive heading into Super Tuesday.”
A new NBC/WSJ national poll of Democratic voters released this week showed the California senator slumping to fifth place with just 5 percent of voter support —down 8 points from July.
Rodriguez said the campaign will double its number of Iowa organizers to 110, increasing her total staff to 131 in the Hawkeye State, while also opening up 10 additional field offices.
After a noticeably quiet summer on the campaign trail, Harris’ team said the candidate will visit the state every week in October. The California senator focused much of her summer on holding campaign fundraisers, a move her campaign defended on the call.
“I feel really good about what we’ve been able to do in decisions about how we’ve built up this campaign to really kick it into high gear in the fourth quarter,” Rodriguez said.
Lily Adams, Harris’ communications director, noted on the call that success in the Iowa caucus on February 3 is “incredibly important to demonstrating electability and viability going forward.”
“It’s important that we make that commitment,” Adams said. She noted the need for the campaign to “demonstrate to Iowa that we’re going to put in the work.”
She asserted that Harris will visit South Carolina “multiple times” in October as well and that the “emphasis on Iowa” does not mean the campaign is pulling back resources from the other early states.
Adams acknowledged that the campaign expects to see “bouncy polls ahead” but noted that the polling support for candidates in the final months ahead of the caucus has historically fluctuated, pointing to polling figures leading up to the 2004, 2008 and 2016 Democratic caucuses.
“We certainly saw a sugar high after that first debate,” she said, continuing: “I don’t think any of us thought we were going to bounce up and stay there for the rest of our lives.”
When asked by reporters on the call about the candidate’s messaging strategy in the final four months before Iowa, the Harris campaign said the senator will continue to focus her ire on the policies of President Trump and contrast them with policy objectives that are intended to appeal to a broad swath of the electorate.
The senator, however, scaled back her criticisms of the party’s frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden, in the September debate after taking particular aim during the first debate over his past statements on busing and school segregation. Adams said that Harris will “respectfully” draw contrasts in the future with the rest of the field where needed.
“You’ve got to define what you’re for and against vis a vis the other candidates you’re seeing in this race,” Adams said. “And I think she’s going to respectfully do that.”