The latest political news and analysis from the campaign trail:
Kris Kobach files for Kansas Senate race
WASHINGTON — Kris Kobach, the former secretary of state of Kansas who lost his bid for governor last year, has filed for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.
Kobach is popular on the right for his hard-line immigration record and relationship with President Trump. He leveraged that support into a narrow GOP primary victory in 2018 where he dethroned then-Gov. Jeff Colyer.
But Kobach then lost the red-state governor's race to Democrat Laura Kelly, a defeat that has made some national Republicans nervous that the conservative Kobach could imperil the party’s chances of holding on to this Senate seat if he’s the nominee in 2020.
“Just last year Kris Kobach ran and lost to a Democrat. Now, he wants to do the same and simultaneously put President Trump’s presidency and Senate Majority at risk,” National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesperson Joanna Rodriguez said. “We know Kansans won’t let that happen and we look forward to watching the Republican candidate they do choose win next fall.”
For those keeping track, this isn’t the first time the NRSC has come out against a Republican running for Senate. Just last month the NSRC cautioned against Roy Moore’s Senate run in Alabama.
There’s another announced GOP candidate in the Kansas race — state Treasurer Jake LaTurner. And don’t be surprised with Kobach’s filing if we might hear more “Mike Pompeo for Senate” talk.
Kobach is expected to hold a speech in Kansas later this afternoon.
Former Republican congressman will run for Senate against Mark Warner
WASHINGTON — Former Rep. Scott Taylor, the Virginia Republican who lost his seat in the 2018 midterms, announced his decision Monday to run for the seat held by Democratic Sen. Mark Warner in 2020.
Taylor made his announcement on "Fox and Friends," arguing that "we need a fresh start in the Senate" and highlighting his support for term limits. Warner is finishing his second term in the Senate after a stint as governor.
In a video released Monday morning, Taylor reminisced about his small-town childhood and how his participation in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program helped turn him away from a life down the "wrong path" as well as highlighting his service as a Navy SEAL.
And he evoked the scandals surrounding Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring (Northam and Herring admitted to wearing blackface decades ago and Fairfax has been accused of sexual assault) to take a swipe at Democratic leadership in the state.
Earlier this year, Warner called on Fairfax to resign if the allegations made against him were true. He also called on Northam to resign and joined the Virginia congressional delegation in condemning Herring.
Taylor, who lost his congressional seat to Democrat Elaine Luria last year, immediately becomes the highest-profile potential challenger to Warner. But he faces an uphill battle in a Virginia that has been moving away from Republicans in recent years.
The GOP hasn't won a statewide race since the 2009 gubernatorial election; Warner typically polls well in the state and is a solid fundraiser; and Taylor could be dogged by an investigation into his campaign regarding fake petition signatures it submitted on behalf of a Democratic candidate.
One of Taylor's former staffers has since been indicted for election fraud.
O’Rourke to kick off New Hampshire swing with focus on immigration reform
MANCHESTER, N.H. — Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke will bring attention to the border crisis when he returns here Friday, with plans to highlight his plans for immigration reform by attending a Lights for Liberty vigil to end human detention camps. O’Rourke is the first Democratic presidential candidate to announce participation in one of more than 500 vigils planned worldwide on July 12, which highlight inhumane and unsafe conditions experienced by immigrant children and asylum-seekers at detention facilities throughout the U.S.
“He will join us in New Hampshire to share his vision for a humane immigration policy written in our own image and urge Granite Staters to stand up and take action,” said Mike Ollen, O’Rourke’s New Hampshire state director. “Beto knows that in a democracy, where the people are the government and the government is the people, these inhumane policies are on all of us, and it’s up to us to change them.”
The event in Peterborough will kick off O’Rourke’s fourth visit to New Hampshire since announcing his run for the presidency, having visited all 10 counties in the state within his first visit. It also follows a sweeping immigration reform plan that he rolled out in May, which plans to reverse President Trump’s positions and actions while also aiming to rebuild immigration and naturalization systems.
O’Rourke has also visited three separate facilities holding migrant children in the last two weeks, including Homestead in Florida during the first democratic primary debate.
During his visit to the Homestead facility in Florida last month, O’Rourke said his “top priority is to stop these practices” and “to reunify every family that has been separated, and to make sure that we truly living our values and living our promise to this country. America means something, and we are losing that meaning every day that this continues.”
O’Rourke is taking his ideas on immigration reform directly to voters here in the first-in-the-nation state, aiming to ease fears of deportation for hundreds of New Hampshire DREAMers, protect residents with Temporary Protected Status, reform asylum laws, increase visa caps, eliminate concerns about future funding diversions and prevent transfers of northern border CBP agents to the southern border.
Merkley addresses why he hasn't endorsed Sanders again for 2020
WASHINGTON — Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., the only senator who endorsed Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential bid, said Sunday he hasn't repeated that endorsement for 2020 yet because he's looking forward to a "robust debate" among his party's presidential hopefuls.
Appearing on "Meet the Press," Merkley specifically pointed to the fact that "Hillary Clinton is not a candidate" this time when asked why he hasn't endorsed any candidate this cycle.
"We have a lot of capable individuals who are running who do understand the kitchen table. And I'm really looking forward to them laying out that vision, getting America excited about returning to the fundamentals of taking on health care, and housing, and education, infrastructure, living-wage jobs, the things that have been incredibly neglected and set aside by this administration," he said.
"Hillary Clinton is not a candidate. So we have a different set of cards this time, and I'm looking forward to hearing from all of them," he added, comparing the 2020 election cycle to the 2016 one.
Trump's Fourth of July event isn't completely unprecedented
WASHINGTON — When President Trump makes his Fourth of July speech at the Lincoln Memorial, flanked by military tanks and complete with a flyover of military jets, he won’t be the first president to insert himself into the holiday.
In 1970, in the midst of the Vietnam War, President Richard Nixon had a previously-recorded speech played on screens in front of the Lincoln Memorial. The event was marketed as nonpartisan, just like President Trump’s event is being advertised, but it was largely overshadowed by anti-war protesters who screamed at speakers and waived the Vietcong flag. You can read the Washington Post's look back at the event here.
Nixon’s Fourth of July celebration, even though he wasn’t actually present, seems to be the only modern parallel for the event President Trump is planning. However, presidents have often used the Fourth of July to make speeches, and attend rallies.
At the bicentennial in 1976, President Gerald Ford spoke to a crowd in Philadelphia. In 2002, the first Fourth of July celebration after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush spoke in West Virginia about the newly deployed soldiers in the War on Terror. Prior to Nixon’s televised speech in 1970, President Truman made a Fourth of July address on the National Mall at the Washington Monument in 1951.
For the most part, presidents have spent the holiday at the White House with military families, attending naturalization ceremonies, or visiting other states — Teddy Roosevelt often made a speech in Oyster Bay, New York at his summer home Sagamore Hill.
Biden raised $21.5 million in second quarter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Former Vice President Joe Biden will report raising $21.5 million for his campaign in the second quarter of this year, reflecting a mix of traditional high-dollar fundraisers and small-dollar, online giving by his supporters.
The total lags behind at least two rivals who have also announced totals for the last three months, Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders, who raised $24.8 million and $18 million, respectively. But the Biden campaign notes that he did not enter the 2020 race until more than three weeks after the start of the fundraising period, arguing that total beats his rivals on a per-day basis.
Biden’s total offers the first complete picture of his fundraising strength as the putative frontrunner in the Democratic primary race. In the first 24 hours of his campaign in late April, his campaign said he raised $6.3 million from almost 97,000 donors, the most of any other Democratic candidate.
In an email to supporters, the campaign says 97 percent of its donations were from so-called grassroots supporters giving less than $200, and that the average donation was $49. The campaign says it received 436,000 total donations from 256,000 donors. All of the money raised was for the primary election.
Biden has held 27 high-dollar fundraisers since entering, according to an NBC News tally. Though he has been criticized by some opponents who have rejected attending high dollar events, he often thanks his donors for writing large checks that allow him to compete in ways that he has “never been able to before” as the frontrunner.
At a New York City fundraiser, Biden told the crowd that his donors are “essentially saying, ‘I respect this person. I think this person will do a good job.'”
The campaign also has said Biden had some of his best online fundraising periods since last week’s debate.
Buttigieg rolls out new public service plan
SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Pete Buttigieg Wednesday unveiled a new public service initiative as he kicks off a trip to the first caucus state for the 4th of July holiday. His proposal, called “A New Call to Service,” aims to build a network of 1 million National Service Members by July 4, 2026 — the 250th anniversary of America’s independence.
The South Bend, Indiana mayor’s three-step plan includes increased funding for local and national service organizations and developing new service corps to tackle issues including climate change.
Buttigieg says it's based on his belief that national service enables Americans to form connections between “very different” kinds of people, a lesson he learned during his military service.
“I served alongside and trusted my life to people who held totally different political views,” he said in a statement to NBC News, “You shouldn’t have to go to war in order to have that kind of experience.”
Buttigieg says he plans to fund the Serve America Act to increase service opportunities from 75,000 to 250,000 in existing federal and AmeriCorps programs. His campaign said funding this plan would cost approximately $20 billion over 10 years.
In 2009, President Obama signed the original Serve America Act, allocating $5.7 billion dollars over five years to increase the size of AmeriCorps from 75,000 to 250,000 volunteers.
Currently programs like AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps are competitive but acceptance rates remain low, at 13 percent and 25 percent respectively. AmeriCorps was incorporated into JFK’s VISTA program in 1993, while the Peace Corp also began under JFK’s initiative in 1961.
Buttigieg’s plan would target students in high school, community college, and vocational schools, in addition to those who attend historically black colleges and universities and youth ages 16-24 who are neither in school nor working.
The next step in Buttigieg’s plan would be to create grant opportunities for local municipalities to create “service ecosystems” tailored to regional issues.
Buttigieg also hopes to create new service opportunities including a Climate Corps focused on resilience and conservation; a Community Health Corps to target mental health, addiction and substance abuse issues; and a Service Corps focused on mentorship and intergenerational service opportunities.
The policy would include consideration of public service in student debt forgiveness, vocational training, and hiring preference for service fellows.
The campaign has not yet released details on how much this proposal will cost or how they intend to pay for it. At least half the Democratic presidential field has talked about national service and a few have released their own policies on the issue.
Sanders pulls in $18 million from grassroots fundraising in second quarter
The Bernie Sanders presidential campaign on Tuesday announced it had raised $18 million in the second quarter of this year, which ended on June 30.
That figure is down slightly from the Vermont senator’s first quarter haul of $18.2 million, and far less than rival South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s $24.8 million second quarter haul. But Sanders is raising money entirely from grassroots contributors while Buttigieg is soliciting both grassroots donors and large individual contributors.
The Sanders campaign also transferred $6 million from Sanders’ Senate and political action committees and had $6 million left over from the first quarter, bringing its total amount of cash on hand to $30 million.
The campaign has received nearly one million individual donations, with 99.3 percent of the donations at $100 or less for the second quarter.
The average donation for the quarter was $18, the campaign said, with nearly half of donors under the age of 40.
Sanders has only held one fund raising event — a “grassroots fundraiser” at a bar in San Francisco on June 1 where a donation of $27 per attendee was requested. The campaign says $80,000 was raised at that event.
“We don’t have to raise the most money,” Sanders senior adviser Jeff Weaver said. “Most people in this country know Bernie Sanders.”
Weaver told reporters on the call that the campaign believes they can do with a little less than other candidates. “We are much more efficient than the others,” he said.
Delaney announces opioid policy plan ahead of 100th New Hampshire state visit
MANCHESTER, N.H. — Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney Tuesday released a new policy to combat the opioid epidemic in the United States. In a statement announcing the new policy, the Democratic presidential candidate says he “would implement policies to not only address the scope of the ongoing epidemic, but support policies to prevent new cases of addiction.”
Delaney’s policy plan details four key ways that he intends to fight the opioid epidemic in his administration:
- Strengthening prevention efforts by setting new prescription and education requirements for physicians and administrators, expanding access to alternative pain management options, strengthening federal enforcement to reduce the supply of illicit opioids, and holding pharmaceutical executives responsible for fueling the epidemic.
- Ensuring access to evidence-based substance use disorder treatment through maintaining funding to states for building out treatments, expanding mental health parity laws, expanding access to treatments in the criminal justice system, strengthening programs to help pregnant and post-partum women get access to treatment, and more.
- Investing in recovery programs to help those who enter stay in recovery through job training and placement services, including housing support and other social services.
- Funding for programs such as new block grants for states to implement a 2 cent tax on each milligram of an active opioid ingredient in a prescription pain pill.
Delaney will hold his 100th event in New Hampshire Tuesday, where local residents helped bring national attention to the worsening opioid crisis during the 2016 presidential election. It is a part of a three-day swing through the Granite State. New Hampshire ranks in the top five states with the highest rate of opioid-involved overdose deaths according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, with 420 related deaths last year. In the U.S., an average of 130 people die from drug overdoses involving opioids every day.
Going it alone: Booker proposes day-one immigration fixes that don’t need congress
DALLAS — As Democratic presidential candidates have struggled to explain how they would enact ambitious policy agendas over the opposition of a Senate that could still be controlled by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Tuesday laid out a slate of immigration proposals that could be enacted entirely by executive order.
“When kids are being stripped away from their parents and held in cages, I will not wait for Congress to solve this crisis,” Booker said in a statement, announcing the proposals. “On day one of my presidency, I will take immediate steps to end this administration’s moral vandalism.”
Booker's proposals focus on unwinding most of President Trump’s executive actions on the border, including ending the so-called “remain in Mexico” policy and immediately restoring protections for Dreamers and those with other forms of temporary legal status, and reversing the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy.
The plan also focuses heavily on ending detention of migrants, both by phasing out contracts with private, state and local prisons, and by raising standards and accountability requirements for federal facilities, forcing them to either greatly improve conditions, or close.
With the release of his slate of executive actions, Booker joins other top tier candidates including former Vice President Joseph Biden, Senator Elizabeth Warren, former congressman Beto O’Rourke and former HUD Secretary Julián Castro in outlining comprehensive immigration reform plans.
Tim Ryan rolls out plans for public education reform
BOSTON — Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, is rolling out a new plan to treat education as a federal right by investing $50 billion into federal programs to transform all public schools into community schools that blend resources from both the school systems and the communities that they serve.
These public community schools would focus on four distinct goals: integrated student supports; expanded and enriched learning time and opportunities; collaborative leadership and practices, and active family and community engagement.
In his proposal, Ryan gives a shout out to LeBron James,’ citing the Ohio basketball legend’s "I Promise School" in his congressional district as a model example of community schools. “But you shouldn’t need a superstar to come from your community to fulfill the guarantee of a high-quality education in this country,” Ryan says in the text of the plan.
Ryan is set to unveil his plan Monday at the American School Counselor Association Annual Conference in Boston before making two campaign stops in New Hampshire. His policy announcement comes on the heels of his comments at the first Democratic debate, in which he emphasized the need for social and emotional learning in every school.
“We need to start playing offense,” said Ryan during the debate last Wednesday. “If our kids are so traumatized that they're getting a gun and going into our schools, we're doing something wrong, too, and we need reform a trauma-based care.”
Ryan’s approach includes implementing policies in four key categories:
- Well-prepared and supported teachers and leaders: Support a diverse and well-prepared teacher work force by supplying them with the tools and resources they need, as well as health and wellness support.
- Wraparound services: Provide students and their families the support they need to learn effectively through nutritional services, as well as mental, social, and physical health services.
- Social-emotional and academic learning: Teach students conflict resolution and how to set goals, make responsible decisions, and maintain positive relationships.
- 21st Century college and career-ready pathways: Provide students with programs to explore their futures, including “curricula and a continuum of high-quality work-based learning opportunities rooted in modern business and industry practices.”
Ryan also added that as president, he would work with Congress to pass the Rebuild America’s Schools Act to invest $100 billion into school infrastructure.