The latest political news and analysis from the campaign trail:
Kamala Harris scores endorsement from Iowa's Asian-Latino Coalition
DES MOINES, Iowa — After a just-finished five-day bus tour through the state, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., rolled away with one of the biggest endorsements in the Iowa caucus to date Monday from the state's Asian-Latino Coalition.
The decision to endorse Harris was “contentious” and not unanimous among the coalition's board members, according to the group's chairperson, Prakash Kopparapu, who said that, in the end, “her message is what works best for everyone, it’s balanced really well. And she’s convinced all the members that she has the strength and the personality to beat Donald Trump.”
“I am honored,” Harris said in a statement, adding that the coalition's "mission and values of equality and justice are the same values I am fighting for in this campaign. I am thankful I will have the coalition’s organization strength in my corner as we head toward February.”
The group boasts 400 members of diverse backgrounds, in addition to a large membership of caucasian voters who regularly attend candidate events, which have become a key stop for presidential hopefuls early in their campaigns.
Fourteen candidates spoke at Asian-Latino Coalition events during various Iowa swings, with Harris, Klobuchar, and Yang making multiple stops. Notably, neither Elizabeth Warren nor Bernie Sanders visited with the group, and therefore were not eligible for the endorsement.
Amidst dancing to Sister Sledge and the Cupid Shuffle, members had the chance to cast their paper ballots for the endorsement, picking up to four candidates. After Harris, former HUD Sec. Julián Castro and Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Min., and Cory Booker, D-N.J. clinched the top four spots. The board of directors deliberated for about half an hour before settling on Harris.
“When elections are close, the Asian and Latino vote makes a difference,” former Iowa state legislator Swati Dandekar told NBC News, “We saw that in 2018 and we are going to see that in 2020.”
Dandekar personally endorsed Klobuchar earlier Monday, and credited growing excitement in the coalition to members who have recently become citizens and are preparing to vote for the first time. The demographics of the coalition make up a small sliver of Iowa’s population, with Latino voters representing 6 percent, and Asian Americans at 2.6 percent, according to the Iowa state data center.
Iveth Mehta, an immigrant from Panama, voted for Harris as one of her four choices Friday evening. She said the California Democrat would match up well against President Donald Trump.
“With her background, being an attorney,” Iveth told NBC News, “I think she really can make a really good run against Donald Trump.”
Her husband, Nadir Mahta — an immigrant from Pakistan — also chose Harris as one of his top four, mentioning his desire to see everyone to be treated equally in the United States.
“We need to find somebody who will be able to win in 2020. That’s the main thing. I have been a citizen for 35 years and I have to look over my shoulder because you never know. Look what happened in El Paso, what happened in Dayton, Ohio.” Nadir said.
“We just want to be treated like everybody else, like we’re a part of this community” Iveth added.
Mark Sanford heads to New Hampshire, warns of “big storm” in newly released video
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Former South Carolina Republican congressman and Gov. Mark Sanford revealed Monday that he is headed to New Hampshire as he ponders a primary challenge to President Donald Trump while also releasing a new video warning of a “big storm coming.”
Sanford, who said last month that he is considering running for the 2020 GOP presidential nomination, told the Charleston Post and Courier that he would be “quietly having meetings” in New Hampshire with several people in that first-in-the-nation primary state.
In the new video, Sanford talks about the country’s “precarious financial position,” saying it could “crush our economy … even destroy our Republic.”
“The really amazing part is that seemingly no one in Washington is talking about it,” Sanford says, before calling out Democrats’ “political promises that we can’t afford” and Trump’s actions that “drive our debt and spending.”
In an earlier video, released on July 17, Sanford said he would be using the coming weeks to explore launching an official campaign — laying out a 30-day timeline for an announcement.
GOP ad ties Kentucky Democrat to Warren, Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez
WASHINGTON — A new TV ad from the Republican Governors Association ties Kentucky Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andy Beshear to “liberal radicals,” evoking images of Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
“Liberal radicals across the country want to derail President Trump’s agenda and turn America into a socialist country,” the ad goes, showing images of Sanders, Warren, Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez.
It continues, “Andy Beshear stood with Hillary Clinton. After she lost, Beshear joined the radical resistance, suing to stop Trump’s agenda.”
Beshear, the state’s current attorney general, faces incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin in November, and Trump won the state by 30 points in 2016.
The Republican Governors Association has been the biggest advertiser so far in this gubernatorial race, spending more than $2.5 million over the airwaves, according to data from Advertising Analytics. Kentuckians will choose their next governor Nov. 5.
Tom Steyer spends big in race to make debate stage
WASHINGTON — Billionaire Tom Steyer may have jumped into the race far later than his Democratic presidential rivals, but he's making up for it with a flurry of spending.
Last week alone (from August 4 through August 10), Steyer spent $1.2 million on Facebook ads — more than the amount spent by South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden, former HUD Sec. Julián Castro and Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.a and Elizabeth Waren, D-Mass., combined.
That's according to Facebook's ad archive report.
And when cable and broadcast buys are included, Steyer has spent more than any other Democratic candidate on media overall with more than $10 million, data from Advertising Analytics shows.
That massive spending shows why Steyer could be a wildcard in this race — he has the ability to flood the early states with money at a drop of a hat, an advantage that gives him a leg up as the Democratic National Committee's debate threshold begins to get harder to reach.
Virtually all of Steyer's Facebook ads are aimed at accruing the 130,000 unique donors he needs in order to have a shot at making the next Democratic debate stage.
And the healthy amount of television spending can help increase his poll numbers both nationally and in early states as he seeks to hit the DNC's polling threshold too (candidates need to hit both the unique donor threshold as well as hit 2 percent in four qualifying polls — Steyer needs to hit 2 percent in just one more poll to reach that).
Presidential hopefuls descend on Iowa State Fair
DES MOINES, Iowa — Five 2020 Democratic hopefuls ascended the Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair Friday, where they made their presidential pitches and fielded questions from voters encouraged to shout them out.
Former Housing and Urban Development Sec. Julian Castro was asked why he was campaigning in Iowa instead of traveling to El Paso, Texas in the wake of the recent mass shooting — since fellow Texan Beto O'Rourke had canceled his Iowa speech to remain in his hometown of El Paso.
Castro said that because he wasn't a native of the city, “I don't think what they need is more presidential candidates over there." "They need action. They need Congress and [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell to get the Senate back in session and to pass common-sense gun safety legislation."
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang drew a large crowd of supporters who seemed familiar which his usual routine of asking audiences which state gives residents a typical dividend of $1,000 to $2,000 a year, paid out of the state's vast oil reserves. "And what state is that?" he asked. The audience responded, "Alaska!"
In true Soapbox form, former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland faced a heckler after his speech, who wanted him to identify President Donald Trump as a white supremacist. Delaney stopped short of doing so, but said that Trump “engages with white supremacists.” When pushed by reporters on the difference between being a white supremacist and engaging with them, Delaney responded, “I actually don't think there is any difference. I think it's awful." He added, "People who enable it are no different than those who practice it.”
Author and long-shot candidate Marianne Williamson, meanwhile, pitched herself as the underdog. "I heard that I'm dangerous, I've heard that I’m crazy, I've heard that I'm a grifter,” Williamson said to applause. “Please know that there are powerful forces that do not want me to be in the third debate.”
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, closed out the day of speeches. She greeted the crowd with a hearty, “Aloha,” and recognized all the military service members in the room. Like others, Gabbard focused on the need to unite Americans. “We are facing great divisiveness and unfortunately we face self-serving politicians and people in positions of power who are seeking to tear us apart and to divide us for their own selfish gain,” she said.
Nearly two dozen candidates will take the stage over the course of the 10-day Iowa State Fair.
Democratic presidential nominees historically younger than Republican nominees
WASHINGTON —The field of Democrats running for president in 2020 is the party’s most diverse ever, and that diversity includes age, too.
The youngest Democratic hopeful is Pete Buttigieg (37 years old), while the oldest is Bernie Sanders (who’s 77 and will turn 78 in September).
In between are current Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden (76), Elizabeth Warren (70),
And the eventual winner will face the 73-year-old Trump.
Historically, Democrats have nominated younger candidates — with 49 being the average age of past winners of the Democratic nomination since 1952.
Past Democratic Nominees since 1952:
- Adali Stevenson, 52 years-old in 1952 and 56 years-old in 1956
- John F. Kennedy, 43 years-old, 1960
- Lyndon B. Johnson, 56 years-old, 1964
- Hubert Humphrey, 67 years-old, 1968
- George McGovern, 50 years-old, 1972
- Jimmy Carter, 52 years-old in 1976 and 56 years-old in 1980
- Walter Mondale, 56 years-old, 1984
- Michael Dukakis, 55 years-old, 1988
- Bill Clinton, 46 years-old in 1992 and 50 years-old in 1996
- Al Gore, 52 years-old, 2000
- John Kerry, 61 years-old, 2004
- Barack Obama, 47 years-old 2008 in and 51 years-old in 2012
- Hilliary Clinton, 69 years-old, 2016
By comparison, the average age for Republican winners of the presidential nomination has been 63.
Past Republican Nominees since 1952:
- Dwight Eisenhower, 62 years-old in 1952 and 66 years-old in 1956
- Richard Nixon, 47 years-old, 1960
- Barry Goldwater, 55 years-old, 1964
- Richard Nixon, 55 years-old in 1968 and 59 years-old in 1972
- Gerald Ford, 63 years-old, 1976
- Ronald Reagan, 69 years-old in 1980 and 73 years-old in1984
- George H.W. Bush, 64 years-old in 1988 and 68 years-old in 1992
- Bob Dole, 73 years-old, 1996
- George W. Bush, 54 years-old in 2000 and 58 years-old in 2004
- John McCain, 72 years-old, 2008
- Mitt Romney, 65 years-old, 2012
- Donald Trump, 70 years-old, 2016
And since 1950, the oldest Democratic nominee to win the general election was Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 -- at age 56.
And the average age of the past Democratic presidents at their inauguration is 49.
Democratic Presidents since 1952:
- John F. Kennedy, 43 years-old
- Lyndon B. Johnson, 56 years-old
- Jimmy Carter, 52 years-old
- Bill Clinton, 46 years-old for his first inauguration and 50 years-old for his second
- Barack Obama, 47 years-old for his first inauguration and 51 years-old for his second
That’s compared with an average age of 63 for Republican presidents since 1952.
Republican Presidents since 1952:
- Dwight Eisenhower, 62 years-old for his first inauguration and 66 years-old for hsi second
- Richard Nixon, 55 years-old for his first inauguration and 59 years-old for his second
- Gerald Ford, 63 years-old
- Ronald Reagan, 69 years-old for his first inauguration and 73 years-old for his second
- George H.W. Bush, 64 years-old
- George W. Bush, 54 years-old for his first inauguration and 58-years old for his second
- Donald Trump, 70 years-old
Buttigieg unveils rural health plan as he starts Iowa swing
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is unveiling a plan to boost health outcomes for rural Americans as he opens a week-long swing through Iowa.
The plan illustrates how Buttigieg is working to cast himself as uniquely qualified in the Democratic primary field to address issues important to rural voters and those in the Midwest, including many who voted in 2016 for President Donald Trump.
Buttigieg's plan focuses on expanding student loan forgiveness to include people who work in rural medicine in a bid to encourage medical providers to seek out jobs in those communities. He also wants to offer more visa waivers to immigrant doctors to stay in the U.S. to work in underserved areas.
The Buttigieg plan would also boost telehealth initiatives by investing another half-billion in federal dollars and expanding the telehealth services covered by insurance. Other parts of the proposal focus on tribal communities and veterans.
On health care more broadly, Buttigieg has proposed a public option for health insurance that he argues would eventually attract more and more Americans into that system.
The new plan comes as Buttigieg heads Friday to Iowa for nearly a week of campaigning, including a stop Tuesday at the Iowa State Fair. Buttigieg will spend most of the coming week in rural areas.
Biden maintains lead in new Iowa poll as Warren surges
WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden maintains his clear lead in a new Iowa poll of the Democratic presidential field, but Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is storming toward the front of the pack.
Biden leads Monmouth's new poll of likely Iowa caucusgoers with 28 percent, a score virtually unchanged from Monmouth's April poll. But Warren is now in second, with 19 percent, a major increase from her 7 percent in April.
Sen. Kamala Harris, Calif., is in third place with 11 percent, followed by Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders in fourth with 9 percent.
Behind him is South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 8 percent, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar with 3 percent, billionaire Tom Steyer with 3 percent, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand with 2 percent and businessman Andrew Yang with 2 percent.
The rest of the field polled at 1 percent or below.
The boost comes amid a spate of good news for Warren—she's seen an uptick at the polls in recent weeks, and raised more during the second fundraising quarter than all but two candidates.
In the Monmouth poll, Warren's 76 percent favorable rating among Democrats is the highest of the 11 candidates tested, with a 14 percent unfavorable rating lower than all but Buttigieg and former Housing Secretary Julián Castro.
Warren is also the only candidate whose unfavorable rating went down from the April poll (New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker's 16 percent unfavorable rating stayed the same over the four-month period). And she's the second choice of the most respondents in the poll, with 19 percent.
The poll also shows a decline for Sanders, down to 9 percent from 16 percent in April. Sanders also has the highest unfavorable rating of those tested, with 33 percent. Fifty-eight percent view him favorably.
And it's the fourth poll where Yang finishes with at least 2 percent, which means he's now qualified for the next round of debates in September and October.
The likely caucusgoers overwhelmingly identified health care as one of the top-two most important issues in deciding who to support.
Fifty-six percent of caucusgoers said that on the issue of health care, they wanted a public option, the ability for people to either keep their private health care or opt-in to Medicare. Twenty-one percent say they want to scrap private insurance entirely for Medicare-for-All.
Monmouth polled 401 likely caucusgoers from Aug. 1 to Aug. 4. The poll has a margin of error of 4.9 percent.
Harris to air her first Iowa television ad
DES MOINES, IOWA — California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris is releasing her first television ad Thursday in Iowa, pegged to the senator's five-day bus tour throughout the state.
The campaign has reserved at least $192,000 worth of advertising dollars for the spot, according to figures from media-tracking firm Advertising Analytics. The ad will run across the state and is the first Iowa ad from a presidential candidate polling toward the top of the field.
The ad, titled “Me, Maya, and Mom,” starts with a picture of Harris and her younger sister Maya standing alongside their mom as kids. Harris says her mom would stay up late sitting at the kitchen table “trying to figure out how to make it all work.”
The ad ties into Harris’ theme of tackling issues that keep people up at night, part of what she calls her “3 a.m. agenda.” In the ad, Harris specifically mentions her plan for a middle-class tax cut, her health care plan and her plan to tackle equal pay.
“Instead of ideological or theoretical debates, Senator Harris is focused on an action plan to directly improve the lives of American families… her agenda directly addresses the issues that keep people up at night,” press secretary Ian Sams said in a statement provided by the campaign.
Harris’ ad will run from August 8 until August 14.
Booker talks gun violence at Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Sen. Cory Booker delivered a speech Wednesday morning at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C.—addressing gun violence and the “hatred and white nationalism in America.”
Booker’s remarks come just more than four years since the mass shooting at Mother Emanuel in June of 2015—when 21-year-old Dylann Roof murdered nine African Americans during a bible study, including senior pastor and state senator Clementa C. Pinckney—and on the heels of two recent mass shootings last weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.
During the speech, Booker highlighted ways in which “we can act to legislate safety even if we cannot legislate love” by pointing to five specific policy proposals:
- “Legislation to close the loophole that enabled one man to take nine souls from this very congregation."
- “Banning assault weapons once and for all.”
- “[Requiring] federal licensing for guns in America.”
- “[Requiring] that the Department of Justice, Homeland Security and FBI conduct assessments of the domestic terrorism threats posed by white supremacists.”
- “[Requiring] the FBI to dramatically change and improve reporting of hate crimes and work with local law enforcement to establish policies to focus on training, to focus on how to identify and investigate and report those crimes that threaten our security and safety with chilling regularity.”
In recent days, Booker has assailed President Trump’s rhetoric toward immigrants, arguing on Sunday’s broadcast of “Meet the Press” that the president is “sowing the seeds of hatred in our country.” Authorities believe that the El Paso shooter wrote an anti-immigrant and anti-government manifesto posted online before the shooting.
While he didn’t mention Trump by name, he waved at that criticism, saying, “As a political strategy, weaponizing hatred can be effective because it seems easy. … Generations of politicians have used fear of the other for political gain, and that is certainly the case today.”
Facing his own criticism that the speech was an attempt to make political gain in a crowded field of 2020 contenders, Booker addressed his motivations for his appearance at Mother Emanuel.
“This is not a political moment,” Booker said. “I am not here today to ask for a vote. I am here today to ask if we again as a nation have the collective resolve to change the reality we live in.”
Biden campaign launches digital ad highlighting assault weapons ban in '94 crime bill
WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential campaign is launching a small digital media buy in Iowa and New Hampshire highlighting the former vice president's role in passing a ban on assault weapons in the 1994 crime bill, a senior Biden campaign official told NBC News.
While the buy is relatively small, just four figures, the ad is an example of Biden embracing a part of the crime bill that's often criticized by the left.
Throughout the primary campaign, former Vice President Joe Biden's opponents have often hit Biden on his role in passing the crime bill citing that it led to the mass incarceration of many African Americans for minor offenses.
However, a popular part of the legislation was the assault weapons ban. The ban prohibited the manufacture for civilian use of semi-automatic weapons and large-capacity magazines. The law featured a 10-year sunset provision and Congress did not renew the ban in September 2004.
In an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll in July, 57% of all Americans said a ban of the sale of semi-automatic assault guns such as AK-47s and AR-15s was a "good idea". That included 83% of Democrats, 29% of Republicans and 55% of Independents.