The latest political news and analysis from the campaign trail:
Both parties in New Hampshire prepare for potential Lewandowski Senate bid
MANCHESTER, N.H. — Corey Lewandowski hasn’t yet announced a decision on whether to join the field of Republicans hoping to challenge Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in 2020.
But the prospect of President Trump’s pugilistic former campaign manager jumping into the fray has drawn mixed reactions from leaders of both parties, with Democrats expecting an expensive and ugly drawn-out contest and Republicans split over whether a hard-core Trump loyalist offers the best chance to flip the seat.
Lewandowski would be joining three other GOP figures who have already announced plans to run: Retired Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc, former New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O’Brien and Bryant “Corky” Messner. The primary is September 8, 2020 — nearly a year away.
But Lewandowski is expected to announce his decision soon, which comes as he is scheduled to testify Tuesday at a House Judiciary Committee hearing investigating possible obstruction of justice by Trump.
Right as the Judiciary Committee took a short break from his testimony, Lewandowski tweeted out directing supporters to “StandWithCorey.com” as he teased a “potential Senate run.”
A “Stand With Corey” super PAC based in New Hampshire filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission announcing its creation on Tuesday.
Trump fired Lewandowski at the peak of the 2016 campaign, but the two remain close and Trump has all but endorsed him if he decides to run.
“He's tough, and he's smart, and I'm hearing he's thinking about running for the Senate," Trump announced at a campaign rally in Manchester last month, with Lewandowski sitting nearby. "I think he'd be tough to beat."
The New Hampshire Democratic Party, which publicly said little as other GOP candidates jumped into the Senate contest, has mounted a full court press against Lewandowski. At its state convention this month, the party kicked off its so-called “Corrupt Corey” campaign — passing out business cards and launching a website to draw attention to his lucrative consulting career in the wake of Trump’s election.
“Corey Lewandowski has spent every minute since the 2016 election selling White House access to the highest bidder, including pay-day lenders, big oil, and even foreign interests,” said Josh Marcus-Blank, the state Democratic Party press secretary.
Many Democrats relish the prospect of Lewandowski candidacy, saying it would be a fundraising boon both to the party and to Shaheen, who is seeking a second term.
“People down the ticket want it because they hate Lewandowski,” said Lucas Meyer, president of the New Hampshire Young Democrats. But, Meyer added, the Senate race will likely be close regardless, given the state’s strong independent streak and its battleground status at the presidential level.
President Trump came within 2,736 votes of beating Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire 2016, and has vowed to contest the state aggressively again. It’s a strategy that could boost Lewandowski among the state’s die-hard Republican voters if he wins the Senate nomination.
Yet his appeal mainly to the Trump base — and the potential to turn off independent voters as a result — stands in contrast to what strategists of both parties believe is necessary to win a general election in New Hampshire.
“You don’t win the Senate race unless you attract moderate Republicans,” said Ned Helms, a Democratic activist and former state official. He added that Lewandowski "is clearly the favorite, and a lot of Republicans are embarrassed by him. It’s a smart idea to go after Corey now.”
Joe Sweeney, communications director for the New Hampshire Republican Party, dismissed that concern but said the party would remain neutral in the Senate primary.
“New Hampshire voters are some of the savviest voters in the country,” Sweeney said. “Independent voters make the election, and they’re not afraid to vote criss-crossing on the ballot.”
A recent University of New Hampshire poll indicated that although Trump’s has just a 42 percent approval rating in New Hampshire, among Republicans that number remains at 82 percent.
But some Republicans in the state aren’t thrilled at the prospect of a Lewandowski bid.
“I think what Corey does is he’s going to attract the attention of every Democrat donor in America,” said a senior Republican consultant who has run a number of statewide races.” But, the operative added, “If he runs, he will be the nominee.”
A Shaheen adviser, who is not authorized to comment publicly on the race and spoke on condition of anonymity, insists there is “no nervousness” at the prospect of a Lewandowski candidacy.
“If (Lewandowski) is the nominee he’ll be annoying because he’s nasty and it would make it all more unpleasant than it needs to be, but nobody is worried he would beat Shaheen,” this adviser said.
NBC News attempted to contact Lewandowski about the timing of his decision.
New Hampshire Republican Governor Chris Sununu, who will also face re-election in 2020, decided not to run for Senate and does not intend to endorse any candidate in order to stay neutral in the GOP primary. While there has been some chatter among Republicans in the state that Sununu has a contentious relationship with Lewandowski, his office says the opposite is true.
“The governor has a good relationship with all of the candidates, and knows that competitive primaries are good for the party. The top priority is defeating Jeanne Shaheen,” said Sununu communications director Ben Vihstadt.
Despite Democrats’ optimism about Shaheen’s prospects for re-election, Helms noted said her campaign won’t take anything for granted no matter who Republican nominate to challenger her.
“I’ve never seen Shaheen run any race as if she wasn’t 50 votes behind all the time,” he said. “She would run as if she’s behind until the Wednesday after the election.”
UPDATED: This article was updated with Lewandowski's tweet about a "potential" Senate bid.
Pete Buttigieg to unveil disaster relief plan in South Carolina
DES MOINES, Iowa — One year after Hurricane Florence pummeled the Carolinas and just weeks after Hurricane Dorian lashed the U.S. coastline, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg Tuesday is set to unveil new proposals aimed at helping communities withstand and rebuild in the wake of catastrophic weather events.
The plan titled, “Resilient Communities: A New Disaster Preparedness Approach,” aims to reimagine the way disaster relief and preparation works in the United States.
“It’s time to shift the focus from placing the burden of compliance on individuals and communities, to making it the government’s job to actually help people in their time of greatest need,” the policy reads.
Within his first 100 days in office, Buttigieg says he’ll set up a disaster commission comprised of federal, state, and local agencies along with volunteer organizations. According to the plan, the commission will make recommendations on a host of issues including how best to streamline disaster relief applications and creating a permanent source of disaster relief funding.
The plan calls for more federal support on the ground following a disaster by increasing the number of FEMA disaster workers and FEMA Corps members while also building a surge-capacity force that would deploy non-FEMA federal employees to disaster sites.
Buttigieg hopes to equip FEMA workers with wi-fi hotspots to help communities reconnect with the rest of the world quickly and modernize the 911 system to allow calls to be rerouted and for those in need to send text messages and location data during a disaster.
At the community level, the candidate hopes to create a culture of resilience by funding community volunteer programs that could, for example, train people to help with evacuations or assist with weather related displacement. Buttigieg also plans to authorize and increasing the budget for FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Division, with an emphasis on marginalized communities.
In addition, Buttigieg would incentivize private companies to work with state and local governments on resilience planning. The mayor supports proposed legislation that would authorize loans for states and communities working to incorporate resilience and mitigation while also consolidating grant programs so that communities can afford new technology. For example, a solar micro-grid system atop a fire station that would keep the building operational if power were lost.
While many candidates have released plans on climate change that address resiliency, Buttigieg is the first to release a policy solely focused on the issue.
Joe Biden gets another high-profile Latino endorsement
GALIVANTS FERRY, S.C. — Former Obama Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Monday night that he is backing former Vice President Joe Biden for president, giving Biden his second prominent Latino endorsement in recent days.
Appearing on MSNBC's "Hardball," Salazar said he chose Biden because he has the experience to unite the country and elevate its prominence on the world stage once again.
“We need to have him in the White House today because the country, more than ever before, needs somebody to unite our country and right now we live in a very dangerous world, both here at home and across the world and there's nobody that knows the world issues or the national issues as Joe Biden does,” he said.
Asked whether Biden has the political stamina to last through the primary, Salazar pointed to the multiple personal struggles he faced in life as examples that he knows how to pick himself up when he’s knocked down.
Salazar’s backing is the second endorsement from a prominent Latino politician which comes at a time when the Biden campaign is trying to ramp up efforts courting the Latino community. On Sunday, Rep. Vincente Gonzalez, D-Texas, became the third Congressional Hispanic Caucus member to endorse Biden, notably pulling his endorsement from Sec. Julian Castro after he raised questions about Biden's age during last week's debate.
Salazar, who served as Colorado’s senator between 2005 and 2009, notably chose to endorse Biden over his senate-seat successor and fellow moderate, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet.
Trump trip to New Mexico highlights his border state problems
WASHINGTON — On Monday afternoon, President Donald Trump heads to New Mexico, where he holds a campaign rally at 9:00 pm ET — all in an effort to expand the 2020 battleground map.
But not only is New Mexico a tough state for Trump — he lost it by 8 points in 2016 — it’s part of a region of the country that decisively broke against Trump and the Republicans in the 2018 midterms, especially as the president made illegal immigration and the “caravan” of migrants one of his closing messages in that campaign season.
Just consider what happened last year in the four states that share a border with Mexico and have large Latino populations:
- California: GOP lost seven House seats
- Arizona: GOP lost U.S. Senate seat, plus a House seat
- New Mexico: GOP lost governorship, plus a House seat
- Texas: GOP lost two House seats, won Senate contest by fewer than 3 points – the worst GOP margin in a major statewide contest in the Lone Star State in three decades.
Elizabeth Warren unveils anti-corruption reform proposals
NEW YORK — Amid all the dozens of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s plans, there’s really one common thread between them: they aim to take on corruption.
And corruption itself is the issue of the day Monday, with the Massachusetts senator releasing a 15-page plan for rooting out government corruption — from the White House, to the halls of Congress; Supreme Court justices and federal agencies; and, of course, the revolving door between government officials and employees and the private sector. The plan, Warren writes, “lays out nearly a hundred ways” to fix the corruption problem.
On the trail, Warren often touts her anti-corruption plan as the most sweeping since Watergate — before lamenting that D.C. needs the most sweeping set of reforms since Watergate.
This release of this plan comes the same day Warren is set to speak under the arch in New York City’s iconic Washington Square Park, a space — her campaign points out — that’s near where the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire took place in 1911. That killed 145 workers and spurred major change in the way of workers’ rights and protections.
This isn’t the first time Warren will use a major moment and location from the history of labor movement to make a larger point: she made her announcement earlier this year at the Everett textile Mill in Lawrence, Mass., where in 1912 women workers went on strike to demand fair wages.
Among the highlights of the plan:
- Require IRS release of tax returns for all candidates running or serving in government. For presidential candidates, Warren recommends releasing at least 8 years of returns.
- A ban on individual stock trading for government officials.
- Presidents and vice presidents must put businesses into blind trusts and sell them off.
- Make sure no future candidate can get political assistance from a foreign government or solicit large hush money payments with out legal consequences by clarifying the definition of “in kind contributions.”
- Ban corporate bonuses for executives that leave to serve in government.
- Lobbyists can’t take government jobs for 2 years after lobbying (with limited exceptions) and corporate lobbyists have to wait 6 years.
- Elected officials and government appointees would be barred from ever becoming lobbyists.
- Total Ban lobbying on behalf of foreign entities.
- Ban lobbyists from being able to donate to, or fundraise/bundle/host fundraisers for, political candidates.
- Impose a tax on entities that spend more than $500,000/year on lobbying.
- Ban members of Congress and senior staff from serving on corporate boards in both paid and unpaid capacities.
- More closely regulates judges’ ability to accept all-expense-paid trips to seminars by establishing a new fund that covers “reasonable” expense for such judicial seminars. Also bans judges from owning individual stocks.
- Allow continued investigation of judges accused of wrong-doing, even after they step down.
- Establish a new Office of Public Integrity to investigate ethics complaints, impose penalties on violators, and refer “egregious violations” to the DOJ.
Bernie Sanders' campaign shuffles New Hampshire staff
CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Sanders campaign is in the middle of a significant staff shuffle, reassigning the campaign’s New Hampshire state director, and adding teams to build operations in Massachusetts and Maine.
“This campaign is building up and spreading out,” campaign manger Faiz Shakir told NBC News.
The previous New Hampshire director Joe Caiazzo will become the Massachusetts state director. Shannon Jackson, who was a senior advisor to the campaign in 2016, will take over as New Hampshire state director. Ben Collings will lead the campaign’s operation in Maine.
“We’re making some moves to play for the long haul here and to put ourselves in a position to not only do well in the early states, but to do well on Super Tuesday and hopefully by that point secure the nomination,” Shakir explained.
The Vermont senator won New Hampshire in 2016 by more than 20 points.
Public polls show a tight race in the first in the nation primary state this time around, with one from Emerson college showing the Vermont senator in third place, another from RKM Research showing him in first.
An advisor to Sen. Sanders says the campaign has been conducting internal polling, but would not get into the details of the findings. In the past, the campaign has released memos and briefed reporters on the results of favorable internal polling.
Booker on health care: Don't 'sacrifice progress for purity'
WASHINGTON — Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., downplayed the divide within his party on health care while imploring Democrats to aim high but work to make gains where they can.
Booker has argued he supports the goal of a 'Medicare for All' system, but has also argued for a more pragmatic approach in the short term for trying to cover every American. And he said that the 2018 midterm elections, where Democrats made big gains in the House with a strategy centered on health care, proves that voters are buying what the Democrats are selling.
Booker was addressing the split that was evident again during last week's Democratic presidential debate. "I feel it when I talk to really good people on that stage that I know, that there is a unifying message here that, look, we are a nation with a savagely broken health care system," he said Sunday on "Meet the Press."
"We're the party that's trying to say, 'everybody should have health insurance.' We're going to fight to get there. We can put the ideal out there but walk and chew gum at the same time. In other words, not sacrifice progress for purity."
Joe Biden to give most his most expansive remarks to date on race Sunday
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Former Vice President Joe Biden plans to make his most expansive comments to date on the subject of race Sunday, exploring the nation’s ongoing struggle to live up to its founding ideals of equality as his campaign seeks to deepen connections with minority communities.
First in Alabama, Biden will deliver the keynote address at services marking the 56th anniversary of the bombing of Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church, a searing moment amid the civil rights movement that took the lives of four young black girls.
On Sunday morning, the Biden campaign released excerpts from the speech.
"The domestic terrorism of white supremacy has been the antagonist of our highest ideals from before our founding," Biden is expected to say. “Lynch mobs, arsonists, bomb makers and lone gunmen — and as we all now realize, this violence does not live in the past."
“The same poisonous ideology that lit the fuse at 16th Street pulled the trigger in Mother Emanuel, unleashed the anti-Semitic massacre in Pittsburgh and Poway and saw a white supremacist gun down innocent Latino immigrants in an El Paso parking lot with military-grade weapons declaring it would stop a quote 'Hispanic invasion of Texas,'" the excerpts continue. “We have not relegated racism and white supremacy to the pages of history.”
Later in Miami, Biden will make his most direct appeal to Latino voters to date with a campaign stop that will emphasize the contributions of immigrants in a direct contrast to actions by the Trump administration.
Together, his remarks are expected to build on another recent major speech, in Burlington, Iowa. There, Biden noted that “American history is not a fairy tale,” but a "battle for the soul of this nation” that "has been a constant push-and-pull” between its noble aspirations and a legacy of hatred and injustice borne of the original sin of slavery.
On Sunday, Biden will delve more deeply into the roots of America’s racial divisions, aides say, and highlight how he views that “there can be no realization of the American dream without grappling with the centuries that preceded it.”
"We can’t understand this shocking attack without understanding our original sin of slavery and the centuries-long campaign of violence, fear, and trauma wrought upon black people in this country since,” T.J. Ducklo, a Biden campaign spokesperson said previewing his remarks in Birmingham, where he will link that tragic event with recent events.
“The same poisonous ideology that lit the fuse at 16th Street pulled the trigger in Mother Emanuel,” Ducklo said. "The same vitriol and anti-Semitism that launched pogroms in Europe was on full display in Pittsburgh and Poway. The same small-mindedness and xenophobia that targeted Irish and Italian and Chinese immigrants, each in turn, also stalked an El Paso parking lot with military-grade weaponry.
The speech may also highlight a paradox in Biden’s campaign. The former Vice President to the nation’s first black president enjoys some of his strongest support from black voters. But he has also faced intense scrutiny for both his legislative record and past statements on racial issues.
His opponents seized on comments at a June fundraiser about his work with segregationist lawmakers. And Thursday, his response to a question about reparations, including calling for social workers to "help parents deal with how to raise their children” because "they don't know quite what to do” also drew sharp criticism.
Biden appeared to offer a preview of his remarks at a fundraiser in Dallas Saturday telling donors: "Hate only hides, it doesn't go away. If you give it any oxygen, hate comes out from under the rocks.”
It is not yet clear given the solemn occasion how directly Biden will fault President Trump for stoking racial divisions. In Iowa last month, he condemned the president for “giving license and safe harbor for hate to white supremacists, Neo-Nazis and the KKK,” most notably in his response to Charlottesville.
Ducklo said Biden intends to call for the nation to again come together "with persistent effort, with fortitude in our actions, and with faith in ourselves and the future to move forward and continue the progress towards living up to our founding values.”
In the afternoon, Biden will continue to stress that message of unity in Miami, where aides say he will tell Latinos at the historic Ball and Chain Cuban nightclub in the heart of Calle Ocho that the “American dream is big enough” to continuing welcoming immigrants into the United States.
On the campaign trail he has often mentioned how Latinos play a critical role in today’s economy and often thanks immigrants in town halls for choosing America as their new home country. He is expected to “build on a message of values” that run deep in the Latino community and unites Venezuelans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans and more Latinos, which will be represented in the crowd.
The campaign is viewing this speech as a continued effort by the vice president as he continues to speak directly to the Latino community. They expect the president to ramp up travel to reach Latino voters directly from the most populated areas like Miami to lesser known pockets in Des Moines, Iowa throughout the fall.
Marianna Sotomayor reported from Miami.
ICYMI: Debate rewind
WASHINGTON — Three hours of debate on one night is a lot to ask of an audience, so for those who couldn't commit to it all, here's a quick roundup of some of the best NBC News coverage:
The debate topics were nearly identical to the last two debates: health care, immigration, climate change and gun control. And the progressives vs. the pragmatists divide is still intact, despite former Vice President Joe Biden being sandwiched by the two most left-leaning candidates on the stage, Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. So while expectations were high that this debate would establish just who the leader of the field is, nothing much has changed since that first debate in June.
Unlike the second Democratic debate when candidates didn't shy away from critiquing the Obama record, last night candidates argued why they were best fit to carry-out President Obama's legacy on health care. The most cutting moment? Former HUD Secretary Julán Castro told Biden that he's "fulfilling the legacy of Barack Obama" and Biden's not. Biden retorted that that comment would come as a surprise to Obama.
Heading into this debate, former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg were fighting to maintain relevance after high-polling and competitive launches.
Folks here and NBC News provided real-time analysis as the debate ticked on. Find everything from the Republican response to Beto O'Rourke championing mandatory gun buybacks to fact-checks on statements about child poverty in our debate live blog.
Fourth Democratic debate announced
WASHINGTON – The fourth Democratic debate will be held in Westerville, Ohio on Oct. 15, and potentially Oct. 16 if more than 10 candidates qualify and remain in the race. The DNC announced that CNN and The New York Times will co-host the debate.
The debate qualifications were previously released after several candidates missed the cut for the third debate. The qualifications for October's debate are the same as the September debate, meaning that any of the 10 candidates on the stage on the third debate will have already qualified for the next one.
Tom Steyer, who did not participate on Thursday night, has announced that he met the debate qualifications for October. That would make it 11 participants.
The format of the debate has not been announced, but CNN's Anderson Cooper and Erin Burnett, plus The New York Times' Marc Lacey, will moderate the debate.
Conservative PAC ad using AOC ran in just three markets during Democratic debate
WASHINGTON — During last night's Democratic debate, some television viewers saw the first TV ad from the new conservative PAC, New Faces GOP. The ad featured a burning picture of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., while the ad's moderator, the PAC's executive director Elizabeth Heng, decried Ocasio-Cortez as "the face of socialism and ignorance".
The ad is the group's first ad of the 2020 election cycle and it spent $96,000 to run it Thursday night in three media markets: New York City, Washington, D.C. and Fresno-Visalia, Calif.
Heng, a failed congressional candidate in California, appears in the ad talking about her father's life in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge regime, saying that "forced obedience," and "starvation" are the costs of socialism. Ocasio-Cortez has identified herself as a Democratic Socialist, like presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
Ocasio-Cortez responded Thursday, tweeting, "Republicans are running TV ads setting pictures of me on fire to convince people they aren't racist."
NBC News' Elisha Fieldstadt has more on the ad and the reaction to it here.