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The latest political news and analysis from the campaign trail:

O’Rourke clarifies position on churches and same-sex marriage as 2020 rivals weigh in

WASHINGTON —Beto O’Rourke clarified his stance on LGBTQ rights and religious institutions as some 2020 Democratic rivals distanced themselves from comments he made last Thursday in which he appeared to back ending tax-exempt status for churches that oppose same-sex marriage. O’Rourke and his staff have since said that was not his intended position.  

Elizabeth Warren’s spokeswoman Saloni Sharma put out a statement on Monday disavowing the concept of denying tax-exempt status to churches over marriage rights. 

"Elizabeth will stand shoulder to shoulder with the LGBTQ+ community until every person is empowered and able to live their life without fear of discrimination and violence,” the campaign statement said. “Religious institutions in America have long been free to determine their own beliefs and practices, and she does not think we should require them to conduct same-sex marriages in order to maintain their tax exempt status." 

On Sunday, South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg criticized O’Rourke’s stance on CNN, suggesting his rival had perhaps misunderstood the implications of his remarks and that his position would “deepen the divisions that we’re already experiencing at a moment when we’re actually seeing more and more people motivated, often by compassion and by people they love, moving in the right direction on LGBTQ rights.” 

President Trump also invoked O’Rourke’s comments over the weekend, calling him a “wacko” in a speech to the Values Voters Summit.

However, O’Rourke has since ruled out ending tax-exempt status for churches that refuse to endorse or perform same-sex marriage, with the candidate and his staff saying on Sunday and Monday that they would not look to influence religious doctrine, but instead target specific instances of potential discrimination by religiously affiliated institutions. 

“To be specific, the way that you practice your religion or your faith within that mosque or that temple or synagogue or church, that is your business, and not the government's business,” O’Rourke said on MSNBC on Sunday. “But when you are providing services in the public sphere, say, higher education, or health care, or adoption services, and you discriminate or deny equal treatment under the law based on someone's skin color or ethnicity or gender or sexual orientation, then we have a problem.”

In the same interview, O’Rourke mentioned a 1983 Supreme Court ruling against Bob Jones University that ruled the religiously affiliated school could be stripped of its tax-exempt status for discriminating on the basis of race. He suggested the Equality Act, a House-passed bill backed by Democratic leadership that would extend civil rights protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, would clarify that similar types of discrimination were against the law. 

The initial exchange on Thursday with CNN’s Don Lemon at a forum sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign appeared to go further: O’Rourke was asked whether churches and other religious organizations should “lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage” and answered in the affirmative.

“Yes,” O’Rourke said. “There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone, or any institution, any organization in America, that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us. And so as president, we are going to make that a priority, and we are going to stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans.”

The courts are still sorting out the limits of religious exemptions and LGBTQ protections.

Meanwhile, Republicans and many religious organizations are opposed to new civil rights legislation that they fear could force religious schools, charities, and hospitals to take actions they believe violate their faith. But O’Rourke seems to be getting closer to mainstream Democratic and activist territory now, rather than carving out a new position entirely.

Big ad spending disparity helps Rispone win second slot in LA gov runoff

WASHINGTON — Businessman Eddie Rispone is the GOP's standard-bearer in the Lousiana governor's race after Republicans kept incumbent Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards under 50 percent on Saturday. And Rispone punched that ticket thanks in no small part to a massive spending edge over Republican Rep. Ralph Abraham. 

Edwards was the clear leader (no other major Democrat was running in the "jungle primary," which pits the whole field against each other regardless of political party) with 47 percent of the vote. Rispone finished with 27 percent, followed by Abraham's 24 percent. 

Eddie Rispone speaks at the Louisiana GOP Unity Rally in Kenner on Oct. 5, 2019.Sophia Germer / The Advocate via AP

Rispone's camp spent $8.1 million ahead of Saturday's "jungle primary," about as much as Edwards' campaign did and significantly more than the $2 million spent by Abraham. And a healthy chunk of that money went to blistering attacks on Edwards, particularly in the final days. 

Out of the $672,000 Rispone spent in the final seven days of the race, more than a third of that was spent on attack ads targeting Abraham, according to data from the media-tracking firm Advertising Analytics. 

Abraham, by comparison, tried to frame himself as above the fray in the final days. His campaign ran $157,000 worth of ads down that same stretch, the vast majority on a spot that framed him as the candidate who "rose above it all" despite the "noise and negative campaigning." 

If the Democrat had won the majority of votes on Saturday, he'd win re-election outright. But instead, he now has to face Rispone in a runoff next month. 

Look for some serious spending to come in this race as Republicans and Democrats furiously face off in the battle for one of the few red-state gubernatorial seats held by a Democrat. 

Sanders campaign co-chair: Heart attack makes senator's commitment to Medicare for All personal

DOVER, NH — As Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) takes time off to recover from his recent heart attack, his surrogates have been out on the trail in full swing. This weekend, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream fame held five campaign events across the first-in-the-nation primary state, opening field offices and kicking off Green New Deal canvassing with ice cream scoops and energetic speeches. 

Cohen, one of Sanders’ four national campaign co-chairs, told a crowd at the campaign’s Dover, New Hampshire field office that Sanders “health-wise is doing great.”

“His people are trying to hold him back, telling him, ‘you ought to rest up for a bit,’ but the plan is that he’s going to be in the debate on Tuesday and after that he’s going to be hitting trail full steam ahead,” he said to dozens of supporters as they sampled Americone Dream and Cherry Garcia ice cream, two of Ben & Jerrys’ signature flavors.

In a one-on-one interview, Cohen said Sanders has always believed health care is a human right and “he feels it more than ever now.”

“He is raring to go, he just can’t wait to get back on the trail,” he told NBC News. “He is more committed than ever to Medicare for All, he realizes that if somebody who didn’t have decent health insurance was in the position that he was in, they’d be saddled with medical debt, medical bankruptcy, for the crime of having a heart problem.”

According to Cohen, the mood of the campaign is an upbeat, revitalized one. Sanders returns to the trail on Saturday with a rally in Long Island City, NY.   

“It was kind of like a rallying call — people are more psyched, more motivated than ever,” said Cohen. “There’s a real sense that it’s not about him, it’s about us, and that we all need to rise to the occasion because this is the only presidential candidate in my lifetime who has ever had such a progressive, such a view in favor of regular everyday people.”

To him, voter concerns about Sanders’ health are exaggerated, especially since the Vermont senator has always been active.

“Personally, I had quadruple bypass open-heart surgery. That’s a big thing. This guy had a couple of little stents put in. That is not a big thing,” he said.

“I go out on the campaign trail with the guy, I’m out there three days, and I gotta go home and recuperate and he just keeps on going,” Cohen added.

“He was in good shape before this, I think he’s going to be in better shape because now that he’s got his arteries unclogged, he’s got the energy to go out there and unclog all the corruption in our government.”

Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten, plans three-country fundraising tour

WASHINGTON — South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg's presidential campaign is turning to Americans living overseas for an extra infusion of campaign cash.

Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten Glezman Buttigieg, will embark next week on a three-country European fundraising tour, holding five events over three days, according to invitations obtained by NBC News.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and his husband, Chasten, in Indiana on April 14, 2019.Zbigniew Bzdak / TNS via Getty Images file

Chasten Buttigieg will be in the U.K. on Oct. 22 for a cocktail party in Hampstead, just outside London, hosted by Dustin Lance Black, the screenwriter who won an Oscar for the film “Milk.” An invitation to the event says it will go “late” into the night.

Earlier that evening, he’ll be in London for a reception hosted by Eric Beinhocker, a University of Oxford professor and alumnus of McKinsey & Company, the consulting firm where Pete Buttigieg once worked. Lia Larson, a managing director for Goldman Sachs in London, is also a host.

Both London-area events are being co-hosted by Kevin MacLellan, chairman of global distribution and international for NBC Universal, the parent company of NBC News.

Then, Chasten Buttigieg will head to France for a reception and a dinner in Paris. He’ll join the campaign’s national investment chair there for a question-and-answer session.

A day later, Chasten Buttigieg will be in Switzerland for a fundraiser at the Geneva home of Ambassador Charles Adams, who was former President Barack Obama’s envoy to Finland and also served on the Obama campaign’s national finance committee.

Under U.S. campaign finance law, campaigns cannot accept donations from foreign nationals. But they can raise money from American citizens or green-card holders living abroad, and it's not unusual for campaigns to do so. The invitations obtained by NBC News state that attendees must provide a copy of their passport or green card to attend.

There was no immediate comment from the Buttigieg campaign.

Pro-Trump group targeting vulnerable Democrats on impeachment

WASHINGTON – As the impeachment inquiry enters its fourth week, a pro-Trump policy organization is taking out its first ads of the 2020 cycle looking to damage vulnerable Democrats in their districts, NBC News has learned.

America First Policies, the non-profit arm of the main Trump super-PAC America First Action, will spend more than $1 million to single out 28 lawmakers who the GOP-aligned group believes could face political peril amid the impeachment push. 

The 30-second spots, which echo President Donald Trump’s language and accuse House Democrats of launching a “witch hunt,” are set to appear on Facebook, via text message and on cable television.

A narrator asserts “the radical left will stop at nothing” over images of Rep. Adam Schiff, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of the so-called “Squad,” all of whom are favorite foils for the president.

The ads all start the same, but end with a focus on the particular representative in their home district, urging voters to call and tell their lawmakers to “end the witch hunt, oppose impeachment, put America first.” The appropriate phone number will flash on the screen as well. 

Notably, most of the House Democratic Caucus, which includes the two dozen in districts the president won in 2016, have called for some type of movement on impeachment, according to an NBC News tally.

“The impeachment charade must end, so we can pass better trade deals, strengthen our military, and improve our economy,” said Brian O. Walsh, president of America First Policies. “Congress needs to get back to work for the people they represent, and end these hyper-partisan investigations.”

The seven-figure campaign starts Monday and is expected to run for three weeks. The breakdown includes $283,000 for Facebook advertisements; $530,000 for texts that will urge voters to contact their representatives and $250,000 for the television portion. The broadcast ads will air in Iowa's First District, Virginia's Seventh District and Pennsylvania's Eighth District home to Democratic Reps. Abby Finkenauer, Abigail Spanberger, and Matt Cartwright. 

The organization recently conducted polling on the impeachment inquiry in key swing districts and says it found the majority of Americans “oppose impeachment, want Congress to focus on kitchen-table issues and approve of the President looking into 2016 election meddling.”

But a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey found 55 percent nationally favor the inquiry, versus 39 percent who believe there isn’t enough evidence to impeach Trump.

Vice President Mike Pence, a top surrogate on this issue, started campaigning against susceptible pro-impeachment Democrats across the country last week and will continue to do so throughout the month.

ICYMI: Stories you may have missed

WASHINGTON – Between impeachment and President Trump's decisions to remove troops from Kurdish territory in Syria and sending more troops to Saudi Arabia, some stories got lost in the shuffle. Here are some stories to keep an eye on from the week: 

A wind-fueled wildfire in the San Fernando Valley caused 13,000 homes to be under forced evacuation orders on Thursday. By Friday morning the fire ballooned from 60 to 4,700 acres and was still not under control. During the fires, Pacific Gas & Electric decided to cut the power to parts of Central and Northern California as part of fire-prevention even though the fires have not been said to be caused by power lines. 

Before taking part in trade talks with the Chinese government this week, the U.S. placed many Chinese surveillance companies on an "Entity List" which is the same restrictive list Huawei was placed on earlier this year. Officials said they made this decision because "these entities have been implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups." 

Federal judges in California and California blocked a Trump administration policy that would have made it easier for the government to deny legal status to immigrants who use or were deemed likely to need public assistance. The rule was set to go into effect next week. 

European Commission negotiators announced they would "intensify discussions" to try and come to an agreement for the U.K. to leave the European Union before a no-deal exit occurs. While the deadline is Oct. 31, British lawmakers passed a law that would force British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to seek an extension if a deal is not reached by next Saturday. 

Commission on Presidential Debates announces dates and venues for 2020

WASHINGTON — The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Friday its dates and venues of three general election presidential debates and one vice presidential debate. 

The first presidential debate will be held on Sept. 29, 2020 at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. That will be followed by the second debate on Oct. 15 at the University of Michigan, and the third on Oct. 22 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. 

The vice presidential debate will be held on Oct. 2 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. 

The Commission on Presidential Debates is a nonpartisan organization that has produced all general election debates since 1987. 

According to the CPD, in order to be participate in the debates, candidates "must appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to have a mathematical chance of winning a majority vote in the Electoral College, and have a level of support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations, using the average of those organizations’ most recently publicly-reported results at the time of the determination."

The CPD has not yet announced which polling organizations will be accepted, but the organization stated it will announce who will be participating in the first presidential debate after Labor Day in 2020. 

This will be the second time Belmont University has been selected to host a presidential debate, the first one coming in 2008. And 2020 marks the first time the commission has selected a school in either Utah or Indiana. 

How impeachment is playing in the top 2020 Senate races

WASHINGTON — As House Democrats continue their impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump and Republicans flock to his defense, senators facing re-election in competitive states are getting caught in the crossfire.

Here’s how the impeachment inquiry is playing out in next year’s top Senate races.

Alabama

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones has not said whether he supports impeachment, but says he supports “a fact-finding mission.”

“The allegation that the president withheld military aid in order to pressure Ukraine — even indirectly — to investigate a political opponent is a very serious matter. It’s critical to national security for the House and Senate to perform their constitutional oversight role and investigate,” Jones tweeted after the story first surfaced in late September.

Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) speaks during a news conference on healthcare on April 30, 2019 on Capitol Hill.Alex Wong / Getty Images file

Several of the Republicans jockeying to unseat Jones have blasted Democrats over the impeachment inquiry. Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., called out Jones directly for his hesitation to pick a side.

“I have a straightforward question for Alabama’s Democrat Senator Doug Jones: Do you support these impeachment proceedings? Every leader in our country should have to say whether they stand with President Trump and the American people or if they stand with the Socialist Squad,” Byrne said in a statement.

Arizona

Appointed Republican Sen. Martha McSally has come out strongly against the House’s inquiry, but said she is supportive of the Senate Intelligence Committee looking into the matter.

U.S. Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) speaks during a Senate Armed Subcommittee hearing on preventing sexual assault where she spoke about her experience of being sexually assaulted in the military on Capitol Hill on March 6, 2019. Earlier in the hearing, McSally said she had been raped by a superior officer and felt "horrified" by how her experiences were handled.Joshua Roberts / Reuters

“Unlike what we're seeing on the House side, before they even have any facts moving forward, and some of the concerns there, the Senate Intelligence Committee has shown itself to be pretty bipartisan and thoughtful in the way they address these issues," she said on Monday.

McSally’s likely Democratic challenger, Mark Kelly, said the allegations against Trump must be investigated, but he stopped short of supporting impeachment.

"We've got to work through the details," said Kelly, a former NASA astronaut, on ABC’s “The View.” "It's a process."

Colorado

Incumbent Republican Sen. Cory Gardner has yet to take a hard stance on impeachment, though he did put out a statement denouncing Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment inquiry to appease the far-left isn’t something the majority of Americans support and will sharply divide the country,” Gardner said.

This week, Gardner struggled to answer direct questions about whether putting pressure on a foreign leader would ever be appropriate. The video of his exchange with reporters was widely circulated on social media Thursday.

Meanwhile, Gardner’s Democratic challengers, including former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, say they support impeachment. Andrew Romanoff, former speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, slammed Gardner over his continued support of Trump.

“Look, @CoryGardner — this is all you have to fear if you stand up to your party, as you promised to do in 2014: a tweetstorm from your dear leader. That and maybe a primary,” Romanoff tweeted, referencing Trump’s tweets attacking Sen. Mitt Romney, one of the few Senate Republicans to publicly condemn the president’s actions.

Georgia

Incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue has defended Trump, saying his actions do not warrant impeachment.

"There is absolutely nothing in this phone call that rises to the level of that [impeachment]," Perdue told The Associated Press.

Several of the Democrats seeking to unseat Perdue, including defeated congressional candidate Jon Ossoff, have announced their support for impeachment.

“If Trump pressured a foreign power to smear his political opponent, dangling security assistance as leverage, he should be impeached,” Ossoff tweeted.

Kentucky

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would “have no choice” but to take up impeachment proceedings if the House voted to impeach Trump.

In a new campaign ad, the incumbent Republican doubled down on his defense of Trump by promising that under his leadership, impeachment is dead on arrival.

"Nancy Pelosi's in the clutches of a left-wing mob. They finally convinced her to impeach the president," McConnell said. "All of you know your Constitution. The way that impeachment stops is a Senate majority with me as majority leader.”

"But I need your help," he added. "Please contribute before the deadline."

Democrat Amy McGrath, who’s challenging McConnell in 2020, says she supports the impeachment inquiry and has called on the Republican senator to “do his job.”

“For the record, soliciting (or accepting) dirt on your political opponents from a foreign country is wrong, un-American, and illegal. Asking foreign countries to intervene in our elections is not okay. After 34 years in Washington, I would think @SenateMajLdr would know that,” McGrath tweeted.

McConnell’s campaign has fired back at McGrath, armed with comments she made earlier this year opposing impeachment.

“Yet another flip-flop makes it all the more clear that McGrath is a political opportunist who values the contributions from her California donors over the convictions of the people of Kentucky,” McConnell’s campaign manager Kevin Golden told the Lexington Herald Leader.

Maine

Incumbent Republican Sen. Susan Collins has declined to comment on the House’s impeachment inquiry, but says Trump made a “big mistake” by asking China to investigate the Bidens.

“The constitutional role of a senator during an impeachment trial includes serving as a juror,” Collins said in a statement. “As such, at this point, it is not appropriate for a senator to comment on the merits of the House inquiry or to prejudge its outcome.”

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks to journalists while walking to the Senate floor on Jan. 24, 2019.Melina Mara / The Washington Post/Getty Images file

Sara Gideon, a Democrat seeking to unseat Collins in 2020, has not explicitly endorsed impeachment but has criticized the Republican senator for putting Trump “ahead of Mainers.”

“I’m tired of hoping that Susan Collins does the right thing when she has shown time and time again that she puts Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell ahead of Mainers,” Gideon said in a tweet.

Michigan

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Gary Peters backed the House inquiry but has not said whether he would support Trump’s removal from office.

“Should this case come before the Senate, I will be a juror and reach my decision based on a careful and thorough evaluation of the facts,” he said in a statement.

Peters’ potential Republican challenger, John James, has stayed silent on impeachment.

North Carolina

Incumbent Republican Sen. Thom Tillis slammed Democrats over the impeachment inquiry.

“This is yet another pathetic attempt by Democrats to destroy President Trump with falsehoods to overturn the results of the 2016 election. It has not worked in the past, and it will not work now,” he tweeted.

Cal Cunningham, one of the top Democrats seeking to unseat Tillis in 2020, stopped short of calling for impeachment, but he needled the Republican senator over previous comments in which he said it was his duty to “preserve the separation of powers and to curb ... executive overreach.”

“It’s time for Sen. Tillis to honor his words and his duty,” the former state Senator said in a statement.

Buttigieg kicks off early state organizing push following big fundraising haul

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Mayor Pete Buttigieg is kicking off what they are billing as a “Boot Pledge Pledge” weekend of action Saturday, ramping up his ground game across the four early states in the presidential primary cycle where the campaign has announced dozens of new hires and a host of canvassing and organizing events.

On the heels of a fundraising quarter where the campaign raised $19.1 million dollars, one of the top hauls in the field, Buttigieg is putting that money to use by staffing up and organizing across Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

“We are incredibly grateful for the people that are investing in this campaign,” Jess O’Connell, senior adviser to the Buttigieg campaign, told NBC News. “I think when you look at the state of the race, as it is right now in these early states, there are only a handful of campaigns that are able to have the resources to have the type of organization that is required to reach as many voters as possible for caucusing and voting.”

Pete Buttigieg steps off on his campaign bus during a four day tour of Iowa on Sept. 23, 2019.Josh Lederman / NBC News

This early state push is a part of what the Buttigieg campaign is calling, “phase three.” Having introduced himself on the national stage, and secured large fundraising hauls that will allow him to stay in the race, the campaign is now focused on building out its organization on the ground to support the kind of "retail politics" that they hope will convince voters to commit to the small-town mayor. 

“More and more now there are the volunteers and the organizers on the ground by the dozens in our early states,” Buttigieg told reporters of his campaign organization in early states after an event in Ossipee, N.H. on August 25.

“And they're doing that work, forming relationships, getting the message out creatively getting in front of people who maybe don't find their way into my Twitter feed or don't tune in for a TV show I'm going to be on so that we can really expand the reach of this campaign. A lot of it happens outside of public view.”

O'Connell told NBC that with less than four months to go before voting begins, "this weekend of action is our opportunity to activate in the strongest way possible our volunteer networks, our high level of organizers.”

The campaign currently has nearly 100 staffers in Iowa and told NBC it will increase that number by about a third. It plans to mark the occasion by holding hundreds of canvasses at over 70 locations across the state this weekend, with more house meetings planned for later this month. 

In New Hampshire, the campaign now has 64 staffers on the ground and 12 field offices in the state. As part of their weekend of action the team is holding 37 events across all ten New Hampshire counties, where they are asking volunteers, grassroots organizers and community leaders to canvass throughout their neighborhoods and ask people to pledge their support to Buttigieg for the primary. The campaign also says there will be a volunteer summit in November, which will build on the weekend of action and growing organization.

 In Nevada, the campaign is hosting 17 canvassing events as a part of the weekend of action and organizing at several Las Vegas Pride events. In addition, they are opening their 7th Nevada office in West Las Vegas with Buttigieg’s husband Chasten Buttigieg this weekend, and are set to open 3 more offices ahead of the October 15th debate in the state.

And in South Carolina, the campaign team is holding 38 canvass kickoff events and set to make roughly 50,000 calls to voters throughout the weekend of action. They are also ramping up their staff numbers from the 33 already on the ground.  They currently have two field offices in the state and are planning to open two more in Charleston and Greenville ahead of the debate next week.

“This is going to be ongoing,” O’Connell said of the on-the-ground organizing emphasis. “And we've been doing this work, but I think this is one of the largest pushes.”

Booker plan to end sports 'exploitation' includes payments for college athletes

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., rolled out a plan Thursday as part of his presidential campaign that includes proposals to compensate college athletes for the use of their "name, image or likeness," and seek equal pay for women's sports, including the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team. 

“The systemic problems in sports are issues of economic justice and fairness,” Booker, who played Division I football at Stanford University, said in the campaign release.

“For too long, we have allowed exploitative practices in professional and college sports to fester — somehow treating sports as different from our broader economy. But sports at these levels is a multi-billion dollar business,” he said. “Just as we shouldn’t accept collusion, wage theft, and a massive gender pay gap in any other industry, we shouldn’t accept them in sports. When I’m president, I will work to end these injustices.”

The plan is the first of its kind from a 2020 presidential candidate. 

Booker’s plan comes in the wake of California Gov. Gavin Newsom signing legislation to allow student athletes to profit from endorsement deals and hire agents. Booker would push for a federal version of California’s bill and establish a U.S. Commission on Integrity in Sports. 

Highlights from Booker’s plan include:

  • Establish the U.S. Commission on Integrity in Sports to oversee college athletics, Olympic committees, and other national governing bodies.
  • Allow college athletes to be compensated for their “name, image, or likeness rights” by building on California’s recently passed bill and the Student-Athlete Equity act proposed in Congress.
  • Implement “aggressive, evidence-based, and enforceable standards governing the health, safety and wellness of NCAA athletes.”
  • Improve educational outcomes and graduation rates for NCAA athletes through strengthened Department of Education oversight.
  • Strengthen Title IX to improve gender equity in college sports and sign the Athletics Fair Pay Act into law to close the pay gap in professional women’s sports.
  • Require all college universities to help both current and former NCAA athletes pay sports injury-related medical bills.  

Booker’s plan targets issues within several professional sports leagues -- the U.S. women’s soccer pay gap, poor pay and working conditions for minor league baseball player, exploitative labor policies for NFL cheerleaders and NBA dancers, and anti-competitive NFL practices that led to the case of Colin Kaepernick.

Buttigieg releases plan for 'A New Era for LGBTQ+ Americans'

DES MOINES, Iowa — Ahead of his appearance at the “Power Our Pride” LGBTQ Town Hall Thursday, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is out with a new, wide-ranging policy aimed at empowering and uplifting the LGBTQ+ community. 

In the plan Buttigieg speaks to the “urgency of an unfinished promise of full equality under the law” — something he hopes to achieve by focusing on equality in all spheres of life. 

Drawing from his already proposed Douglass and Guns and Hate Action plans, Buttigieg will “vigorously enforce” hate crimes protection laws by training law enforcement specifically surrounding issues in the LGBTQ+ community, like domestic violence and hate crimes against transgender individuals, especially black trans women. 

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during the 2019 Presidential Galivants Ferry Stump Meeting in Galivants Ferry, S.C. on Sept. 16, 2019.Randall Hill / Reuters

Buttigieg says passing such legislation will be a “top priority” for his administration. His plan also calls for an examination of what it calls unconstitutional religious exemption policies at the federal level with a promise to “refocus, reassign, or remove” offices that he says were put in place to discriminate, specifically citing offices at the Department of Health and Human Services specifically.

The plan, titled, “Becoming Whole: A New Era for LGBTQ+ Americans,” also includes a robust section aimed at addressing disparities in healthcare. The candidate vows to enact policies that will cover gender-affirming care and train clinicians to better understand the health needs of the LGTBQ+ community. For example, he intends to end the ban on blood donation from gay and bisexual men opting for a more science-based approach to determine blood donor deferral guidelines that prevent HIV transmission.

The mayor hopes to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030 by funding research and reestablishing the White House Office of National AIDS Policy. Buttigieg would also ensure universal access to anti-HIV medication, PrEP and decriminalize the transmission of HIV.

The policy also calls on Congress to pass the LGBTQ+ Suicide Prevention Act, which would dedicate a task force to address risk factors that often increase rates of suicide among the community, including stigma, homelessness and bullying. In addition, Buttigieg plans to launch a public health campaign to encourage family acceptance and end discrimination against adoptive or foster parents and children based on sexual orientation or gender identity. While also putting an end to, “conversion therapy” nationwide.

Buttigieg will expand on existing programs from the Obama administration to encourage leaders in both private and public sectors to mentor LGBTQ+ youth, while increasing funding for community centers, workforce training and apprenticeship programs. 

The Buttigieg administration would immediately repeal the transgender military ban, while issuing honorable discharges to those forced to leave the service due to identifying as transgender and restoring deserved benefits. 

On the global stage, the presidential hopeful plans to strengthen protections of LGBTQ+ immigrants and refugees in the U.S. & lead against persecution internationally.