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Meet the Press Blog Archive

Catch up with Meet the Press blog posts from past years leading up to May 17, 2022
Image: Illustration of photos depicting voters on line, voting booths, the Capitol, the White House and raised hands.
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

Look back at our archive of previous Meet the Press blog posts.

For the latest posts from the journalists at NBC News and the NBC News Political Unit, click here.

1147d ago / 8:46 PM UTC

Andrew Yang criss-crosses Iowa in bus tour

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA — Businessman Andrew Yang embarked on a five-day bus tour across Iowa on Tuesday. The tour, billed "A New Way Forward" started in Des Moines and will travel through Grinnell, Davenport, Cedar Rapids, Ames, Waverly, Cedar Falls, Waterloo, Dubuque and Iowa City.

While on the bus tour, Yang will visit some of his new field offices in Grinnell and Dubuque, and attend events like “Bowling with Andrew Yang” in Davenport and playing basketball against IA-4 congressional candidate J.D. Scholten.

Yang is following the footsteps of other Democratic presidential contenders who went on bus tours to strengthen their foothold in Iowa like South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden. California Sen. Kamala Harris also completed a bus tour of Iowa before suspending her presidential campaign

Yang told reporters that he hopes this bus tour will allow him to not only meet Iowans but to have Iowans meet him and get to know him better.

“What I hope they learn from me is that I'm not a career politician so much as I am a citizen,” Yang said. “I'm a parent and a patriot who decided that we need to have a different approach to solving these problems and that the feedback mechanism between the people of Iowa and Washington, D.C. is broken.”

Yang kicked off the tour in Des Moines in front of the state capitol building in sub-freezing temperatures. Yang campaign staffers set up gas-powered heat lamps and handed out hand warmers to keep Yang supporters warm.

“This is the sort of passion and humanity that no amount of money can buy and there will be a couple other candidates who tried,” Yang said to the crowd. “But if you have money on one side and people on the other, I think people win every day of the week.”

Image: Democratic Presidential hopeful Andrew US entrepreneur Andrew Yang speaks on-stage during the Democratic National Committee's summer meeting in San Francisco
Democratic Presidential hopeful Andrew US entrepreneur Andrew Yang speaks on-stage during the Democratic National Committee's summer meeting in San Francisco on Aug. 23, 2019.Josh Edelson / AFP/Getty Images file

On Tuesday, Yang appeared to qualify for the next Democratic primary debate on Dec. 19. As of now, Yang is the only person of color to qualify for the stage. Yang said he was proud, but not stressed, of being the only racial minority on stage.  

“I don't feel undue discomfort, because I've been the lone person of color in any number of settings throughout my life and career, as is probably the case for many people of color who’ve been in certain environments,” Yang said. “So I'm proud, but I certainly don't feel any undue pressure.”

“And I think people will understand that I'm speaking from my own perspective,” Yang added. “I can't speak for every community of color. In a way, acknowledging that might be like one of the bigger responsibilities I might have.”

Yang's wife, Evelyn, will join him throughout the bus tour and his family will be hosting an event billed “An Honest Conversation About Autism” in Iowa city on Saturday. One of Yang’s sons is autistic.

Over the course of five days, Yang is hosting 14 events. When asked if campaigning has been taking a toll on him, Yang said that campaigning can be very difficult on both him and his family.

“It's been very hard on the family, and it's been hard on me personally,” Yang said. “My son, even for this trip he said to me, how long are you going away? And when I told him he was very sad and I hugged him.”

“And I told him a little while ago, daddy has a very big deadline," Yang added. “I told him the deadline is February 3rd, when voting starts here in Iowa.”

1147d ago / 5:52 PM UTC

Joe Biden releases two immigration-focused plans

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LAS VEGAS — Former Vice President Joe Biden released two new immigration-focused policy plans on Wednesday —  the first highlighting and building upon the work he did in former President Barack Obama's administration to help curb migration from Central America, and the second proposing immediate ways to undo President Donald Trump’s policies.

Biden’s two plans come after the campaign has tried to increase its outreach to Hispanic communities in recent weeks, like launching "Todos Con Biden." However, the campaign has had to overcome activists protesting his role in standing alongside Obama-era policy to deport 3 million undocumented immigrants and pitching more moderate immigration policies than some of his opponents.

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event in Nashua, N.H., on  Dec. 8, 2019.
Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event in Nashua, N.H., on Dec. 8, 2019.Cheryl Senter / AP

The two plans include a first 100 days component in which Biden will undo what senior campaign advisers describe as “horrific” and “cruel and senseless” policies enacted by President Trump like the separation of parents and children at the border. He would also end for-profit detention centers.

The immigration plan promises to reform the asylum system, surge humanitarian resources to the border, end Trump’s Muslim ban and review Temporary Protected Status for those who have fled a violent country. It would also end the Trump-declared “national emergency” being used to redirect federal dollars to build the border wall. 

Biden also pledges to reinstate the DACA program, which would immediately protect and expand opportunities for DREAMers — or adults who migrated to the U.S. as young children. He will also search for “all legal options” to protect their parents, a move activists have previously blamed him and Obama for initially causing family separation. Last week on the campaign trail, Biden said he would look to revive the DAPA program even though it was struck down by the court.

However, it would require legislation to pave a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people living in the United States.

After the first 100 days, a Biden administration would spend his first year in office trying to tackle “four pillars”: legislative immigration reform, strengthen communities, steps to secure the border in a sensible manner and focus on the causes of migration in Central America. 

Notably, Biden's plan breaks with some of his Democratic opponents who have called for restructuring if not abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Biden instead calls for increased training and oversight of ICE and Customs and Border Protection.  

Biden often touts his ability to curb the swell of immigration from Central America after striking a deal between El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, also known as the Northern Triangle, by providing economic resources to strengthen their judicial systems and combat violence.

His new plan would redirect spending from the Department of Human Services budget, currently used on detaining asylum seekers, and commit $4 billion over four years on a Central American regional strategy.

1148d ago / 9:20 PM UTC

Andrew Yang meets polling threshold for December debate in new poll

WASHINGTON – Businessman Andrew Yang appears to have qualified to participate in the December Democratic debate after reaching 4 percent support in a newly-released Quinnipiac University national poll

His campaign says it has already met the threshold for fundraising for unique donors also necessary for the DNC's criteria for participation in the debate. The final slate of participants won't be official until the Democratic National Committee certifies who has qualified. 

Image: Andrew Yang
Democratic presidential candidate businessman Andrew Yang speaks during a fundraiser for the Nevada Democratic Party on Nov. 17, 2019, in Las Vegas.John Locher / AP file

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is still waiting for one more poll to put her on the debate stage, but only garnered 2 percent in the Quinnipiac poll. 

Gabbard tweeted on Monday that she wouldn’t participate in the December debate regardless of whether she qualifies. 

To participate in the Dec. 19 debate, candidates need to raise money from at least 200,000 unique donors and either hit 4 percent in four national sanctioned polls, or 6 percent in two early-state sanctioned polls. Candidates have until Dec. 12 to reach these thresholds.

As of now six candidates have met the donation and polling thresholds in addition to Yang: former Vice President Joe Biden, Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and California businessman and philanthropist Tom Steyer. 

In the new Quinnipiac poll, Biden and Sanders both increased their support since Quinnipiac’s last national poll in November. Biden sits at 29 percent support at the front of the pack, with Sanders in second place at 17 percent. Warren stayed within a similar range, polling at 15 percent – she was at 14 percent in November’s poll. Buttigieg, however, suffered a steep drop. In November the mayor polled at 16 percent, while now he is at 9 percent support. 

1148d ago / 8:07 PM UTC

In Pennsylvania, Trump supporters fired up ahead of campaign rally

HERSHEY, Penn. — Ahead of President Donald Trump's rally Tuesday night, supporters weigh in on the latest impeachment news:

1148d ago / 7:03 PM UTC

Top 2020 candidates release housing affordability plans

WASHINGTON — Health care, income inequality and defeating President Donald Trump have dominated the 2020 Democratic primary. But affordable housing has also become a top issue for the campaigns and the top-polling candidates have all addressed the issue on the campaign trail and the debate stage.

Here’s what some of the major Democratic candidates have proposed on affordable housing — including increasing home ownership in African-American and Latino communities.  

Image: US-POLITICS-VOTE-2020-DEMOCRATS-DEBATE
Democratic presidential hopefuls participate in the fifth Democratic primary debate co-hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta on Nov. 20, 2019.Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images

The centerpiece of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s, D-Mass., plan is her American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, which she initially introduced last year. It proposes building more than 3 million new housing units for low- to middle-income families, providing assistance to “people hurt by federal housing policy failures through two targeted new programs,” and strengthening existing anti-discrimination laws. The plan also incorporates a strategy to combat rising rent prices.  

Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders’ plan is arguably the most ambitious. It calls for creating a protection bureau for housing — the National Fair Housing Agency — as well as investing $32 billion over the next five years to help end homelessness. A majority of that money will go to increasing homelessness assistance grants and providing funding to states and localities for homeless management and social services.  

“He sees housing as a human right,” Josh Orton, Sanders’ national policy director and senior adviser, said. 

South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg hasn't released his housing plan yet, but his strategy centers on the Community Homestead Act, which is meant to revitalize abandoned properties and convert them into homes for eligible candidates.

Buttigieg’s national press secretary, Chris Meagher, told NBC News that Buttigieg’s plan will focus on “making housing more affordable in general” and that this issue is definitely a “kitchen table topic.”  

This past June at an event for Black Economic Alliance Forum, Buttigieg said, “Let's face the fact that segregation of our neighborhoods didn't just happen. As a matter of fact there are neighborhoods that were integrated 100 years ago that became segregated in the middle of the last century because of federal government policy.”   

Current Democratic frontrunner former Vice President Joe Biden has yet to issue a comprehensive affordable housing plan. But his campaign says one will be released in the coming weeks.  

Statistics back the need for this issue to be a focus of the 2020 race. Homeownership has decline and there's a wide homeownership disparity among racial groups. And benefits often exclude low-income households and renters. 

But experts aren’t optimistic that a change in administration will improve the affordable housing crisis. 

“For a candidate to pretend they’re going to [change] is disingenuous,” says Richard Rothstein, author of The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America.  

Rothstein told NBC News that affordable housing solutions have long been touted around Capitol Hill but none have been implemented. He doubts a new president will take actionable steps. 

1148d ago / 4:01 PM UTC

December Democratic debate stage remains static with new poll

WASHINGTON — Businessman Andrew Yang and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard have still not qualified for the December Democratic presidential debate after a new poll released just days before the qualifying deadline found them short of the debate's polling threshold.

Yang polled at 3 percent with Democratic voters and leaners in Monmouth University's new national poll, while Gabbard finished with less than 1 percent. Both candidates need one more poll of at least 4 percent in order to qualify for next week's contest.

To qualify for the Dec. 19 debate in California, candidates need to have raised money from at least 200,000 unique donors (and meet state-by-state requirements) as well as hit a polling threshold of either 4 percent in four sanctioned polls or 6 percent in two sanctioned, early-state polls. 

Yang and Gabbard both say they've hit that donor threshold — which will be independently verified by the Democratic National Committee before they officially set the field. But both candidates are short one poll, and they have until Dec. 12 at 11:59 p.m. to qualify. 

Gabbard has already signaled she won't participate in the debate whether she ends up qualifying or not. 

The new Monmouth poll keeps the roster of likely debate participants static, and while billionaire Michael Bloomberg hit the threshold with 5 percent, he's not soliciting individual donations. That makes it impossible for him to participate in any debate unless the Democratic National Committee removes the unique-donor threshold for a future debate. 

In that poll, former Vice President Joe Biden leads the field with 26 percent, followed by Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders at 21 percent, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 17 percent and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 8 percent. 

1149d ago / 10:32 PM UTC

Buttigieg campaign opens fundraisers to reporters, will release names of McKinsey clients

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Pete Buttigieg’s campaign announced Monday that it will now open its fundraisers to the press and release a list of his campaign bundlers. A short while later, McKinsey and Company said in a statement to NBC News that it will allow the South Bend, Indiana, mayor to release the names of his clients from his time working at the worldwide consulting firm.

Image: Pete Buttigieg
Pete Buttigieg holds a town hall event in Creston, Iowa, on Nov. 25, 2019.Scott Morgan / Reuters file

The announcements came after days of heightened scrutiny over Buttigieg’s closed door fundraisers and a nondisclosure agreement that has prevented him from naming which clients he worked for while at McKinsey from 2007-2010. 

In a statement, campaign manager Mike Schmuhl wrote, “In a continued commitment to transparency, we are announcing today that our campaign will open fundraisers to reporters, and will release the names of people raising money for our campaign.”

Shortly after that, McKinsey and Co. responded to an NBC News request stating that the firm would allow Buttigieg to disclose who his clients were during his time at the firm. Buttigieg has been publicly calling on the company to release him from the NDA over the last several days. 

A spokesman for the firm wrote in a statement, “After receiving permission from the relevant clients, we have informed Mayor Buttigieg that he may disclose the identity of the clients he served while at McKinsey from 2007 to 2010.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Buttigieg have spent the past few days jostling over the transparency of each other’s campaigns. Buttigieg has called on Warren to release tax returns from her time in the private sector and Warren challenged Buttigieg to open his fundraisers and disclose his McKinsey clients. 

Sunday night, the Warren campaign released a case-by-case breakdown of how the senator was paid for her past legal work. 

Schmuhl says Buttigieg’s fundraiser will be open to the press starting Wednesday and a list of the people who fundraise on his behalf will be released within the week. As for the list of his McKinsey clients, Buttigieg’s senior communications adviser Lis Smith tweeted that the campaign will “be releasing the list soon.”

1149d ago / 5:08 PM UTC

Bloomberg is spending big on Facebook ads too

WASHINGTON — There's been a whole lot of coverage of billionaire Michael Bloomberg's massive television spending (almost $59 million so far) for his presidential campaign. 

But he's also outpacing the field on Facebook too. 

From Nov. 24 through Dec. 5, Bloomberg's campaign has spent $1.97 million on Facebook, according to the platform's ad tracking website

That's more than fellow billionaire Tom Steyer, who's spent $1.3 million over that same period; Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who's spent about $400,000; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who's spent $382,000; and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who's spent $176,000.

President Trump's campaign has spent $667,000 over that period. 

Recent Bloomberg ads include a big push promoting open field organizer jobs, pushing short biographical spots, touting his commitment to climate change, and re-upping clips of his initial campaign ads. 

1150d ago / 1:09 AM UTC

Elizabeth Warren releases detailed breakdown of income from legal work

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CHARLESTON, S.C. — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., released a case-by-case breakdown of how much she was paid for her past legal work Sunday night, totaling just under $2 million over more than 30 years and capping off a days-long back-and-forth over transparency with 2020 rival, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Image: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren holds a town hall event in West Des Moines
Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren holds a town hall event in West Des Moines, Iowa on Nov. 25, 2019.Scott Morgan / Reuters file

The Warren campaign broke down the fifty-plus cases by Warren’s role on them, with her ranging from acting as counsel, to working as a mediator. Many of the cases for which she wrote amicus briefs, for instance, were done pro bono.

You can read the full breakdown here.

While the Buttigieg team has been calling on Warren to release her tax returns for this period of time but Warren’s campaign countered Sunday that tax returns wouldn’t get to the income question that Buttigieg’s camp is seeking — those returns don’t itemize the sources of income, for instance. Warren’s team adds that about half of this information was available in public records, but they worked to include more beyond that. Most cases are accounted for in here.

“Any candidate who refuses to provide basic details about his or her own record and refuses to allow voters or the press to understand who is buying access to their time and what they are getting in return will be seen by voters as part of the same business-as-usual politics that voters have consistently rejected,” Warren Communications Director Kristen Orthman said in a statement.

1151d ago / 9:55 PM UTC

Biden's campaign touts success of 'No Malarkey' Iowa bus tour

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Joe Biden's campaign is touting its successes from the former vice president's “No Malarkey” bus tour through Iowa, saying it helped to solidify support in this key early state where he has seen his poll numbers slip in recent months.

In a congratulatory email obtained by NBC News, Deputy Campaign Manager Pete Kavanaugh told staff that Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden met with more than 3,300 caucus-goers over 19 stops throughout the state. Biden held several meet and greets with voters on the week-long trip, a recently new campaign strategy they believe leverages his strength in one-on-one interactions with voters.

 

Image: Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Continues "No Malarkey" Bus Tour Through Iowa
Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign stop in Emmetsburg, Iowa on Nov 26, 2019.Scott Olson / Getty Images

“In a state that prizes — and rewards — the personal interactions that come with retail politics, there’s simply no one better at it than Joe Biden and this week we saw why,” Kavanaugh writes.

Looking beyond the campaign trail, the campaign also noted that their digital video showing world leaders laughing at President Donald Trump during the NATO meeting became the campaign’s most watched social media video with 12 million views across platforms.

Citing growing enthusiasm, Kavanaugh adds that the campaign is confident that Biden is “uniquely positioned to compete — and meet the delegate thresholds — in all 1,678 precincts across the state."

Iowans NBC News spoke with over the past week were genuinely pleased to see Biden visit mid-sized and rural towns throughout the state that he had not previously visited. However, it’s remains unclear if Biden’s visit will help convince Iowans to support him over the current frontrunner in the Hawkeye State, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Kathleen Delate, an agriculture professor at Iowa State University thanked Biden for making the trip to Ames, Iowa, but suggested that his arrival could be a little too late now that Buttigieg is the “shiny new thing” drawing attention because he has stumped in Iowa more often than Biden.

Biden denied her premise that he has not spent much time in Iowa, saying that he has already traveled over 10,000 miles throughout his 15trips in the state. He said he’ll make up for lost time for jumping into the race later than most candidates, emphasizing his deep belief that winning the state is a recognition of “democracy beginning in Iowa.”

Kavanaugh told staff that there’s still a lot of ground to cover in Iowa, predicting that the race will come down to the final days leading to the February 3rd caucuses.

“There are 58 short days until February 3rd, and a lot of work to do. Let’s go win this thing."

1152d ago / 10:51 PM UTC

Bennet doubles down on pitch for moderates in New Hampshire

CONCORD, N.H. — A new strategy memo from Sen. Michael Bennet’s, D-Colo., presidential campaign to supporters and donors spells out how his campaign will place a greater emphasis on New Hampshire leading up to the primary in February where the race remains fluid and independent or unaffiliated voters make up the biggest part of the electorate.

The memo, exclusively obtained by NBC News, highlights Bennet’s push for a moderate message in a field crowded with progressive proposals.

“The ideological candidates will likely wash out — as they historically tend to do — when voters truly consider which candidate can realistically win in a general election,” the memo says.

Image: Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) speaks during the Democratic presidential debate in Miami on Thursday night, June 27, 2019.
Sen. Michael Bennet speaks during the Democratic presidential debate in Miami on June 27, 2019.Doug Mills / The New York Times via Redux Pictures

“Voters continue to struggle to find a standard-bearer who inspires confidence in their ability to win against Trump and lead the country forward,” the memo adds. “Will the always-sensible voters of Iowa and New Hampshire, with electability front of mind, nominate an electorally untested small town mayor; a senator from a coastal blue state who puts ideology over progress; or a past generation of leadership?”

“I don't think the democrats are going to beat Donald Trump with a bunch of empty promises of free stuff,” Bennet told NBC News after an event in Concord, NH earlier today, singling out Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. as fitting into that criticism.  

Despite currently polling in low single digits in the state, Bennet insists that his positions and what he presents as a candidate will ultimately impress New Hampshire voters. Earlier today, Bennet launched a digital ad to announce that he would be holding 50 New Hampshire town halls in the 10 weeks leading up to the primary as he kicked off a five-day swing in the state — an ambitious schedule that could be modified if Bennet has to attend impeachment hearings in January, his campaign said.

Multiple noteworthy New Hampshire political figures told NBC News that they like Bennet, and his more moderate positions compared to some of the other Democratic candidates, but aren’t quite willing or able to throw their support behind him due to skepticism of his ability to beat out the current four-way split of frontrunners in the state.

“We, of course, recognize our current standing in the race,” the memo adds, “though we are within the margin of error of many candidates who are better known — and, in recent weeks, polls have shown us tied or ahead of half the candidates who were on the recent debate stage. “

“I think there's a lot of skepticism among people in New Hampshire about whether or not the four front runners could actually beat Donald Trump,” Bennet said. “And that's good for me because I think I can beat Donald Trump."

Bennet is not the only candidate looking at New Hampshire as an opportunity to break through. In recent weeks, businessman Andrew Yang has expanded his New Hampshire operation to 30 staffers and eight offices in the state, a 9th opening later this month. Similarly, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is in the midst of a two-week swing through the Granite State, even renting houses to accommodate her and her team during the trip. 

“Iowa remains important to our effort,” the memo said. “We believe our support in Iowa will shift significantly only after Bennet’s position is elevated nationally, so we are focusing our resources accordingly.”

The memo details tangibly how Bennet plans to woo Granite States leading up to voting day, by undertaking aggressive digital and mail programs that target “soft Democrats and undeclared voters” who participate in Democratic primaries to invite them to town halls and further introduce them to Bennet as a candidate.

“My objective is to make sure that I've stayed here until people in New Hampshire started making up their minds and I think that's only beginning right now in New Hampshire,” Bennet said. “I'm just going to keep pounding the truth into this campaign. That's what we have to do.”          

1152d ago / 3:51 PM UTC

Independent Alaska Senate candidate looks to beat the odds

WASHINGTON — Al Gross is a political neophyte. By trade, he’s a fisherman and orthopedic surgeon who says he once killed a grizzly bear that was sneaking up on him.

Now, he’s trying to take down even bigger game, looking to oust Alaska incumbent Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan in 2020, and doing so as an independent. If Gross succeeds, he'll be the fourth senator to be first elected as an independent.  

Image: Dr. Al Gross is running for Senate in Alaska.
Dr. Al Gross is running for Senate in Alaska.Dr. Al Gross for U.S. Senate

Since 1913, only 17 senators served while not a member of one of the two major parties. Of those, only 8 were technically "independents." The others have served as members of minor parties — Progressive, Farmer-Labor and Conservative — or have loosely aligned with a major party, styling themselves "Independent Democrats". For example, Washington's Miles Poindexter and Wisconsin’s Robert La Follette, Jr. they both left the both left the Republican Party to joined the more liberal splinter group, the progressives. Eventually both men rejoined the Republican Party.  

Most U.S. senators who have been elected and served as independents were first elected within the two-party structure, but later left their parties over ideological disagreements. 

Take Nebraska’s George Norrisand Oregon’s Wayne Morse. They were both elected as Republicans but were far more left-leaning than their colleagues. Norris served five terms as a Republican in the House and then another four terms as a Republican in the Senate. But he supported President Franklin Delano Rooselvelt's New Deal and won his final term in 1936 as an independent. 

Morse, elected in 1944, often clashed with his party on labor issues and disaffiliated in 1952. For two years he served as an independent but was left without a side in the Senate to sit on, so he once put a folding chair in the chamber's center aisle. In 1955 he became a Democrat and served for another two terms.

Perhaps the most notable recent example of a consequential Senate independent was Vermont Republican Jim Jeffords. After two terms in the Senate, he broke with Republicans in 2001 over the party's lack of support for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. When he chose to be an independent who caucused with Democrats, he gave the Democrats a 51-49 majority in the chamber.

If Gross succeeds in his independent bid, he'll join the ranks of South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Maine Sen. Angus King who all won their first senate election as independents. However, Thurmond, a well-known segregationist who had previously ran for president as an independent, won his first senate campaign by waging a write-in campaign in protest of Democratic state officials who didn't hold a primary in a special election. He promised to caucus with Democrats if elected. He later served as both a Democrat and then a Republican. 

Gross' trajectory could mirror Sanders' in his first Senate win in 2006. Sanders won but declined the Democratic nomination, so he only had to run against the Republican candidate. Gross has already won the endorsement of the Alaska Democratic Party and the national Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

While Gross out-raised Sullivan in the last quarter, he faces an uphill climb in the conservative state. But, if another independent senator can join the Senate's ranks, Alaska may be the place to do it. The state has an unusually high tolerance for unorthodox political arrangements. Alaskans elected an independent governor in 2014, and the state’s lower house is currently controlled by a bipartisan coalition and an independent speaker.

In 2010 the state was the site of only the third successful write-in Senate campaign in history, when Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski eked out a victory in the three-person general election with less than 40 percent of the vote. Six years later, she won another term with under 45 percent in an election that saw four candidates with double-digit vote counts.

If there’s anywhere Al Gross can make history, it might just be there.

1152d ago / 1:59 PM UTC

Warren releases health records from yearly physical

PETERBOROUGH, N.H. — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., released the results of her latest yearly physical Friday, along with a letter from her longtime doctor stating that the Massachusetts senator is in “excellent health” and “there are no medical conditions or health problems that would keep her from fulfilling the duties of the President of the United States.”

In addition to the letter from Dr. Beverly Woo, Warren’s campaign released results of blood work and routine lab tests. Dr. Woo points out that the 70 year-old's only medical condition is hypothyroidism, common in millions of Americans. The results are from Warren’s latest physical — done earlier this year, in January.

Image: Elizabeth Warren Files For NH Primary, Holds Town Hall
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks to her supporters after officially filing to be on the ballot for the New Hampshire state primary at the State House on Nov. 13, 2019 in Concord, N.H.Sarah Rice / Getty Images

While Warren’s clean bill of health may help reassure voters about her transparency and physical condition, it’s also likely to re-ignite calls for her fellow septuagenarian contenders to release their own health-related materials.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, 77, has promised to release his medical records to the public “before there’s a first vote.” Asked back in September about concerns of his acuity, Biden replied: “What the hell concerns?” before asking the reporter who made the inquiry if he wanted to wrestle.

“I mean there’s no reason for me not to release my medical records,” Biden said at the time.

Senator Bernie Sanders, 78, suffered a heart attack in October and has similarly promised to release his medical records at some point. “I want to make it comprehensive,” he told the Associated Press in late October. “The answer is I will, probably by the end of the year.” Sanders’ campaign manager later specified that the Independent Vermont senator would release his medical records by the end of December.

During his 2016 bid, Sanders did release a letter from his doctor that deemed him “in overall very good health.”

1153d ago / 9:12 PM UTC

Cory Booker pushes need for diverse coalition in 2020 race

DES MOINES, IA — Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., warned Democrats in a speech Thursday that the struggles of minority candidates are "a problem" that could hurt the party's ability to engage the voters it needs to defeat President Trump in 2020. 

Praising California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris, who dropped out of the presidential primary this week, Booker argued that the issue goes deeper than just one candidate. 

“It is a problem that we now have an overall campaign for the 2020 presidency that has more billionaires in it than black people,” Booker said during one of his first more formal speeches Des Moines Thursday morning.

“This is not about one candidate. It is about the diverse coalition that is necessary to beat Donald Trump."

“That is the story of how we beat bullies and bigots and demagogues and the powerful, the so-called powerful in every generation. It's the story of America," he added. 

The audience cheered on Booker as he echoed a famous Martin Luther King Jr. quote, modernizing the context to his typical message of unity. 

“We're all in this together; injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Booker said. “In America, there is not a black destiny or a white destiny or rural destiny and a suburban destiny, there is one American destiny.”

While Harris had qualified for this month's debate, her departure means that the six candidates who have already qualified are all white. 

Booker is the top-polling black candidate in the race right now — Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick recently entered the race, but has so far gained little traction — but he's still on the outside looking into the December debate. He's hit the party's donor threshold, but still needs to hit 4 percent in four qualifying polls or 6 percent in two qualifying early-state polls.

Businessman Andrew Yang and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard are each one poll away from qualifying, while the rest of the field has a long way to go.  

During a conversation with reporters after the event, Booker expressed that a successful candidate needs to engage African American, Latinx, and Asian American voters. 

“We need to make sure that we have a person that can inspire a coalition,” he said, “where everybody feels energized and excited. And if you can’t do that, please get out of this race.”

And he expressed frustration with polling, noting that he’s often just one percentage point from reaching qualifying polls for the debate stage (which equates to just a handful of people) and expressed that the success of a campaign shouldn’t be based on “a 400 person sample size and three people,” but that the national press should be looking at his energy on the ground in Iowa.

1153d ago / 5:11 PM UTC

John Kerry endorses Joe Biden's presidential bid

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WASHINGTON — Former Secretary of State and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry is throwing his support behind former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential bid.

Kerry praised Biden in a statement released by the Biden campaign on Thursday, where he said "there’s never been a time more urgent for leadership at home."

“I believe Joe Biden is the President our country desperately needs right now, not because I’ve known Joe so long, but because I know Joe so well. I’ve never before seen the world more in need of someone who on day one can begin the incredibly hard work of putting back together the world Donald Trump has smashed apart," he wrote. 

Image: Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a town hall in South Carolina on Nov. 21, 2019.
Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a town hall in South Carolina on Nov. 21, 2019.Sean Rayford / Getty Images file

"Joe is uniquely the person running for president who can beat Donald Trump and get to work on day one at home and in the world with no time to waste."

Kerry will campaign with Biden on Friday in Iowa and then travel with the former vice president to New Hampshire on Sunday. 

The endorsement comes as Biden has amplified his qualifications to be commander-in-chief given his extensive experience in foreign policy. On Wednesday, his campaign released a video hitting President Trump on foreign policy and arguing "the world is laughing at President Trump." 

Kerry has a long history with Biden — both not only served together in the Obama administration, but in the Senate, both on the Foreign Relations Committee. When Biden left the Senate to join the White House, Kerry succeeded him as the chairman of that committee.

With his deep relationships on Capitol Hill, Biden is outpacing his Democratic peers in endorsements from sitting lawmakers too. He's backed by 22 congressional representatives, five senators and three sitting governors — more of each category, and more endorsements in total, than any other candidate in the race. 

1153d ago / 4:03 PM UTC

Buttigieg is up in the polls, but lagging in endorsements

WASHINGTON — While South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg has won a few notable endorsements in recent days (from progressive veterans group Vote Vets and a few former Obama administration officials), he’s so far struggled to gain support from prominent members of his party.

Buttigieg has picked up endorsements from just three House Democrats, and no U.S. senators or governors have publicly said they stand behind him. For months, Virginia Rep. Don Beyer was Buttigieg’s lone congressional endorsement – until last week, when Indiana Rep. Peter Visclosky and New York Rep. Kathleen Rice backed the mayor for the Democratic nomination.

Image: US-POLITICS-VOTE-IOWA-BUTTIGIEG
Democratic Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg speaks in Fairfield, Iowa on Aug. 15, 2019.Alex Edelman / AFP - Getty Images

After surging in Iowa and New Hampshire polls, Buttigieg is now among the top four contenders in the crowded primary race, but his fellow frontrunners have continually outpaced him in endorsements.

Former Vice President Joe Biden leads the field, with 30 total endorsements from House members, senators and governors, according to NBC News’ tally of FiveThirtyEight’s endorsement tracker. Meanwhile, the other members of the Top 4 – Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders – clock in at 12 and six major endorsements, respectively.

Before she dropped out of the race Tuesday, California Sen. Kamala Harris had racked up 19 major endorsements, putting her in second place. With 13 endorsements, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker actually leads both Warren and Sanders.

The only candidates who made the board but have fewer congressional endorsements than Buttigieg are former U.S. Housing Secretary Julian Castro and former Maryland Rep. John Delaney – with two apiece.

Here’s how Buttigieg’s endorsements stack up against those of his competitors:

Pete Buttigieg

3 Representatives

0 Senators

0 Governors

 

Joe Biden

22 Representatives

5 Senators

3 Governors

 

Cory Booker

11 Representatives

1 Senator

1 Governor

 

Elizabeth Warren

11 Representatives

1 Senator

0 Governor

 

Amy Klobuchar

4 Representatives

1 Senator

1 Governor

 

Bernie Sanders

5 Representatives

1 Senator

0 Governor

 

Julian Castro

2 Representatives

0 Senators

0 Governors

 

John Delaney

2 Representatives

0 Senators

0 Governors

1153d ago / 2:33 PM UTC

Biden video chides Trump after NATO leaders' hot mic moment

WASHINGTON — Almost as soon as President Trump returned from his overseas trip, Joe Biden tweeted out a new video pointing to Wednesday's hot-mic moment with NATO leaders to argue that the world isn't taking Trump seriously.  

The video includes footage from a Wednesday hot-mic moment with NATO leaders like Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron referencing Trump's long press conferences, as well as 2018 footage of the United Nations General Assembly laughing after Trump touted his achievements. 

“The world sees Trump for what he is — insincere, ill-informed, corrupt, dangerously incompetent and incapable, in my view, of world leadership,” Biden says in the video.

“And if we give Donald Trump four more years, we’ll have a great deal of difficulty of ever being able to recover America’s standing in the world and our capacity to bring nations together.”

The ad closes with pictures of Biden, as the words "We need a leader the world respects" flash on the screen. 

Shortly after the Biden campaign released the video, Trump's campaign said in a tweet that: "Of course the leaders of foreign countries wish Joe Biden were president — they'd love to continue ripping off our country!"

1154d ago / 9:42 PM UTC

Reporter's Notebook: President Trump's scrapped NATO press conference

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LONDON — President Donald Trump’s oversees travels are never short on unscripted moments. But the president's decision to scrap a scheduled press conference, after NATO meetings ended, with reporters waiting in the room for it to start was a surprising move, even for Trump.

Early in the morning Wednesday, dozens of reporters were bused out by the White House to the location of the NATO gatherings being held more than an hour from London to attend the event.

Image: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and President Donald Trump attend the annual NATO Leaders Meeting at the Grove Hotel in Watford
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and President Donald Trump attend the annual NATO Leaders Meeting at the Grove Hotel in Watford, Britain Dec. 4, 2019.Jeremy Selwyn / Reuters

Two hours before the press conference was scheduled to start, television crews were in place and dozens of reporters were seated in the room where the event would be held when the president, unprompted, suggested he might not have a press conference.

“We will go directly back, I think we have done plenty of press conferences unless you’re demanding a press conference, but I think we’ve answered plenty of questions,” President Trump told the traveling press pool, the small group of reporters that travel with him, during a photo opportunity with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Trump had spent about two hours over the course of the previous day taking questions from the press pool. But that small group consisting of about 13 journalists is no substitute for the full White House press corp which includes hundreds of reporters from a range of media outlets.

The president’s remark about the press conference set off mass confusion for the next hour among White House staff, both with the president and with the press, who didn’t know whether he was serious about the change of plans. Reporters were sent scrambling to figure out what was happening and sources were unreachable.

Even after Trump had suggested the press conference was off, NATO staff on-site and security continued to prepare for the president’s arrival, at one point setting up a rope line for additional security in front of the stage where he was set to speak.

It wasn’t until the president tweeted an hour later that reporters and staff were told by the president the event was off. At the time, dozens of reporters were seated in the room where it was to be held and others were waiting at a media center for staff to escort them over.

Following the scrapped press conference, Trump was also overheard mocking what he expected the media’s reaction to be during the same meeting where Trump complimented himself on his jab at Trudeau. 

“Oh. And then you know what they’ll say?” Trump said. “‘He didn’t do a press conference! He didn’t do a press conference!’” 

As Trump was preparing to leave, other leaders, including Macron and Trudeau, held their own press conferences — giving them a moment to look presidential on the world stage that Trump had denied himself of. 

Sally Bronston contributed. 

1154d ago / 9:32 PM UTC

Joe Biden says he'd consider Kamala Harris for VP pick

AMES, Iowa — Former Vice President Joe Biden has often said on the campaign trail that he would prefer to pick a woman as his vice presidential pick — on Wednesday he went a step further and said former 2020 competitor Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., would be on his list to consider. 

“Of course I would. Look Senator Harris has the capacity to be anything she wants to be. I mean it sincerely. I talked to her yesterday,” he said. “She's solid, she can be president someday herself, she can be vice president, she could go on to be a Supreme Court justice, she could be attorney general. I mean she has enormous capability.”

Biden and Harris' relationship became more strained after Harris attacked Biden on his position on busing during the first Democratic debate in June. The pair first met when Biden’s late son Beau was attorney general of Delaware and Harris held the same position in California. 

On Wednesday, Biden indicated he has moved past that moment. 

“I’m not good at keeping hard feelings,” he said while boarding his ‘No Malarkey’ bus.

 

1154d ago / 6:57 PM UTC

Swelling staff size and shrinking media spending predated Harris' exit from presidential race

WASHINGTON — When California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris suspended her campaign on Tuesday, she made it clear she felt her cash-strapped organization could no longer support a bid for president. 

"Over the last few days, I’ve come to one of the hardest decisions of my life. So here’s the deal, guys. My campaign for president simply does not have the financial resources to continue — and the financial resources we need to continue," she said in a video posted to Twitter.

"I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign. And as the campaign has gone on, it has become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete. 

There had been signs as of late that Harris' campaign was struggling — she cut staff this fall as her campaign sought to reset by shifting many of its resources to Iowa, and a recent New York Times story cited interviews with "more than 50 current and former campaign staff members and allies" to paint a picture of a floundering operation. 

While finances are likely a piece of a larger puzzle (and we won't see Harris' fourth-quarter books until early next year), a look through campaign spending reports sheds light on what Harris meant when she pointed the finger at a dwindling bank account. 

Harris jumped into the race as one of the best-funded and highest-polling candidates, an early frontrunner in the months before it was certain that former Vice President Joe Biden would enter the race.

She spent the first three months of her campaign in third place in the RealClearPolitics polling average and raised more money from individuals ($12 million) than any other candidate except Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders in the first quarter of 2019. 

Harris kept up that pace with a robust fundraising schedule, one that kept her from pivotal early states for significant stretches. 

And at her campaign's nadir (after her viral clash with Biden on the June debate stage on the issue of race and busing), she flirted with that second-place spot behind Biden. 

That marquee moment helped to fill the campaign's coffers — she raised almost $2 million during just the day after the June debate. And the campaign used those resources to massively expand the number of salaried staff from about 160 by the end of June to about 315 by the end of October, according to an NBC News analysis of FEC reports. 

But such a massive staff can be a strain on resources, as indicated by the Harris campaign's late October announcement that it was cutting staff in order to "effectively compete with the top campaigns and make the necessary investments in the critical final 100 days to the caucus," as campaign manager Juan Rodriguez said in a memo

Another sign of Harris' struggle could be seen in her media spending. 

The campaign spent just $562,000 on TV and radio advertising over her entire campaign, millions behind the likes of Biden, Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who had at one point been fighting with Harris for a top polling spot. 

In fact, her campaign hadn't run a television advertisement since Sept. 6, according to media-tracker Advertising Analytics. 

And the situation on Facebook was dire too. She spent just $32,000 for ads on the platform since early October, virtually disappearing from the platform in her campaign's final weeks. By comparison, billionaire Tom Steyer spent $4.3 million over that span, while Buttigieg and Warren both spent more than $800,000. 

Outside allies were moving to give the California senator reinforcements — the pro-Harris super PAC People Standing Strong booked more than $500,000 in pro-Harris ads Tuesday morning. 

But by Tuesday afternoon, with their candidate officially out of the race, the group began cancelling those buys.

1154d ago / 4:34 PM UTC

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp taps Kelly Loeffler to fill Sen. Isakson's seat

WASHINGTON — Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp Wednesday tapped business executive Kelly Loeffler as his pick to fill outgoing Sen. Johnny Isakson's seat, angering some of the President Trump's allies who were hoping Kemp would choose Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., instead. 

Last week, Kemp called attacks on his pick "absolutely absurd" and that he would only pick a candidate who was "100% supportive" of president Trump. 

Fox News host and close ally of the president Sean Hannity this week described Loeffler as a "RINO", or Republican In Name Only" while asking why Kemp would appoint Loeffler over Collins who has been a strong defender of the president throughout the impeachment hearings.

Loeffler, however, seems poised to introduce herself as a strong supporter of the president.

In a prepared statement on the appointment, first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Loeffler will say, "I’m a lifelong conservative. Pro-Second Amendment. Pro-military. Pro-wall. And pro-Trump." Loeffler has never run for office or served in government. 

Collins has not closed the door on running for the seat in 2020 against Loeffler, telling reporters in November he has heard from those "encouraging" him to run for statewide office and he is "strongly" listening. 

Loeffler will be only the second female senator from Georgia. The first, Rebecca Latimer Felton, was the first woman to occupy a seat in the Senate but served for just one day. 

Senate Republicans have welcomed the pick. Senate Majority Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement, "Ms. Loeffler has an impressive record in business and community leadership. I am confident she is well prepared to continue Sen. Isakson’s historic legacy of advocating for veterans, strengthening our national defense, and fighting for middle-class families." 

And the campaign arm of the Senate Republicans, the National Republican Senatorial Committee said Loeffler was a "phenomenal pick."

"Her business acumen and leadership gives Georgia a unique and valuable voice in the U.S. Senate who can help President Trump and our Republican majority continue to bolster a record-breaking economy, strengthen our military and confirm Constitutionalist judges," the NRSC said in a statement. 

The president has not yet weighed in on the appointment. Isakson is leaving his seat at the end of the month due to health concerns, and Loeffler will be up for reelection next November. 

1154d ago / 2:29 PM UTC

Pete Buttigieg earns endorsement from VoteVets PAC

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg Wednesday received the endorsement of the progressive VoteVets PAC.

“The number one priority has to be beating Donald Trump,” said Jon Soltz, chair of VoteVets. “We need a candidate who will win. Bar none, Pete gives us the best shot at doing just that. It is time to rally around him, and stop the walking, talking national security threat that is Donald Trump.”  

Image: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg holds a town hall event in Creston
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg holds a town hall event in Creston, Iowa on Nov. 25, 2019.Scott Morgan / Reuters

Soltz went on to say that a veteran like Buttigieg gives Democrats the best shot to win in 2020 because, "Veterans can win voters in the purple and red areas of the country that other Democrats cannot." 

The only other veteran in the Democratic contest is Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. 

This endorsement means Buttigieg now has the support of a Super PAC behind him to help fund his campaign. Of the four top polling candidates, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is the only one who does not have an outside organization in a position to spend money on her behalf.

VoteVets will immediately cut a maximum donation check to Pete 2020, according to the press release, and will utilize its social media networks and email list to support the campaign’s message.

“Further plans to energize veterans and military families across the country will be unveiled as the campaign moves ahead,” the group said in the statement.

Last month, Buttigieg told NBC News he would not take “corporate PAC money.”

“I also think it is really important that there be transparency in terms of people understanding who your supporters are which the reporting system creates but is why dark money is such a problem when you are looking at what goes on at the Super PACs,” he added.

However in October, Buttigieg said in an interview with Snapchat that he didn't endorse Warren's plan to refuse any money from high-dollar donors in a general election. 

"We're not going to beat [President Trump] with pocket change.” Buttigieg said. “I think you need the full spectrum of support in order to compete, especially if we want to go against someone like Donald Trump."

1155d ago / 7:43 PM UTC

Pete Buttigieg looks to win over black voters during Carolina swing

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ORANGEBURG, S.C. — Presidential hopeful South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg dismissed his low polling figures among nonwhite voters as a consequence of being “new on the scene,"  to a room of predominantly black South Carolinians on Tuesday.

“I know that as somebody who is new on the scene I got to earn that trust. We have to have those conversations. We got to share our own city's story where we have had the good, the bad and the in-between in terms of the life of our own city," Buttigieg said. 

Buttigieg is leading polls in Iowa and hovering near the top of polls in New Hampshire. But in South Carolina, he's struggling to gain traction. On Tuesday, he finished a three-day swing through the Carolinas, in an effort to expand his reach. 

Buttigieg, like other contenders in the Democratic race are struggling to gain traction with African-American voters. In a Quinnipiac national poll released last week, former Vice President Joe Biden maintained a large lead with black voters with 43 percent support, while Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was in second with only 11 percent. Buttigieg garnered just 4 percent support among black voters. 

While speaking to a a group in Allendale County, S.C., where three-quarters of the population is African-American, Buttigieg wasn't the first speaker attendees wanted to engaged with. Willa Jennings, the county party chairwoman, directed the group’s opening question to Buttigieg’s guest at the meeting: South Bend Councilwoman Sharon McBride.

“Could you tell us some of the things that Mayor Pete has done in South Bend to benefit the citizens in your city?” Jennings queried. "We go out and vote in full force, but everybody forget about us and they don't come back anymore."

McBride asserted that Buttigieg pushed to increase the city’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, initiated a study on disparities in the cities among women and minorities, and pressed for increased investments in city housing infrastructure.

Jennings, taking the microphone back, then turned to Buttigieg: “I hear a lot about you don't have support from African Americans. I just want to know why you don't have that support, and where did they get—where did the news media get that idea from that you don't have support?”

Buttigieg acknowledged, in part, that he was one of the candidates at “five percent or less” among black voters in the “last poll.” He followed, “But I don't think that's permanent."

Earlier in the day, Buttigieg stopped at a farm owned by Sophia Bowman in Canadys, S.C. After her meeting Buttigieg, Bowman said that she is inclined to vote for the mayor. She said it reminded her of seeing Bill Clinton in 1992. She noted they both "spoke with clarity.” 

“If other South Carolinians get to hear him, I think he’s got a chance,” Bowman rationalized. “Priming the pump. Us, here in the South, [we are] regular people. It takes awhile for us to like you.” 

But some younger voters say they are looking for more from Buttigieg’s efforts to build a closer relationship with communities of color. 

During a visit to South Carolina State University, a historically black university, Charles Patton a 22-year-old senior pulled the mayor aside about an answer Buttigieg gave during the November debate in which he referenced his experience as a gay man when asked about the systemic oppression communities of color have endured.

“Sometimes when you speak I hear what you say when you talk about your experience as a gay man and how you got the right to marry and all those things, but it comes across as you comparing struggles,” Patton said.

Later, Patton told NBC News, "When you compare struggles, you're almost erasing the struggle or, or the experience of being black in America and you almost diminish it because, yes, you are gay, but you're still a white man in America, and he knows that."

The Buttigieg campaign launched a $2 million ad buy across South Carolina on Tuesday intended to juice up voters’ familiarity with the mayor. The latest Quinnipiac poll out of the state showed that 47 percent of South Carolina voters are still not familiar enough with Buttigieg to form an opinion.

That extends outside of South Carolina, too.

In neighboring North Carolina, where voters will weigh in on Super Tuesday, Almertia Williams, a consistent voter, told NBC News this summer that she was eyeing the candidacies of Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris. When NBC News asked about Buttigieg she said she "did not" know he was running. 

“You got to show up, and you got to show up in places that maybe haven’t heard from campaigns for awhile,” Buttigieg told NBC News after a Sunday church service in North Carolina. “We take the opportunity and that obligation seriously. And you’ll continue to see that from us.”

NBC's Matt Wargo contributed. 

1155d ago / 4:27 PM UTC

Incoming Dem chair on the 2020 gov races: “I think we’re going to have a good year”

WASHINGTON — The upcoming elections in 2020 will bring us the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, the general-election presidential contest and the battle for control of Congress.

It also will feature 11 contests for governor in states like New Hampshire, Vermont, Montana and Washington.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, the incoming chair of the Democratic Governors Association, says he’s bullish about his party’s chances in next year’s gubernatorial contests, building upon Democrats’ successes in 2017 (when Murphy won his race), in 2018 (when Democrats picked up seven governorships) and in 2019 (when they won in Kentucky and Louisiana).

“I think we’re going to have a good year,” Murphy said in an interview with NBC News on Monday afternoon.

“I think it’s a combination of outstanding candidates, speaking to the kitchen-table issues that folks care about,” he added in explaining Democrats’ recent successful campaigns. “I think it’s a statement also that governors have never mattered more.”

Image: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks during a news conference talking about an expected snowstorm
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation in January mandating that the state's schools include instruction on the contributions of LGBTQ people and people with disabilities.Julio Cortez / AP

“So with all of the craziness that’s going on in Washington, governors are not only where the progress is being made in an affirmative, positive sense. But they’re also the last line of defense.”

Asked to reconcile those kitchen-table issues with his party’s impeachment proceedings against President Trump in Washington, Murphy said that Democrats and their candidates can do both at the same time.

 “I am proud of the process that [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi initiated on this impeachment track,” he stated.

“By the same token, I’m the governor of New Jersey. So let me get back to moving the needle on stuff that I know I can move the needle on.”

 Asked about Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who suspended his presidential campaign on Monday and can't run for an additional gubernatorial term thanks to term limits, Murphy said he’s surprised that a Democratic governor – either current or former – hasn’t “caught fire” in the 2020 presidential race.

“On both sides of the aisle, there’s a long history of governors who have gone on to be president or vice president, and I’m a little surprised that a governor on our side hasn’t caught fire,” Murphy noted.

“But having said that, we have extraordinary candidates. We have an extraordinary field.”

 Murphy has endorsed fellow Garden State politician and Sen. Cory Booker in the 2020 presidential race.

 “I came out of the blocks on day one for Cory Booker … and I’m staying with Cory as long as Cory is in,” he said. “But I’m going to be for whoever the Democratic nominee is going to be, period.”

The marquee gubernatorial contests of 2020 will be in North Carolina (where Dem Gov. Roy Cooper is running for re-election), in Montana (with the race to replace Bullock), in New Hampshire (where GOP Gov. Chris Sununu is running for re-election) and in Vermont (where GOP Gov. Phil Scott is running for re-election).

While Murphy and the DGA are bullish about their prospects in 2020, officials at the Republican Governors Association counter that Republicans are defending governorships in GOP-friendly states like Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Utah and West Virginia.

They also point out that New Hampshire’s Sununu and Vermont’s Scott won office in 2016 (when Hillary Clinton carried those blue states) and in 2018 (in a strong Democratic cycle).

 And the RGA believes Montana is theirs for the taking, given Trump’s 20-point win the state in 2016.

 “We feel very bullish about flipping Montana,” Dave Rexrode, the RGA’s executive director, told NBC News.

1155d ago / 3:33 PM UTC

Klobuchar endorsed by former Bullock backer in Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa — Just one day after Montana Gov. Steve Bullock announced he was dropping out of the Democratic presidential race, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., scooped up an endorsement from a prominent former Bullock backer, Iowa State Rep. Bruce Bearinger. 

During his campaign, Bullock consistently touted his record of winning in a Republican-heavy, rural state and his policy views that were seen as moderate in the wide Democratic field as proof of his ability to win the general election. Klobuchar also occupies much of that same territory and is often described as a moderate with a record in dealing with rural issues. She sits on the Agriculture Committee in the Senate and reminds voters at campaign events that she’s won “every race, every place, every time.”

Bearinger, who represents the rural population of Oelwein in Northeast Iowa, pointed to Klobuchar’s bipartisan track record and her knowledge of agricultural issues in expressing his support. 

“Amy understands that to win in 2020, and for the next President to govern successfully, our party has to reach out to voters who felt overlooked in 2016, particularly in rural America,” Bearinger said in a statement to NBC News.   

Bearinger was previously drawn to Bullock’s commitment to rural America, highlighting such in his original endorsement of the governor: “Steve understands the unique hardships we face — in our schools, hospitals and farms. Working with a legislature more Republican than our own, he’s proven he can bring those priorities across the finish line."

Bullock suspended his campaign Monday morning, after failing to qualify for multiple national debate stages.

1155d ago / 1:00 PM UTC

Klobuchar proposes expansion of national service programs

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MANCHESTER, N.H. — Ahead of her 19th trip to New Hampshire as a presidential candidate, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., is rolling out a national service policy plan that seeks to create more service opportunities and enhance accessibility for programs across communities and the country at large.

Image: Senator Amy Klobuchar speaks during the U.S. Democratic presidential candidates debate at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta
Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks during the U.S. Democratic presidential candidates debate in Atlanta on Nov. 20, 2019.Brendan McDermid / Reuters

Klobuchar’s two-page plan centers on three key areas to support existing national service programs:

  • Investing in AmeriCorps, a Climate Civilian Conservation Corps, and the Peace Corps
  • Establishing National Volunteer Programs
  • Fixing and Expanding Public Service Loan Forgiveness

In order to further invest in existing programs and establish new ones, Klobuchar’s plan calls for investing in programs like AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps by increasing the number of service positions and for targeting the opportunities towards high school students, 1-2 year degree college students or those with vocational training certifications.

She also is seeking to establish a Climate Civilian Conservation Corps — a climate national service program based off of an idea initially put forward by former presidential candidate and Washington Governor Jay Inslee — to recruit an additional 50,000 people “to address the impacts of climate change and create the climate resilience workforce of the future.”

Her plan also calls for establishing national volunteer programs, including a part-time volunteer service program centered on emergency response and disaster-relief training, as well as expanding the National Care Corps to support those who are working as caregivers by providing benefits and other support for costs.

Finally Klobuchar’s plan aims to fix the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program by expanding the program’s eligibility, enhance clarity from lenders on details of eligibility and forgiveness, increase flexibility for lenders and streamline the verification requirements.

Klobuchar says that to pay for her national service plan that she will pass bipartisan legislation already introduced to the Senate to reduce single-use drug waste, citing studies that highlight the manufacturing of over-sized doses and discarded reimbursement costs for some drug products. 

1155d ago / 12:54 PM UTC

Buttigieg unveils plan to target health care inequities

COLUMBIA, S.C. — With heath care continuing to be one of the key issues in the 2020 Democratic presidential race, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is out with a new plan focused on addressing inequality in the system.

The plan, titled, “Health Equity and Justice in America,” comes amid a Buttigieg campaign swing through the south, where the mayor has met with several groups to discuss the issue.

Image: Reverend William Barber introduces Pete Buttigieg during Sunday morning service at Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, N.C., on Dec. 1, 2019.
Reverend William Barber introduces Pete Buttigieg during Sunday morning service at Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, N.C., on Dec. 1, 2019.Logan Cyrus / AFP - Getty Images

The policy places a heavy emphasis on measures that can be taken to ensure equity in health before someone reaches a hospital or clinic by addressing what Buttigieg calls, “structural barriers.”

“Most of our health outcomes are determined by what happens outside a clinic or hospital: by where we can live, what we can eat, and what jobs we have access to,” the plan states.

Buttigieg plans to adopt a “Health in All Policies” approach to policy implementation, establishing Offices of Health Equity and Justice within key federal agencies including Housing and Urban Development, Education, and Justice, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The candidate aims to empower local public health departments by creating a Public Health Infrastructure Fund that would funnel more resources into communities with the most need. Under his plan the federal government would contribute $500 million increasing annually until the $4 billion a year gap between current spending and existing needs is met. Individual states would be required to match these funds on a sliding scale based on the median income of a given state.

A Buttigieg administration would require federally funded health programs to collect and monitor data related to healthcare quality, cost, and outcomes for specific demographics based on, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The administration would then use that data to award financial incentives based on measured equitable outcomes.

Within his first 100 days Buttigieg says he will launch a National Health Equity Strategy Task Force. In addition, he promises to invest in finding cures to diseases that disproportionately impact minority communities, in part by mandating that federally-funded research trials include diverse samples of people and communities.

This latest healthcare addendum comes months after the release of over-arching Buttigieg’s Medicare For All Who Want It policy which was announced in September.

1155d ago / 12:06 PM UTC

Leading progressive groups endorse Rep. Henry Cuellar primary challenger

WASHINGTON — A coalition of prominent progressive groups has endorsed Jessica Cisneros, a 26-year-old immigration lawyer who is trying to unseat Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar in a Democratic primary, NBC News has learned.

The Democratic primary fight, in a sprawling congressional district that extends south from the San Antonio suburbs down to Loredo on the border with Mexico, is quickly becoming one of the hottest flash-points in the party’s ideological civil war.

Democrats like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley have endorsed Cisneros, the latter two veterans of their own high-profile primary victories against entrenched incumbent Democrats last year. 

The latest show of support for Cisneros, who once briefly worked for Cuellar, shows major institutional players on the left are increasingly willing to buck tradition by going against a sitting lawmaker. 

The new coalition of groups supporting Cisneros Tuesday includes some of the leading reproductive rights groups in the country -- Planned Parenthood Action and NARAL Pro-Choice America -- along with the political arm of the deep-pocked environmental group League of Conservation Voters, the liberal pro-Israel group J Street, and the grassroots organizing group MoveOn.

“I'm proud to stand alongside so many incredible organizations leading the fight against the Trump administration’s hatred and bigotry,” Cisneros said in a statement shared with NBC News.

Cuellar, who first won his seat in 2004 after emerging from a nasty Democratic primary, has come under fire from the left for numerous votes and positions that critics say do not represent his heavily-Democratic, majority-Hispanic district. 

Cuellar, for instance, is one of just a tiny handful of House Democrats who has received an A rating from the National Rifle Association. He also voted with Republicans against so-called sanctuary cities, local jurisdictions that refuse to work with federal authorities to deport undocumented immigrants. 

And he's also taken votes against expanding abortion rights, including in support of the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal spending on abortion services. 

“As anti-choice politicians continue to wage an all-out assault on the right to access abortion, it’s crucial that Democrats stand united in their commitment to reproductive freedom,” NARAL President Ilyse Hogue said in a statement. “Henry Cuellar’s record speaks for itself-- from his support for the discriminatory Hyde Amendment to extreme bans on abortion, he has made it clear just how dangerously out-of-touch he is.” 

Alexis McGill Johnson, the acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, added in a statement that Cisneros is “committed to protecting people’s rights and has pledged to defend her constituents against attacks on those rights and freedoms.”

But Cuellar spokesperson Colin Strother told NBC News his boss is focused on his local constituents, not a national advocacy group and the opinion of “people from outside the district, who don’t know the district, and who can’t vote in the district.” 

“It’s unfortunate that so many of these so-called progressive groups are focused on some kind of a purification ritual that does nothing other than feed their ego and their donor base,” Strother added.

Cueller’s district has little risk of falling into Republican hands in 2020. It voted for Hillary Clinton over President Donald Trump by 20 percentage points in 2016. But some Democrats have warned that primary battles, even in safe districts, will distract the party from preserving its hard-won House majority next year.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the official campaign arm of House Democrats, is anticipating more primary challenges to incumbent lawmakers in safe blue districts after Ocasio-Cortez’s upset victory last year, and has vowed to stop working with any vendors who work with insurgent candidates. 

1156d ago / 4:56 PM UTC

For Democratic presidential hopefuls, the early bids have caught the worms

WASHINGTON — If there’s been one lesson to the 2020 Democratic presidential race, it’s been this one: The early birds have gotten the worm – at least when it comes to the attention needed to garner support in the polls and qualify for the debates.

That’s especially true after the recent exits by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (who announced his presidential bid on May 14) and former Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa. (who announced on June 23).

Bullock qualified to participate in just one debate, while Sestak never got to make a single debate stage.

Image: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock speaks at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines on Aug. 8, 2019.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock speaks at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines on Aug. 8, 2019.John Locher / AP

Indeed, excluding the newest entrants (Michael Bloomberg and Deval Patrick), of the 12 Democratic candidates who jumped into the 2020 race AFTER February, only three still remain – former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and billionaire Tom Steyer.

By contrast, of the 12 candidates who got into the race BEFORE March 1, all but one is still in the contest.

That one exception? Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

Take a look at the list of Democratic candidates this cycle, ordered by the latest to enter, to see how few of the latest entries are still in the race: 

  • Michael Bloomberg (who announced on Nov. 24)
  • Deval Patrick (who announced on Nov. 14)
  • Tom Steyer (who announced on July 9)
  • Former Rep. Joe Sestak (who announced on June 23) EXITED on Dec. 1
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (who announced on May 16) EXITED on Sept. 20
  • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (who announced on May 14) EXITED on Dec. 2
  • Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo (who announced on May 2)
  • Former VP Joe Biden (who announced on April 25)
  • Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass (who announced on April 22) EXITED on Aug. 23
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif. (who announced on April 8) EXITED on July 8
  • Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio (who announced on April 4) EXITED on Oct. 24
  • Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke (who announced on March 14) EXITED Nov. 1
  • Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (who announced on March 4) EXITED on Aug. 15
  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (who announced March 1) EXITED on Aug. 21
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (who announced on Feb. 19)
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar (who announced on Feb. 10)
  • Marianne Williamson (who filed her candidacy on Feb. 5)
  • Sen. Cory Booker (who announced on Feb. 1)
  • South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (who formed an exploratory committee on Jan 23, formally announced on April 14)
  • Sen. Kamala Harris (who announced on Jan. 21)
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (who formed an exploratory committee on Jan. 15, formally announced on March 17) EXITED on Aug. 28
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (who announced her decision to run on Jan. 11)
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (who formed an exploratory committee on Dec. 31, formally announced on Feb. 9)
  • Former San Antonio Mayor and HUD Secretary Julian Castro (who formed an exploratory committee on Dec. 12, formally on Jan. 12)
  • Andrew Yang (who filed his candidacy on Nov. 6, 2017)
  • Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney (who announced his presidential bid back on July 28, 2017!)
1156d ago / 2:02 PM UTC

Gavin Newsom endorses Christy Smith for former Rep. Katie Hill's seat

WASHINGTON — California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday endorsed California Assemblywoman Christy Smith in the special House election to fill former Rep. Katie Hill’s seat.

"We need Christy Smith in Congress. She's proven herself as an effective leader for the people she represents," Newsom said in a statement first made available to NBC News.

"From addressing our increasing wildfire threat to investing more in our public schools, creating middle class jobs, making healthcare more accessible and affordable to combating our climate crisis and enhancing emergency response — Christy has shown that she knows how to bring people together to solve problems and get things done."

Hill, who defeated a GOP incumbent to win the 25th District seat in 2018, resigned in October amid an ethics investigation into allegations she had an affair with a staffer. 

California uses a jungle-primary system, which pits all candidates against each other in a primary regardless of party. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote, the top two move on to a runoff.  

The special election primary, which will be held on March 3, is already crowded on both sides of the aisle. 

Cenk Uygur, the progressive commentator and co-founder of The Young Turks announced his bid for the seat in late November.

The Young Turks, a widely-viewed progressive media site, regularly spars with establishment Democrats and the party structure. Smith meanwhile has earned a steady stream of establishment Democratic endorsements like 12 members of California’s congressional delegation, the International Association of Fire Fighters and the California League of Conservation Voters. 

Presidential candidate and California Sen. Kamala Harris endorsed Smith in October, and Hill endorsed Smith in November

While Uygur could take up the progressive lane in the race, he's come under fire for alleged misogynistic and homophobic comments he made in the early 2000s. Uygur has since apologized for the comments. 

On the Republican side, former Rep. Stephen Knight, who held the seat until Hill flipped the district, is vying to win it back, and former aide to President Trump's 2016 campaign George Papadopoulos also announced. President Trump has not commented on Papadopoulos' run, and he hasn't endorsed Knight. However it's Marine Mike Garcia who has earned theendorsement former California Republican Gov. Pete Wilson. 

Smith’s Assembly district encompasses 58 percent of the 25th District, and Smith won her election by 5,000 votes in 2018, flipping it from GOP control for the first time since 1978 (Hill became the first Democrat to win the congressional seat since 1990). 

The Cook Political Report rated this seat as a “lean Democratic” in the 2020 general election race, even though the seat is currently vacant. 

If no candidate hits the 50 percent mark in the March 3 primary, the top two will advance to a general election on May 12. 

The special election decides who serves out the rest of Hill's unexpired term, through next year. Voters will also choose a candidate to succeed Hill in 2021 in a separate election on the same ballot

1157d ago / 4:21 PM UTC

Klobuchar on Bloomberg: It cannot be all about money

WASHINGTON — Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., took a swipe at billionaire Democratic presidential hopefuls Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer during a Sunday appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” arguing that their self-funded candidacies send a bad message about money in politics. 

“I'm never going to be able to compete with two billionaires. That is true. I'm not going to be able to buy this $30 million ad buy,” she said on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” on NBC. “It cannot be all about money or rich people would be running and winning in every Senate race in the country. That's not what happens.”

Steyer has been in the race since July, and spent more than $46 million of his own money on his bid through the end of September. And while Bloomberg jumped in last week, he’s already booked $52 million in television advertising time alone.

While Klobuchar praised Bloomberg’s record — he’s also spent his millions championing Democratic priorities like preventing gun violence and climate change — she criticized his decision to jump into the race and the calculus that the party might need a savior as Democrats jockey for position in their primary. .

“It is more about money in politics for me. I have admiration for the work that he's done, but I don't buy this argument that you get in because you say, ‘Oh, everyone else sucks,’” she said.

“I think we have strong candidates. I don't think that any of the polling or the numbers show that people are dissatisfied with all their candidates. They're just trying to pick the right one.”

1161d ago / 8:46 PM UTC

Happy Thanksgiving: Here's who's led past presidential primaries by Thanksgiving weekend

WASHINGTON — As the presidential election calendar turns to Thanksgiving (and with almost two months to go before Iowa's February caucus), former Vice President Joe Biden holds the lead in national polls right now. 

There's still a lot of time left for candidates to flip the script, and national polls don't perfectly capture the dynamics in the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, the first states to hold presidential nominating contests. But the national polls do provide a snapshot at how the candidates are resonating with the broader Democratic primary electorate. 

Biden's RealClearPolitics average has him at 29.3 percent nationally as of Nov. 26, a nine-point lead over Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders' 19.5 percent. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is close behind with 18 percent, but then there's a significant drop-off with the rest of the field. 

South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg is at 8 percent, followed by California Sen. Kamala Harris' 4 percent, businessman Andrew Yang's 3 percent and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's 2 percent (former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's average is 2 percent, but he's hardly been included in polls since he launched his surprise bid late last week). 

Image: The set and ten podiums for the U.S. Democratic presidential candidates debate are seen the day before the debate at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia
The set and ten podiums for the U.S. Democratic presidential candidates debate are seen the day before the debate at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta on Nov. 19, 2019.rendan McDermid / Reuters

Here are what the national RealClearPolitics averages looked like in some previous cycles at this point in the calendar, Nov. 26 of the year before Election Day. 

2016

GOP primary

The writing was already on the wall in the GOP primary by Nov. 26, 2015, with then-candidate Donald Trump and his 27.5 percent a significant lead over Dr. Ben Carson's 19.8 percent. 

At that point, Trump's hold on the GOP primary electorate was only getting stronger, while Carson quickly declined toward the middle of the pack. 

Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, were locked in a tight race for third behind them, with 12.5 percent and 11.3 percent respectively. 

Then came former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his 5.5 percent, followed by businesswoman Carly Fiorina's 3.5 percent and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's 3.3 percent. 

Democratic primary

The 2016 Democratic primary was a two-person race almost the whole way through, and it particularly was by the end of November 2015. 

By Nov. 26, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton averaged 55.8 percent of the Democratic primary electorate, according to the RCP average. While Sanders' momentum was building at that point, he still trailed significantly with 30.2 percent. 

2012

Republican primary

With the Iowa caucus just a month out (the caucus used to be in January), eventual nominee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was locked in a tight battle with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Romney averaged 23.8 percent of the GOP national vote, compared to Romney's 21.3 percent. 

Herman Cain followed at third place with 15.5 percent, but his candidacy was on the down-swing too and he ultimately dropped out less than two weeks later. 

Two Texans, former Rep. Ron Paul and then-Gov. Rick Perry, were tied at 8 percent. 

And former Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann was averaging 4.8 percent. 

2008

Republican primary

The man at the top of the polls by Nov. 26, 2008 is a familiar face for those following the 2020 elections—former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. 

Giuliani averaged 28 percent about a month before the January Iowa caucus, almost double that of the second-place candidate Fred Thompson, the former actor and Tennessee senator. 

Romney, making his first presidential bid, followed at 12.7 percent. And eventual nominee, the late former Arizona Sen. John McCain, sat at just 12.2 percent. 

Democratic primary

Just like in 2016, Clinton had a commanding lead over the field by the Thanksgiving season, as it looked like she would cruise to the nomination. Her 42.7 percent average was significantly ahead of her next 2020 rival, then-Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and his 23 percent. 

1161d ago / 1:00 PM UTC

Harris announces endorsements from 100 Iowa teachers

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WAUKEE, Iowa — As Kamala Harris prepares to spend the Thanksgiving holiday on the campaign trail in Iowa, her campaign is unveiling 100 new endorsements from teachers around the Hawkeye state to coincide with the launch of “Iowa Teachers for Kamala” on Wednesday. 

“I am honored to have the support of teachers from across Iowa and grateful every day for the work they do to help raise our children,” Harris said in a release. “Educators here in Iowa and across the country have made me a better candidate and I’m grateful to have them on my team.”

Harris’ first campaign policy rollout focused on increasing teacher pay by an average of $13,500, and she often pledges on the trail that one of her first actions as president would be to “say thank you and goodbye to Betsy DeVos” — often met with large applause — adding that teachers “don’t want a gun, they want a raise!”

In a recent push to invest both her time and resources in Iowa, Harris has restructured her stump speech to include various points of “justice” that are on the ballot. “Educational justice” is one on that list and she focuses on teacher pay disparities, noting the fact that many teachers end up working multiple jobs. She also talks about her pledge to take executive action to implement an assault weapons ban within her first 100 days as president as part of her fight for increased school safety. 

The educators endorsing Harris teach a wide variety of subjects and grades across the state. The California senator has spent a significant amount of time in Iowa in recent months in an effort to revamp a floundering campaign, but still only registered at 3% in the most recent Des Moines Register/CNN Iowa poll.  

1162d ago / 9:37 PM UTC

Buttigieg reacts to critical article panning his 2011 comments on minority kids and education

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DENISON, IA — After his first event Tuesday, South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg distanced himself from his 2011 comments about the lack of educational role models in "lower-income, minority neighborhoods," comments highlighted in a recent, scathing article in "The Root." 

The article blasted Buttigieg over his words that surfaced on Twitter last week. The post on "The Root" subsequently prompted a profane hashtag about the mayor that corresponded with the headline of the piece.

In the clip from a 2011 South Bend forum, Buttigieg talks about kids from “lower-income, minority neighborhoods” who haven’t seen education work and who don’t have “someone they know personally who testifies to the value of education.” 

"Kids need to see evidence that education is going to work for them," Buttigieg said at the time. 

"A lot of kids, especially in the lower-income, minority neighborhoods who literally just haven’t seen it work. There isn’t somebody they know personally who testifies to the value of education."

Michael Harriot, the author of the story in "The Root," criticized Buttigieg's for those comments, pointing to issues like the funding disparities that exist between predominately white schools and majority-minority schools, the pay gap for minority workers, and inequality of access to things like technology and advanced classes. 

Responding to the article on Tuesday, Buttigieg, said that “some of the characterization of me personally is unfair,” but that what he said in the clip “does not reflect the totality of my understanding then, and certainly now, about the obstacles that students of color face in our system today.” 

He added that he sees how his remarks could be viewed as “validating a narrative that sometimes blames the victim for the consequences of systemic racism,” and largely agrees with the author’s perspective. 

Buttigieg said he spoke to Harriot this morning about the concerns raised in the article. The mayor acknowledged “the advantages and privileges that I have had, not through any great wealth but certainly through education, through the advantages that come with being white and being male,” which is part of why he wants to make a difference by running for president. 

Buttigieg has struggled to gain traction at the polls with black voters, who are overwhelmingly supporting former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign.

His fellow 2020 Democratic hopeful, California Sen. Kamala Harris, criticized him last week for briefly using a stock photo of a person from Kenya in the release of his plan to help black Americans.

When Buttigieg was confronted with that criticism on last week's debate stage, he said: "I welcome the challenge of connecting with black voters in America who don't yet know me."

Democratic Presidential Candidates Participate In Debate In Atlanta, Georgia
Pete Buttigieg speaks as Elizabeth Warren listens during the Democratic presidential debate in Atlanta on Nov. 20, 2019.Alex Wong / Getty Images

"As mayor of a city that is racially diverse and largely low income, for eight years, I have lived and breathed the successes and struggles of a community where far too many people live with the consequences of racial inequity that has built-up over centuries but been compounded by policies and decisions from within living memory," he went on. 

"While I do not have the experience of ever having been discriminated against because of the color of my skin, I do have the experience of sometimes feeling like a stranger in my own country, turning on the news and seeing my own rights come up for debate, and seeing my rights expanded by a coalition of people like me and people not at all like me, working side by side, shoulder to shoulder, making it possible for me to be standing here."

1162d ago / 6:30 PM UTC

With Bloomberg blanketing airwaves, here's what the ad war looks like in early states

WASHINGTON — Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is blanketing the airwaves with his historic $30 million-plus television buy, looking to bring his candidacy to voters across the country. 

While Bloomberg is currently planning to skip the early states that are historically the path to the nomination, his 2020 Democratic primary rivals are keeping their eyes on Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, which hold the first nominating contests on the calendar. 

As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, here is the ad-spending race (TV, radio) in those early nominating states from candidates who have spent at least $10,000 as of Nov. 26, according to Advertising Analytics. 

Iowa

Tom Steyer: $7.8 million

Pete Buttigieg: $2.5 million

Bernie Sanders: $2.4 million

Michael Bennet: $1.1 million

Joe Biden: $840,000

Amy Klobuchar: $650,000

Kamala Harris: $560,000 

John Delaney: $492,000

Tulsi Gabbard: $252,000

Elizabeth Warren: $94,000

Julián Castro: $32,000

Steve Bullock: $18,000

New Hampshire

Steyer: $8.1 million

Klobuchar: $600,000

Gabbard: $230,000 

John Delaney: $130,000

Joe Sestak: $108,000

Nevada

Steyer: $5.7 million 

South Carolina

Steyer: $7.2 million

Gabbard: $305,000

Ben Kamisar contributed

1162d ago / 4:17 PM UTC

Booker plans six-figure ad buy, early state sprint to make debate stage

MANCHESTER, NH – New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker’s campaign is in an all-out sprint to qualify for the December debate, per a memo from his campaign manager, Addissu Demissie.

With the upcoming Dec. 12 deadline to qualify for the next Democratic debate looming, the campaign announced a six-figure ad buy featuring Booker’s first radio and digital ads, coupled with reorienting its early state strategy “to become a targeted voter persuasion effort aimed at attaining the debate polling threshold.”

Booker's campaign says it has raised $1 million since last week's MSNBC-Washington Post debate, which helped the campaign eclipse the 200,000 unique donor threshold to put Booker on the road toward qualifying for the next debate. 

Image: Sen. Cory Booker speaks at a Democratic presidential debate in Houston on Sept. 12, 2019.
Sen. Cory Booker speaks at a Democratic presidential debate in Houston on Sept. 12, 2019.Robyn Beck / AFP - Getty Images file

To qualify for the December debate in California, which will be posted by PBS Newshour and Politico, candidates need to hit that unique donor threshold as well as a polling threshold — either hitting 4 percent in four national or state polls (from different pollsters) or 6 percent in two polls of the early states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

While Booker has the fundraising, he's so far failed to hit 4 percent in any qualifying poll. 

In the memo, Demissie outlined a strategic shift from courting small-dollar donors to reaching the DNC-approved poll numbers needed, citing four percent in four polls as the “likeliest path.”

“While we don’t have Michael Bloomberg or even Tom Steyer money, we are pouring what we have into paid persuasion thanks to the surge that came in after the debate and no longer having to spend precious resources on new donor acquisition aimed at hitting the 200,000 threshold,” he wrote, waiving at the billionaire Democrats who are spending their personal wealth on their campaigns. 

“Cory 2020 isn’t leaving poll qualification up to margins or error or fate,” Demissie added. “We know the most important thing we can do for Cory Booker right now is to ensure that every dollar spent, every volunteer shift booked, every waking moment our campaign staff spends in the next two weeks is geared toward persuading voters that Cory should be their first choice in this contest.”

As for early state resources on the ground, the campaign plans to use “both traditional methods and new organizing tools” in a poll-focused, targeted voter persuasion effort. And Demissie wrote that the campaign will reorient its on-the-ground organizers in early states to "become a targeted voter persuasion effort aimed at attaining the debate polling threshold."

Demissie noted the campaign still needs to raise more money to place its first TV ad buys, which would be in South Carolina and Iowa, where airwaves are crowded and Steyer alone has spent more than $7 million.

Campaigning in New Hampshire over the weekend, Booker talked to reporters about the need to keep pushing ahead.

“The high percentage of people that are signing commitments to support us, volunteering for our campaign, we need to keep the momentum – fundraising is a big issue for us,” he said. “We've seen billionaires just go on our TVs and bump up their polling numbers. I don't have that kind of personal resources, I'm depending on the people.”

1163d ago / 11:06 PM UTC

Democratic candidates accuse Bloomberg of trying to buy nomination

ANKENY, Iowa — As Michael Bloomberg hit the trail on the first day of his Democratic primary campaign, his fellow primary contenders didn't shy away from taking hits at the billionaire's massive ad buys.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who rarely comments on other candidates, starting off her remarks at a community event here Monday afternoon by addressing Bloomberg's expensive foray.

"Michael Bloomberg is making a bet about democracy in 2020: he doesn't need people, he only needs bags and bags of money. I think Michael Bloomberg is wrong and that's what we need to prove in this election," Warren said.

"If you get out and knock on a thousand doors, he'll just spend another $37 million dollars to flood the airwaves and that's how he plans to buy a nomination in the Democratic Party,” Warren added.

Warren, who often critiques billionaires' opposition to her wealth tax when addressing voters, leaned into that sentiment Monday, arguing that her wealth tax is a recognition that the wealthy built their fortunes "at least in part using workers all of us helped pay to educate."

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., also criticized Bloomberg during an event in Salem, New Hampshire, accusing the former New York City mayor of using his billions to "buy the United States government."

"I understand the power of the 1 percent. I mean you're seeing that right now literally with Mayor Bloomberg who has decided to use part of his $55 billion not to buy a yacht, not to buy another home, not to buy a fancy car, but to buy the United States government," Sanders said.

Tom Steyer, a fellow billionaire and Democratic candidate, told NBC News Monday that Bloomberg shouldn't be in the race if he won't commit to a wealth tax, as he has. 

"Inequality is such a critical and dangerous part of our society now. So for somebody like him or like me, who's been particularly lucky in America and has, you know, generated a lot of wealth, I think it's particularly important to address specifically the inequality of income and wealth," Steyer said. 

At his event in Norfolk, Virginia, Monday, Bloomberg responded the charges he's buying his way into the race. 

“For years I've been using my resources for the things that matter to me. I was lucky enough to build a successful company, it has been very successful and I've used all of it to give back to help America… So I'm now in the race, I'm fully committed to defeating Donald Trump,” Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg is spending $31 million to run television ads this week in the largest television buy in campaign history, according to the trackers at Advertising Analytics. 

In its two, 60-second biographic spots, which are already airing, Bloomberg's campaign touts his record on consensus Democratic issues like preventing climate change, pushing for gun violence reform, creating jobs and supporting affordable housing. 

—Ali Vitali, Ryan Beals, Gary Grumbach, Priscilla Thompson and Maura Barrett contributed

1163d ago / 7:49 PM UTC

'An absolute disaster': Sanders blasts MLB over proposed minor league cuts

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on Monday denounced Major League Baseball's plan to shutter more than 40 minor league teams as an "absolute disaster" and suggested Congress and the Trump administration "seriously rethink and reconsider" the league's anti-trust exemption.

"I am writing to urge you and the owners of Major League Baseball franchises not to eliminate any of the 42 Minor League Baseball clubs that have been put on the chopping block. Shutting down 25 percent of Minor League Baseball teams, as you have proposed, would be an absolute disaster for baseball fans, workers and communities throughout the country," Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, wrote in a letter to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. "Not only would your extreme proposal destroy thousands of jobs and devastate local economies, it would be terrible for baseball."

"Over 41 million fans went to see a Minor League Baseball game last year — over a million more than the previous year," Sanders added. "Depriving American families in small and mid-sized towns the only opportunity they have to see a live baseball game with future big league players at a reasonable price is both unwise and unnecessary."

Earlier this month, The New York Times detailed 42 minor league teams with which that MLB could soon sever ties, mostly at the lower levels of the minor league system. The league has said that the proposal is part of a broader plan to improve conditions in their affiliated minor leagues, including raising player pay, improving transportation and cutting down on a demanding travel schedule. However, the plan would also drastically cut the number of minor league players MLB has to pay.

MLB did not immediately respond to NBC News' request for comment.

Last week, more than 100 members of Congress signed a letter to Manfred calling on MLB to reconsider the plan, which they said "would undermine the health of the minor league system that undergirds talent development and encourages fan loyalty."

"If this is the type of attitude that Major League Baseball and its owners have then I think it’s time for Congress and the executive branch to seriously rethink and reconsider all of the benefits it has bestowed to the league including, but not limited to, its anti-trust exemption," Sanders wrote Monday.

Baseball has long played a role in the Vermont senator's politics. Sanders told Yahoo News earlier this year that the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn for Los Angeles in 1958 taught him "what the power of money is about."

1163d ago / 4:34 PM UTC

Bloomberg ads blanket the airwaves in record-breaking buy

WASHINGTON — Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's stunning advertising buy has begun, with spots promoting his new Democratic presidential bid popping up on the airwaves Monday. 

Image: Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg speaks at a gun control advocacy event on Feb. 26, 2019, in Las Vegas.John Locher / AP

Bloomberg is spending $31 million this week in the largest weekly ad buy ever, according to the ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics. The buy eclipses even one from then-President Barack Obama, who spent $24.9 million in a single week during his 2012 re-election. 

So far, Bloomberg is running two similar bio spots that tout his rise from the middle class to becoming one of the world's wealthiest businessmen. 

The ads praise Bloomberg's terms as New York City mayor, pointing to his affordable housing and job creation records. They also mention Bloomberg's push to create a group combating gun violence, as well as how he's "stood up to the coal lobby and this administration to protect this planet from climate change."

One of the spots closes with an early attempt to define the billionaire's last-minute candidacy. The ad pitches Bloomberg as the Democrat who can beat the current occupant of the Oval Office, touting consensus issues that are popular among Democrats but more pragmatic than some of the steps being offered by more progressive candidates.

"Now he's taking on [Trump] to rebuild a country and restore faith in the dream that defines us, where the wealthy will pay more in taxes and the middle class get their fair share. Everyone without health insurance can get it, and everyone who likes theirs keep it," the ad's narrator says. 

Check out both ads here and here. 

1163d ago / 2:46 AM UTC

Bennet hears about health care affordability from family in crisis

MANCHESTER, N.H. — What was originally intended to be a morning of knocking on doors on behalf of a presidential candidate turned into a surprising and powerful encounter about the costs of health care.

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., led a canvassing kickoff here Sunday morning for volunteers who were knocking on doors on his behalf. Following a training session and brief remarks that Bennet gave to the group, NBC News was invited to follow Bennet along.

In his second house visit of the day, Bennet and his wife, Susan, met Julie and Shane Rondeau who shared the details of their difficult health issues and talked about how their situation is impacting their family. 

Shane, 36, is confined to a wheelchair due to his battle with a brain stem tumor and Julie, 35, revealed that she had been recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis — both health crises coming within six months of one another.

The couple have two young children — a son Sebastian, who was playing video games inside, age 6, and a daughter, 12, who was not home at the time. Bennet and Susan joined Julie and Shane in their living room, along with their dog, a brown lab puppy named Chewbacca.

“A lot has changed,” Julie said about the aftermath of their health struggles.

Shane told Bennet that he initially thought he was going to be the one taking care of Julie when she was diagnosed. Then he got sick himself. A week before Shane's surgery to remove his brain tumor, the tumor hemorrhaged, which greatly complicated his condition.  Julie also shared that her daughter has been struggling with depression in light of all of the family's medical issues, even being hospitalized for it recently.

Julie told the Democratic presidential candidate that health care is their key issue for the election. She commented that she’s had good experiences using her private insurance plan through her work as an IT engineer, noting that it has helped with making their home more handicap accessible and paying for some of Shane’s outpatient rehabilitations.

Julie also shared that they are now relying on social security for some of Shane’s medical costs, and that they cannot afford to get a service dog to help Shane when she's working so they are enrolling their dog, Chewbacca, to learn.

Bennet listened to Julie explain that the couple does not qualify for Medicaid since they are technically considered upper-middle class and that she is weighing options of draining her retirement account to create to be able to off-set some of the health care costs.

Bennet responded by saying that when he worked to help pass the Affordable Care Act, he felt there needed to be a public option. He said that if he were elected, he would push for that expansion as well.

“It just makes sense to do that and create it as an alternative,” Bennet said to the couple.

Bennet and his wife spent roughly a half hour visiting with the couple. He told the couple that he’s heard a lot of stories in the 15 years he’s worked in public life as a school superintendent and in the Senate but “you guys are bearing something here that nobody else I’ve ever met has had to.” He added, what the couple is “both facing in terms of medical conditions, with your age, with your kids, it’s a lot for anybody.”

1165d ago / 7:35 PM UTC

Kamala Harris tells Iowa voters she's 'not a socialist'

WASHINGTON, IA – Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., continued to try and stake out a middle ground for herself in Iowa on Saturday. While speaking with potential caucus-goers, Harris told voters she's "not trying to start a revolution" and she's "not a socialist." 

Harris has spent a substantial amount of time in Iowa since October when she laid off dozens of staffers, shifted field staff from other early primary states to the Hawkeye state. Her campaign manager Juan Rodriguez said Harris is going "all in on Iowa," but in the most recent Iowa poll, Harris is polling at 2 percent. 

1165d ago / 2:59 PM UTC

Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack endorses Joe Biden

WASHINGTON – Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, D-Iowa, and his wife Christie Vilsack endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden in his presidential run on Saturday. 

Vilsack announced the endorsement in a USA TODAY op-ed, writing, "While some may argue that Joe Biden’s lifetime of public service is a draw-back, I see it as a strength. I see a well-defined candidate, who has withstood the test of time," Vilsack wrote. "I believe a majority of Americans will find that Joe Biden is the person best prepared and best positioned to heal the divisions within our country and to end the 'disorder' of the last 3 years." 

Image: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden smiles as he holds a campaign rally at Los Angeles Trade Technical College in Los Angeles
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden smiles as he holds a campaign rally at Los Angeles Trade Technical College in Los Angeles Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019.Damian Dovarganes / AP

Vilsack's endorsement is Biden's highest-profile Iowa endorsement yet, and comes a week before Biden embarks on an eight-day bus tour of Iowa.

Biden has slipped in recent Iowa polls as South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg has surged. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has also climbed in the Iowa polls. The newest Iowa poll, from Iowa State University, found Biden in fourth place with 12 percent support – Buttigieg holds a 14-point lead over the former vice president with 26 percent. 

After Biden first announced his presidential campaign in April, he traveled to Iowa and told the crowd, " No one is going to work harder to get the support and trust of the Iowa folks than I am this campaign," and, "Ninety-nine counties, here I come!" But Biden has struggled to keep that strong presence. 

Back in September, Biden aides said it wasn't necessary for Biden to win Iowa, but that the first in the nation caucus would be "critical." 

After serving two terms as governor of Iowa, Vilsack worked in the Obama administration with Biden as the secretary of agriculture. In his endorsement, Vilsack touches on the central point of Biden's campaign: electability.

Image: Joe Biden
Former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks during a house party at former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's house on July 15, 2019, in Waukee, Iowa.Charlie Neibergall / AP

"The most obvious point to make in selecting a nominee is electability. No leader can change the direction of a country or improve people’s lives if he or she can’t win the election. Given the highest possible stakes in this election, electability has an enhanced role in deciding who the nominee should be," Vilsack said. 

Vilsack went on to commend others running for president for writing "extensive, comprehensive and thoughtful plans" in rural areas. 

1166d ago / 7:25 PM UTC

Michael Bloomberg makes multi-million ad buy in major March primary markets

WASHINGTON — While former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg hasn't formally announced a run for president, his emerging/inevitable/actual presidential campaign has bought advertising time in dozens of TV markets at a cost of $8.5 million and counting, according to ad-tracking data from Advertising Analytics.

On Thursday, Bloomberg filed federal papers officially declaring himself a candidate in the race. He has already filed to appear on two state primary ballots: Alabama and Arkansas.

The top markets in his ad buys all have later primary dates, so if Bloomberg formally announces a run, his focus may be on states that current 2020 candidates aren't spending a ton of time in as of now. 

The ads from his new buy are set to start airing on Nov. 25. The biggest buys are in the following markets: 

  • Los Angeles (California—– March 3 primary): $1.2 million
  • Chicago (Illinois – March 17 primary): $863,000
  • Houston (Texas– March 3 primary): $630,000
  • Dallas-Ft Worth (Texas– March 3 primary): $611,000
  • New York (April 28 primary): $550,000

 

1166d ago / 6:03 PM UTC

Amy Klobuchar adds staff in Nevada, other early primary states

MANCHESTER, N.H. — After a well-received debate performance on Wednesday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., is staffing up. The campaign announced two new hires in Nevada — both of whom came from former Rep. Beto O'Rourke's, D-Texas, presidential campaign.

O'Rourke ended his campaign last month.

Image: Senator Amy Klobuchar speaks during the U.S. Democratic presidential candidates debate at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta
Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks during the U.S. Democratic presidential candidates debate in Atlanta on Nov. 20, 2019.Brendan McDermid / Reuters

The campaign named Marina Negroponte as the new Nevada state director. Negroponte held the same position for O'Rourke's campaign. Cameron “C.H.” Miller joined as Nevada political director — also a position Miller held for O'Rourke. 

“Our number one focus is building a strong grassroots operation to win — and win big — in 2020,” Justin Buoen, Klobuchar's campaign manager, said in a statement. “As our momentum continues to grow following Amy’s stand-out debate performance this week, the Amy for America campaign is excited to announce two new, key hires in the state of Nevada. Marina and C.H. bring extensive experience to the team and will help us share Amy’s unifying message and optimistic agenda with caucus-goers across Nevada.”

Klobuchar’s campaign told NBC News that these are the first of new hires they will be making as they ramp up in early primary states. The campaign is doubling offices in Iowa and adding staff in New Hampshire. More hires are expected in South Carolina in the coming weeks. 

Klobuchar has been rising in Iowa polls, but has consistently polled low in Nevada. The most recent Nevada poll, conducted by Fox News, has Klobuchar at 2 percent, and she peaked in a Nevada Independent poll earlier this month at 3 percent in the state. 

While only the Democratic National Committee can verify which candidates officially qualify for each debate, Klobuchar has passed the donation and polling thresholds to appear at the December debate

1167d ago / 7:23 PM UTC

Kamala Harris calls Pete Buttigieg "naive" for comparing black, LGBTQ struggles

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ATLANTA —  At a breakfast Thursday morning for black women activists in Atlanta, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., called South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg "naive" for comparing the struggles of black Americans to those in the LGBTQ community during the Democratic primary debate Wednesday night. 

“What he did on the stage, it's just not productive,” Harris said to the room of about 200 mostly black women, after explaining that “those of us who've been involved in civil rights for a long time, we know that it is important that we not compare struggles.”

NBC News asked Buttigieg to respond to Harris calling him “naïve” for drawing parallels between being black and being gay. Buttigieg replied that he was not trying to parallel the two experiences. 

“There’s no equating those two experiences. And some people, by the way, live at the intersection of those two experiences," Buttigieg said. "Last night I shared some of my sources for motivation, includes my personal experience, my governing experience and my personal faith.”

The back-and-forth began because of a debate question directed at Harris regarding a stock photo of a Kenyan woman the Buttigieg campaign used while promoting the mayor's Douglass Plan — Buttigieg has since apologized for its use. The plan is aimed at empowering black communities.

During the debate, Harris answered the question by saying some in the Democratic Party have taken the black community’s vote for granted which Buttigieg agreed with. The mayor went on to say that while he has not experienced racial discrimination, he knows the feeling of being an outsider because of his sexuality. 

“While I do not have the experience of ever having been discriminated against because of the color of my skin, I do have the experience of sometimes feeling like a stranger in my own country,” Buttigieg said.

In an interview Wednesday night, Harris called comparing the struggles of marginalized groups “misguided." 

“So we’re going to now say that my pain is worse than your pain? We had 400 years of slavery in this country. We had years of lynching," Harris said. "We also have our LGBTQ brothers and sisters who still, under the law, do not have full equality. These are all injustices, but to start comparing one group’s pain to the other is misguided."  

 

1167d ago / 4:11 PM UTC

Joe Biden launches first bus tour in Iowa

ATLANTA — Former Vice President Joe Biden will embark on an eight day “No Malarkey” Iowa bus tour later this month, where he will be traveling to meet caucus-goers in 18 counties throughout the key early state.

Image: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden smiles as he holds a campaign rally at Los Angeles Trade Technical College in Los Angeles
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden smiles as he holds a campaign rally at Los Angeles Trade Technical College in Los Angeles Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019.Damian Dovarganes / AP

When he kicks off the bus tour, Biden will have already visited the Hawkeye State 15 times, including an upcoming trip this week. The tour's "No Malarkey" title is a reference to a catchphrase Biden has become known for using when calling out inconsistencies. The campaign is touting that he will be stressing “no malarkey” while he crisscrosses the state in the hope that more Iowans see his “honest, upfront and authentic” core.

Biden famously used the term during the 2012 vice presidential debate when then-Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., discussed cuts to defense spending. 

“When it comes to protecting health care, rebuilding the middle class, and defeating Donald Trump, Joe will continue laying out a clear vision about how he will deliver results for working families,” campaign manager Greg Schultz said.

The bus tour comes roughly two months before Iowans go before the first-in-the-nation caucuses and as polls have shown him losing substantial ground in the state. The campaign has argued that Biden does not need to win Iowa to become the nominee, but the attempt to barnstorm the state shows their ramped up emphasis to win over caucus-goers before the primary contest heads to friendlier Biden territory like South Carolina. 

Five other presidential candidates have held bus tours in the state, but Biden’s eight day stretch is slated to be the longest on-the-bus presence for a candidate. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s and Sen. Kamala Harris’, D-Calif., bus tours won them a flurry of press stories, but only Buttigieg has seen a significant rise in the polls since he drove through the state.

Prior to losing ground in the state, Biden discussed the importance of Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucus status, declining to support ideas from Democrats who believe they can clinch the nomination without competing in Iowa and New Hampshire. 

“You are the key to the kingdom. You got to go through this gate, I really mean this,” Biden told Iowans in Prole, Iowa back in August. “I'm going to work as hard as I can to try and convince you. I'm among many qualified people, I'm the best qualified people, person for this job.”

The cross-state tour of the Hawkeye State will begin on Nov. 30 in Council Bluffs and end on Dec. 7 in Cedar Rapids. 

1168d ago / 5:58 PM UTC

Pete Buttigieg releases tax returns from time at McKinsey

ATLANTA — Hours ahead of Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg released more tax returns from his time working at McKinsey & Company and called on his opponents to disclose income from their time working in the private sector.

“Every candidate in this race should be transparent with voters by disclosing their income in the private and public sectors,” Buttigieg said in a statement.

Image: Democratic Presidential Candidate Pete Buttigieg Campaigns In Des Moines, Iowa
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks at a town hall meeting which he hosted at Roosevelt High School on Oct. 12, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa.Scott Olson / Getty Images

Buttigieg worked at the multi-national management consulting firm for three years from 2007 – 2010. This release comes as he has faced increased scrutiny of his time at the company.

"As someone who worked in the private sector, I understand it is important to be as transparent as possible about how much money I made during that time,” Buttigieg said in a statement.

In 2007, Buttigieg earned an adjusted gross income of $80,397 and paid $13,954 in taxes, for an effective tax rate of 17.4 percent.

The following year, Buttigieg earned $122,680 as a single person. In all, the candidate paid $25,776 in taxes and received a refund of $1,273 from the federal government.

In April, Buttigieg released 10-year’s worth of tax returns showing a range of taxable income over the last decade from a negative $3,920 in 2011, when he first ran for mayor of South Bend, to a high of $136,129 in 2009, which was his last full year at McKinsey & Co.

All the candidates on the November debate stage have released some tax returns except for entrepreneur Andrew Yang. 

 

1169d ago / 6:38 PM UTC

Stacey Abrams talks voter suppression ahead of Democratic debate

ATLANTA —  The 2018 Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee had a simple message when she spoke at a round table on voter suppression here on Tuesday: "My name is Stacey Abrams and I am not the governor of Georgia." 

Image: Stacey Abrams, 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals
Stacey Abrams speaks onstage at Featured Session: Lead from the Outside: How to Make Real Change during the 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Hilton Austin on March 11, 2019.Danny Matson / Getty Images for SXSW

Many in the crowd replied to Abrams saying, “Yes, you are!” 

“No, no, no sometimes it seems necessary to tell people that I know this," Abrams replied. 

The former lawmaker spoke about her 2018 race for governor and told the crowd that despite her loss to now-Gov. Brian Kemp, “we won” by transforming the electorate in the state.  Abrams asserted that the only reason Democrats didn't win the governorship was because of voter suppression.

Abrams has made similar claims before. In April, Abrams told The New York Times Magazine, "I cannot say that everybody who tried to cast a ballot would’ve voted for me, but if you look at the totality of the information, it is sufficient to demonstrate that so many people were disenfranchised and disengaged by the very act of the person who won the election that I feel comfortable now saying, 'I won.'" 

Earlier this year Abrams launched “Fair Fight 2020” aimed at ending voter suppression and ensuring fair elections.

Speaking before the group on Tuesday, the former candidate and Georgia lawmaker ticked through barriers to voting access. On voter roll purging, she made a comparison to gun rights — a hot button issues in states like Georgia.

“I don't lose my second amendment rights because I didn't go shooting on Saturday,” she said. “Why should we lose the right to vote because we choose not to vote?”

She emphasized the importance of accessibility to the ballot for all types of voters. “Our accessibility has to be more than lip service and it has to be more than a website,” she said. “It has to be real.”

Abrams closed her remarks encouraging everyone to work and fight together in order to win.

Following her remarks, a panel of local leaders and activists in the fight for access to the ballot addressed the crowd sharing personal stories of voter suppression and how best to combat it. The event was hosted by the Democratic National Committee. 

They discussed voting by mail, people with disabilities joining election boards and making election day a holiday. While some politicians have argued for election day to be a holiday, some on this panel said it could  disproportionately impact people with disabilities because transit runs on less frequent schedules on holidays, and those in hospitality industries would likely still have to work on a holiday. 

 

1169d ago / 3:00 PM UTC

New Joe Biden ad highlights work on Violence Against Women Act

WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential campaign is highlighting his pledge to end violence against women with a new TV ad set to air Iowa. 

The one-minute TV and digital ad coincides with the release of Biden’s new plan to end violence against women. It is part of a previous $4 million ad buy in Iowa that will air in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. Targeted voters will also see it on YouTube and Hulu throughout the state.

Biden only briefly appears, leaving the message to be delivered by a sexual assault survivor who introduced him at a New London, N.H. town hall event earlier this month.

Biden has had sexual assault survivors introduce him at several of his rallies  — as well as women who have suffered homelessness and economic struggles after leaving their abusers — who felt personally touched and taken care of by an “unknown” senator when he passed the Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA) in 1994.

Speaking in her own words, the survivor stresses how Biden’s persistence to end domestic violence is a genuine pursuit of his, a cause Biden himself has often described on the campaign trail as a “passion of his life.”

“When someone like myself has gone through domestic violence, physically and mentally broken down, and then one day you read in the newspaper that a senator that you don’t even know is fighting for a bill that you don’t even know to help women like myself, to keep us safe and to provide transitional housing because I was homeless due to domestic violence,” she says in the ad.

“Joe Biden became my hero that day because he didn’t even know me. He was fighting for me and my son Michael even though he didn’t know it. He means so much because of that.”

Biden often says that his fight for women stems from his inability to accept abuses of power whenever he sees them, especially in the case of a man abusing a woman. 

His plan comes as the updated VAWA, legislation he spearheaded as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, stalls in the Senate. If the upper chamber does not pass the Act during this legislative term, he has promised to enact VAWA in his first 100 days as president. 

Besides implementing an updated version of VAWA, a President Biden would tackle ending the rape kit backlog, create a task force to study online sexual harassment, stalking and threats and change housing and tax laws to make it easier for women to chart their next path after the trauma of surviving abuse. His plan also puts forward proposals to specifically help women of color, older women, transwomen and women with disabilities in an effort to change the culture surrounding sexual assaults.

“This is a cultural problem and we're long way from being able to solve it,” Biden said at a recent VAWA round table in Concord, N.H.. “There's only one way to solve it. Make people look at it, make them look at how ugly it is and keep talking about it, keep talking about it for the sake of my granddaughters.”

1170d ago / 7:01 PM UTC

Gold Star father Khizr Khan endorses Biden for president

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MANCHESTER, N.H. — Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father who publicly criticized Donald Trump at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, is endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden for President.

Image: Ghazala and Khizr Khan
Khizr Khan, father of fallen US Army Capt. Humayun S. M. Khan and his wife Ghazala on the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 28, 2016.J. Scott Applewhite / AP

"Vice President Biden has always put the country above himself," Khan said in a statement released by the campaign Monday. "From the days after he was first elected Senator to his time serving alongside President Obama, Vice President Biden has never wavered in his commitment to our country. President Donald Trump, on the other hand, has consistently chosen self over country, seeking the aid of totalitarian governments to sway elections and undermine our rule of law to serve his self-interest."

The campaign says that Khan, whose son was killed in the Iraq War, will be making his first surrogate campaign visit on Biden's behalf to New Hampshire sometime in early December, but details and dates are still being finalized.

Khan and his wife Ghazala were recently seen at a Biden fundraiser on November 3, held at former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s house. During Biden’s brief remarks, Biden acknowledged that the Khan family knows “what this man is like” given that they were at one point a repeated target of President Donald Trump’s attacks, Marianna as pooler reported from the event.

“I know as well, Mr. Khan, what you’ve gone through. I know just what you suffered and the humiliation,” Biden said at the fundraiser. “I lost a son too and I’ve noticed what he’s trying to do to my living son.” He added that Trump is a man “with very few social redeeming value.”