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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.

1051d ago / 4:22 PM UTC

Two New Hampshire state reps switch their support to Amy Klobuchar

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar expanded her support base in the Granite State on Thursday when she picked up endorsements from two state representatives who previously supported Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker respectively.

State Rep. Michael Pedersen had announced his support for Warren in November and State Rep. Linn Opderbecke supported Booker before the New Jersey senator ended his presidential campaign earlier this week.  

Image: Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., speaks during at fundraiser in Las Vegas on Nov. 17, 2019.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., speaks during at fundraiser in Las Vegas on Nov. 17, 2019.John Locher / AP file

In an uncommon move of switching public endorsements, especially while both candidates are still in the race, Pedersen said in an interview with NBC News that the primary reason he's switching his support to Klobuchar is due to electability. 

“I like both candidates a lot, and am friends with staff on both teams, however I think that Sen. Klobuchar is more electable across the country than Sen. Warren,” Pedersen said. “She has a proven track record of winning in Trump country. And Sen. Warren has a proven track record of winning in liberal northeast.”

Pedersen said that his support had been evolving for the last couple of weeks, but solidified behind Klobuchar after Tuesday night's Democratic debate.  

“After the debate, I saw everybody pairing up — Sen. Warren and Sanders competition against one another, and then everyone else. I just think those two as a team, Sanders and Warren, they don’t appeal widely across the nation as Sen. Klobuchar.”

Pedersen said that he plans to knock on doors for Klobuchar in the remaining weeks until the New Hampshire primary. 

Prior to Booker ending his presidential campaign, Pedersen also thought he was a strong candidate and noted that Booker's supporters may now turn to candidates like Klobuchar — a sentiment echoed by Opderbecke.

“Amy showed on the debate stage that she’s someone who tells the truth and has people’s backs,” Opderbecke said in a statement. “That is the leadership we need to take on Donald Trump. Amy will not only beat Trump, but also will secure victories up and down the ballot. I’m proud to support her campaign for president.”

In the last week, Klobuchar also picked up endorsements from N.H. state Rep. Jim Verschueren, former state Sen. Iris Estabrook and Deputy Speaker of the N.H. House Karen Ebel.

 

1051d ago / 4:01 PM UTC

Elizabeth Warren earns endorsements from over 100 Latino leaders

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WASHINGTON — Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced more than 100 endorsements from Latina, Latino and Latinx community leaders on Thursday. The list include New York Assemblywoman Rep. Catalina Cruz, who was brought to the U.S. undocumented as a child, award-winning writer and poet Elizabeth Acevedo and Rosie Castro, the mother of Julián and Joaquin Castro — both of whom recently endorsed Warren.

The endorsers come from more than a dozen states, including Iowa, as well as influential Super Tuesday states like California and Texas.

“I am grateful for the support of this list of Latina, Latino and Latinx leaders who have made incomparable gains for their communities and continue to trailblaze for the good of everyone,” Warren said in a statement provided exclusively to NBC. “I am proud to stand with them in this fight for big, structural change.”

“These leaders make up the heart of our movement, and with their support, we can make big, structural change. That’s how we win in 2020 and beat Donald Trump,” said Latinx Outreach campaign's director Jonathan Jayes Green.

The endorsements come less than three weeks before the Iowa caucuses and as the conversation around the diversity of candidates running for president intensifies. This week’s debate in Iowa included only white candidates. 

After former HUD Sec. Julián Castro, the only Latino candidate in the race ended his campaign, he quickly endorsed Warren and has become an active surrogate for her campaign.

Castro has long been complimentary of Warren's outreach efforts to minority communities.

“Senator Warren certainly has done a good job, I think, of reaching out to different communities during the course of this campaign. I’ve been very impressed with the work that she's done both in the African-American community and the Latino community," Castro said in an interview on MSNBC in November. 

The duo's campaigning efforts have led to speculation that Warren might consider Castro as a candidate for vice president and that his support may help turnout among Latino voters — Latinos will be the largest non-white voting bloc in this election.

Castro has been campaigning extensively for Warren in early voting states like Iowa and Nevada. 

1051d ago / 1:58 PM UTC

Buttigieg brings selfie style ad campaign to Iowa ahead of the caucuses

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MASON CITY, Iowa — With 18 days to go until the Iowa caucuses, Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg has his sights set on flipping counties that voted for both Barack Obama and Donald Trump — and he’s turning to his supporters to help get the job done.   

Buttigieg is launching a new digital ad campaign called "River to River: Iowa for Pete,” but instead of hearing from the candidate, viewers will hear directly from voters in their own communities about why they support the former mayor of South Bend Indiana. 

“Our campaign is committed to organizing everywhere — in coffee shops, at people’s doorsteps, and online,” Buttigieg’s Iowa Organizing Director Kevin Groh said in a statement. “These online ads will help us reach even more people with Pete’s message.” 

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

The selfie video style ads will hit Facebook and YouTube on Thursday, specifically targeting two-dozen counties that flipped from Obama to Trump in 2016.  Each ad will play in the specific county that the featured caucus goer is from. 

For example, Allison Rasmussen, will tell neighbors in Bremer County that she’s caucusing for Buttigieg because of his support for public education. Johnson County caucus goers will hear from Donte, who backs Buttigieg because of his plan to tackle systemic racism. Those in Worth County, will meet Alvin Kobernusz, a corn producer who say’s Buttigieg will “go to work for Iowa farmers.” 

The Buttigieg campaign has long emphasized this “relational organizing” model on the ground in Iowa. Instead of only reaching out to likely caucus-goers already on the voter rolls, the campaign encourages their supporters to tap into their personal networks in hopes of expanding the electorate and building more meaningful connections with those they’re hoping to win over. Now, the campaign is taking that model to a place where voters spend a lot of their time – the internet and social media. 

As the caucus countdown continues additional ads will be released across the state. The 30-second spots are part of an ongoing seven-figure digital ad campaign in Iowa.

1051d ago / 11:45 PM UTC

Buttigieg gets first N.H. congressional endorsement from Ann Kuster

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MANCHESTER, N.H. — Democratic Rep. Ann Kuster will formally endorse Pete Buttigieg for president at a rally in Concord Friday, both Kuster’s office and Buttigieg’s campaign confirm to NBC News.

Kuster tweeted out her endorsement Wednesday evening, saying, “with our country so consumed by division, @PeteButtigieg is the leader who can finally turn the page on the Trump presidency and bring our nation together."

Kuster will be the first member of the New Hampshire congressional delegation to make an endorsement for the New Hampshire primary, which is just under a month away.

The congresswoman has participated in many campaign events with Buttigieg in New Hampshire, as well as for various other Democratic presidential candidates, including Biden, Warren, Klobuchar, Booker, O’Rourke and more.

“From working to tackle the opioid epidemic and increasing access to health care to honoring our pledge to our veterans and their families when they return home, Rep. Kuster has spent her career delivering results for New Hampshire families,” Buttigieg said in a statement Thursday night in which his campaign also announced Kuster will serve as a national co-chair.

“At a time of so much dysfunction in Washington, Rep. Kuster has brought Americans together to improve the lives of her constituents. She represents the best of our politics and I’m honored to have her serve as our co-chair.”

1051d ago / 8:31 PM UTC

Michael Bloomberg questioned on NDAs, stop-and-frisk apology on 'The View'

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Wednesday that he would not lift non-disclosure agreements signed by those who have left his companies, and reaffirmed his apology for his 'Stop-and-Frisk' policy while he was mayor, during an appearance on ABC's 'The View.'  

A former employee from Bloomberg LP recently asked a judge in New York to invalidate nondisclosure agreements the company used as part of settlements for discrimination complaints against the company.

“We don't have anything to hide but we made legal agreements, which both sides wanted to keep certain things from coming out," Bloomberg said in response to a question about his company's NDAs. "They have a right to do that.” 

“Remember, just because you signed a nondisclosure doesn't mean you can't talk about other things. You just can't talk about what was in that agreement where perhaps you don't disparage the other party or you don't want to retell a story, whatever it is," he continued. 

Co-host Abby Huntsman also asked Bloomberg about accusations that he's made "lewd and sexist comments." 

“Did I ever tell a bawdy joke? Yeah, sure I did,” Bloomberg continued. “Do I regret it? Yes, it's embarrassing, but, you know, that's the way I grew up.”

Bloomberg's appearance on the show followed the latest Democratic presidential debate, which he did not qualify for. While Bloomberg had met the polling threshold to be part of the debate, he is not accepting contributions to the campaign which made him ineligible to participate. On Wednesday, Bloomberg said that not being part of the debate does limit his exposure to voters.  

"It's harder to get the message out if you're not in the debates," Bloomberg said. But he said that by self-funding his campaign he can be less corruptible than other candidates. 

Bloomberg was also pushed on his apology for his mayoral stop-and-frisk policy, and was asked if his only apologized for the policy to help a presidential run. 

"There were 650 murders a year in New York City, most of them were young minority men. And I said we just have to stop this. That’s where my heart is, that’s what I wanted to do," Bloomberg said of his reasoning to enforce the policy. "We had gone way overboard, and we stopped it and before I left office we cut 95 percent of it out. Then I apologized when enough people said to me you were wrong, and I thought about it and I wish I’d done it earlier."

Bloomberg also appeared on 'The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" directly after the Democratic debate on Tuesday night. 

1052d ago / 5:24 PM UTC

Andrew Yang not worried about lack of conventional endorsements

WASHINGTON — Businessman Andrew Yang brushed aside his lack of endorsements from lawmakers during a Wednesday interview, arguing that conventional political figures are "just waiting for the water to get a little warmer" before jumping in. 

"I’m talking to a lot of people who are political figures who are very excited about my candidacy and campaign, uh, they’re just waiting for the water to get a little warmer," he said during a Wednesday interview on MSNBC.

"The thing is, if you’re in D.C. and you’re literally friends with like some of the people that are in the race, it’s kind of hard to endorse Andrew Yang, but it’s coming."

Yang has won some high-profile celebrity endorsements in recent months — including comedian Dave Chappelle, billionaire Elon Musk and actress Teri Hatcher. But he's failed to attract support from any governor, senator or member of Congress.

While there hasn't been an overwhelming rush by lawmakers to one candidate, top Democrats have been fanning out backing their chosen presidential candidates — former Vice President Joe Biden leads the pack with the most endorsements from members of Congress. 

But Yang has argued his lack of conventional political experience is an asset, and he told MSNBC that he's the best person to take over the White House because he's "focused on the real problems that got Donald Trump elected in the first place." 

"We have to stop acting like Donald Trump caused all the problems, he’s actually the symptom of a greater disease that we need to cure together as a party and as a country," Yang said. 

1053d ago / 7:43 PM UTC

Elizabeth Warren wants to cancel student debt — without Congress. Can she do that?

WASHINGTON — Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren made a policy splash ahead of Tuesday night’s debate, announcing that she would cancel hundreds of billions of dollars of student debt as president — without approval from Congress. 

In this case, it’s a new wrinkle on an old plan. Warren had already put out a proposal to cancel up to $50,000 in debt for individuals with incomes up to $250,000, financed by a proposed wealth tax on fortunes over $50 million. 

“I will start to use existing laws on day one of my presidency to implement my student loan debt cancellation plan that offers relief to 42 million Americans,” Warren said in a letter announcing her plan. 

The vast majority of student loans are issued by the federal government, and Warren cited experts at the Legal Service Center of Harvard Law School to argue the Higher Education Act grants the Department of Education the authority to modify or cancel that debt. 

Image: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks at a campaign event in Iowa on Jan. 12, 2020.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks at a campaign event in Iowa on Jan. 12, 2020.Patrick Semansky / AP

The concept of using executive power to cancel large swaths of debt gained a burst of attention in left-leaning policy circles last September when The American Prospect published a series of “Day One Agenda” items that academics argued a Democratic president could tackle even if Republicans managed to block legislation. Warren and Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders told the publication they were open to the idea at the time, but this is the first formal commitment from any candidate to the approach. 

Gregory Cespi, a law professor at Southern Methodist University who specializes in student debt policy, told NBC News that Warren’s plan was legally plausible even as he disagreed with her overall approach. 

“Given how the Trump Administration has shown how ineffective Congress has become in challenging executive action, I think that Republican congressional opposition to her plan would be ineffective, and litigation to block these actions would grind slowly through the courts, with uncertain results,” he said. “Bottom line, I think President Warren could pull it off.”

While Warren’s call for mass debt cancellation via executive action is new within the field, she’s argued for forgiving some loans based on similar legal reasoning in the past, albeit on a smaller scale. 

Alexis Goldstein, a senior policy analyst at the left-leaning Americans for Financial Reform, noted that Warren joined other progressive Democrats in 2014 in urging the Department of Education to issue a blanket cancellation of debt for students who had gone to a defunct for-profit college. The Obama administration instead pursued an alternate approach that let students apply individually for relief, which the Trump administration then reversed. 

“Now she’s taking it further and saying to use this authority to cancel debt for everyone,” Goldstein said.

Student debt, which has surged in recent years, has been a major issue in the Democratic race so far.

Sanders has proposed canceling all $1.6 trillion in outstanding loans. The rest of the field has called for more targeted relief programs and new reforms to student debt repayments rather than mass cancellation, with some rivals criticizing Warren and Sanders for providing too much aid to relatively well-off graduates.  

1053d ago / 6:09 PM UTC

Never Trumper group expands to take aim at vulnerable allies of the president

WASHINGTON — A small but growing group of Republican strategists and thought leaders is escalating efforts to deny President Donald Trump a second term, and is now even going after the president's allies in Congress. 

The Lincoln Project, which debuted last month, was founded by several well-known “Never Trumpers” who became his fiercest and most vocal critics in the first years of the administration. Now, the group is gearing up for an 11-month fight against an incumbent who they argue presents a “clear and present danger to the Constitution and our Republic.”

The project released its first digital ad last week, questioning the president's support from the evangelical community by highlighting some of his more controversial public statements.

This week, the group expanded to target a vulnerable GOP Senator up for re-election this fall, Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., releasing a digital ad that criticizes him for siding with Trump over his home state.

The group has plans to the give the same treatment to other GOP senators like Maine's Susan Collins and Martha McSally in Arizona. The group will continue to use digital ads for the time being, with plans to expand to other mediums dependent on fundraising.

“The Republican Party has flopped over and played dead. Donald Trump did not have the ability to take over the party by himself. This happened because Republicans in the Senate handed it over,” said Jennifer Horn, a Lincoln Project adviser and former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party.

“This is just the beginning,” Horn said, touting a significant response from voters so far, who have backed up their support with donations. “We have the receipts to prove it,” she said.

While President Trump continues to enjoy very strong support from the Republican Party, the Lincoln Project is also expanding, naming several new senior advisers Tuesday who will help amplify their message, including national security expert Tom Nichols.

“Defeating Donald Trump is not a partisan campaign issue,” Nichols said in a release announcing the additions. "It is a call to all Americans to defend our Constitution. That is why I am proud to be a part of the Lincoln Project in this critical effort.”

The undertaking is twofold: help voters oust Trump in November; and also hold those Republicans who have supported him along the way accountable at the ballot box.

The founding members include outspoken Trump detractor and lawyer George Conway, national political strategists like Steve Schmidt and John Weaver and Horn. Many say have abandoned the Republican party in the age of Trump, citing a “lack of integrity” and acknowledging their mission may “cost them” the traditional conservative establishment as it exists now.

Squaring policy discrepancies with Democrats are a concern, said Horn, but “that’s a fight for another day.”

“We have to put differences aside for this one election,” she said.

For its part, the Trump campaign remains unfazed by the effort.

“This is a pathetic little club of irrelevant and faux ‘Republicans,’ who are upset that they’ve lost all of their power and influence inside the Republican Party,” communications director Tim Murtaugh told NBC News. “When President Trump got elected on a promise to drain the swamp in Washington D.C., these establishment charlatans, who for years enriched themselves off the backs of the conservative movement, were the very swamp he was referring too.”

Still, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon seemed to take notice of the anti-Trump organization and recently posited that “if these guys can peel off 3% or 4%, that’s going to be serious,” he told the Associated Press earlier this month.

The group says it will not endorse or get too involved in the Democratic primary, though the general election may be different.

1053d ago / 8:00 PM UTC

Clyburn's grandson cuts radio ad backing Buttigieg

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WASHINGTON — The grandson of House Democratic Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., has cut a radio ad invoking his grandfather’s legacy and calling former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg “a leader of uncommon decency.”

The elder Clyburn is a major political force in South Carolina and one of the most prominent African Americans in Congress. He's not endorsed anyone in the Democratic primary race, as the ad makes clear right at the start. But his grandson, Walter A. Clyburn Reed, is organizing for Buttigieg. 

"Mayor Pete works so hard for people in need, no matter where they live or what they look like, harder than anyone I’ve ever met," Clyburn Reed says in the ad. 

"Whether the issue is lifting wages or expanding healthcare, ending gun violence or battling racism, Mayor Pete is someone our community can trust. Someone we can believe in."

The Buttigieg campaign says the ad featuring Walter Clyburn Reed will air in South Carolina throughout January.

Months of efforts by Buttigieg to improve his standing among black voters have largely failed to yield any dividends. A Washington Post-Ipsos poll of black Democratic-leaning voters conducted last week found Buttigieg at 2 percent nationally. The most recent poll of South Carolina, a Fox News poll in early January, had Buttigieg at 4 percent.

—Jordan Jackson contributed.

1054d ago / 7:23 PM UTC

Biden tops new Iowa poll as race remains in flux

WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden tops a new Monmouth University poll of likely Iowa caucusgoers as the state's pivotal contest remains a toss-up with less than one month to go. 

Biden wins support from 24 percent of likely caucusgoers in the new poll, followed by Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders' 18 percent. Former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg has support from 17 percent of caucusgoers and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren from 15 percent. 

The margins between all four of those candidates are within the poll's plus-minus 4.9 percent margin of error. 

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, with 8 percent, is the only other Democrat to poll above 5 percent. 

Iowa's caucus is run differently than a typical primary — Iowans assemble at a precinct where they split off into groups supporting each candidate. Only candidates who have support from 15 percent of a precinct's caucusgoers are considered "viable," and eligible for delegates. Those who are caucusing with candidates who aren't viable have to realign or declare as uncommitted. 

The Monmouth poll found only Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg and Warren hitting 15 percent across the state. And in a separate question, where caucusgoers are asked who they'd support if only those four candidates were viable at their caucus site, Biden leads with 28 percent, followed by Buttigieg at 25, Sanders at 24 and Warren at 16 percent.  

With just three weeks until the Iowa caucus, the poll also suggests Iowans are beginning to make up their minds. Forty-three percent of likely caucusgoers say they're "firmly decided" on their candidate, compared to 28 percent in November. 

For those still wavering, Warren could be in a decent position — she's the second choice of 23 percent of caucusgoers. The next closest candidate is Buttigieg, who is the second choice of 15 percent of caucusgoers. 

Monmouth polled 405 likely caucusgoers between Jan. 9 to Jan. 12.

With the caucus just weeks away, polling has underscored the unpredictable nature of the caucus. Late last week, the Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa poll found a similar four-candidate pile-up, this time with Sanders in the lead with Biden in fourth-place. The margins between the four top candidates were all within the poll's margin of error. 

1054d ago / 4:51 PM UTC

Trump seeks to undo protections for pre-existing conditions, despite tweets

WASHINGTON — President Trump has misrepresented his position on pre-existing conditions protections in the past, but even by previous standards his tweet on Monday stands out by falsely taking credit for the protections existing in the first place, saying he “saved” them, while actively trying to remove them. 

The current pre-existing protections were enacted under the Affordable Care Act, which President Obama signed in 2010 while Trump was a private citizen.

Trump's Justice Department is currently backing a lawsuit by Republican state officials to throw out the entire law — including those protections. The president has also previously urged Congress to pass a bill that would roll back some of the law’s protections for pre-existing conditions and his administration has expanded access to plans that do not cover pre-existing conditions, which critics deride as “junk insurance.” 

If the courts agree with the White House’s legal arguments, the lawsuit would end the ACA’s landmark requirement that insurance companies take on all customers regardless of any pre-existing conditions and charge them the same premiums as healthy customers.

That change would not be incidental to the White House’s broader objection to the health care law. In fact, it’s central to their case: The Trump administration’s initial legal position directly targeted the law’s protection for patients with pre-existing conditions, arguing they should be removed while most of the law remained. Only later did they expand their legal argument to demand the entire law be thrown out. 

There’s a real chance the lawsuit succeeds. The case is currently pending after a Texas judge ruled the entire law unconstitutional in December 2018. Last month, the conservative-leaning 5th Circuit Court issued an opinion that supported the judge’s underlying argument, but sent the case back for further review as to which parts of the law should stand. 

The Supreme Court is expected to eventually weigh in, but the White House is asking them to delay a request by Democratic state officials for an expedited ruling. If the White House argument holds, the decision will likely occur after the presidential election. That means the courts could potentially throw out protections for pre-existing conditions after the president campaigned for re-election on championing them. 

Democrats made the lawsuit, along with Republican efforts in Congress to undo some of the ACA’s protections, a central part of their 2018 midterm campaigns. 

In response, Trump and a number of GOP candidates said they would maintain some protections for pre-existing conditions if the lawsuit succeeded, but there is no party consensus as to what would replace them and many existing proposals still contain fewer protections coverage than current law.  

Key conservative lawmakers object to the current protections for pre-existing conditions on ideological and policy grounds and Republican leaders and the White House sided with their demands to loosen them in their attempt to repeal and replace the ACA. 

Had the House repeal bill backed by Trump become law, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted that “less healthy individuals (including those with pre-existing or newly acquired medical conditions) would be unable to purchase comprehensive coverage with premiums close to those under current law and might not be able to purchase coverage at all.” 

There are longstanding policy debates surrounding all these issues. Critics of the law’s protections for pre-existing conditions argue that they drive up premiums too high for healthier customers and there are potentially other ways to provide sicker patients health care, though none of the Trump-backed legislative proposals have been found by the CBO and other independent analysts to cover nearly as many people. 

But Trump’s statements largely ignore that debate. Instead he’s asked his supporters, many of whom have expressed concern in polls about the issue, to believe he holds a position in direct opposition to his actual policy.

 

1054d ago / 3:36 PM UTC

Bloomberg calls for changes to presidential primary calendar, warns against focus on 'homogeneous' states

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called for changes in the Democratic presidential primary calendar Monday in an op-ed representing a reversal of sentiments he expressed just five days ago on the campaign trail.

“[A]s we Democrats work to protect democracy from Republicans who seek to exclude voters, we must also look inward, because our own party's system of nominating a presidential candidate is both undemocratic and harms our ability to prepare for — and win — the general election,” Bloomberg wrote in an op-ed for CNN.

Bloomberg, who made a late November entry into the 2020 race, has chosen to skip the first four early states altogether, focusing instead on delegate-rich Super Tuesday while other contenders fight for position just 21 days out from the Iowa caucus.  

Image: Democratic presidential candidate Bloomberg opens his Tennessee campaign headquarters in Nashville
Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg opens his Tennessee 2020 campaign headquarters in Nashville on Dec. 19, 2019.Harrison McClary / Reuters file

In his op-ed, the former mayor warned that by focusing on the most “homogenous [states] in the nation,” the Democratic Party risks “repeating 2016.” The Iowa caucus represents the first contest on the Democratic presidential nominating calendar, with the New Hampshire primary one week later. 

The need to place more emphasis and channel resources into “Blue Wall” states is an idea Bloomberg often highlights on the trail. But before Monday, Bloomberg has been hesitant to call for a reordering of the primary calendar.

Just last Wednesday, reporters pressed Bloomberg on this issue after a campaign stop in Akron, Ohio.

“I think we've got a tradition here of four states,” he said. “The system has gotten used to it, and I guess the Democratic Party probably shouldn't take it away.”

Bloomberg said then that the decision should ultimately be made by the Democratic Party.

But in the days since the Akron event, the former mayor reversed course, pointing to action he would take if elected: “As president, I will ensure the DNC works with state party leaders at every level to re-order the primary calendar in ways that better reflect our diverse electorate and channel more resources into the states we actually need to win in November.”

“Don't get me wrong: I have enormous respect for the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire. Both states are full of devoted citizens,” Bloomberg wrote. “But so are the other 48. And we need a system that both better reflects our country and puts us in a better position to defeat a candidate like Donald Trump." 

1054d ago / 9:46 PM UTC

Prominent New Hampshire union backing Bernie Sanders

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MANCHESTER, NH -- New Hampshire’s second-largest union is set to endorse Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday, the Sanders campaign confirmed to NBC News. 

SEA/SEIU Local 1984 contains over 10,000 private and public sector members, and will be making the announcement alongside Sanders’ national co-chair, former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner.

“I’m honored to receive SEA/SEIU Local 1984’s support today,” said Sen. Sanders in a statement shared first with NBC News.

“The labor movement helped build the middle class in this country, and strong unions are key to reviving it today. As president, I’ll continue to stand on the side of workers and unions like SEA/SEIU 1984 in the fight for a fair and just economy that works for all of us.” 

Rich Gulla, the president of SEA/SEIU Local 1984 praised Sanders in a statement, arguing that he's "represented the interests of workers all across this country" as well as workers in his union. 

“Just recently, when he learned of the struggles that New Hampshire state employees who are without a contract are facing he called a press conference to tell Governor Sununu to treat workers with respect. We know American workers can count on him. We are proud to endorse Sen. Sanders for president," Gulla said. 

Image: Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, speaks to supporters at a rally in Denver on Sept. 9. 2019.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, speaks to supporters at a rally in Denver on Sept. 9. 2019.Michael Ciaglo / Getty Images file

The notable endorsement does not break with recent precedent, however. During the 2016 primary, the local New Hampshire chapter broke from the national organization’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton to endorse Sanders, and many members have remained loyal to Sanders since 2015.

Julia Barnes, who served as Sanders' state director in 2016 but is now working for a New Hampshire gubernatorial candidate, said the endorsement comes at a good time for a campaign looking to mobilize volunteers one month before the New Hampshire primary. Barnes, while no longer working for Sanders, is a Sanders supporter. 

“It’s very validating in terms of the union making a choice to come out during such a crowded primary,” she told NBC. “They were a really big part of our on the ground operation in terms of sending their members, and it’s validating in the community to have that union support on their side.” 

Throughout the 2020 primary, the union hosted member town halls with all the major presidential candidates except former Vice President Joe Biden.

“From a labor standpoint, we’re looking for candidates who not only talk the talk but walk the walk,” Gulla told NBC News last month. “Have they ever walked a picket line? Have they belonged to a union themselves? What did they do on sponsored legislation?”

The events were part of the endorsement process, which also included a 10-question survey sent to candidates and a recommendation by the political education committee to the chapter’s board of directors. Gulla told NBC News the union chapter is equally divided into thirds ideologically – Democratic, GOP and independent.

1055d ago / 3:33 PM UTC

Bennet: Senate impeachment trial will be 'disruptive' to presidential campaign

WASHINGTON — Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, one of the five Democratic senators running for president, said Sunday that the upcoming Senate impeachment trial is going to be “disruptive” to the presidential campaign, but that it’s part of his “constitutional responsibility.” 

“It is going to be disruptive and there’s nothing that I can do about it, so I choose not to worry about it. We have, all of us, a constitutional responsibility we have to fulfill here. And I take my oath seriously, and I will,” he said.  

“The stakes are really high and I think the framers of the Constitution would demand of the people that are sitting in judgment that they put the Constitution in front of the president and use this as an opportunity to remind the American people why the rule of law is so important.” 

With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expected to transmit the articles of impeachment passed by the House late last year, the specter of a Senate trial looms over the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.  

During the impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton, the Senate regularly worked long hours and six-day weeks, a heavy workload that would limit the ability of senators like Bennet to hit the campaign trail.  

Bennet acknowledged the strain impeachment will likely put on his schedule.  

“I'm spending every single second I can in New Hampshire, trying to fulfill my commitment to hold an additional 50 townhalls here,” he said.   

“I've already spent more time here than any other candidate. And I'm just going to continue to do that.” 

And he said he doesn’t necessarily expect Republicans to join Democratic demands to get former National Security Adviser John Bolton to testify as part of the trial, although he said he doesn’t “think it’s impossible.”  

“I hope my Republican colleagues will be open to having witnesses. The American people want witnesses. And they want to see the records from the White House, as well,” he said.  

1055d ago / 11:31 PM UTC

John Kerry: Democratic primary is a "circular firing squad", and it's time to "coalesce" around one candidate

DAVENPORT, IOWA — Former Secretary of State and 2004 Democratic nominee for president, John Kerry bemoaned the nature of the “traditional circular firing squad of the Democratic party” while urging Iowa voters in Muscatine to “coalesce” around former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign on Saturday.

Kerry, who's campaigning for Biden on a week-long swing through Iowa, said that the longer it takes for the party to support one candidate, the more the eventual nominee will be hurt. 

“The sooner we can coalesce around a candidate, the sooner we eliminate the traditional circular firing squad of the Democratic party, where we just pop away,” Kerry said. “That hurt Hillary last time, where Bernie went on and on and on and on, so we gotta end this thing and we have a chance to do it.”

And Kerry, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2004, said that Biden, despite trailing Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former South Bend, Ind Mayor Pete Buttigieg in the latest Iowa poll, can still win the Iowa caucuses because he'll be less of a target. 

“I like the way this is tee'd up to be honest with you,” Kerry said. “You know, when we were coming in the last weeks we didn't want to be a target.”

Kerry took the moment to compare Sanders to one of his 2004 rivals, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. Dean, who was a leading progressive voice during the 2004 Democratic primary. A day before the 2004 Iowa caucuses, a Des Moines Register poll showed Kerry, Dean and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards in a virtual tie with Kerry leading the pack but within the margin of error. 

“You know, Howard Dean was out there, and now Bernie is out there, it's the same thing. Bernie, Howard Dean, da da da da. But Joe Biden can drive a Mack truck right through the hole.”

Kerry endorsed Biden in December and has since campaigned with Biden and alone as a surrogate. 

1056d ago / 6:00 PM UTC

New poll shows Joe Biden far ahead of 2020 pack in support from black Democrats

WASHINGTON — A new Washington Post/Ipsos poll found that 48 percent of black registered voters who lean Democratic support former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential run. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders came in second, but 28 points behind Biden, with 20 percent support.

The poll is further evidence that black Americans continue to favor Biden despite campaign gaffes, and other candidates attacking Biden’s record on race — like California Sen. Kamala Harris’ criticism of Biden’s stance on busing, and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s attacks on Biden’s 1994 crime bill.

The new poll also shows the steep drop off in support candidates have after Biden and Sanders. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren garnered only 9 percent support, followed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Booker tied with 4 percent support. Businessman Andrew Yang had just 3 percent support, and former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and philanthropist Tom Steyer garnered 2 percent support. All other candidates had less than 1 percent support of black Democrats in the poll.

Buttigieg has consistently fended off concerns that he would not be able to build a strong coalition as the Democratic nominee because of his lack of support in the black community — one of the strongest Democratic voting blocks. On Thursday, Buttigieg received her first endorsement from a member of the Congressional Black Caucus when Maryland Rep. Anthony G. Brown endorsed him.

Brown said that he expected black support for Buttigieg to “increase dramatically” as communities got to know him. However, this new poll shows that 15 percent of black registered voters who lean Democratic would “definitely not consider supporting” Buttigieg. The only two candidates to register higher than him were Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard at 23 percent, and Bloomberg at 17 percent.

Biden’s support in the black community is not just wide, but also strong. Biden has a 69 percent favorable view among black adults and 44 percent of that favorability is “strongly” favorable. While Sanders had a net favorability of 63 percent, only 29 percent of that support was strongly favorable.

Furthermore, 61 percent of those polls said the next president should “generally continue President Obama’s policies.” Only 21 percent said the next president should have “more liberal or progressive policies” than former President Obama’s.

As Biden continues to push his more moderate agenda, that he says adds on to the successes of Obama’s years in office, this support in the black community could buoy him through Iowa and New Hampshire which have less diverse voting demographics than Nevada and South Carolina.

1056d ago / 8:21 PM UTC

Tom Steyer says lack of military experience doesn't hinder judgment in national security

WASHINGTON — Presidential candidate and philanthropist Tom Steyer has pitched himself to voters as an outsider. On Friday he said that his outsider experience wouldn't hinder his ability to act in a national security crisis because his decisions would come down to "judgment", and "experience alone isn't nearly enough."  

"I don't have military experience and I give people credit for that. But this is a question to me of having judgment, of having clear strategy and then consulting the experts in making your decisions," Steyer said on MSNBC. "At the experience over the last 20 years of the American government and how we've proceeded in the Middle East, in the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War that implies that experience alone isn't nearly enough." 

After this week's events in the Middle East when first President Trump authorized a strike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, and then Iran's response which included a rocket strike at an American military base in Iraq, Democratic candidates have been positioning themselves as better suited to handle a military crisis. 

Two candidates, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg are veterans and both have criticized those who voted for the war in Iraq. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has reaffirmed his vote against the war in Iraq and said on Friday that President Trump's decision to "assassinate a high-ranking official of foreign government" could "unleash anarchy." 

The only candidate in the 2020 race who voted to support the Iraq war is former Vice President Joe Biden who voted for the war when he served in the Senate. During the third Democratic debate in September, Biden said he regretted his vote for the war

"I should have never voted to give Bush the authority to go in and do what he said he was going to do," Biden said. 

1057d ago / 5:12 PM UTC

Democratic online donations hit $1 billion mark in 2019 as Republicans make strides to catch up

WASHINGTON — The Democratic online fundraising juggernaut hit another massive milestone in 2019, but the Republican effort to close the gap between the two parties also took big strides as well. 

The Democratic-aligned online fundraising platform ActBlue raised $1 billion last year, while the new Republican-aligned WinRed raised $101 million since it launched in late June. 

The new numbers, released by the groups in recent days (full reports must be filed by the end of the month), show how Democrats continue to reap the benefits of a well-organized and longstanding effort to invest in and centralize their online donor platform. But Republicans appear to be benefiting from a concerted effort of their own to replicate that. 

Virtually every Democratic organization goes through ActBlue, and since the platform is about 15 years old, it has grown exponentially as the rise of high-speed internet and mobile devices have made it easier to solicit donations. 

That move has paid off for the Democratic Party, making it easier for their grassroots donors to spread money around up and down the ballot and across the country (especially in the age of smartphones).

“Our record-breaking Q4 indicated what we saw in all of 2019: unprecedented grassroots engagement and growth of the small-dollar donor movement, which we only expect to increase from here,“ ActBlue Executive Director Erin Hill said in a statement.

“Our nominee will need at least half of their funds from grassroots donors if they want to beat Donald Trump. Based on what we saw last year, the eventual Democratic nominee will have an army of grassroots donors behind them.”

Data released by ActBlue shows that 6 million people donated through ActBlue in 2019, a record for the site, and that half of those were first-time donors through ActBlue. And even with the presidential race taking center stage, almost 40 percent of those donors gave to a non-presidential candidate or group. 

And the majority, 57 percent, of all 2019 contributions came through mobile devices, another sign of how the robust effort has made it easier for donors to give to Democrats. 

Republicans have been trying to build their own version of ActBlue for years, and after a handful of attempts, WinRed seems to be catching on (with the backing of President Trump and the Republican National Committee). Getting it right now could be particularly fruitful for Republicans as they hope to mobilize Trump's strong grassroots support into a long-term fundraising boon for their candidates. 

WinRed is just six months old, but it's quickly winning over an overwhelming share of the GOP fundraising infrastructure. Every state Republican party, 80 percent of all GOP senators and 78 percent of GOP House members are fundraising through WinRed, the group says.  

And WinRed says that impeachment is good for business, as donation pages discussing impeachment raised over 300 percent more than pages that didn't, and that fundraising spiked after Democrats launched their formal impeachment inquiry on Oct. 31. (That's another advantage of centralizing an online fundraising platform — it's easier to conduct large-scale analysis across a wide range of campaigns).

Tryng to compare WinRed's early fundraising to that from ActBlue's beginnings isn't very useful — massive changes in technology have created a far more fruitful terrain for online fundraising now than ActBlue had when it launched in 2004.

Since WinRed hasn't reached unified status on the right, the numbers don't tell the whole GOP online-fundraising story. And the Trump-era has been good for GOP fundraising, with Trump and the RNC building a massive warchest that will serve as a significant advantage over the eventual Democratic nominee and the Democratic National Committee. 

But the bottom line is: the Democratic juggernaut is continuing to help Democrats pull in massive amounts of money that will be a major benefit for 2020, but Republicans are making their best strides in recent years at closing the gap. 

1057d ago / 4:11 PM UTC

Michael Bloomberg campaigns in Midwest, but emphasizes learning about the voters

NEW YORK — Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took a whirlwind trip through three states in the Midwest on Wednesday to learn about what voters in the region are concerned about in 2020 and to further cement his Super Tuesday strategy in the Democratic primary. 

Bloomberg began Wednesday at a community college in Chicago, and ended it at a town hall in Akron, Ohio where he toured an "innovation lab" where herbs and micro-greens are grown with hydroponics. 

“I want to better understand rural America,” Bloomberg said to his hosts at a family farm in Wells, Minn. “You know, I come from the city, but you're the backbone of America, and we eat and live based on what you do.”

He continued, “I think it's easy for us living in big cities to forget about the rest of the world. You know, it just doesn't come up because you don't see them every day.”

Image: Democratic presidential candidate Bloomberg opens his Tennessee campaign headquarters in Nashville
Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg opens his Tennessee 2020 campaign headquarters in Nashville on Dec. 19, 2019.Harrison McClary / Reuters file

Bloomberg hoped to use the trip to quell concerns that a Bloomberg presidency wouldn't include those who are outside of big cities. But by Bloomberg spending time in states like Ohio and Minnesota, he's confirmed that he's not going to work at all to win the early states in the primary contest. 

And he’s criticized his opponents for placing so much emphasis on states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, telling an audience at an office opening in North Carolina that “Trump is campaigning in swing states while every other Democratic campaign is focused on other states.”

Despite Bloomberg's late entrance into the race, and not competing in the traditional states, he has risen in several polls, and leaped ahead of other candidates who have been campaigning for months like New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. Bloomberg made the polling threshold for the January Democratic debate but will not be on the stage because he isn't taking individual contributions. 

Instead, his billionaire status is what is giving him the ability to buy about $170 million in television and digital ads and build a staggering staff infrastructure. 

According to the campaign, it has employed more than 800 people, including 500 in over 30 states. 

Bloomberg's campaign has employed an "if you build it, they will come" attitude. But for now, that still includes the former mayor blitzing through states and introducing himself. 

“I’ve started a quest,” Bloomberg said to the Akron audience. “[H]ere I don’t know every name, but I’ll get around to it.”

1057d ago / 1:08 AM UTC

Jill Biden: Joe has 'a plan,' unlike President Trump

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Former Second Lady Jill Biden, one of the many surrogates hitting the trail this week for Joe Biden's presidential campaign, drew a sharp comparison between her husband's leadership style and that exhibited by President Donald Trump in an exclusive interview with NBC News on Thursday.   

“I have to say his leadership style is so much different than Donald Trump's,” Jill Biden said, touting her husband as “thoughtful."

"He has a strategy. He has a plan. He thinks things through," she said. "That's the one thing that this president does not do. He makes these snap decisions and then he tweets them out. And that's what people are concerned about.”

Jill Biden recounted a recent encounter she had with the the wife of a military service member stationed in Iraq.  

“She was telling me how her husband was on the base that the missiles went into, and she said how frightening it was and how much damage there was, and she did not talk to her husband for hours and she didn't know whether he was dead or alive.”

Biden said that her own experience of having family members serving in a war zone allows her to connect more personally with others who share similar backgrounds or have concerns.

“We have to remember the stress that our military families are under, and we have to commit to an act of kindness and reach out to our military families because you know they don't know where their loved ones or when they'll next see them or talk to them,” she said. “And as a military family ourselves, I know what it feels like to have a son who's deployed, and how frightening that is.

The interview took place at a phone bank where Jill Biden was reaching out to New Hampshire voters and she spoke to being out on the trail as a surrogate for her husband and her thoughts of its effectiveness for campaigning in his absence.

“I hope it helps because this is hard work,” Biden said. “I've been traveling all over New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina, Nevada, you know the first four states and I try to make the case for why Joe would be the best president. And, you know, what a strong leader he is and I talked to them about his experience and his resilience. And then if voters want to ask me questions if there's something that's close to their heart that they care about, I answer their question. So I'm hoping it makes a difference and so I've been out there every day and hoping that Joe becomes our next president."

1057d ago / 1:02 AM UTC

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti endorses Joe Biden

WASHINGTON – Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday, giving Biden a boost in the key Super Tuesday state of California. 

Garcetti, who had considered running for president in 2020 but decided against joining against the crowded field, said in a statement that Biden will “bring our nation and world together during these most divided and dangerous times.”

Biden and Garcetti have forged a close relationship since the mayor first took office in 2013. Biden wrote in his 2017 book that Garcetti was among those who encouraged him to run for president in 2016. While in this cycle Garcetti stayed on the sidelines as other California hopefuls as well as friends, like former Oxford classmate New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, joined the fray, he has hosted several of the candidates in Los Angeles.  

Biden joined Garcetti for tacos in California during the first weeks of his campaign, and he praised Garcetti as “one of the best mayors in the country” and “one of the most qualified people” to serve in any office.

“When he decided not to run I called him. And I said I really have mixed emotions about this,” Biden said. “He is qualified to be mayor, to be president, to be a senator, or anything that he decides. He’s total qualified.”

Garcetti told NBC News in 2018 that Biden had encouraged him to consider a 2020 run even as he was doing the same. 

Biden and Garcetti will appear together at an event in Los Angeles on Friday. Biden has been touting a growing list of endorsements as he pitches himself to Democrats as the most electable candidate to win a general election against President Trump. 

1058d ago / 5:43 PM UTC

Pete Buttigieg picks up first Congressional Black Caucus endorsement

and

DES MOINES, Iowa — Former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg landed his first endorsement of his presidential campaign from a member of the Congressional Black Caucus on Thursday when Maryland Rep. Anthony G. Brown, announced his support for Buttigieg. 

Buttigieg has faced mounting concerns about his ability to build a diverse coalition of support, but Brown pointed to Buttigieg's experience in South Bend as proof that he can reach voters from all communities and backgrounds.

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

“He knows the ins and outs of South Bend,” Brown told NBC News. “That only happens when you immerse yourself in your city, when you understand the people, the neighborhoods, the communities, the aspirations the challenges of your of your city.”

Brown joined Buttigieg on the campaign trail in Iowa last month where Buttigieg was confronted by a young black man about his record among African American’s in South Bend. Brown told NBC News he was impressed by the candor Buttigieg offered in his response to the young man.

“He didn't necessarily get it right, but yet it's an ongoing effort, working with a coalition of people in the community to get it right," Brown said.

And on Thursday morning, Brown appeared on MSNBC and said that he expects Buttigieg's support in the black community to "increase dramatically." 

"As Pete becomes more familiar in the African American community, just as he has had and he has done in other communities, I believe that listening to his message about empowering people, investments in education, very purposeful, targeted investments in health care particularly considering the racial disparities in health care in our country you’re going to see support increase dramatically for Pete Buttigieg," Brown said. 

Brown, a veteran of the Iraq war, also pointed to Buttigieg's foreign policy positions and military experience as critical to his decision to endorse as tensions escalated in the Middle East this week

“As we fight for the future of the soul of our country here at home, we also remain entangled in endless wars abroad and the threats to American lives and interests around the world have increased,” Brown said in a statement. “After serving three decades in the Army and Army Reserve and now as Vice Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, I’m acutely aware that the top priority for the President should be the security and safety of our nation, which is why my choice for president is Mayor Pete Buttigieg.”

Brown will serve as a national co-chair for the Buttigieg campaign, hitting the trail over the next few weeks as the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary get underway. 

“I don't just put my name on a list,” Brown told NBC News. “I will be a surrogate for the campaign and I will travel to those communities where the campaign believes and I believe I can add the greatest value.”

This is Buttigieg’s fourth congressional endorsement following Reps. Don Beyer, D-Va., Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., and Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y. 

1058d ago / 4:10 PM UTC

New Monmouth poll leaves Yang, Steyer and Booker on outside looking in for January debate

WASHINGTON — None of the Democratic presidential hopefuls currently on the bubble for next week's debate made any strides towards qualifying for the event with the new results of Monmouth University's New Hampshire primary poll, as the top four candidates remain in a logjam at the top. 

Former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden topped the poll with 20 percent and 19 percent respectively of likely New Hampshire primary voters. Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., were closed behind with 18 percent and 15 percent respectively. 

Image: US-VOTE-2020-DEMOCRATS-DEBATE
Democratic presidential hopefuls participate of the sixth Democratic primary debate co-hosted by PBS NewsHour and Politico at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles on Dec. 19, 2019.Frederic J. Brown / AFP - Getty Images

Then there's a significant gap between the top four and the rest of the field. 

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., finished with 6 percent; Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and philanthropist Tom Steyer finished with 4 percent each; businessman Andrew Yang finished with 3 percent; Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet finished with 2 percent; and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker finished with 1 percent. 

The poll shows Buttigieg and Sanders both gaining steam in overall support —Buttigieg's share went up 10 points from Monmouth's last New Hampshire poll in September, while Sanders' rose 6 points. By contrast, Warren's share dropped 12 points from that September poll. 

The new results found Sanders with the highest favorable rating at 69 percent, followed by Warren's 64 percent, as well as Biden and Buttigieg both tied at 62 percent.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's 32 percent unfavorable score was higher than all other Democrats tested, followed by Biden's 29 percent, Warren's 27 percent and Steyer's 26 percent. 

The top five candidates in the poll — Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Sanders and Warren — have all qualified for next week's Democratic presidential debate in Iowa. But the rest of the field fell short of the mark needed to move closer to securing a spot on the stage. 

Candidates need to raise money from at least 225,000 unique donors and hit a poll threshold of either 4 polls of 5 percent or two early-state polls of 7 percent in order to qualify. 

Steyer still needs two polls of at least 5 percent to qualify; Yang needs either three of at least five percent or two early-state polls at 7 percent; while Booker hasn't hit the mark in any poll.

All three have hit the donation requirement, according to their campaigns. 

While Steyer and Yang both appeared on last month's debate stage, Booker didn't qualify. 

Monmouth polled 404 likely voters between Jan. 3 and Jan. 7, and the poll has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points. 

1058d ago / 3:41 PM UTC

Sen. Bernie Sanders endorsed by youth-led climate group Sunrise Movement

WASHINGTON — Sunrise Movement, a political action organization of youth climate change activists, has endorsed Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign. 

Announcing the endorsement in a video on Twitter, the group pointed to a series of natural disasters to argue that Sanders is the best candidate to immediately address a climate crisis. 

"We are seeing that the climate crisis isn't 30 or 40 or 50 years in the future, it is right now. We need a president in office who understands the immediate threat of that crisis, and Bernie Sanders is that guy," Varshini Prakash, a co-founder and the executive director of the group, said in the video. 

"We're endorsing Bernie Sanders for president because he has proven again and again and again that he understands this issue. He understands its scope, he understands the severity, he understands that it's a social-justice issue, that it's about racial and economic justice, that it's about the fight of our lives." 

The organization, which boasts 10,000 members and more than 300 chapters, voted for Sanders overwhelmingly over Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Climate change is one of the pillars of Sanders’ campaign. The senator spends time discussing what he calls “an existential crisis” during nearly every campaign stop, asking crowds to think about images they’ve seen of Australia wildfires, and recent flooding in Venice, Italy.

Image: Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally in Chicago on March 3, 2019.
Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally in Chicago on March 3, 2019.Daniel Acker / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

While the nod isn't necessarily surprising, it's a boost to Sanders' already-energized young base of support. 

Sunrise Movement activists often attend Sanders campaign events, and the senator has repeatedly singled them out when he saw their t-shirts, to commend them for their work.

In December, Sunrise Movement released a scorecard ranking the top presidential candidate’s plans to tackle climate change, in which Sanders received top marks with 183 out of 200 possible points.

The organization will be at an event with Sanders and surrogates Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ro Khanna, D-Calif., on Jan. 12 in Iowa City, Iowa to formally announce the endorsement.

1058d ago / 8:07 PM UTC

Here's where the top Democratic candidates are spending on the early-state airwaves

WASHINGTON — Yesterday, we showed you how former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and philanthropist Tom Steyer have spent more than $200 million combined on television and radio advertising. 

But that's far from the whole story.

Bloomberg isn't even competing in the early states, and while Steyer has spent more than $50 million in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina alone, he's not polling in the upper echelon of candidates in any of those states. 

Taking stock of the ad spending in the early states tells an interesting story: Former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren are spending virtually all of their ad budget in Iowa; former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders are turning their deep pockets into huge ad budgets; and none of the top candidates are really spending on ads in Nevada yet. 

Here's a look at what the candidates expected to be on next week's debate stage are spending on television and radio ads in early states (Data through Jan. 8, 2020 courtesy of Advertising Analytics). 

Former Vice President Joe Biden 

  • Iowa: $2.7 million
  • New Hampshire: $5,429
  • Nevada: $1,329 
  • South Carolina: $15,000

Former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg

  • Iowa: $7.6 million
  • New Hampshire: $1.4 million
  • Nevada: $71,000
  • South Carolina: $941,000

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar 

  • Iowa: $1.9 million
  • New Hampshire: $665,000
  • Nevada: $0
  • South Carolina: $0

Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders

  • Iowa: $6.7 million
  • New Hampshire: $3.5 million
  • Nevada: $145,000
  • South Carolina: $1,640

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren

  • Iowa: $3.4 million
  • New Hampshire: $0
  • Nevada: $0
  • South Carolina: $0
1059d ago / 9:25 PM UTC

Tom Perez: January Democratic debate could be moved for impeachment trial

WASHINGTON — Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said that next week's Democratic debate could be postponed if the Senate is in the midst its impeachment trial of President Trump that day. 

In an interview on MSNBC Tuesday, Perez said that "Democrats and our senators can walk and chew gum. Obviously, if there’s a trial on the 14th, then we’ll move the debate. If there’s not, then we’re gonna have the debate, and at the moment, all systems are go, and so we’re gonna move forward."

The Democratic debate is set to be held on Tuesday, Jan. 14 in Des Moines, Iowa ahead of the state's caucus. Only five candidates have qualified for the debate so far, and three of those candidates will be participating in the Senate's impeachment trial: Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg have also qualified to appear at Tuesday's debate. 

1060d ago / 7:26 PM UTC

Biden: Trump is bringing America "dangerously close" to war

and

Speaking at times directly to the president himself, former Vice President Joe Biden said President Donald Trump has a constitutional obligation to work with Congress and communicate to the American people his strategy for confronting Iran, while faulting him for putting the U.S. on the brink of war.

Biden, in a foreign policy address that was hastily added to his schedule on a trip to New York, explicitly sought to demonstrate the kind of presidential leadership that he said Trump was failing to offer at a moment of significant peril for the nation.

"A president who says he wants to end endless war in the Middle East is bringing us dangerously close to starting a new one,” he said. “A president who says he wants out of the region sends more than 18,000 additional troops to deal with a crisis of his own making. And an administration that claims its actions have made Americans safer in the same breath urges them to leave Iraq because of increased danger.”

Biden said he had no illusions about the threat Iran posed to the region and to the world. But he said there was “a smart way to counter them and a self-defeating way. Trump’s approach is demonstrably the latter.”

Biden focused his remarks squarely on Trump as his campaign has sought to use the escalating confrontation with Iran to underscore the former vice president’s decades of experience in foreign policy. There was no acknowledgment of or response to renewed criticism from some of his Democratic rivals of his own record, particularly his 2002 vote to authorize the use of force against Iraq.

"Donald Trump's short-sighted America-first dogmatism has come home to roost,” he said, as the prospect of the U.S. being bogged down by another war would only further enable China and Russia to expand their “spheres of influence.”

Beyond Trump’s specific actions, Biden was strongly critical of what he characterized as an anti-democratic approach to the presidency. At one point he referred directly to him about what he said were the obligations of his job, “Mr. President — not ‘Dear Leader’ or ‘Supreme Leader,'" Biden said. 

"The American people do not want, and our Constitution will not abide, a president who rules by fiat and demands obedience," he added. 

1060d ago / 6:49 PM UTC

Sanders' dig at Biden over Iraq, trade evokes his 2016 criticism of Clinton

WASHINGTON — Engaged in a familiar dogfight atop the Democratic presidential primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on Monday lobbed attacks at former Vice President Joe Biden almost identical to ones he used against his chief 2016 rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“Joe Biden voted and helped lead the effort for the war in Iraq, the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in the modern history of this country,” Sanders said Monday night on CNN.

“Joe Biden voted for the disastrous trade agreements, like NAFTA, and permanent normal trade relations with China, which cost us millions of jobs," he added, before asking whether those votes would play well in Michigan, Wisconsin or Pennsylvania, three states Clinton lost in 2016. 

The jabs on the Iraq war vote and NAFTA echo lines he used against Clinton in the heat of the 2016 primary. 

“Senator Clinton heard the same evidence I did. She voted for that disastrous war, the worst foreign policy blunder in the modern history of America,” Sanders said at a rally in Brooklyn in April 2016.

“Secretary Clinton and I disagree on trade policy. She supported virtually every disastrous trade agreement from NAFTA to permanent normal trade relations to China, trade agreements that has cost us millions of decent-paying jobs.”

In his recent CNN interview, Sanders also cast doubt that Biden’s record would be able to energize Democrats to defeat President Donald Trump in November.

“If we're going to beat Trump, we need turnout,” Sanders said. “And to get turnout, you need energy and excitement. And I don't think that that kind of record is going to bring forth the energy we need to defeat Trump.”

1060d ago / 5:00 PM UTC

Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer have spent over $200 million combined on TV, radio advertising

WASHINGTON — If you think you’ve seen hundreds of TV ads by presidential candidates former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and philanthropist Tom Steyer this presidential cycle, you probably have.

The two Democrats have spent more than $200 million combined over the television and radio airwaves, according to ad-spending data from Advertising Analytics. Bloomberg's dished out $142 million on ads as of Jan. 7, and Steyer kicked in an additional $67 million.

Image: Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg  addresses a crowd of community members and elected officials at the Metropolitan Room on Jan. 3, 2020 in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg addresses a crowd of community members and elected officials at the Metropolitan Room on Jan. 3, 2020 in Fayetteville, North Carolina.Melissa Gerrits / Getty Images

Steyer’s ad spending has been concentrated in early nominating states like Iowa and New Hampshire, while Bloomberg has focused on the states and media markets that come after those February contests.

Image: 14 Democratic Presidential Candidates Attend Iowa Liberty And Justice Celebration
Democratic presidential candidate, philanthropist Tom Steyer speaks at the Liberty and Justice Celebration at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa on Nov. 1, 2019.Scott Olson / Getty Images

The gap between those two candidates and the rest of the field is enormous, with Sen.  Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg at a total of $10 million nationally as of Tuesday — followed by businessman Andrew Yang at $6.6 million, President Trump at $5.7 million, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at $3.3 million and former Vice President Joe Biden at $2.6 million.

Total TV and radio ad spending (as of Jan. 7)

  • Bloomberg: $142 million
  • Steyer: $67 million
  • Sanders: $10 million
  • Buttigieg: $10 million
  • Yang: $6.6 million
  • Trump: $5.7 million
  • Warren: $3.3 million
  • Biden: $2.6 million

Iowa TV and radio ad spending (as of Jan. 7)

  • Steyer: $11.7 million
  • Buttigieg: $7.5 million
  • Sanders: $6.5 million
  • Yang: $4.6 million
  • Warren: $3.2 million
  • Biden: $2.6 million
  • Klobuchar: $1.8 million

New Hampshire TV and radio ad spending (as of Jan. 7)

  • Steyer: $13.9 million
  • Sanders: $3.4 million
  • Bloomberg: $2.6 million
  • Yang: $1.9 million
  • Buttigieg: $1.3 million

SOURCE: Advertising Analytics

1060d ago / 2:00 PM UTC

Ahead of impeachment trial, Klobuchar campaign ramps up Iowa organizing events

DES MOINES, Iowa — With just 27 days to go until the caucuses here — and an impending impeachment trial that could keep the Democratic senators running for president in Washington for large chunks of time — the clock is ticking for campaign organizations in the Hawkeye State.

For her part, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., is ramping up her team of field organizers who will join her Iowa and Minnesota surrogate campaigners this coming weekend at events spanning across all of Iowa’s 99 counties.  

The campaign recently surpassed 100 paid staffers on the ground in Iowa — with more field organizers to come — putting Klobuchar on par with the likes of former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., when it comes to their ground games.

Image: Sen. Amy Klobuchar boards her campaign bus after a stop in Humboldt, Iowa, on Dec. 27, 2019.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar boards her campaign bus after a stop in Humboldt, Iowa, on Dec. 27, 2019.Joe Raedle / Getty Images file

Klobuchar, who will not participate in the organizing push, has been able to ramp up her staffing of the heels of well-received performances in the last two debates and a bump in donations. As recently as October, her Iowa staff consisted of 40 people.

The list of endorsers joining Saturday's organizing events could offer a preview of surrogates Iowans will see on the trail while Klobuchar is tied up with the impeachment trial.

Klobuchar’s husband, John Bessler will attend events on her behalf, along with former U.S. Attorney and Iowa Democratic Party Chair Roxanne Conlin, Minnesota State Auditor Julie Blaha, in addition to various state senators and representatives from both Iowa and Minnesota.  

The day will consist of a variety of phone banks, house parties, and canvas launches. Klobuchar’s team is calling the statewide organizing event, “The Full Klobuchar Day of Action,” a play on the term, the “Full Grassley” — the 99 county tour that Republican Senator Chuck Grassley completes every year (which Klobuchar also completed in December).  

Other campaigns have made similar intense organizing efforts, as in-person contact remains the most successful way to recruit supporters and precinct captains. Biden just campaigned with Rep. Abby Finkenauer to draw new support and Buttigieg’s caucus director is currently on a two week trip across the state to coach soon to be precinct captains. Meanwhile,  Sanders’ campaign plans to knock half a million doors in the month of January and Elizabeth Warren routinely has held “weekends of action” to reach caucus-goers. 

1060d ago / 9:45 PM UTC

Former N.H. GOP senator endorses Joe Biden

CONCORD, N.H. — Former New Hampshire GOP Sen. Gordon Humphrey announced his endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden on Monday as a part of a group of 100 New Hampshire independents who announced their support for Biden. 

Humphrey spoke with NBC News about his decision to endorse, as well as how he believes the independent vote in New Hampshire is crucial to winning the state.

“I served in the U.S. Senate for 12 years with Joe Biden,” Humphrey told NBC News. “I know him well, I respect him. I trust him to restore calm and rationality to the White House in place of temper-tantrums and tweets.”

Speaking on his decision to endorse Biden over other candidates in the race, Humphrey pointed to his former colleague's experience and ability to work with people on either side of the political spectrum.

“There is no candidate in either party who can come close to Joe Biden's experience,” Humphrey said. "He knows the legislative process, he knows that it takes both Democrats and Republicans to pass legislation to implement policy, he knows that it's vital to build consensus, and you do that by showing respect towards your adversaries and bringing everyone together. Not this kind of baiting in which Trump engages fostering hate and distrust.”

Humphrey, who told NBC News he was a Republican all of his life “until the advent of Donald Trump,” fought against Trump during 2016 in the Republican primary process and even voted against him, endorsing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, which he says was a first for him.

“I just didn't want to have any part of a party that that is headed by Donald Trump,” Humphrey said. “So the day after the election, the next morning, I re-registered as an independent.”

When asked how he feels that Biden’s endorsement from independents in New Hampshire could help him appeal to more progressive voters, Humphrey said opposition to the president could unify voters. 

“I think all of us who are opposed to Trump want to replace him,” Humphrey said. “And certainly we want to pick the strongest candidate, the candidate most likely to defeat Trump. That's not going to be easy. And far and away, in my opinion, far and away Joe Biden is the strongest candidate, and the polls I think reflect that across all the spectrum of ideologies.”

On what Biden needs to do between now and the New Hampshire primary to win the state, Humphrey says “spend as much time as he possibly can here, talk to as many people as he can.”

“Most of the Democratic candidates are appealing much too far to the left of center,” Humphrey added, “and I think Biden is hitting it just right.”

1061d ago / 5:55 PM UTC

Deval Patrick and his wife discuss her cancer diagnosis in first television ad

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is launching his first television ad buy of his presidential campaign, arguing that despite his recent entry into the Democratic primary, it's "not too late." 

In the 30-second ad, shot in Boston and Patrick's hometown Chicago, he and his wife, Diane, reflect how his plan to jump into the presidential race "a year ago" was put on hold because of Diane's cancer diagnosis. 

"We fought through it, and I'm well. But now we're fighting for the future of our democracy, and I encouraged Deval to get back in it," Diane Patrick says in the ad. 

Deval Patrick follows his wife by arguing he's faced long odds before. 

“Some people say it’s too late for me to run for president. But growing up on the South Side of Chicago, people told me then what I could and couldn’t do. I’ve been an underdog my whole life, and I’ve never let that stop me," he says. 

The campaign says the six-figure television and digital buy will run across all four early nominating states, with “significant investments” in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

“No other candidate has the life or leadership experience that Deval does,” Campaign Manager Abe Rakov said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to share far and wide why Governor Patrick is the candidate with the record and message to defeat Trump and renew the American Dream.”

Patrick, who got into the race just before the New Hampshire filing deadline in November, spoke with reporters on Friday in Exeter, N.H. about his campaign's fundraising but did not release any specifics. He has until the end of the month to file a disclosure with the Federal Election Commission that covers his fundraising from October through December. 

“We are raising to be competitive,” Patrick said. “We are never going to compete with you know, Mayor Bloomberg, but we don't need to. I don't think this is about buying elections. It's about earning votes. And the best investment we can make is my time which is why I am spending the time I have here in New Hampshire.”

1061d ago / 4:16 PM UTC

What we know so far about the presidential candidates' Q4 numbers

WASHINGTON — With the books closed on 2019, there's still a lot we don't know about the presidential candidates' financials.

That's because candidates have until the end of the month to file their official reports with the Federal Election Commission. 

But most of the candidates have already released some top-line numbers, giving us the ability to sketch out how much money each campaign raised in 2019 (combining the estimated fourth-quarter numbers released by each campaign with how much it raised over the first three quarters of the year). 

  • President Trump: Quarters 1-3 $97.8 million + estimated quarter 4 $46 million = $143.8 million (with at least $66.3 million in transfers from affiliated committees)
  • Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders: Q1-3 $74.4m + estimated Q4 $34.5m = $108.9m (at least $12.7 million in transfers)
  • Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren: Q1-3 $60.3m + estimated Q4 $21.2m = $81.5m (at least $10.4 million in transfers)
  • Former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg: Q1-3 $51.5m + estimated Q4 $24.7m = $76.2m
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden: Q1-3 $37.8m + estimated Q4 $22.7m = $60.5m
  • Businessman Andrew Yang: Q1-3 $14.5m + estimated Q4 16.5m = $31m
  • Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar: Q1-3 $17.5m + estimated Q4 $11.4m = $28.9m (at least $3.6m in transfers)
  • New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker: Q1-3 $18.5m + estimated Q4 $6.6m = $25.1m (at least $2.8m in transfers)
1061d ago / 2:38 PM UTC

Julián Castro endorses Elizabeth Warren's presidential bid

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Former Housing Sec. Julián Castro, who ended his own presidential campaign last week, has endorsed Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Castro announced the endorsement on Twitter with a video of the two candidates talking about their candidacies. 

"I started my campaign off and we lived true to the idea that we want an America where everyone counts. It's the same vision that I see in you, in your campaign, in the America that you would help bring about," he says in the video as he sits across a kitchen island from Warren. 

"Nobody is working harder than you are, not only in meeting people but listening to people." 

Warren also thanked Castro in a tweet where she called him a "powerful voice for bold, progressive change." 

Warren's campaign said Castro will campaign with the senator at a Tuesday evening rally in New York City. 

1061d ago / 9:00 PM UTC

Biden gets backing from trio of swing-district Democrats

DAVENPORT, Iowa — A trio of swing-district Democrats and military veterans are endorsing Joe Biden, arguing that his presence at the top of the ticket gives the party its best chance for victory.

Two of the three — Rep. Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania and Elaine Luria of Virginia — were first elected in the 2018 blue wave, taking back Republican-held seats. The third, Rep. Conor Lamb won a hard-fought special election victory in his Western Pennsylvania district in early 2018 and then unseated a GOP incumbent in the fall after court-ordered redistricting.

Image: *** BESTPIX *** Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Campaigns In San Antonio, Texas
Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a community event while campaigning on Dec. 13, 2019 in San Antonio, Texas.Daniel Carde / Getty Images

Their backing comes as Biden has increasingly pressed his case to voters that he presents the best chance of leading the party to victory up and down the ticket in November. Biden spent the weekend in Iowa campaigning with another freshman Democrat, Rep. Abby Finkenauer, who carried a Trump district in 2018.

“There are candidates that worry me in terms their ability to win Pennsylvania and their ability to win the support of working and middle class voters. I think Vice President Biden can,” Lamb said in an interview. “People know him and know he has a record of achievement. That doesn’t get swept aside easily.”

The Democrats’ all cited Biden’s foreign policy experience as another key factor in their endorsement, especially amid escalating tensions with Iran after the U.S. strike targeting Iranian Major Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Luria served in the Navy, Houlihan the Air Force and Lamb in the Marines before running for office.

Luria said foreign policy is always a major concern in her district, home to the Norfolk Navy Shipyard, a major point of departure for U.S. aircraft carriers, and NATO’s Joint Force Command.

“People here really pay close attention to that because that’s their husband, their wife, their neighbor, their child that’s in harm’s way,” Luria told NBC News. “We need someone like Joe Biden who can reset our position on the world stage, regain respect with our allies and step in on day one with the experience he has as vice president and go to work.”

"Congressional candidates in seats that allow Democrats to retain our majority in the House will not have to spend precious resources running away from the top of the ticket’s unpopular and unworkable Medicare for All plan," Biden campaign manager Greg Schultz wrote in a memo about the endorsements Sunday. "Local candidates who rely on Independent and some Republican votes to win will have a top of the ticket that represents strong, steady, stable leadership at home and abroad, strengthening the Democratic brand in the non-metropolitan regions of the country. That is why we are seeing vulnerable, frontline members increasingly supporting Joe Biden’s candidacy.”

1062d ago / 8:59 PM UTC

Bernie Sanders dings Congress on abdicating war authority, pushes for legislation on military funding

DUBUQUE, IA — Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., dinged Congress for abdicating its war power authority during a town hall in Iowa on Saturday. 

"For too many years, Congress under Republican administrations and under Democratic administrations has abdicated its constitutional responsibility, it is time for Congress to take that responsibility back," Sanders said. "If Congress wants to go to war, and I will vote against that, but if Congress wants to go to war, let Congress have the guts to vote for war."

Sanders comments come on the heels of President Donald Trump authorizing an airstrike in Iraq that killed a top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani on Wednesday. On Saturday, Sanders called Trump's actions a "dangerous escalation" that could lead to another war in the Middle East. 

While in Iowa, the Democratic presidential candidate also pushed for Congress to vote on new legislation he plans to introduce with California Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna, which would block any funding for military action with Iran without Congressional approval. 

"When I return to Washington next week," Sanders said, "I believe the first course of action is for the Congress to take immediate steps to restrain president Trump from plunging our nation into yet another endless war." 

1063d ago / 5:09 AM UTC

Biden says Trump administration unprepared for "risk" of Middle East escalation

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DUBUQUE, Iowa — Joe Biden Friday accused President Trump of “an enormous escalation” of the threat of war in the Persian Gulf after he launched a surprise strike targeting a top Iranian commander, while pressing the case to Democrats that the next president must be someone who doesn’t need “on the job training.”

The former vice president, speaking in Iowa one month before the state’s leadoff caucuses, seized on a fresh foreign policy crisis to reinforce some of his principal critiques of Trump’s leadership and play up his decades of foreign policy experience.

“The threat to American lives and interests in the region and around the world are enormous. The risk of nuclear proliferation is real and the possibility that ISIS will regenerate in the region has increased, and the prospects of direct conflict with Iran is greater than it has ever been,” he said. “The question is do Donald Trump and his administration have a strategy for what comes next?”

Biden said no American mourns the loss of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, leader of Iran’s Quds force, and that it was right to bring him to justice. But he contrasted the assassination of an official within a sovereign government with strikes against other top terrorist targets, saying Trump’s provocative action puts the U.S. potentially “on the brink of greater conflict with the Middle East.”

“Unfortunately, nothing we have seen from this administration over the past three years suggests that they are prepared to deal with the very real risk we now confront. And there's no doubt the risks are greater today because of the actions Donald Trump has taken, walking away from diplomacy, walking away from international agreements, relying on force,” he said.

Biden said Thursday’s strike was the latest in a string of “dubious” actions that have unnecessarily ratcheted up tensions in the region, including decision to unilaterally withdraw from the nuclear agreement struck by the Obama administration along with top Western allies. 

The Trump administration “said the goal of maximum pressure was to deter regional aggression, negotiate a better nuclear deal.  Thus far, they have badly failed on both accounts,” he said. “Now the administration has said the goal of killing Soleimani was to deter future attacks by Iran. But the action almost certainly will have the opposite impact.”

Biden was to have spent Friday touting the new endorsement of Iowa Rep. Abby Finkenauer, who joined him in person for the first time and will campaign with him through the weekend. But the situation in Iraq gave him a chance to underscore a key element of his closing pitch to voters — the gravity of the job for whomever replaces Trump. 

The next president is going to inherit “a nation that is divided and a world in disarray. This is not a time for on the job training,” he said.

1064d ago / 2:38 PM UTC

Klobuchar campaign raised $11.4 million in final quarter of 2019

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., announced Friday that her presidential campaign raised $11.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, more than double than the $4.8 million she raised in the previous quarter last year.

The campaign noted that their donations came from 145,126 individual donors and the average contribution was $32.

“It's the best quarter we've ever had. And that's a good thing, including way back to when we started before so many people were in the race," Klobuchar said during an event in Iowa on Thursday.

Image: Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks at a Democratic presidential primary debate at Loyola Marymount University on Dec. 19, 2019, in Los Angeles.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks at a Democratic presidential primary debate at Loyola Marymount University on Dec. 19, 2019, in Los Angeles.Justin Sullivan / Getty Images file

"So we feel good about it. I never thought I would match some of the front-runners who have, you know, long list going way back who've run for president before,” Klobuchar said.

The fourth quarter ended on Dec. 31, but candidates are not required to disclose their fundraising numbers until the filing deadline on Jan. 31.

Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders has announced the largest fundraising number so far, pulling in $34.5 million dollars, with former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg bringing in $24.7 million. Like Klobuchar, the fourth quarter was also former Vice President Joe Biden’s largest haul. The Biden campaign announced they raised $22.7 million. Klobuchar’s totals round out the top six fundraisers so far, falling behind Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s $21.2 million and businessman Andrew Yang’s $16.5 million.

1064d ago / 2:05 PM UTC

Warren reports $21 million raised in fourth quarter

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MANCHESTER, N.H. — Elizabeth Warren's campaign raised just over $21 million in the final quarter of 2019, her campaign said Friday. 

The haul puts the Massachusetts senator in the ballpark of her fellow Democratic presidential competitors — and frequent names in the top tier of the primary — Pete Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden, who raised $24.7 and $22.7 million, respectively. However, they're all well behind Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on this metric, who topped the field again this quarter, hauling in more than $34 million.  

Image: Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren Campaigns In Cedar Rapids, IA
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks to guests during a campaign stop at the CSPS cultural center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Dec. 21, 2019.Scott Olson / Getty Images file

This latest round of fundraising for the Massachusetts senator is less than the $24.6 million her campaign raised int he third quarter and comes as she's lagged in some polls, especially in the all-important early state of Iowa.  

Warren's average donation was $23 from more than 443,000 donors, according to her campaign. Of the $21.2 million raised, the campaign said $1.5 million came in on the last day of 2019 alone. Several days before the close of the quarter, the campaign said it was falling short of its $20 million fundraising goal, asking for donations to help them get there. The campaign did not disclose its cash-on-hand.  

In an email to supporters, campaign manager Roger Lau once again highlighted the campaign's strategy of not doing closed door fundraisers or raising money with bundlers and donors. Warren regularly talks about this strategy on the trail, and on the debate stage, using it as a cudgel against Buttigieg during the December Democratic debate — specifically attacking him for a fundraiser he held in a wine cave.  

“I'm deeply grateful to every single person who contributed to my campaign. I didn't spend one single minute selling access to my time. To millionaires and billionaires. I did this grassroots all across the country and I'm proud of the grassroots army that we are building,” Warren told reporters Thursday, after a town hall in Concord, New Hampshire.

1064d ago / 10:17 PM UTC

Marianne Williamson cuts entire campaign staff

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NEW YORK — Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson has laid off the remainder of her campaign staff, two sources confirmed to NBC News on Thursday.

Williamson’s former campaign manager Patricia Ewing and former New Hampshire state director Paul Hodes confirmed the layoffs, first reported by WMUR, to NBC News, citing financial issues. As of Tuesday, the campaign had no staffers, although it's unclear how many staffers Williamson had before the decision was made. 

Image: Marianne Williamson
Marianne Williamson takes the stage ahead of the second 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan, on July 30, 2019.Lucas Jackson / Reuters

The best-selling author and spiritual advisor struggled to gain traction in national polls despite nearly a year of campaigning in early voting states.

At its height, the campaign had 45 staffers focused on the four early-voting states. In the third quarter of 2019, the campaign raised more than $3 million, a rise from fundraising totals of $1.5 million in both the first and second quarters of last year. Williamson has not released fourth-quarter financial details yet, which are due at the end of the month.

When asked by NBC News whether or not Williamson would stay in the race through the Iowa Caucuses, Ewing only said “she might -- she’s thinking about it.”

In an email to supporters Thursday evening, Williamson wrote, "we've had a wonderful team, and I am deeply grateful for their energy and talents. But as of today, we cannot afford a traditional campaign staff." 

"I am not suspending my candidacy, however," she continued.  "A campaign not having a huge war chest should not be what determines its fate."

1064d ago / 8:37 PM UTC

End-of-year fundraising reports still hold plenty of unanswered questions

WASHINGTON — The start of the new year means a whole batch of campaign finance data, and presidential candidates are already selectively releasing numbers to paint their campaigns in the best light. 

We already know that President Trump's reelection campaign raised a staggering $46 million in the last three months of 2019, that Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and businessman Andrew Yang shattered their own personal fundraising records with $34.5 million and $16.5 million respectively. And we know that former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden netted $24.7 million and $22.7 million, respectively.

But since the campaigns don't have to release their full, official fundraising reports until the end of this month, we only know what they want us to know. 

Once filed, those official reports will give us one more important glimpse under their financial hoods shortly before the Iowa caucus. 

Here are some big questions about those fundraising reports from NBC News' Political Unit. 

Will the top Democrats match Trump in cash on hand? 

It's tough to compare fundraising between the Democratic candidates and Trump's reelection for a whole host of reasons, including the size of the Democratic field, the role being played by each party committee and how early things still are in the Democratic nominating calendar. 

But there's one thing that's clear — the combined Trump/GOP effort is raising money at a historic clip, one that will both give Republicans an early advantage and put pressure on the eventual Democratic nominee to quickly match it.

One big question is whether the top-four polling Democrats can match Trump's cash on hand. 

As of Sept. 30, Sanders ($33.7 million), Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren ($25.7 million), Buttigieg ($23.4 million) and former Vice President Joe Biden ($9 million) had a combined $91.8 million banked. Trump's campaign had $83.2 million, although it will also benefit from the Republican National Committee's massive cash advantage over the Democratic National Committee. 

The Trump campaign says it closed 2019 with $102 million on hand. 

The Democratic cash-on-hand numbers will also be helpful for intraparty comparisons too, as to whether Biden can quell concerns about his cash reserves being markedly lower than his competitions; whether Buttigieg's big investments have left a dent in his bank account; and whether Warren's stagnant polling has prompted any change in spending. 

How dire was Kamala Harris' cash situation when she dropped out? 

When California Sen. Kamala Harris suspended her campaign last month, she blamed the decision on a recognition that her campaign "lacked the financial resources to continue."

But since her shuttered campaign will still have to file its end-of-the-year report, we'll get to see how dire the situation really was. 

As we wrote at the time, Harris' began 2019 as one of the better-fundraising candidates, and her staff size ballooned as the campaign tried to take advantage of her early momentum. But just months later, her campaign started slashing staff and cutting ad spending before ultimately shuttering altogether. 

So her forthcoming filing will paint a clearer picture of what Harris saw when she made the decision to close up shop. 

How much is Bloomberg spending? 

If billionaire Tom Steyer made a splash earlier this year with his largely self-financed bid, then former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg set off a tidal wave. 

Steyer has spent $67.4 million on television and radio ads since he jumped in in July. Bloomberg has almost doubled that ($120.9 million) in the six weeks since he launched his campaign, according to Advertising Analytics.

That's an unprecedented sum, more than every other candidate including Steyer combined. 

While we know about Bloomberg's massive ad spending, we don't know how much he's spent on other important pieces of his campaign, the staffing and on-the-ground work that makes or breaks a campaign. 

So look for his report to shed light on just how massive the Bloomberg investment really is. 

Are the struggling candidates running out of steam? 

There's an old adage about the life and death of a campaign: "A candidate doesn't drop out because they run out of ideas, they drop out because they run out of money." 

That's another reason why these forthcoming reports will be interesting — to shed light on other candidates who are struggling to stay afloat. 

It's likely that former Housing Sec. Julián Castro's end-of-year report could add some context to why he decided to close his doors less than two days after the books closed on 2019. And the reports will also show what resources candidates like Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard had to begin the year. 

—Carrie Dann, Mark Murray and Melissa Holzberg contributed

1065d ago / 7:20 PM UTC

Biden raises $22.7 million in final quarter of 2019

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Powered by a surge of online donations that the campaign attributes in part to stepped-up attacks from President Donald Trump, former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign posted its strongest fundraising quarter to date. 

Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden announced in a new video posted on Twitter Thursday that they have raised $22.7 million in the fourth fundraising quarter, which is still less when compared to some of his rivals, but is a significant sum compared nonetheless. 

 

As in previous quarters, Biden finds himself trailing behind Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has raised an impressive $34.5 million at the end of the fundraising cycle. Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg also raised more than Biden, hauling in $24.7 million. 

But the numbers are a boost from the $15.7 million he raised last quarter, which left the campaign with only $8.9 million on hand after spending on internal resources, TV and digital ads across the early primary states.

In the second quarter of 2019, Biden raised $21.5 million, raising the most of any Democratic candidate per day in that quarter in which he launched his bid. 

His slow fundraising between July, August and September brought into question whether the Biden campaign could sustain itself throughout the primary, concerns that contributed to former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg jumping into the race. It also motivated Biden donors to mobilize a Super PAC to support the former vice president.

Senior campaign advisers had forecasted stronger numbers this quarter in part thanks to President Donald Trump’s continued attacks against Biden throughout the House impeachment investigation. 

Those advisers also say that they’ve also seen former bundlers for California Sen. Kamala Harris and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke join them since those candidates dropped out of the race.

Biden has held a total of 114 fundraisers in 2019. Late last month, the campaign announced the names of 230 bundlers who have raised more than $25,000 for Biden since he launched his campaign in late April of 2019.

1065d ago / 5:37 PM UTC

Biden scores endorsement from Iowa Rep. Finkenauer

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer Thursday became the first Democratic member of Iowa's congressional delegation to endorse a candidate in the party's presidential contest, throwing her support behind former Vice President Joe Biden.

Finkenauer, who is one of three of the state's Democratic members of Congress, is expected to join Biden on the trail as he kicks off the new year campaigning in her Eastern Iowa district. And the endorsement comes after a long, shared political history between the two.

She worked on Biden’s 2008 presidential campaign as a volunteer coordinator and was the lone Iowa Democratic candidate in 2018 to receive Biden's endorsement. Biden even appeared at a rally with Finkenauer during the closing weeks of that campaign which ended in her victory over incumbent Republican Rep. Rod Blum. 

Finkenauer represents the 1st district of Iowa, which is most of the northeast corner of the state — including Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Cedar Falls and Dubuque.  The district covers 20 counties with a high concentration of working-class voters. Fifteen of those supported Obama by double digits in 2008 and 2012, but swung to Donald Trump in 2016.

The Biden campaign noted in its announcement that the only Democratic members of Congress from any of the first four Democratic presidential nominating states who have endorsed in the presidential primary have backed Biden — Finkenauer and Nevada Rep. Dina Titus.

Biden is planning to hit 10 counties in Iowa over the next five days. 

—Marianna Sotomayor contributed

1067d ago / 5:16 PM UTC

Corey Lewandowski won't run for Senate in New Hampshire

MANCHESTER, N.H. — After months of speculation, President Trump's former 2016 campaign manager  Corey Lewandowski announced Tuesday he will not be running for Senate in New Hampshire to challenge Democrat incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

Lewandowski wrote in a tweet that while he would forgo a run, his priorities remained his family and re-electing President Trump. 

Lewandowski added that he plans to endorse in the N.H. Republican primary, which so far includes Bryant “Corky” Messner, retired Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc, and former state Speaker of the House Bill O’Brien.

Lewandowski had been having conversations with local Republican leaders about a potential run, several officials told NBC News. Multiple sources said Lewandowski would have been a “formidable” candidate had he challenged Shaheen.

Just last week, Lewandowski told local station WMUR that key factors were pointing him to run, including recent meetings with President Trump and Senate leadership.

“I've got a young family, I want to make sure I can spend time with them,” he said. “We've talked about this a lot now. I was in Washington last week with the president both Friday of last week and then Monday of this week, talking again. I talked with Senate leadership about this race to understand the resources that would be available to take on a two-term incumbent U.S. senator, looked at her voting record, realized that she no longer aligns with the values of New Hampshire, all these things are pointing us in the right direction."

The New Hampshire Democratic Party reacted to Lewandowski's announcement shortly after his initial tweet.

“While Messner, Bolduc, and O'Brien tear each other down in the contentious primary Lewandowski has left behind, Senator Shaheen will continue working across the aisle for New Hampshire, leading efforts to lower prescription drug costs and making sure veterans and their families get the benefits they deserve," said NHDP spokesman Josh Marcus-Blank. 

The New Hampshire Republican Party did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

1071d ago / 5:00 PM UTC

Bennet launching campaign's first New Hampshire television ad

WEST LEBANON, N.H. — Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet is launching his presidential campaign's first New Hampshire television ad aimed at contrasting him with President Donald Trump. 

In the new one-minute spot, Bennet talks to the camera to argue that he's "the opposite of Trump," pitching himself as the candidate who can bridge the political divide and get results on issues like health care. 

Bennet’s campaign announced last week they need to raise $700,000 by Jan. 16 of next year to have the resources to compete in New Hampshire, including for the launch of his new ad. It says as of Friday the campaign has raised just over $165,000 toward that goal, so it will now put $60,000 into TV and digital this week. 

The campaign told NBC News it will increase its ad buy over the coming weeks as it continues to raise, and they intend to reach a six-figure buy, and that it needs to raise more to keep the ad on the air in the coming weeks. 

“Voters are asking one question in this election: Who can beat Donald Trump?” campaign spokesperson Shannon Beckham said in a statement.

“To beat Trump, we need the opposite of Trump, and Michael represents that in every way. People who are exhausted by the daily circus in the White House are looking for a candidate who will return things back to normal and start to make progress for their families."

The ad buy comes on the heels of Bennet announcing he would hold 50 town halls in New Hampshire in the final 10 weeks leading up to the state’s primary. His current tally is at 21 town halls, and with an impending impeachment trial in the Senate, the logistics of the rest are to be determined.

“I just know that New Hampshire hasn't made up its mind yet and that's why I'm here,” Bennet told reporters last week in Peterborough, NH. “I think our states are very similar and the politics are similar, and I'm hoping to do well here.”

Bennet is set to return to New Hampshire for a seven-day trip starting December 30, including hosting a first event of 2020 at 12:01 AM on January 1st.

1071d ago / 3:15 PM UTC

Amy Klobuchar to hit 99th and final Iowa county on presidential campaign

ESTHERVILLE, IA — Sen. Amy Klobuchar is set to visit her 99th county in Iowa on Friday morning, completing her quest to hit every county in the state during her presidential bid. 

She’s the only presidential candidate who qualified for last month's debate stage to accomplish the feat (the only other candidate to complete the full tour is John Delaney, who’s been campaigning since 2017.)

Friday’s swing includes stops in Emmet, Kossuth and Humboldt counties - which all voted for President Trump in the 2016 general election - before heading to Des Moines to celebrate the completion of the full tour.

Emulating her habit of visiting all of her home state of Minnesota’s 87 counties, Klobuchar has emphasized the importance of meeting people in their communities on the campaign trail, touting her ability to appeal to moderate Democrats, Independents and Republicans.

Friday’s final three counties come after Klobuchar embarked on a busy four-day, 27 county bus tour last weekend. She passed through the southern edge of the state before swing up through northwest Iowa - historically conservative pockets of the state.

With just over a month until Iowa’s caucus, Klobuchar has seen her standing in the polls improve. In last month's Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa poll, she was the first choice for 6 percent of likely Democratic caucusgoers, good for fifth place. She also finished in fifth place (with 5 percent) in Monmouth University's November poll of likely Iowa caucusgoers. 

1078d ago / 5:42 PM UTC

The voters who could decide the 2020 election

WASHINGTON — In the most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 48 percent of registered voters say they are certain to vote against President Trump, and 34 percent say they’re certain to vote for him.

In the middle are 18 percent of voters who say they might vote either way depending on the Democratic nominee.

Who are these 18 percent of voters — given that Trump needs to win two-thirds of them to reach the national 46 percent he won in 2016, or four-in-five of them to get to 48 percent?

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal pollsters call them “squishy Republicans” or “nominal Republicans.” They’re disproportionately younger men who identify as independents or moderates.

President Trump’s job rating with them is 55 percent (compared to 44 percent overall in the poll), they favor Republicans by 20 points in congressional preference (versus the D+7 lead overall) and a plurality of them believe Trump did something wrong regarding Ukraine — but that it doesn’t rise to the level of impeachment.

So the name of the game for 2020 is Trump trying to win as many of these squishy/nominal Republicans as possible to assemble a winning coalition, or the eventual Democratic nominee cutting into enough of these voters to deny the president that coalition.

And how do these up-for-grabs view the Democratic contenders? Check out these numbers:

1078d ago / 4:36 PM UTC

Mike Bloomberg is spending big in his presidential bid. Here’s how other self-funders fared.

WASHINGTON — Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has wasted no time putting his massive fortune to use in the race for the Democratic nomination. Worth an estimated $55 billion, the 2020 hopeful has already dwarfed his rivals by spending over $100 million on advertising since he announced his campaign just weeks ago. And Bloomberg is paying for it all himself — his website notably lacks a “donate” button, and he’s said he won’t seek any contributions.

Image: Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg speaks about his plan for clean energy during a campaign event at the Blackwall Hitch restaurant in Alexandria, Va., on Dec. 13, 2019.Olivier Douliery / AFP - Getty Images

Though he may be the wealthiest candidate in history, he’s not the only billionaire or self-funder to try his hand at presidential politics, not even in 2020.

Among Democrats, Bloomberg joins Tom Steyer, a California hedge fund billionaire who has plowed $47 million into his own campaign, according to his latest FEC filings, and garnered just enough support for three coveted debate invitations. Another multimillionaire, former congressman John Delaney, has given more than $24 million to his campaign to much less success, rarely even reaching 1 percent in national polls.

The three are spending all that money to earn a chance at challenging yet another billionaire: Donald Trump. And while Trump’s reelection effort is a fundraising juggernaut, his 2016 campaign was powered in part by his own wealth, to the tune of $66.1 million in personal contributions and loans.

Though there have long been self-funders in presidential politics, it is notable that 2020 involves so many of them. “This is by no means new,” says Sheila Krumholz, the executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics.  “As campaigns grow ever more expensive, this will continue to be a trend.”

Apart from the current president, those who have relied largely on their own wealth to win the presidency have historically come up empty-handed.

In 1992, Texas billionaire Ross Perot launched an independent bid for the White House and spent $64 million (that’s $118 million in 2020, adjusted for inflation) on his way to winning 19 percent of the popular vote, a modern record for independent candidates.

Perot famously bought 30-minute infomercials where he talked economic policy direct to camera from his desk, using charts and a pointer. During his Reform Party run four years later, Perot spent significantly less — $20 million inflation-adjusted — and saw his popular vote share decrease to just over 8 percent. 

The first time publisher Steve Forbes sought the Republican nomination, in 1996, he self-funded with an inflation-adjusted $61 million. But like his signature tax policy, his campaign fell flat. Time Magazine referred to it as “wacky, saturated with money and ultimately embarrassing to all concerned,” and he finished a distant third place with 11 percent of the total primary vote.

Undeterred, Forbes jumped back into the fray in 2000, and spent another $60 million to even meeker results: a handful of delegates and no primary victories.

The 2000s saw several very wealthy men run for president: John Kerry in 2004, Mitt Romney in 2008 and 2012, and Jon Huntsman in 2012. Of the three, Romney in 2008 was the most prolific self-funder, spending $54 million in 2019 dollars, over a third of his total campaign expenditure (in 2012 he stopped self-funding). Kerry gave his campaign almost $9 million in 2019 dollars, but fundraised several hundred million more. And Huntsman loaned his campaign over $5 million, more than he raised from donors. None of the three became president.

Can Bloomberg overcome history? While he’s been successful at “buying himself a head start,” Krumholz cautions that for billionaires, “the money represents a shortcut around the hard slog of campaigning, but generally not to victory.”

1079d ago / 6:00 PM UTC

Michael Bloomberg releases first part of health care plan

LOS ANGELES — Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg rolled out the contours of his health care plan on Thursday, adding his voice to the issue that has defined, and vexed, the Democratic primary field all year.

Bloomberg's proposal would be a “Medicare-like” public option — which places him in step with other “moderate’ candidates in the 2020 Democratic field, like former Vice President Joe Biden, Mayor of South Bend, Ind. Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet. The proposal also aims to bolster the Affordable Care Act, expand coverage and cut costs of prescription drugs and health care prices. 

Image: Mike Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg waits to address a news conference after launching his presidential bid in Norfolk, Va., on Nov. 25, 2019.Joshua Roberts / Reuters file

The two-page plan, which Bloomberg is promoting over several campaign stops in Tennessee, is the first of a two-part health care plan. The second part will focus on public health and be released in the new year, according to the Bloomberg campaign.

Several Democrats in the 2020 field prescribe a public option as either their end goal or, in the case of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, as part of a longer-term process to get to a Medicare For All system. Bloomberg, however, does not intend for Medicare for All to be the goal.

On a campaign-hosted call with reporters before the plan’s release and Bloomberg aides were clear that a public option was not a stepping stone to Medicare for All, emphasizing the realities of Congress as a key reason why.

“We’re going for a more achievable approach,” one aide said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the plan.

Aides were also clear that Bloomberg’s plan, like those of other moderates, envisions a continued role for private insurance. The campaign referred to Americans being able to keep plans they were promised.

“We’re not trying to completely rock the boat and get everyone off the plan if they like it," an aide said. 

Bloomberg proposes capping out-of-network charges at 200 percent of Medicare rates, in order to keep health care prices down. To lower the cost of prescription drugs, Bloomberg plans to empower the Health and Human Services Secretary to negotiate prices with pharmaceuticals.

The plan also seeks to expand coverage and subsidies, in addition to creating the public option. The campaign said it hasn't yet gotten a formal estimate of what the price tag will be for the entire plan, but informally puts the cost at $1.5 trillion to create the public option and expand subsidies. The campaign believes that by capping out of network charges and negotiating drug costs, the total cost could be brought to to $1 trillion. 

1079d ago / 5:24 PM UTC

Donald Glover to endorse Andrew Yang, co-host Los Angeles event

WASHINGTON — Actor Donald Glover, also known by his musical stage name Childish Gambino, will endorse 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang on Thursday in Los Angeles at a joint event they're calling  “The 46 Campaign.”

The collaboration campaign event takes place just hours before Yang is expected to take the debate stage at Loyola Marymount University in L.A. for the final Democratic presidential primary debate of 2019.

Image: US-VOTE-2020-DEMOCRATS-DEBATE-POLITICS
Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang speaks to the press in the Spin Room following the fifth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia on November 20, 2019.NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP - Getty Images

He will be joined on-stage by former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and billionaire activist Tom Steyer. Yang was the last candidate to qualify under the Democratic National Committee's thresholds and will be the only candidate of color on the debate stage.

“The 46 Campaign” is expected to sell collaboration merchandise in “limited quantities,” according to Glover’s Instagram story, with all proceeds going towards to the Yang campaign. Glover also noted there will not be any music at the event. 

S.Y. Lee, Yang's national press secretary, confirmed to NBC News that Glover will endorse at the event, and that the merchandise on sale will include sweatshirts, hats and posters. 

In addition to being a Golden Globe-winning actor and influential rapper, Glover has become increasingly political in his music and art in recent years. Under the stage name Childish Gambino, Glover broke onto the national political stage upon the May 2018 release of his award-winning song, “This is America.”

The anthem and its accompanying music video, which trended as the No. 1 song in the United States for three weeks, depicts stark political themes including gun violence, police brutality and the experience of being black in the United States. “This is America” went on to win four Grammy Awards that year. 

Yang has garnered a few celebrity endorsements or donations to his campaign, including actor Nicolas Cage, musician Rivers Cuomo, actor Noah Centineo, investor Sam Altman and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.