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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.

1101d ago / 1:29 AM UTC

Sanders campaign seeks to refocus messaging for Iowa's final stretch

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DES MOINES, Iowa — After nearly a week of back-and-forth with former Vice President Joe Biden, the Bernie Sanders campaign is aiming to get back on the policy messaging track with just days to go before the Iowa caucuses. 

“When you start to go up, obviously, you get a lot of fire,” senior Sanders campaign advisor said in an interview with NBC News Wednesday, noting state and national polls showing the Vermont senator surging. “The person in front has the biggest target on their back. And I think you're starting to see that now.”

Asked if voters might be concerned about the negativity on display in the recent clashes with Biden, Weaver said, “it’s not really negative and this is not personal. This is about a very different view in terms of [Sanders and Biden’s] policy positions and their record. And that’s what voters need to know in the course of the caucus.”

The sparring between the two camps over the holiday weekend continued this week. After Biden expanded it to include Sanders’ record on gun control in the Senate, Sanders told reporters in Washington Wednesday that it was “fair” for Biden to look at his record. “Joe Biden voted for the war in Iraq. I opposed it. Joe Biden voted for a terrible bankruptcy bill. I strongly opposed it. Joe Biden voted for disastrous trade agreements like NAFTA and PNTR with China. I vigorously opposed them. And Joe Biden has been on the floor of the Senate talking about the need to cut social security.”

In his interview with NBC News, Weaver echoed the same criticisms, but wouldn’t say whether the campaign sees Biden as Sanders’ biggest competitor. Instead, Weaver said he believes the focus should remain on President Donald Trump. 

“Donald Trump is the most threatening competitor because he's destroying America, as we watch,” Weaver said.

Weaver also touted Sanders' ability to expand the Democratic vote in the general election, saying that the senator “does very well with independent voters. He does very well with the young voters that we need to bring out. He does very well with voters of color, particularly Latino voters, so we need to engage at higher levels in this process and if we do that, we're going to defeat Donald Trump.”

But the criticism of Biden resurfaced when NBC News asked Weaver about the campaign’s involvement with “Our Revolution,” an organization that promotes the ideals of Sanders but also accepts high-dollar donations without disclosing contributors, a practice that has come under much criticism. 

“We have no relationship with Our Revolution, frankly. Just like we don't have any former relationship with MoveOn or DFA or a host of other progressive groups who are out there fighting for progressive change in this country,” Weaver said. “On the other hand, Joe Biden has a sanctioned super PAC which is running hundreds of thousands of dollars of advertising here in Iowa. We don’t need big donors coming in here and deciding who the Democratic nominee is going to be.” 

Weaver told NBC News, “We've been very clear we don't want any outside help from any third party groups. The way the law is set up we can't direct them not to do it, we don't control them in any way.” While the law doesn’t explicitly prevent the campaign from asking them to stop, the organization is not required to adhere to the request. Weaver is the former president of Our Revolution, when it was founded by Sen. Bernie Sanders in the summer of 2016.

When Sanders was asked about Our Revolution in an interview with New Hampshire Public Radio this weekend, he called for the group to be shut down — on the condition that other candidates disavow their Super PACs as well. “I think that we should end Super PACS right now,” Sanders said. “So I will tell my opponents who have a Super PAC, why don’t you end it? And that’s applicable to the groups that are supporting me.”

1101d ago / 3:18 PM UTC

Joe Biden says he won't cut Social Security

WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden said he would not cut social security funding if elected president during an interview on "Morning Joe" on Wednesday. Biden's answer comes amid attacks he's faced from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign that Biden has called for cutting Social Security benefits.

"I have 100 percent rating from the groups that rate social security, those who support Social Security. I think at a minimum [my comment] was taken out of context," Biden said. "The plan I have to deal with Social Security not only makes it solvent for the next, for my grandchildren, it also increases payments for the very elderly." 

On Tuesday night, Biden and Sanders' camps released videos about Social Security funding. In the video, tweeted out by Biden, the narrator says "Bernie's negative attacks won't change the truth, Joe Biden is still the strongest Democrat to beat Donald Trump."

Sanders' new ad featured old floor footage from Biden where he discussed freezing government spending including social security. Sanders tweeted out, "Let's be honest, Joe. One of us fought for decades to cut Social Security, and one of us didn't." 

When asked about Sanders' new ad, and if he would consider cutting Social Security given his past comments on freezing it, Biden said "No, no, no." 

Biden continued, "We go back and look at statements, many of them, most of them taken out of context of 10, 20, 30, 35 years ago. It's like my going back and pointing out how Bernie voted against the Brady bill five times while I was trying to get it passed." 

1102d ago / 12:51 AM UTC

Biden campaign releases video hitting debunked GOP claims on his Ukraine involvement

FORT DODGE, Iowa — Joe Biden’s campaign largely stayed on the sidelines while the House held hearings to consider impeaching President Trump, as Democrats who controlled key committees and testimony from current and former administration officials were able to defuse and rebut GOP efforts to raise debunked conspiracy theories about the former vice president and his role in firing a corrupt prosecutor.

But as the Republican-led Senate has opened the impeachment trial, his campaign has released its most aggressive and comprehensive — and even at times R-rated — effort to address and challenge the GOP claims.

In a more than four-minute video, Biden campaign rapid response director Andrew Bates lays out Biden’s work as vice president to support anti-corruption efforts for the fledgling democracy in Ukraine, which included the firing of prosecutor general Viktor Shokin. 

"It was a monumental, international, bipartisan anti-corruption victory,” Bates says in the video. GOP efforts to suggest Biden sought Shokin’s ouster because of a dormant investigation of the energy company his son Hunter served on is "horse-****.”

"Why is Donald Trump doing this? He knows he can't beat Joe Biden,” Bates says. "He tried to make our national security policy an extension of his struggling reelection campaign.”

1102d ago / 7:46 PM UTC

Pro-Biden super PAC gives former vice president significant air cover in Iowa

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WASHINGTON — A super PAC supporting former Vice President Joe Biden is coming to the candidate's defense in Iowa, dropping more than $1.8 million in television advertising dollars there this month and reserving another almost $800,000 for the final days before the Iowa caucuses. 

Unite the County, the pro-Biden group, alone has spent more in Iowa in January ($1.8 million) than every individual Democratic presidential candidate except Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders ($2.2 million). Combined with Biden's $1 million spent on the airwaves so far this month, the pro-Biden effort is the highest spender in Iowa so far this January. 

And while candidates are still deciding how to spend their ad dollars in the final weeks before the Iowa caucuses, Unite the Country's $800,000 in reserved airtime from Wednesday through caucus day is about even with what the Biden campaign has reserved so far over the same period.

So that combined effort of $1.6 million between Wednesday and caucus day puts the pro-Biden spending within spitting distance of that of Sanders' campaign, who has booked about $2 million in future Iowa spending. 

By rule, candidates receive preferred television rates when compared to other outside groups, so the super PAC spending won't have the same bang for the buck of the spending by individual campaigns.

But Unite the Country's spending is giving Biden a significant spending boost ahead of the pivotal caucuses. And it sends a signal to the Biden campaign that help is on the way, help that could allow the Biden campaign to invest dollars elsewhere, knowing that the super PAC is providing air cover. 

Below, take a look at the current ad spending in Iowa from the start of the race through today, as well as the future spending candidates have already booked. 

All of the advertising data is courtesy of Advertising Analytics, a media-tracking firm. 

Total TV and radio ad spending in Iowa as of today

  • Tom Steyer: $13.5 million
  • Pete Buttigieg: $8.8 million
  • Bernie Sanders: $8.3 million
  • Andrew Yang: $5.6 million
  • Elizabeth Warren: $4.6 million
  • Joe Biden: $3.4 million
  • Unite the Country (pro-Biden Super PAC): $3.0 million
  • Amy Klobuchar: $2.8 million
  • Michael Bennet: $1.1 million 

Total Iowa TV and radio ad spending in January

  • Sanders: $2.2 million
  • Unite the County: $1.8 million
  • Buttigieg: $1.8 million
  • Warren: $1.8 million
  • Steyer: $1.4 million
  • Yang: 1.4 million
  • Klobuchar: $1.3 million
  • Biden: $1 million

Future Iowa TV and radio ad spending already booked

  • Sanders: $1.9 million
  • Warren: $1.4 million
  • Steyer: $700,000
  • Unite the Country: $780,000
  • Biden: $730,000
  • Buttigieg: $610,000
  • Yang: $155,000
  • Klobuchar: $115,000
1102d ago / 6:57 PM UTC

Dems say they're pressuring GOP senators on impeachment in other ways

WASHINGTON — In First Read Tuesday morning, we observed how Democrats aren’t trying to pressure vulnerable GOP senators over the TV airwaves on impeachment.

Of the 11 impeachment-themed television ads airing across the country right now, according to the ad trackers at Advertising Analytics, all are from Republicans and GOP groups.

But Democrats at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee tell us that they’ve been pressuring GOP senators — like Cory Gardner of Colorado, Martha McSally of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine — in other ways.

For Maine’s Senate contest, for instance, the DSCC has created a website – WhatChangedSusan.Com – highlighting how Collins called for more evidence and witnesses in Bill Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trial, but hasn’t made the same explicit demands for President Trump’s impeachment trial.

And in Colorado, the DSCC has blasted out press releases noting that he’s “refuse[d] to answer basic questions on [the] president’s conduct” or on the demand for “a fair trial.”

1102d ago / 6:47 PM UTC

Michael Bloomberg launches new ad focused on impeachment trial

WASHINGTON — Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg released a new campaign ad in the presidential race on Tuesday focused on the impeachment trial. While Bloomberg has spent millions of his own dollars on his campaign ads, this ad is the first to focus on removing President Trump from office through the impeachment trial. 

The ad, entitled "Impeachment", declares that it's "time for the Senate to act and remove Trump from office. And if they won't do their jobs, this November you and I will."

According to the Bloomberg campaign, the ad is running in 27 states including four states with vulnerable Republican senators: Arizona, North Carolina, Maine and Colorado. 

1102d ago / 2:01 PM UTC

Warren pledges to 'cleanse' the 'corruption' from Trump administration beginning with transition if elected

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WASHINGTON — Senator Elizabeth Warren promised “no ordinary transition” between her administration and the current, Trump administration Tuesday, outlining a plan that would “cleanse the corruption from our government” and establish early rules for how she’d run — and staff — her administration, if elected come November. 

Pointing out the what she says is "unprecedented corruption from the current administration," Warren says that even with Trump gone “it would be foolish to assume" that "the government will start moving in the right direction all on its own.” 

Image:
Elizabeth Warren speaks during the Democratic primary debate in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 14, 2020.Robyn Beck / AFP - Getty Images

The new plan prescribes, among other things, asking all government political appointees, including U.S. Attorneys, to resign and establishing a new task force to investigate corruption by Trump administration officials — part of a push to “root out the corruption and incompetence of the Trump administration” that she would pursue, if elected. 

The 8-page plan makes exceptions for the resignations for positions needed to preserve continuity or protect national security during a transition period, while also advocating for that a new DOJ task force investigate violations (bribery, insider trading, anti-corruption, immigration-related) with authority to pursue “any substantiated criminal and civil violations.”

Below are some of the plan's highlights.

  • Warren would speed up her transition by: 
  • Announcing all cabinet choices by December 1, 2020.
  • Announcing other top nominations by December 15, 2020.
  • Fully staff senior and mid-level White House jobs by Inauguration Day.
  • Warren’s administration will not hire any lobbyists or employees of for-profit contractors unless she personally reviews it and decides it’s in the national interest. Also, she will not hire anyone who has received a “golden parachute.”
  • Former corporate lobbyists will need a 6 year “cooling off period” (no waivers or exceptions).
  • Non-corporate lobbyists will need a 2-year “cooling” and any waivers would be made public.
  • Employees of contractors will need to wait 4 years from their last contract or license award.
  • Similar restrictions will come into play after serving in government: senior officials can never accept a lobbying gig, all other administration officials will pledge not to lobby their former office or agency for 2 years after leaving — and 6 if they become corporate lobbyists.
  • Officials will be required to divest from “any individual stock, bond, or other investment” that ethics officials say might be directly influenced by the employee’s agency.
  • Parameters on who she’ll put in her Cabinet will include:
  • Her Education Secretary will be a former school teacher (this is a frequent promise on the trail).
  • Her Labor Secretary will have been a labor leader.
  • Her Secretary of Agriculture will have to show a commitment to advocating for black farmers.
  • Her FEC Chair will be committed to restore 2015 Net Neutrality rules, block media-telecom merger.
  • Warren also commits to making at least 50 percent of her cabinet and senior staff women.
1103d ago / 8:02 PM UTC

Klobuchar on NYT endorsement: 'I am a progressive that gets results'

WASHINGTON — Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. expressed surprise Monday about her partial win of the New York Times' Democratic presidential endorsement

After speaking at an event marking Martin Luther King Day at South Carolina’s state capitol, Klobuchar told NBC News "very excited about it" and that she didn't expect the endorsement, which she shares with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Klobuchar also referenced her endorsement from the Quad-Cities Times in Iowa. 

"I think one of the things that they noted is that you need a candidate for president and someone leading our country that's gonna actually represent everyone, not just half of America," she said. 

"That's not gonna wake up every day trying to draw a divide like this president does, so I was honored that they saw that, and I was also honored to get the endorsement of the Quad-City Times."

She went on to call herself a "proven progressive" that "gets results," underscoring the contrast between she and Warren that the Times editorial reflected.

“If you wanna be a progressive you actually have to make progress,” she said. “The difference between a plan and a pipeline is a pan is something you can actually get done and I'm very honored that they recognized that.” 

1103d ago / 4:52 PM UTC

Republican Main Street Partnership backs Steve King's primary opponent

WASHINGTON — The Republican Main Street Partnership, a group that supports moderate Republicans, is backing the Republican primary challenger to Iowa Rep. Steve King, who was stripped of his committee assignments last year after making racist comments during an interview. 

The group announced on Monday that it would back Randy Feenstra, the state senator looking to unseat King. 

Sarah Chamberlain, RMSP's president and CEO, told NBC News that her group has never taken on an incumbent Republican before and that she hopes King will decide to retire before the June primary.

But if King remains an active candidate, Chamberlain said her group will make the argument that the district deserves a congressman who hasn't been marginalized by his colleagues and can still be an effective voice for his constituents. 

"We add our voices to Liz Cheney and Mitch McConnell and hope that he will actually retire. But it’s time to move on. He had his committee assignments stripped from him in January 2019—they’ve literally gone a year without any representation in committees," Chamberlain said, referencing the criticism of King from top Republican leaders. 

"Pretty much everyone in D.C. has come out and been critical, Republican or Democrat. How can you work with your colleagues when they’ve all come out to criticize you? People in Iowa-4 deserve a member who can get things done for them, and it does not appear any longer [King] can."

Chamberlain told NBC that the RMSP has already given Feenstra the maximum $5,000 check it can, under campaign finance laws. The group is also asking its donors to support him as well, and it introduced Feenstra to donors and members at an event last week for its political action committee. 

The group also has an affiliated super PAC, which legally cannot coordinate any spending with Main Street, but has made ad-buys supporting candidates endorsed by the PAC during previous cycles. 

House Republicans voted last year to remove King from his spots on the Judiciary, Agriculture and Small Business Committees in response to his comments in the New York Times about white nationalism. 

"White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?" King asked.

"Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

In response to criticism from across the political spectrum, King told NBC News last year: "I reject white nationalism. I reject white supremacy. It's not part of any of my ideology. I reject anyone who carries that ideology."

Feenstra, the state Senate Majority Leader, is the top Republican running to replace King.

He’s argued during the impeachment trial that King’s removal from committees has left him ‘unable to defend President Trump” during impeachment. He’s also won a key endorsement in Iowa from Bob Vander Plaats, the leader of the conservative group The Family Leader.

1104d ago / 5:55 PM UTC

Andrew Yang talks women's issues, calls U.S. “deeply misogynist”

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Businessman and Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang kicked off a pre-caucus 17-day bus tour through Iowa on Saturday with a town hall focusing on women’s issues, a departure from his typical stump speech about automation and the economy, in light of his wife’s decision to share her story of sexual assault at the hands of her gynecologist while she was pregnant. 

“Our country is deeply misogynist,” Yang told a crowd of nearly 250 Iowans just off the University of Iowa’s campus. “I feel like I could get away with saying that ‘cause I’m a man. I think if a woman said that, it might somehow seem accusatory or inflammatory. But for me it’s just a statement of fact.” 

Yang answered questions from women about the gender pay gap and paid maternity leave, but it was clear that solving issues around sexual assault was top of mind. He encouraged women to be role models in the way his wife, Evelyn, has but acknowledged that in terms of policy, “we have to do much, much more to help women at every level,” calling the number of untested rape kits in the U.S. “unconscionable.”

The federal government estimates that police department warehouses house more than 200,000 untested sexual-assault kits across the country. Yang emphasized the need to allocate resources for authorities to be able to be more responsive to women’s complaints. 

“Terrible things happen to women every day in many, many contexts. Many of them wouldn’t rise to what you’d consider criminal behavior,” Yang told NBC News. “You have to try and make it so that women don't have to dedicate their lives to getting some form of justice in order to feel like anything is going to happen.”

Yang discussed investing in government programs that would pay for the testing of rape kits, as well as make it mandatory for the testing to be done in a certain timeframe. 

He also discussed issues surrounding the development of young men, asking, “why do we have trouble with our boys becoming strong young men? A lot of this is around trying to help our boys develop into strong, healthy men who will not assault women.”

Yang, a parent of two young boys, expressed concern over “rampant access to pornography” that could be “influencing the formation of many of our young peoples’ attitudes towards women in particular.” He suggested that, in order to help children develop positive attitudes towards women, access to technology that could influence children’s attitudes should be reigned in. 

“We have to help men get better and stronger,” Yang said, floating the idea of developing resources for young men who feel their behavior impulses “are trending in a direction that they’re going to end up being destructive to someone, particularly women.”

1105d ago / 7:42 PM UTC

Four presidential candidates pitch themselves to Iowa educators

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Four Democratic presidential hopefuls pitched themselves to a room full of Iowa educators on Saturday.

Around 200 members of the Iowa State Education Association, the largest union in the Hawkeye state, gathered to hear remarks from former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. 

During his prepared remarks, Biden was the only candidate to acknowledge the teacher strikes that have taken place across the country.

“These walk outs are vital not just to make sure that you get paid fairly, or you get healthcare or your school safety although they're essential, many times, you're walking out and make sure students get greater resources,” Biden said.

Biden also emphasized the need to treat teachers with the “dignity,” they deserve. He promised them that if elected, “you’re never going to have a better partner in the white house than Jill and Joe Biden and that's the God's truth,” he said. “I give you my word on that.” 

Warren hit a similar note when it came to respecting teachers. 

"This is about respect,” Warren said. “And this is about reminding ourselves and our entire nation that the way we build a future is that we invest in every single one of our children.”

This wasn't the only moment of agreement between the candidates. Warren and Buttigieg also shared similar comments about for-profit charter schools. 

“Public school dollars should stay in public schools, period,” Warren said denouncing the use of tax dollars to fund for-profit charter schools. 

And Buttigieg continued that he didn't see a place in the U.S. for for-profit charter schools. 

"We all believe in innovation we all believe in keeping up and getting ready for the next steps. But that has to be done with educators, not to educators and that's one of many reasons why for profit charter schools have no place in the future," Buttigieg said. 

Both Buttigieg and Klobuchar spent a majority of their time on stage introducing themselves to the educators. Each candidate highlighted the multitude of additional responsibilities placed on teachers beyond their role as educators.

Klobuchar recalled a teacher she met while campaigning in Iowa who described dealing with students contemplating suicide.

“Not everyone in this room is qualified to be a psychiatrist or a psychologist,” Klobuchar said. “Yet, so many of you are on the front lines having to do that work.” 

Buttigieg echoed this sentiment saying that teachers are “expected to be counselors, mental health professionals, test administrators, and according to some are supposed to snap into action and become highly trained armed guards." He continued, "As if you don't have enough on your plate, practicing the craft of being professional educators,” he said.

The ISEA has not endorsed in the primary, while all four candidates have received endorsements from individual members. The union did not endorse in the 2016 primaries either. 

1105d ago / 6:45 PM UTC

Bernie Sanders nabs endorsement from central Iowa Postal Workers union

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders received the endorsement of the American Postal Workers Union Local 44 in Central Iowa, the campaign announced Saturday. 

Mike Bates, president of APWU Local 44, called Sanders a “champion for postal workers.”

“He will fight for postal banking that would bring in revenue to the Postal Service and stop the legalized loan sharking of check into cash and payday loans that feed on the working poor,” Bates said in a statement. “He has our backs and we will have his back in this election. The DMI Area Local 44 of the American Postal Workers Union will do everything we can to elect Senator Bernie Sanders for President of the United States of America."

Image: Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders sits down for an interview on TODAY.Nathan Congleton / TODAY

The endorsement, voted upon by the more than 700 members of the union this week, is one of more than 130 individual Iowa union worker endorsements already announced in support of Sanders this cycle. 

In thanking the union for their support, Sanders pivoted to Pres. Donald Trump. “Donald Trump wants to privatize the Postal Service and threaten over 630,000 jobs. That absolutely cannot happen,” said Sen. Sanders. “I’m proud to stand together with the postal workers of Local 44 as we fight to strengthen USPS, protect jobs and allow post offices to provide basic banking services.”

Sanders has a plan for postal workers that would allow the Postal Service to provide basic financial services and other consumer products and services. 

“Post offices would offer basic checking and savings accounts, debit cards, direct deposit, online banking services, and low-interest, small dollar loans,” Sanders’ plan states. “It would end the racial disparities in access to banking and access to credit, while also stopping financial institutions from reaping massive fees off the poor and underserved.” 

“The post office guarantees to deliver your mail in snow and rain, in heat and in gloom of night. It delivers your mail whether you live in a city skyscraper or down a long country road. It can do the same for banking,” he writes.

In 2018, Sanders wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin outlining his plans. In the letter, he detailed that he would allow the Postal Service to recover $50 billion in overpayments it made to its retirement program, end the price cap on stamps which is, according to Sanders, costing the system two billion dollars a year and reinstate overnight delivery and speed up service standards.

1105d ago / 6:00 PM UTC

Democratic National Committee releases New Hampshire debate qualifications

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WASHINGTON — The Democratic National Committee released the latest polling, donor and pledged delegate thresholds for the Feb. 7 Democratic primary debate in New Hampshire on Friday. 

The DNC will offer to pathways for candidates to make the debate stage in February — one mirrors the qualifications for the January debate in Iowa: Candidates must reach 5 percent in four qualifying polls or 7 percent in two qualifying polls conducted in state polls conducted in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, plus have fundraising from 225,000 unique donors and a minimum of 1,000 unique donors per state. 

Image:
In this Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019 photo, the stage for the Democratic presidential primary debate is shown before Wednesday's debate in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)John Amis / AP

Polls must be released between Dec. 13 and Feb. 6 to count, and all the candidates who participated in the January debate have met the new polling threshold: former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and philanthropist Tom Steyer.  

Candidates can also qualify through the pledged delegate pathway. If a candidate finishes the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3 with one pledged delegate they will automatically make the debate stage. 

The debate in New Hampshire is one of three debates schedule in February — candidates will also participate in debates in Nevada and South Carolina ahead of those states' nominating contests. 

1106d ago / 9:55 PM UTC

County to County: Milwaukee Democrats talk about the importance of 2020

WASHINGTON — If a Democratic presidential candidate is going to win back Wisconsin in 2020, he or she is going to need to turn out the vote in Milwaukee, home to the state’s largest African-American population. That’s something the Democrats failed badly at in 2016.

President Donald Trump wound up winning Wisconsin by less than 23,000 votes in 2016 and Milwaukee produced 51,000 fewer votes in that election than it did in 2012.

What are those voters thinking as the calendar flips to 2020? NBC News' "Meet the Press" convened a roundtable of five African-American voters in Milwaukee as part of its year-long "County to County" project following five key counties in five swing states that we believe will decide the 2020 election.

The voters here have a common set of answers about what happened four years ago. Some say that they feel the Democratic Party was taking them for granted. Some say their community has suffered for years economically under Republican and Democratic administrations and they wonder what difference their votes make. And others say they weren’t particularly excited about Democrat Hillary Clinton and they didn’t believe Trump would win.

Regardless, they all say the last election showed how crucial their vote is and the power they’ll hold in their hands this fall.

More important, the story of these voters in 2020 is about more than Milwaukee or Wisconsin. Across the upper Midwest, the states that won Trump the election are full of similar communities where African-American turnout will be crucial. Places like Wayne (Detroit) and Genesee counties (Flint) in Michigan, and Cuyahoga (Cleveland) and Hamilton (Cincinnati) counties in Ohio.

In each of those counties, the same Milwaukee pattern was visible. They are counties with large African-American populations that produced fewer votes in 2016 than they did in 2012. They will be key to Democratic hopes in 2020.

1106d ago / 7:20 PM UTC

Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer spend nearly $300 million combined in TV and radio ads

WASHINGTON — Former New York City Michael Bloomberg and philanthropist Tom Steyer have now spent nearly $300 million combined on TV and radio ads of Friday, according to ad-spending data from Advertising Analytics. And the two Democratic billionaires and presidential candidates plan to spend millions more in future ad buys through Super Tuesday.

However, the two candidates aren't quite fighting for TV time. Steyer has largely concentrated his spending in the four earlier nominating states like Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, while Bloomberg's campaign has focused on states that don't vote until closer to or on Super Tuesday.

Bloomberg's campaign has previously said their strategy is to focus on Super Tuesday contests, and not compete in any of the four early states.

Here are the numbers through Friday, Jan. 17:

National ad-spending numbers 

  • Bloomberg: $190.2 million (with future ad spending at $220.6 million through Super Tuesday)
  • Steyer: $106.4 million
  • Sanders: $12.2 million
  • Buttigieg: $11.8 million
  • Yang: $7.9 million
  • Trump: $5.7 million
  • Warren: $4.5 million
  • Klobuchar: $3.2 million
  • Biden: $3.2 million

Iowa ad spending 

  • Steyer: $13.2 million
  • Buttigieg: $8.4 million
  • Sanders: $7.8 million
  • Yang: $5.4 million
  • Warren: $4.2 million
  • Biden: $3.2 million
  • Klobuchar: $2.5 million

New Hampshire ad spending 

  • Steyer: $15.6 million
  • Sanders: $3.8 million
  • Bloomberg: $3.3 million
  • Yang: $2.4 million
  • Buttigieg: $2.0 million 

Nevada ad spending 

  • Steyer: $10.8 million
  • Trump: $859,000
  • Sanders: $165,000
  • Buttigieg: $94,000 

South Carolina ad spending 

  • Steyer: $14.8 million
  • Buttigieg: $1.1 million
  • Bloomberg: $966,000
  • Trump: $549,000
1106d ago / 6:36 PM UTC

Pete Buttigieg's endorsement town hall interrupted by climate protesters

CONCORD, N.H. — Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg was interrupted by protesters during a town hall in New Hampshire on Friday where he received an endorsement from New Hampshire Rep. Annie Kuster. The protesters were a group of climate activists against the former South Bend, Indiana mayor's ties to the fossil fuel industry.

Roughly two dozen protesters interrupted Buttigieg during his remarks in Concord, N.H., holding signs with the Buttigieg campaign’s colors of yellow and blue and writing with a matching font, that read “Pete takes money from fossil fuel billionaires.”

They sang and chanted causing a significant interruption of Buttigieg's event. The protesters, according to their distribution materials, aim to hold presidential candidates accountable on their connections to the fossil fuel industry. 

Buttigieg at first tried to listen to the group's protests, and interjected to say, “I see some inaccurate information going up here so let's dispatch with that real quick. I've taken the fossil fuel pledge and I am determined to bring about solutions on climate change.” 

“I can't make out your song, but we definitely want the same things,” Buttigieg continued as the protesters continued to shout. He then tried to get back to his rehearsed remarks. 

“Now, are we ready to do what it's actually going to take to come together and solve these problems?” Buttigieg said to the audience with cheers in response. “Will we turn on one another or will we unite to tackle the issues we face as a country?”

The group has interrupted other candidates at New Hampshire events, including former Vice President Joe Biden in October in Manchester. 

“Remember, if you care about solving these problems, if you care about fixing the economy, if you care about fixing our climate, we know what we are up against and  it is not each other,” Buttigieg added. “Who's with me on making sure that tackling climate is not another partisan political battlefield? But something that we all rally around as a national project? We got a lot of work to do. We better be ready to do it together.”

The protesters escorted themselves out of the venue after their disruption.

One of the protesters told NBC News that the group protested Buttigieg because he accepted campaign donations from Craig Hall, who owns an oil company and was at Buttigieg's "wine cave" fundraiser in California last month.

“My reaction is that I have a climate policy that's going to get us carbon neutral by the middle of the century and starts on day one with aggressive action,” Buttigieg told reporters after the event. "As the youngest candidate running for president, I will be personally impacted by America's success or failure in dealing with the climate issue. So I respect the issues that they're raising. I share the goal of making sure that we deal with this and I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure we can.”

1106d ago / 4:59 PM UTC

Fight for $15 campaign and the SEIU launch joint campaign effort in Michigan, Wisconsin

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Fight for $15 campaign and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), will launch a major door-knocking operation this weekend targeting minority voters in parts of Michigan and Wisconsin that saw drops in voter turnout in the 2016 election. 

The partnership intends to put “tens of millions of dollars" behind the effort through Election Day, targeting 690,000 specific doors in Michigans’s Detroit, Oakland County, Saginaw and Flint areas, and another 750,000 doors in Wisconsin’s Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha neighborhoods. It will also run digital ads and build out a text-message program and is expected to continue through November. 

In the 2016 presidential election, now-President Donald Trump won Michigan over Hillary Clinton by just 11,000 votes, and about 23,000 votes in Wisconsin

“We know Midwestern states like Wisconsin and my home state of Michigan are key to winning in 2020. Working people will be critical to reaching that goal, particularly black and brown communities that have too often been left behind by national politics,” said Mary Kay Henry, the president of the SEIU. “They’re going to swing the election by getting out, hitting the streets, knocking on doors and lifting up issues like wages, inequality, health care and the right for all workers to join together in a union.”

Just this week — ten months out from the general election — Milwaukee was the focus of both the national Democratic and Republican parties' attention. Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez and local Democrats engaged in a round table with local leaders in a predominately-black neighborhood of Milwaukee on Thursday. And on Tuesday night, President Trump held a campaign rally just two blocks from where the Democratic Party will hold its national convention this summer.

The partnership between Fight for $15 and SEIU produced a similar program ahead of the midterm elections. Both states elected Democratic governors in 2018. 

Michigan and Wisconsin have received heightened attention from political operatives and activists on the left after the 2016 race. While counties like Macomb in Michigan, made up of predominately-white voters, flipped in Trump’s favor in 2016 and saw a significant increase in voter turnout, the states’ more diverse counties, like Wayne County, saw a drop-off in voters from 2012 to 2016.

The SEIU's national organization has not endorsed in the 2020 Democratic primary, but the New Hampshire chapter endorsed Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders last week. The Fight for $15 campaign has said it will not endorse in the primary election. 

1106d ago / 2:20 PM UTC

Bennet campaign says it's hit fundraising goal to stay competitive in N.H.

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Senator Michael Bennet’s presidential campaign announced Friday that the Colorado senator has hit a self-imposed fundraising goal of $700,000 over the last month, giving the campaign enough resources to compete in first-in-the-nation primary here in just 25 days.

The campaign said that Thursday, the final day of this push, was the best fundraising day for the campaign since September 2019. 

Image: Michael Bennet
Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bennet in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on June 9, 2019.Charlie Neibergall / AP file

“Surpassing our fundraising goal last night is another confirmation of our campaign’s momentum — from key endorsements to growing support in New Hampshire,” said Bennet spokesperson Shannon Beckham. “We’re building the ground game we need to carry Michael to a top three finish on primary night.”

The campaign says that they will be expanding its “Opposite of Trump” ad buy today, adding that hitting this goal followed a few days of critical momentum, especially with endorsements.

Bennet announced last month that he was going all in on New Hampshire for his candidacy and even launched his first TV ad in the state. The campaign says that hitting the fundraising goal means they they will now invest more resources into further expanding their TV and digital ad program.

“Voters watched the debate this week and felt less sure than ever that the front-runners could beat Trump or unite the country to make progress for middle-class families,” Beckham added. “The surge we saw in donations on the final day of the push is further proof that Americans are looking for a president like Michael Bennet, who has the experience and agenda to take on Trump and start governing the country again.”  

1106d ago / 10:22 AM UTC

New Biden ads highlight Obama's praise from Medal of Freedom award

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — As two of his chief rivals spar over each other’s credibility, Joe Biden’s campaign is reminding voters of the ultimate tribute he earned from President Obama, as a “a resilient and loyal and humble servant.” 

As it did in the earliest days of his candidacy, the Biden campaign is promoting the glowing tribute Obama offered as he awarded his vice president the Presidential Medal of Freedom, two years ago this week. The 30-second video will target Iowans visiting YouTube starting Friday.

The campaign says it is pushing this message onto the digital streaming platform at a time when they expect traffic to be higher as the NFL’s conference championship games approach. Visitors to the YouTube homepage will see the video prominently on the masthead; a 60-second version will also be launched as an auto-play video before other videos.

The video highlights Obama’s praise for Biden’s character, as a parent and Gold Star parent. It closes with Obama saying, “the best part is he’s nowhere close to finished” — a comment made long before either he or Biden could have anticipated how the 2020 field would take shape.

Biden has shown little hesitation to invoke Obama’s name on the campaign trail. But his campaign has been careful not to use the president’s image and voice as freely. Advisers have kept an open line of communication with president's team to ensure that any messaging that invokes their time in the White House together does not go beyond what Obama would consider fair use, or suggest an endorsement that Obama has not offered.

1107d ago / 7:43 PM UTC

Democratic group pledges millions for state legislative wins

WASHINGTON — The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), the official organization dedicated to electing Democrats to state legislatures around the country, committed Thursday to spending $50 million to help the party get an edge ahead of key redistricting battles of 2021.

That spending will be part of its “Flip Everything” campaign, which the DLCC announced Thursday during a press briefing in Washington D.C. 

While the group has a vast range of targeted states, its map also includes presidential battleground states like North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Texas, and Arizona.

According to DLCC President, Jessica Post, “there’s so much power on the line” when it comes to statewide elections. 

“The states are our first line of defense against Donald Trump,” Post said. “The states serve as a firewall against the administration’s policies.”  

The stakes are high for this year’s elections specifically because in many states, the legislatures play a key role in drawing the district maps for the next decade of elections. Republicans gained 675 state legislative seats in the 2010 midterm elections, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which put Republicans in strong shape when maps were drawn in 2011.  

The DLCC has helped Democrats win majorities in 10 state legislative chambers since President Trump was elected — flipping a total of 436 seats from Republicans, including wins in 425 districts that the president won in 2016. The organization hopes to bring another 10 state chambers under Democratic control in 2020. 

Post credits Democrats’ previous successes in part to the DLCC’s improved infrastructure, candidate recruitment, and voter outreach. She also noted that financial investments have soared with the DLCC on track to spend an unprecedented $50 million this cycle.

Looking forward to 2020, Post said the DLCC will continue to invest time, money, and staff into these targeted states and pointed to state Democrats’ 2019 victory in Virginia where the General Assembly began its latest session under total Democratic control for the first time in 25 years.

Virginia — Post’s “favorite new Democratic trifecta” — received an early $1 million investment from the DLCC and had its own embedded political staffer. The DLCC plans to embed more staff in battleground states in 2020. 

Post said that the DLCC is also using “high profile allies” to its advantage on the campaign trail.

In a Texas State House special election on January 28 — a race receiving national attention — former presidential candidates Beto O’Rourke and Julián Castro are campaigning for Democrat Eliz Markowitz.

Post said it would be “earth shattering” if Markowitz wins this seat. 

On the 2020 presidential election, Post said the DLCC continues to work with several presidential candidates including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Former Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg.

“We obviously will beat Donald Trump in 2020,” Post said. “We have to do that but there’s been huge progress in states.”

1107d ago / 6:25 PM UTC

New grant fund looks to power gender parity in elected office

WASHINGTON — Panorama Global, a nonprofit group, is sponsoring recruitment and training programs for women running for elected office across the country. 

The Ascend Fund, announced on Tuesday, is the latest venture for Panorama Global to get involved in gender parity in elected offices. The group received its seed money from Melinda Gates’ investment and incubation company Pivotal Ventures. 

Chief executive officer and founder Gabrielle Fitzgerald told NBC News that the fund is one of their “biggest and most prominent” grants yet, and is actively looking to work with nonpartisan and nonprofit organizations that recruit and train women to run for office. 

“There are barriers that exist that make it hard for women to run for office,” Fitzgerald said. “It requires you to be away from home, and oftentimes today, women are still the primary caregivers.” 

Fitzgerald continued that aside from systematic barriers that preclude women from running, the lack of female candidates creates a pipeline problem for possible recruits. 

“It’s not just training that women need to declare candidacy for office, it’s also encouragement,” Fitzgerald said. 

Two groups have already received three-year grants: New American Leaders and Vote Run Lead. New American Leaders focuses on recruiting and training people of color, immigrants and refugees to run for state legislatures. While they work with both men and women, they will only use money from The Ascend Fund on programming for women. 

“Our programs start at the point of entry, recruitment and training," founder and president of New American Leaders Sayu Bhojwani said. 

According to Bhojwani, because of New American Leaders' designation as a 501(c)(3), the group cannot provide support once someone has formally entered a race. 

Bhojwani clarified that the Ascend Fund and partners at Panorama Global “will not be involved in designing the programs” at New American Leaders, the partnership “is an opportunity to identify ongoing problems” in recruiting and training women for office. 

Vote Run Lead works with women across the country and also specializes in recruiting and training women to run for state legislatures. 

Vote Run Lead founder and CEO Erin Vilardi said that the Ascend Fund will act as an “accelerator” for programs the group had already been planning to enact. 

“We are going as fast as we can to keep up with demand for women raising their hand [to run],” Vilardi said. 

Vilardi continued that this grant will help push against assumptions that ventures supporting “women in politics is fully funded,” or that it’s “a demand problem.”

“Gender equity is really possible,” Vilardi said. “Really at this point, it’s about the resources.” 

Vilardi said the additional funding will allow Vote Run Lead to work more to support women who have already won office, and not just help get them there. 

According to Fitzgerald, because the groups being selected, and the fund money, are coming from nonpartisan actors, it allows the focus to be going state-by-state to achieve gender parity in state legislatures.

“Obviously different parties have different priorities and quotas for how they think about their recruitment,” Fitzgerald said. “But they don’t have an overall strategy for what we’re describing.” 

1107d ago / 4:41 PM UTC

Liz Cheney will not run for Senate

WASHINGTON — Wyoming GOP Rep. Liz Cheney announced Thursday that she would not run for the state's open U.S. Senate seat this year, arguing that she "can have the biggest impact for the people of Wyoming by remaining in leadership in the House of Representatives." 

The specter of a Cheney bid to replace retiring Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wy., loomed large over the Wyoming Senate field, even though Cheney's House Republican colleague, Rep. Cynthia Lummis, jumped in only weeks after Enzi's decision.

Cheney repeatedly refused to rule out a bid in recent months, and was seen as a top candidate because of both her stature in the House, where she's the third-ranking Republican, as well as her lineage. Her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, served 10 years as Wyoming's congressman and is one of the most famous political figures in the state. 

She briefly challenged Enzi's re-election in the 2014 Senate Republican primary, but withdrew from that race pointing to health issues in her family. 

Now, Lummis is the odds-on favorite to replace Enzi in a state that hasn't elected a Democratic senator in almost a half-century. 

1107d 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.

 

1107d 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. 

1107d 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.

1108d 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.”

1108d 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. 

1108d 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. 

1109d 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.  

1109d 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.

1110d 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.

1110d 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. 

1110d 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.

 

1110d 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." 

1111d 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.

1111d 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.  

1112d 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. 

1112d 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.

1113d 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. 

1113d 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. 

1113d 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.”

1114d 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."

1114d 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. 

1114d 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. 

1114d 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. 

1114d 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.

1115d 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
1116d 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. 

1116d ago / 7:26 PM UTC

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

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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. 

1116d 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.”