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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.

1040d ago / 3:20 PM UTC

Biden edges out Trump in new national poll

WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden holds a narrow three-point lead on President Trump in a new national presidential race poll from Monmouth University. Forty-eight percent of registered voters prefer Biden, while 45 percent prefer the president — however that lands within the poll's margin of error. The poll did not release data on how Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders fared in a general election stand-off with Trump. 

The picture changed slightly when the poll shifted to key state voters. According to the poll, 50 percent of voters in 300 "swing counties" — counties in which less than 10 points separated Trump and 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton — back Biden while just 41 percent support the president. Trump and the leading Democratic candidate essentially split the current vote for Independents — Trump edges out with 45 percent, and Biden garners 44 percent. 

Joe Biden
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks March 12, 2020, in Wilmington, Del.Matt Rourke / AP file

While the possible general election contest is extremely close, some key questions could end up affecting whether voters change their allegiances. Twenty-five percent of registered voters said their current financial situation was best described as "struggling", and just 12 percent of registered voters said their financial status was improving. That could magnify as the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has some experts saying unemployment could reach 20 percent in a worse-case scenario situation. 

However, it's not clear that Americans blame the Trump administration for their financial situations. Fifty-two percent of registered voters said the federal government had "no real impact" on their finances, and 29 percent said the government "helped" their financial situation. The Monmouth University poll was conducted between March 18 and March 22. 

Both candidates have also seen upticks in their favorability since February. Forty-six of registered voters view President Trump either very or somewhat favorably, up two points since February, and 43 percent of registered voters view Biden very or somewhat favorably, up three points from the last poll. 

1040d ago / 1:47 PM UTC

Trump re-elect effort campaigns virtually as coronavirus outbreak pauses normal voter interaction

WASHINGTON – Since the coronavirus pandemic has essentially brought the 2020 race to a halt, President Trump's campaign and Republican National Committee have pivoted to a fully virtual outreach plan as millions of voters are confined to their homes. 

On Saturday, the Trump re-election effort made a record 1.5 million calls, marking the first time this kind of voter contact has been done purely remotely by the party, according to the RNC. Volunteers highlighted the administration’s response to the current health crisis, while encouraging supporters to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for their own safety.

“With our ability to engage with voters virtually and digitally, Trump Victory is not missing a beat, and we continue to be full steam ahead to November,” RNC Chief of Staff Richard Walters told NBC News in a statement.

After President Trump announced strict new social distancing rules last week, the campaign and RNC had to convert all their in-person campaign events into virtual interactions, including fundraisers. Earlier this month, the campaign had to postpone several high-profile surrogate events, including a multi-day, high-dollar swing for Ivanka Trump and a California trip for first lady Melania Trump.

Image: President Donald Trump arrives to a rally in Sunrise, Fla., on Nov. 26, 2019.
President Donald Trump arrives to a rally in Sunrise, Fla., on Nov. 26, 2019.Brynn Anderson / AP file

Since then, Trump Victory – the joint operation between the campaign and the RNC – has held hundreds of volunteer trainings in virtual settings, including using an application called “Trump Talk.” Nearly 50,000 people signed up to use it and make calls from the comfort of their own homes in the last week alone, the RNC said.  

This past weekend, during a designated “day of action,” volunteers were provided with scripts that touted the president’s “bold leadership” on the coronavirus that has infected more than 46,000 people in the country and left at least 561 dead, according to data from Johns Hopkins as of Tuesday morning. They were instructed to highlight the “unprecedented, comprehensive, and aggressive whole of America approach,” as the administration faced some criticism from medical professionals that not enough was being done to combat the virus. 

To that point, the talking points included that Trump took “quick and decisive action” back in January to restrict entry into the U.S. from foreign nationals who had visited China. If voters didn’t answer, they were left with a voicemail from senior adviser Lara Trump which included information about “how to help slow the spread” of the deadly respiratory illness.

That messaging comes as a Democratic super PAC is launching ads that criticize Trump's response to the virus, arguing that he did not take the virus seriously enough. 

The major societal changes that have forced millions to work from home in recent days has also contributed to a surge in online traffic for GOP websites such as Vote.GOP and TrumpVictory.com, nearly doubling their normal visitors, per the RNC. The campaign has also directed supporters to go to ArmyforTrump.com, a tool that allows volunteers to sign up for various outreach opportunities and become “digital activists.”

So far this cycle, Trump Victory has outpaced its 2016 and 2018 voters contacts, boasting 9 million to date. The number of calls made on Saturday alone was bigger than any total week of calls made ahead of the last midterm elections, the group highlighted. 

Though fundraising in March may be hampered by the pandemic’s restrictions, the re-elect effort raked in $87 million in February and has more than $231 million in the bank.

1040d ago / 6:40 PM UTC

Dem super PAC launches ads hitting Trump on coronavirus response

WASHINGTON — Priorities USA Action, the biggest Democratic super PAC working to deny President Trump re-election, is out with a new ad campaign that criticizes the president's handling of the coronavirus outbreak. 

The group released two television ads Monday — one on coronavirus and one aimed at contrasting Trump with former Vice President Joe Biden, who is leading the Democratic primary race. 

The first spot includes various comments of President Trump talking about the virus over a span of months run one after another as a graphic shows the number of coronavirus cases in America rising exponentially. 

"The coronavirus...this is their new hoax...we have it totally under control. It's one person coming in from China...One day, it's like a miracle, it will disappear...When you have 15 people...and within a couple of days, it's going to be close to down to zero," Trump can be heard saying in those spliced-together comments.

The spot then ends with video of Trump telling reporters on March 13 that "I don't take responsibility at all" when asked about the delays in testing.

The second television spots paints a dismal picture of the current situation, "Thousands infected, an economy in free fall, and government unprepared," before showing that same clip of Trump saying he doesn't take responsibility for the test-kit shortage. 

The ad then shows Biden's address on coronavirus from earlier this month, where he said "I can promise you this: When I'm president, we will be better prepared, respond better, we'll lead with science." 

Priorities also unveiled two digital ads along similar lines

The Trump administration, his campaign and his allies have been on the defensive as to its response to the coronavirus pandemic in recent weeks, arguing that the administration has taken action that has stopped the pandemic from getting worse.

They've also accused Democrats of misrepresenting at least one comment, arguing that he said "this is their new hoax" in referring to Democratic criticism of his administration's coronavirus response, not about the virus itself. 

Priorities will run the first TV ad that solely criticizes Trump as part of a $6 million TV and digital campaign across Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — the Biden contrast ad could also hit the airwaves after that ad runs, but the timing for that is not clear. The two digital ads will begin running online starting Tuesday. 

The group has said it plans to spend $150 million before the Democratic convention, much of it on the airwaves. 

“From the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, Donald Trump has repeatedly misled the American people and exposed us to unnecessary danger. His failure to lead continues to have real life and death consequences as hospitals, local and state governments, small businesses, and millions of Americans are left without the tools and information they need,” Priorities USA Chairman Guy Cecil said in a statement.

“Tens of thousands of people are sick, hundreds have already died, and millions are losing their jobs. We simply cannot allow Donald Trump to continue to lie and spread misinformation unchecked."

Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign's communications director, criticized the Priorities ads in a statement to NBC News. 

"It used to be that Americans faced national adversity with unity, but Joe Biden and his allies have abandoned that principle in favor of rank, despicable politics. They offer nothing but partisan sniping from the sidelines and seek to undermine the federal response to the crisis by misinforming and frightening people," he said.

"All Joe Biden knows about handling a public health crisis is that the Obama White House had to apologize for his irresponsible remarks during the swine flu outbreak in 2009. Americans can see that President Trump is out front and leading this nation and is the clear choice to see us through the crisis.”

UPDATE: On Wednesday, the Trump campaign said it sent television stations cease and desist letters calling on the stations to stop running the ad, arguing that the "hoax" comment from Trump was falsely represented in the ad. 

1040d ago / 4:59 PM UTC

Bloomberg campaign faces potential class action lawsuit for layoffs

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WASHINGTON — Michael Bloomberg's presidential campaign is facing a potential class action lawsuit for allegedly promising jobs through November to more than a thousand campaign staffers and then laying them off last week.

A former field organizer, Donna Wood, filed the suit today in U.S. District Court, in the southern district of New York, on behalf of herself and others seeking to get it certified by the court as a class action.

NBC News first reported in January that Bloomberg was planning to fund a major campaign effort through November and was committing to pay staff through then, even if he lost the nomination. But Bloomberg reversed course last week and laid off his entire staff. He instead transferred $18 million to the Democratic National Committee and told laid off staffers to fill out a Google form if they were interested in entering a competitive hiring process for a DNC job. The staffers will stop receiving paychecks in the first week of April, and will stop receiving health care benefits at the end of April. 

Image: Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg departs after addressing supporters at his Super Tuesday night rally in West Palm Beach, Fla., on March 3, 2020.Marco Bello / Reuters

“The Bloomberg campaign had represented to folks they were going to keep people on through November, regardless of his candidacy, which is one of the reasons we think he attracted such talent,” Sally Abrahamson of Outten & Golden LLP, one of the attorneys on the case, told NBC News. “He’s terminating, we believe, over 1,000 people at a time when we believe unemployment is likely going to be 20 or 30 percent, and they’re going to lose their health care.”

The Bloomberg campaign responded by saying that their staffers received severance and extended health care, while other campaigns didn't give those benefits.

"This campaign paid its staff wages and benefits that were much more generous than any other campaign this year. Staff worked 39 days on average, but they were also given several weeks of severance and health care through March, something no other campaign did this year," a Bloomberg campaign spokesperson said. "Given the current crisis, a fund is being created to ensure that all staff receive health care through April, which no other campaign has done. And many field staff will go on to work for the DNC in battleground states, in part because the campaign made the largest monetary transfer to the DNC from a presidential campaign in history to support the DNC’s organizing efforts.” 

NBC News obtained a copy of an interview script that was used by the Bloomberg campaign to evaluate potential hires for the campaign. Among the talking points listed under “At a Glance” is “Employment through November 2020 with Team Bloomberg.” 

The lawsuit has three components: unpaid overtime compensation for field organizers who would have to pro-actively join the case — attorneys involved in the case tell NBC they are talking to “dozens” of potential  claimants, alleged fraudulent inducement and breach of contract, allegedly suffered by those who were promised jobs through November, and it seeks the compensation they would have received through November. 

If the case is certified as a class action, it will move forward on behalf of everyone who falls into that category unless they opt-out of the class action.

1041d ago / 4:25 PM UTC

The Affordable Care Act is turning 10. Where does the landmark law go next?

WASHINGTON — The Affordable Care Act is turning 10 this week, and it's still in the news and still facing an existential threat from Republican critics even as some of its benefits have become widely accepted.

Among the ACA's core features: It barred insurers from turning away customers or charging more based on pre-existing conditions, created a new subsidized market for individual private insurance, expanded Medicaid to higher income workers, eliminated lifetime and annual caps on benefits and allowed young adults to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26. 

In many ways, the 2020 election has been a debate about its legacy. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders ran on moving all Americans to a Medicare for All system, rather than private insurance, while former Vice President Joe Biden has argued building on the ACA to make its benefits more generous.

On the Republican side, President Trump is backing a lawsuit to overturn the law in its entirety, which the Supreme Court is set to hear this Fall. He reiterated his support for that effort over the weekend, saying it would allow him to "get rid of the bad health care and put in a great health care" even as the country deals with the coronavirus pandemic with a health care system tied to the ACA.

The White House has not announced a detailed replacement plan for the law, and Biden asked Trump and Republican state officials on Monday to drop the lawsuit.

Former Montana Sen. Max Baucus, who shepherded the ACA as chair of the Senate Finance Committee said the law was a “good start” toward universal coverage. The law reduced the number of uninsured by about 20 million people after its implementation, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Image: President Barack Obama is applauded after signing the Affordable Care Act in the East Room of the White House on March 23, 2010.
President Barack Obama is applauded after signing the Affordable Care Act in the East Room of the White House on March 23, 2010.Win McNamee / Getty Images file

But that number has ticked up under President Trump and the health care system still faces rising costs for hospitals and drugs. That unsteadiness has led Baucus to embrace a single-payer health care system. 

“I felt at the time we were not ready for single payer,” Baucus told NBC News. “But down the road we’re going to move in that direction. Why? Because our current system, even under the legislation that passed, is still too inefficient. Too many dollars are being spent that don't provide health care."

While Baucus may agree with Sanders on the broad policy direction, he thinks Biden would be best to shepherd the next health care goal through because the next Democratic administration must seek common ground with Republicans. 

“We should try extremely hard for it to be nonpartisan and maybe begin with smaller steps at first,” he said. "Otherwise if you jam something down somebody's throat, it's not durable. The other side will try to figure out how to submarine it or undermine it as they did with the ACA."

There are some signs that the law is becoming more entrenched. The GOP faced a backlash in 2017 when they tried unsuccessfully to partially repeal the law and scale back its benefits. And, while still divided along partisan lines, the latest NBC/WSJ poll found the ACA with its highest net rating: 42 percent of registered voters believe it was a good idea, versus 35 percent who say it was a bad idea.

But the ACA has struggled to meet some of its goals and the way it's been implemented isn't the same as supporters envisioned when it was passed.

The law's regulations on insurers and lack of subsidies for customers making over 400 percent of the federal poverty limit have left many middle and upper income Americans facing premiums that are high or unaffordable.

“If they can’t get coverage through their job, those individuals' premiums have skyrocketed,” said Avik Roy, founder of The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity and critic of the law. “It could have been done in a much more effective way that guaranteed coverage for people who were sick, but also made it more affordable to people who are healthy.” 

The law has also changed over the years. President Trump's 2017 tax bill zeroed out the ACA's individual mandate — which penalized people for going without insurance. And some sources of funding, like a tax on more generous employer plans, have been eliminated.

The Supreme Court ruled that states had to voluntarily participate in its expansion of Medicaid, but 14 states haven't. The Trump administration has also expanded access to insurance options outside of the law’s regulations, including plans that factor in pre-existing conditions. 

Kathleen Sebelius, the Health and Human Services Secretary under President Obama, told NBC News the law had been undermined but believes its legacy is secure. 

“The country has moved to a place where there is a vast majority of people who feel health care is a right,” she said. “I don't think that was a given 10 years ago and it's not just in the Democratic Party. People may have a different idea how to get there, but it's a basic premise that people support."

1041d ago / 3:52 PM UTC

Biden ally Larry Rasky passes away at 69

WASHINGTON —Larry Rasky, a close ally of former Vice President Joe Biden who played a key role in the super PAC that boosted Biden during the Democratic presidential primary, has died. 

Rasky's eponymous public relations firm confirmed his death in a brief statement on Sunday. 

"Larry was a giant in so many ways, not just professionally but personally. He loved and was loved by so many. He always treated the company like a family and we are all shocked and saddened by the news of his passing. He has left an indelible imprint on everyone he touched and the company that bears his name will go on in his spirit," the statement from Rasky Partners read. 

He was 69 years old, according to the Boston Globe. The paper said the cause of death was not yet known. 

Rasky was a longtime public relations professional who worked with a lanundry list of Democratic politicians — including Biden, then-Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey (who is now a senator), former Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and President Jimmy Carter. 

Having worked as Biden's press secretary during his 1988 presidential bid, he served as Biden's communications director during his 2008 presidential campaign. 

This cycle, he served as the treasurer to Unite the Country, the super PAC backing Biden. 

Biden remembered Rasky during an interview with the Globe as a "real friend" who gave him "confidence." 

“He was also generous and sharp and he just had a spirit about him. His passion for politics was amazing,” Biden told the paper. 

"No matter how down I was going into something, that ridiculous laugh of his would always make a difference. He always knew when to kid and when not to kid.”

“I think the reason people loved him was his deep loyalty to his friends and the causes he believes in,” Markey told the Globe. “It’s something that just drew people to him, and it’s why so many people are missing him today.”

Others shared their memories of Rasky on Twitter as the news broke Sunday. 

1041d ago / 2:57 PM UTC

Sanders wins big in Democrats Abroad primary, party says

WASHINGTON — Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders has won the Democrats Abroad presidential primary, the contest held by Americans living overseas, according to results announced Monday 

Julia Bryan, the group's global chair, shared those results on a Monday morning video conference in part due to the coronavirus outbreak that has paralyzed the world. 

She said that Sanders won 57.9 percent of the almost 40,000 ballots, with former Vice President Joe Biden following with 22.7 percent and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren winning 14.3 percent. 

Image: Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally in Los Angeles on March 1, 2020.
Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally in Los Angeles on March 1, 2020.David McNew / Getty Images

"We saw a 15 percent increase in voter participation over our 2016 primary number," Bryan said on the call. 

"It's particularly impressive considering the challenges we had with the virus shutting down so many of our centers.”

She added that raw voter turnout was the highest in the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, France and Mexico.

NBC's Decision Desk has projected Sanders' victory but has not yet allocated Democratic National Convention delegates based on those results. But Bryan said that per the Democrats Abroad rules, Sanders would receive nine delegates and Biden four based on the results. 

Not including the Democrats Abroad result, the Decision Desk projects Biden has won 1,165 delegates so far to Sanders' 851. 

1041d ago / 11:43 AM UTC

Biden calls on Trump to drop Obamacare lawsuit amid coronavirus crisis

WASHINGTON — On the 10th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act being signed into law, former Vice President Joe Biden is calling on President Donald Trump and Republicans to put politics aside during the coronavirus crisis and drop their lawsuit against the landmark health care legislation he helped shepherd through Congress.

In a letter addressed to Trump, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves and 18 state attorneys general, Biden is asking them to recognize that the law they are seeking to repeal gives Americans the assurance they need during a public health crisis like the one that has currently paralyzed the country.

“At a time of national emergency, which is laying bare the existing vulnerabilities in our public health infrastructure, it is unconscionable that you are continuing to pursue a lawsuit designed to strip millions of Americans of their health insurance,” Biden writes.

“You are letting partisan rancor and politics threaten the lives of your constituents, and that is a dereliction of your sworn duty.”

Joe Biden
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks March 12, 2020, in Wilmington, Del.Matt Rourke / AP file

Biden has staunchly defended building on the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, throughout his campaign. His plan calls for adding a public option like Medicare that would provide coverage to Americans if they do not want to keep their private plan or are uninsured. His position has often come under fire by his most progressive rivals who describe his plan as a moderate approach to reforming the broken system.

The former vice president often tells his crowds how difficult it was to pass President Barack Obama’s landmark legislation to remind them that a complete overhaul of the healthcare system, as proposed in Medicare for All, would be impossible to pass through an already divided Congress. 

In his first letter addressed directly to the president as a candidate for his job, Biden said that many Americans can rely on accessing healthcare during the coronavirus scare thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

“It is the reason 100 million people with pre-existing conditions—including conditions like asthma and diabetes that make them at higher-risk for adverse health impacts from the coronavirus—don’t have to worry about being charged more or denied coverage,” he writes.

Biden argues that “no underlying constitutional flaw” exists within Obamacare, citing that the Supreme Court has already upheld the law twice. The only reason Texas v U.S. is being argued, Biden said, is because Congressional Republicans zeroed out the individual mandate statute in 2017, bringing into question its legality.

“History will judge all of us by how we respond to this pandemic,” Biden warned. “The public health imperative we now face is bigger than politics and it requires all of us to summon the courage to lead and to do what is right for the American people.”

1043d ago / 3:16 PM UTC

Sanders' campaign raises over $2 million for coronavirus charities

BURLINGTON, Vt. — The Bernie Sanders campaign is focusing its resources on fighting the coronavirus pandemic, and his supporters appear to be following suit. In the last 48 hours, the Sanders campaign said they’ve raised more than $2 million from 50,000 donations for select charities. 

The charities were selected by the Sanders campaign to help those suffering from the outbreak: Meals on Wheels, No Kid Hungry, Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, One Fair Wage Emergency Fund and the National Domestic Workers Alliance. 

Image: Sen. Bernie Sanders arrives for the Polk County Steak Fry in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sept. 21, 2019.
Sen. Bernie Sanders arrives for the Polk County Steak Fry in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sept. 21, 2019.Daniel Acker / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

In addition to using his campaign to funnel money to charities, Sanders also released a $2 trillion proposal to fight this virus, which would include the U.S. government covering all medical bills accrued during this time period, speeding up testing, invoking emergency powers to scale up production of supplies like surgical masks and ventilators and providing substantial unemployment insurance to those who lose jobs as a result of the outbreak.

The campaign says the last two days are just the start, and they intend to raise money for other charities over the coming days.

1043d ago / 5:30 PM UTC

Sanders turns his campaign to coronavirus relief

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Bernie Sanders is shifting his focus from building political support to supporting efforts to respond to the coronavirus spread. The Vermont senator announced on Friday that he will host an online roundtable in Burlington, Vt., where he is "assessing the state of his campaign." 

The roundtable will be the first public comments from Sanders since he snapped at a reporter on Wednesday for asking about his timeline for deciding on the future of his campaign. Sanders has not publicly addressed Tuesday night's primaries, which were unanimously won by former Vice President Joe Biden.   

Image: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) arrives at the U.S. Capitol for a vote
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) arrives at the U.S. Capitol for a vote on March 18, 2020.Win McNamee / Getty Images

Since then, Sanders senior adviser Tim Tagaris said the campaign has used social media platforms, email and text lists to "educate and activate people around his coronavirus response and raise big-money for charities helping people impacted.” On Thursday, the campaign sent an email to supporters prompting them to use a campaign-established fundraising page to donate to up to five charities helping people during the pandemic. 

Sanders also released a $2 trillion proposal on Monday that he said he would present to Democratic leadership that includes having Medicare, as it exists now, pay for all medical bills accrued during this emergency, whether or not the bill is related to the coronavirus.  

1044d ago / 3:02 PM UTC

Bloomberg gives $18 million to DNC in lieu of starting his own group to beat Trump

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WASHINGTON — Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is transferring $18 million left in the accounts of his now-defunct presidential campaign to the Democratic National Committee and forgoing, for now, creating his own independent political group to help Democrats in November. 

“While we considered creating our own independent entity to support the nominee and hold the President accountable, this race is too important to have many competing groups with good intentions but that are not coordinated and united in strategy and execution,” Bloomberg’s campaign said in a memo to the DNC. “The dynamics of the race have also fundamentally changed, and it is critically important that we all do everything we can to support our eventual nominee and scale the Democratic Party’s general election efforts.”

The funds will be put towards the DNC's battleground buildup program, to hire data and operations staffers, among other efforts, in a dozen states that will be important in the general election.

Image: Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg arrives at his campaign office in Little Havana, Miami
Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg arrives at his campaign office in Little Havana, Miami, Florida on March 3, 2020.Marco Bello / Reuters

Bloomberg will also offer to transfer campaign field offices the billionaire's campaign set up and paid for to local state Democratic Parties as in-kind contributions. His staff, some of which were planning to transfer to work for Bloomberg's independent entity in six battleground states, are all being laid off. They will be paid through the first week of April and have full benefits through the end of April.

“With this transfer from the Bloomberg campaign, Mayor Bloomberg and his team are making good on their commitment to beating Donald Trump,” DNC Chair Tom Perez said in a statement. “This will help us invest in more organizers across the country to elect the next president and help Democrats win up and down the ballot.”

However, this differs significantly from the message the Bloomberg campaign pushed since his entrance into the presidential race in November. The plan, if not the nominee himself, was to fund a sizable campaign effort through the general election working to elect the Democratic nominee, paying his large staff and keeping a sizable amount of offices open. 

Bloomberg spent more than $400 million on his presidential campaign and is worth an estimated $50 billion, according to Forbes, so $18 million is a relatively small amount for one of the richest men in the world.  

Since ending his campaign earlier this month after a disappointing showing in Super Tuesday contests, Bloomberg has given to other pro-Democratic groups, such as a $2 million contribution to the group Swing Left, and he’s pledged at least $40 million to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Under campaign finance laws, while the contribution is well in excess of contribution limits from individuals, campaigns are allowed to make unlimited contributions to party committees. 

1044d ago / 11:17 AM UTC

Yang nonprofit announces coronavirus relief effort for the Bronx

As Congress and the White House work to pass an emergency economic stimulus bill in response to the coronavirus pandemic, former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang is taking matters into his own hands.

Yang’s new nonprofit organization, Humanity Forward, announced Friday it will be distributing at least $1 million in $1,000 cash payments to 1,000 working poor households in the Bronx as part of a coronavirus relief fund in partnership with other organizations. 

“Given the nature of this crisis, we thought it was imperative to act now and get money into people's hands, and also demonstrate that this is exactly what our government should be doing,” Yang told NBC News. 

Image: Andrew Yang
Andrew Yang speaks during a campaign event in Milford, N.H., on Feb. 5, 2020.Brendan McDermid / Reuters

The one-time payments will be provided within the next two weeks to clients of Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners, a financial empowerment nonprofit. Additionally, Humanity Forward is also partnering with One Fair Wage, a nonprofit advocacy group, to support service workers across New York City who have been impacted by COVID-19-related closures — through cash relief payments of $213 to symbolize the $2.13 an hour tipped minimum wage.

“The coronavirus has seized up our economy and sent it into a tailspin and the people that are suffering most are service workers,” Yang told NBC News. “New York City is also the most densely populated part of the country, and if there’s any place you would want people to have the ability to stay home and look after themselves and their families, it would be in New York.”

Sources familiar with Yang’s thinking say the entrepreneur is seriously considering a run for New York City mayor, where he could implement UBI at a local level — he even spoke with Michael Bloomberg recently about a potential bid.

His organization’s coronavirus relief effort will also include $100,000 in micro-grants of $250 or $500 to individuals who request emergency funds directly via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 

Yang said the direct cash payment proposal in the Senate GOP relief bill is going to be an “instrumental and vital” game-changer for millions of Americans.

“I'm thrilled that they're landing on direct cash in Americans’ hands,” he said. “If it had been up to me, I perhaps wouldn't have means-tested it at that level, but it's going to help tens of millions of Americans and that's the goal. So I'm glad that they're heading in the right direction.”

Yang was critical of the Trump administration’s response to the crisis, but hopes the president will support an emergency universal basic income plan regardless of any political downside for Democrats.

“Most everyone thinks that they botched the handling of trying to impede the spread of the virus initially, so I can't imagine anyone who thinks that this is going to be a political positive for the Trump administration,” said Yang. “We’re in this mess, we have to try and take care of our people.” 

Yang added that his team has been in communication with the White House legislative office, providing research on cash transfers for citizens to the Treasury Department. Yang says he also has been in contact with former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign, but would not speculate on cabinet possibilities.

Yang said his current priority is providing immediate relief to those most affected by the coronavirus, but he hopes to fund UBI pilot programs in the future

“I think people are going to like it, and that after it happens in response to this crisis, then people will say, ‘Wait a minute, I’d probably like it no matter what, and it will prepare us for the next crisis,’” Yang said.

Yang is confident that exploring universal basic income will be part of the conversation in the general election.

“Americans are going to be dramatically impacted by getting money into our hands, and I think there's a real chance that this becomes a major issue in the 2020 election itself -- and it may be in the Democratic Party platform,” Yang told NBC News. “I believe that this is going to become the law of the land sometime in the next number of months and years because it's going to be hard to put the genie back in the bottle honestly.” 

“I would never be someone who would wish this terrible crisis and pandemic on our country, but I do believe that our campaign might have advanced this particular solution right at the right time.”

1044d ago / 8:57 PM UTC

Disability community vote up for grabs in 2020, poll finds

WASHINGTON — A new poll finds that more than half of potential voters in battleground states say they have a disability (16 percent), a family member with one (32 percent), or a close friend who does (11 percent), and the voting bloc is largely contested ahead of the 2020 elections. 

The results released by the Democratic polling firm, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (GQRR), and the disability rights organization, RespectAbility, also show that the disability community favors Joe Biden over Senator Bernie Sanders in head-to-heads with President Trump.

Image: Wheelchair-accessible voting machines at a polling station in Chula Vista, Calif., on March 3, 2020.
Wheelchair-accessible voting machines at a polling station in Chula Vista, Calif., on March 3, 2020.Bing Guan / Reuters file

Among battleground voters in the disability community, 49 percent prefer Biden compared to 44 percent who support the president — only a five point difference, which is within the poll’s margin of error. With Sanders as the Democratic nominee however, 45 percent favor Trump while 44 percent prefer Sanders.

For those identifying as personally having a disability, Biden has a greater advantage. 53 percent of the group back the former vice president versus Trump’s 41 percent. Just 45 percent of disabled voters prefer Sanders compared to a close 44 percent who support Trump. 

The results from the disability community closely resemble the results from all voters interviewed in battleground states. Similar to that subset, 49 percent and 45 percent of all voters support Biden and Trump respectively. Trump holds a one percentage point lead over Sanders, 46 percent to 45 percent, among all voters. 

On a phone call with reporters Thursday, the Chairman of RespectAbility, Steve Bartlett, said that the poll results reveal that the disability community “is a very large segment of the voting public” and that the demographic is really “up for grabs” this election season.

“Candidates should not take this lightly,” he said, noting that attention to disability issues can garner candidates more support from the voting bloc.

In Senate and House races, the poll shows that the disability community leans slightly Democratic but is largely split between supporting Democratic and Republican candidates. In a generic Senate vote in the battleground states, half of the disability community reported they would back the Democratic candidate while 47 percent would support the Republican. On the House side, just over half — 51 percent — said they would vote Democratic compared to 46 percent who would go with the Republican.

Health care was top of mind for voters in the disability community with nearly 40 percent of the group reporting that the issue is an important consideration in determining which candidate to support in the 2020 elections. The economy and jobs came in a close second with just over one third of the disability community highlighting the issue.

Only eight percent said that the novel coronavirus is a major issue for them heading into the elections though, GQRR CEO, Stan Greenberg, said that these numbers will likely change as the pandemic worsens.

The poll was conducted by Greenberg Research and Democracy Corps, and interviewed 1,000 registered voters over the phone from March 9 to March 16 in sixteen presidential and Senate battleground states. The states included Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. 

590 respondents are members of the disability community and reflect voters in battleground states overall in terms of their demographic makeup. The poll's margin of error is three percent. 

1045d ago / 4:23 PM UTC

National parties give House members, candidates new campaign guidelines amid coronavirus

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WASHINGTON — Congressional candidates plodding ahead in light of the coronavirus pandemic have received some recent guidance from national party organizations as they look to balance the needs of their campaigns with new public health restrictions. 

A Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesperson told NBC News that the organization is “urging campaigns to follow the guidance of national experts and their local public health experts and make sure that they are continuing to connect with voters, but doing that safely,” while erring on the side of caution to keep their campaign staff, volunteers and voters all safe. 

The DCCC is also recommending that campaigns shift where possible to virtual events like tele-town halls, virtual phone banks or live-streamed roundtables. 

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., sent Republican House members a memo that ran through some suggested “best practices” on issues like fundraising, public events and communications. 

Image:
Lally Doerrer, right, and Katharine Hildebrand watch Joe Biden during his Illinois virtual town hall in Chicago on March 13, 2020.Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

Some of that guidance mimics what the DCCC told their members — the NRCC suggests limiting grassroots events, shifting field work to phone canvassing and launching tele-town halls. 

On fundraising, Emmer cautioned that candidates should continue to fundraise but “be sensitive that your donors may have suffered financial losses during this pandemic” and ask their donors how they are holding up in light of the crisis. 

Emmer specifically asked members to reconsider “snarky” comments and be sure not to spread misinformation. 

“At times like this you need to ask yourself if your press release or snarky comment are in poor taste,” Emmer wrote. “If you share information on the coronavirus, do it from trusted sources like the Center for Disease Control and the Department of Health and Human Services. Do not spread misinformation from politicized news stories.” 

Chris Pack, the NRCC’s communications director, told NBC that the campaign arm sent additional guidance to non-incumbent candidates. Emmer left his member with this: “Do not get complacent. Use common sense, but put the health of yourself, your campaign staff and volunteers, and constituents at the forefront of every decision,” he wrote. 

1046d ago / 4:22 PM UTC

Biden, Sanders campaigns ramping down ad spending amid coronavirus spread

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WASHINGTON – With the coronavirus outbreak prompting several states to postpone their primary elections, former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders are slowing their ad spending to a virtual halt. 

A Biden campaign spokesman told NBC News there is “no plan right now” to go up with TV or radio ads, largely because their ad strategy focuses on creating ads based on the issues voters in that upcoming primary state find to be most important. Facebook's ad-tracker shows the campaign is still running digital ads on the platform, however. 

That same tracker shows that Sanders isn't currently running any Facebook ads. And data from Advertising Analytics shows that the Sanders campaign is dark on traditional media too (television and radio). 

As the Biden campaign continues to iron out the best ways to campaign in this unprecedented time for presidential politics, the spokesman caveated that their current plan for remaining silent on the airwaves could change. One area where investments could be made is in digital ads now that most people are turning to video websites like YouTube and Hulu while they work from home.

Biden ads featured in states from Michigan to Georgia featured President Barack Obama thanking Biden for his commitment to “Service” and Biden’s call for Democrats to unite in an ad called “Always” to defeat President Donald Trump. They also rolled out new Spanish-language ads in Florida, Arizona and Illinois discussing Biden’s records on guns, healthcare and the need for leadership to prevent future global panic like the one caused by coronavirus.

Unite the Country, the Super PAC supporting Biden’s candidacy, will also not be on the airwaves or on digital in the coming weeks as they focus on expanding their group with sights set on the general election, Steve Schale, a top strategist for the group, told NBC News. 

After projected losses in the Florida, Illinois and Arizona primaries on Tuesday night, Sanders' campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, said in a statement that Sanders "is going to be having conversations with supporters to assess his campaign" but that "In the immediate term, however, he is focused on the government response to the coronavirus outbreak and ensuring that we take care of working people and the most vulnerable."

Through March 10, before the campaign was completely upended by coronavirus, the Sanders campaign had significantly outspent the Biden campaign on the television and radio airwaves—$42.2 million to $14.6 million respectively. 

Mike Memoli contributed. 

1046d ago / 4:53 PM UTC

While Maryland delays primary, special election to replace Cummings will stay as mail-in only

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WASHINGTON — As Maryland delays most primary elections from late April to early June in response to the coronavirus outbreak, the state will not push back the special election aimed at replacing the late Rep. Elijah Cummings.

Instead, that election will go on as scheduled, but all voters will cast their ballot by mail. 

Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan made the announcement Tuesday as part of the larger decision to shift the state's primary elections from April 28 to June 2. He directed the state elections board to come up with a plan to conduct a June primary "in a way that protects public health and preserves the integrity of the democratic process." 

But Hogan added that while the election board told him it couldn't shift the entire state to vote-by-mail in time for the April primary to go on as scheduled, he felt it was "imperative that the people of the seventh congressional district have a voice in the House of Representatives and that Maryland has a full delegation representing our state in Congress." That's why he decided to keep that district's primary on schedule. 

Maryland's 7th Congressional District has been vacant since Cummings died on Oct. 17, 2019. The state held a special primary for the seat on Feb. 5, with former Democrat Rep. Kweisi Mfume and Republican Kimberly Klacik, a member of the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee, moving onto the special general election. 

1047d ago / 1:45 PM UTC

Biden under Secret Service protection again

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WILMINGTON, Del. — After a nearly three year hiatus, Joe Biden is once again a protectee of the United States Secret Service.

A protective detail began its assignment with the former vice president and Democratic front-runner this week, multiple law enforcement officials told NBC News, even as Biden is expected to remain off the campaign trail amid the coronavirus crisis. 

The Biden campaign's formal request for Secret Service protection was submitted last week to senior congressional officials, who by law consult with the secretary of Homeland Security to consider if candidates should receive security from the elite law enforcement agency.

Image: Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at his Super Tuesday night rally in Los Angeles
Anti-dairy industry protestors are pulled from the stage as Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at his Super Tuesday night rally in Los Angeles, Calif., on March 3, 2020.Kyle Grillot / Reuters

Since kicking off his campaign last April, Biden has had minimal security on the campaign trail — one private security guard often supplemented by local law enforcement from jurisdictions where he campaigned. The lighter security footprint allowed Biden to engage in the type of one-on-one, retail-oriented campaigning he preferred, especially in the early-voting states where voters place a premium on it.

Campaign officials have long been concerned about his safety given his high profile as a former vice president and the highly partisan environment. A high-profile incident in California this month, when a pair of dairy protestors stormed the stage as Biden celebrated a string of victories on Super Tuesday, pushed congressional Democrats publicly and Biden’s campaign privately to seek more rigorous protection.

Biden is not a stranger to Secret Service protection, of course. He first became a protectee of the agency in August 2008 when Barack Obama chose him as his vice presidential running mate. He and his family had a security detail throughout his eight years as vice president, and Biden for several additional months after he left office in 2017. 

1048d ago / 3:08 PM UTC

Illinois governor backs Biden for president

WASHINGTON — Illinois Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker is backing former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential bid, he announced Monday. 

The endorsement came one day before the state's Democratic presidential primary and one day after Biden faced off against Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders in a one-on-one debate Sunday night. The endorsement also comes as governors across the country are scrambling to respond to the coronavirus outbreak and spread.

"As our nation faces some of the biggest challenges of our time, I know Vice President Joe Biden is the right candidate to beat Donald Trump and lead us into a new era. It's time to unite as Democrats to restore respect to our nation's highest office," Pritzker said in a statement. 

"Joe will stand on the side of working families and serve as a partner to us in Illinois as we work to create good paying jobs, expand healthcare and invest in education," Pritzker said. "After four years of Donald Trump's failure to lead with honor, tell the truth, or stand up for the middle class, we need a steady hand and a President who is ready to move our nation past the divisiveness and vitriol that have become the norm in 2020. I trust Joe to lead with his head and heart, to do what's right, and to get things done for the American people.” 

During Pritzker's successful 2018 bid for governor, Biden praised the billionaire businessman-turned politician during a campaign swing through Illinois. Biden had already received an endorsement from Penny Pritzker, JB's sister who served in the Obama administration as the commerce secretary. 

Biden already has the endorsement of both Illinois Democratic senators, Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, as well as a handful of other prominent Illinois politicians including Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and eight Democratic members of Congress from the state. 

—Marianna Sotomayor contributed

1049d ago / 1:02 AM UTC

Biden touts support of Warren's bankruptcy reform plan as a bridge to progressives

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WASHINGTON — Joe Biden surprised audiences when he announced his support for Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s bankruptcy reform plan during a virtual town hall, an issue both famously sparred over in public 15 years ago. 

In his first virtual appearance before voters since cancelling public events to mitigate coronavirus concerns, the former vice president told a questioner from Illinois that one of the ways he would win over Bernie Sanders supporters is by coming to agreement on “a whole range of things” they’re both passionate about reforming, including bankruptcy.

Image: Democratic 2020 presidential candidates Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks with former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders listening at the seventh Democratic 2020 presidential debate at Drake University in Des Moines
Elizabeth Warren speaks as Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders listen at the seventh Democratic 2020 presidential debate at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 14, 2020.Shannon Stapleton / Reuters file

“For example, one of the things that I think Bernie and I will agree on — I've endorsed Elizabeth Warren's bankruptcy proposal,” he said during the Friday evening livestream. “Allows for student debt to be relieved in bankruptcy. Provides for a whole range of other issues that allows us in fact impact on how people are dealing with their circumstances.”

Biden’s full throttled backing of the proposal is a notable shift from the position he held while serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he faced Warren, then a Harvard professor, in a hearing to debate the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCA). Warren laid out her case against why the bill that Biden supported was unfair because it made it harder for people to file for bankruptcy. The bill was ultimately signed into law by President George W. Bush.

Warren outlined how she would undo parts of BAPCA in a Medium article posted in January when both were seeking the presidential nomination. While Warren campaign allies did not respond to questions about Biden’s newfound support for her plan, former staff members took to social media to encourage any candidate adopt her plan.

“Elizabeth Warren did the homework, now *please* copy it — everyone,” Warren’s former social media director wrote in a tweet.

 

The timing of Biden’s endorsement comes as the former vice president is trying to unite all Democrats, including the most progressive wings of the party, as he faces off with Sanders. In recent weeks Biden has earned 11 endorsements from former 2020 Democratic candidates, but Warren has notably sat out on backing the two final contenders in the primary race.

While Biden said supporting Warren’s plan is one area for finding common ground with the Vermont senator, Sanders has often attacked Biden for his support for the 2005 bankruptcy bill. He often brought it up as a consequential stain in Biden’s Senate record alongside his support of the Iraq War and trade deals.

“The fact of the matter is I'm not beholding to the banks. I supported the bankruptcy bill because I believed taking a very bad bill was going to pass overwhelmingly and make it better made sense,” Biden said in a July 2019 speech where he defended controversial parts of his record that had come under attack by his opponents.

The Biden campaign told NBC News that Biden, who recently reviewed Warren’s plan, will likely speak more about why he supports her proposals at Sunday’s Democratic debate.

1050d ago / 4:22 PM UTC

Biden's first virtual event encounters technological glitches

WASHINGTON — The virtual campaign is proving a bit complicated, after a Friday event for former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign encountered some technological glitches. 

Biden is the first Democratic candidate to hold a virtual town hall due to concerns surrounding COVID-19 and public events. The attempt to broadcast the first of two scheduled “virtual events” in the next several days involved a garbled-voiced Biden and ended roughly four minutes after the Facebook Live video began streaming in Illinois.

The former vice president acknowledged the issues while ending the livestream.

“Well, I’m sorry this has been such a disjointed effort here because of the connections, but there is a lot more to say and I’ve probably already said too much,” Biden said. 

But the appetite for these events appears to be there — the short event garnered more than 5,000 viewers. 

On Saturday morning, the campaign released a link to a full, updated video without the technical glitches.

Much of the event focused on Biden explaining how he'd work to respond and recover the country from pandemics. He also tried to downplay the need for panic and outlined ways in which everyone can take precautions to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 virus, while still connecting to people.

“Campaign events are no exception that’s why we’re connecting virtually today. We’re going to have to get better at the technical side of this,” Biden said.

1051d ago / 3:30 PM UTC

Biden, Sanders increase ad spending amid virtual campaign

WASHINGTON — While the traditional campaigning in the 2020 race has come to a halt due to concerns regarding COVID-19, the Democratic presidential candidates have increased their TV and radio ad spending for the upcoming March 17 primaries, with millions of dollars on the airwaves in Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio.

Here’s a look at the ad spending in these four states through March 17, according to data from Advertising Analytics:

Arizona

  • Sanders: $1.4 million
  • Biden: $564,000
  • Unite the Country (pro-Biden Super PAC): $522,000

FYI: Michael Bloomberg had spent $8.9 million in the state before dropping out

Florida

  • Sanders: $6.0 million
  • Biden: $5.1 million

FYI: Bloomberg had spent $44.6 million

Illinois

  • Sanders: $2.2 million
  • Biden: $1.9 million

FYI: Bloomberg had spent $18.6 million

Ohio

  • Sanders: $2.3 million
  • Biden: $1.3 million

FYI: Bloomberg had spent $15.4 million

1051d ago / 3:04 PM UTC

Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman formally backs Biden

WASHINGTON — The chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), California Rep. Karen Bass, announced Friday that she is endorsing Joe Biden for president, making her the 37th member of the CBC to back the former vice president.

In a statement released by Bass, the congresswoman said that Biden is the person who can provide a “steady hand that can bring an end to the past three and a half years of daily trauma inflicted” on Americans by the Trump presidency.

Congressional Black Caucus Prebuttal to the State of the Union Address in Washington, US
Representative Karen Bass (D-CA) speaks at the Congressional Black Caucus prebuttal to the State of the Union address in Washington on Feb. 4, 2020.Michael Brochstein / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Bass added that during his time as vice president, she has come to know Biden as a true leader domestically and internationally — someone who “works tirelessly on behalf of all Americans, especially those purposely forgotten and antagonized by the current administration.”

In an interview with PBS, the chairwoman elaborated on her decision to back Biden and revealed that his rival, Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, “called one time” to invite her to meet “last minute,” but when she couldn’t make it, he never called back. Her and Biden in contrast, have spoken “a number of times” during the campaign.

Bass also told PBS that Biden’s vice presidency reveals a “historic connection with African Americans,” and that Sanders “does not have a historic connection like that.” She continued to criticize Sanders, saying that if she were to run for president, she would work “years in advance on building ties and building relationships — not just with African Americans — with all communities.”  

1051d ago / 6:19 PM UTC

Sanders will 'wholeheartedly' support Biden if he's the nominee, adviser says

WASHINGTON — Senior adviser to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign Jeff Weaver said Thursday that Sanders will support former Vice President Joe Biden "wholeheartedly" if Biden is the Democratic nominee. 

In an interview on MSNBC, Weaver said that the Sanders campaign is looking at the rest of the Democratic primary on a "week by week" basis, but that if he does not win the nomination, he would campaign for the former vice president. However, Weaver wouldn't say if that decision would come before or after the Democratic convention in July. 

"I don't have a crystal ball," Weaver said. Adding, "Right now we are working hard and working hard to win." 

The campaign is looking to shore up wins in this Tuesday's upcoming nominating contests — focusing specifically on Illinois and Arizona where Sanders performed well in 2016. However, states like Florida and Ohio will also be voting on Tuesday where Biden has a substantial likelihood of winning a larger share of delegates. 

1052d ago / 2:13 PM UTC

What might Michigan's primary turnout say about the general election?

WASHINGTON — Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders had hoped a strong showing in Michigan's Democratic presidential primary would help supercharge his fledgling campaign, but his campaign appears poised for a double-digit loss there. 

NBC News contributor Dante Chinni, the director of the American Communities Project at George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs and a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, pulled out three important takeaways from Michigan's primary: 

  • There are cracks in Sanders' coalition of young, college-age voters as well as the older working-class voters. 
  • Sanders' success in areas that support President Trump "seems to have fizzled."
  • And turnout suggests Biden "might be the candidate to bring blue-collar voters back to the Democrats in 2020."  

Click here to read his full analysis. 

1053d ago / 9:30 AM UTC

Gabby Giffords backs Biden ahead of Arizona primary

DETROIT — Joe Biden is picking up a key endorsement ahead of next Tuesday’s Arizona primary: Former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, a high profile figure in the state and a leading voice on gun control

Joe Biden, right, hugs former Rep. Gabby Giffords during a gun safety forum on Oct. 2, 2019, in Las Vegas.
Joe Biden, right, hugs former Rep. Gabby Giffords during a gun safety forum on Oct. 2, 2019, in Las Vegas.John Locher / AP file

Giffords, who represented a Tucson-area district from 2005-2012, became a nationally recognized gun control activist after she was shot and critically wounded in a mass shooting in Arizona in 2011.  Her endorsement comes ahead of next week's Arizona primary between Biden and Bernie Sanders, whose strength among Latino voters could prove significant in the state. Sanders won 53 percent of Latino voters in Nevada’s caucuses on February 22 and 41 percent in Texas on Super Tuesday

Arizona votes on March 17, along with Florida, Illinois and Ohio.

“Joe Biden leads with his heart. He has the compassion and toughness to lead on gun safety. I’ve witnessed him comfort the survivors of gun violence, and I’ve seen him fight for solutions to gun violence — and win. This is the leadership we need in the White House. Joe Biden is the choice for a true gun safety president,” Giffords said in a statement provided to NBC News.

"Congresswoman Gabby Giffords is an American hero who embodies the courage and tenacity we need to take on and defeat the gun lobby," Biden said in a statement to NBC News. "I have been proud to work alongside Gabby in the fight to end gun violence and am honored to have her support today."

The endorsement could undergird Biden’s momentum coming off his strong showings in the March 10 primaries.  

Giffords’ husband, Mark Kelly, is expected to be the Democratic challenger to Arizona Republican Sen. Martha McSally in one of the highest-profile Senate contests this year.

Sanders has come under criticism from Biden and gun control activists for some of his past votes on gun measures, particularly a law that shields gun manufacturers from liability.  

As a presidential candidate, Sanders has emphasized his support for universal background checks and his D- minus rating from the NRA.  

Giffords and Biden have worked together in the past on gun safety measures, including in the aftermath of the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut where 20 first graders and six educators were killed. Two years later, they sat together off the Senate floor watching as a bill Giffords had fought for to expand background checks failed by five votes.

1053d ago / 6:33 PM UTC

Biden leads Sanders by dozens of endorsements after big wins

WASHINGTON — Since his big win in the South Carolina primary less than two weeks ago, Joe Biden has earned more than 50 endorsements from Democratic governors and members of Congress.

That’s compared with just one endorsement for Bernie Sanders since the Vermont senator’s win in the Nevada caucuses on Feb. 22.

Overall, Biden has a total of more than 100 endorsements from major Democratic politicians, while Sanders has about ten.

Image: Sen. Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden speak before a Democratic presidential primary debate in Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 25, 2020.
Sen. Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden speak before a Democratic presidential primary debate in Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 25, 2020.Matt Rourke / AP file

The gap in their support has continued to widen as the former vice president racks up primary victories. Following Biden's near-30 percentage point margin win in South Carolina on Feb. 29, most of his former primary opponents have endorsed him.

In the last week and a half alone, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, and Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Kamala Harris of California, and Cory Booker of New Jersey have all rallied for Biden. Mike Bloomberg and John Delaney have also put their support behind him.

Other influential politicians who have jumped on board include Terry McAuliffe, a long-time Clinton ally who previously served as Chair of the Democratic National Committee and the governor of Virginia. 

The only former competitor backing Sanders after his definitive victory in the Nevada caucuses is author Marianne Williamson. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., dropped out of the race last week but she has yet to endorse Biden or Sanders.

Those backing Biden and Sanders also vary drastically in their ideologies and policy positions.

Since the South Carolina primary, Democratic Reps. Abigail Spanberger, Elissa Slotkin, and Andy Kim — moderates who all flipped their seats from red to blue in the 2018 midterms — have endorsed Biden. Kim is one of several House members who previously endorsed Buttigieg and then transferred his support to Biden after the former South Bend mayor suspended his campaign.

While just one member of Congress — Rep. Mark Takano of California — has decided to throw his support behind Sanders since his strong performance in Nevada lifted him into temporary front-runner status, those who backed the Independent Vermont senator prior to the caucuses come from the bluest of districts. Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan for example, are ardent Sanders campaigners.

From the start of his candidacy, Sanders has failed to win over any governors. Five governors in contrast, have issued formal endorsements for Biden, including Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer whose state is voting today. 

1054d ago / 3:35 PM UTC

Sanders and Biden scrap on the airwaves in Tuesday's states

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WASHINGTON — It may not be super, but as the Democratic race hits the latest round of contests today, Joe Biden is looking to replicate his strong showing on last week's Super Tuesday and widen his delegate lead over Bernie Sanders. 

The Sanders campaign is outspending Biden on the TV and radio airwaves across the six states that hold their nominating contests today — $2.9 million to Biden's almost $2.2 million, according to Advertising Analytics. But Biden's effort has been boosted by spending from his allied super PAC, Unite the Country. 

Both campaigns are spending the most in Michigan — Sanders and Biden have spent about $1.2 million each, with Unite the Country spending another almost $400,000.  

The Biden campaign and his super PAC have also run ads in Missouri and Mississippi, but neither have spent a cent on TV or radio ads in Washington, Idaho and North Dakota.

The Sanders campaign, by comparison, has gone up on the airwaves in all six states voting Tuesday. 

Sanders' top ad across these states, according to Advertising Analytics data, is one that attacks Biden on social security by using audio from a speech in 1995 where he called for a spending freeze across the government. His campaign has spent more than $644,000 to air the ad in states holding votes on Tuesday. 

The Biden campaign has bristled at those attacks, and has spent almost $200,000 in those states on ads that criticize Sanders for going negative and argue Biden has said he'd expand Medicare and Social Security. 

Biden's top ads in the states voting Tuesday are different versions of the same spot, which feature former President Obama's praise of Biden as "an extraordinary man with an extraordinary career in public service." 

And Unite Our Country has spent $376,000 in these states on a spot that quotes Biden talking about his campaign, and includes some brief swipes at Sanders (Biden is quoted int he ad saying he wants to "build on ObamaCare" instead of scrapping it, and "Democrats want a nominee who is a Democrat"). 

1054d ago / 5:07 PM UTC

Biden holds double-digit lead in new Michigan primary poll

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden leads Bernie Sanders in Michigan by double digits ahead of tomorrow's presidential primary, a new poll shows. 

Monmouth University's new numbers show Biden with 51 percent support, compared to Sanders' 36 percent.

The former vice president, who has been rising at the polls ever since last month's victory in South Carolina, has a significant edge (of at least double-digits) with white voters, non-white voters, voters aged 50 or over, women, self-described Democrats, moderates and conservatives.

Half of voters say they're firmly decided, 23 percent said they are open to changing their mind, and another 17 percent already voted early. 

Biden and Sanders both have a similar edge over President Trump in a hypothetical general election matchup. Biden leads Trump 48 percent to 41 percent, while Sanders leads 46 percent to 41 percent. 

Monmouth polled 911 registered Michigan voters (411 of which were likely Democratic primary voters) between March 5 and March 8. The margin of error for the larger sample was 3.1 percentage points, while the margin for the smaller sample was 4.8 percent. 

Michigan is becoming the next big battleground in the Democratic presidential primary race. Both Sanders and Biden have dropped about $1 million each on television and radio ads through Monday and there's been a flurry of activity there in recent days. 

The Vermont Independent senator canceled a rally in Mississippi last week to pivot to Michigan to hold events there, held a big rally with New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at the University of Michigan over the weekend, and won the endorsement of Rev. Jesse Jackson as he makes a play for the state's black voters. 

But Biden has been laser-focused on the state too, rolling out a bevy of endorsements in recent days. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer backed him after his victories on Super Tuesday. And Biden is set to appear in the state on Monday with two former presidential primary rivals, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and California Sen. Kamala Harris, NBC News' Mike Memoli and Marianna Sotomayor report.

Sanders is hopeful he can win the state, like he did in 2016's presidential primary, to give his campaign a jolt of momentum after a tough showing on Super Tuesday. But Sanders' headline-capturing Michigan victory in 2016 only netted him a narrow delegate advantage from the state, which former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton offset by a large margin-of-victory in Mississippi, which holds its primary on the same day as Michigan.

Sanders is at risk of a similar dynamic this year — exit polling from Super Tuesday showed Biden cleaning up with black voters in southern states like Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee. 

1055d ago / 2:05 PM UTC

After it got stymied in Washington, Democrats hope to show key reform package can advance in states

WASHINGTON — Democratic legislators in 10 states are set to introduce a version of the government reform package known as HR-1, which has floundered in the GOP-controlled Senate, as Democrats try to demonstrate they can advance their agenda beyond Washington. 

The group behind the effort told NBC News that the measure is a collection of reforms, including an expansion of voting rights — early voting, same-day registration, and a restoration of rights for former felons — an attempt to end gerrymandering by moving to an independent redistricting process and restrictions on corporate political contributions and the so-called "revolving door" of legislators becoming lobbyists.

House Resolution 1 was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s top agenda item after Democrats won back control of the House in the 2018 midterm elections. It passed the lower chamber on a party-line vote a year ago Monday, but went nowhere in the Republican-controlled Senate. 

The For the People Act, as both the national and state-level bill is known, will be introduced in a wide wide range of states including battlegrounds like Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia, New Hampshire and North Carolina, along with some bluer states like Connecticut and Hawaii, and red ones like South Carolina, Missouri and Kentucky. 

The cross-country push is being coordinated by the group Future Now and Future Majority, which together are part of a renewed focus by liberals on statehouses after years of dominance by conservative groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

“It’s important to remember that the assault on democracy didn’t start with (President Donald) Trump -- it started in the states,” said Daniel Squadron, a former New York state Senator who is the co-founder and executive director of Future Now. “By expanding access to voting, reducing the power of corporate money in elections, and strengthening ethics and oversight, the For the People Act will ensure that state governments are more accountable, responsive, and focused on the broad public interest, not narrow special interests.” 

The group aims to help Democrats win statehouses, while its policy arm has built an online policy library as part of the research and strategy help it provides to state lawmakers, many of whom have only limited professional staff and expertise at their disposal.

State legislative and gubernatorial races will be especially important in 2020 ahead of next year's decennial redistricting process, which will re-write congressional district lines for the next year, lines that are, in many states, subject to the approval of the state legislature and governor. 

1055d ago / 11:34 AM UTC

Trump campaign 'proceeding normally,' but no rallies scheduled

WASHINGTON — There are few things President Trump says he enjoys more than a large-scale rally with thousands of cheering supporters. And while he has pledged to keep up the pace amid concerns about large gathering as the coronavirus outbreak intensifies, his re-election campaign has not announced any upcoming rallies for the weeks ahead, marking the first time without one on the calendar this year.

The campaign maintains it is “proceeding normally” and simply hasn’t made any future plans public. “We will announce rallies when we are ready to do so," principal deputy communications director Erin Perrine told NBC News. "President Trump had a town hall this week, a fundraiser, and we have loads of campaign events on the event schedule on the website.” 

Those “events” are mostly smaller gatherings for volunteer trainings but there is one “Women for Trump” event on the books with Second Lady Karen Pence next week in Pennsylvania.

When asked at the CDC on Friday whether he’d considered not having rallies due to coronavirus fears, the president told reporters: “No, I haven’t.” He doubled down on that over the weekend, when he said he expects “tremendous rallies” to take place but did not offer any specifics beyond that.

“We're doing very well.  And we've done a fantastic job with respect to that subject on the virus,” Trump added.

For weeks, the president has maintained that mass gatherings are “very safe.” The president has held 10 rallies so far in 2020 and notably headlined campaign events around every major Democratic voting contest — including in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina and North Carolina. This week will mark the first time voters head to the polls without the president continuing his consistent pattern of shadowing the Democratic campaigns this primary season.

It’s worth noting other candidates are continuing to campaign and hold large events, though they have signaled a willingness to adjust plans if guidance from medical professionals changes course. Former Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday his team is “listening to the experts and the CDC” and they will take “advice from them” on any upcoming mass gatherings.

Biden aides also put out a statement late Sunday night, indicating they "will continue to closely follow guidance offered by federal and local public health officials on the types of events we hold and how we execute them."

Trump has a fundraiser in Longwood, Florida tomorrow but, apart from that, there is no public campaign travel on his schedule. Asked on Saturday about whether elderly people should be concerned about attending political rallies, HHS Sec. Alex Azar told reporters during a White House briefing that he didn’t want to comment in his official capacity but that anyone who is older and has an underlying condition should “exercise caution.”

On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci echoed that message in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," saying: “If we continue to see the community spread go up I think you need to seriously look at anything that's a large gathering. Again, you have  to understand… particularly if you're an individual who has an underlying condition and are vulnerable.”

1056d ago / 3:12 PM UTC

Sanders: 'Establishment put a great deal of pressure on Pete Buttigieg, on Amy Klobuchar' to back Biden

WASHINGTON — Bernie Sanders said Sunday that the Democratic Party establishment pressured his former presidential primary opponents to back Joe Biden ahead of Super Tuesday. 

Both former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar endorsed Biden in the days before the Super Tuesday contests. The former vice president did better than originally expected in those contests last week, racking up a delegate lead over Sanders and upending the nominating fight. 

"The explanation is not complicated. The establishment put a great deal of pressure on Pete Buttigieg, on Amy Klobuchar who ran really aggressive campaigns," the Vermont Independent senator said.

"I know both of them. They worked really, really hard. But suddenly, right before Super Tuesday, they announced their withdrawal. If they had not withdrawn from the race before Super Tuesday, which was kind of a surprise to a lot of people, I suspect we would have won in Minnesota, we would have won in Maine, we would have won in Massachusetts."

Buttigieg senior adviser Lis Smith responded to Sanders in a tweet, saying that his "decision to get out of the race was his and his alone."

On Sunday, California Sen. Kamala Harris also endorsed Biden

Earlier in the interview, Sanders argued his campaign is well-suited to win the state of Michigan, which holds its primary on Tuesday, taking shots at Biden's record in the process.

"I think we've got a real shot to win here in Michigan because the agenda that we are talking about is an agenda that works for the working families of this state," Sanders said Sunday on "Meet the Press."

"And furthermore, it really contrasts my views with Joe Biden. Now that we're down a two-way race, I think it is clear for the American people to see where Biden's record is and where my record is."

Sanders pointed to Biden's support for trade agreements, which the Vermont senator said cost Michiganders jobs. And he said that Biden's support from some wealthy donors undercuts his ability to represent the working class. 

He went on to defend from the Biden campaign's argument that negative campaigning will hurt Democrats' ability to defeat President Trump in November, a message the Biden campaign is putting up on the airwaves.  

1057d ago / 4:17 PM UTC

Biden campaign invests $12 million in ad buys

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Former Vice President Joe Biden is taking his recent influx in money and pouring more into TV, radio and digital ads than ever before. The campaign is investing $12 million in total paid media in Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Florida, Illinois and Ohio — states that all vote within the next two weeks.

Of the $12 million, $8 million is being allotted behind two TV ads in markets across all six states.

In a new ad called "Always", the Biden campaign goes after Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, pointing out that after Biden’s numerous wins on Super Tuesday “Sanders has gone on the attack” on Social Security.

 

 

“Politifact has called the Sanders campaign attacks false. Joe Biden has always been a strong supporter of social security,” the narrator says in the 30-second ad. “Negative ads will only help Donald Trump. It's time we bring our party together.”

Both presidential candidates have gone after each other about their Social Security records since January when Sanders said Biden had wanted to cut Social Security benefits. Biden has denied those assertions.

 

The second ad, entitled "Service", has aired in numerous states already and focuses on former President Barack Obama honoring Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

 

1057d ago / 6:56 PM UTC

President Trump plays on Sanders' supporters dislike of Joe Biden

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has been eager to play up the divisions within the Democratic presidential race, especially when it comes to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporters.

"It’s being rigged against — it’s sad — it’s being rigged against Crazy Bernie,” Trump said at his rally in Charlotte, N.C. on Monday after former Vice President Joe Biden picked up endorsements from former presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar ahead of the Super Tuesday contests.

And he tweeted this after Biden’s big victories on Super Tuesday: “The Democrat establishment came together and crushed Bernie Sanders, AGAIN! Even the fact that Elizabeth Warren stayed in the race was devastating to Bernie and allowed Sleepy Joe to unthinkably win Massachusetts. It was a perfect storm, with many good states remaining for Joe!”

Here's the logic — and data — behind why Trump argues that the Democratic race is “rigged” against Sanders, even though he's simply getting out-voted.

Just 38 percent of Sanders voters say they are enthusiastic or comfortable with Biden, versus 60 percent who have reservations or who are very uncomfortable with the former vice president, according to merged data from the January and February 2020 NBC News/Wall Street Journal polls.

That same level of discontent doesn't exist in Biden's supporters. In contrast, Biden voters actually have a net-positive view of Sanders. 

Fifty-five percent of Biden backers say they are enthusiastic or comfortable with Sanders, while 42 percent say they have reservations or are very uncomfortable, according to the same polling.

So when Trump is decrying the raw deal he thinks Sanders is getting, he’s trying to keep many of these Sanders voters from joining up with Biden — if the former vice president ends up being the Democratic nominee.

1058d ago / 7:40 PM UTC

Sanders cancelling speech in Mississippi as campaign pivots to Michigan

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WASHINGTON — Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders is cancelling a Friday speech in Jackson, Mississippi to campaign in Michigan, a sign the campaign is shifting focus after his poor showing in southern states so far this campaign. 

Sanders had been planning to speak at the Two Mississippi Museums in Jackson, a campus that houses the state's civil rights museum, with Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, who had recently endorsed Sanders. 

But a Sanders aide told NBC News that he's canceling the speech and will instead head to Michigan, which also holds its primary on March 10. 

After Biden outperformed expectations on Super Tuesday, Sanders is hoping he can reset the narrative with big wins next Tuesday in states like Michigan, North Dakota, Idaho and Washington, all states he won during his unsuccessful 2016 bid.

Michigan was a key state to Sanders' unsuccessful 2016 bid, one where his surprise victory gave him a shot of momentum in his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

But while he won headlines with his victory, he only netted four more delegates from the state than former Sec. State Hillary Clinton.  

Meanwhile, Clinton defeated Sanders 83 percent to 17 percent in Mississippi on the same day, netting 26 more delegates from the state than Sanders. 

Biden threatens to run up the score on Sanders again in Mississippi. Sanders won just 11 percent of black voters in the state's 2016 primary (black voters made up 7-in-10 of the state's primary voters that year), and Biden cleaned up with black voters on this past Super Tuesday. 

1060d ago / 3:54 PM UTC

Bloomberg's massive Super Tuesday spending netted little

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg's unprecedented spending threatened to shake up the Democratic presidential race, but as the dust continues to settle, he appears to have little to show for it. 

Bloomberg dropped about $198 million in television and radio ads in states that held their nominating contests on Super Tuesday, according to ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics. And as of 10 a.m. ET, Bloomberg has netted just 18 delegates — $11 million per delegate so far with results still coming in.  

That showing led to Bloomberg dropping on Wednesday morning, arguing that "after yesterday’s results, the delegate math has become virtually impossible — and a viable path to the nomination no longer exists."

Bloomberg's dollar-for-delegate tradeoff has been massive, but that investment is magnified when compared to how many delegates Biden is poised to win in states where he spent markedly less. 

Despite not spending a dime on the air in Massachusetts, Biden is projected to win the state. Bloomberg, who spent almost $10 million there on those ads, is at 12 percent with 95 percent of precincts reporting. 

In Texas, Bloomberg spent $52 million on TV and radio ads and appears to be poised for a distant third-place finish. Biden is the projected winner there, having spent about $463,000 on those ads.

Overall, Bloomberg spent just over $112 million on the airwaves in the Super Tuesday states that the NBC News' Decision Desk projects Biden will win. Biden spent $1.4 million on the airwaves in those states he's projected to win. 

So far, Biden is projected to net 400 delegates on Super Tuesday alone.

1060d ago / 3:51 PM UTC

Sanders launches three new ads targeting Biden

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Bernie Sanders launched three new ads on Wednesday in nine states targeting former Vice President Joe Biden as the race rapidly narrowed following Biden's Super Tuesday victories

One of the ads, "Feel the Bern," focuses on past comments then-President Barack Obama made about Sanders, complimenting him for being authentic and someone who has gotten bills passed for veterans. It's a new kind of ad for Sanders, as his campaign typically likes to draw on Sanders being an outsider, rather than a deal-maker. 

Biden has consistently run his own TV and digital ads that show Obama complimenting him and granting him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And the Biden team is responding to Sanders' use of Obama, saying that Obama "chose" Biden, while Sanders considered a primary challenge against him.

"Barack Obama chose Vice President Biden to be his partner over 8 years in the White House, entrusting him with managing the stimulus that saved our economy from a depression, obtaining the deciding vote for the Affordable Care Act, and countless national security priorities," Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates said. "By contrast, Senator Sanders explored a primary challenge to President Obama, who he compared to a 'moderate Republican' and said was not a 'progressive.' As recent history has proven, no quantity of ads can rewrite history — and there's no substitute for genuinely having the back of the best president of our lifetimes." 

The Biden team is also re-upping an ad they ran against Sanders in South Carolina that focused on Sanders' consideration of a primary challenge. 

Sanders' two other ads, "Protect Social Security" and "Decimated," take direct aim at Biden's past votes.

The ads call out Biden for comments he made about freezing federal spending, which would have included Social Security benefits for a limited time, and for supporting trade deals, like NAFTA, that Sanders opposed. 

Sanders and Biden have traded barbs on Social Security and trade deals before — Sanders is one of the only Democratic presidential candidates who voted against and spoke out against the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. 

The new ads will run in Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Washington — all of which vote on either March 10 or 17. 

1060d ago / 8:53 PM UTC

'Delegate math': Inside the Biden campaign's Super Tuesday strategy

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Joe Biden never expected a coronation, and his campaign prepared accordingly. 

Despite his status as a former vice president and widely-admired party elder, his campaign knew the crowded field and ideological diversity of the party would pose headwinds for him and suggested a long, bruising battle for the nomination. The fact that Biden was never a prolific fundraiser also meant what resources the campaign had would need to be invested with great precision.

So the Biden campaign’s approach to Super Tuesday perhaps best illustrates what became a mantra of his top strategists: if Andrew Yang was the “math” candidate, Biden would be the delegate math candidate.

While much of the focus Tuesday will be on the statewide results in the more than dozen Super Tuesday contests, the Biden team will be looking just as closely for the results district-by-district — especially in the South. Of the more than 1,300 delegates at stake Tuesday, 875 will be awarded not based on the statewide tally but from the results in individual congressional districts (or, in the case of Texas, state senate districts).

Biden’s resounding win in South Carolina, boosted by overwhelming support of African American voters, validated the campaign’s view that by heavily targeting their limited resources into areas with the highest concentrations of black voters, they could in many cases pick off extra delegates across the map that could prove essential to limiting Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ ability to gain an insurmountable lead.

Image: Supporters cheer for Joe Biden as polls close in South Carolina on Feb. 29, 2020.
Supporters cheer for Joe Biden as polls close in South Carolina on Feb. 29, 2020.Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images

Much of the strategy is based around the work of Biden’s analytics team. Since the earliest days of the campaign, they developed and maintained a ranking of — in the case of Tuesday — the 164 districts in play based on how likely Biden was to earn extra delegates by potentially keeping most if not all of his rivals under the critical 15 percent threshold.

That analysis is based on three factors: demographic and polling information that suggests strong Biden support; number of delegates at stake in a district; and the likelihood that other candidates won’t reach 15 percent support.

The number of delegates at stake in each congressional district varies depending on just how Democratic the district leans. Vermont’s at-large district awards 11 delegates Tuesday, while Rep. Ilhan Omar’s Minneapolis-based district awards 10. Four districts — two in Colorado, one in Maine and one in North Carolina — each award nine.

But not all are necessarily top targets for Biden. While the campaign quickly launched a new ad in Minneapolis on Tuesday seeking to capitalize on Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar's endorsement, they have largely stayed out of Vermont and Colorado, which have far lower percentage of minority voters.   

“It’s a delegate game, so we have been focused on targeting districts across the country," that "look like South Carolina, that look like the diversity of this country," Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said on MSNBC Monday.

The Biden team has, though, aggressively courted Alabama’s seventh Congressional District, North Carolina’s fourth, and multiple state senate districts clustered around urban centers in Texas. That includes not just putting money on the airwaves, but careful courtship of key lawmakers — including members of the Congressional Black Caucus and local legislators who represent what are often heavily-gerrymandered jurisdictions.

Biden needs the reinforcements, having not campaign much or at all in most Super Tuesday states. Prior to Saturday, Biden held just one public rally in California, Texas and North Carolina.

Biden’s travel has focused precisely to those types of locations his campaign thinks can provide an extra delegate edge — Saturday in Raleigh, N.C., Sunday in Selma, Ala., Monday in Houston and Dallas, and an Election Day stop in Oakland, where seven delegates are at stake.

“All along the way we’ve been valuing different geographies in terms of where we can win delegates, and planned our delegate and endorsements strategy around that,” said a senior Biden campaign official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to expand upon the campaign’s strategy. 

The official said that having the support of so many key lawmakers who represent these districts is especially useful, since they can help mobilize their own political organizations and offer insights that can supplement — or in some cases act in place of — Biden’s own campaign teams.

Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Texas) said he has been visiting churches and attending community meetings to push the vote for Biden. And he said the endorsement of CBC members like him pays dividends beyond his district’s lines, as more and more African American voters move into suburban parts of Texas.

“The people that live in suburban areas that are not in our district that are African American, they look to us to see what we’re doing,” he said. “The influence in our districts and around our districts is very strong.”

1061d ago / 3:57 PM UTC

Biden campaign adds ad buy in post-Super Tuesday states

DALLAS — Former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign is amping up for its post-Super Tuesday ad campaign. 

Biden's new buy in a trio of states that vote after Super Tuesday is part of a $1.5 million investment the campaign has devoted to spending in Missouri, Michigan and Mississippi. The ad will air in the states' largest markets including Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids and Lansing in Michigan; Kansas City and St. Louis in Missouri; and Jackson, Meridien and Hattiesburg in Mississippi.

While the ad buy is new, the ad it's showing isn't. The ad, entitled "Service" evoke supportive words from former President Barack Obama about Biden's lifetime commitment to improving life for Americans. 

1061d ago / 5:55 PM UTC

Biden rakes in endorsements after definitive South Carolina win

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WASHINGTON — Following Joe Biden’s resounding victory in the South Carolina Democratic primary Saturday, the former Vice President has racked up about 20 influential endorsements spanning from activists to current and former members of Congress. More support continues to trickle in Monday.

Biden leads the pack by dozens of congressional and gubernatorial endorsements with Mike Bloomberg in a far-away second place. The former Vice President has 59 endorsements from members and governors while Bloomberg has just 17. 

Image: Joe Biden speaks to supporters at a campaign rally in Columbia, S.C., on Feb. 29, 2020.
Joe Biden speaks to supporters at a campaign rally in Columbia, S.C., on Feb. 29, 2020.Tom Gralish / The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP

Many of the latest endorsements come from Super Tuesday states and beyond, including seven backers from the House of Representatives, three politicians who held high state or local offices, plus others.

Among the members of Congress now supporting Biden, three are from Virginia, a battleground state where voting takes place tomorrow. Democratic Reps. Bobby Scott, Jennifer Wexton, and Don Beyer —  who previously endorsed Pete Buttigieg — are all on the list.

Reps. Greg Stanton of Arizona, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, Gil Cisneros of California — who flipped the seat in 2018 — and Veronica Escobar of Texas are backing Biden as well. 

Current Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois announced her formal support for the candidate Monday afternoon. Previous Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Blanche Lincoln, D-Arkansas, plus former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe also endorsed Biden after his win. 

Among other influential endorsements are gun safety advocate Fred Guttenberg, and late Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy’s wife, Vicki Kennedy.

Kennedy tweeted Monday morning that she is “proud” to vote for Biden in Massachusetts because he is the candidate “who solves problems by bringing people together.”

She mentioned that she trusts Biden on expanding health care, a passion of her husband’s throughout his life. 

The former Vice President’s campaign released a statement Monday morning listing nearly ten other endorsers who announced their support for Biden after the latest primary. 

Biden won South Carolina with about a 30 percentage point lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who only garnered 20 percent of the vote. Biden won every county in the Palmetto State and was the favorite of two-thirds of African-American voters there. 

The campaign told NBC News that Biden hauled in more than $5 million on Saturday night plus another $5 million Sunday. 

1063d ago / 3:21 PM UTC

Buttigieg: Campaign pressing onto Super Tuesday despite South Carolina result

WASHINGTON — Former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg told "Meet the Press" Sunday his campaign is pressing on after a fourth-place finish in South Carolina's Democratic primary, arguing that his message has "resonated across the country." 

Buttigieg said that his campaign has been able to "beat the odds and defy all the expectations" before, but he added that he's keeping an eye on how he can best help the party defeat President Trump in November.

"Every day I'm getting up, looking at how we can do what's best for the party. It's why we got into this race in the first place, the belief that a different kind of message and a different kind of messenger could rally people together, could forge new alliances, could help us reach out in the very places where we have the best messaging, yet found ourselves defeated by President Trump in 2016 and we cannot let that happen again," he said.

"And every day we're in this campaign is a day that we've reached the conclusion that pushing forward is the best thing that we can do for the country and for the party."

1063d ago / 3:16 PM UTC

Warren campaign memo: 'We're in this race for the long haul'

HOUSTON — Elizabeth Warren’s campaign is making clear that they’re not going anywhere — and that, when the primary’s said and done, they believe no one will hit the delegate majority needed to claim the nomination outright. 

“We’re in this race for the long haul,” campaign manager Roger Lau wrote in a new memo out to supporters Sunday morning, in which he touted the campaign's biggest fundraising totals ever, increased ad buys in key upcoming states, and — citing “internal projections” — an expected “sizable” delegate haul on Super Tuesday from “nearly every state.”

The memo comes a day after the Massachusetts senator finished a distant fifth in South Carolina's Democratic presidential primary and does not name one state that they expect to outright win come Tuesday.

After placing third in Iowa in early February, Warren has not won any new delegates since — leaving her fourth overall in the field for delegate totals.

But the campaign points to the $29 million they say they raised in February means she has the ability to stay in the race. The campaign says their movement is now 1.25 million grassroots donors strong, with an average donation of $31. 

Warren’s team, like the other campaigns in a similar position, argues that “Super Tuesday will greatly winnow this field." And, they say that all of their Super Tuesday staffers and organizers will be re-deployed after Tuesday to states voting later in the calendar.

The memo says that “as the dust settles after March 3rd, the reality of this race will be clear: no candidate will likely have a path to the majority of delegates needed to win an outright claim to the Democratic nomination.”

The campaign also says it has increased Super Tuesday ad spending and that they’re also spending for states down the road. According to Lau, they’ve made more than $4.1 million in paid media investments in Wisconsin, as well as later March states — with a special, six-figure focus on black-owned radio stations across the March states.

“After Wisconsin nearly one-third of the pledged delegates will still be waiting to be elected, and there will be a three-week gap between electing delegates for the first time since voting began,” Lau writes. “In the road to the nomination, the Wisconsin primary is halftime, and the convention in Milwaukee is the final play.”

1063d ago / 1:30 AM UTC

'It's all hands on deck:' Pence on U.S. response to coronavirus threat

Vice President Mike Pence says that when it comes to stopping the spread of coronavirus in the United States, "it's all hands on deck."

In an interview airing Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” Pence said federal agencies were "leaning into" President Donald Trump's directives to "mitigate" the virus' impact on U.S. soil, which includes expanding travel restrictions outside the country.

Watch "Meet the Press with Chuck Todd" Sunday at 9 a.m. ET or check local listings.

On Saturday, Trump and Pence announced additional travel restrictions involving Iran and increased warnings about travel to areas of Italy and South Korea hit by coronavirus. Travel from China to the U.S. has already been restricted. 

"The president’s concern is the health and safety of the American people," Pence said on "Meet the Press." 

When asked whether the White House is worried about potential economic fallout from coronavirus, Pence said the economy "will come back." He also said the president will respect any local or state decisions to close schools if they find it necessary.

"We’re going to focus on the health of the American people," he said.

1064d ago / 10:33 PM UTC

2020 is a referendum on socialism, CPAC speakers say

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OXON HILL, Md. — As the first few days of CPAC wrap up, high-profile conservative figures have emphasized that the 2020 election is a referendum on socialism rather than the Democrat who will ultimately become the nominee. In fact, the theme of this year's conference is "America vs. Socialism."

Though Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the current Democratic front-runner, has been name-checked on occasion, the event has primarily emphasized the dangers of the Democratic party itself, which the participants at the Conservative Political Action Conference say has morphed into an entirely socialist entity.

Image: Conservatives Gather At Annual CPAC Event
Matt Schlapp, Chairman of the American Conservative Union at the Conservative Political Action Conference 2020 in National Harbor, Md,. on Feb. 28, 2020.Samuel Corum / Getty Images

National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow stated that he wouldn't mind having a socialist at the top of the Democratic ticket.

"I am perfectly happy to have a Socialist candidate so we can have it out," he said Friday afternoon on a panel with Ivanka Trump and American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp. "President Trump is more than prepared to show the world why what he called in Davos, Switzerland 'the American model of free enterprise' will whip socialism every time hands down."

Kudlow added that voters should look to the past to see "time and again that socialism is the loser." He also explained that a socialist economy is a great fear of his because it could tank the U.S. economy. 

Ivanka made similar arguments, though calling out socialism less directly than Kudlow. Instead, she stressed the importance of the private sector to economic success.

"Our economy is the envy of the world," the first daughter said, highlighting the benefits of President Trump's pro-growth policies. 

Schlapp echoed both panelists but made a point to swipe Sanders specifically. 

"You don't feel the Bern! We know that," the ACU chairman said. "There's no Bern-ing going on here!"

Earlier Friday, senior advisor for President Trump's reelection campaign, Kimberly Guilfoyle, previewed tomorrow's Democratic primary in South Carolina and warned the crowd of what's at stake in 2020.

"Democrats will be one step closer to nominating a socialist to lead their party," she said.

She noted that she often reflects on the possible alternative to President Trump this election cycle.

"America will never be a socialist country," Guilfoyle stated, calling Democrats children running around a playground suffering from "Trump derangement syndrome."

She reassured the crowd however, that no one can prevent Trump's reelection bid.

"The squad, the socialists. Let them run, let them run baby because nothing can stop the Trump train," Guilfoyle said to cheers. 

Among the audience at CPAC are many conservative student groups like Turning Point USA and university chapters of College Republicans. Several speakers at the 2020 conference urged this next generation of voters to disavow socialism despite the left's argument that — in Guilfoyle's words — socialism is "cool" or "woke."

CPAC continues through Sunday and will feature an appearance from President Trump Saturday afternoon. 

1064d ago / 7:44 PM UTC

Virginia Rep. Wexton looks to hold onto suburban women in November

WASHINGTON — With the presidential race in full swing through Super Tuesday, congressional incumbents seeking re-election are also gearing up their campaigns with suburban women in mind to replicate their midterm victories. A record number of winning female candidates helped Democrats flip 43 Republican seats and reclaim the House majority in 2018, many supported by overwhelming margins from a voting bloc that has recently swung hard away from the GOP.

There are encouraging signs for Democrats. A November NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that President Donald Trump faces erosion in his support among women. Sixty-seven percent of college-educated women said they are certain they will vote against Trump while just 22 percent of women with a degree said they will definitely back the president.

Image: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Jennifer Wexton at a swearing-ceremony during the opening session of the new Congress on Jan. 3, 2019.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Jennifer Wexton at a swearing-ceremony during the opening session of the new Congress on Jan. 3, 2019.Susan Walsh / AP

One congresswoman running for re-election in a battleground state is Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton, who defeated two-term Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock handily in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District in 2018.

Wexton’s district spans the growing suburbs of Washington, D.C. Her state is a major focus of presidential candidates seeking to garner Virginia’s 99 pledged delegates at stake on Super Tuesday. 

In 2016, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump statewide by five points and the president also lost Loudoun County, a critical part of Wexton's district, by nearly 17 points. 

Wexton’s campaign says that suburban women will once again be key to her re-election, at least as long as Donald Trump is president.

Wexton herself says those voters are moving even more towards the Democratic column.

“I do think that suburban women focus on issues that help kids and families, and kitchen table issues,” she told NBC News in Sterling, Va. last month. “The Republican party has been moving away from those issues.”

For Wexton, the GOP is morphing into the party of Trump and the president’s divisiveness isn’t a “good way to govern.”

While the congresswoman focused on health care and gun reform in 2018, she tied her challenger to the president’s more controversial policies to win over moderates.

Wexton was a target of the National Republican Congressional Committee, the party’s fundraising body, leading up to the midterms.

Former NRCC communications director, Matt Gorman, said that “Comstock was really one of our best candidates” but “obviously the atmospherics were too much.”

Gorman added that unlike in 2018, Wexton now has a record to defend.

Wexton does not have a primary challenger but there are five Republicans running for the right to challenge her in November, two of whom are women. One candidate has launched a “Wexit” movement to get “the heck out of the ‘People’s Republic of Northern Virginia.’”

Aliscia Andrews would be the first female Marine in Congress if elected and is fighting to win over the “politically homeless” to beat Wexton, who she labelled a “lame duck” in a discussion with NBC News last month.

Andrews, who bills herself as a proud suburban mother, said that the bloc is critical to her campaign and that the GOP has "been changing” its approach to women voters.

Aliscia Andrews
Aliscia Andrews.Courtesy Aliscia Andrews

It’s not clear how effective a reset can be for the GOP after Democrats nationwide hammered them over the issue of health care two years ago.

Health care advocate Tasha Nelson, whose son, Jack, has cystic fibrosis, is the Virginia Chapter Lead of Little Lobbyists, a non-partisan volunteer group representing children with complex medical conditions and disabilities. 

In an interview with NBC News, Nelson said she considers herself a single-issue health care voter. While she does not identify with one party and says she used to lean right, she says she is no longer a swing voter.

Nelson feels herself moving further toward the Democrats, saying that her child would have died without the Affordable Care Act.

The Little Lobbyists work closely with Wexton and many lawmakers from both parties in both chambers.

When Comstock voted for President Trump’s tax bill, which targeted the individual mandate central to Obamacare, Nelson decided to support Wexton in the midterms. 

As a voter rather than a representative of Little Lobbyists, Nelson believes Wexton has not let her down and plans to support her in 2020 as long as she continues to fight for health care protections for kids like Jack. 

While all eyes will be on Virginia for the presidential primary on March 3, the state’s tenth district will move into the national spotlight as November approaches. 

1064d ago / 4:52 PM UTC

Tim Kaine endorses Joe Biden

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SUMTER, S.C. — With just days until his state’s Super Tuesday primary, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine announced Friday that he's backing Joe Biden for president.

The former Virginia governor and 2016 vice presidential nominee applauded the “admirable” field of candidates running for president, but said Biden's record and "character" led him to support the former vice president.

“Barack Obama wisely chose Joe as his partner in the White House, and for eight years,” Kaine said in a statement. “It is sad to have a President who no one holds up as a role model for America’s kids. By contrast, Joe Biden has exemplary heart, character, and experience.”

Kaine’s endorsement comes as Biden continues to amass the most support from congressional members in Super Tuesday states and as his campaign is seeking momentum to jump start his hopes throughout the numerous March primaries. The campaign has telegraphed that while Biden has not spent much time or money in Super Tuesday states, they feel confident they will do well there because of the influence and organizational support endorsers pour into the race.

Kaine is the sixth senator to endorse Biden, and Biden has 50 endorsements from members of Congress. He also has the backing of Super Tuesday state Sens. Doug Jones, D-Ala., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Joe Biden and Tim Kaine
Joe Biden and Tim Kaine at a campaign rally at The American Civil War Center in Richmond, Va., on Nov. 5, 2012.Steve Helber / AP file

 

While Biden and Kaine never served together in the Senate, they both served on the Foreign Relations Committee, Kaine as a member and Biden as a former chair. 

When Kaine campaigned as the vice presidential nominee, he and Biden held a joint rally on the eve of the 2016 election in what was billed at the time as something of a pass-the-torch moment. Biden also campaigned for Kaine on the eve of the 2012 election when Kaine was about to be elected senator. 

1065d ago / 2:59 PM UTC

On the South Carolina airwaves: Negative ads and appeals to black voters

WASHINGTON — With just one day to go until South Carolina's pivotal Democratic presidential primary, the Palmetto State's ad wars are heating up.

Philanthropist and billionaire Tom Steyer has blanketed the state to the tune of $20 million in television and radio ads in South Carolina this cycle, according to Advertising Analytics. That's more than the rest of the Democratic field combined. 

Far behind him, but ahead of the rest of the pack, is former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has spent $2.4 million. (While former Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn't on the ballot in South Carolina, he's running $2 million in ads in adjacent states that bleed onto the airwaves in South Carolina.)

Former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign has spent $700,000; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has spent $690,000; Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has spent $580,000; Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders has spent $500,000; and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar has spent $470,000. 

And Super PACs supporting Klobuchar, Warren and Biden have spent $980,000, $590,000 and $110,000 respectively. 

What are South Carolinians seeing as Saturday's primary creeps closer? 

Let's start with Steyer, who is far-and-away the biggest spender. 

In the past week, Steyer's spent the most on a biographical spot, one that tells the story about how he started a community bank that, in his words, "invest[ed] in the community, in businesses owned by women and people of color."  

He also has spots up taking swipes at Biden and Buttigeg as an "insider" and an "untested newcomer" respectively; another hits Biden by arguing "nothing will change when he's elected" and that Sanders' "socialist plans won't beat Trump." 

Buttigieg's top ad is a positive, hopeful spot that nods at his plan for black Americans. But the ad he's spent the second most on takes a direct shot at Sanders, arguing that Sanders' plan involves "forcing 150 million Americans off" their current health-care plans and framing Sanders as polarizing.   

Biden's ads echo a common theme for candidates on the South Carolina airwaves — two of the three ads he launched in the race's final days center on former President Barack Obama (along with a swipe at the Medicare for All crowd).

 

Steyer has an ad evoking Obama too, as does the Super PAC backing Warren. And a new Sanders spot shows him walking with Obama.

Looking for a strong showing in South Carolina to keep his momentum going, Sanders' ads primarily talk about how he wants to fight for civil rights and for criminal justice reform.

Klobuchar primary is running positive spots playing up her call for unity and pragmatism

While Warren isn't currently on the air, she had previously run two bio spots in the state, one that evokes Obama's praise of her.  Gabbard isn't on the air anymore either, but she had previously run a spot criticizing government spending on "wasteful wars" instead of domestic issues.  

1065d ago / 2:11 PM UTC

A warm welcome for Buttigieg from diverse caucus groups on Capitol Hill

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WASHINGTON — Former South Bend, Ind Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has struggled cinching a diverse electorate in critical states, met with the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses on Thursday in an effort to receive their endorsements. 

And overall, members left the meetings feeling impressed, and perhaps surprised, with some of their worries appeased — despite Buttigieg not seeing higher poll numbers among those voting blocks. Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., called it “a very good meeting” as she walked out.

Multiple members of Congress told NBC News that to appeal to diverse voters, Buttigieg needs to “reach out more” like he did on Thursday and continue meeting with these voter constituencies. 

Image: Pete Buttigieg
Pete Buttigieg at a caucus night event in Las Vegas on Feb. 22, 2020.Patrick Semansky / AP

Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md., the lone CBC endorser and national co-chair for the Buttigieg campaign, told NBC there was “a lot of vertical head-nodding” when asked how he was received in the room. But members also pressed Buttigieg on his controversial record in South Bend.

“That was the great deal of the focus in that particular meeting,” said Brown. 

Rep. André Carson walked out of the meeting telling reporters it was “excellente”. However, the meeting came on the heels of House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn's key endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden, and just two days before the South Carolina Democratic primary where a majority of the Democratic electorate is people of color. 

Despite winning the highest share of delegates in the Iowa caucuses, and coming in second in the New Hampshire primary, Buttigieg is registering at just 6 percent in South Carolina, according to the latest poll. While Buttigieg was hoping this meeting could up his amount of congressional endorsements from members of the CHC and CBC, it's unlikely one meeting will do that. 

CHC Rep. Nanette Barragán, D-Calif., told NBC News “I do not, I'm still considering it and I'm certainly talking to the Mayor as well,” adding “I was just impressed with what I saw.”

1065d ago / 10:17 PM UTC

DNC holds briefing with House Dems amid concerns of contested convention

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WASHINGTON — As questions swirl around the possibility of a contested convention, the Democratic National Committee held a briefing for House Democrats on the convention rules and insisted that a candidate must have a majority of delegates to win the party's nomination.

The briefing comes as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the delegate leader after the first three nominating contests, indicated at the NBC News debate in Las Vegas and on Twitter that the winner of a plurality of delegates, not a majority as written in DNC rules, should be the nominee.

Image: Tom Perez
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez addresses the Women's March at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, on Jan. 20, 2018.Cliff Owen / AP file

Sanders’ statements have concerned some Democrats who are already nervous about Sanders winning the nomination and the impact he could have on candidates down-ballot.

“What we’re concerned about is we all follow the rules,” Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and a member of the DNC said after the briefing. “I think the rules are important, they were passed, and whatever the candidates are saying, the rules are the most important thing to comply with.”

The rules say that the nominee must win a majority — 1,991 of the 3,979 —  of the delegates available heading into the convention in Milwaukee in July. If no candidate wins after the first round at the convention, then a second round of voting takes place and considers the votes of what used to be known as superdelegates. This group consists of current and former elected members of Congress, governors and presidents.

Sanders, who pressured the DNC to rewrite the rules after 2016 and diminish the role of superdelegates, fears that the superdelegates will overturn the will of the voters supporting him in a second round of voting at the convention.

Some Democrats running for re-election in red and purple districts worry that having a Democratic Socialist on the top of the ticket will turn off suburban voters key to winning House and Senate seats.

Sanders backer, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said that Sanders isn’t trying to circumvent the process.

“If you have someone who has 45 percent of the vote and the next person has 20 percent, then I think it’s important for that second round of people to consider the will of the voters and to consider the will of the voters in the states,” Jayapal said.

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., also a Sanders supporter, said that the party should get behind the person who wins a plurality of delegates.

“I do think the party should get around the plurality winner. I'm hopeful that President Obama may do that. You know, I'm hopeful President Obama will play that role,” Khanna said.

Perhaps an indication of the unease about the Democratic primary, Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., said that someone in the party stood up to nominate House Speaker Pelosi for president at the briefing.

“Somebody nominated Pelosi for president," Himes said. "She said, ‘I like my job. You're not getting rid of me that easy.'"

1065d ago / 8:24 PM UTC

South Carolina Democratic Party ready for its say in 2020

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Two days before the Democratic presidential primary here, South Carolina Democratic Party executive director says voters are making up their own minds on who to support — not looking at who did well in other states. 

"Our voters have really looked at these candidates through their own unique lens without worrying about what people everywhere else are saying," Jay Parmley said. 

He added, "When people say, 'Oh, you have someone to bounce out of [a state]', that just doesn't seem to translate on the ground." 

Parmley noted that that's why South Carolinians aren't shocked at some polls that show philanthropist Tom Steyer in second or third place, or why former Vice President Joe Biden has been able to maintain a lead. 

Image: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to guests during a campaign stop at the Winyah Indigo Society Hall on Feb. 26, 2020 in Georgetown, South Carolina.
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to guests during a campaign stop at the Winyah Indigo Society Hall on Feb. 26, 2020 in Georgetown, South Carolina.Scott Olson / Getty Images

However, the SCDP does feel that whoever wins in South Carolina still has the best chance to carry the nomination. Parmley said, "Our diverse electorate gives people an opportunity to do well and also I think it mirrors a ton of the rest of the country." 

That's the strategy that Biden hopes carry him into Super Tuesday, and the mindset of some who say the primary calendar should change to reflect the demographics of the Democratic Party and not start the nominating contests in overwhelmingly white Iowa and New Hampshire

"If we win in November, then the four early states don't matter in 2024, so they may push the decision off a while," Parmley said. "But I do think, though, this will be revisited." 

While the presidential primary may be over for South Carolinians on Saturday night, the SCDP is actively looking toward their down-ballot races which, Parmley said, has an unofficial start date of Monday. But those races have lost a lot of oxygen from the presidential race, leaving some down-ballot candidates like Rep. Joe Cunningham, and the Democratic challenger to Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, Jaime Harrison, in a hard position. 

Parmley said that while it's easier when down-ballot candidates can wholeheartedly endorse the party's nominee, it won't be a necessity in 2020. 

"It's a needle we may have to thread," Parmley said. "We're going to go out and fight for our down ballot races, no matter who the nominee is. And sure some people may make it easier and some people may make it harder, but I would argue that's the case of any of them anywhere." 

1065d ago / 7:21 PM UTC

Pelosi projects unity of House Democrats as Sanders rises

WASHINGTON — Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., projected complete unity within the House Democratic Caucus Thursday when it comes to the idea of backing the eventual presidential nominee of their party. 

At Pelosi’s weekly press conference, NBC News asked Pelosi what she’s telling her members about Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who might be nervous about what his possible victory in the Democratic race would mean for down-ballot races. 

“The presidential is its own race. Contrary to what you may be hearing or writing, we are not getting — we are all unified. Whoever the nominee is of our party, we will wholeheartedly support,” she said. “Our gospel is one of unity, unity, unity. So I don’t have the experience that you may have described."

Pelosi said that her responsibility is to win the House again in November with a “mainstream and non-menacing” message. When asked if Sanders has been delivering such a message, she demurred. The Speaker of the House said that Democrats already demonstrated their ability to win in the 2018 midterms by owning the ground game with their mobilization efforts, messaging and money. 

Pelosi added that the Democratic Party will support the candidate who wins a majority of delegates, which is not what Sanders has previously said he would do if the situation arose.

“Whoever the nominee is, we will support with respect for his or her positions and hopefully with their respect for our positions as well," Pelosi said.