WASHINGTON — We told you it’s never easy being the frontrunner.
Now less than three weeks before the first Democratic presidential debates, Joe Biden is taking flak from all directions.
It’s coming from the rest of the Democratic field for his continued support of the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funds for abortion services except in the cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.
- “It's been the law for a while, and it's been wrong for a long time,” Elizabeth Warren said at an MSNBC town hall last night. “Because it really is. It's just discrimination.”
- “I think the Hyde Amendment is wrong,” Cory Booker told NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell.
- “No matter your income or where you live, every woman should have access to health care including abortion,” Beto O’Rourke tweeted.
- “No woman's access to reproductive health care should be based on how much money she has. We must repeal the Hyde Amendment,” Kamala Harris added.
And it’s coming from the political class over the Biden campaign sloppily rolling out a climate plan – and admitting it forgot to give proper attribution.
Here’s the thing: In the grand scheme of the 2020 campaign, these transgressions by Biden are pretty minor.
Plenty of campaigns have taken material — without attribution — to put on their websites and policy proposals.
And plenty of Biden’s rivals, including Warren, Booker, O’Rourke and Harris, have voted for legislation that contains the Hyde Amendment, as Politico notes.
Yet no matter the size of the transgressions, this Democratic pile-on is a recognition that the entire Dem field is itching for a fight with Biden.
So being on that debate stage with Biden matters.
The nine Dems who — by luck of the draw — get to share the debate stage with Biden will have an opportunity the other 10 contenders won’t get.
Data Download: The number of the day is … 58 percent
That’s the share of Americans who oppose changing the current federal government policy that prohibits Medicaid funds from being used to pay for abortions, per a Politico-Harvard poll in October 2016.
That puts the majority of the electorate in agreement with Joe Biden, who has taken heat since yesterday for his continued support of the Hyde Amendment.
The reason for that pressure? His stance is also the minority position in his own party, with 55 percent of Democrats in the same survey saying that the current policy of disallowing Medicaid funds for abortion should be overturned.
Just 37 percent of Democrats say the status quo should stay in place.
Pelosi: No on impeachment, yes on prison
Politico has House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying this in a closed-door meeting with fellow Democrats pushing for impeachment:
“I don’t want to see [Trump] impeached, I want to see him in prison,” she said, according to multiple Dem sources familiar with the meeting.
NBC News hasn’t confirmed Pelosi said these words.
More: Ashley Etienne, a Pelosi spokeswoman, said Speaker Pelosi and the chairmen “had a productive meeting about the state of play with the Mueller report. They agreed to keep all options on the table and continue to move forward with an aggressive hearing and legislative strategy.”
Two points here: One, if you believe the Trump has committed crimes, you have to sell that message to an American public outside of the Democratic base.
And two, if your play is to let the 2020 presidential election decide Trump’s fate, you have to realize that there’s a solid chance (50-50? 40-60? 60-40?) that he wins re-election.
Remember, a presidential incumbent gets to focus on the general election for four years. The ultimate Dem challenger will get three to four months.
Deal or no deal?
NBC’s Kristen Welker, Kayla Tausche and Lauren Egan have a Trump administration official doubting that the White House and Mexico will strike a deal on tariffs before Monday’s deadline – when Trump has threatened to impose a 5 percent tariff on all Mexican imports.
“According to another senior administration official, in order for a deal to be made, the White House is asking Mexico to hold Central American asylum seekers in a ‘safe third country’ designation, rather than letting them cross the US border.”
“Additionally, the White House is also asking Mexico to accept the ‘Migration Protection Protocols,’ which require migrants to remain in Mexico until their cases are processed.”
“The administration official was skeptical that a deal could be struck before the Monday deadline, noting that it was likely tariffs would go into effect.”
2020 Vision: Georgia on my mind
Today’s 2020 campaign activity is in Atlanta, where a handful of candidates will be addressing an African-American leadership summit and a DNC gala.
And NBC’s Garrett Haake and Josh Lederman report that Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke will meet privately with Stacey Abrams while in Georgia.
On the campaign trail today: Cory Booker and Pete Buttigieg address an African-American Leadership Summit in Atlanta… Also in Atlanta, Joe Biden, Beto O’Rourke and Stacey Abrams address a DNC IWILLVOTE gala… And Buttigieg hits a fundraiser in Atlanta.
Tweet of the day
The Lid: Boomer Bust?
Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we looked at the decline of the Baby Boomers as a share of the electorate.
ICYMI: News clips you shouldn’t miss
Here are Alex Seitz-Wald and Ali Vitali on Elizabeth Warren’s MSNBC town hall last night.
Why exactly did the president fly hundreds of miles out of his way to stay at his own golf course in Ireland?
Trump plans to speak at the Lincoln Memorial on July 4, disrupting an event long celebrated as apolitical.
Truckers remember a lot of promises from Trump, but some say he hasn’t delivered.
Trump agenda: Ireland has a border wall?
Trump said in Ireland that “your wall, your border” will “work out very well” post-Brexit.
In an audio recording obtained by the Washington Post, Mike Pompeo said that keeping the opposition in Venezuela united has proved “devilishly difficult.”
Trump is facing ire from both parties over the administration’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The Washington Post looks at how a watchdog airbrushed major problems out of FEMA reviews.
The Trump administration is dramatically cutting federal spending on medical research that uses tissue from fetuses that had been aborted.
Mitch McConnell says that the Senate will “probably not” vote on Democrats’ Dreamer bill.
2020: 32 years later…
The consequences of Biden’s old 1987 plagiarism scandal are continuing to resonate more than 30 years later.
Politico finds that plenty of 2020 candidates have uncited material on their websites.
Jay Inslee isn’t happy with what he says is the DNC’s rejection of his request for a debate entirely on climate change.
Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign is unionizing.
Amy Klobuchar nabbed an Iowa endorsement for her mental health policy work.
And NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard reports that Steve Bullock released his first new policy proposal as a presidential candidate. Bullock told MSNBC’s Ari Melber that he would require political non-profits and Super PACs to certify that they will not use foreign donations to aid in election efforts in the United States.