Elizabeth Warren won the summer, but still has a big challenge in front of her

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Image: Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate Warren speaks at a campaign house party in Hampton Falls
Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks at a campaign house party in Hampton Falls, N.H. on Sept. 2, 2019.Brian Snyder / Reuters

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By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Carrie Dann

WASHINGTON — The summer before the contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, a liberal candidate from a New England state is climbing in the polls, attracting big crowds (10,000-plus in Seattle), raising lots of money from small donors and campaigning in bold colors.

Sounds like Elizabeth Warren’s summer of 2019, right?

Well, it also applies to Howard Dean in 2003. Check out this New York Times dispatch from Aug. 27, 2003: “The staggering, seemingly spontaneous crowds turning up to meet [Dean] — about 10,000 in Seattle on Sunday and a similar number in Bryant Park in Manhattan last night — are unheard of in the days of the race when most candidates concentrate on the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire and would seem formidable even in October 2004.”

More: “Yesterday morning, the campaign took another audacious step, saying that it would broadcast television advertisements in six new states beginning on Friday, and that it expected to raise $10.3 million in the three months ending Sept. 30 — more than any other Democrat in a similar period save for President Bill Clinton in 1995.”

Now there are important differences between Dean and Warren. She’s much more disciplined, for instance. Also, Bush 43’s numbers were much stronger than Trump’s back then, when there was concern about the former Vermont governor’s electability.

But right now, there’s a common theme between Dean and Warren: To their credit, they’ve captivated rank-and-file white Democratic liberals.

That, as Dean and Bernie Sanders and Gary Hart all discovered, isn’t enough to win a Democratic nomination — and it’s even more true now with the Democratic Party growing more diverse.

Like Obama was able to do in 2008, you have to combine this “wine track” with another part of the Democratic coalition.

And it’s why Bernie Sanders isn’t the Dem candidate standing in Warren’s way right now.

It’s Joe Biden — with that support from African-American voters.

The House retirements cometh

Earlier this week, we told you that we’d be keeping our eyes on more House GOP retirements. And yesterday, we got two more — Reps. Bill Flores, R-Texas, and Jim Sensebrenner, R-Wis.

That makes it 14 House Republicans — and five from Texas alone — who’ve said they won’t run for re-election in 2020 (and that doesn’t include those who have resigned and will have the seat filled by a special election).

Yesterday also brought us the fourth House Democrat who won’t be seeking re-election — Rep. Susan Davis, D-Calif.

The good news for Republicans is that the Flores and Sensenbrenner seats should be easy to defend in 2020; Trump won them by about 20 points each in ’16.

The bad news is that these GOP retirements probably won’t be the last we’ll see.

2020 Vision: Recapping yesterday’s Climate-palooza

Last night, the 10 Democratic presidential hopefuls who will participate in next week’s debate took part in a marathon, seven-hour climate change forum. NBC’s Amanda Golden, Jordan Jackson, Priscilla Thompson, Benjamin Pu, Marianna Sotomayor, Gary Grumbach, Maura Barrett, Deepa Shivaram and Julia Jester have the main takeaways from each candidate:

Julián Castro: Towards the end of his appearance, he acknowledged that he might’ve done some things differently as mayor of San Antonio but that he stood up for clean water (a story where he quit his job as a lawyer to in order to vote against a land deal on city council).

Andrew Yang: He often brought up his signature campaign idea of universal basic income, arguing it would help galvanize Americans by giving them financial security to dedicate time and money to fight climate change.

Kamala Harris: She started off her appearance by saying she would declare an emergency on clean drinking water. Harris added she would take on the issue through executive action, in addition to also re-entering the Paris climate agreement.

Amy Klobuchar: She said in her first week, she’d bring the U.S. back into the international climate agreement, bring back the clean power rules President Obama put in place, re-establish gas mileage standards, and work on legislation with mayors and with Congress.

Joe Biden: He was pressed on whether he could hold fossil fuel and energy companies accountable if he attended a fundraiser held by Andrew Goldman, an energy investor who co-founded Western L&G, Biden initially rejected the premise of the audience question saying that Goldman “is not a fossil fuel executive.”

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Bernie Sanders: He was asked how he’d deal with the congressional filibuster when it came to climate legislation. “If your question is, are we going to need 60 votes to save the planet, the answer is, no, we will not,” Sanders said.

Elizabeth Warren: She split from Sen. Sanders on the nationalization of public utilities, saying “Gosh, you know, I'm not sure that that's what gets you to the solution.”

Pete Buttigieg: He was asked about the $300,000 he spent on private air travel in his campaign’s second fundraising quarter. Buttigieg said while he’s all for decarbonizing jet fuel, he doesn’t believe America will ever abolish air travel.

Beto O’Rourke: He said he would work to meet a net-zero emissions goal by implementing a cap-and-trade system—not a carbon tax.

Cory Booker: He said that his plan calls for being at zero carbon by the year 2030, and he would ban offshore drilling, as well as ban fracking on public lands.

On the campaign trail today

Beto O’Rourke stumps in Massachusetts… Michael Bennet visits Iowa… Tulsi Gabbard and Tom Steyer are in New Hampshire… And Tim Ryan campaigns in South Carolina.

Dispatches from NBC’s embeds

In an interview with Stephen Colbert last night, Joe Biden doubled down on his defense of his numerous recent verbal slip-ups, saying that he has not mistaken policy substance, per NBC’s Marianna Sotomayor.

“I think it’s fair to go after a political figure for anything,” he said. “But here's the deal. Any gaffe that I have made, and I've made gaffes like every politician I know has, have been not about the substantive issue, but been about other— I'm trying to talk about what other people have done.”

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is …9 points

Nine points.

That’s how much Joe Biden leads Donald Trump in a hypothetical matchup in Wisconsin, per a new Marquette University Law School Poll.

In a head-to-head general election matchup, Biden gets 51 percent to Trump’s 42 percent.

Bernie Sanders leads Trump 48 percent to 44 percent, while both Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris are running in an even tie with Trump in the Badger State.

And/but … we have a long way to go. The same poll in Sept. 2015 found Hillary Clinton besting Trump by double digits. Trump went on to win the state by less than a percentage point.

The Lid: Say “Cheese”

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we did a deeper dive into why Wisconsin is such a high-stakes state.

ICYMI: News clips you shouldn’t miss

Here’s NBC’s write-up of, well, Sharpie-gate.

And another one… Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, the second-most senior member of the House, won’t run again in 2020.

Rep. Steve King says he drank from the toilet-fountain cited by those critical of the conditions at migrant detention facilities.

The founder of 8chan says that the current owner of the message board will “lie through his teeth” during a deposition on Capitol Hill.

Boris Johnson’s brother is quitting politics amid the Brexit turmoil.

Trump Agenda: Just another brick in the wall

Puerto Rico is about to lose more funds to the border wall.

The New York Times looks at how Trump’s border wall might affect a senior living community in Brownsville, Texas.

Former Obama counsel Gregory Craig has been found not guilty of lying to investigators who were looking at his work in Ukraine.

2020: The coming redistricting battle

The GOP is worried about losing a slew of redistricting battles after the 2020 dust settles.

Joe Biden is defending having a fundraising event hosted by the co-founder of a liquefied natural gas firm.

Marianne Williamson deleted a tweet about how the “power of the mind” helped turn Dorian west.

Bill de Blasio may quit the 2020 race if he doesn’t make the October debate.

A Kansas GOP Senate candidate is dropping his bid, instead mounting a primary challenge against embattled freshman Rep. Steve Watkins.