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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.

1225d ago / 10:30 AM UTC

Top Democrat on tax committee faces left-wing primary challenge

WASHINGTON — Alex Morse, the mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts, announced Monday that he will mount a primary challenge against Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., the chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee who has been criticized by progressives for not pushing harder for the release of President Donald Trump's tax returns.

Neal is a relatively low-profile moderate who has for three decades represented a district that encompasses most of Western Massachusetts, a rural but deeply Democratic area. 

Morse, whose parents grew up in public housing, became his hometown's youngest mayor ever and its first openly gay one when he was elected at 22 years old in 2011, just six months after graduating from Brown University. 

In a statement announcing his candidacy, Morse said Neal has not been aggressive enough in using his seat to push progressive ideas.

“There's an urgency to this moment in Massachusetts’ First District and our country, and that urgency is not matched by our current representative in Congress,” Morse said in a video announcing his candidacy. "We need new leadership that understands that we can no longer settle for small, incremental, and compromising progress. We need to be on offense. We need to be fighting for something, not just against."

In addition to Trump's tax returns, The incumbent has also been dinged by progressives for opposing impeachment proceedings against the president, expressing skepticism about Medicare for All, and accepting campaign contributions from corporate PACs.

Since Massachusetts is run almost entirely by Democrats, it has a history of ousting longtime incumbent Democrats who face high-profile challengers, such as Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., who is now running for president after wining a primary in 2014, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., a member of the so-called "squad," who was elected last year after a blockbuster primary in Boston. 

1225d ago / 9:52 AM UTC

Trump team will monitor Mueller hearing but no plans to counter — yet

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WASHINGTON — The White House and President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign plan to tune in Wednesday to watch former special counsel Robert Mueller's congressional testimony without a coordinated plan to counter the appearance ahead of time, according to multiple officials involved in those discussions.

The president himself is expected to monitor the hearings from the White House as Mueller answers questions about the Russia investigation, according to campaign aides, much like he has done with similar events in the past. His schedule for that day only includes a routine lunch with the vice president, and aides point to his morning “executive time” as a natural window for Trump to take in snippets of the coverage.

But when asked directly by reporters last week if he intended to tune in, the president claimed he “won’t be watching.” 

Then, speaking to reporters on Monday, the president said, "I'm not going to be watching. Probably. Maybe I'll see a little bit of it. I'm not going to be watching Mueller because you can't take all those bites out of the apple. We had no collusion. No obstruction. We had no nothing."

Later Wednesday, Trump is expected to travel to Wheeling, West Virginia for a big-dollar fundraiser behind closed doors, a rescheduled event from earlier in the summer — offering a possible opportunity for him to respond to the man he once called “honorable” and now disparages regularly.

When the Mueller hearing was originally announced for July 17, the Trump re-election team decided to hold a signature “Make America Great Again” rally in Greenville, North Carolina for that night.  But just days before the long-awaited testimony, lawmakers delayed the timing one week, in exchange for more questioning time. The rally, as well-documented, went on.

Now, Mueller is expected to appear before the Judiciary Committee for three hours, followed by two hours before the House Intelligence Committee.

White House officials, and Trump himself, expect Mueller to largely echo the contents of his 448-page report, which many Democrats say contain multiple instances of criminal obstruction even though he was not ultimately charged.

In a rare press availability in May, Mueller previewed what he might say if called to testify before Congress.  "The report is my testimony," he said, "I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.” 

So far, Trump’s legal team is waiting to see what happens on Wednesday before drafting any formal statements, according to attorney Jay Sekulow, who said they would “respond as appropriate.”

As usual, the president’s first response to Mueller’s testimony may come in the form of tweets. Campaign officials indicated Trump’s rapid response teams would also be monitoring the hearing, ready to pounce on anything that will continue to reinforce their claims that the president he been “totally and completely exonerated.”

The president’s next rally is set for August 1 in Cincinnati, Ohio and campaign officials confirmed to NBC News there are no major events scheduled prior to that event.

Carol E. Lee contributed to this report.

1229d ago / 6:03 PM UTC

Moulton wins endorsement from former general McChrystal

WASHINGTON — Retired General Stanley McChrystal, who helmed the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, is endorsing Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton's presidential bid. 

McChrystal praised Moulton on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports" Thursday, pointing to the need for a leader with "character" and "competence." 

"I think he'd be the best president for our nation, from where we are now and where I think we need to go," he said. 

Moulton did not make the second round of Democratic debates, falling short of the polling and unique-donor thresholds. The congressman downplayed that reality on Thursday, arguing: "I don't think the summer debates are going to decide the election." 

1229d ago / 3:11 PM UTC

House GOP campaign chairman: There's 'no place' in party for 'send her back' chants at Trump rally

WASHINGTON ¬– Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, condemned the “send her back” chants by rallygoers at President Trump’s North Carolina rally Wednesday night aimed at Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.

“There’s no place for that kind of talk,” Emmer told reporters at The Christian Science Monitor breakfast Thursday morning.

The chants by Trump supporters were evocative of Trump's tweet from earlier this week, where he said the minority congresswoman could "go back" to their home countries. House Democrats voted to condemn those comments as racist. 

Emmer defended Trump amid the firestorm over his comments, arguing that “There’s not a racist bone in the president’s body. What he was trying to say, he said wrong," he added. 

During the wide-ranging conversation in Washington D.C., Emmer went on to say that he doesn’t believe that there will be a major uproar in the 2020 election about race.

Some Republicans have voiced criticism of the NRCC's messaging, particularly in how it describes Democratic members of Congress. The NRCC has taken a new hardline approach to its communications strategy under Emmer’s leadership, which has included posting images of Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., in clown makeup and sending blast messages to reporters calling Democratic members “deranged”.

Emmer responded to questions about the NRCC messaging by saying it’s the organization’s job to get Republicans elected, which is different than an individual’s conduct.

“What we’re trying to do with the NRCC, our job, that’s an organization by the way, that’s not a member. That’s an organization whose job is to define who they are to make it clear to the American public this is who we have in the office,” Emmer said.

A focal point the public can expect from the NRCC in 2020 will be “socialism” in the Democratic Party and the so-called “squad” of more progressive Democratic congresswomen, who Trump attacked on Twitter earlier this week and has sought to elevate as a foil on the left.

“If you want to call them ‘the squad,’ you should call them the leadership squad, since they are the speaker in fact, and the rest of their conference you can call the new red army of socialists,” Emmer said.

When asked if there is a specific policy agenda Emmer would like to see Republican candidates run on, he told NBC News he would defer to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

“We do have a whole list of things that we can put out when it comes to health care,” Emmer said. “I have to defer to our leader, Kevin McCarthy. That’s his job to develop that with Liz Cheney and then give us the details that they want us to use.”

1229d ago / 2:46 PM UTC

Warren targets Wall Street in new economic plan

SIOUX CITY, IA — Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren is focusing her sights on Wall Street and private equity firms, an area of the economy that has long been one of her targets for regulation

Warren released a series of new proposals as part of her "economic patriotism" plan on Thursday in a Medium post, targeting private equity firms, calling for new banking regulations, expanding banking at the post office and pushing new regulations on corporations.

Image:
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts speaks during the first Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season in Miami on June 26, 2019.Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images

Private equity firms took a fair share of criticism from Warren—she decried the practice of buying companies to slash jobs and turn profits as "legalized looting." Her solution is to support legislation that would make it harder for private equity firms to destroy companies after purchasing them.

“These changes would shrink the sector and push the remaining private equity firms to make investments that help companies rather than stripping them down for parts,” her campaign wrote.

“Firms that make bad investments would be held accountable instead of walking away from the wreckage with millions in fees and payouts.”

Warren will be hosting several events in Sioux City on Thursday and Friday, where she'll almost certainly address her policy proposals.  

Take a look at some of the other top-lines of her plan below: 

  • Reintroduce Glass-Steagall (a bank regulation law passed during the Great Depression and ultimately repealed in 1999) and introduce new banking regulations to discourage speculative investing
  • Expand low-cost postal banking through USPS and speed up money transfers through the federal reserve
  • Pass bill that requires corporations to focus on long-term financial interests of stakeholders and workers rather than short term financial gain
1230d ago / 6:29 PM UTC

Trump heads to MAGA rally with a focus on the 'squad'

GREENVILLE, N.C. — President Trump is expected to continue his attacks on the “squad” of Democratic House members at his campaign rally here tonight, according to two senior campaign officials, a preview of a 2020 strategy that is, so far, resonating with his base.

Supporters outside the Williams Arena here said they did not find the president’s attacks on four congresswomen of color to be “racist,” and said they hope Trump continues this approach as an effective tool heading into next year’s election. 

The campaign would not preview exactly of what the president will say tonight and he is known to improvise, but they say they have advised Trump to spend considerable time on the “squad” and continue to paint them as the face of today’s Democratic Party. The president hinted as much in a tweet earlier today when he said he would be talking about “people who love, and hate, our Country (mostly love)!”

The president enjoys having a clear foil for his rallies and tonight's event and enemy and this is just the latest example of that. Special counsel Robert Mueller was originally scheduled to testify before two House committees today but that appearance was postponed until next week.  Now, there's a new message for him to deliver, one that he is promoting ahead of the event:

1230d ago / 5:08 PM UTC

Granite State voters are taking their time before picking a candidate

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MANCHESTER, N.H. — A new CNN/UNH poll of likely New Hampshire voters has former Vice President Joe Biden leading with 24 percent, Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on his heels with 19 percent each, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 10 percent, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., at 9 percent and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke each at two percent. The DNC qualifying poll is our first snapshot of where candidates stand in the first-in-the-nation primary state since April.   

But while no other candidate passed one percent support, only 16 percent of voters say they are “definitely” decided six months out from voting day, leaving 84 percent of Granite State voters up for grabs, a number reflective of what voters in the state have been telling NBC News. 

Since the first Democratic candidate primary debates, 12 candidates have campaigned in N.H. The majority of voters NBC News has spoken with at campaign events share a common sentiment — it is still early.  

Candidates attract dozens, and in some cases, hundreds of potential voters to come out in person. But the most common attendees at these events are still considering multiple candidates.

"Still shopping,” said Peterborough locals Jamie Harrison and Kathy George while waiting  in line to see Warren on July 8. 

Traci Joy, from Nashua, saw Warren and Cory Booker in the same week. Joy liked their messages, but says she also really likes newcomer Buttigieg and Sanders, one of her favorites since 2015. 

Similarly, at Buttigieg’s town hall in Dover, curious locals came to hear from the South Bend mayor, but are still open-minded. Kathleen Dinan, an elderly woman, is considering Buttigieg, Harris, Warren and Booker but “the important thing is we nominate someone who can beat Trump.” 

Millennial mother of two Jenn Macdonald was a “big Berner” last election cycle, but is intrigued by Tulsi Gabbard and Harris this time around. 

“I’m really looking at more so what they’re standing for and less about who they are at this point because there are so many out there now that it’s really about who’s going to do the whole big picture for us,” she said. 

As voters accustomed to the state’s first-in-the-nation role, residents here tend to be kinds of voters that want to see and meet a candidate in person multiple times in their backyards before pledging their utmost exclusive support. 

For the 18 candidates who aren’t topping the latest poll, it’s evidence that the electorate here remains highly engaged — and largely undecided on who they like the most.

1230d ago / 2:20 PM UTC

Sanders celebrity buzz muted in crowded field

WASHINGTON — In 2016, Vampire Weekend opened for Sen. Bernie Sanders in Des Moines; director Spike Lee told South Carolina Democrats to “do the right thing,” by supporting the Vermont senator’s presidential bid; comedian George Lopez told Latino voters he was “Feeling the Bern.” 

Four years later, Sanders is seeing his support shrink in a crowded field for the Democratic presidential nomination.

And his celebrity appeal is less pronounced as well, though there have been a few exceptions. Tony! Toni! Tone! opened a California rally in San Francisco during his campaign rollout tour. Actor Danny Glover is still a surrogate and has become somewhat of a regular on the campaign trail, especially at events in the South. In Pasadena, actor Danny DeVito surprised supporters at a rally, briefly speaking on stage to express his appreciation for the senator.  

Sanders also got somewhat of an endorsement Tuesday from New York rapper Cardi B, and campaign officials say the two sides have regular conversations about a potential appearance on the trail.

 

However, the regular sightings of bold-faced names, and rallies drawing thousands at a time have so far been muted during this campaign run. Sanders' team says what has been seen already is not reflective of what is planned for the senator, which includes possible music festival appearances. "There's still a cultural hallmark on this campaign for sure," one official told NBC News. 

Spike Lee cut videos for Sanders and spoke at a 20-thousand plus rally in the Bronx, NY, in 2016 but has been publicly silent about the current race. His daughter, Satchel Lee introduced Sen. Kamala Harris at a Brooklyn fundraiser earlier this month. 

Comedian Sarah Silverman, who initially supported Sanders in 2016, donated to South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg according to FEC filings. Silverman still talks favorably of the senator but also shows an affinity for many of the other candidates, tweeting “Love Cory Love Bernie love Elizabeth love Beto — great options and I’m rooting for all!”  

The New York indie rock band Vampire Weekend, on tour with a new album, performed a full set at a Sanders Iowa event in 2016. This march, the band's singer Ezra Koenig told The Times of London that his band may be up for another political swing for Sanders. "If we can help out, sure." And then added:  "but it's hard to be as excited as I was in 2016." 

And there's Rosario Dawson, the actress who stumped for Sanders on a cold New York night in 2016 and described him as someone “I’ve adored and loved for so long.” Dawson is now the the girlfriend of one of Sanders' challengers for the Democratic nomination, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

Gary Grumbach contributed to this report.

1231d ago / 6:19 PM UTC

The Cardi B and Bernie Sanders relationship, explained

WASHINGTON—With rapper Cardi B. tweeting praise for Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders Tuesday morning, it's worth taking a look back at their history. 

While many of Cardi B’s most popular songs are about her newfound excessive wealth since making it big as a rapper, (see: “Bodak Yellow”) there’s a long relationship here, albeit only publicly on social media at this point, between the democratic socialist and the 26-year-old rapper.

Cardi B has been vocal about her political views online for years, consistently very supportive of the Vermont senator. In a now-deleted (and not safe for work) video posted on Instagram in the summer of 2016, Cardi B told her supporters to "Vote for Daddy Bernie."

And she's shown interest in politics before—talking with GQ last year about her interest in and appreciation for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Sanders regularly evokes FDR an influence for democratic socialism). 

Here's an excerpt from that interview

"…First of all," continues Cardi B, "he helped us get over the Depression, all while he was in a wheelchair. Like, this man was suffering from polio at the time of his presidency, and yet all he was worried about was trying to make America great—make America great again for real. He's the real 'Make America Great Again,' because if it wasn't for him, old people wouldn't even get Social Security."

Sen. Bernie Sanders responded to her comments on social security in this GQ article by saying Cardi B is right. 

Cardi B voiced her support for Sen. Bernie Sanders again in April of 2019, but stopped short of a full endorsement during a red carpet interview with Variety:

VARIETY: Who are you supporting in 2020?

CARDI B: Um, I don’t know. I’ma always go with ‪Bernie.

VARIETY: Yeah? Why?

CARDI B: Because there’s the thing, right, Bernie don't say things to be cool. Like, there's pictures of him being an activist from a very, very, very long time. As a matter of fact I was watching the news and I saw like this guy named Tim Ryan. And his, his speech was very convincing to me. He really wants to give the United States free health care. So that’s a big plus. We need health care. So. I don’t know. We’ll see.

1231d ago / 5:37 PM UTC

A deeper dive into the second quarter fundraising numbers

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WASHINGTON — Monday's second-quarter fundraising filings shed some important light on the financial health of the Democratic presidential field. 

The top-lines are clear: South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former President Joe Biden, Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and California Sen. Kamala Harris have separated themselves from the pack as far as fundraising. 

But there are tons of important nuggets in the trove of information turned over by the campaigns Monday night. 

Here are two next-level data-points worth noting from the reports. 

Staff size 

Different candidates have different theories of how to win the Democratic nomination. And many of them are at different points in their presidential bid. So there's no one-size-fits-all approach to staffing. 

All of the top-fundraising candidates have more than 100 salaried staff-members, but their staff totals reflect different strategies. 

Warren's group of 304 salaried staff members is the largest operation in the field. That big investment in staffing is especially important for Warren because she's made the decision to skip the big-dollar fundraising circuit.

Sanders' organization is close behind, with 282 staff members, while Biden has about 194 salaried staff.  

Buttigieg, the second-quarter fundraising leader, is relying on a leaner staff of about 137 salaried positions (his campaign, like many others also relies on staff being paid as consultants too). 

All of those candidates have the deep pockets right now to support such large staffs, while candidates at the bottom of the polls only have a few dozen staff members. 

But the one big outlier is New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker—he has slightly more salaried staff (176) than Buttigieg despite raising one-fifth of the money that Buttigieg raised. Booker is making a similar bet as Warren, one that relies on a big staff. But the question is, can he sustain it?

Campaigns in the red

One way to think about a presidential campaign is to treat it like a unique business. Instead of maximizing profits, it has to maximize votes. And while there may be reasons to spend a business into the red, it's usually not a good sign to do it. 

Along with Booker, John Delaney, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Beto O'Rourke, Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang all spent more than they brought in last quarter. 

Many of those candidates were cutting big checks in the hopes of qualifying for the first round of Democratic debates (which they all did). But burning through cash like this is a risky strategy, with a slimmer margin of error. 

1231d ago / 4:02 PM UTC

Biden on Trump: 'I won't get down in the dirt with him'

WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday he'd have no problem taking on President Trump on the debate stage, arguing that his experience on the world stage has prepared him to stand up to adversaries.

During an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Biden defended his performance at last month's Democratic debates, where California Sen. Kamala Harris forcefully attacked his record on opposing federally-mandated busing to promote integration. And he said that despite that exchange, he'd be ready to take on Trump if they debated in the general election. 

"I realize that some have  concluded because I didn't respond very tough back to her that, how can I take on Trump? I have never had any trouble taking on anyone from Trump to Putin to Xi Jinping or anyone else," he said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Chinese president. 

"I would say come on Donald, come on, man. How many push-ups do you want to do here, pal? I mean, jokingly. Come on, run with me man."

"I won't get down in the dirt with him," he added. 

1231d ago / 1:37 PM UTC

Breaking down the 2020 2nd quarter numbers

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WASHINGTON — Yesterday was the official second quarter filing deadline for 2020 candidates and with all the reports in, here's a look at where the candidates stand on the most important fundraising metrics: 

Total contributions (includes only donations from individuals — not from the candidates themselves or transfers from other accounts):

  • Pete Buttigieg: $24.9 million (was $7.1 million last quarter)
  • Joe Biden: $22 million
  • Elizabeth Warren: $19.1 million (was $6 million)
  • Bernie Sanders: $18 million (was $18.2 million)
  • Kamala Harris: $11.8 million (was $12 million)
  • Cory Booker: $4.5 million (was $5 million)
  • Amy Klobuchar: $3.9 million (was $5 million)
  • Beto O’Rourke: $3.6 million (was $9.4 million)
  • Jay Inslee: $3.0 million (was $2.3 million)
  • Andrew Yang: $2.8 million (was $1.8 million)
  • Julián Castro: $2.8 million (was $1.1 million)
  • Michael Bennet: $2.8 million
  • Kirsten Gillibrand: $2.3 million (was $3 million)
  • Steve Bullock: $2.0 million
  • Tulsi Gabbard: $1.6 million (was $2 million)
  • Marianne Williamson: $1.5 million (was $1.5 million)
  • John Hickenlooper: $1.1 million (was $2 million)
  • Bill de Blasio: $1.1 million
  • Tim Ryan: $865,000
  • John Delaney: $284,000 (doesn’t include $7.75 million transfer)

Cash on hand:

  • Sanders: $27.3 million
  • Buttigieg: $22.7 million
  • Warren: $19.8 million
  • Harris: $13.3 million
  • Biden: $10.9 million
  • Gillibrand: $8.2 million
  • Klobuchar: $6.7 million
  • O’Rourke: $5.2 million

Burn rate (total spent divided by total receipts):

  • Gillibrand: 184 percent
  • O’Rourke: 146 percent
  • Hickenlooper: 143 percent
  • Gabbard: 122 percent
  • Booker: 117 percent
  • Inslee: 107 percent
  • Klobuchar: 107 percent
  • Harris: 64 percent
  • Warren: 55 percent
  • Sanders: 55 percent
  • Biden: 51 percent
1231d ago / 1:07 PM UTC

Chinese diplomat deletes tweet about black Americans

WASHINGTON — A senior Chinese diplomat has deleted a tweet that was widely condemned as racist and asserted that white residents of Washington refuse to live in black communities. 

The comments from Lijan Zhao, the deputy chief of mission for the China’s embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, came as he sought to defend Beijing after 22 countries issued a joint statement criticizing China for the mass detention of Muslims in Xinjiang Province. The deputy chief of mission is typically the second-ranking diplomat in an embassy. 

“If you're in Washington, D.C., you know the white never go to the SW area, because it's an area for the black & Latin,” Zhao wrote on Twitter. “There's a saying ‘black in & white out’, which means that as long as a black family enters, white people will quit, & price of the apartment will fall sharply.” 

The tweet triggered outrage on social media, including from former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who served as President Obama’s national security adviser and called Zhao a “racist disgrace” and “shockingly ignorant. She urged China’s ambassador in the U.S., Cui Tiankai, to “do the right thing and send him home.” 

Zhao, who lived previously in Washington, later clarified that he was referring to the Southeast quadrant of the U.S. capital, not the Southwest quadrant, and tweeted a link to a news article detailing racial segregation in Washington. After tweeting back to Rice that she was “such a disgrace, too,” Zhao eventually deleted his initial tweet.

Asked for its response to Zhao’s comments about black Washingtonians, the White House declined to comment. The State Department also had no specific comment about Zhao’s tweet. 

The controversy over Zhao’s tweet came as Trump himself was facing a barrage of criticism over his attacks on Twitter and elsewhere against four Democratic congresswomen of color whom he says “hate our country” and “can leave.” 

The Trump administration’s silence on Zhao’s tweets also stands in contrast to the president’s outspoken attacks on British diplomat Kim Darroch, who resigned last week after leaked diplomatic cables showed he’d described Trump and his administration as “clumsy and inept.” Trump publicly took issue with Darroch’s private comments, calling him a “pompous fool” and declaring that the White House would no longer engage with him. 

The White House has also frequently called out what it deemed to be problematic comments by foreign diplomats in the past, such as those from Iranian envoys. 

So far, the congressional committees that oversee U.S. foreign policy have not called out the comments publicly. But the office of Sen. Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he had raised the issue with the Chinese Embassy in Washington.

The embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether Zhao remains in his post or has been disciplined.

Abigail Williams contributed to this report.

1231d ago / 11:20 AM UTC

Harris announces plan to combat prescription drug costs

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., announced a new plan Tuesday to put “people over profit,” pledging to take on pharmaceutical companies and sky-rocketing drug prices through fines and potential executive action.

Harris previewed the plan at a town hall in Somersworth, New Hampshire on Sunday, telling voters there that “the pharmaceutical companies have been jacking up prices hand over fist, year after year."

"Their business model, it seems, is purely about profit and not about public health,” she said.

Harris’ plan would allow the federal government to establish a “fair price” for what pharmaceutical companies can charge for prescription drugs, which will be based on the average price of comparable drugs from countries like the UK, France, Australia and Japan. If companies sell drugs above the set fair price, their profits from selling the at the higher cost will be taxed at a rate of 100% and that money will go back to consumers through a mail-in rebate.

She also lays out possible executive action steps if Congress doesn’t act within 100 days, including plans to investigate pharmaceutical companies that have overpriced drugs, allow a direct importation of lower-cost drugs from foreign countries and make investigating pharmaceutical companies a priority at her Department of Justice. For the worst offenders of high-priced drugs, Harris proposes to “license a company’s patent to lower the cost” through “march-in” rights under existing law.

On average, Americans spend $1,208 on drugs every year, according to data from the OECD.

Harris, who is in Davenport, Iowa today, is expected to talk more on her plan at the AARP Forum this afternoon.

 

1231d ago / 2:15 AM UTC

O'Rourke's fundraising sputters in second quarter

MANNING, IOWA— Beto O’Rourke’s fundraising machine stalled in the second quarter.

The Texan presidential candidate, who entered the presidential race with great fanfare in March, announcing on Monday night he’d raised just $3.6 million dollars in the race’s last three months, lagging far behind the field’s top tier.

That number is roughly one third of his first quarter fundraising total of $9.4 million; a quarter in which O’Rourke was only a declared candidate for 18 days. In his first 24 hours as a candidate last quarter, O'Rourke raised more than $6 million. 

By comparison, South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren all raised at least $19 million in the second fundraising quarter, according to their campaigns. 

In a memo accompanying the release of the fundraising numbers, O’Rourke’s campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillion urged supporters not to panic.

"When you look at our fundraising in aggregate, we’re in a great position. I won’t sugar coat it: we have work to do, but we have the resources we need to execute our strategy,” O’Malley Dillon wrote.

O’Rourke’s campaign has been rapidly staffing up in the early states, and nationally. The campaign announced 11 new Iowa field offices on Monday and a national finance director and national press secretary started work in El Paso just this month. His campaign spent more than $5.3 million last quarter, more than it brought in in donations. 

O’Malley Dillon urged supporters to give to the campaign if they can, to volunteer, and generally to have faith – pointing out that O’Rourke’s fundraising in his senate race in Texas, in which he shattered fundraising records, also started slowly.

The campaign said in its release that the average donation received was just $30, and more than 200,000 people gave – meaning O’Rourke has met the Democratic National Committee's donor qualification for the fall debates.

1232d ago / 8:36 PM UTC

Bill de Blasio raised $1.1 million after late-entry in second quarter

WASHINGTON — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's presidential campaign raised $1.1 million from the time he entered the 2020 Democratic primary in mid-May to the end of June and hired several new staffers, according to his campaign. 

A well-received performance in the first debate helped him raise a significant chunk of that — $630,000 — in the four days following the NBC News-sponsored debate in Miami. De Blasio's campaign says he has about $728,000 cash on hand, meaning he spent only about 30 percent of what he raised. 

As one of the last candidates to enter the race, De Blasio had less time to fundraise than other candidates in the second quarter of the year — about 45 days out of the quarter's 91 days — meaning he raised roughly $24,000 per day. 

Monday is the deadline for all candidates to submit their fundraising reports to the Federal Election Commission for the second three months of the year.

Meanwhile, his campaign announced several new staffers, in addition those already announced.

Jaclyn Rothenberg will serve as national press secretary while Will Baskin-Gerwitz was named communications advisor. Jess Moore Matthews is the campaign's digital director. The campaign tapped former South Carolina Democratic Party executive director Lachlan McIntosh as its senior adviser in the first-in-the-South primary state, while Lance Jones will serve as state director there and Bre Spaulding as political director. In Iowa, de Blasio hired Cameron Macaw-Hennick to be his field director.

“These hires are a direct result of the fundraising success we’ve had in just a few short weeks, and our growth is a sign of what’s to come moving forward,” said de Blasio senior adviser Jon Paul Lupo. “We’re grateful to every supporter who chipped in because they share Mayor de Blasio’s message of putting working people first and we’re going to continue spreading that message to voters across the country.”

1232d ago / 6:23 PM UTC

What's in, and out, of Biden's health care plan

DES MOINES, Iowa — Call Vice President Joe Biden’s healthcare plan Affordable Care Act 2.0.

In his new plan released on Monday, Biden proposes adding a “Medicare-like” public option that would serve as an option for consumers to receive health insurance. Americans would also be able to choose their own private insurance and would now only spend a lower income rate to obtain it.  

Biden campaign officials say the health care plan serves as a transitional piece of legislation that could pave the path to a Medicare-for-All single payer system in the future. 

Here's a quick look at some of what is in — and not in — Biden's plan: 

What's in: The individual mandate

President Donald Trump got rid of the individual mandate when he signed the GOP tax bill into law in 2017. Biden would bring back the penalty for not being covered under health insurance under his plan.

Since the individual mandate currently is not federal law, a Biden campaign official said that he would use a combination of executive orders to undo the changes and use his “longstanding history of getting stuff done in Congress to get legislation to build on the Affordable Care Act.”

What's out: Spending rate

Biden’s plan allows for consumers to buy into the individual marketplace and choose their health care provider of choice. In an effort to expand access even on that front, the plan will only allow consumers to spend 8.5 percent of their income on insurance. Under the Affordable Care Act, consumers could spend almost 10 percent of their income when paying for insurance.

What's in: Lowering prescription drug pricing

In an effort to lower the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs, Biden’s plan would repeal existing law that currently bans Medicare from negotiating lower prices with drug manufacturers. He would also limit price increases “for all brand, biotech and abusively priced generic drugs” and launch prices for drugs that do not have competition, according to a Biden campaign official.

Consumers would also be able to buy cheaper priced prescription drugs from other countries, which could help mobilize competition. And Biden would terminate their advertising tax break in an effort to also help lower costs.

What's in: Undocumented immigrants can buy in

Biden’s plan would also allow undocumented immigrants to buy into the public option, but it would not be subsidized. Considering undocumented immigrants in his health care plan shows just how progressive the Democratic Party has come on the issue in just a decade. The Affordable Care Act, for example, did not allow undocumented immigrants from buying into the system.

1232d ago / 3:09 PM UTC

Study finds 19 percent of U.S. adult Twitter users follow @realDonaldTrump

WASHINGTON —The president of the United States regularly uses his Twitter feed to single out political foes, amplify existing controversies, and muse on everything from cable news ratings to the performance of professional athletes.  

But how many people are actually following along?

A new study from the Pew Research Center finds that only about one in five adult Twitter users in the U.S. follow the president’s personal account— but those who do are far more likely to approve of his job performance than those who don’t.

The analysis finds that about 19 percent of adult Twitter users follow @realDonaldTrump. But of those who follow Trump on the platform, 54 percent approved of the job he’s doing as president as of late 2018. That’s compared with an approval rating of just 24 percent among adult Twitter users who DON’T follow the president.

While Trump is perhaps the most prolific Tweeter among high-profile American politicians, a higher percentage of Twitter users — 26 percent —follow Trump’s predecessor, former president Barack Obama.

But just 14 percent follow one or more of the 20 Democratic presidential candidates who participated in the first set of primary debates last month.

Pew found in an earlier study that Twitter users tend to be younger and more Democratic-leaning than the general public. And, overall, only about 22 percent of Americans use the platform at all.

1232d ago / 10:00 AM UTC

Biden health care plan would build on Obamacare

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Former Vice President Joe Biden unveiled his anticipated health care plan on Monday, framing it as a more achievable way to expand coverage than those proposed by some of his progressive rivals by building on what he has called the “crown jewel” of the Obama administration —  the Affordable Care Act.

Americans would have the option of buying into a “Medicare-like” plan or keeping their private insurance under the Biden plan, which would also aim to reverse the Trump administration’s efforts to undercut the law. People living in Republican-led states that failed to expand Medicaid would be given premium free access to Medicaid.

The Biden plan would change provisions in the Affordable Care Act to improve access to health care by eliminating the 400 percent income cap on tax credit eligibility, base tax credits on gold plans rather than silver ones and ensure that those buying insurance in the individual marketplace spend 8.5 percent of their income on insurance, which is down from the previous 9.86 percent cap.

The total cost of the Biden plan is estimated to be $750 billion over the next 10 years, which would mostly be paid for by repealing President Donald Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy and returning the top tax rate to 39.6 percent. 

A Biden campaign official added that as president, Biden would use a combination of executive orders to undo the changes the Trump administration has done to weaken existing health care law.

Biden’s plan also calls for the end of the Hyde Amendment, a provision that prevents federal funding for abortions unless a child is conceived through rape or incest or the mother’s health is in jeopardy. 

Biden’s health care plan rollout coincides with the increase of critiques he has recently launched against his Democratic opponents who support scraping the Affordable Care Act and transitioning to a primarily government-run system like Medicare-for-All. 

“On health care, I admire the rest of the field from Bernie to Elizabeth to Kamala who want Medicare-for-All. But let me tell you, I think one of the most significant things we've done is pass the Affordable Care Act,” Biden told supporters at a house party in Atkinson, NH Saturday.

Biden has repeatedly said since the Democratic debate that he would oppose any Republican or Democrat who wants to get rid of the Affordable Care Act.

Biden plans to unveil his health care plan publicly at several stops in Iowa this week, starting at the AARP forum on Monday and holding a billed “rural health care event” Tuesday. 

1233d ago / 3:43 PM UTC

Rapinoe: The U.S. women’s soccer team ‘has managed to make people proud again’

WASHINGTON — U.S. National Women’s Soccer Team co-captain Megan Rapinoe said Sunday that the national pride for the team after its recent World Cup championship is giving players like her an opportunity to channel that enthusiasm toward activism.

“The opportunity is in everyone’s exhaustion with the fighting and the negative. Our team has managed to make people proud again, to capture people’s interest, to make them want to do something,” she said during an exclusive interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“People are asking the question: how can we rally around this team? And in that really, (is) what the team stands for, whether it’s equal pay, or racial equality, or LGBTQ rights. I think we’ve just managed to give people hope, and with that, now we need to do the next step.”

Players have pointed to the pay disparity between the national men’s and women’s soccer teams as both a real issue in the sport, considering the women’s team’s historic success, as well as indicative of the larger debate over equal pay in the country. Rapinoe said Sunday that her team’s sponsors could “do a lot more” to help narrow the pay gap that exists in the sport and called on companies to “get comfortable” throwing their “weight” around to promote equal pay.

Rapinoe has also been openly critical of President Trump and has said she would not visit the White House as a World Cup champion.

When asked Sunday what she would say to fans who support Trump and want the team to join the president at the White House in a show of unity, Rapinoe said she would try to “share our message” with those fans.

“Do you believe all people are created equal? Do you believe that equal pay should be mandated? Do you believe that everyone should have health care? Do you believe we should treat everyone with respect? I think those are the basics of what we are talking about.”

“I understand people feel upset or uncomfortable, there are some feelings of disrespect about the anthem protest or things I’ve said in the past. But ultimately, I am here, open and honest. I’ve admitted mistakes, I will continue to do that. I will continue to be vulnerable and be honest and be open and want to have that conversation because I think Trump‘s message excludes people that look like me and are me, of course, but it excludes a lot of people in his base as well. I think he’s trying to divide so he can conquer, not unite so we can all conquer.”

1235d ago / 2:00 PM UTC

Progress Iowa's Corn Feed preview: #ReadySetCorn

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DES MOINES, Iowa — An Iowa summer wouldn’t be complete without presidential candidates and corn in an election year. Progress Iowa’s Corn Feed event in Cedar Rapids this weekend, the fifth annual event hosted by the Democratic issue-based advocacy group, will feature twelve presidential hopefuls.

“We imagine this is one of the bigger events with presidential candidates that’s free and open to the public,” Progress Iowa executive director Matt Sinovic told NBC News, “We want it to be as accessible as possible, and don’t want to price anyone out.”

The lineup: Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; former HUD Sec. Julián Castro; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; former Rep. John Delaney; former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; Washington Gov. Jay Inslee; Reps. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., and Tim Ryan, D-Ohio and author Marianne Williamson.

Candidates will be given ten-minutes on stage to address the crowd. Sinovic calls the event a “good opportunity for grassroots activism” and told NBC News he hopes candidates will emphasize what they each stand for, encourage voters to get involved in issues that they may care about, and inspire attendees to “fight for the things that they believe in.”

The contenders will also have access to more than 1,000 voters who will mingle with candidates among photo booths, corn hole and other carnival games - Gov. Hickenlooper’s booth will reportedly have a giant Jenga game. Live music will supplement the outdoor ambiance as attendees mingle and visit informational booths set-up by community organizations as well as local and national campaigns.

Several campaigns that do not have candidates present to speak, like Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., will have booths on-site that are staffed by organizers.

Tickets are available for any of the seven vendors at the Newbo City Market, where each menu will feature at least one corn item. Sinovic estimates the event will bring in anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 in fundraising for Progress Iowa.

1235d ago / 10:00 AM UTC

Klobuchar introduces senior care plan

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MANCHESTER, N.H. — Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., unveiled a plan Friday for senior citizens aimed at tackling Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, enhancing health care and retirement security, and reducing prescription drug costs. 

She is the first 2020 presidential candidate to roll out a policy specifically targeting the elderly population. This proposal is personal for the Minnesota senator, whose 91-year-old father resides in an assisted living facility for memory care.

"Everywhere I go, I meet seniors who tell me about their struggles to afford everyday costs like prescription drugs or health care," Klobuchar said. "I meet family members who face challenges caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s and urgent action is needed to take on these problems. I believe we owe it to our seniors to make sure they have the care and support they need as they get older, and as President I will prioritize tackling Alzheimer’s, strengthening health care and retirement security, and reducing prescription drug costs.”

Key highlights of her campaign’s senior plan include:

  1. Tackling Alzheimer’s and other chronic conditions by supporting caregivers, strengthening the  National Institutes of Health and investing in research for chronic conditions, improving mental health care for seniors, expanding dementia training and implementing a law to help locate missing people with dementia or developmental disabilities.
  2. Ensuring a secure retirement by protecting social security and making it fair by lifting the payroll cap, expanding retirement savings by creating “Up Accounts” with minimum employer contributions, and defending pensions.
  3. Improving health care for seniors and lowering prescription drug costs by taking immediate and aggressive action to negotiate better drug prices, allow personal importation from countries like Canada, crack down on “Pay-for-Delay” agreements, expand tele-health and rural health services, and strengthen Medicare and expand its coverage to dental, vision, and hearing.
  4. Investing in long-term care by working with Congress to create a refundable tax credit to offset long-term care costs, reducing costs of long-term care insurance and increase access, providing financial relief to caregivers through a tax credit of up to $6,000 per year, ensuring paid family leave for all Americans, and supporting a world class long-term care workforce.
  5. Reducing costs and preventing fraud by fighting elder abuse, helping seniors afford energy costs, and improving seniors’ access to affordable housing, transit, nutrition and workforce opportunities. 

In order to pay for the policies outlined in her senior-focused proposal, Klobuchar would “close the trust fund loopholes that allow the wealthy to avoid paying taxes on inherited wealth.” 

Her campaign’s plan is modeled after the Saving for the Future Act, which Klobuchar and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced in Congress in April. 

1236d ago / 8:09 PM UTC

Biden warns of international damage if Trump is given a second term

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Former Vice President Joe Biden laid out his “forward looking” foreign policy vision to warn Americans about the colossal and irreversible damage that will be done if President Donald Trump is reelected next year.

“If we give Donald Trump four more years, we will have a great deal of difficulty of ever being able to recover America's standing in the world and our capacity to bring nations together, which is desperately needed,” he said. 

Biden contrasted his decades-long career in foreign policy to that of the presidents, who he says genuinely does not understand the intricacies of maintaining relationships with allies given his fascination with authoritarian dictators. 

“As President of the United States, I would remind the world that we are the United States of America and we do not coddle dictators. United States of America gives hate no safe harbor,” he said at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York Thursday. “There will be no more Charlottesvilles, no more Helsinkis.”

Biden offered some specific policy proposals — many about returning to Obama administration priorities like the Iran deal and bringing back daily press briefings at the White House.

He did not address his 2002 vote to authorize military action in Iraq, but promised to end “forever wars” in the Middle East including the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen. But his larger message without necessarily cataloging his own resume was to tell Democrats that no other candidate was as prepared as him to act on the world stage more quickly and effectively as him, and that there was only “one opportunity” to reset the U.S. democracy.

1236d ago / 5:06 PM UTC

Tom Steyer proposes national referendum, term limits on Congress

WASHINGTON — Liberal billionaire and newly declared Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer on Thursday said that as president he would let voters make laws directly through regular national referenda. 

It's part of Steyer's new structural reform plan, which also proposes fairly novel ideas like 12-year term limits on members of Congress, a national vote-by-mail system, public campaign financing, giving the Federal Elections Commission more teeth and different composition, and imposing independent redistricting commissions to tackle gerrymandering.

It also includes more standard Democratic fare like overturning the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision and the ethics and elections reform package House Democrats put forward this year in their bill dubbed H.R. 1. 

A national referendum, where voters can change laws at the ballot box, would tip the U.S. more towards direct democracy and away from the representative government envisioned by the Founders.

That and other of Steyer's ideas would likely face constitutional and legal challenges, let alone political ones in Congress, since the Constitution gives states, not the federal government, most of the power to govern elections. 

National referenda would make the U.S. look more like Steyer's California, which has a robust history and culture of citizen-initiated ballot measures. Critics say California ballot measure campaigns are often pushed by wealthy individuals or special interests in the guise of populism, while proponents say they restore power to the people.

In a video touting his new plan, Steyer touts his work in California — and the millions he spent there — to advance ballot measures that led to higher taxes on cigarettes to fund health care, an oil extraction tax, and the closing of "corporate loopholes" in the tax code. 

"Here's the difference between me and the other candidates: I don't think we can fix our democracy from the inside," Steyer says in the video. "I trust the people. And as president, I will give you tools we need to fix our democracy." 

1236d ago / 4:02 PM UTC

Elizabeth Warren releases new immigration plan

MILWAUKEE, Wis. — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has released a new plan on immigration ahead of her speech at the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) National Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin Thursday. Here are some of the key aspects of her plan include:

  • Decriminalize immigration and focus enforcement on serious criminal offenses and make it a civil offense.
  • Stop cops from serving as immigration enforcement agents.
  • Promises to investigate Trump admin for abuses “perpetrated during the Trump era.”
  • End detention unless necessary and private detention facilities, expand use of parole.
  • Establish independent immigration courts.
  • Cancel Trump admin travel ban, raise refugee allowances, strengthen asylum protections.
  • Expand legal immigration, ease the naturalization process, reinstate DACA program and provide pathway to citizenship.
  • Create an “Office of New Americans” to help immigrants transition and assimilate.
  • Commits $1.5B annually for foreign aid to Western hemisphere.

Warren's proposals come amid growing reports of the mistreatment of migrants being detained at the border, congressional investigations into the administration's policies and reports that previously planned ICE deportation raids that were postponed three weeks ago are now scheduled to begin on Sunday. President Donald Trump is also expected to announce plans to use executive action to add a citizenship question to the U.S. census during a news conference Thursday afternoon. 

1236d ago / 3:53 PM UTC

Buttigieg: Citizenship question is racially motivated census manipulation

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WASHINGTON — Mayor Pete Buttigieg is accusing President Donald Trump of “racially and politically motivated manipulation of the census” as the president works to add a citizenship question to the census despite being rebuked by the courts.

In an interview with NBC News’ Craig Melvin, Buttigieg predicts that asking about citizenship will lead to under-representation on the 2020 census, making “the whole country worse off.” 

“There’s a reason why the courts ruled that this is wrong,” Buttigieg say. “I’ll let other scholars talk about why the president’s actions may be unconstitutional, but it’s very clear that it’s wrong.”

Buttigieg spoke hours before Trump was expected to use an afternoon news conference to announce he’s attempting to add the citizenship question to the census using executive action after the Supreme Court blocked the administration from including the question based on the rationale initially put forward.

Buttigieg’s remarks come as he puts a laser focus on increasing his appeal to African Americans and Hispanics who have been slow to warm to his campaign. His struggles in appealing to a broad cross-section of the Democratic primary electorate have raised growing questions about his continued viability in the primary. 

The South Bend mayor also rebuked Trump over his administration’s planned immigration raids across the country, saying they are designed to “strike fear into people at a moment when fear is something we have got way too much of in this country.” 

“If rumors start going around about raids — let alone if it starts actually happening — it immediately makes the community less safe, it makes people  less likely to participate in the economy, less likely to talk to law enforcement when they need help dealing with something that really is a matter of danger,” Buttigieg said.

As he works to show black voters in particular that he’s the best candidate to improve their lives, Buttigieg earlier Thursday released an 18-page proposal dubbed the “Douglass Plan” that his campaign hopes will stand out as the most comprehensive of any put forward by a 2020 Democratic candidate.

Buttigieg said he’s been working on the plan “for months” as way to better answer black voters’ inquiries on the campaign trail about how he is best positioned to improve their lives.

“But this isn’t just aimed at black voters,” Buttigieg says. “Frankly, there needs to be a conversation with white America, with white audiences about how none of us can or should be willing to live in a system where these kinds of systemic racist dimensions persist.”

1236d ago / 3:16 PM UTC

Amy McGrath repeatedly changes mind on Kavanaugh question

WASHINGTON — Kentucky Democrat Amy McGrath, the party's top candidate in the race to unseat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, changed her tune about whether she would have voted for Justice Brett Kavanaugh twice in a matter of hours — just a day after she launched her candidacy. 

In an interview with Louisville's The Courier-Journal, McGrath said that she was "very concerned" about Kavanaugh's "far-right stances" and that she believed Christine Blasey Ford's allegation that he sexually-assaulted her while both were teenagers was "credible." 

But she told the paper that "there was nothing in his record that I think would disqualify him in any way" and that "with Judge Kavanaugh, yeah, I probably would have voted for him." 

That answer surprised some Democrats following the bitter fight over Kavanaugh's confirmation last year. 

Later Wednesday evening, McGrath tweeted that "upon further reflection and further understanding of his record, I would have voted no," adding that "I know I disappointed many today with my initial answer on how I would have voted on Brett Kavanaugh." 

The reversal put McGrath closer to how she addressed Kavanaugh's confirmation during her 2018 run for the House. Last July, she posted unconditional criticism on Facebook about the judge and accused him of being "against women's reproductive rights, workers' rights [and] consumer protections."

McGrath made a big splash when she jumped into the race this week against the Republican leader, raising $2.5 million in the first 24 hours of her campaign. But McConnell's team has been aggressive in trying to tar McGrath as too liberal for the state, and has taken particular joy in her reversal on Kavanaugh.

1236d ago / 11:56 AM UTC

Sanders campaign adds more staffers to New Hampshire operation

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MANCHESTER, NH — Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) presidential campaign is expanding its ground operation in New Hampshire with an announcement Thursday of five field office openings and an expanded staff focused on community organizing.

The Sanders campaign will now have 45 staffers working across its Manchester-based headquarters and Greater Nashua field office, with new offices set to open in West Lebanon, Manchester, Dover and Portsmouth. 

“We’re taking nothing for granted,” Sanders’ New Hampshire State Director Joe Caiazzo told NBC News. “We’re going to work hard to bring the Senator’s economic populous message across the state to the doors of every voter.”

After carrying the N.H. primary against Hillary Clinton in 2016 with 60.4 percent of the vote, the Sanders campaign recognizes the new challenges of the 2020 race.

“It’s about reigniting our volunteer network and going and expanding our base, too,” Caiazzo said. “I think it’s a completely different race from last time with such a big field. I think many candidates in the race need to show really strong in a number of the early contests, so I think a lot of people are in the same boat.”

The campaign’s increased field presence reflects a strategic emphasis on door-to-door canvassing and phone banks, rather than launching television or radio ads. 

“I’d venture to say that our volunteer network is larger than anyone else in the field,” Caiazzo said, adding, “We’re using staff to support the large volunteers to then go out there and talk to voters.” 

1236d ago / 10:00 AM UTC

Biden to lay out foreign policy vision aimed at putting the U.S. 'back at the head of the table'

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Joe Biden on Thursday will argue that President Trump’s foreign policy has emboldened authoritarian states while diminishing America’s role leading the free world, and warn that the U.S. Has “one chance to get it right” after he leaves office.

The former vice president will outline the three pillars of his vision for America’s global leadership in what his campaign is billing as a “forward-looking” address, designed to highlight both a policy area Biden has considered one of his strengths and return the focus on the battle with the Republican incumbent. 

Biden will vow to convene a summit of democratic states in the first year of his presidency and place a premium on acting in concert with U.S. allies, a senior campaign official said Wednesday in previewing the address. But the official would not say if Biden would address his 2002 vote to authorize the use of force against Iraq, another part of his Senate resume that rivals have seized on.

“There's probably a greater premium than there's ever been on working with allies and partners to deal with the greatest threats to the American people,” the official said. “No one nation acting alone can solve them and there's also no wall tall enough or strong enough to contain them. And yet, the president's 'America First' policy has actually turned into America alone.”

Biden’s three pillars would be to “repair and reinvigorate” America’s own democracy; pursue a global economy for the middle class; and putting the U.S. “back at the head of the table” in mobilizing allies to address global threats, from climate change, nuclear proliferation, cyber warfare to transnational terrorism. 

"I think from the vice president's perspective, the world does not govern itself,” the official said. "If the United States is not playing a lead role in setting rules, shaping the norms and the institutions and govern relations in nations, either someone else will do it … or, just as bad, no one does it and then you have chaos."

In South Carolina on Saturday, Biden argued there wasn’t “anyone in this race more prepared to lead the world than me.”

"That sounds like I'm bragging," he continued, "but that's what I truly believe because I've been engaged with it my entire career.” 

He acknowledged in that speech voting to “give authority to Bush” in 2002, but said that vote "didn't stop President Obama from within the first month turning me … to handle Iraq once we took office, giving me the responsibility to coordinate all the agencies, to bring home 150,000 combat troops including my son.”

The Biden campaign also previewed his attacks against Trump in a newly released digital video, which paints the president as embracing dictators, threatening war, leaving international agreements, launching trade wars and embarrassing the United States.

1236d ago / 9:25 AM UTC

Buttigieg releases 18-page plan to help African Americans

WASHINGTON — Working to prove himself to African American voters, Pete Buttigieg is releasing an 18-page plan Thursday to improve conditions and opportunity for black Americans on everything from the health care, education and criminal justice systems to entrepreneurship and access to credit.

The wide-ranging plan constitutes Buttigieg’s initial version of a proposal for reparations for slavery. His campaign says it views it as a “complement” to H.R. 40, legislation working its way through the House to create a commission to craft a national reparations proposal. The legislation is widely supported by the 2020 Democratic candidates including Buttigieg, and Sen. Cory Booker has introduced a similar bill in the Senate.

“We have lived in the shadow of systemic racism for too long,” Buttigieg said in a statement announcing the plan, citing “a rise in white nationalism” and disparate educational and health outcomes for white and black Americans. “That should make us all wonder how the richest country on earth can allow this to happen under our noses.”

Buttigieg’s plan would:

  • Seek to boost educational opportunities by offering free tuition at public schools for low-income students; canceling debts from underperforming for-profit colleges; and spending more on Title I schools.
  • Combat the wealth gap by directing 25 percent of federal contracting dollars to small business owners from “underserved communities;” forgiving college debt for entrepreneurs who start and maintain small businesses that employ at least 3 people; and boosting investment in minority-owned banks.
  • Address a criminal justice system Buttigieg calls “fundamentally racist” by ending mandatory minimums and incarceration for drug possession; cutting other sentences; legalizing marijuana; giving all former felons their voting rights back immediately; and creating a clemency commission independent from the Justice Department.
  • Create “Health Equity Zones” in areas of the U.S. with health disparities to identify the causes in those areas and invest funding conditional on progress in narrowing those gaps.
  • Combat voter suppression by creating automatic voter registration; normalizing online and same-day registration; making Election Day a holiday; giving Washington, D.C., full representation; and getting rid of the Electoral College.

Although Buttigieg has floated some of the individual proposals before, his presidential campaign is putting a spotlight on the comprehensive plan this week as he works to address growing concerns that his difficulty appealing to black voters may be too significant an obstacle for his upstart campaign to overcome.

Buttigieg had already been struggling to expand his support to include African Americans and other minorities when a crisis erupted last month over race and policing in South Bend, Indiana, where Buttigieg is mayor. After a white officer shot and killed a black man, Buttigieg was confronted by anger, mistrust and frustration from many black constituents who held him responsible. He eventually conceded failure during the first presidential debates in diversifying the police force and executing a body camera policy for police.

1237d ago / 1:37 PM UTC

Greg Murphy wins GOP runoff in North Carolina's 3rd district

WASHINGTON — State Rep. Greg Murphy, a House Freedom Caucus-backed candidate in North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District, handily defeated pediatrician Joan Perry in the GOP primary runoff Tuesday, taking nearly 60 percent of the vote to Perry's 40 percent.

The North Carolina race caught national attention after the conservative women's group, Winning for Women, launched it’s “20 in 20” action plan to elect 20 Republican women to the House in 2020.  The group was backing Perry after Republican women in the House saw their ranks slashed from 23 to 13 members in the 2018 midterm elections.

“Joan ran a great campaign and we’re proud to have supported her from day one. We took a political outsider with no name recognition and helped elevate her through a field of 17 candidates into a two-person runoff. Primary support is critical to electing more women,” Winning for Women Executive Director Rebecca Schuller said in a statement. “This race is exactly why we are needed more than ever. We’re not stopping here, and we look forward to continuing our efforts to get more women in the House in 2020.”

While other big-name supporters rallied around Perry’s candidacy in North Carolina, like former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, it wasn’t enough to push Perry over the finish line. 

Murphy will face-off against Democrat Allen Thomas in the district’s general election on Sept. 10.

1237d ago / 11:23 AM UTC

McGrath raises a record $2.5 million on first day of Senate campaign

WASHINGTON — Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Amy McGrath raised more than $2.5 million in the first 24 hours of her campaign against Mitch McConnell — over $1 million of it coming in just the first five and a half hours after she announced, according to her campaign.

McGrath campaign manager Mark Nickolas said it’s the most ever raised in the first 24 hours of a Senate campaign. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee says the next closest was former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, who raised $1 million in his first day of his campaign in Arizona.

The haul is a sign of just how deep Democratic antipathy toward McConnell, the Senate majority leader, runs in the Trump era.

All of the $2.5 million came in online donations with an average donation of $36.15, her campaign manager said. The $2.5 million total doesn’t include any additional traditional fundraising money that may have been raised in the form of checks or promised campaign contributions.

McGrath’s race against McConnell promises to be one of the most expensive Senate races of the 2020 election cycle. McConnell, as the Senate majority leader, has a formidable fundraising machine — in 2014, he raised and spent over $30 million in his race against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. 

1237d ago / 9:21 AM UTC

Harris, Ocasio-Cortez to introduce 'fair chance' housing bill

WASHINGTON — Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., plan to introduce legislation Wednesday aimed at reforming eviction and screening policies for federal housing assistance for people with criminal records.

The Fair Chance at Housing Act would make it more difficult for individuals and their families to be evicted for minor crimes as well as ban “1-strike” policies that allow for eviction after a single incident of criminal activity regardless of severity. The bill would also raise the standards of evidence used by public housing authorities when making screening or eviction determinations. 

Additionally, the bill provides $10 million in bonus funding for homeless service providers and would increase administrative funding to help house ex-offenders. 

“Too many people become involved in our criminal justice system and serve their time only to return home to face additional barriers to employment, education, and housing,” Harris said in a statement. “By requiring a higher standard of evidence and a more holistic review process, we are taking a significant step toward giving Americans a fair chance to succeed.”

The bill is Harris’ latest move to beef up her policy bona fides, especially as she looks to compete more directly with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., in the 2020 Democratic primary. 

Housing barriers targeted at formerly incarcerated individuals disproportionately affect minorities and can increase a person’s chance of ending up back in prison, according to a study by the Prison Policy Initiative, a criminal justice non-profit think tank. 

“The NAACP is pleased and proud to support this much-needed legislation by Senator Harris,” said Hilary O. Shelton, the Director of the NAACP Washington Bureau and the Senior Vice President for Policy and Advocacy. “This legislation represents an essential step toward reducing recidivism by helping ex-offenders find stable housing upon exiting a jail or prison and by keeping their family free from punishment by association.” 

1237d ago / 12:00 AM UTC

Senate Democrats renew call for results of internal Acosta investigation

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats are renewing a demand that the Department of Justice disclose the full results of an investigation into whether U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta is guilty of "professional misconduct" in light of  “shocking developments” regarding a sex crime prosecution he handled over a decade ago.

In a letter obtained by NBC News, Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., who have been pressing the department since April for information about its investigation into Acosta's previous handling of charges against billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, said “it is more important than ever” to provide an update on its probe and pledge to publicly release its findings.

Epstein is being charged with one count of sex trafficking conspiracy and one count of sex trafficking by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York in a newly unsealed indictment accusing the multimillionaire financier of exploiting a “vast network” of underage girls for sex.

Acosta was U.S. attorney for South Florida in 2007, when federal prosecutors struck a plea agreement allowing the wealthy financier and philanthropist to plead guilty to lesser charges in state court rather than face federal sex trafficking charges.

In its bail memorandum, the federal attorneys “cite discussions between Epstein’s lawyers and the Florida DOJ lawyers that demonstrate DOJ knew at the time about issues of obstruction, harassment, and witness tampering,” the senators wrote.  Yet “Acosta subsequently did not bring charges for these offenses, once again illustrating the inequities in our justice system in favor of the rich and powerful,” they wrote.

Since the investigation began in February, “we have heard nothing since that time regarding its progress or anticipated time of conclusion,” the senators wrote in the letter to Corey Amundson, director of the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

Kaine and Murray say that the DOJ had earlier indicated it would share its results “as appropriate” and “consistent with past practices,” while not committing to sharing a full version with the public. And while they have acknowledged DOJ policies that “substantially restrict” public disclosure of its records in general, they contend that standard should not apply to Acosta.

“Americans are right to expect a thorough, unbiased, and transparent investigation pursued with all possible expediency. These needs are only enhanced by the involvement of a sitting Cabinet official in this alleged misconduct,” the senators wrote.

1238d ago / 4:50 PM UTC

Tom Steyer reserves $1 million in TV ads on first day of presidential campaign

WASHINGTON — Newly declared Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer has already reserved about $1 million in TV ads in first four primary and caucus states, according to data provided to NBC News by ad tracker Advertising Analytics. 

The California billionaire, who announced his candidacy Tuesday, has pledged to spend $100 million of his own money on his 2020 campaign and didn't waste any time at it.

On his first day in the race, he bought at least $1.05 million worth of broadcast ads in the biggest cities in Iowa, Nevada, South Carolina and Boston (which cover New Hampshire) — the four states that host the earliest contests in the Democratic nominating calendar.

So far, other candidates in the massive 2020 field have spent only minuscule amounts of money on TV commercials, preferring to devote their limited funds to hiring staff, opening field offices, and running cheaper digital ads.

1238d ago / 3:27 PM UTC

McGrath to run against McConnell in Kentucky

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WASHINGTON—Kentucky Democrat Amy McGrath is throwing her hat into the ring against Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, a decision that gives Democrats a top candidate in the long-shot fight to dethrone the Senate Majority Leader. 

McGrath revealed her decision in a Tuesday interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," evoking her past as a fighter pilot and her failed 2018 bid for the House where she raised tons of money but fell just short in dethroning GOP Rep. Andy Barr. 

Many Democrats have been hoping McGrath would jump into the race against McConnell on the heels of a strong challenge to Barr in 2018, when she raised $8.6 million and brought significant national attention and endorsements to that race. 

But while McGrath was able to close the gap in the red-leaning district to 3 points, she couldn't get over the hump. And there's only one other congressional district in the state more favorable to Democrats than the one she just lost in. 

During her "Morning Joe" interview, McGrath sought to distance herself from the national Democratic Party ahead of her bid in a state President Trump won by 30 points in 2016. 

Recalling the recent presidential debates, she said that she and her husband thought some candidates were "pulling a bit too far left."

And she attacked McConnell with a unique message not typically employed on the Democratic side—that McConnell is blocking President Trump from achieving his campaign promises. 

"Trump promised to bring back jobs, he promised to lower drug prices for so many Kentuckians. And that is very important," she said.

"Who stops the president from doing these things? Well, Mitch McConnell. I think that's really important, that's really going to be my message—the things that Kentuckians voted for Trump for are not being done, he's not able to get it done because of Sen. McConnell."

McConnell's political team immediately sought to push back on that frame. In a video posted on Twitter, the campaign quotes McGrath describing herself as "more progressive than anybody in the state of Kentucky," criticizing Trump's signature border wall and arguing that Trump's election made her feel like "somebody had sucker-punched me." 

1238d ago / 1:32 PM UTC

Kirsten Gillibrand launches her first 2020 ad

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WASHINGTON — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Tuesday released the first TV ad of her 2020 presidential campaign, targeting President Donald Trump for what she characterizes as his "broken" promises. 

The ad features President Trump on the campaign trail in 2016 promising to fix infrastructure, lower drug prices and keep manufacturing jobs in the U.S. 

According to the Gillibrand campaign, the 30-second ad is targeted to Obama-Trump voters and will be airing in key media markets in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan — pointedly three of the four formerly blue wall states that helped President Trump to victory in 2016.

It's the first TV ad by a Democratic presidential candidate to focus exclusively on the president's record. The Gillibrand campaign would not disclose how much they were spending on the ad but did say the cost is in the "five-figure" range for cable and digital buys over two days.

“Democrats are assessing this primary based on who is tough and smart enough to beat Donald Trump — and the only way to do that is by both exciting the base with a bold vision for the country and earning back the trust of voters who still feel left behind in places like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan,” said Gillbrand communications director Meredith Kelly. 

Gillibrand will be traveling to Pittsburgh, Mahoning Valley and Cleveland, Ohio and then Oakland County, Flint and Lansing, Mich. on Thursday and Friday.  

1239d ago / 6:00 PM UTC

Warren flexes grassroots muscle, raises $19.1 million in Q2

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PETERBOROUGH, NH- Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign on Monday announced it had raised $19.1 million in the second quarter of 2019, which spanned April to June.

The fundraising total, which more than tripled the campaign’s first quarter results, was the latest indication of a notable surge in support for the Massachusetts senator in recent months.

The fundraising total placed Warren in third place among Democrats who have reported their second quarter fundraising numbers, behind South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who reported raising $24.8 million, and former Vice President Joe Biden, who brought in $21.5 million. But Warren’s haul eclipsed that of progressive rival Bernie Sanders, who brought in $18.1 million during the same period.

Another top-tier Democratic rival, Kamala Harris, reported raising $12 million in the second quarter.

Warren announced early in her campaign that she would eschew traditional fundraising events altogether and focus her efforts on grassroots and online donations. Most other 2020 contenders have spent significant time on the traditional campaign finance circuit, with the exception of Sanders who is also relying on grassroots efforts.

The campaign says they now have 384,000 donors, with an average gift of just $28. 

“You’re making it possible to build a presidential campaign without catering to wealthy donors— with no closed-door fundraisers, no Super PACs, and no money from Washington lobbyists, corporate PACs, or, for that matter, PACs of any kind,” Campaign Manager Roger Lau said in an email to supporters.

The Warren campaign finished the quarter with $19.7 million cash on hand. It had transferred $10.4 million from Warren’s Senate account earlier this year.

The Warren campaign has significant overhead, with a much larger paid staff in both Iowa and New Hampshire than her 2020 rivals. The campaign boasts over 300 staffers across the country, with 60% of those in the four first primary and caucusing states. Her relatively paltry $6 million fundraising total in the first quarter had some supporters concerned about paying for the ground game her campaign envisioned.

Warren has experienced a surge in support in recent polling, in early states and nationally, landing her in a close third or fourth place in most surveys. She was widely seen to have been among the top performers in the first round of debates. The campaign declined to share how much fundraising came from a post-debate bump.

1239d ago / 4:12 PM UTC

Kris Kobach files for Kansas Senate race

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WASHINGTON — Kris Kobach, the former secretary of state of Kansas who lost his bid for governor last year, has filed for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

Kobach is popular on the right for his hard-line immigration record and relationship with President Trump. He leveraged that support into a narrow GOP primary victory in 2018 where he dethroned then-Gov. Jeff Colyer.

But Kobach then lost the red-state governor's race to Democrat Laura Kelly, a defeat that has made some national Republicans nervous  that the conservative Kobach could imperil the party’s chances of holding on to this Senate seat if he’s the nominee in 2020.

“Just last year Kris Kobach ran and lost to a Democrat. Now, he wants to do the same and simultaneously put President Trump’s presidency and Senate Majority at risk,” National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesperson Joanna Rodriguez said. “We know Kansans won’t let that happen and we look forward to watching the Republican candidate they do choose win next fall.”

For those keeping track, this isn’t the first time the NRSC has come out against a Republican running for Senate. Just last month the NSRC cautioned against Roy Moore’s Senate run in Alabama. 

There’s another announced GOP candidate in the Kansas race — state Treasurer Jake LaTurner. And don’t be surprised with Kobach’s filing if we might hear more “Mike Pompeo for Senate” talk. 

Kobach is expected to hold a speech in Kansas later this afternoon.

1239d ago / 3:20 PM UTC

Former Republican congressman will run for Senate against Mark Warner

WASHINGTON — Former Rep. Scott Taylor, the Virginia Republican who lost his seat in the 2018 midterms, announced his decision Monday to run for the seat held by Democratic Sen. Mark Warner in 2020. 

Taylor made his announcement on "Fox and Friends," arguing that "we need a fresh start in the Senate" and highlighting his support for term limits. Warner is finishing his second term in the Senate after a stint as governor.  

In a video released Monday morning, Taylor reminisced about his small-town childhood and how his participation in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program helped turn him away from a life down the "wrong path" as well as highlighting his service as a Navy SEAL.

And he evoked the scandals surrounding Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring (Northam and Herring admitted to wearing blackface decades ago and Fairfax has been accused of sexual assault) to take a swipe at Democratic leadership in the state. 

Earlier this year, Warner called on Fairfax to resign if the allegations made against him were true. He also called on Northam to resign and joined the Virginia congressional delegation in condemning Herring.

Taylor, who lost his congressional seat to Democrat Elaine Luria last year, immediately becomes the highest-profile potential challenger to Warner. But he faces an uphill battle in a Virginia that has been moving away from Republicans in recent years.

The GOP hasn't won a statewide race since the 2009 gubernatorial election; Warner typically polls well in the state and is a solid fundraiser; and Taylor could be dogged by an investigation into his campaign regarding fake petition signatures it submitted on behalf of a Democratic candidate. 

One of Taylor's former staffers has since been indicted for election fraud.

1239d ago / 1:30 PM UTC

O’Rourke to kick off New Hampshire swing with focus on immigration reform

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MANCHESTER, N.H. — Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke will bring attention to the border crisis when he returns here Friday, with plans to highlight his plans for immigration reform by attending a Lights for Liberty vigil to end human detention camps. O’Rourke is the first Democratic presidential candidate to announce participation in one of more than 500 vigils planned worldwide on July 12, which highlight inhumane and unsafe conditions experienced by immigrant children and asylum-seekers at detention facilities throughout the U.S.

“He will join us in New Hampshire to share his vision for a humane immigration policy written in our own image and urge Granite Staters to stand up and take action,” said Mike Ollen, O’Rourke’s New Hampshire state director. “Beto knows that in a democracy, where the people are the government and the government is the people, these inhumane policies are on all of us, and it’s up to us to change them.”

The event in Peterborough will kick off O’Rourke’s fourth visit to New Hampshire since announcing his run for the presidency, having visited all 10 counties in the state within his first visit. It also follows a sweeping immigration reform plan that he rolled out in May, which plans to reverse President Trump’s positions and actions while also aiming to rebuild immigration and naturalization systems.

O’Rourke has also visited three separate facilities holding migrant children in the last two weeks, including Homestead in Florida during the first democratic primary debate.

During his visit to the Homestead facility in Florida last month, O’Rourke said his “top priority is to stop these practices” and “to reunify every family that has been separated, and to make sure that we truly living our values and living our promise to this country. America means something, and we are losing that meaning every day that this continues.”

O’Rourke is taking his ideas on immigration reform directly to voters here in the first-in-the-nation state, aiming to ease fears of deportation for hundreds of New Hampshire DREAMers, protect residents with Temporary Protected Status, reform asylum laws, increase visa caps, eliminate concerns about future funding diversions and prevent transfers of northern border CBP agents to the southern border.

 

1240d ago / 2:59 PM UTC

Merkley addresses why he hasn't endorsed Sanders again for 2020

WASHINGTON — Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., the only senator who endorsed Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential bid, said Sunday he hasn't repeated that endorsement for 2020 yet because he's looking forward to a "robust debate" among his party's presidential hopefuls. 

Appearing on "Meet the Press," Merkley specifically pointed to the fact that "Hillary Clinton is not a candidate" this time when asked why he hasn't endorsed any candidate this cycle.  

"We have a lot of capable individuals who are running who do understand the kitchen table. And I'm really looking forward to them laying out that vision, getting America excited about returning to the fundamentals of taking on health care, and housing, and education, infrastructure, living-wage jobs, the things that have been incredibly neglected and set aside by this administration," he said. 

"Hillary Clinton is not a candidate. So we have a different set of cards this time, and I'm looking forward to hearing from all of them," he added, comparing the 2020 election cycle to the 2016 one.  

1244d ago / 6:14 PM UTC

Trump's Fourth of July event isn't completely unprecedented

WASHINGTON — When President Trump makes his Fourth of July speech at the Lincoln Memorial, flanked by military tanks and complete with a flyover of military jets, he won’t be the first president to insert himself into the holiday. 

In 1970, in the midst of the Vietnam War, President Richard Nixon had a previously-recorded speech played on screens in front of the Lincoln Memorial. The event was marketed as nonpartisan, just like President Trump’s event is being advertised, but it was largely overshadowed by anti-war protesters who screamed at speakers and waived the Vietcong flag. You can read the Washington Post's look back at the event here.

Nixon’s Fourth of July celebration, even though he wasn’t actually present, seems to be the only modern parallel for the event President Trump is planning. However, presidents have often used the Fourth of July to make speeches, and attend rallies. 

At the bicentennial in 1976, President Gerald Ford spoke to a crowd in Philadelphia. In 2002, the first Fourth of July celebration after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush spoke in West Virginia about the newly deployed soldiers in the War on Terror. Prior to Nixon’s televised speech in 1970, President Truman made a Fourth of July address on the National Mall at the Washington Monument in 1951.

For the most part, presidents have spent the holiday at the White House with military families, attending naturalization ceremonies, or visiting other states — Teddy Roosevelt often made a speech in Oyster Bay, New York at his summer home Sagamore Hill. 

1244d ago / 4:25 PM UTC

Biden raised $21.5 million in second quarter

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Former Vice President Joe Biden will report raising $21.5 million for his campaign in the second quarter of this year, reflecting a mix of traditional high-dollar fundraisers and small-dollar, online giving by his supporters.

The total lags behind at least two rivals who have also announced totals for the last three months, Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders, who raised $24.8 million and $18 million, respectively. But the Biden campaign notes that he did not enter the 2020 race until more than three weeks after the start of the fundraising period, arguing that total beats his rivals on a per-day basis. 

Biden’s total offers the first complete picture of his fundraising strength as the putative frontrunner in the Democratic primary race. In the first 24 hours of his campaign in late April, his campaign said he raised $6.3 million from almost 97,000 donors, the most of any other Democratic candidate.

In an email to supporters, the campaign says 97 percent of its donations were from so-called grassroots supporters giving less than $200, and that the average donation was $49. The campaign says it received 436,000 total donations from 256,000 donors. All of the money raised was for the primary election. 

Biden has held 27 high-dollar fundraisers since entering, according to an NBC News tally. Though he has been criticized by some opponents who have rejected attending high dollar events, he often thanks his donors for writing large checks that allow him to compete in ways that he has “never been able to before” as the frontrunner. 

At a New York City fundraiser, Biden told the crowd that his donors are “essentially saying, ‘I respect this person. I think this person will do a good job.'”

The campaign also has said Biden had some of his best online fundraising periods since last week’s debate. 

1244d ago / 1:49 PM UTC

Buttigieg rolls out new public service plan

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Pete Buttigieg Wednesday unveiled a new public service initiative as he kicks off a trip to the first caucus state for the 4th of July holiday.  His proposal, called “A New Call to Service,” aims to build a network of 1 million National Service Members by July 4, 2026 — the 250th anniversary of America’s independence. 

The South Bend, Indiana mayor’s three-step plan includes increased funding for local and national service organizations and developing new service corps to tackle issues including climate change.

Buttigieg says it's based on his belief that national service enables Americans to form connections between “very different” kinds of people, a lesson he learned during his military service.  

“I served alongside and trusted my life to people who held totally different political views,” he said in a statement to NBC News, “You shouldn’t have to go to war in order to have that kind of experience.”

Buttigieg says he plans to fund the Serve America Act to increase service opportunities from 75,000 to 250,000 in existing federal and AmeriCorps programs. His campaign said funding this plan would cost approximately $20 billion over 10 years.

In 2009, President Obama signed the original Serve America Act, allocating $5.7 billion dollars over five years to increase the size of AmeriCorps from 75,000 to 250,000 volunteers.

Currently programs like AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps are competitive but acceptance rates remain low, at 13 percent and 25 percent respectively. AmeriCorps was incorporated into JFK’s VISTA program in 1993, while the Peace Corp also began under JFK’s initiative in 1961.

Buttigieg’s plan would target students in high school, community college, and vocational schools, in addition to those who attend historically black colleges and universities and youth ages 16-24 who are neither in school nor working.

The next step in Buttigieg’s plan would be to create grant opportunities for local municipalities to create “service ecosystems” tailored to regional issues.

Buttigieg also hopes to create new service opportunities including a Climate Corps focused on resilience and conservation; a Community Health Corps to target mental health, addiction and substance abuse issues; and a Service Corps focused on mentorship and intergenerational service opportunities. 

The policy would include consideration of public service in student debt forgiveness, vocational training, and hiring preference for service fellows.

The campaign has not yet released details on how much this proposal will cost or how they intend to pay for it. At least half the Democratic presidential field has talked about national service and a few have released their own policies on the issue.

1245d ago / 3:53 PM UTC

Sanders pulls in $18 million from grassroots fundraising in second quarter

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The Bernie Sanders presidential campaign on Tuesday announced it had raised $18 million in the second quarter of this year, which ended on June 30.

That figure is down slightly from the Vermont senator’s first quarter haul of $18.2 million, and far less than rival South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s $24.8 million second quarter haul. But Sanders is raising money entirely from grassroots contributors while Buttigieg is soliciting both grassroots donors and large individual contributors.

The Sanders campaign also transferred $6 million from Sanders’ Senate and political action committees and had $6 million left over from the first quarter, bringing its total amount of cash on hand to $30 million.

The campaign has received nearly one million individual donations, with 99.3 percent of the donations at $100 or less for the second quarter. 

The average donation for the quarter was $18, the campaign said, with nearly half of donors under the age of 40.

Sanders has only held one fund raising event — a “grassroots fundraiser” at a bar in San Francisco on June 1 where a donation of $27 per attendee was requested. The campaign says $80,000 was raised at that event.

“We don’t have to raise the most money,” Sanders senior adviser Jeff Weaver said. “Most people in this country know Bernie Sanders.” 

Weaver told reporters on the call that the campaign believes they can do with a little less than other candidates. “We are much more efficient than the others,” he said.

1245d ago / 11:26 AM UTC

Delaney announces opioid policy plan ahead of 100th New Hampshire state visit

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MANCHESTER, N.H. — Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney Tuesday released a new policy to combat the opioid epidemic in the United States. In a statement announcing the new policy, the Democratic presidential candidate says he “would implement policies to not only address the scope of the ongoing epidemic, but support policies to prevent new cases of addiction.” 

Delaney’s policy plan details four key ways that he intends to fight the opioid epidemic in his administration:

  1. Strengthening prevention efforts by setting new prescription and education requirements for physicians and administrators, expanding access to alternative pain management options, strengthening federal enforcement to reduce the supply of illicit opioids, and holding pharmaceutical executives responsible for fueling the epidemic.
  2. Ensuring access to evidence-based substance use disorder treatment through maintaining funding to states for building out treatments, expanding mental health parity laws, expanding access to treatments in the criminal justice system, strengthening programs to help pregnant and post-partum women get access to treatment, and more.
  3. Investing in recovery programs to help those who enter stay in recovery through job training and placement services, including housing support and other social services.
  4. Funding for programs such as new block grants for states to implement a 2 cent tax on each milligram of an active opioid ingredient in a prescription pain pill.

Delaney will hold his 100th event in New Hampshire Tuesday, where local residents helped bring national attention to the worsening opioid crisis during the 2016 presidential election. It is a part of a three-day swing through the Granite State. New Hampshire ranks in the top five states with the highest rate of opioid-involved overdose deaths according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, with 420 related deaths last year. In the U.S., an average of 130 people die from drug overdoses involving opioids every day. 

1245d ago / 11:20 AM UTC

Going it alone: Booker proposes day-one immigration fixes that don’t need congress

DALLAS — As Democratic presidential candidates have struggled to explain how they would enact ambitious policy agendas over the opposition of a Senate that could still be controlled by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Tuesday laid out a slate of immigration proposals that could be enacted entirely by executive order.

“When kids are being stripped away from their parents and held in cages, I will not wait for Congress to solve this crisis,” Booker said in a statement, announcing the proposals. “On day one of my presidency, I will take immediate steps to end this administration’s moral vandalism.”

Booker's proposals focus on unwinding most of President Trump’s executive actions on the border, including ending the so-called “remain in Mexico” policy and immediately restoring protections for Dreamers and those with other forms of temporary legal status, and reversing the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy.

The plan also focuses heavily on ending detention of migrants, both by phasing out contracts with private, state and local prisons, and by raising standards and accountability requirements for federal facilities, forcing them to either greatly improve conditions, or close.

With the release of his slate of executive actions, Booker joins other top tier candidates including former Vice President Joseph Biden, Senator Elizabeth Warren, former congressman Beto O’Rourke and former HUD Secretary Julián Castro in outlining comprehensive immigration reform plans.

1246d ago / 1:37 PM UTC

Tim Ryan rolls out plans for public education reform

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BOSTON — Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, is rolling out a new plan to treat education as a federal right by investing $50 billion into federal programs to transform all public schools into community schools that blend resources from both the school systems and the communities that they serve.

These public community schools would focus on four distinct goals: integrated student supports; expanded and enriched learning time and opportunities; collaborative leadership and practices, and active family and community engagement.

In his proposal, Ryan gives a shout out to LeBron James,’ citing the Ohio basketball legend’s "I Promise School" in his congressional district as a model example of community schools. “But you shouldn’t need a superstar to come from your community to fulfill the guarantee of a high-quality education in this country,” Ryan says in the text of the plan.

Ryan is set to unveil his plan Monday at the American School Counselor Association Annual Conference in Boston before making two campaign stops in New Hampshire. His policy announcement comes on the heels of his comments at the first Democratic debate, in which he emphasized the need for social and emotional learning in every school.

“We need to start playing offense,” said Ryan during the debate last Wednesday. “If our kids are so traumatized that they're getting a gun and going into our schools, we're doing something wrong, too, and we need reform a trauma-based care.”

Ryan’s approach includes implementing policies in four key categories:

  1. Well-prepared and supported teachers and leaders: Support a diverse and well-prepared teacher work force by supplying them with the tools and resources they need, as well as health and wellness support.
  2. Wraparound services: Provide students and their families the support they need to learn effectively through nutritional services, as well as mental, social, and physical health services.
  3. Social-emotional and academic learning: Teach students conflict resolution and how to set goals, make responsible decisions, and maintain positive relationships.
  4. 21st Century college and career-ready pathways: Provide students with programs to explore their futures, including “curricula and a continuum of high-quality work-based learning opportunities rooted in modern business and industry practices.”

Ryan also added that as president, he would work with Congress to pass the Rebuild America’s Schools Act to invest $100 billion into school infrastructure. 

1246d ago / 12:27 PM UTC

Harris highlights long backing of LGBTQ marriage rights at San Francisco pride

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SAN FRANCISCO — After a Democratic debate performance for which she was widely lauded, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., returned to her home state Sunday to tout her history of defending LGBTQ rights, particularly her support for gay marriage.

Speaking in front of thousands from outside San Francisco City Hall, where she first officiated weddings after California began recognizing same-sex marriages in 2004, Harris said she was a supporter early on. 

“As you know, 15 years ago, [there were] not a lot of Democrats who were on board with it," she said. "But we said, ‘no, civil unions [are] not good enough. We’re going to perform marriages.’ And that’s what we did here in 2004.’ Remember that,” 

Harris spoke to the annual pride breakfast in San Francisco before riding a red Mustang through the streets of the city. She then spoke from outside City Hall, recalling her decision as the California attorney general to not defend Proposition 8, a measure approved by California voters in 2008 that would have statutorily written marriage in the state to be only between a man and a woman

After years of litigation, the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately kicked the measure back down to a lower federal court, which had previously nullified the gay marriage ban in California. 

“I was so proud to come right back here to San Francisco City Hall and perform the first marriage of Kris Perry and Sandy Stier,” Harris said on Sunday.

Perry and Stier, the two plaintiffs in the Proposition 8 case, spoke at a fundraiser for Harris on Saturday night.

“Your leadership frankly by not defending [Prop 8] lead the way to the Supreme Court striking it down,” Kris Perry, one of the plaintiffs, said, “You led us all in a giant exhale over the end of a hateful law.”

In an interview with NBC News from the parade route on Sunday, Harris rebuked the current White House administration’s policies impacting LGBTQ individuals.

“We have a current occupant in the White House who has been silent on so many issues that have included an increase in hate crime, [and] a policy that has been about excluding and kicking out transgender men and women from the military,” Harris said. “I think this is a moment where everyone knows we want to have champions for equality in our country, and we don’t currently have that in the White House.”