The latest political news and analysis from the campaign trail:
Pete Buttigieg becomes latest presidential hopeful to hit the Iowa airwaves
WASHINGTON — South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is the latest Democratic primary candidate to hit the TV airwaves in Iowa, launching a new :30 second spot that highlights his pitch for national unity.
With Buttigieg in the mix, here’s how the major TV and radio spending in the first-caucus state breaks down by candidate, per ad trackers at Advertising Analytics.
Note: This data includes both current and future buys (which could potentially be cut) on radio and TV on Iowa airwaves.
Tom Steyer: $3.3m
Kirsten Gillibrand (dropped out): $924k
Joe Biden: $687k
Kamala Harris: $562k
John Delaney: $492k
Pete Buttigieg: $369k
Tulsi Gabbard: $245k
Julian Castro: $26k
Firefighters Union begins ad push to tout endorsement of Biden
MANCHESTER, N.H. — The International Association of Firefighters, which endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden quickly after he announced his candidacy in April, is running their first paid media program on his behalf starting with a full page ad running in Friday's New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper.
Officials involved with the union say they are also launching an online digital program. The IAFF will also be doing visibility for Biden at this weekend’s New Hampshire Democratic Party convention in Manchester. Biden is holding events in the first-in-the-nation primary state tomorrow ahead of the convention.
"Joe Biden is a lot like fire fighters. He is a problem solver who cares deeply about America," the ad reads. "As an advocate for people who work every day to support themselves and their families, Joe knows that a strong middle class means a strong America. He’s fighting to improve the lives of millions of hardworking, patriotic Americans who want nothing more than to earn a decent wage, send their kids to college, have affordable health care and enjoy a dignified retirement."
The ads ends: "That’s why we urge you to vote Joe Biden for president."
Climate town hall shows how candidates prioritize climate change
WASHINGTON — Before Wednesday’s CNN town halls on climate change, we said to pay attention not only to the Democratic presidential candidates’ actual plans — but also to who prioritizes addressing climate change if they win the White House.
So during the nearly seven hours of town halls, which of the 10 candidates who participated made it their top priority?
Well, both Amy Klobuchar and Julián Castro said they’d take immediate executive actions.
“On Day 1, I will bring us back into that international climate change agreement,” Klobuchar said. “On Day 2, bring back the clean power rules that President Obama had worked on for so many years – you can do that without Congress.”
“My first executive order that afternoon [of Jan. 20, 2021] will be to rejoin the Paris climate accord so that we lead again on sustainability,” Castro added.
Beto O’Rourke, meanwhile, said he’d make climate his first priority as president. “The most important thing is to arrest the rate of climate change on this planet,” he said. “That’s my No. 1 priority, and that’s why climate was the first plan I released as a candidate for the presidency.”
But other candidates side-stepped how they’d prioritize the climate. Here was Bernie Sanders' answer to CNN's Anderson Cooper.
COOPER: ... [E]very president has to prioritize in terms of where they're going to put -- what is the priority on climate change compared to all these others, if you have to choose?
SANDERS: Well, I have the radical idea that a sane Congress can walk and chew bubble gum at the same time. And, you know, Anderson, there are so many crises that are out there today. I worry very much that we lose 30,000 people a year because they don't have the money to go to a doctor when they should and that 87 million people are uninsured or underinsured. And I will implement as president a Medicare for all single-payer program.
And Joe Biden, when asked a similar question, used it to defend former President Barack Obama.
QUESTION: Even though President Obama knew of the seriousness of the climate crisis back in 2008, he chose to spend his political capital on health care and then wasn't able to enact the kind of systemic change needed to prevent climate catastrophe. How will you prioritize climate change action if you become president?
BIDEN: Well, first of all, in defense of President Obama, everything landed on his desk but locusts. We were heading toward -- we had the greatest financial catastrophe in the world, short of a depression. Nothing ever had occurred like that before. It was just getting America out of a ditch. We were in real, real trouble. He got the economy back on a footing and began a period of economic growth. He moved on, on health care because he thought it was so important that it happened at the time.
Biden never answered how he’s prioritize dealing with climate change.
Amy O'Rourke holds first solo campaign event with NH gun violence roundtable
CONCORD, NH — Amy O’Rourke made her first solo appearance as a campaign surrogate for her husband, former Texas Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke, at a gun violence roundtable in New Hampshire Thursday.
O'Rourke joined the event led by the Kent Street Coalition, a local grassroots political action organization founded in response to the 2016 election. Eleven guests from KSC, Moms Demand Action, and the medical community joined the nearly hour-and-a-half conversation.
After sharing her background and the story of how she met her husband, O'Rourke spoke personally about her trip with her husband to El Paso in the wake of last month’s mass shooting.
“When someone came from outside of El Paso and targeted people of El Paso because of the color of their skin or because of the country they potentially come from, we felt so violated,” she said.
“And it was as in every other community that has experienced this horrific tragedy, and really almost no words to describe the sadness, and then also the fear of people telling us that they now felt like targets.”
She praised the work of Moms Demand Action (another group that wants stricter gun laws), reflected on O’Rourke’s experience visiting a gun show, and often told stories from her husband's Texas senate race about convincing people to compromise and refusing to moderate his platform.
“It’s bringing everyone to the table and not writing them off, even if they have an NRA sticker on their car,” she said.
In an exclusive interview with NBC News after the event, O’Rourke said she viewed her surrogate role as a listening one.
“I think more than anything, I want to get out on the road, hear from people, learn from people, and then be able to bring that back so that Beto and I are hearing as many stories as we can,” she said.
She told an anecdote of waiting three hours in line for the funeral of an El Paso victim (whose husband invited the public to her funeral because she had no family in the area) and described it as “as a beautiful representation of our community.”
She added that she’s seen this post-El Paso fire in her husband “many, many, many times” and thinks his “confidence in calling it out for what it is, and saying the hard truths” is now coming through.
“Beto is such a great listener," she said when asked why she supports his bid, pointing to "his frankness, his directness, and then his desire to bring everybody together and be a part of that conversation, not write anybody off.”
She added that they’ve always made every important decision in their lives together.
Stacey Abrams joins board of Priorities USA
WASHINGTON — Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has joined the board of Priorities USA, the Democratic Party's biggest outside group, the organization's leader tells NBC News.
“Stacey Abrams is an inspiring leader and a champion for voting rights in Georgia and around the nation,” said Priorities USA Chairman Guy Cecil. “We are incredibly lucky to add her insight and critical experience to our organization’s board and to get to fight along side her for the rights of all Americans, especially those whose voices are being silenced. We look forward to working together so that every American has a fair chance to participate in the democratic process.”
Priorities USA, which was founded to support President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign and funded by mega-donors who cut six- and seven-figure checks, is one of the biggest spenders on elections in the country. It spent almost $200 million to support Hillary Clinton and other Democrats during the 2016 presidential election and another roughly $50 million in the last year's congressional midterms.
Abrams has made voting rights the focus of her recent work, arguing voter suppression cost her her 2018 election. Priorities has also made that part of its focus, pledging to spend $30 million to register voters, litigate against Republican-backed voting restrictions in court, and advance favorable ballot measures.
The move will expose Abrams to some of the party's biggest national donors and give her deeper access to the party's power structure. Last year, she joined the board of the Center for American Progress, a major Democratic think tank.
And it suggests Abrams is not interested in pursuing elective office in near-term. A rising star in the party, Abrams' name has been floated for everything from president to one of Georgia's two Senate seats on the ballot next year.
She's ruled out all of those possibilities, though she has suggested she'd be open to the vice-presidential slot if chosen. Many expect her to be preparing for a rematch against Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp when he stands for reelection in 2022.
Abrams is joining the non-profit 501(c)4 arm of Priorities USA, a type of organization critics label as "dark money" groups because they can accept unlimited contributions generally without disclosing their donors, though there are limits on how much they can spend on elections.
Trump trails Biden and Sanders in Wisconsin poll
WASHINGTON — A new poll shows President Donald Trump trailing former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in a hypothetical presidential matchup in Wisconsin, with the incumbent president tied with Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
Biden’s 51 percent puts him ahead of Trump’s 42 percent, a margin outside of the Marquette University Law School poll’s 3.9 percent margin of error. Sanders leads Trump 48 percent to 44 percent.
Warren is tied with Trump at 45 percent while Harris is tied with him at 44 percent.
Wisconsin is expected to be a key battleground state in 2020 — it’s a state that Trump won by less than 23,000 votes in 2016, making him the first Republican presidential candidate to win it since Ronald Reagan in 1984.
Overall, Trump’s approval rating in the state among registered voters is 45 percent with 53 percent saying they disapprove of his job performance. That’s virtually unchanged from April’s Marquette numbers.
A plurality, 37 percent, think the economy will get worse in the next 12 months, with 33 percent saying it will stay the same and 26 percent expecting it to improve. Registered voters are virtually split on Trump’s handling of the economy.
But they’re less split in their views on tariffs — 46 percent say the tariffs on imported goods hurt the American economy, while 30 percent say tariffs help. There’s a clear partisan split on this issue, with 47 percent of Republicans saying tariffs will help the economy while 72 percent of Democrats say the policy will hurt the economy.
On climate, pay attention to the priorities as much as the plans
WASHINGTON — Almost every major Democratic presidential candidate now has a detailed plan to combat climate change, with Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg and Julian Castro all releasing their plans ahead of tonight’s CNN town hall on climate change.
But who’s making it a No. 1 or even No. 2 priority if they become president?
The answer: Very few of them, especially after Washington Gov. Jay Inslee ended his presidential bid last month.
In the second night of the first round of Democratic debates, NBC’s Chuck Todd asked the assembled 10 candidates what their top priority would be, and here were their responses:
- Kamala Harris: a middle-class tax cut, protecting DACA recipients, gun control
- Bernie Sanders: a political revolution
- Joe Biden: defeating Donald Trump
- Pete Buttigieg: fixing democracy (“Get that right, climate, immigration, taxes, and every other issue gets better,” he said)
- Andrew Yang: his $1,000 per-month payment to every American
- Michael Bennet: climate change and economic mobility
- Marianne Williamson: calling the prime minister of New Zealand (remember that?)
That debate stage also included three candidates who have since dropped out — John Hickenlooper, Kirsten Gillibrand and Eric Swalwell.
The candidates who participated in the first night of the debates in Miami did not get that same priority question, but Elizabeth Warren has said her anti-corruption plan and wealth tax are her top priorities; Beto O’Rourke has listed climate change and fixing America’s democracy; Cory Booker has said it’s criminal justice reform and preventing gun violence; Julian Castro has said it’s universal health care; and Amy Klobuchar has said it’s re-entering the Paris climate deal, protecting the Affordable Care Act and protecting DACA recipients.
Every president works with a finite amount of political capital, resources and time.
So pay attention to the priorities as much as the plans.
A fifth House Republican from Texas says he won't run again in 2020
WASHINGTON — A fifth House Republican from Texas says he's hanging up his spurs.
Republican Rep. Bill Flores announced Wednesday that he won't seek reelection in 2020, saying in a statement that he's sticking to his pledge to serve six or fewer terms in Washington.
Four other Texas House Republicans — Reps. Will Hurd, Pete Olson, Kenny Marchant and Mike Conaway — are also retiring at the end of their terms.
A total of 13 House Republicans so far are either retiring or seeking higher office in 2020. That's compared with just three Democratic House members doing the same.
First elected in 2010, Flores won his latest reelection race 57 percent to 41 percent.
President Donald Trump won the Waco-area district by a similar margin in 2016, 56 percent to 38 percent.
Buttigieg becomes latest candidate to roll out plans to combat climate change
The policy, “Mobilizing America: Rising to the Climate Challenge,” centers on three areas of emphasis: building a clean economy, investing in resilience, and demonstrating leadership.
“For too long Washington has chosen denial and obstruction as we’re faced with the imminent catastrophic effects of climate change,” Buttigieg said in a statement. “My plan ensures that no community is left behind as we meet the challenge of our time with the urgency and unity it demands.”
The South Bend, Indiana mayor hopes to achieve net-zero emissions no later than 2050 through a gradual phase out of carbon emissions. First by achieving a clean electric grid and ensuring all new cars are zero-emission by 2035, then bringing buses and planes into the fold five years later and finally adding the manufacturing and farming industries over the next thirty years.
The plan also aims to put some extra cash in the average American’s pocket, by enacting a carbon-price, with an annual increase, that would be rebated back to tax payers.
Buttigieg is also proposing efficiency rebates for homeowners to cover the cost of energy-efficient updates. The policy places a specific emphasis on working with Black, Latinx, Indigenous and low-income communities that are particularly harmed by extreme weather to ensure they benefit from the transition to clean energy.
The plan proposes quadrupling federal clean energy research and development funding to $25 billion per year, while also committing nearly $50 billion to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s R&D over the next decade. The policy places a heavy emphasis on U.S. innovation in green technology, creating an investment fund which would provide $50 billion in seed funding to build, “first-of-a-kind technology.”
In an effort to gain buy-in for his climate change vision at the local level the South Bend mayor hopes to convene, “The Pittsburgh Climate Summit,” within his first 100 days. The meeting of mayors, governors, and community leaders would focus on collaborating on best practices, developing plans to transition their communities to a clean energy economy.
According to the proposal, most of the polices outlined will be achieved by working with the other branches of government, however the plan also states that if Congress is unable to act on climate change, Buttigieg would, “use every executive authority available to take action to reduce emissions and require resilience in infrastructure.”
On the global stage Buttigieg hopes to lead on climate change, by reentering the Paris Climate Agreement and redeveloping bilateral and multilateral relationships around the issue.
Harris outlines new climate plan ahead of forum
WASHINGTON — Ahead of the Democratic field’s first climate change forum on Wednesday night, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., released a comprehensive climate plan that calls for a $10 trillion private-public investment over ten years and a U.S. electrical grid that is 100 percent carbon neutral by 2030.
The plan builds on an environmental justice policy outline that she put forward in July with U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., which focuses on climate equity and the disproportionate impact of climate change on low income communities and people of color.
Harris’s expanded plan would require 50 percent of all new passenger vehicles to be zero-emissions by 2030, and 100 percent of the new passenger vehicle market by 2035. She would press for a new “cash for clunkers” program, an Obama-era program that offered incentives to old vehicle owners to purchase new zero-emissions vehicles.
The California senator’s climate plan also calls for an end to all federal subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, including the end of any federal money for new fossil fuel infrastructure projects. She calls for the implementation of a climate pollution fee, the restoration of environmental rules repealed by the Trump Administration, and a $250 billion drinking water infrastructure investment over five years.
Harris also says her administration would rejoin the Paris Agreement.
More than once in her plan, Harris mentions enacting other candidates’ proposed climate policies, including proposed legislation from Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. and Cory Booker, D-N.J.. The campaign also gave a nod in its proposal to a former presidential candidate, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who proposed the most sweeping slate of policies among the Democratic field.
On the campaign trail, Harris has said she supports a Green New Deal, but her climate plan released today is the first time she has gone into specifics on what her idea of addressing climate change would look like. Harris often tells crowds that the crisis is “one of the most urgent reasons we need a new commander in chief.”
Harris, who wasn’t originally planning to be a part of the CNN climate town hall, changed her schedule after pressure from the progressive environmental group Sunrise Movement, who criticized Harris for committing to a fundraiser instead.
CORRECTION: (Sept. 4, 2019, 8:07 a.m.): An earlier version of this article misstated the total proposed cost of the Harris plan. It is $10 trillion, not $1 trillion.
Elizabeth Warren releases new plan to fight climate change
NEW YORK - Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., proposed an additional $1 trillion federal investment over ten years to fight climate change Tuesday, committing to several 100 percent clean energy benchmarks in a plan released ahead of an appearance at a climate-focused town hall.
“Nothing less than a national mobilization will be required to defeat climate change,” Warren wrote in her published plan. “It will require every single one of us, and it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work — there is no time to waste.”
Warren plans to require all newly built cars, trucks, and busses to be zero-emission by 2030, and will require zero-carbon pollution for all new commercial and residential buildings by 2028. She also calls for a plan to require energy to be 100 percent carbon neutral by 2030.
Warren’s plan was inspired by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who recently left the presidential race after running as the “climate candidate.” Inslee and Warren met in Seattle when she was there for a rally last week, two sources with knowledge of the previously unreported meeting tell NBC News.
After dropping out of the presidential primary race last month, several candidates — including Warren — have sought Inslee out on climate-related issues and his endorsement (whenever it comes) is one to watch.
On Warren’s latest climate-centric policy, Inslee spokesman Jamal Raad says Inslee is “thrilled to see Sen. Warren taking up major elements of his plan. He is particularly impressed that Senator Warren is adopting his aggressive targets to reach 100 percent clean energy in electricity, cars and buildings, ending coal power, and making a commitment to investing in good, union jobs and a just transition for front-line communities.”
Warren's plan calls for an additional trillion dollars of federal investment towards climate mitigation policies, which she says will be paid by overturning the Trump tax cuts from earlier in 2018. The plan says that the federal investment will “will leverage additional trillions in private investment and create millions of jobs.”
This investment, along Warren’s other climate plans like her Green Manufacturing Plan and Green Marshall Plan, bring her total planned federal investment for climate change mitigation to $3 trillion over ten years.
On top of federal dollars Warren plans to commit to grant programs and federal investments, she also plans to use executive action to direct federal agencies to move in a clean energy direction. For example, Warren says that she will direct the federal government to purchase clean energy products for use in federal buildings, both investing in green manufacturers and shifting the government over to zero-emissions standards.
Warren was similarly effusive about Inslee’s climate plan. “[Inslee] provided bold, thoughtful, and detailed ideas for how to get us where we need to go, both by raising standards to address pollution and investing in the future of the American economy,” Warren wrote in her plan. “While his presidential campaign may be over, his ideas should remain at the center of the agenda.”
Warren also hammered home her own climate change credentials, saying that she was an original supporter of the Green New Deal and notes that many of her previous policy proposals had climate mitigation built into them.