Without a doubt, this was one of the stranger weeks on the 2020 campaign trail. Kamala Harris backtracked a bit on her pledge to eliminate private health care. Elizabeth Warren came out in support of reparations for black Americans impacted by slavery. She also pledged to not host any glitzy fundraisers or speak to donors behind closed doors. And a story about Amy Klobuchar eating a salad with a comb is raising even more questions about how she treats her staff.
For these stories and much more, check out the 2020 Democrats’ update below:
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Hoping to give herself an edge on her competitors, Warren announced Monday that she would hold no fundraisers, dinners, receptions, or phone calls with wealthy donors. It’s an attempt to further establish Warren’s public image as a populist hero, but inevitably she will fall short to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who raised $6 million in just over 24 hours of being an officially announced candidate. Keep an eye on Warren’s fellow 2020 competitors to see if any announce they are following suit.
Warren also came out in support of reparations late last week. The New York Times noted it’s a position she shares with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), but one that Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Bernie Sanders all declined to back. In 2016, Obama called the idea of reparations impractical.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Klobuchar’s nasty treatment of her staff was well documented by last Friday’s latest revelation, but a story about her demanding a staffer clean a comb she had just used to eat a salad really took things to the next level. The New York Times story, titled, “How Amy Klobuchar Treats Her Staff,” raised real questions about whether the Minnesota Democrat has the right temperament for the job of senator, let alone president.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Harris “clarified” her health care position over the weekend when asked about Medicare for All in Iowa. “In my vision of Medicare for all, there would be a phasing in of it, and there would still be the option of having private insurance for supplemental coverage,” she said. That’s a far cry from Harris’s previous remarks, which stated that she supported eliminating private health insurance altogether in favor of a government-run system.
And the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, added a bit of a complication to Harris’s campaign when he announced last week that he’s ordering a DNA test in a death row case prosecuted by Harris. For her part, Harris says she supports the move.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
An interview between the New York Times and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) highlighted the friendship between Menendez and Booker and the potential minefield that Booker may find himself in when forced to explain Menendez’s federal corruption trial. “I’m the Robin to his Batman,” Booker memorably said during the 2017 trial. Now Menendez is returning the favor, but that may not sit well with some Democrats who would rather distance themselves from Menendez’s shady activities.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
In a move that surprised some on the left, Gillibrand’s campaign is hosting a fundraiser at the home of Sally Susman, a top Pfizer executive, later next month. According to CNBC, tickets range from $1,000 to $2,700. Susman is a well-known in Democratic fundraising circles, having served as the lead bundler for President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign. Given Warren’s news about not attending glitzy fundraisers like this and other liberals’ attempts to distance themselves from the pharmaceutical industry, it’s notable that Gillibrand is going through with this event.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
In just a few short days, Sanders’ campaign says it has amassed more than 1 million volunteers. ““Less than one week after we began, we now have one million volunteers in every congressional district in this country who are prepared to roll up their sleeves and get to work to make sure we win the Democratic nomination,” read an email to supporters. He also touted raising $10 million in his first week as a candidate.
But if you thought Sanders left his 2016 problems behind him, you’re sorely mistaken. According to Politico, bitter former staffers of Hillary Clinton are taking shots at the Vermont senator’s campaign over his use of private jets. The problem? Much of Sanders’ private jet use was when he served as a surrogate for Clinton, traveling to events across the country on her behalf. A Sanders staffer called Clinton’s team “some of the biggest assholes in American politics” as a response.
Bits and Pieces
SXSW announced a partnership with the Texas Tribune for a 2020-focused series called “Conversations About America’s Future” that will feature: Klobuchar, Warren, fmr. Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), fmr. Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), fmr. HUD Secretary Julian Castro (D-TX), fmr. Gov. Bill Weld (R-MA), and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) said he could announce a presidential bid as early as this week during an appearance on CBS News’ “Face The Nation” on Sunday. Previously, Inslee has said his campaign would have a singular focus on climate change.
Billionaire Warren Buffet announced that if former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg gets in the 2020 Democratic primary, he’ll support him. Buffet was far less enthusiastic about the prospect of former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s potential independent bid.