Welcome to 2020 Vision, the Yahoo News column covering the presidential race. Reminder: There are 59 days until the Iowa caucuses and 333 days until the 2020 presidential election.
With the prospect of an impeachment trial in the Senate looming, the five senators remaining in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination are preparing for what is likely an unwanted obligation just weeks before the first votes of the 2020 contest are cast. They’ll be stuck in Washington, while their rivals vigorously campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week told her colleagues to begin drafting articles of impeachment against Trump for his “failure to faithfully execute the law” in his dealings with Ukraine.
The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold its second public impeachment hearing Monday. If the Democrat-led House approves articles of impeachment against Trump, they would be sent over to the Republican-controlled Senate for a trial that would likely begin in January.
Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Michael Bennet would serve as jurors in a trial that, if history is any indication, could last five weeks or more and require them (by rule) to be in attendance up to six days a week — effectively sidelining them from the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3 and the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 11. Trump has suggested he would like former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden and House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff among other witnesses to testify, and Senate Republicans have talked openly about a prolonged trial disrupting the race.
“How long do presidential candidates want to be here on the floor of the Senate, instead of in Iowa and New Hampshire?" Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell mused to reporters last month.
Sanders, though, may have a secret weapon sitting in the other chamber: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who endorsed the self-described democratic socialist in October and has already campaigned with him in Iowa.
“You know, it's certainly a consideration,” Ocasio-Cortez told BuzzFeed News when asked recently if she would stump for Sanders if there’s a Senate trial. “I haven't made any hard commitments but ... I think it’s a possibility and it’s certainly something that I’m open to.”
Warren goes after Bloomberg on his own turf
Sen. Elizabeth Warren welcomed former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the race, happy to use the billionaire as a foil for her plan for a tax on wealth. In the 12 days since he declared his candidacy, Bloomberg has already spent tens of millions of dollars — a small fraction of his estimated $50 billion in net worth — on a national ad campaign.
But Warren launched a new ad as well.
The ad, which ran only once in New York on the Bloomberg-owned Bloomberg TV, discusses Warren’s proposed wealth tax on the richest Americans. It includes footage of both Bloomberg and hedge fund magnate Leon Cooperman, who teared up on CNBC last month when discussing Warren’s plans and what he called the “vilification of billionaires.” In response, the Warren campaign began to sell mugs with a “Billionaire Tears” label.
I guess some billionaires figured it'd be a lot cheaper to spend a few hundred million to buy the American presidency than paying their fair share in a #WealthTax so that everyone can succeed. I put an ad on Bloomberg TV to let them know—I'm not backing down from this fight. pic.twitter.com/cULpOZYKoh— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) December 4, 2019
Warren also attacked Bloomberg in an interview this week on Bloomberg TV.
“What’s broken in America is we’ve got a country that is working great for those at the top, an economy that’s working great for those at the top, and a democracy that is working great for those at the top,” Warren said. “It’s just not working much for anyone else. And that’s why I’m so concerned about Michael Bloomberg jumping into this race, dropping $37 million in one week on ad buys. I don’t believe that elections ought to be for sale, and I don’t think as a Democratic Party that we should say that the only way you’re gonna get elected, the only way you’re gonna be our nominee, is either if you are a billionaire, or if you’re sucking up to billionaires.”
Sen. Kamala Harris also took a shot at Bloomberg, and billionaire Tom Steyer, in her announcement that she was withdrawing from the race on Tuesday.
“My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue,” Harris wrote in an email to supporters. “I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign. And as the campaign has gone on, it’s become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete.”
Kerry endorses Biden, but will it matter?
On Thursday, John Kerry — the former senator, secretary of state and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee — gave his endorsement to Joe Biden, who was vice president when Kerry served in the Obama administration.
“Proud to head back to Iowa tomorrow to campaign with my friend Joe,” tweeted Kerry. “I’m not endorsing Joe because I’ve known him for so long, but because I know him so well: he'll be ready on day one to put back together the country and the world that Donald Trump has broken apart.”
How much will Kerry’s endorsement matter? According to 538’s endorsement tracker, Biden leads the field by a wide margin, which correlates to his lead in national polling averages. After that, the numbers split, as Sen. Kamala Harris was second in endorsements when she dropped out due to a lack of fundraising and anemic poll numbers. Of the remaining candidates, Sen. Cory Booker is currently third in endorsements, but he's in danger of failing to qualify for the Dec. 19 debate.
It remains to be seen how much of a factor Kerry will be in the Biden campaign. The biggest endorsement so far this cycle has been that of Ocasio-Cortez, whose backing has helped Sanders as he seeks to shore up his support among young voters and the Hispanic community. Ocasio-Cortez has also traded words with South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaign over free college tuition.
“Of course I would.”
— Former Vice President Joe Biden, when asked Wednesday if he’d consider asking Harris to join his ticket as VP
“You’re a damn liar, man.”
— Biden to an attendee at a town hall in Iowa on Thursday who accused him of landing his son Hunter a seat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company as a way to sell access to the Obama administration
“I don’t hate anyone. I was raised in a way that is a heart full of love and always pray for the president. And I still pray for the president. I pray for the president all the time. So don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.”
— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday, to a reporter who asked if she hates President Trump
“I’m not on a timetable — I’m on a mission.”
— Pelosi at a CNN town hall on Thursday, when asked about her future
“No, not at all. Not at all. It’s a hoax. It’s a hoax. It’s a big fat hoax.”
— President Trump, when asked by a reporter on Thursday if he’s worried about the “stain” impeachment might have on his legacy
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