The Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg in the spotlight for Nevada debate
Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, your daily rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.
We’re Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here’s what we’re watching today on the campaign trail.
LEADING THE DAY:
SIN CITY SHOWDOWN: Six of the Democratic presidential candidates will faceoff on stage at the Paris Las Vegas hotel tonight ahead of the Nevada Caucuses on Saturday. While there have already been eight presidential debates this cycle (yes, you read that correctly, eight!), this forum will be different from the rest. For one, former Democratic contender Andrew YangAndrew YangGeorge Floyd protests show corporations must support racial and economic equality Andrew Yang discusses his universal basic income pilot program Andrew Yang on the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis MORE will not be on stage, but rather commentating on CNN. However, the biggest change will be Michael BloombergMichael BloombergEngel scrambles to fend off primary challenge from left It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Liberals embrace super PACs they once shunned MORE’s presence on stage. The former mayor of the Big Apple hasn’t been on the debate stage since announcing his presidential run in November. He also hasn’t given a ton of interviews to the press, so tonight will be the first time we will see Bloomberg grilled by the moderators and the candidates.
A number of Bloomberg’s rivals have already signaled they will attack him in Las Vegas, despite him not being on the ballot in the state. Senior aides for former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE’s campaign told reporters on Wednesday that he will hit Bloomberg on a number of controversies he’s been tied to recently — his past support of the stop-and-frisk policy used by New York City police; his 2008 comments linking the financial crisis to the end of a discriminatory housing practice known as “redlining”; and allegations of sexual harassment at his company.
You can also bet that the former mayor will take fire from progressive Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.). Warren referred to Bloomberg as “an egomaniac billionaire” in a tweet on Tuesday, and accused him of “buying his way into the debate.” Meanwhile, Sanders was locked into a war of words with Bloomberg on Monday after he said Bloomberg did not have the energy needed to defeat Trump. Bloomberg later hit back with an ad calling Sanders out for the behavior and rhetoric of some of his supporters.
Will Bloomberg fold under pressure on stage? Will he lash out? Will he hit back? Will he stay cool? We’ll be watching for how Bloomberg performs under pressure and how he is able to defend himself from the expected onslaught of attacks.
Five things to watch in tonight’s Nevada debate, by Julia.
FROM THE TRAIL:
In the leadup to Wednesday night’s primary debate, most of the candidates found time to swing by a picket line of striking casino workers outside The Palms Resort in Las Vegas. Among those that showed up: Biden, Warren, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegScaled-back Pride Month poses challenges for fundraising, outreach Biden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE, Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Democrats demand Republican leaders examine election challenges after Georgia voting chaos Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk MORE (D-Minn.) and billionaire activist Tom SteyerTom SteyerBloomberg wages war on COVID-19, but will he abandon his war on coal? Overnight Energy: 600K clean energy jobs lost during pandemic, report finds | Democrats target diseases spread by wildlife | Energy Dept. to buy 1M barrels of oil Ocasio-Cortez, Schiff team up to boost youth voter turnout MORE. The Hll’s Jonathan Easley paid a visit of his own to the site of the strike:
Las Vegas – hundreds of Culinary 226 members marching outside The Palms to fight for a new contract. Warren, Buttigieg and Klobuchar expected here later pic.twitter.com/jJj3UUR2P3
— Jonathan Easley (@JonEasley) February 19, 2020
Warren swarmed as she arrives with doughnuts for the Culinary 226 picket line outside The Palms pic.twitter.com/4eMPyu3pd0
— Jonathan Easley (@JonEasley) February 19, 2020
DEBATE COUNTERPROGRAMMING: President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE is set to campaign across three western states – Arizona, Colorado and Nevada – this week, offering a kind-of counterprogramming to the Democratic primary race, The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant reports. One of the events in Phoenix on Wednesday will coincide with the Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas. Arizona, in particular, has emerged as an electoral battleground in recent years. Trump carried it in 2016 by only 4 points and the state has shown signs of drifting in Democrats’ favor.
HEALTH FIGHT:A spokesperson for Sanders’s presidential campaign said she misspoke on Wednesday when she falsely claimed on CNN’s “New Day” that Bloomberg had previously suffered a heart attack, The Hill’s Rebecca Klar reports. The spokesperson, Briahna Joy Gray, said she intended to say that the former New York City mayor had undergone a stent procedure similar to the one Sanders underwent last fall after having a heart attack. She also fended off criticism over Sanders’s refusal to release additional medical records, noting that he had already made three detailed reports public. Still, the squabble may reignite questions over age in the Democratic primary race. Both Sanders and Bloomberg are 78 years old, and would, if nominated, hold the distinction of being the oldest major-party presidential nominee in U.S. history.
IOWA FOREVER: The results of a recanvass of Iowa caucus results released on Tuesday show Buttigieg and Sanders separated by just thousandths of a percentage point, Tal reports. Buttigieg leads Sanders by .08 state delegate equivalents – 26.186 percent for Buttigieg to 26.182 percent for Sanders. Still, the former South Bend mayor is expected to be awarded more national delegates due to caucus rules. Sanders’s campaign, meanwhile, has signaled that he could request a full recount in Iowa. “We now believe a recount will give Sen. Sanders enough State Delegate Equivalents to put him over the top by that metric as well,” said Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser for Sanders’s campaign, noting Sanders’s lead in the popular votes. “We want to thank the people of Iowa, our supporters, our volunteers and everyone who made this possible.”
A WARNING TO MODERATES: Bloomberg’s campaign is warning that Sanders could take an “insurmountable” lead in the delegate count if moderate candidates continue to crowd out one another in the primary race, Julia reports. In a memo, advisers to the former New York City mayor asserted that the 2020 presidential contest has become a three-way race between Bloomberg, Sanders and Trump. In terms of the Democratic primary race, they wrote, Sanders stands to amass a massive delegate lead over his rivals, because of the crowded state of the moderate lane. “If Biden, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar remain in the race despite having no path to appreciably collecting delegates on Super Tuesday (and beyond), they will propel Sanders to a seemingly insurmountable delegate lead by siphoning votes away from [Bloomberg],” the advisers, Mitch Stewart and Dan Kanninen, wrote.
Steve IsraelSteven (Steve) J. IsraelThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Bad polling data is piling up for Trump Biden faces new hurdle: Winning as front-runner The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden on the cusp of formally grasping the Democratic nomination MORE: What to watch at the debate tonight
Ed Rendell: Advice for fellow Democrats: Don’t count out Biden, don’t fear a brokered convention
BIG MONEY: Warren has long denounced the role of big money in politics, vowing for more than a year not to take money from political action committees in her presidential bid. Now, she’s getting a boost from a supportive super PAC in Nevada, The Hill’s Tal Axelrod reports. The group, Persist PAC, launched a new $1 million-plus ad on Wednesday casting the Massachusetts senator as an ally of the working class. In a statement, a spokesperson for Warren said that the senator’s position on big money in politics hasn’t changed, but did not explicitly call for the super PAC to shut down, leaving open the possibility that it could continue to spend money in support of Warren’s presidential ambitions. “Senator Warren’s position hasn’t changed. Since day one of this campaign, she has made clear that she thinks all of the candidates should lock arms together and say we don’t want super PACs and billionaires to be deciding our Democratic nominee,” the spokesman Chris Hayden said.
ABC NEWS/WASHINGTON POST – NATIONAL
Sanders: 32 percent (+4)
Biden: 17 percent (-7)
Bloomberg: 14 percent (+9)
Warren: 11 percent (+/-0)
Buttigieg: 7 percent (+2)
Klobuchar: 6 percent (+3)
UMASS LOWELL – SOUTH CAROLINA
Biden: 23 percent
Sanders: 21 percent
Steyer: 13 percent
Buttigieg: 11 percent
Warren: 11 percent
Klobuchar: 9 percent
Gabbard: 4 percent
THE WELCOME PARTY/CHANGE RESEARCH – SOUTH CAROLINA
Biden: 23 percent (-2)
Sanders: 23 percent (+3)
Steyer: 20 percent (+2)
Buttigieg: 15 percent (+8)
Warren: 9 percent (-2)
Klobuchar: 8 percent (+6)
Gabbard: 1 percent (-2)
MARK YOUR CALENDARS:
There are 3 days until the Nevada caucuses, 10 days until the South Carolina primary and 13 days until Super Tuesday.
CNN will host town hall events with five Democratic presidential candidates this week ahead of the Nevada caucuses. The first round of forums began on Tuesday. Here’s what’s up next:
THURSDAY, FEB. 20
8 p.m. EST: Joe Biden
9 p.m. EST: Elizabeth Warren
And here’s the upcoming Democratic debate schedule:
TUESDAY, FEB. 25 in Charleston, S.C.
SUNDAY, MARCH 15 in Phoenix
We’ll update you as soon as the DNC announces the date and location of the 12th (and final) Democratic primary debate.
ONE FUN THING:
DEBATE SNACKS: Reporters like to often share their debate night or election night snacks (I always have my go-to Kind Bars), but today we’re going to hone in on what Bloomberg, the new kid on the debate block, is snacking on the run up to his 2020 Democratic debate debut.
The New York Times reports that in between breaks during debate prep, Bloomberg has been noshing on matzo with peanut butter. The protein-rich snack of choice for the candidate got Twitter talking on Wednesday with a number of takes.
My kids eat it for breakfast at least once a week. Here’s the thing: when you go on a fancy amazing Passover program, you feel a bit cheated out of the matzo experience because there is soooooo much other amazing food. (PS join us @PesachMountain this year…)
— Bethany S. Mandel (@bethanyshondark) February 19, 2020
Do people actually eat matzo not on Passover?
— Josh Nathan-Kazis (@joshnathankazis) February 19, 2020
Matzo and peanut butter is what my school kept in the principal’s office for all the kids who forgot their bagged lunch https://t.co/IYzty8SvWI
— t o v a (@tubshe) February 19, 2020
This sounds like the eleventh plague.
Bloomberg debate prep nourishment is “snacking on matzo with peanut butter” in a rented warehouse. https://t.co/gS87ZBypAK
— Josh Robin (@joshrobin) February 19, 2020
We’ll be back tomorrow with a debate recap and a look ahead at Saturday’s Nevada Caucuses!
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