The Democrats/progressives 2020 Part I

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2020 Presidential Election Calendar
The Democrats/progressives 2019
The darker side of Rep. Adam Schiff
Joe Biden and a long-overdue conversation about stuttering

29 April
Joe Biden wins Ohio’s mail-in primary delayed by coronavirus
Tuesday’s primary was the first major test of statewide elections via mail amid an outbreak.
Overall turnout was surprisingly strong, said Secretary of State Frank LaRose. While his office said about 1.5 million votes had been cast as of midday Saturday, down sharply from the 3.2 million cast in Ohio’s 2016 presidential primary, he said some larger counties received tens of thousands of additional ballots Tuesday.

28 April
There’s Nothing Wrong With Stacey Abrams’s Campaign to Be Vice-President
By Ed Kilgore
The idea of a Biden-Abrams ticket was bruited about by Biden’s own staff before the former veep even announced his candidacy, as a sort of curtain-raising blockbuster. That trial balloon was shot down not by Biden or his staff, but by Abrams, who sensibly decided against spending over a year “running for second place” at a time when her name was still circulating as a possible contender for the big job.
As it happens, Stacey Abrams’s voice is already a regular part of national discourse. She’s already getting plenty of attention as the former Democratic opponent to a Republican governor who is gambling her state’s health and safety in a precipitant relaxation of coronavirus precautions. She’s also a preeminent authority on protecting voting rights at a time when minority voting is probably more threatened than it has been since Jim Crow ended, and a representative of the particular demographic (African-American women) without whose steady support Joe Biden would not be in the position to name a running mate in the first place.

14 April
Barack Obama Endorsed Joe Biden For President And Praised Bernie Sanders’ Campaign
“I believe Joe has all of the qualities we need in a president right now,” Obama said of his former vice president.
Barack Obama endorsed his former vice president Joe Biden’s presidential campaign in a nearly 12-minute address uploaded to YouTube on Tuesday morning, while acknowledging the movement that Sen. Bernie Sanders built over the course of his two presidential runs.
“Joe will be a better candidate for having run the gauntlet of primaries and caucuses alongside one of the most impressive Democratic fields ever. Each of our candidates were talented and decent with the track record of accomplishment, smart ideas, and serious visions for the future,” Obama said. “That’s certainly true for the candidate that made it farther than any other — Bernie Sanders.”
Obama Officially Endorses Biden For President
(NPR) Obama framed his endorsement by talking about the leadership he says is required to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. “The kind of leadership that’s guided by knowledge and experience, honesty and humility, empathy and grace. That kind of leadership doesn’t just belong in our state capitals and mayors’ offices,” Obama said. “It belongs in the White House, and that’s why I’m so proud to endorse Joe Biden for president of the United States.”
It’s Obvious Whom Joe Biden Should Pick as Vice President
He needs a running mate who strengthens the ticket in the areas where he is weakest. One person stands out.
(NYT) Among the other contenders, a recent poll (by Data for Progress for the group Way to Win) found that Ms. Harris ran a close second to Ms. Abrams in terms of support among African-Americans.
Ultimately, Mr. Biden will make a pick based on comfort, fit and fitness for the office, and there is no shortage of talented women he can choose. If he wants to base his decision on the available evidence and proven success in areas where he has failed, then choosing Stacey Abrams is the smartest move.

8 April
And then there was one
Bernie Sanders Drops Out of 2020 Democratic Race for President
Mr. Sanders, a democratic socialist making his second run for the White House, withdrew after a series of losses to Joseph R. Biden Jr., who emerges as the presumptive nominee for the general election.
In a live stream on Wednesday morning, Mr. Sanders, eloquent but without his characteristic spark, was by turns gracious and resolute as he announced his decision. “I cannot in good conscience continue to mount a campaign that cannot win and which would interfere with the important work required of all of us in this difficult hour,” Mr. Sanders said.
Though he made it clear that he viewed Mr. Biden as the party’s 2020 nominee, he said he would remain on the ballot in states that still have primaries and would continue to gather delegates — a move that would give him leverage to influence the Democratic platform and continue carrying his message.
With the public health emergency preventing both candidates from holding in-person campaign events, Mr. Sanders spent the last several weeks on the sidelines, delivering addresses via live stream and making occasional television appearances, while facing calls from fellow Democrats to exit the race and help unify the party behind Mr. Biden. Though Mr. Biden had been careful not to pressure Mr. Sanders, he had begun to move ahead as if the race were over, taking steps, for example, to begin his search for a running mate.

30 -31 March
How Long Can Bernie’s Campaign Survive?
By Ed Kilgore
(New York) In the long, strange twilight state of the once-red-hot 2020 Democratic presidential nominating process, Joe Biden is being treated as the presumptive nominee by most objective observers and less objective party figures who want the general election contest to begin instantly. But the other person who has a say in when the nominating contest is over is Bernie Sanders, and he’s not showing signs of going anywhere soon, as The Week reports:
Sanders, who remains about 300 delegates behind former Vice President Joe Biden in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, was Late Night with Seth Meyers’ first remote guest of the COVID-19 pandemic Monday night. Meyers asked Sanders if he still saw a path to the nomination, “and if not, why are you remaining in the race?” Sanders had an answer for both questions.
Acknowledging the delegate count, Sanders said “we have a path,” but “it is, admittedly, a narrow path.” “We have a strong grassroots movement who believe that we have got to stay in the race” to fight for his platform’s principles, Sanders continued. “We need Medicare-for-all,” to “raise the minimum wage to a living wage,” and “paid family and medical leave,” Sanders said — issues that have been highlighted throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Some critics will immediately compare Sanders’s desire to stick around to his stubborn persistence in 2016, beyond the point when Hillary Clinton had clearly won the nomination (behavior that some counted among the dozens of reasons for the shocking outcome of the general election). But that’s probably premature, thanks to the postponement of a host of primaries in the wake of COVID-19. According to the Associated Press, Joe Biden is still 774 pledged delegates short of the 1,991 he needs for the nomination. There are a total of 593 pledged delegates that will be awarded during primaries (and the one caucus in Wyoming) between now and June. So Biden cannot formally put this away until June 2, when another 686 delegates are at stake, and even then, proportional delegate award rules could keep the nomination theoretically undecided. Any Sanders surrender at this point might simply anticipate the inevitable defeat.
AOC breaks with Bernie on how to lead the left
The congresswoman is declining to back primary challengers following in her footsteps — and working within the system in Congress.
Of the half-dozen incumbent primary challengers Justice Democrats is backing this cycle, Ocasio-Cortez has endorsed just two. Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement moves are not a fluke but part of a larger change over the past several months. After her disruptive, burn-it-down early months in Congress, Ocasio-Cortez, who colleagues say is often conflict-averse in person, has increasingly been trying to work more within the system. She is building coalitions with fellow Democratic members and picking her fights more selectively.
Gone are her plans for a “corporate-free” caucus, modeled on the uncompromising tactics of the conservative Freedom Caucus. The goal then was to force leadership’s hand to go further left.
After starting some high-profile fights with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and tweaking Democratic colleagues on Twitter early in her tenure, Ocasio-Cortez has been more conciliatory toward other House Democrats. In February, she dubbed Pelosi the “mama bear of the Democratic Party.”

24 March
Joe Biden Is Spending His Time in the Coronavirus Bunker Thinking a Lot About His VP
(New York) Biden, now the all-but-presumptive Democratic presidential nominee in a race frozen by the coronavirus, had recently been taking heat for his relative absence in the national conversation while Donald Trump’s inept response to the crisis flooded cable TV and headlines. (“Where is Joe Biden?,” went the refrain from frustrated Bernie Sanders supporters, some jittery Biden fans, and plenty of Trumpy trolls.) On the phone …he criticized the president and congressional Republicans, insisted that true leadership required truth-telling, downplayed fears that Trump could postpone the general election….
What about his running mate?
At the very least, he’s been understating how deeply he’s talked it through with allies in informal conversations, especially in the days since the global crisis stuck him at home. And not one of the top Biden associates I spoke with in the last week had much doubt where he would ultimately focus a lot of his eventual vetting: his former rivals Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar. Realistically, a congressman close to the Biden inner circle predicted, no matter what happens, “the final five will include those three.”

19 March
Tulsi Gabbard drops out of presidential race, endorses Biden
“Although I may not agree with the vice president on every issue, I know that he has a good heart, and he’s motivated by his love for our country and the American people. I’m confident that he will lead our country guided by the spirit of aloha, respect and compassion, and thus help heal the divisiveness that has been tearing our country apart,” she said in a video posted to Twitter.
Gabbard, who was born in American Samoa and is of Samoan, Polynesian and Caucasian descent, was the only remaining nonwhite candidate in what had started out as a historically diverse Democratic field.

18 March
Andrew Cohen: Bernie Sanders has found his lost cause – and it’s him
The Independent senator trails Joe Biden by hundreds of delegates, meaning he would have to win the rest of the remaining contests with two-thirds of the vote.
…if you are Bernie Sanders – iconoclast, maverick, narcissist, revolutionary, egotist – you don’t believe the math, or the politics, or public opinion. You take counsel only from yourself.
If you have been running for elective office forever and losing as much as winning, this is how and who you are. It is your identity.
You have found your lost cause. It is you. You are the Confederate who rejected Reconstruction. You are the Japanese soldier who disappeared into the jungle, for decades, denying the empire’s defeat.
So, despite invitations from voters to go, Sanders so far refuses. As he showed in last Sunday’s debate with Biden, where he litigated voting records from the 1980s and revisited ancient differences, Sanders is more interested in winning the argument than the election.

17 March
Biden Sweeps Three States and Takes Commanding Lead, as Virus Reshapes American Politics
By Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin
(NYT) …the campaign freeze may be an obstacle for Mr. Biden, too, particularly if Mr. Sanders persists with a long-shot challenge that could take months to resolve. Mr. Biden had been hoping to extinguish Mr. Sanders’s candidacy with a string of landslide victories, continuing his momentum into the contests this week and then into the Georgia primary this coming Tuesday.
But like Ohio, Georgia recently announced it was moving its primary election. There is now the possibility of a major backlog of primaries in the late spring that could tempt Mr. Sanders to stay in the race and hope for a major shift in its political fundamentals.
Even if Mr. Sanders is largely sidelined by the coronavirus crisis, his continued presence in the race could hinder Mr. Biden’s ability to establish himself as the presumptive Democratic nominee and to turn his attention exclusively toward President Trump.
While he has been off the trail over the past week, Mr. Biden has begun to run something like a Rose Garden campaign, or whatever the equivalent is for someone who is not already the president: He appointed a public health task force and unveiled a detailed policy agenda for addressing the coronavirus in a formal speech on Thursday. Over the weekend Mr. Biden held a phone call with Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, his progressive former rival, and endorsed liberal policies on higher education and bankruptcy reform in an effort to woo the left.

16 March
In the Age of the Coronavirus, Biden’s ‘Results’ Require Bernie’s ‘Revolution’
(New York) Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders spent the opening rounds of Sunday’s Democratic primary debate arguing about whether a humane, comprehensive response to the COVID-19 pandemic requires radically changing America’s political and economic systems. Sanders argued in the affirmative, persistently framing the coronavirus crisis as an outgrowth of America’s broader failures on health-care policy. The Vermont senator demanded to know how the U.S. has managed to spend more per capita than any other nation on its health-care sector, even as it leaves millions of its people uninsured and hospitals unequipped to deal with a pandemic.
Biden countered that a crisis was no time for analyzing and redressing structural failures: When a building is on fire, you don’t sweat the details of how you’re going to rebuild it; you put the dang thing out. Or, in Biden’s words, “People are looking for results, not a revolution.” To that end, Biden’s answers about how he would combat the coronavirus as president was (in contrast with Sanders) short on moral critiques of underlying systems and structures of power, and long on bullet-pointed lists of immediate public health and economic measures for mitigating the coming damage.
And yet, the “results” that Biden promised were themselves unimaginable in the absence of nigh-revolutionary changes to America’s political economy.

10 March
Joseph R. Biden Jr. took command of the Democratic presidential race in decisive fashion on Tuesday, marshaling a powerful multiracial coalition in the South and the Midwest that swept aside Senator Bernie Sanders.
Replicating the combination of voters that delivered him broad victories a week ago on Super Tuesday, Mr. Biden won Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi with overwhelming support from African-Americans and with large margins among suburban and rural white voters.
While Mr. Sanders cannot be mathematically eliminated in the delegate race on Tuesday night, his path to success has narrowed to a sliver.
Note: There are still votes to be counted and delegates to be allocated
Mr. Biden struck notes of unity in a speech in Philadelphia, thanking Mr. Sanders and his supporters “for their tireless energy and their passion.” He added, “We share a common goal, and together, we’ll defeat Donald Trump.”
NB: Mississippi — 36 delegates; Missouri — 68 delegates; Michigan — 125 delegates
Thomas Friedman: Joe Biden, Not Bernie Sanders, Is the True Scandinavian
Sanders totally misunderstands what’s behind Denmark’s safety net.
Bernie Sanders often cites Denmark as the kind of country he would like America to be under his ideology of “democratic socialism.” Well, here’s a news flash: Bernie Sanders, with his hostile attitudes toward free trade, free markets and multinational corporations, probably couldn’t get elected to a municipal council in Denmark today. Ironically, Joe Biden, with his more balanced views on trade, corporations and unions, probably could.

5 March
Mike Bloomberg plans new group to support Democratic nominee
(WaPo) Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg has decided to form an independent expenditure campaign that will absorb hundreds of his presidential campaign staffers in six swing states to work to elect the Democratic nominee this fall.
Jessica Cisneros Should Be the Future of Her Party
(New York) [Henry] Cuellar may have won, but he doesn’t have much to celebrate. His margin of victory over Cisneros, a newcomer who lacked his connections and the support of the party’s elders, betrays vulnerability. The combined support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Koch network, and the local oil and gas industry was barely enough to keep him in power.
The fragility of Cuellar’s grasp on power … also indicts party leaders, who largely embraced Cuellar ahead of Tuesday’s election. Though Cuellar has an A rating from the NRA and a poor record on climate change, and backs severe restrictions on abortion rights, Pelosi not only endorsed him but actively campaigned for him. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee instituted a blacklist designed to deter vendors and consultants from providing their services to insurgents like Cisneros. Pelosi and others worked against the labor movement, and major party allies like EMILY’s List, all to keep Cuellar in a district that any Democrat would probably win.
Biden wages likability war on Sanders
(Politico) Look forward to daily reminders of Sanders’ bitter fight against Hillary Clinton four years ago — and how that election turned out for Democrats.
The morning after whipping Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden woke up Wednesday to his primary opponent’s first paid negative TV ads attacking him over Social Security and trade.
Biden’s campaign response: 2016.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren ends presidential campaign
(WaPo) Elizabeth Warren, the senator from Massachusetts who promised to deliver “big, structural change” and vigorously fight corruption, ended her presidential bid Thursday after a series of devastating primary results left her once-promising campaign without a path forward..
America Punished Elizabeth Warren for Her Competence
The country still doesn’t know what to make of a woman—in politics, and beyond—who refuses to qualify her success.

4 March
Bloomberg drops out after terrible Super Tuesday, endorses Biden
(The Hill) “Three months ago, I entered the race for President to defeat Donald Trump. Today, I am leaving the race for the same reason: to defeat Donald Trump — because it is clear to me that staying in would make achieving that goal more difficult,” Bloomberg said in a statement.
As the Democratic presidential nominees have their senior moment, the VP job has never looked so good
Andrew Cohen
(Globe & Mail) The greying of the president will bring new respect to the vice-presidency. It will sharply elevate the office. With the president older than ever before, the VP will be more important than ever before. … As the cliché says, he or she is only a heartbeat away from the presidency. That didn’t matter much when the president was young and healthy. But what if the president is old with a troublesome heart, such as Bernie Sanders?
Actuarially, the chances of the next president dying in office are higher for Mr. Sanders (78) and Mr. Biden than they are for Elizabeth Warren (70), Amy Klobuchar (59), Kamala Harris (55) and Pete Buttigieg (38), all of whom are now vice-presidential prospects.
Expect the choice of running mate to become an issue among Democrats as the race moves to their convention in July. It increasingly makes sense for the candidates to announce their running mates before the convention, as Republican Ronald Reagan did in 1976.
First, an announcement will make a splash, giving voters a sense of who may well be president imminently beyond the top of the ticket. It is an early measure of a candidate’s judgment.
Second, it will establish a balance of sex, race, ethnicity, ideology and geography on the ticket. As the Democrat will be a man, he will probably want to run with a woman. Both will consider someone who is a visible minority – African-American or Hispanic.
Third, choosing a running mate will ensure a division of labour. A presidential campaign is a marathon, and these folks are old. For Mr. Biden, markedly unsteady, a running mate would offer relief from an enervating campaign and share his unrelenting scrutiny.
The vice-presidency this time will be quite a prize. Given the prospect of the president dying or retiring early, it is a more likely stepping stone to the White House, as the office has been for 14 of 45 presidents. There’s a good chance of succeeding the boss.

3 March Super Tuesday

Biden Revives Campaign, Winning Nine States, but Sanders Takes California
The voting on the biggest day of the Democratic presidential campaign increasingly suggested a two-person race between candidates representing competing wings of the party.
(NYT) The Democratic presidential race emerged from Super Tuesday with two clear front-runners as Joseph R. Biden Jr. won Texas, Virginia, North Carolina and at least six other states, largely through support from African-Americans and moderates, while Senator Bernie Sanders harnessed the backing of liberals and young voters to claim the biggest prize of the campaign, California, and several other primaries.
For his part, Mr. Sanders continued to show strength with the voters who have made up his political base: Latinos, liberals and those under age 40. But he struggled to expand his appeal with older voters and African-Americans.

2 March
Why Pete Buttigieg should be DNC chairman
It’s not over for Pete Buttigieg. His presidential bid has been set aside, but his desire to “bring a new kind of politics to our country” could be fulfilled if Democratic Party leaders have the good sense to make him a leader of the Democratic National Committee — now.
The party chairman’s job is to put together a strategy and infrastructure that enable Democrats not to tear down and radicalize the system but win elections.
Buttigieg’s intelligence, adroitness and ground-level experience could make that happen. …national committee members should carve out one of those roles for Buttigieg and let him get to work on the strategy and mechanics of electing a Democrat to the White House.
Buttigieg goes out with style, grace and a bright future

Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke and Harry Reid endorse Biden
A consolidation of the party’s moderate wing came as fears grow that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a self-described democratic socialist, could amass an insurmountable lead in delegates. A third of the pledged delegates for the party’s presidential nomination are up for grabs on Tuesday.
Will Pete and Amy’s Abandoned Voters Move to Biden?
By Ed Kilgore
(New York) With Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar withdrawing from the presidential race and signaling that they will both endorse Joe Biden, it’s logical to assume that most past supporters of these two high-speed drivers in the “moderate lane” will move right to Team Joe, just in time to give him a big Super Tuesday boost. But that’s actually not 100 percent clear.
For one thing, early voting means that an untold number of Super Tuesday votes have already been cast for Buttigieg and Klobuchar. One estimate is that 40 percent of Californians who plan to vote had already voted by the end of the weekend, and there has been robust early voting in the other very large Super Tuesday state, Texas. These are votes that obviously won’t be available to Biden.
Beyond that, as Ron Brownstein has pointed out, just calling them “moderates” and assuming they’ll now support Biden ignores the fact that Buttigieg and Klobuchar voters actually share an important characteristic with Elizabeth Warren fans.
… A huge bloc of college-educated white votes is now parked with two candidates who just left the race and a third who, at this point, has a vanishingly small chance of actually becoming the nominee. These voters aren’t guaranteed to become the tipping point in a Sanders-Biden race. They aren’t distributed as evenly across the upcoming states as white voters without a college degree, so they may not shape the result in as many places. And there’s no assurance that they will coalesce behind one candidate. But there’s no question that there is enough of them to make a difference if they do.
Amy Klobuchar Drops Out of Presidential Race and Plans to Endorse Biden

1 March
Buttigieg drops out of presidential race
The former South Bend, Ind., mayor called it quits after failing to gain traction in more diverse states.
(Politico) Pete Buttigieg dropped out of the 2020 presidential race Sunday night after a roller-coaster campaign that saw him rise from total obscurity to Iowa victor — only to stall out [as] Democratic primary race turned to more diverse states.
NYT Mr. Obama did not specifically encourage Mr. Buttigieg to endorse Mr. Biden, said the official, who insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversations. But Mr. Obama did note that Mr. Buttigieg has considerable leverage at the moment and should think about how best to use it.
Pete Buttigieg is ending his presidential bid: (WaPo) With his name still on the Super Tuesday ballot, senior adviser Michael Halle and deputy campaign manager Hari Sevugan made the case that while Buttigieg likely wouldn’t win any of the 14 states that vote Tuesday, he could still accumulate enough delegates to keep Sanders’s lead to a minimum.

29 February
Joe Biden wins South Carolina primary, reshaping the Democratic race
(WaPo) Joe Biden scores a decisive win, pumping new life into his struggling campaign and slowing Bernie Sanders’s momentum for the first time.
The win pumped new life into Biden’s struggling campaign, as he became the first candidate to score a clear-cut victory against Sanders this year. Still, Sanders (I-Vt.) is polling strongly in several of the Super Tuesday states that vote this week, and it could yet prove difficult for any of his competitors to catch up.
NYT: Offers of support from donors and others who had been backing other campaigns came pouring in. Deval Patrick, the former Massachusetts governor who briefly ran for president himself in 2020, donated the maximum allowable amount to Mr. Biden on Saturday evening. Terry McAuliffe, the former Virginia governor, endorsed Mr. Biden on CNN.
In his primary-night victory speech…he made the case not just for himself but for down-ballot Democrats, giving a shout-out to a freshman Democratic House member in a marginal seat and the challenger to Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican. The message was unsubtle and a preview of what is to come as he seeks to rally the party behind him, even if Mr. Sanders’s name went unsaid: Mr. Biden is a team player and Mr. Sanders is not.
Winning South Carolina, Biden Makes Case Against Sanders: ‘Win Big or Lose’
Joseph R. Biden Jr. drew on his decades-long relationships and leveraged his close bond with black voters to wrap up a state long considered his stronghold.
Steyer drops out of 2020 race
(The Hill) Billionaire businessman Tom Steyer dropped out of the presidential race after a disappointing showing in South Carolina’s primary. The billionaire businessman vowed to support the ultimate Democratic presidential nominee, saying any of the contenders would be “a million times better” than President Trump, while promising to stay involved in South Carolina

28 February
The key to Super Tuesday may be a state you’re not expecting
(WaPo) While most of the attention will be on the big troves of delegates to be allocated in California and Texas, it’s worth keeping an eye on states whose contests generally go under the radar. Among them is Oklahoma, which will be sending more than three dozen pledged delegates to this summer’s Democratic convention in Milwaukee.
Democratic Leaders Willing to Risk Party Damage to Stop Bernie Sanders
Interviews with dozens of Democratic Party officials, including 93 superdelegates, found overwhelming opposition to handing Mr. Sanders the nomination if he fell short of a majority of delegates.
Two reasons Bernie Sanders should terrify Democrats: Florida and Pennsylvania
(WaPo) … His comments on Cuba’s communist dictatorship, lightly condemning it while effusively praising the party’s literacy programs, drew an immediate and harsh response from two Democratic first-term congresswomen from Florida. They know they flipped their seats from red to blue because of support from normally Republican voters of Cuban ancestry whose families fled the dictatorship. Sanders’s views on the Castro tyranny will hurt his own race as well. Cubans were 6 percent of Florida’s voters in 2016.
Sanders’s views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will also hurt him in Florida. Jews made up roughly 4 percent of Florida’s voters, according to a 2016 exit poll. They voted heavily for Clinton, giving her a 71-23 margin nationally. But liberal Jews who are suspicious of incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tend to also be suspicious of the Palestinian government. A recent Siena College Research Institute poll found Trump beating Sanders among Jews in New York. That won’t happen in Florida, because New York’s Jewish population contains many more Republican-voting Orthodox Jews. But even a slight slippage in Sanders’s margin among Florida Jews could be decisive in a state where tenths of a point are crucial.
In Pennsylvania, Sanders’s problem comes in the form of his proposed ban on fracking for natural gas. This is an essential industry in rural Pennsylvania, providing thousands of jobs and economic stimulus to otherwise remote and depressed regions. Democrats in the state are worried that a fracking ban could cost them a state that Trump won by only 44,000 votes in 2016.

25 February
Winners and losers from the South Carolina debate
(The Hill) Former Vice President Joe Biden – Biden kept his hopes alive with one of his strongest debate performances.
Democrats debate whether Medicare for All is liability in 2020 election
(PBS) At Tuesday night’s debate, Buttigieg echoed Democrats who have warned that a Sanders nomination would harm candidates running in down-ticket races. Buttigieg says Democratic candidates who flipped House seats in 2018 don’t want to defend Sanders’ policies on “Medicare for All.”
Why Sanders might not be a lock for the nomination
What everybody knows is true has been wrong before, including in the very recent past. And there are big reasons it may not be right this time
Thomas Friedman: Dems, Want to Defeat Trump? Form a Team of Rivals
You can win in a landslide.
[T]he Democrats have to do something extraordinary — forge a national unity ticket the likes of which they have never forged before. And that’s true even if Democrats nominate someone other than Bernie Sanders.
What would this super ticket look like? Well, I suggest Sanders — and Michael Bloomberg, who seems to be his most viable long-term challenger — lay it out this way:
“I want people to know that if I am the Democratic nominee these will be my cabinet choices — my team of rivals. I want Amy Klobuchar as my vice president. Her decency, experience and moderation will be greatly appreciated across America and particularly in the Midwest. I want Mike Bloomberg (or Bernie Sanders) as my secretary of the Treasury. Our plans for addressing income inequality are actually not that far apart, and if we can blend them together it will be great for the country and reassure markets. I want Joe Biden as my secretary of state. No one in our party knows the world better or has more credibility with our allies than Joe. I will ask Elizabeth Warren to serve as health and human services secretary. No one could bring more energy and intellect to the task of expanding health care for more Americans than Senator Warren.
“I want Kamala Harris for attorney general. She has the toughness and integrity needed to clean up the corrupt mess Donald Trump has created in our Justice Department. I would like Mayor Pete as homeland security secretary; his intelligence and military background would make him a quick study in that job. I would like Tom Steyer to head a new cabinet position: secretary of national infrastructure. We’re going to rebuild America, not just build a wall on the border with Mexico. And I am asking Cory Booker, the former mayor of Newark, to become secretary of housing and urban development. Who would bring more passion to the task of revitalizing our inner cities than Cory?
“I am asking Mitt Romney to be my commerce secretary. He is the best person to promote American business and technology abroad — and it is vital that the public understands that my government will be representing all Americans, including Republicans. I would like Andrew Yang to be energy secretary, overseeing our nuclear stockpile and renewable energy innovation. He’d be awesome.
“I am asking Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to serve as our U.N. ambassador. Can you imagine how our international standing would improve with youth worldwide with her representing next-gen America? And I want Senator Michael Bennet, the former superintendent of the Denver Public Schools, to be my secretary of education. No one understands education reform better than he does. Silicon Valley Congressman Ro Khanna would be an ideal secretary of labor, balancing robots and workers to create “new collar” jobs.
“Finally, I am asking William H. McRaven, the retired Navy admiral who commanded the U.S. Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014 and oversaw the 2011 Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden, to be my defense secretary. Admiral McRaven, more than any other retired military officer, has had the courage and integrity to speak out against the way President Trump has politicized our intelligence agencies.”

What Obama Is Saying in Private About the Democratic Primary
(New York) The truth of Obama’s silence on the 2020 primary is that it’s not just about his obvious wish to stay out of the spotlight, but it also reflects a choreographed strategy. With the race looking more and more likely to grow bitter and messy, and maybe even wind up in a contested convention, the former president and those around him are increasingly sure he will need to play a prominent role in bringing the party back together and calming its tensions later this summer. … he’s being careful to ensure he can be seen as an honest broker in June and July — a potentially necessary designation given both his status as the party’s most popular figure and the real possibility that Sanders, or another candidate, could enter the summer with a plurality of the delegates needed for the nomination but not an outright victory. “Obama is going to look at the [delegate math to determine] the outcome. If the math brings someone [to the nomination], he’ll back it in full,” one person who still speaks with the former president told me recently. “His biggest dilemma is if Bernie is at 35-40 [percent of the delegates], and no one else is [at] 20. Does he say, ‘You have to go with who won [a plurality of] the delegates, and who looks to be the true front-runner?’” (17 February)

22 – 23 February
David Leonhardt: Bernie Sanders Is Making a Big Mistake
It has to do with respect.
(NYT) The art of peeling off voters — those in the middle or those who aren’t ideological — may be the most important skill in politics. It doesn’t require a mushy centrist policy agenda, either. …  Voters respond to signals. They respond to gestures of respect from politicians who are willing to say, in effect: We may not agree on everything, but I see you and understand what matters to you.
To put it another way: Can you think of one way that Bernie Sanders is signaling respect to voters outside of his base?
Edward-Isaac Dovere: The Democratic Establishment Is Broken
(The Atlantic) A cynical, but perhaps realistic, argument has been embedded in Sanders’s campaign from the start: He’s the most electable because he’ll get all the people who would vote against Trump no matter who the Democratic nominee is. But he’s also the only one who will be able to activate an entirely different faction of voters. This assumes that all those anti-Trump voters will turn out for him. But although right now everyone is talking party unity, the Never Sanders whispers can be heard among people who would have called themselves “good Democrats” in any other cycle.
Sanders eviscerates the conventional wisdom about why he can’t win
In Nevada, he exposed his main rivals as weak, divided, and grasping at increasingly tenuous arguments about their viability.
(Politico) Sanders wasn’t supposed to be able to break through with black and brown voters , but the group was racially and ethnically diverse. (Sanders won 27% of African Americans and 53% of Hispanics across the state.) The Sanders movement is supposed to be limited to those crazy college kids who don’t remember socialist as a slur. But there were plenty of older Sanders backers at the Bellagio chanting ‘Bernie’ along with their 20-something comrades. (Sanders won every age category in the state except Nevadans over 65, which he ceded to Joe Biden.) … But he held his own with moderate voters (22%) and won across every issue area except voters who cared most about foreign policy, who went with Biden.

20 February
The benefits of a knives-out Democratic debate
By John Hudak, Deputy Director – Center for Effective Public Management
(Brookings) Stop whining about Democrats criticizing each other. The idea that Democrats attacking Democrats is a risk and an avenue that will deliver reelection to Donald Trump is nonsense. Democrats must attack each other and attack each other aggressively. Vetting presidential candidates, highlighting their weaknesses and the gaps in their record is essential to building a more qualified candidate.
Who Won (and Lost) the Democratic Debate in Nevada
(New York) 1) Elizabeth Warren
The Massachusetts senator’s campaign is probably beyond saving. Warren entered Wednesday night’s debate polling in fourth place nationally, some 15.5 points behind the front-running Bernie Sanders. Current surveys suggest she is poised to win no more than a negligible number of delegates in the Nevada caucuses, none in South Carolina, and, per FiveThirtyEight’s model, just 8 percent of 1,357 pledged delegates up for grab on Super Tuesday.
But if there was anything Warren could do to revive her candidacy in Nevada on Wednesday night, she did it many times over. …
6) Michael Bloomberg
Bloomberg was surrounded by men and women who’d spent nearly two years ingratiating themselves to Democratic audiences with fine-tuned talking points. …. His utter dearth of affect, charisma, and eloquence would have been damaging enough by themselves. … Bloomberg’s best hope is that our politics are too dysfunctional for any of this to matter. His commercials will be viewed far more widely than tonight’s debate. So, perhaps another $1 billion worth of ads will count for more than his total lack of political skill. The billionaire can still win, but only if democracy loses.

18 February
How Elizabeth Warren’s Camp Is Seeking to Regain the Spotlight
Ms. Warren’s campaign and her allies, convinced her message is being ignored, see a path forward — and they say writing her off would be a mistake.

13 February
Paul Krugman: Bernie Sanders Isn’t a Socialist
But he plays one on TV. That’s a problem.
The thing is, Bernie Sanders isn’t actually a socialist in any normal sense of the term. He doesn’t want to nationalize our major industries and replace markets with central planning; he has expressed admiration, not for Venezuela, but for Denmark. He’s basically what Europeans would call a social democrat — and social democracies like Denmark are, in fact, quite nice places to live, with societies that are, if anything, freer than our own.
So why does Sanders call himself a socialist? I’d say that it’s mainly about personal branding, with a dash of glee at shocking the bourgeoisie.
… the runner-up in New Hampshire has also been poisoning his own well. Over the past few days Pete Buttigieg has chosen to pose as a deficit hawk, thereby demonstrating that while he may be a fresh face, he has remarkably stale ideas.
Maybe Buttigieg is unaware of the growing consensus among mainstream economists that the deficit hysteria of seven or eight years ago was greatly overblown. Last year the former top economists in the Obama administration published an article titled “Who’s Afraid of Budget Deficits?” which concluded, “It’s time for Washington to put away its debt obsession and focus on bigger things.”
The Price of a Bloomberg Nomination Is Too Damn High
By Eric Levitz
(New York) Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, and Amy Klobuchar are not on my wavelength ideologically. I find much of the former South Bend mayor’s rhetoric vacuous, the former vice-president’s oratory unnervingly incoherent, and the Minnesota senator’s history of abusing her staff unacceptable. But none of them are running campaigns that make an open mockery of our nation’s democratic aspirations, or the Democratic Party’s purported opposition to plutocracy. And none of them could substitute personal wealth for the support of the Democratic coalition upon taking power. …
Michael Bloomberg is not a monster. By the standards set by other megabillionaires, he’s probably closer to a saint. While his fellow plutocrats have concentrated their political investments on accelerating the upward redistribution of wealth, Bloomberg has supplied ample resources to combating gun violence, checking Donald Trump’s power, and averting catastrophic climate change. His work on the latter issue has been especially valuable. If he would like to continue making recompense for the uglier aspects of his record by bankrolling the resistance to authoritarian ethno-nationalism in the U.S., Democrats should let him purchase their indulgences. But they must keep their party’s soul out of his price range.

12 February
E.J. Dionne Jr.: The Democrats are still searching
In a buoyant speech Tuesday night, Klobuchar spoke of giving “the people in the middle . . . someone to vote for in November.” That’s absolutely necessary. But so is the need to give the party’s left the motivation to mobilize. Democrats are still looking for a leader who can rise above the factional warfare in the face of the emergency Trump represents. They have yet to find that person.
Max Boot: Bernie Sanders is a risk we can’t run at this moment of national peril
The polls make clear that most Americans are very happy with the economy. In a recent Gallup survey, 59 percent said their personal financial situation has improved over the past year, an even higher number than in 1999 at the height of the dot-com boom. Under those circumstances, a normal president would have 60 percent support. But Trump’s approval rating is only 43.6 percent in the FiveThirtyEight polling average, because he has alienated so many people with his unconscionable words and deeds.
So there is an opening to beat Trump with a candidate who will be seen as a pair of safe hands at the tiller — someone who will not alienate much of the country or imperil our economy. Sanders is not that candidate.
Sanders scores the win
(Politico) Bernie Sanders got the repeat victory he was looking for in New Hampshire, four years after a huge win in the first primary state jumpstarted his 2016 campaign.
Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar also celebrated top-three finishes, while Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden look set to get left out of the chase for delegates. And Democrats nationally sighed in relief at experiencing a simple and smooth election night after last week’s vote-counting trouble in the Iowa caucuses.
Will tonight offer clarity or confusion?
(NYT) …it is also entirely possible that New Hampshire will echo Iowa in another way, by producing such a divided result that it fails to bring the race into sharp focus. In Iowa, five candidates finished in the double digits and the top two each earned barely a quarter of the popular vote. That was hardly an emphatic outcome, and it remains to be seen whether New Hampshire voters will be more decisive.
Of course, the lack of an overwhelming preference is also a kind of preference — one that would reflect voters’ dissatisfaction with the longtime national front-runner, Mr. Biden, and uncertainty about their remaining options. … If the early states are supposed to bring order to the race, it might be difficult for them to do that when Michael R. Bloomberg is bypassing them entirely with a self-funded campaign [Bloomberg’s Super Tuesday splurge]
Thomas Friedman: Paging Michael Bloomberg – Democrats need to nominate the right person to prevent Trump from winning a second term.
My fellow Americans, we face a national emergency. Never before have we had a president so utterly lacking in personal integrity, so able to lie and abuse his powers with such impunity and so blindly backed by an amoral party, an unscrupulous attorney general and a media-fund-raising juggernaut. It is an engine of raw power that will cram anything the president says or does right down your throat. … As Larry Diamond, editor of The Journal of Democracy, pointed out to me, several studies he’s been publishing show that the best way to defeat illiberal populism is not by trying to out-polarize the polarizer in chief but rather through broad, inclusive electoral strategies that pragmatically address the economic and social concerns of voters, including those who had previously voted for the populist.
Ronald Brownstein: The 2020 Democrats All Have the Same Problem -They’re niche candidates.
(The Atlantic) The results from Iowa, polls in New Hampshire, and surveys of Democrats beyond those states all point toward the same conclusion: So far, none of the candidates has built a coalition that reaches broadly across the party.

6 February
If You Think It’s Bad for Mainstream Democrats Now, Just Wait
By Jonathan Chait
It is always darkest, John McCain used to say, before it gets totally black. So it is for the American center-left right now. Bernie Sanders is currently favored to win the nomination, a prospect that would make Donald Trump a heavy favorite to win reelection, and open the possibility of a Corbyn-esque wipeout. …
The liberal conundrum begins with Joe Biden. The former vice-president led national polls until very recently, and has been the most plausible mainstream liberal candidate. At the same time, doubts about his ability to handle the rigors of the campaign at an advanced age have caused the Democratic Party to withhold the institutional support it gave Hillary Clinton. Yet his name was big enough to preclude a younger, more vigorous Democrat from emerging in the ideological space he occupied. Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris all tried and failed to run as ideological heirs of Barack Obama, because Obama’s actual partner was still there.
Yet Biden underperformed in Iowa, and his campaign appears to be deflating, at least momentarily. So what to do?
… in the absence of an effective party to coordinate, the most likely scenario is: Some Democrats back Biden, others defect, and others wait to see what happens. That would be the worst possible outcome: a long, slow, painful death that prevents another liberal from taking his place and allows Sanders to gain unstoppable momentum.
In the meantime, it seems hard to imagine how Biden or a Biden alternative could emerge in the next three contests. The next contest is in New Hampshire, which borders the home states of both Sanders and his closest ideological counterpart, Elizabeth Warren. After that comes Nevada — which, like Iowa, uses the caucus system, which has a fraction of the voting participation of primaries and reward the kind of intense organization Sanders has mastered.
Then comes South Carolina. Biden has been pointing to this state, where he has always led, as his firewall. But will it hold if he is coming off three straight defeats? It is possible that by this point, Biden will have been supplanted in the center-left lane by Pete Buttigieg or even Amy Klobuchar. However, neither has the inroads to the state’s black community that Biden built, which means neither would be able to count on its support as a bulwark against the left-leaning electorates in the previous states. Also, as an additional morbid touch, the South Carolina primary will feature an organized influx of Republicans voting for Sanders in a specific plan to boost what they see as Democrats’ weakest nominee.

3 February
The Differences Between Warren and Sanders Matter
Where socialism imagines greater concentrations of power, her vision ultimately points in the direction of a more decentralized, more competitive economy.
(The Atlantic) Despite all the newspaper endorsements, Senator Elizabeth Warren is an underappreciated politician—and the candidate herself is among the ranks of those who have sold her short. She is a deep and original political thinker. Over her time in academia and in the Senate, she has evolved a distinctive critique of American capitalism as presently practiced, and a lyrical vision of what might replace it. Based on her presidential campaign, however, you wouldn’t really know it.

2 February
Are the Democrats Completely Screwing This Up?
The first caucus is Monday, but the 2020 campaign already feels like it’s gone on forever. Is this primary going to help — or hurt — the eventual nominee’s ability to defeat Trump?
(RollingStone) Take your mind back there. Miami. June 2019. Two nights, 20 candidates. A portrait of the Democratic Party in miniature assembled onstage, mics on, ready to debate.
They are U.S. senators and House members, governors and a mayor, a refreshingly human economic futurist and a self-help guru best known as Oprah’s spiritual adviser. They are young and old, black and white and Asian and brown, wealthy and in debt, gay and straight, war veterans, hailing from all parts of the country. They are, as Democratic chairman Tom Perez proudly points out, “the most diverse field in our nation’s history.”
Feels like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it?
There was a sense of possibility and optimism on that stage. Fast forward six months. The leading Democratic candidates are all white. …  At this point four years ago, the top candidates for the Republican nomination were more diverse than the Democratic frontrunners today. Many politicians hailed as the Future of The Party are gone, exiting the race before a single vote was cast.
.. What happened? Why did the Democratic primary get so white? Why have known brands and familiar faces led the pack? Why are so many Democratic voters undecided after a year of campaigning? Did the Democratic National Committee screw this up? Or is this what the voters wanted?

Democrats Are Freaking Out About Mike Bloomberg
By Edward-Isaac Dovere
“The answer to one Republican New York billionaire is surely not going to be a slightly richer Republican New York billionaire,” one Biden ally said. “It’s laughable we even have to say that out loud.”
“If Sanders soars through the first four primaries and Biden and [Pete Buttigieg] stumble, Mike may end up as the only thing standing between Bernie and the nomination.”…  Sanders might run away with it, but “a large portion of the party believes that Bernie can’t beat Trump—and that beating Trump is all that matters.”
And so the prospect of a contested convention—in which the Democrats don’t have a presumptive nominee by the time they gather in Milwaukee in mid-July—is more likely than ever.
Sanders, Warren go separate ways in closing pitches
One progressive wants to blow up the establishment. The other wants to unite the party

What Joe Biden Can’t Bring Himself to Say
(The Atlantic Magazine Jan/Feb issue) His verbal stumbles have voters worried about his mental fitness. Maybe they’d be more understanding if they knew he’s still fighting a stutter.

30 January
How Trump’s impeachment created two Democratic superstars
Adam Schiff and Hakeem Jeffries are seeing their profiles rise during the Senate trial. How high can they go?
(Politico) In a series of conversations, people close to Schiff and Jeffries did nothing to discourage the rampant speculation about the men’s ambitions, and described it in unusually rich detail.
Schiff is said to be interested in the Senate (California Sen. Dianne Feinstein is 86), a spot in a potential Democratic administration or speaker of the House. Jeffries, meanwhile, has scant interest in running for mayor of New York — a job he was rumored to be eyeing. He wants to be House speaker — and is taking steps to get there.
Michael Gerson: Democrats are on the verge of mistakes that could badly hurt their cause
The first error is to claim that Trump is the culmination and embodiment of Republicanism and conservatism.
Trying to make Trump into a symbol of Republicanism is not only substantively absurd; it would also be strategically disastrous. There is no way to defeat Trumpism without isolating Trump. To frustrate his attempted redefinition of the right, and to redraw some important ethical and political lines, Trump must be seen as an aberration, as sui generis. Those who embrace his cause are not being good Republicans but bad ones.
E.J. Dionne: Progressives and moderates: Don’t destroy each other
The enemy is Trump, not Clinton or Obama.
Will progressives and moderates feud while the country burns? Or will these natural allies take advantage of a historic opportunity to strengthen American democracy, defeat both Trumpism and an increasingly radical form of conservatism, and create a broad alliance for practical, visionary government?
… The danger lies in fostering the idea that the divides between progressives and moderates are more important than their intense and shared opposition with President Trump and a right-wing version of Republicanism that seeks to undo our nation’s advances since the New Deal. The triumph of this view would be — let’s not mince words — a social catastrophe.
The Democratic campaign was destined to entail an argument about the party’s direction for the next decade. Is this election about restoration, after the madness of Trump’s time in office? Or should the accent be on transformation, to grapple with the underlying problems that led to Trump’s election in the first place?
Thanks to his personality, background and experience, former vice president Joe Biden is the premier restorationist. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) both represent what Warren, in her oft-repeated promise, has called “big structural change.” Former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) stand somewhere in between. They are closer to Biden philosophically but, as new voices in the national conversation, have a chance to argue that they represent a break with the past.

28 January
Any of the top Democratic primary contenders are capable of beating Donald Trump in November, Jonathan Chait writes in “Running Bernie Sanders Against Trump Would Be an Act of Insanity.” But the septuagenarian Vermont senator would be far from an ideal opponent. A broad body of research shows that moderate candidates tend to perform better in general elections, but Sanders is a proud socialist who advocates for a series of unpopular positions. … “No party nomination, with the possible exception of Barry Goldwater in 1964, has put forth a presidential nominee with the level of downside risk exposure as a Sanders-led ticket would bring.”
At this point there is hardly any serious evidence to believe that the best strategy to defeat Trump is to mobilize voters with a radical economic agenda. Public satisfaction with the economy is now at its highest point since the peak of the dot-com boom two decades ago. Trump has serious weaknesses of issues like health care, corruption, taxes, and the environment, and a majority of the public disapproves of Trump’s performance, but he does enjoy broad approval of his economic management. Therefore, his reelection strategy revolves around painting his opponents as radical and dangerous. You may not like me, he will argue, but my opponents are going to turn over the apple cart. A Sanders campaign seems almost designed to play directly into Trump’s message.

27 January
David Frum: Bernie Can’t Win
But unless other Democrats take a page from his book—stressing the practical over the theoretical, the universal over the particular—they won’t prevail either
The left-but-not-woke idea does have power—including with many members of racial minorities. Sanders seldom talks specifically to nonwhite voters. His message to them is the same as his message to everyone: universal health coverage and student-debt relief, more redistribution from rich to poor, reducing the power of money in politics.
…the constellation of issues that predominates among highly online and very well-informed anti-Trump voters matters a lot less to millions of other people who could potentially decide the 2020 election. That observation applies to a lot of issues that are authentically important. The integrity of democracy matters. Enforcing the law against power holders matters. Defeating corruption matters. But it’s easier to concentrate on those issues when you have good health insurance and a job that provides a stable middle-class livelihood—including the possibility of a college education for your children. And too many Americans lack those things.

26 January
Biden and Sanders are breaking away from the pack of candidates among Democrats nationwide, Washington Post-ABC News poll finds
A Post average of recent New Hampshire polls shows Sanders and Biden virtually tied, with Warren and Buttigieg not far behind. Nationally, however, the competition has moved in the direction of Biden and Sanders, with Warren, Buttigieg and others now clearly behind.

24 January
Could Bloomberg’s Billions Boost the Odds of a Contested Convention?
By Ed Kilgore
(New York) Some observers roll their eyes when the very subject of a “brokered” (or more precisely, “contested”) presidential nominating convention comes up. …as I and others have noted, the combination of an unusually large presidential field, a fairly compressed primary schedule, and the Democratic Party’s strictly proportional delegate award rules makes it possible, if not likely, that Democrats could arrive in Milwaukee in July without a candidate having already nailed down a firm majority of delegates.
Having already set up a model for predicting primary results and delegate awards, FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver runs a bunch of simulations and develops some projections on the likelihood of a “contested convention:”

19 January
One of These People Could Beat Trump, Right? Two weeks out from the Iowa caucus, it’s an unprecedented four-way deadlock. Ready, set, go!
(New York) … the first and last thing every voter is asking themselves right now is, Who can win in November?
The NYT editorial board announces its endorsement and surprises by endorsing two candidates, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren
American voters must choose between three sharply divergent visions of the future.
The incumbent president, Donald Trump, is clear about where he is guiding the Republican Party — white nativism at home and America First unilateralism abroad, brazen corruption, escalating culture wars, a judiciary stacked with ideologues and the veneration of a mythological past where the hierarchy in American society was defined and unchallenged.
On the Democratic side, an essential debate is underway between two visions that may define the future of the party and perhaps the nation. Some in the party view President Trump as an aberration and believe that a return to a more sensible America is possible. Then there are those who believe that President Trump was the product of political and economic systems so rotten that they must be replaced.

14 January
Frank Rich: What’s Wrong With the Democratic Primary? Everything.
what’s at stake in tonight’s Democratic debate, the vote to start the Senate impeachment trial, and the Trump administration’s crumbling explanation for its strike killing Qasem Soleimani.

13 January
Bernie Sanders’s campaign goes on the attack as he seeks a victory in the Iowa caucuses
(WaPo) Although Sanders mostly had resisted comparing himself with other candidates, over the weekend, his surrogates and aides intensified their attacks on Biden, targeting his past positions on racial issues and his vote to authorize the Iraq War.
At the same time, his campaign went after Warren (D-Mass.), with whom Sanders has shared a nonaggression pact for much of the primary season.
Sanders’s emergence at the center of the clashes reflected his pivotal position in the race for the Democratic nomination. Little more than three months after suffering a heart attack that some thought would drive him from the race, he has moved to the top of the polls in Iowa …and remains in a strong position elsewhere, too.
His more aggressive moves — and the countering blows by other candidates who previously treated him as an unthreatening holdover — ushered in a final three weeks of campaigning here with myriad possible outcomes.
Cory Booker ends 2020 presidential campaign
(CNN) The New Jersey Democrat’s announcement came a day before six presidential candidates will participate in the CNN/Des Moines Register’s debate in Des Moines, Iowa. He did not qualify for the event.
The looming impeachment trial, which would have kept Booker off of the trail for some time, was “a piece, but not a big piece” of his decision. [See also the transcript of NYT editorial board interview with Senator Booker]

7 January
Both Trump and Democrats see political benefits to U.S. killing of Iranian general
Many of Trump’s Democratic challengers believe the president’s actions carry a political benefit for them among swing voters fearful of yet another war, who could more sharply question Trump’s worldview and fitness for office.

4 January
(New York) The 2020 Democratic primary has been driven largely by fear, namely the fear of Trump’s reelection, which has manifested as an outsize focus on electability. … Julián Castro was not seen by many Democrats as electable. Castro’s policy ideas and focus on the human rights of black and brown people were widely praised, but as Zak Cheney-Rice writes in “Julián Castro’s Campaign Was Not for the Fearful,” the former San Antonio mayor and housing secretary fell victim to a Democratic electorate that, thanks to Trump, is feeling extremely risk averse.

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