Top Notes – This Week in Presidential Politics

Each week I curate a set of “Top Notes” of media coverage on the 2020 presidential elections. Read it to keep up to date on latest developments.
– Sarah Lyons, Director of Communications, Independent Voting

March 21 – 28, 2019

Schultz – Howard Schultz will attend the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Monday evening. On Friday, Schultz responded to a tweet from the liberal advocacy group MoveOn, which has been urging Democratic presidential candidates not to attend. He said that the “unwillingness of the far left to even speak with people they may disagree with is one of the worst symbols of the dysfunction in Washington today.” (NECN, 3/24/19)

  • Mueller probe: Former Starbucks CEO Howard SchultzOpens a New Window., who is considering an independent bid for presidentOpens a New 2020, said Americans were not interested in the Mueller investigation of President TrumpOpens a New Window. and Russia collusion during the 2016 election. “For the last 7 weeks as I traveled the country,” he said during an exclusive interview with FOX Business’ Maria BartiromoOpens a New Window. on Tuesday, “The American people have not asked me about that investigation.” “I think to see the President of the United States now kind of spiking the ball and celebrating the fact that there wasn’t collusion and now the Democrats unwilling to let it go—this is just another prime example of the fact that we are not seeing the government work on behalf of the American people,” he said. Schultz said there’s many issues that require “leadership” including supporting Israel, that could benefit the nation, but “the ideology on both sides” is preventing the government from compromising. And in Schutlz’ opinion Americans are “disgusted and “embarrassed” about all of it. (Fox News, 3/26/19)

Buttigieg – For a 37-year-old mayor of a small city in Indiana, Pete Buttigieg’s candidacy is lifting off with startling speed, suddenly omnipresent on Twitter and Facebook but also on cable-news channels where Buttigieg’s smarts and charisma have made him an unlikely media star. The most recent Emerson University poll in Iowa, released Monday, puts Buttigieg in third place in the Democratic primary field with 11 percent. Buttigieg, a candidate with a grab bag of admirable qualities for a Democrat—youthful, Midwestern, military vet, Harvard grad—still lags behind frontrunners Joe Biden (25 percent) and Bernie Sanders (24 percent). But now he’s nosing out Kamala Harris(10 percent), Elizabeth Warren (9 percent), and O’Rourke (5 percent).  (Vanity Fair, 3/25/19)

  • From Black women to Black LGBTQ millennials, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s messages on economic opportunity and gun violence are resonating with the Democratic Party’s base—Black voters. The openly gay Democrat running the city of South Bend, Indiana, was a lesser-known 2020 presidential candidate until his acclaimed town hall performanceon CNN on March 10. Since then, the midwestern mayor has captured the attention of Black voters and David Axelrod, the former campaign manager for Barack Obama. (Ebony, 3/22/19)
  • ​On independent voters & ideology:
    • “Appealing to independents, in particular, has never been more important. It has also never been less connected to ideological centrism, which was the formula in the 90s when we thought of everything ideologically. It seemed very natural that, if you want to appeal to independents, they must be in some middle — and if you’re on the left you just move to the right…Independents are often not so much committed centrists as they are unusual cocktails of right- and left-wing positions. Or they’re not that ideological at all and they want a feel for a kind of person who would step forward and be a leader. Either way, it does not point to there being some huge market for that kind of split-the-difference politics.”
    • “I just think that the pressure to align yourself on a fixed ideological line has a tendency to play into a construction that’s mostly there for the benefit of conservative politicians. And I think it’s less and less relevant right now. …So I’m deliberately resistant to some of these spectrum analyses, because I think they’re more useful to political creatures than they are to voters or to people like me trying to make a case for certain ideas.”
  • “I’ve grown up in a time when you can pretty much tell that there’s tension between capitalism and democracy, and negotiating that tension is probably the biggest challenge for America right now.” (Vox, 3/28/19)
  • Al Sharpton spoke with Mayor Pete Buttigieg about the newest developments with the Mueller Report and more.  (MSNBC, Sharpton)
    • ‘Where I live, here in Indiana, I know a lot of people who voted for this president not because they were under any illusions about his character, but because they in many ways wanted to vote to burn the house down because they have felt so left out of the political and economic structures and systems that we’ve been in for my entire lifetime and frankly Democratic and Republican presidencies have let so many Americans down. We’ve got to put a stop to that and that means. democratic reform and making sure this really is a democracy … doing away with the electoral college and doing something about voter suppression that has denied so many U.S citizens their legitimate ability to vote. If we don’t get a handle on these core, structural issues then every other issue we care about whether it’s raising minimum wage or making sure healthcare is available to all of us or tackling the issue of climate change, none of our ability to deal with any of those issues is going to get any better until we fix our democracy which for political and let’s face it for racial reasons is being made less democratic… 
  • Mayor Pete vs Mayor de Blasio – there is no question that Mr. Buttigieg has generated more buzz; his recent visit to Manhattan was his third fund-raising effort in New York City. de Blasio, 57, has appeared before small crowds in early primary states such as Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire, and came in lastin a recent Quinnipiac University poll that asked which New York politician would make the best president. (NYT, 3/25/19)

Booker – Joined Rev. Shaprton on his MSBNC’s show. Sharpton asked about his unique challenge: promoting cross-racial unity while promoting black voters’ concerns. Booker also gives his advice on what 2020 Candidates need to do to close the gap with voters of color. 10% of Iowa audiences are signing “commit to caucus” cards. Booker discusses newly introduced reparations bill. (MSNBC, 3/24/19).

Harris – The California Democrat referenced how King was only 26 at the start of the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott in Alabama. The former California attorney general joked that established leaders also should recognize when to hand off to the next generation, which doubled as a thinly veiled swipe at some of her top 2020 rivals: former Vice President Joe Biden, 76; Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 77; and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 69. “And, I’ll just say to the older leaders, that it also becomes question of let’s also know when to pass the baton,” Harris said. (Washington Examiner, 3/24/19)

Warren – Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she does not support term limits in Congress while speaking at a town hall in New Hampshire on Sunday. “Here’s the problem on term limits on folks in Congress — it makes them more dependent than ever on the lobbyist. Believe me, if the senators only stay for two terms, the lobbyist will be there a lot longer and they’ll know how the game is played,” the senator, who’s running for president, told an audience member at the town hall in Conway, New Hampshire. (CNN, 3/24/19)

  • On Mueller report – Like the rest of her 2020 Democratic presidential contenders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) agrees that Congress and the public should get to see Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s full report. But she’s not sure voters will actually care what it says. (Daily Beast, 3/25/19)

Sanders – No longer a fringe candidate or an outsider, Bernie Sanders will be under pressure to score decisive victories in early contests for the Democratic nomination or risk seeing his 2020 candidacy deflate. Sanders’ challenge to Hillary Clinton in 2016 gives the 77-year-old independent senator from Vermont higher name recognition than other declared 2020 candidates, and that’s made him the early front-runner in the primary campaign. (Bloomberg, 3/22/19)

O’Rourke – On Sunday, he campaigned at Arandas Taqueria and Pour Coffeehouse, two minority-owned businesses. He greeted the crowds and began his speeches in Spanish. He leapt on a counter, a cooler, and on top of a van to discuss climate change, immigration reform, education, worker’s rights, health care. He also said his campaign is about a democracy that includes everyone. “If we are going to meet these challenges, then we need a democracy that expects and brings out the best from all of us. No me importa (I don’t care) if you’re a Democrat or a Republican or an Independent. The only thing that matter is that you’re an American, a human being, and [that] you’re here in this country with a chance to act,” said O’Rourke. (KTNV, 3/24/19)

Weld – Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld says he’s leaning toward challenging President Donald Trump in the 2020 Republican primary, and expects to make a decision in April. Weld gave the clearest sense of his intentions yet, and laid out a path to the GOP nomination during an appearance on the New Hampshire radio talk show Pints & Politics on Monday afternoon. The former two-term governor said he’ll focus on the early-voting state of New Hampshire, which shares a media market with Boston and is located a short drive away from where Weld lives in Canton, Mass. If he runs, Weld said he expects to be competitive across New England and in the mid-Atlantic states. He also expects his challenge could gain traction in California, which votes the first week in March. Weld, who indicated he would make a play for independent voters, millennials and suburban women, floated the idea of secure mobile voting Monday, which would be done from a smartphone, to expand the electorate and draw in younger voters. As scores of high-profile Democratic candidates tour New Hampshire, Weld acknowledged that persuading independent voters to vote on the Republican ballot next year could be a challenge. “Some independent voters might conclude choosing between simply two men who have nothing in common other than being large, orange men. And I think politically, the president and I have not very much in common at all. That might be an appealing way to cast a vote that would make a difference,” Weld said. (Politico, 3/25/19)

Gillibrand – Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Wednesday became the first candidate in the 2020 field to release her 2018 tax returns, and in doing so, she pressed the other contenders in the already very crowded field to follow suit.

Klobauch – Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar unveiled a $1 trillion plan to overhaul American infrastructure Thursday in a direct challenge to two of President Donald Trump’s biggest priorities – his tax cuts, which became law, and his infrastructure plan, which has not come to fruition. The Minnesota Democrat wants to combine $650 billion in federal funding with loan guarantees and tax subsidies to upgrade U.S. infrastructure, her campaign announced. She aims not only to repair roads, bridges, airports, railroads and schools, but also ensure “every household in America” has an internet connection by 2022. The senator’s plan also calls for encouraging renewable energy and protecting U.S. infrastructure from climate change threats such as rising sea levels. (CNBC, 3//28/19)

Williamson – Marianne Williamson was in NH last week. The Democratic hopeful answered questions from voters in “Conversation with the Candidate,” a town-hall style forum at the WMUR studios. (WMUR, 3/22/19)

Newly Announced – A Florida mayor launched a long-shot campaign for president Thursday – Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam.  In a two-minute launch video titled “Your Champion,” Messam says that Washington is broken and highlights prescription drug prices, climamte change and student loan debt as “high-stake problems that we must deal with today.” Messam, who owns a construction company with his wife of 20 years, is largely unknown, even in Florida political circles. (Politico, 3/28/19)

New Hampshire

  • Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld is planning to spend much of the week in New Hampshire as he mulls a challenge to President Donald Trump in the 2020 Republican presidential primary. Weld is scheduled to meet with Gov. Chris Sununu and former New Hampshire House Speaker Doug Scamman. He’ll also meet with survivors of domestic and sexual violence and attend a house party hosted by former New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman Fergus Cullen. (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/24/19)
  • Buttigieg – Manchester April 5, Concord April 6

Nevada – Five Democrats seeking the presidency in 2020 will be in Las Vegas next month to speak to labor unions about wages and working people. The Service Employees International Union said Wednesday that Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, California Sen. Kamala Harris and former Obama administration housing chief Julian Castro are slated to speak at the April 27 event.

HR 1 – The big problem is that HR 1 appears to omit any reform that would adversely impact the Democratic Party. That makes it a show pony. Written to maximize partisan advantage, the Democratic sponsors knew it stood no chance of being enacted. A sincere effort at political reform would have included elements detrimental to both parties, such as open primaries and term limits.  (RealClearPolitics, 3/26/19)


# # #