Harris Announces as Democratic Field Grows

South Carolina is poised to play an outsized role, as Iowa prepares for its biggest caucus ever.

Jan. 22, 2019, 10:55 a.m.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) “entered the Democratic presidential race on Monday. Harris would be the first woman to hold the presidency and the second African-American. … ‘I am running for president of the United States,’ she said. ‘And I’m very excited about it.’”

“Harris, 54, who grew up in Oakland, California, is one of the earliest high-profile Democrats to join what is expected to be a crowded field. She made her long anticipated announcement on ABC’s ‘Good Morning America.’” (AP)

“Harris’ Democratic opponents are already telegraphing that they plan to make her law-and-order background an enormous vulnerability with voters on the left. But the California senator ..., thinks she can turn the criticism on its head. According to interviews with a half-dozen of her confidants and strategists, Harris will court voters wary of law enforcement by presenting herself as a kinder and gentler prosecutor—a ‘progressive’ attorney who advocated for the vulnerable and served the public interest. At the same time, they believe leaning into her background will allow her to project toughness against Donald Trump, and contrast what they call her evidence-based approach to law and politics with the president’s carelessness with facts and legal troubles with the special prosecutor.” (Politico)

Meanwhile, Harris will hold a town hall with Iowa Democrats next week, one day after launching her 2020 presidential campaign in her home town of Oakland. The event, hosted by CNN and moderated by Jake Tapper, will be filmed live from Drake University in Des Moines at 9 p.m. Monday Jan. 28.” (Des Moines Register)

MORE FROM IOWA. “Bracing for record turnout and fearful of a repeat of the chaos that marred the 2016 caucuses, Iowa Democrats are racing to implement some of the most significant changes in the history of the first-in-the-nation event.The party is shopping for larger facilities to fit expected overflow crowds, investing in new technology to stave off check-in and head-counting snafus and pushing individual 2020 campaigns to create their own voter registration programs. And to abide by new rules set out by the national party, Iowa Democrats are even studying the possibility of what once would have been unthinkable: ‘Tele-caucusing,’ which would allow absentee voting by phone or possibly online for any Democrat who couldn’t make it on caucus day.” (Politico)

SOUTH CAROLINA. “The primary here may still be 405 days away and only fourth on the calendar of early-nominating states, behind Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. But at a time when President Trump has stoked racial divisions and black voters have become an increasingly crucial Democratic constituency, South Carolina is already looming larger at the outset of this race than in any recent Democratic nominating contest… This state is poised to play an outsized role in 2020 because of a confluence of demography and timing. South Carolina will be the first contest in which a majority of those casting ballots will be African-American. In 2016, black voters made up roughly 60 percent of the South Carolina Democratic primary vote.” (New York Times)

BERNIE AND BOOKER. Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) “took two starkly different approaches Monday as they spoke to hundreds of mostly black rally-goers in the first Southern state to vote in 2020. At Columbia’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day rally at the state capitol, Sanders talked explicitly about the racial wealth gap, black infant mortality rates and voter suppression among people of color. He also called ... Trump a ‘racist.’”

“Booker acknowledged that the country has a justice system that works better for the ‘rich and guilty’ than the ‘poor and innocent.’ But he largely echoed King’s message, speaking in more general terms about the importance of unity and having what he called ‘courageous empathy’ and acting on dissatisfaction, a term King stressed in his 1967 ‘Where Do We Go From Here?’ address.” (Politico) Meanwhile, former President Carter urged Booker “to run for president in an Instagram Live video on Sunday.” (The Hill)

WARREN. New Hampshire residents came out to see Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) “on a cold night to the (naturally) Common Man restaurant, which offers free crackers and cheese out of big crock jars in front of the dining room and New Hampshire beer on tap. She’d started by laying out her three-part pitch to change Washington, to change the economy, and to change the rules of politics—and not just ‘little pieces around the margins, little nibbles here,’ she said, but ‘big structural change in this country.’ She’d ended with another thread of her stump speech, placing herself in an American tradition that connects abolition, women’s suffrage, and the civil-rights movement: ‘They organized, they persisted, they made real change.’

“Warren would like this all to end with her and her husband and the dog she’s slowly making famous by attaching a body camera to his leash all moving into the White House. But even if they don’t, she has a vision for what she wants her campaign to do in changing the rules for corporations and lobbyists, and in changing how her party works—beginning with how it picks a nominee.

“Some campaigns decided that they weren’t quite ready to announce; others decided that there were specific advantages to waiting. Between them, there was a lot of snickering at Warren’s timing, announcing her exploratory committee early in the morning on New Year’s Eve. Most people were on vacation or sleeping in, they said. What a ridiculous time to announce, they said. But now that the dam of Democrats is about to burst open, the result of Warren’s decision is that she had two weeks largely to herself to help define what’s ahead for all of them.” (The Atlantic)

HOW SHE’S POLLING. “A new NPR/PBS NewsHour and Marist poll of national adults, taken Jan. 10 to 13, with a majority of two groups key to clinching the Democratic nomination saying they find her appealing. Of particular note, the poll found that 48 percent of African-Americans who identify as Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents view Warren favorably. Just 5 percent said they view her unfavorably, within the poll’s 6-percentage-point margin of error, which suggests ‘those that know her like her a lot,’ observed Adam Jentleson, a Democratic strategist.” (Boston Globe)

BETO. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) “is five states into his stream-of-consciousness road trip across the American Southwest, unaccompanied as he drops into a small-town diner for cobbler, washes his face in a lake and journals about the need to ‘clear my head.’ All of which is unfolding as the rest of the Democratic presidential field has broken into a sprint—Elizabeth Warren to New Hampshire, Kirsten Gillibrand to Iowa, and Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker to South Carolina.

“O’Rourke’s potential rivals are courting donors, assembling staffs and scurrying to early primary states, while the former Texas congressman is at the Pancake House in Liberal, Kansas, some 500 miles from Des Moines.

“His absence from the fray has been noted—and his introspective writing style has been mocked. But amid much snickering, there is also evidence to suggest that if he does run for president, it could help him politically, advancing his off-beat brand.” (Politico)

STILL, SOME ARE WONDERING… “Why was Beto O’Rourke a national phenomenon while Stacey Abrams wasn’t?” (HuffPost)

BIDEN. Should former Vice President Joe Biden (D) “decide to join the ever-growing field of 2020 Democratic hopefuls, he would start in an unfamiliar place: as a front-runner. But even many admirers concede he's a front-runner in name only, with his advantage in early polls attributed to his high name recognition and his recent tenure as vice president. The pole position could also be a curse, particularly in a party that famously loves to fall for a fresh face over a candidate with the longest resume. Yet for all of those challenges, conversations with more than two dozen aides, donors and supporters, point to a consensus that Biden is still likely to run in what he repeatedly calls the most important presidential race of his lifetime. But until he gives the final nod, many caution he could also decide against it.” (CNN)

BROWN. “In a sign” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) “might be serious about running for president, the Ohio Democrat announced this week that he plans to tour the early presidential primary states… Civix Strategy Group, a Concord-based firm founded by Karen Hicks, has been brought on board to help Brown. Hicks served as a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.” (Boston Globe) What does Sherrod Brown sound like campaigning against Donald Trump? He previewed it Monday morning. Brown: ““Populists are not anti-Semitic. Populists don’t lie… They don’t appeal to some by pushing others down. True populists follow the example of Dr. King. We fight for all people. We fight for higher wages for all workers – not just Wall Street CEOs.” (

Brown has reportedly hired organizers with ties to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to help with putting together his stops next few weeks in New Hampshire and Iowa. hile Brown waits until after the tour to decide whether to run other Democrats like Senators Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris have already thrown their hats in the ring. When asked Monday if he thought that would set him behind when it came to the hiring of key campaign personnel in those early voting states he said he did not.” Brown: "Connie and I are not going to let anybody else's schedule dictate what we do...I mean more power to them. " (News 5 Cleveland)

DELANEY. Former Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) “will speak with students at the University of Chicago on Tuesday, January 22. Delaney will answer questions from students during a discussion hosted by the University of Chicago Institute of Politics.” (release)

GILLIBRAND. “The chair of the Stonewall Caucus of the Iowa Democratic Party” said “that she is endorsing” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) “for president, citing the New York senator’s emergence as perhaps the most prominent political figure speaking out against sexual harassment. The endorsement from Kyla Paterson, a Jewish transgender woman and activist from Iowa City who spoke about inclusion at Saturday’s Women's March in Des Moines, is Gillibrand’s first in this early-voting state. Paterson said ... that she was inspired by how Gillibrand handled herself after the negative reaction some members of her own party had to her decision to call on former senator Al Franken to resign after multiple accusations of sexual harassment were levied against him. As a candidate for president, Gillibrand has defended that decision and called those accusations ‘credible.’” (BuzzFeed)

#METOO. “As campaigns gear up for the crowded 2020 Democratic primary, they are already grappling with how to address a major structural deficiency in their industry: how best to deal with allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct on the trail.

“The lack of adequate guidelines to address these issues has been made painfully apparent over the last few months, in the wake of both the broader #MeToo movement and with revelations that such conduct was rampant across many top campaigns. In order to avoid a repeat of those instances, some of the candidates who are in exploratory phases of presidential runs have started internal conversations as to how to best protect all the members of their staff.” (Daily Beast)

GARCETTI. “A Los Angeles teachers’ strike that sent thousands of shouting educators into downtown streets, paralyzing traffic during a rainstorm and leaving a half-million students in uncertainty, isn’t the kind of publicity Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) needed for his potential presidential campaign. The Democratic mayor, who has said he will soon decide whether to enter the 2020 White House contest, would anchor his candidacy to the idea that local government is where things get done in America, in contrast to the turmoil and vast political divide in President Donald Trump’s Washington. But the televised scenes of angry picketers leading chants with bullhorns and blocking streets during rush hour chafes against the notion of LA as a model metropolis and provides a reminder of the challenges that come with trying to mount a national campaign from City Hall, not Capitol Hill or a statehouse.” (AP)

INSLEE. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) spoke with college students at Saint Anselm’s and Dartmouth College about climate change on Tuesday. (WMUR)

KERRY. Former Secretary of State John Kerry (D) says Trump's “actions on the international stage do not help the United States and show he is not a negotiator.” Kerry: "This is the pull-out, walk-away presidency, and it is not enhancing the interest of the United States of America… President Trump has isolated America and taken us backwards in terms of institutions that were structured ever since World War II to bring the world together.” (CNN)

KLOBUCHAR. “More signs that Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is moving toward a presidential run: She made the rounds of national media outlets this past week. Last week she scored national coverage with her questioning of Attorney General nominee William Barr… Klobuchar joked earlier in the week on NPR about ‘going south for the winter,’ meaning Iowa, and told ‘Morning Joe’ that the family, including in-laws, are on board with a presidential run.”(Star-Tribune)

SCHULTZ. Advisers to former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz (D) “have been exploring the possibility of launching an independent bid for the White House in 2020.” (Washington Post)

STEYER. Mega-donor Tom Steyer’s (D) “Need to Impeach” campaign “has just surpassed 7 million supporters. The milestone comes just 15 months after Steyer launched the campaign through a series of television ads and two weeks after he committed an additional $40 million to pressure the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives to start impeachment proceedings immediately and to convince 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to support impeachment.” (release)

SWALWELL. When asked about a run for the presidency in South Carolina, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) said “I’m considering it.” (Mediaite)

LEFTWARD SHIFT. “Welcome to the 2020 presidential primary. Almost no policy is too liberal for Democrats fighting to win over their party’s base, which is demanding a presidential nominee dedicated to pursuing bold action on America’s most pressing challenges. Among two dozen possible candidates, virtually all have embraced universal health care in one form or another. Some have rallied behind free college, job guarantee programs, a $15 minimum hourly wage and abolishing—or at least reconstituting—the federal agency that enforces immigration laws. While few have outlined detailed proposals to fund their priorities, most would generate new revenue by taxing the rich.” (AP)

MEDICARE FOR ALL. “Medicare for All may be progressives' rallying cry. But it’s Medicare for More that’s likely to wind up becoming reality. Several likely 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are pushing plans for something short of universal health care, a move already creating friction within the party's empowered left wing, which has panned any attempt to water down the progressive dream of a single-payer system.” (Politico)

SYRIA. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI 02) said Sunday “that she does not regret her 2017 meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has been accused of using chemical weapons to attack civilians in the country’s years-long civil war… Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper whether she regrets the meeting, Gabbard said she did not, drawing a comparison between her sit-down with Assad and President Trump’s summit last year with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.” Gabbard: “I have seen this cost of war firsthand, which is why I fight so hard for peace… “And that’s the reality of the situation that we’re facing here. It’s why I have urged and continue to urge President Trump to meet with people like Kim Jong Un in North Korea because we understand what’s at stake here. The only alternative to having these kinds of conversations is more war.” (Washington Post) In the meantime, many 2020 Democrats are silent on Trump’s Syria and Afghanistan withdrawals. (HuffPost)

THE DNC. "On Nov. 14, the documents say, dozens of DNC email addresses were on the receiving end of a so-called spearphishing campaign by one of two Russian organizations believed to be responsible for hacking into the committee’s computers during the 2016 presidential race. There is no evidence that the most recent attack was successful.” (New York Times)

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