Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) “announced her run for President on Sunday with a vow to ‘heal the heart of our democracy’ and an emphasis on her Minnesota roots.” Delivered during a snowstorm at Minneapolis’s Boom Island Park, Klobuchar said, “As president, I will look you in the eye. I will tell you what I think. I will focus on getting things done. That’s what I’ve done my whole life.’ … Even as Klobuchar ramped up for her presidential launch in recent days, stories by several online news outlets detailed anonymous allegations by some former aides of abusive or demeaning treatment,” which she dismissed by saying, “Yes, I can be tough, and yes, I can push people. I know that. But in the end, there are so many great stories of our staff, who have been with me for years, that have gone on to do incredible things. I have high expectations for myself, I have high expectations for the people that work for me, I have high expectations for this country.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Klobuchar “has laid the grounds for a presidential run on an image of ‘Minnesota nice.’ But behind the doors of her Washington, DC, office, the Minnesota Democrat ran a workplace controlled by fear, anger, and shame, according to interviews with eight former staffers, one that many employees found intolerably cruel. She demeaned and berated her staff almost daily, subjecting them to bouts of explosive rage and regular humiliation within the office, according to interviews and dozens of emails… That anger regularly left employees in tears, four former staffers said. She yelled, threw papers, and sometimes even hurled objects; one aide was accidentally hit with a flying binder, according to someone who saw it happen, though the staffer said the senator did not intend to hit anyone with the binder when she threw it.” (BuzzFeed)
The Minnesota senator “is logging more guest appearances on the national news shows, tracing a common path for candidates who run for president. The Minnesota Democrat appeared on major Sunday morning news shows nine times in 2018… The frequency of appearances was the highest of any year of her Senate career and a sharp increase from 2017, when she landed three Sunday morning interviews, and 2016, when she appeared just once, on Fox News Sunday. Eight of Klobuchar's nine appearances on the Sunday shows in 2018 occurred in the last nine months.
“On Tuesday, Klobuchar chose ‘The Rachel Maddow Show’ on MSNBC—a ratings powerhouse that's increasingly seen as an essential stop for Democratic candidates courting voters—as the platform to reveal that she planned to make a big announcement Sunday. She's appeared on that program at least three times in the last three months alone.”(Minneapolis Star Tribune)
In 2015, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “spoke to” Klobuchar “privately and told her to change her behavior” towards her staff. And during her 2006 Senate race the local AFSCME union, which “represented many of Klobuchar’s employees in the county attorney’s office, asked the larger Twin Cities AFSCME affiliate not to endorse Klobuchar’s Senate bid, citing her ‘shameful treatment of her employees.’” (HuffPost)
Klobuchar, “who easily won a third-term last year, is the most prominent candidate from the Midwest to enter the race. She’s pointed to her broad appeal across Minnesota—where she’s drawn support from voters in urban, suburban and rural areas, including in dozens of counties Trump won in 2016 — and says that success could translate to other Midwestern states such as Michigan and Wisconsin, reliably Democratic in presidential races for decades until Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton.”
“Klobuchar said she would travel next weekend to Iowa, home to the nation’s first caucus… That trip will be followed by stops in Wisconsin, where Clinton was criticized in 2016 for not spending enough time. Klobuchar: “We’re starting in Wisconsin because as you remember there wasn’t a lot of campaigning in Wisconsin in 2016. With me, that changes… I’m going to be there a lot.” (AP)
Senate Republicans had kind things to say about Klobuchar, even though she “reliably votes with her party when it comes to big issues like abortion and immigration.” Said Sen. Johnny Isakson (D-GA), who has worked with her on immigration, “She’s a person of character and great ability. She’s the whole package. That’s probably too nice.” Others complimented her questioning of Brett Kavanaugh on the Judiciary Committee, as well as lower-profile legislative initiatives she has worked on with Republicans. (Politico)
WARREN. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), “struggling to move past criticism over her claims of Native American heritage, aimed for a fresh start on Saturday with the formal launch of her 2020 presidential campaign” in Lawrence, MA. Said Warren at the launch event: “This is the fight of our lives. The fight to build an America where dreams are possible, an America that works for everyone.” She “picked up the endorsement of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee simultaneously with her launch. The group could pump millions of dollars behind her candidacy and provide an outside attack dog against her Democratic opponents.” (Reuters)
Much of her remarks, introduced by Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA), focused on class and political power. She “described a political elite ‘bought off’ and ‘bullied’ by corporate giants, and a middle class squeezed so tight it ‘can barely breathe.’ … In a warning to some of those rivals, Warren touted her refusal to accept donations from lobbyists, corporate PACs or the support of super PACs, and challenged ‘every other candidate who asks for your vote in this primary to say exactly the same thing.’” (CNN) Meanwhile, Warren said in Cedar Rapids Sunday, “By the time we get to 2020, Donald Trump may not be president. In fact, he may not even be a free person.” (Washington Post)
BETO. “A documentary crew followed” former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) “and his insurgent 2018 Democratic campaign in Texas for a movie set to air this spring on HBO, the premium cable channel revealed Friday.
“‘Running With Beto’ will premiere at March’s South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, before airing as part of HBO’s slate of 2019 programming, which the network announced at a panel for the Television Critics Association’s winter preview.” (HuffPost)
O'Rourke “is set to counter ... Trump's visit to El Paso, Texas, on Monday by joining a one-mile march past Trump's rally and giving a speech across the street at about the same time the President plans to take the stage.”
“As the former congressman from Texas weighs a bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination -- he told Oprah Winfrey this week that he'll decide by the end of the month -- he is participating in a protest against Trump's push for a wall along the southern border.” (CNN)
BENNET. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) “had a message for fellow Democrats this weekend as two more White House contenders formally jumped into the 2020 presidential race: Don’t forget about me. ‘We’ve got a million people that are going to run, which I think is great,’ Bennet said Sunday on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.’ But, he added, ‘I think having one more voice in that conversation that’s focused on America’s future, I don’t think would hurt.’” (Denver Post)
BIDEN. “McClatchy interviewed 31 Democratic strategists—pollsters, opposition research experts, media consultants, ex-party officials, and communications specialists—from across the country about a potential" former Vice President Joe Biden "campaign. Nine agreed to speak on the record; all others quoted anonymously do not plan to be affiliated with any candidate running in the presidential primary.
“Strikingly, these conversations yielded a similar view: The Democratic political community is more broadly and deeply pessimistic about Biden's potential candidacy than is commonly known. While these strategists said they respect Biden, they cited significant disadvantages for his campaign—from the increasingly liberal and non-white Democratic electorate to policy baggage from his years in the Senate and a field of rivals that includes new, fresh-faced candidates. ‘Among political professionals, there are deep concerns because we know the history,” said a Pennsylvania-based Democratic strategist, granted anonymity to speak candidly about a party elder. “We have reason to be skeptical of the hype.’” (McClatchy)
BOOKER. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), “in his Iowa debut as a Democratic presidential candidate, made an appeal to voters in rural and urban areas of the country as he called on his party to offer more solutions and less criticism of Republicans to win the White House in 2020. At three events in the state Friday, Booker at times echoed former President Barack Obama’s campaign style and frequent references to civil rights leaders. New Jersey’s first black senator has long been compared to Obama, who arrived in the Senate from Illinois in 2005 to immediate buzz about White House ambitions.
“At a stop in Waterloo--where the population is 15.6 percent black compared with 3.8 percent in the state overall-- Booker spoke about the power of a single individual to make a difference in the world and create a ‘chain reaction’ in history for the better." (Bloomberg)
Booker’s “focus was an overture to the coalition of young, diverse voters that twice elected former Democratic President Barack Obama, while also differentiating his style from that of the first black U.S. president, who rarely discussed race during his campaign. Booker’s emphasis on his personal and mayoral past, as well as his work as a senator on criminal justice issues, may also set him apart in a crowded field of Democratic candidates aiming to take on Republican President Donald Trump in what could be a historic election.” (Reuters)
Feb. 10-11th, Booker “will travel to South Carolina on his first trip as a presidential candidate. The South Carolina Rise Tour will focus on introducing South Carolinians to Booker’s record of running towards challenges when others had given up, bringing people together to do big things, and building a more fair and just nation for everyone.” (release)
“In the political arena, some identifications are sacred cows; it’s hard to imagine a presidential candidate declaring herself an atheist and making it very far. Will bachelorhood be hard to sell, as well? Or, now that we’ve finally acknowledged how dysfunctional some presidential marriages have been, will the public embrace a candidate who has never been married at all?” (Politico)
BROWN. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said on Friday “that he’ll put his progressive credentials up against that of any other Democratic presidential contender. ‘I put my record up against anybody for fighting for workers,’ the Democrat from Ohio told Fox News and two New Hampshire news organizations, when asked if there’s room for another progressive populist in the White House race.”
“The senator spoke minutes before he headlined a roundtable discussion in the beach community of Hampton, his first stop in a jam-packed two-day swing through New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House.” (Fox News) “There’s a common word that people keep using to describe” Brown, “as he continues his swing through the early states: electable.” (Cleveland.com)
BUTTIGIEG. “Part of the paradox” of South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s (D) “candidacy is that he has placed himself in a performative role, without the benefit of a performative personality. ‘He is reserved, and maybe that’s a hindrance,’” David Axelrod said. “Chasten Glezman, his husband, told a reporter that Buttigieg is ‘still coming out of some shells.’” (New Yorker) Buttigieg, in Des Moines: “I think it’s time for a newer generation to put forward leaders.” (Des Moines Register)
GILLIBRAND. “If Democrats want to take back the White House in 2020, they need to be able to reach the kind of voters who previously pulled the lever for Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, but who in 2016 opted for Donald Trump.
That was the message” of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) “to local Democrats during a stop in Columbia on Friday. And the latest entrant into the presidential race thinks she’s the woman to do it. ‘My path is different because I came from a ‘red’ place,’ she said of the Upstate region of New York she once represented in Congress. The day after the 2016 election,“All of the Upstate was red... People there feel left behind. They don’t feel like anyone had their back.’” (Columbia State)
HARRIS. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) “will make her first trip to New Hampshire as a Democratic presidential candidate Feb. 18-19, where she will hold a town hall meeting in Portsmouth and participate in ‘Politics & Eggs’ at St. Anselm College in Manchester.
“The town hall will be an opportunity for Granite Staters to hear directly from Harris about her vision for America and ask her questions about important issues. It will be on Monday, Feb. 18. On Tuesday, Feb. 19, she will sign wooden eggs and participate in ‘Politics & Eggs,’ which is produced by the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College in collaboration with the New England Council. She will give remarks and take questions from the audience.” (release)
Harris “sees no contradiction” in calling herself a “progressive prosecutor,” “arguing that a tough prosecutor can also be a force for reforming the criminal-justice system. But already, mere weeks into her candidacy, she is facing a chorus of skepticism, especially from the left. The death penalty episode shows the tricky crosscurrents that she has had to weather—and that are likely to intensify as she tries to square that circle.” (New York Times)
MOULTON. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) “is thinking about running for president.” Moulton “spent the 2018 cycle mentoring and endorsing Democratic candidates nationwide, work that has taken him through early presidential states like Iowa and made him a rising Democratic star. He is fresh off a trip to New Hampshire, where he spoke to Democrats in Bedford last weekend.
Moulton: “I’m thinking about running for president… I’m not definitely running, but I’m going to take a very hard look at it. A very serious look at it. Because I believe it’s time for a new generation of leadership, and we gotta send Donald Trump packing.” (BuzzFeed)
RYAN. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) “will visit Iowa and New Hampshire in the coming weeks as he considers a presidential run.” (BuzzFeed)
STEYER. On Tuesday, mega-donor Tom Steyer (D) “will host a town hall in Springfield, Massachusetts to talk about the need for Rep. Richard Neal (MA-01) and members of Congress to act quickly and remove Trump from office.” (release)