“He’s a 77-year-old socialist who’s abrasive when he’s in a good mood, and who’s still blamed by many Democrats for Hillary Clinton losing to Donald Trump. But go ahead, try to argue that" Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) "isn’t the front-runner in the 2020 Democratic race right now.
"After making his second presidential run official on Tuesday, Sanders blew past every other announced candidate’s early fundraising numbers—$3.3 million in the first few eight hours, more than double the huge $1.5 million" Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) "raised in the whole first day—and he’s expecting to easily hit the 1 million website sign-ups he asked for as a first show of support for his campaign.
“For all the more conventional Democrats who greeted the news of his candidacy with sighs of 'Oh no!' or 'Give me a break,' no one else running could do that.” (The Atlantic)
Sanders “raised 6 million from more than 225,000 donors, his campaign said Wednesday morning.” (New York Times)
“But so much else has changed. Sanders faces a political dynamic dramatically different from that of 2016, both in terms of the national mood and inside the Democratic Party that he seeks to lead. Had he been in New Hampshire over the Presidents’ Day weekend and seen the energy and the crowds who turned out to see some of his rivals, he would have recognized how much things have changed."
“Sanders can claim credit for moving the Democratic Party to the left. Many of the items on his 2016 agenda appear to have become articles of faith to many Democratic voters and to some of the other candidates seeking the nomination."
“That presents two different issues for Sanders this time around. First, he will not have the issue agenda he pushed the last time as his own for the 2020 campaign. Various other candidates will have pieces of that message, in some cases large pieces. At the same time, there is a brewing debate among the Democratic candidates about the wisdom of taking an agenda that includes pledges of Medicare-for-all and the most aggressive version of a Green New Deal into a general election, just to name two.” (Washington Post)
President Trump, on Sanders: “I wish Bernie well. It will be interesting to see how he does… Personally, I think he missed his time… But I like Bernie because he is one person that you know on trade, he sort of would agree on trade. I'm being very tough on trade. He was tough on trade. The problem is, he doesn't know what to do about it.” (Politico)
BERNIE’S PATH. Sanders pollster Ben Tulchin “circulated a memo about an online survey he conducted in late 2017 for progressives who were hoping to flip state legislative seats in West Virginia. The poll found that Sanders would beat Trump by 2%... despite the fact that Trump won West Virginia, 69-27, and that no Democratic presidential candidate has carried the state since 1996 … thee Sanders team is convinced the Vermont senator’s appeal to independent voters, the white working class and people of color is underestimated—and could pay dividends in unexpected places in a general election. They argue that his anti-establishment and populist economic message, as well as his many years of representing rural voters, makes him competitive in not only the Rust Belt states where Hillary Clinton faltered but also potentially in deep-red states, too.”
“They’re not just talking about West Virginia. Some in the Sanders camp envision possibly making a play for Iowa, Ohio, and Indiana, as well as states such as Kansas, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Montana—six states that, together, have voted for the Democratic nominee just twice in the past half-century.” (Politico)
STAFFING BERNIE 2020. Sanders “has tapped Faiz Shakir to serve as his campaign manager for his second run at the White House. ... In hiring Shakir, Sanders brings into the fold one of the Democratic Party’s better-traveled operatives—an official with limited campaign experience but with ties to the party’s think tank infrastructure, its Hill operations, and the larger progressive universe.
Shakir “joins… from the ACLU where he served as national political director since early 2017. Before joining the ACLU, he was a senior adviser to … Harry Reid … and before that he worked with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). He first made a name for himself as an editor at the website ThinkProgress, the news arm associated with, though editorially independent of, the powerhouse Democratic think-tank Center for American Progress.” (Daily Beast)
BETO. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) “understands that a Senate challenge to” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) “could very well yield worse results than challenge to” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). (Hotline reporting) O’Rourke “said Tuesday that he hasn’t ruled out being a 2020 vice presidential candidate—even as he plans to decide in the next 10 days if he’ll seek the presidency. Answering a question in Spanish about the possibility of being another candidate’s running mate, O’Rourke said: “I’m going to consider every way to serve this country. And, yes, that will include anything.” (AP)
The feud between “Trump and Beto… over immigration resumed at a distance Tuesday, driving the politics of a border wall further into the 2020 presidential campaign. After O’Rourke said... last week that he would ‘absolutely’ remove an existing stretch of border wall from his hometown of El Paso, Trump told reporters in Washington on Tuesday that the statement marked ‘probably the end of his political career.’ The opposite of that assessment appeared to be true nearly 2,000 miles away in the border town of El Paso, where O’Rourke did not announce his run for president on Tuesday—but might as well have.
Tying his political identity to this heavily Hispanic, heavily Democratic region of the Southwest,” Beto “has seized on Trump’s border politics to create an opening for himself in the Democratic primary. In a speech accepting El Paso Inc.’s ‘El Pasoan of the Year’ award, he said that on issues ranging from climate change to immigration, “El Paso is the answer.” The call and response laid bare the durability of an issue that defined the 2016 presidential race—and is shaping the earliest stages of the 2020 campaign.” (Politico)
BROWN. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) “is known as a scourge of Wall Street. But in a Democratic presidential primary with… Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren thundering away at bankers, Brown is viewed by many in the industry as a reasonable alternative.”
Brown “has called for breaking up the big banks and has even fought against Democratic colleagues who supported financial deregulation. But according to bank representatives, Wall Street watchdogs and others who have worked closely with him in Congress, Brown has also earned a reputation as someone open to dialogue with the industry in his role as the top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee. He has taken corporate PAC money and shown a practical streak focused on protecting workers in his home state, where finance is a major employer.”
“Brown’s nuanced relationship with the banking industry illustrates the leftward shift in the Democratic Party and the rationale of his possible presidential campaign, as he travels the country arguing that he is a consistent progressive who doesn’t go too far and has proven how to win in the red-trending Midwest. Warren and Sanders have taken more belligerent approaches to finance, while… Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris have all been criticized at times as too close to big banks.” (Politico)
HARRIS. In a Tuesday appearance at Saint Anselm College’s Politics & Eggs breakfast, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) “issued a call for states to focus on election security and possibly adopt paper ballot measures,” and would emphasize state-level election security in her infrastructure plan. (The Hill)
Harris and the Rev. Al Sharpton will have lunch Thursday at Sylvia’s Restaurant in Harlem to discuss criminal justice and other issues. (Twitter)
WARREN. Warren “appears poised to serve as a progressive policy anchor in the 2020 Democratic field, pushing the field — and the eventual nominee — toward aggressively liberal policy stands,” getting ahead of the competition with a series of policy papers.” Her campaign says the proposals “will be a big part of her candidacy, with the ideas intended to reinforce Warren’s broader message that the country needs ‘big, structural change,’ not just incremental tweaks.” (FiveThirtyEight)
HARRIS VS. WARREN. Harris,, in her first visit to New Hampshire, “delivered a homily of sorts this week to more than 1,000 Democrats who squeezed in to see her first visit to the early primary state… telling Democrats rattled by Donald Trump’s unconventional presidency that Americans could draw on shared values to put things right once more.” Warren,”thousands of miles away, standing in front of 1,400 people in an airy theater north of Los Angeles… didn’t sound like she wanted to restore much of anything,” calling for ‘’big, structural change.”
“Their contrasting messages reflect the broader divide among the crowded field of Democrats eager to take back the White House. Does the party want a standard-bearer like Harris, who tells a story of a fundamentally good nation that she promises to put back on track? Or is this a moment to elect a change agent like Warren, who wants radical reforms to fix a problem she says is much bigger than Trump?” (Boston Globe)
BOOKER. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) reiterated that his hometown of Newark wants Amazon’s HQ2 now that it has pulled out of New York City, suggesting “that Amazon would be compatible with Newark and that the city could avoid the divisions that erupted in New York over organized labor, infrastructure and gentrification.” (Cheddar)
CASTRO. Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro (D), on Feb. 21 “will make his first trip as a candidate to Iowa, the first-in-the-nation caucus state. Secretary Castro will visit the state capitol, meet with students and Democratic activists and visit one of Iowa’s most diverse communities.” (release)
DELANEY. Former Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) booked $112,000 “in ads in Des Moines, Sioux City, and Cedar Rapids from” Feb. 20-24. “This makes him the first candidate to go up on broadcast in Iowa” this year. (Advertising Analytics)
KLOBUCHAR. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-MN) CNN town hall averaged “just 294,000 viewers among the key demo of adults ages 25-54, according to early Nielsen ratings. The event “averaged 1.1 million viewers in all between from 10-11:15 p.m. ET, finishing well behind liberal rival MSNBC’s audience of 2.4 million over the same time period.” (Fox News)
Klobuchar “has often talked up her friendship with” former Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), and people in both parties say they “did have a warm personal relationship and a good working rapport in the Senate. … If Klobuchar makes a McCain-like play for New Hampshire’s moderates and independents–who can vote in the state’s Democratic primary next February–Granite State political experts say it could cut both ways.” (Daily Beast)
STEYER. “House Democrats are rallying behind Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler as he faces growing pressure from” mega-donor Tom Steyer (D) and Need to Impeach to “launch impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.” the PAC “held a town hall in Nadler’s Manhattan district Tuesday evening, and the group is running a 30-second television ad powered by a six-figure digital buy encouraging Nadler’s constituents to press him to back immediate impeachment.” Said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), a fellow member of the Judiciary Committee, “His district, mostly the West Side of New York — there’s not hardly a more liberal place in New York. Tom Steyer can run some ads, but it doesn’t compare to what people in the delis would say to Jerry in the West Side of New York.” (Politico)