The Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 Democrats trading jabs ahead of Los Angeles debate

Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, your weekly rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.

We’re Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here’s what we’re watching this week on the campaign trail. 




DEBATE PREVIEW: Seven of the 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls are gearing up for next week’s debate in Los Angeles. Andrew YangAndrew YangGeorge Floyd protests show corporations must support racial and economic equality Andrew Yang discusses his universal basic income pilot program Andrew Yang on the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis MORE became the seventh and final candidate to qualify for the forum, which is being hosted by PBS NewsHour and Politico, next week. Yang will also notably be the only person of color on the debate stage.

The debate will look quite a bit different from past debates with regulars like Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook McEnany says Juneteenth is a very ‘meaningful’ day to Trump MORE (D-Calif.), who dropped out of the race last week, and Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants Black lawmakers unveil bill to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk MORE (D-N.J.) absent from the debate stage.

The stage will also be significantly smaller with only seven candidates, compared to the 10 or more candidates on stage in past debates. This means it could be easier for candidates, like Yang, who have struggled to get significant speaking time in the past, to shine. 

Candidates have been taking more jabs at each other lately on the campaign trail, which could cause this next debate to get heated. South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegScaled-back Pride Month poses challenges for fundraising, outreach Biden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.), in particular, have gone head to head on a number of issues, most notably Buttigieg’s previously closed-door, high-dollar fundraisers and his past work as a consultant. 

Buttigieg has largely walked out of the prior debates unscathed, with other candidates, like Warren, declining to take a direct shot at him. However, he will likely be a top target on the Los Angeles debate stage given his newfound top-tier status in the race.

We’re already looking ahead to next year’s primary debates, which were announced by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) on Thursday.


CNN will air the first debate of the new year at Drake University on Jan. 14 in Des Moines, Iowa, in partnership with the Des Moines Register.

ABC will host a debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., with WMUR-TV and Apple News. That debate, the eighth of the cycle, will take place Feb. 7.

Two weeks later, on Feb. 19, NBC News and MSNBC will host a debate in Las Vegas, just ahead of that state’s early caucuses. The television networks will partner with The Nevada Independent, a nonprofit news site run by veteran Nevada political reporter Jon Ralston.

And CBS News will host a Feb. 25 debate with the Congressional Black Caucus Institute at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, S.C. The DNC said Twitter would be a partner for the debate.



The Hill’s Reid Wilson on how Democrats are gearing up for a flurry of presidential debates in key early primary and caucus states in January and February.



The DNC announced on Thursday that it will sponsor four debates in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina ahead of the nominating contests in those states. The first debate of 2020 will take place in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 14.


Warren and Buttigieg are lobbing attacks at one another as they look to win over undecided voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, The Hill’s Max Greenwood reports. The back-and-forth between the two candidates has centered on issues of transparency in recent weeks, with Warren raising questions about Buttigieg’s fundraising and work at the global consultancy McKinsey and Buttigieg taking aim at Warren’s past private and corporate legal consulting.


Both candidates relented this week. Warren released a detailed list of the compensation she received from her legal work, while Buttigieg’s campaign announced on Monday that he would update his list of campaign bundlers and allow members of the press to attend his fundraisers. He also unveiled a list of his clients from his time at McKinsey, which included companies and organizations like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the electronics retailer Best Buy, Max reports.



Michael Starr Hopkins: Why Democrats cannot dismiss Michael BloombergMichael BloombergEngel scrambles to fend off primary challenge from left It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Liberals embrace super PACs they once shunned MORE in this race

Brian Reisinger: Impeachment surprise: Bills Congress could actually pass in 2020

Bernard Goldberg: The only thing Trump has to fear in 2020 is Trump himself

Steve Israel: Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names Black lawmakers unveil bill to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Pelosi: Georgia primary ‘disgrace’ could preview an election debacle in November MORE knows she needs to protect the Democratic majority

J.T. Young: Democrats’ self-inflicted diversity vulnerability




Democratic “dark money” groups are pouring millions of dollars into advertising aimed at weakening Republican Senate incumbents facing reelection in 2020, The Hill’s Reid Wilson reports. Those groups have dropped more than $9.3 million on television ads across six states in recent months. In a way, the spending flips the script for Democrats, who have long complained that Republicans have benefited from so-called “dark money” groups – political nonprofits that are not required to disclose their donors.


Following Buttigieg’s announcement that he would open his private fundraisers up to the press, Sen. Cory Booker’s (D-N.J.) campaign signaled that it’s willing to do the same, Julia reports. “There hasn’t been much interest in it. If you guys want to come, we’re in,” Booker’s campaign manager Addisu Demissie said on a phone call with reporters on Thursday.





QUINNIPIAC UNIVERSITY: South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg slipped into fourth place in the poll falling from 16 percent to 9 percent. Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE leads the pack in the latest poll with 29 percent support — up from 24 percent in November. Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), meanwhile, are neck and neck, scoring 17 percent and 15 percent, respectively.


MONMOUTH UNIVERSITY: Biden leads the field of Democratic presidential contenders nationally at 26 percent support, while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), finished in second place with 21 percent support. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) saw front-runner status slip to 17 percent. 

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CNN: President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE and Biden are running neck and neck in Texas, with Trump narrowly leading by a 48-47 margin in a new CNN poll released Wednesday.

The president has more sizable leads against Warren, 51-44, and against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Buttigieg, 50-43.


CNN: Twenty-one percent of likely Democratic primary voters in California said they supported Biden, while 20 percent backed Sanders and 17 percent threw their support behind Warren.

Buttigieg and businessman Yang trailed the front-runners with 9 percent and 6 percent, respectively. Bloomberg, who jumped into the race last month, polled at 5 percent.


CNN: Biden is backed by 35 percent of likely Texas Democratic primary voters while Sanders ranks second in the field, with 15 percent support. He’s closely trailed by Warren at 13 percent. Buttigieg, who is leading some polls in Iowa, the first state to choose a nominee, ranks fourth in Texas at 9 percent, based on the poll. Bloomberg closely trails Buttigieg at 4 percent. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, a former mayor of San Antonio, has 3 percent support from likely primary voters, based on the poll. No other candidate receives more than 2 percent support in the poll. 



There are 52 days until the Iowa caucuses, 60 days until the New Hampshire primary, 71 days until the Nevada caucuses, 78 days until the South Carolina primary and 81 days until Super Tuesday. 



B-BALL ON THE TRAIL: Most of Yang’s time these days is spent on the trail meeting voters, most recently on his “Way Forward” bus tour through Iowa. 

But the entrepreneur turned politician often makes time to shoot some hoops. This week he hit the court with Democratic congressional candidate J.D. Scholten at the Ames Community Center’s gymnasium.

Yang supporters flanked with “MATH” gear filled part of the venue, while Scholten’s supporters also took part, according to the Des Moines Register.  



Yang also made more basketball-related news this week when he reupped his challenge to play Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote The Hill’s Morning Report – Trump’s public standing sags after Floyd protests GOP senators introduce resolution opposing calls to defund the police MORE (R-Texas) in a one-on-one game. 

Yang accused Cruz of ducking the offer the two men agreed upon in September and said his team’s attempts to secure a date to play Cruz have been unsuccessful.

“You accepted my challenge online, apparently you figured out that I am going to beat you so now you’re ducking me and my team anytime we try to set up a date,” Yang said.



We’ll keep you updated on Cruz’s response, but in the meantime,  we’ll be watching to see if Yang hits the court next week in Los Angeles to de-stress ahead of the debate. 

See you all next week for more campaign news!


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