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Large Democrats Already Targetting Trump for 2020 US Presidential Election

The 2020 Democratic field is a diverse mix of women, men, minorities and contenders with varying levels of political experience

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It will be 10 months before U.S. voters begin the process of choosing a Democratic Party presidential nominee in the caucuses and primaries that start in February 2020. But already 15 or more Democrats are aggressively campaigning to be the one to take on President Donald Trump. VOA

It will be 10 months before U.S. voters begin the process of choosing a Democratic Party presidential nominee through the caucuses and primary elections that get underway in February of next year. But already 15 or more Democrats are busy campaigning to be the one to take on President Donald Trump next year.

The 2020 Democratic field is a diverse mix of women, men, minorities and contenders with varying levels of political experience.

In Washington this week, several Democratic presidential contenders auditioned for support before union and liberal activist groups at the “We the People” forum.

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks during the We the People Membership Summit, featuring the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, at the Warner Theater, in Washington, April 1, 2019. VOA

“The Trump administration is a walking, talking, living, breathing threat to national security, and we just have to call it out,” said Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to cheers from the audience.

Warren is one of several women candidates in the field who do not hesitate to criticize President Donald Trump, a group that includes Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.
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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., speaks at the Heartland Forum on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, March 30, 2019. VOA

“He somehow thinks that organized hate is more powerful than unorganized love. Well, maybe he’s right. But how do we respond to that? We organize, right! We organize and we win,” vowed Klobuchar.

Diverse fieldSeveral minority candidates have also stepped up to the 2020 stage, including California Senator Kamala Harris, former cabinet secretary Julian Castro and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, who often focuses on national unity as a theme.

“This election will be more than just taking one person out of office. This will be the beginning of the next era of America where dreams are not just words or songs but a reality for all!”

Unity is also a theme for former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, who officially announced his candidacy in his hometown of El Paso.

“Let those differences not define us or divide us. Let us agree going forward that before we are anything else, we are Americans first!” he said.

O’Rourke told Monday’s “We the People” forum that he would support eliminating the electoral college system for choosing a president, and would favor a direct popular vote instead to decide the outcome.

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U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, addresses labor leaders at the California Labor Federal and State Building and Construction Trades Council Legislative Conference Dinner, April 1, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif. VOA

Poll surges

O’Rourke has risen into double-digit support in some recent polls. Other newcomers who have seen poll surges are South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and California Senator Kamala Harris.

The latest Quinnipiac University poll had former Vice President Joe Biden leading the Democratic race at 29 percent support, followed by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders at 19 percent, O’Rourke at 12 percent and Harris at 8 percent.

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Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke addresses a gathering during a campaign stop at a restaurant in Manchester, N.H., March 21, 2019. VOA

In a recent Emerson poll of Iowa voters, Buttigieg had surged into third place with 11 percent support, trailing only Biden and Sanders and slightly ahead of Harris and Warren.

Biden is expected to join the race soon but is under fire after complaints from several women about unwanted close physical contact. On Wednesday, the former vice president posted a video on Twitter noting that “the boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset.” Biden added that he will be more “mindful about respecting personal space in the future.”

Biden is considered by many Democrats to be the front-runner but his lack of success in two previous campaigns has some party activists wary.

Scrutiny already

Given the intensive early candidate travel to key early voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, Democratic activists are already scrutinizing the contenders.

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FILE – Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind., and a candidate for Democratic National Committee chairman, speaks during a Democratic National Committee forum in Baltimore, Md., Feb. 11, 2017. VOA

Given the intensive early candidate travel to key early voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, Democratic activists are already scrutinizing the contenders.

“Democratic voters are basically interviewing candidates on two topics,” said American University expert Bill Sweeney. “First and most importantly is their policy vision for the United States in the years ahead. And then secondly, are they the person to beat Trump in the 2020 election?”

Some of the newcomers to the national stage tend to focus on one or two key issues. In the case of Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, that issue is climate change.

“It is a unique moment because we are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we are the last generation that can do something about it,” Inslee told the Monday forum in Washington.

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U.S. 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and Governor Jay Inslee participates in a moderated discussion at the We the People Summit in Washington, April 1, 2019. VOA

Despite all the newcomers in the 2020 mix, the one familiar face from the 2016 campaign is Bernie Sanders. Sanders is once again offering bold promises on expanding the role of government in health care, free college education and economic fairness.

“And what I pledge to you, if elected president, is to be a president that will be traveling all over this country as part of a grass roots political movement,” Sanders told the “We the People” forum.

Sanders got some encouraging news this week. His fundraising totals for the first quarter of this year topped $18 million, leading the Democratic field. On Wednesday, O’Rourke reported that he has raised $9.4 million in donations during his initial period of campaigning, another sign he could be a contender with staying power.

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Independent presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during the We the People Membership Summit, featuring the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, at the Warner Theater, in Washington, April 1, 2019. VOA

Other top fundraisers included Harris who reported a $12 million haul and Buttigieg raised $7 million, an impressive total for someone virtually off the radar just weeks ago.

Lots of choices

With the final total of contenders likely to be somewhere between 15 and 20, Democratic activists will have plenty of different personalities and governing philosophies to choose from, said George Washington University analyst Matt Dallek.

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“Do primary voters want someone who is not going to be a centrist like Bill Clinton? Who is not going to be as cautious as former President Obama? Who is really going to tackle income equality as the central issue?” he said. For his part, President Trump says he is eager to take on whomever the Democrats nominate next year.

“We could lose the country, we really could. Because these people are stone cold crazy,” Trump told a Republican fundraiser in Washington on Tuesday. The first big test in the Democratic race will come in the first candidate debates to be in Miami, June 26 and 27. (VOA)

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Trump Administration to Revoke California’s Authority to Set Auto Mileage Standards

The Trump administration is poised to revoke California's authority to set auto mileage standards, asserting

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FILE - Automobile traffic flows over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. California's long struggles with smog mean the state has been setting its own mileage standards since before the 1970 Clean Air Act was written. VOA

The Trump administration is poised to revoke California’s authority to set auto mileage standards, asserting that only the federal government has the power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy.

Conservative and free-market groups have been asked to attend a formal announcement of the rollback set for Wednesday afternoon at Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington.

Gloria Bergquist, spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said Tuesday that her group was among those invited to the event featuring EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

The move comes after the Justice Department recently opened an antitrust investigation into a deal between California and four automakers for tougher pollution and related mileage requirements than those sought by President Donald Trump. Trump also has sought to relax Obama-era federal mileage standards nationwide, weakening a key effort by his Democratic predecessor to slow climate change.

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Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks at a news conference in Washington, Sept. 12, 2019. VOA

Top California officials and environmental groups pledged legal action to stop the rollback.

The White House declined to comment Tuesday, referring questions to EPA. EPA’s press office did not respond to a phone message and email seeking comment.

But EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told the National Automobile Dealers Association on Tuesday that the Trump administration would move “in the very near future” to take steps toward establishing one nationwide set of fuel-economy standards.

“We embrace federalism and the role of the states, but federalism does not mean that one state can dictate standards for the nation,” he said, adding that higher fuel economy standards would hurt consumers by increasing the average sticker price of new cars and requiring automakers to produce more electric vehicles.

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Word of the pending announcement came as Trump traveled to California on Tuesday for an overnight trip that includes GOP fundraising events near San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.

California’s authority to set its own, tougher emissions standards goes back to a waiver issued by Congress during passage of the Clean Air Act in 1970. The state has long pushed automakers to adopt more fuel-efficient passenger vehicles that emit less pollution. A dozen states and the District of Columbia also follow California’s fuel economy standards.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Tuesday that the Trump administration’s action will hurt both U.S. automakers and American families. He said California would fight the administration in federal court.

“You have no basis and no authority to pull this waiver,” Becerra, a Democrat, said in a statement, referring to Trump. “We’re ready to fight for a future that you seem unable to comprehend.”

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FILE – California Gov. Gavin Newsom addresses a news conference in Sacramento, July 23, 2019. VOA

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the White House “has abdicated its responsibility to the rest of the world on cutting emissions and fighting global warming.”

“California won’t ever wait for permission from Washington to protect the health and safety of children and families,” said Newsom, a Democrat.

The deal struck in July between California and four of the world’s largest automakers — Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen — bypassed the Trump administration’s plan to freeze emissions and fuel economy standards adopted under Obama at 2021 levels.

The four automakers agreed with California to reduce emissions by 3.7% per year starting with the 2022 model year, through 2026. That compares with 4.7% yearly reductions through 2025 under the Obama standards. Emissions standards are closely linked with fuel economy requirements because vehicles pollute less if they burn fewer gallons of fuel.

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The U.S. transportation sector is the nation’s biggest single source of planet-warming greenhouse gasses.

Wheeler said Tuesday: “California will be able to keep in place and enforce programs to address smog and other forms of air pollution caused by motor vehicles.” But fuel economy has been one of the key regulatory tools the state has used to reduce harmful emissions.

Environmentalists condemned the Trump administration’s expected announcement, which comes as gasoline prices have crept higher following a weekend drone attack that hobbled Saudi Arabian oil output.

“Everyone wins when we adopt strong clean car standards as our public policy,” said Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund. “Strong clean car standards give us healthier air to breathe, help protect us from the urgent threat of climate change and save Americans hundreds of dollars a year in gas expenses.” (VOA)