Monday April 22, 2019
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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)

Next Story

Nancy Pelosi Calls on Trump to Take Down Omar Video Tweet

Pelosi said officials will continue to monitor and assess threats against Omar, and called on Trump to discourage such behavior

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FILE - Rep. Ilhan Omar arrives before NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addresses a Joint Meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 3, 2019. VOA

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday she has taken steps to ensure the safety of Rep. Ilhan Omar after President Donald Trump’s retweet of a video that purports to show the Minnesota Democrat being dismissive of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The California Democrat also called on Trump to take down the video. Soon after her public request, the video was no longer pinned atop Trump’s Twitter feed, but it was not deleted.

Pelosi was among Democrats who had criticized Trump over the tweet, with some accusing him of trying to incite violence against the Muslim lawmaker. An upstate New York man recently was charged with making death threats against her.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders defended Trump earlier Sunday, saying the president has a duty to highlight Omar’s history of making comments that others deem anti-Semitic or otherwise offensive and that he wished no “ill will” upon the first-term lawmaker.

Pelosi issued a statement while traveling in London saying she had spoken with congressional authorities “to ensure that Capitol Police are conducting a security assessment to safeguard Congresswoman Omar, her family and her staff.”

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. VOA

Pelosi said officials will continue to monitor and assess threats against Omar, and called on Trump to discourage such behavior.

Pelosi was among Democrats who had criticized Trump over the tweet, with some accusing him of trying to incite violence against the Muslim lawmaker. An upstate New York man recently was charged with making death threats against her.

“The President’s words weigh a ton, and his hateful and inflammatory rhetoric creates real danger,” Pelosi said. “President Trump must take down his disrespectful and dangerous video.”

The video in Trump’s tweet on Friday included a snippet from a recent speech Omar gave to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, in which she described the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center as “some people did something,” along with news footage of the hijacked airplanes hitting the Twin Towers. Trump captioned his tweet with: “WE WILL NEVER FORGET!”

Critics accuse Omar of being flippant in describing the perpetrators of the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. She later sought to defend herself by tweeting a quote from President George W. Bush, in which the Republican president referred to the attackers as “people” just days after 9/11.

Neither Trump’s tweet nor the video included Omar’s full quote or the context of her comments, which were about Muslims feeling that their civil liberties had eroded after the attacks. The tweet was posted atop Trump’s Twitter feed for much of Sunday, with more than 9 million views. It remained lower in the feed after Pelosi requested that the video be pulled.

Sanders questioned why Democrats weren’t following Trump’s example and calling out Omar, too. Democrats who criticized the president over the tweet defended Omar, with some noting their past disagreements with her.

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The tweet was posted atop Trump’s Twitter feed for much of Sunday, with more than 9 million views. It remained lower in the feed after Pelosi requested that the video be pulled. VOA

“Certainly the president is wishing no ill will and certainly not violence towards anyone, but the president is absolutely and should be calling out the congresswoman for her — not only one time — but history of anti-Semitic comments,” Sanders said. “The bigger question is why aren’t Democrats doing the same thing? It’s absolutely abhorrent the comments that she continues to make and has made and they look the other way.”

Omar repeatedly has pushed fellow Democrats into uncomfortable territory with comments about Israel and the strength of the Jewish state’s influence in Washington. She apologized for suggesting that lawmakers support Israel for pay and said she isn’t criticizing Jews. But she refused to take back a tweet in which she suggested American supporters of Israel “pledge allegiance” to a foreign country.

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Rep. Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat who represents Manhattan’s financial district, which was targeted on 9/11, said he had no issues with Omar’s characterization of the attack.

“I have had some problems with some of her other remarks, but not — but not with that one,” he said. Sanders commented on “Fox News Sunday” and ABC’s “This Week.” Nadler appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union. (VOA)