2020 Campaign
April 12, 2019

At a CNN town hall in Washington, D.C., on Thursday night, Democratic 2020 presidential hopeful Julian Castro was asked the best way to implement reparations for slavery, an idea he supports. He started by saying "we have never fully addressed in this country the original sin of slavery," and "because of that, we have never truly healed as a country." Castro continued:

Sometimes people say, you know, they'll ask me: 'Well, nobody today was a slave owner, and nobody today that's living was a slave.' And I say, you know, if somebody is out there that's 25 years old and they say: 'Why are you talking to me? I never owned slaves.' I'd say that, you know, that 25-year-old person never fought in the Pacific, that 25-year-old person never had a hand in writing the Constitution of our great country, that 25-year-old person never marched with the women who were marching for the power to vote, they didn't march at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. ... In other words, even though we weren't there in past generations, we've inherited a lot of moral assets, but you know what? We've also inherited some moral debts, and one of those debts we've never paid is the debt for that original sin of slavery. [Julian Castro]

Castro, a recent Housing and Urban Development secretary and former mayor of San Antonio, didn't endorse any reparations mechanism, saying he supports legislation by fellow Texas Democrat Rep. Shelia Lee Jackson to have a commission craft a reparations plan.

Castro also said the "one idea or piece of advice" we would give President Trump is to "follow the law," reiterated his support for legalizing marijuana, said that as president he would work to expunge all criminal records for marijuana use, and joked to the person who asked about marijuana: "Look, your last name is Stone; I won't assume you're a stoner. My last name is Castro; don't assume I'm a dictator." Peter Weber

February 1, 2019

The 2020 Democratic primary is, exhaustingly, well on its way, but with it there comes at least a little bit of fun. The Associated Press' Zeke Miller took a look at some of the leading or to-be candidate's 404 error pages — which users arrive at when they follow a broken link — and the dollops of humor on each are actually pretty delightful:

If I may humbly suggest 1. Elizabeth Warren; 2. Cory Booker; 3. Kamala Harris; 4. Kirsten Gillibrand?

And I would be remiss to leave off this very good honorable mention, below. Jeva Lange

January 29, 2019

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said Monday night that under no circumstances will she ever vote for President Trump's border wall, calling it a "medieval vanity project."

Harris was at Drake University in Iowa for a CNN town hall, one day after she officially launched her presidential campaign. She was asked about everything from taxes to health care to the criminal justice system, which she argued is "deeply flawed." Harris spent years as a prosecutor and California's attorney general, and she said her career "has been based on the understanding that, as a prosecutor, my duty was to seek and make sure that the most vulnerable and voiceless among us are protected."

If elected president, Harris said, the first thing she would do is pass the LIFT (Livable Incomes for Families Today) the Middle Class Act, which would benefit married couples earning up to $60,000 a year, single parents making up to $80,000 a year, and single filers bringing in up to $30,000 a year. She also supports the Green New Deal, a plan to combat climate change by moving toward 100 percent renewable energy. "Climate change is an existential threat and we have got to deal with the reality of it," she said.

Harris also said she feels "very strongly" about single payer health insurance, and wants to see Medicare for all enacted. "We have to appreciate and understand that access to health care should not be thought of to be a privilege," she said. "It should be understood to be a right." Now, insurers care more about making a profit, and that is "inhumane," Harris said, adding that she wants to see private insurers eliminate all paperwork and approval processes. Catherine Garcia

January 21, 2019

On Monday morning, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) announced that she's running for president in 2020, joining fellow Senate Democrats Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) in a crowded early field for the Democratic nomination. Harris, 54, made her announcement in a video posted online and also on ABC's Good Morning America.

"The future of our country depends on you and millions of others lifting our voices to fight for our American values," Harris said in her video. "That's why I'm running for president of the United States." She will more formally kick off her campaign in Oakland, California, next Sunday. Elected to the Senate in 2016, Harris was California's attorney general and before that, a district attorney. Harris — the daughter of a father who immigrated from Jamaica and mother who immigrated from India — would be the first woman, first Asian-American, and first black woman to be elected president. "Let's be honest, it's going to be ugly," Harris told MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski in December. "When you break things, it is painful. And you get cut. And you bleed."

Harris, who was raised by her mother after her parents' divorce, grew up attending a Hindu temple and black Baptist church, The Washington Post notes, and she attended the historically black Howard University before getting her law degree from the University of California Hastings College of the Law. Peter Weber

February 28, 2018

You'd think a president who claims to have accomplished 64 percent of his agenda after one year in office wouldn't need a second term, but President Trump has been officially running for re-election since literally the day he was sworn in, and on Tuesday he named a campaign manager, Brad Parscale. Parscale, who started creating webpages for Trump in 2011 before becoming the digital backbone of his 2016 campaign, never really left — he's "on the payroll of five campaign and political advocacy organizations tied to Trump, lucrative work that made him central to Trump's campaign even before his appointment as campaign manager," The Associated Press reports, and his ties to the Trump family run deep:

Parscale has hired Eric Trump's wife, Lara, a move that reflects his close relationship to the family and shields how much she is being paid from public disclosure because she works for a private company. According to the terms of her hiring last March, she was Giles-Parscale's liaison to the campaign, working out of Trump Tower. Neither she nor Parscale responded to emailed questions about her current compensation. [The Associated Press]

Parscale is also close with Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law. And helping Trump win, notably by tapping into the micro-targeting power of Facebook, has been lucrative for Parscale in other ways. In August, he agreed to sell his San Antonio digital marketing company to the California firm CloudCommerce, which AP calls "a penny-stock firm with a questionable history that includes longstanding ties to a convicted fraudster" who is still involved in management decisions.

CloudCommerce has "sufficient red flags to give a responsible regulator reason to investigate," former SEC senior counsel Jacob Frenkel tells AP. "What about this company isn't a red flag?" You can read more about the company, where Parscale is now part of the management team, at AP, and learn more about Parscale in the CBS News report below. Peter Weber

August 22, 2017

President Trump has been campaigning for his re-election since not long after his inauguration, but the Democratic National Committee, like Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and veteran GOP political consultant Mike Murphy, isn't so sure Trump will be the GOP standard-bearer in 2020. DNC research director Karen Dillon confirmed to Politico that the Democrats have already started a full-bore opposition-research operation on a number of potential Republican rivals in 2020, including Vice President Mike Pence, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. The idea is that either a weakened Trump will have a strong primary challenger or he won't run for re-election for whatever reason.

"With Trump's tumultuous presidency in complete chaos, we are prepared for all scenarios," Dillon told Politico. Sitting presidents don't usually get serious primary challengers, and when they do — Pat Buchanan taking on George H.W. Bush in 1992 or Ted Kennedy challenging Jimmy Carter in 1980 — it doesn't usually end well for the president in the general election. "For an opposition party to be scrutinizing potential intraparty re-election rivals to an incumbent president just seven months into his term is highly unusual," Politico's Gabriel Debenedetti notes, though Trump's entire chaotic presidency "has been nothing if not unusual."

Other potential Trump challengers include Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), plus Mitt Romney. Spokesmen for Sasse, Kasich, and other Republicans being investigated mocked the Democrats for spending their money this way, but the Republican National Committee is also already digging for information on Democrats including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. And conservative radio host Charlie Sykes actually thinks this early opposition research could be a blessing for the GOP. "Needless to say, there is no historical precedent for this kind of challenge to a sitting president this early in his term," he said. "I do think it's important to begin to have these discussions, if for no other reason than to make it clear that there remain Republicans unstained by Trump's presidency." You can read more about the Democratic effort at Politico, and Mike Murphy's case for Trump not making it to 2019 at CNN. Peter Weber

May 31, 2017

Republicans aren't waiting until 2020 to try to take down Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a possible candidate for the Democratic nomination. They are starting their campaign now, in the guise of harming her 2018 Senate re-election campaign, on the theory that this strategy worked against Hillary Clinton, report McClatchy's Alex Roarty and Katie Glueck. "We learned from our experience with Secretary Clinton that when you start earlier, the narratives have more time to sink in and resonate with the electorate," said Colin Reed, executive director at the GOP super PAC America Rising.

America Rising has already started the campaign, saying its efforts to document and publicize any Warren missteps will not only help her 2018 opponent but also allow Republicans to "continue developing the long-term research and communications angles to damage her 2020 prospects." Ryan Williams, a longtime aide to Mitt Romney, sees merit in Reed's "political death by a thousand cuts" strategy. "The more serious her campaign is, the more opportunities to make mistakes," Williams said. "Republicans would love to see her make a few gaffes in this race that could be used against her in 2020."

Warren doesn't have a 2018 opponent yet, but "Republicans believe that whoever emerges as the nominee could have a benefit rarely afforded underdog candidates: money," Roarty and Glueck report. "Warren's national presence could help funnel donations from conservatives across the country — especially if, as many GOP strategists speculate, [President] Trump takes aim at the senator."

The Warren team is trying to turn the likely onslaught of outside money to its advantage. "It's no surprise that out-of-state billionaires will attempt to buy the election in their favor," said Kristen Orthman, a Warren adviser. "Corporate interests are looking for a return on their investment so they give to Republican super PACs in exchange for tax breaks for the rich or legislation that benefits their bottom line." Read more at McClatchy DC. Peter Weber

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