2020 Campaign
December 9, 2019

It's been a big day for transparency and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg's Democratic presidential campaign.

Buttigieg, who has faced scrutiny recently over his time between 2007 and 2010 working at the consulting firm McKinsey and Co., will be able to disclose the identity of his former clients after the firm gave him the go ahead to break his confidentiality agreement. In a statement, McKinsey said that while protecting their clients usually takes top priority, Buttigieg's presidential bid makes for extraordinary circumstances.

In other Buttigieg news, the mayor will open his campaign fundraisers to the public and unveil the names of his contributors. The fact that he had so far kept those things under wraps was something other candidates — notably Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) — had pinpointed about his campaign, as the 37-year-old continues to try to fully break into the top tier of Democratic contenders. Tim O'Donnell

December 7, 2019

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) did not want to answer that one.

Warren on Saturday steered away from directly responding to a question about whether she would release her tax returns from before 2008 if her fellow Democratic presidential candidate South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg made his fundraisers open to the press.

The senator didn't say yes or no, but she made the argument she was focusing on the present. To her point, she has already released 10 years worth of her tax returns, which is more than President Trump or former President Barack Obama ever released. But Warren has also recently called for Buttigieg to release the names of his clients when he worked for the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. He began that job in 2007.

Buttigieg's camp responded to Warren already, and called for her to release the returns in a show of transparency. Tim O'Donnell

December 2, 2019

Former Vice President Joe Biden might not be the Democratic presidential candidate of choice in the upcoming Iowa caucus. Or in the New Hampshire primary, for that matter. But that doesn't mean he should be sweating it, The New York Times reports.

That's because Iowa and New Hampshire, while crucial early voting states that can help swing momentum, aren't very racially diverse, and don't actually carry many delegates. Biden's campaign, instead, is banking on the possibility that he'll maintain his lead among black voters. As the Times notes, racially diverse areas like those in California, Texas, and the South result in a larger share of delegates needed to win the nomination. And Biden remains the candidate to beat in a lot of those places.

Observers have noted that Biden is in a similar position to Hillary Clinton in 2008 before former President Barack Obama surged. But Cornell Belcher, the pollster who helped conduct Obama's South Carolina research, said he doesn't see any of the other candidates replicating Obama's efforts to reach out to black voters there. If they were, he said, "they would already have the resources and infrastructure on the ground in South Carolina," which is the first Southern state to vote.

Nothing is a given, but Biden may be able to circumvent a disappointing showing in Iowa or New Hampshire by looking ahead. "It's not that he's weaker than people think," Birmingham, Alabama, Mayor Randall Woodfin said of Biden. "He's much stronger." Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

December 2, 2019

The Trump re-election campaign is taking a swing at billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose 2020 Democratic presidential campaign is just kicking into gear.

Trump's campaign manager Brad Parscale said Monday that the campaign will no longer credential Bloomberg reporters for rallies or other campaign events, though some reporters will be granted access on a case-by-case basis (it's unclear if this would also affect reporters covering the White House for the news agency). The announcement is in response to Bloomberg's editorial decision not to investigate Bloomberg or his Democratic competitors while he runs for office.

Bloomberg says it will continue to cover the Trump administration as it always has, though the agency said it would reconsider if its founder won the Democratic nomination and was taking on Trump in the general election. Either way, the Trump campaign didn't like the announcement, which Parscale described as Bloomberg "openly" declaring bias.

Bloomberg's editor-in-chief John Micklethwait said the accusations of bias "couldn't be further from the truth" and that his staff will keep covering the administration and its campaign despite the announced restrictions.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), meanwhile, thinks the response was appropriate. Tim O'Donnell

December 2, 2019

Expect more "good cop, bad cop," from the Trump 2020 re-election bid, Politico reports.

Vice President Mike Pence will reportedly take on the good cop role, as the campaign hopes his more reserved demeanor will help secure votes among seniors, suburban women, and swing-state voters, who may have grown tired of some of President Trump's antics.

"Pence gives people confidence who lack comfort with our circus," a person close to Trump told Politico. "He helps provide stability, which is critical."

High income suburban areas seem to be where Pence — who has a higher favorability rating than Trump among suburban voters — might play an especially active role, since the Republican Party struggled in those places in the 2018 midterm elections. He'll likely keep things low-key and local, Politico reports, letting Trump continue to cater to his most fervent base with larger rallies.

"Trump will come in and handle the broader strokes — the rallies, the unscripted TV appearances," the person close to Trump said. "Pence is going to run a micro-campaign. Lots of handshakes and diners. You'll see him at the neighborhood level." Read more at Politico. Tim O'Donnell

December 1, 2019

The most famous unspoken Democratic presidential candidate alliance is probably the one between Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). But there might be one brewing between former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, as well — at least on Biden's end.

Biden and Buttigieg aren't old friends like Warren and Sanders, but there are some logical strategic reasons for why that might be the case. Biden hasn't really gone after the 37-year-old mayor very much since the primaries began, despite their ideological overlap and the fact that many of the other candidates seem to find the political upstart a tad annoying.

When asked about Buttigieg during a bus tour in Iowa on Sunday, Biden skirted the question because he didn't want anyone to twist his words into criticism. He called Buttigieg "a talented guy" and said he has no negative feelings toward him. One explanation might be that Biden wouldn't want to alienate Buttigieg's more moderate base in the hopes that they could flock over to him if the mayor falters.

But their voters actually appear to be quite different, some observers note, despite some similar policy stances. Instead, Biden might view Buttigieg as someone who could help take down Warren (which is actually the case in some recent polls) and boost the former vice president's candidacy in the long run. Tim O'Donnell

November 30, 2019

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) isn't bouncing back after a precipitous decline in the Democratic presidential race — and fingers are starting to point at her campaign manager.

Juan Rodriguez has drawn the ire of both camapaign staffers and outside observers, The New York Times reports. "This is my third presidential campaign and I have never seen an organization treat its staff so poorly," state operations director Kelly Mehlenbacher wrote in a resignation letter obtained by the Times.

Mehlenbacher clarified she still supported Harris as a candidate, but did not have confidence in the campaign's leadership. She specifically cited the campaign's decision to move people from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore, Maryland, and then "lay them off with no notice" and "without thoughtful consideration of the personal consequences to them."

Harris and other senior staff members were reportedly blindsided and angered by the extent of the layoffs, and some aides reportedly found out about them from junior aides and the press rather than Rodriguez himself.

One of Harris' congressional supporters, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), said she told the senator she needs to make a change. "The weakness is at the top, and it's clearly Juan," she said. "He needs to take responsibility — that's where the buck stops." Tim O'Donnell

November 25, 2019

Does billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have a Trump-specific ace up his sleeve?

Bloomberg, who officially launched his Democratic presidential bid Sunday, is bringing journalist Tim O'Brien onto his campaign as a senior adviser. O'Brien is leaving his role as executive editor of Bloomberg Opinion, so the move makes sense, generally speaking (the opinion section is reportedly the aspect of the media company that its namesake remains most heavily involved in). But there's another reason O'Brien might've been chosen.

In 2005, O'Brien published a biography about President Trump called TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald, in which he wrote that Trump was nowhere close to being a billionaire. The book ultimately led to Trump suing O'Brien for libel in 2011, and the two faced off in court where O'Brien's lawyers reportedly got Trump to acknowledge 30 times that he had lied about various aspects of his life from his wealth to the cost of a membership to one of his golf clubs. During the litigation, Trump was also forced to hand over his elusive tax returns to O'Brien's representation.

So, in short, O'Brien knows some stuff. His reputation as a Trump expert has led to various news organizations frequently reaching out to him for comment. Now he'll presumably use some of that knowledge in an attempt to supplant the president. Of course, Bloomberg would have to get through the crowded Democratic field first. Tim O'Donnell

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