2020 Campaign
September 16, 2019

Some Asian Americans laughed when entrepreneur Andrew Yang's said on the debate stage Thursday night in Houston that he knew a lot of doctors because he's Asian. But others find that that the presidential candidate's supposedly self-deprecating humor — which has also included jokes about being good at math and loving to work — too often reinforces racial stereotypes, The Washington Post reports.

"I found this part galling, because here he is sort of obtusely reinforcing the model-minority myth and model-minority stereotypes," Jenn Fang, who runs the blog Reappropriate, told the Post, referring to the debate line. Fang added that, in making a comment like that, Yang also "implicitly suggests that the Asian American experience is only represented by his specific middle-to-wealthy-upper-class East Asian American experience," which in the process "completely flattens all of the other ways people are Asian American and don't have access to health care and access to higher education."

Yang, though, has defended himself. In an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper over the weekend, the candidate said the "Asian American American community is very diverse, and certainly I would never claim that my individual experience would speak to the depth and breadth of our community." In fact, Yang argues, by "poking fun" at the myth surrounding Asian Americans, he's "making Americans reflect more on it."

Janelle Wong, a professor of Asian American studies at the University of Maryland, said it's "certainly dangerous" for Yang to "deploy stereotypes," but he is also "breaking stereotypes by seeking the presidential nomination." Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

August 26, 2019

Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), now a conservative talk radio host, announced Sunday that he's challenging President Trump for the 2020 Republican nomination. People are skeptical of his motives but mostly his chancesNew York Magazine called it a "beyond-long-shot primary bid," a "quixotic mission" undertaken with "Bill Kristol, a onetime mighty Republican figure who has become an avatar of GOP Establishment impotence in the face of Trump's party takeover." Another prominent #NeverTrump conservative, George Conway, is also on board, figuratively if not officially.

Trump's campaign doesn't seem very concerned about Walsh's bid. "Whatever," communications director Tim Murtaugh told ABC News.

Walsh told ABC News his campaign's big gamble "is that there are a lot of Republicans who feel like I do," that Trump is "nuts, he's erratic, he's cruel, he stokes bigotry, he's incompetent," and "he's a child," and they're also "sick of this guy's tantrum." He added that he thinks his campaign "will catch on like wildfire." "And if you're wrong?" host George Stephanopoulos asked. "If I'm wrong, it was the right fight, because somebody had to do this."

Journalist Kurt Eichenwald put it this way:

It's true that Walsh "possesses the conservative bona fides" and grit Trump's other GOP challenger, former Gov. William Weld (Mass.), lacks, and "some previous primary candidates have found some success against weak incumbents; think Ronald Reagan in 1976 or Pat Buchanan in 1992," New York adds. "The problem for Walsh — or any other conservative challenger — is that Trump remains extremely popular with GOP voters." Walsh bets the polls are wrong — an idea Trump supporters, at least, can respect. Peter Weber

June 18, 2019

President Trump will officially launch his re-election campaign at a rally in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday night, somewhat paradoxically pitching himself as a political outsider who has kept his promises during his 29 months as president, according to advisers. Trump has already described his audience Tuesday night as record-setting, and he is expected to fill the 18,500-seat Amway Center — some fans are already camping outside. He will reportedly tout the strong economy and his actions on taxes, military spending, and confirming conservative judges.

Trump will be joined onstage by wife Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and members of his family and 2016 campaign. He is struggling in the polls — both public and leaked internal ones — apparently angry about the leak, his approval rating has hovered around 40 percent all term, and his campaign's abrupt firing of three of its five pollsters has only highlighted the chaos and internal strife inside the Trump orbit. One of the fired pollsters ran the firm started by senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, "and advisers said the ouster of the three firms was primarily targeted as a jab at her," supported by senior Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, The Washington Post reports.

Trump's campaign says the president's campaign is in good shape, his loyal base doesn't care about internal campaign dynamics, and the polls are meaningless this far out from the 2020 election. "Nothing will get in the way of the tremendous kickoff and the momentum the president will have and sustain through Election Day next year," said Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh. Peter Weber

May 22, 2019

Beto O'Rourke has spent the first two months of his presidential campaign driving around Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, interacting with voters at more than 150 town halls, or up to three a day. On Tuesday, before his first televised town hall on CNN, O'Rourke said he wasn't bothered that his local, meet-and-greet campaign has been rewarded with shrinking poll numbers. "In terms of the assessment, who the hell knows this far out from the first caucuses or elections," he said. But a big goal of his CNN town hall, at Drake University in Des Moines, was to reintroduce himself to a national audience.

O'Rourke's town hall experience showed, said Politico's David Siders. "Though he's slumped in polls, his performance served as a reminder of why O’Rourke was able to galvanize Democrats in his near-upset of Sen. Ted Cruz last year. He has an uncommon command of a stage — and an increasingly precise policy platform."

O'Rourke backed legalizing marijuana, universal gun-purchase background checks, and a ban on selling "weapons of war." He promised that as president, he would ensure "every nominee to every federal bench, including the Supreme Court, understands and believes the 1973 decision Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land." And he endorsed immediate impeachment proceedings against President Trump, looking past any "short-term consequences to the consequences to the future of this country."

"If we do nothing because we are afraid of the polls or the politics or the repercussions in the next election, then we will have set a precedent for this country that in fact, some people, because of the position of power or public trust that they hold, are above the law," O'Rourke said. "We cannot let that precedent stand. There must be consequences, accountability, and justice. The only way to ensure that is to begin impeachment proceedings." Watch him tackle impeachment and two other issues below. Peter Weber

May 16, 2019

There are still some elected Democratic officials in the U.S. who are not running for president, but second-term New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio isn't among them anymore. De Blasio jumped in the race Thursday morning, aiming to explain why he is joining the almost comically overcrowded Democratic primary field in a 3-minute launch video.

De Blasio is running on the slogan "Working People First," arguing that there is plenty of money in America but it's in the wrong hands. The 6-foot-5 mayor also says he can beat President Trump because he's beat him in court and understands how to take on a New York "bully." On Monday, de Blasio stood outside Trump Tower and announced that eight Trump Organization buildings would owe New York City $2.1 million a year if the Trumps don't make their towers more energy-efficient.

His first campaign stop is Friday morning in Gowrie, Iowa, and he'll head to South Carolina on Saturday and Sunday. Peter Weber

May 13, 2019

Former Vice President Joe Biden is the only Democrat in the 2020 race who has run for president more than once before. And as he "grows accustomed to the front-runner status he never enjoyed in his two previous White House bids," Jonathan Martin writes at The New York Times, his campaign is struggling with how best to showcase "Biden's never-met-a-stranger persona without exposing him to an environment where he may commit a gaffe."

So far, their effort has been largely successful, Martin argues:

The most notable feature of his campaign may be what hasn't happened: He has not blurted anything out that delights his rivals, horrifies his aides and reinforces his image as "Uncle Joe," America's there-he-goes-again relative who makes you smile and wince in equal measure. It is early yet — which even Mr. Biden's friends allow as they hold their breath — and precedent offers good reason to question whether his streak of mostly error-free days can last. [The New York Times]

Biden's staff has minimized the risks by sticking close to him and limiting questions. But so far, Biden is proving to be his best handler, the Times says, showing "uncharacteristic restraint in the face of temptation."

Biden doesn't take the bait when supporters insult President Trump, he offers supporters "selfies as often as embraces," and "when he does hug a supporter, it is usually when he is asked for one or after he asks permission," the Times reports. "When a woman yelled out, 'You can hug and kiss me anytime!' at a rally near Las Vegas last week, Mr. Biden smiled, made the sign of the cross and, after a pause, simply said, 'That's nice, thank you very much.'"

This low bar is presumably not why Biden is the clear Democratic front-runner. And not all Biden friends and allies think this restrained Joe is — or even should be — sustainable. You can read more at The New York Times. Peter Weber

April 29, 2019

A new Democratic political group, Future Majority, has launched with a $60 million mission to help rebrand the Democratic Party before the 2020 election, especially in Midwestern states that have been leaning more Republican in recent elections, Politico reports. The nonprofit will offer strategic advice to other Democratic groups, as it started quietly doing leading up to the 2018 midterms, and do its own branding and communications efforts, including countering conservative messaging.

The Democratic Party is trying to figure out its own identity, and Future Majority seems to have an opinion on that battle. "It's no great secret that the presidential race will be won or lost in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio — if we can win back the narrative that the word 'Democrat' equals people who are fighting for folks who work hard every day, we can continue to win elections," says executive director Mark Riddle. "If [Democrats] get defined as being about socialism and these other words people can hear about out of Washington, then I worry."

It isn't just about distancing Democrats from words like socialism, though — Future Majority also wants to associate the party with words like "freedom" and "opportunity," Politico says. Based on Midwestern focus groups, Future Majority said in a March memo, "there is an opening to defeat Trump with the right candidate and the right message, but Democrats must rehabilitate their image in these states first," the memo reads. That means focusing on a few top issues, not a "laundry list" of proposals, and calling government spending "investments," for example, "so voters can see that their tax money is being put to good use." You can read more about Future Majority, its staff and advisers, and its funding at Politico. Peter Weber

April 25, 2019

Former Vice President Joe Biden announced in a video Thursday morning that he's making a third bid for president. Unlike in 1988 and 2008, though, he starts out as one of the frontrunners in a diverse field of 19 other Democrats. In a conference call with donors on Wednesday, Biden stressed the importance of notching strong fundraising numbers in the first 24 hours of his campaign, Politico reports. But in his launch video, Biden steered away from the prosaic, vowing to protect the core values and ideals that America stands for from President Trump, centering his pitch on Charlottesville, Virginia,

Biden, 76, starts out with strong name recognition, support from organized labor and other Democratic constituencies, and strong ties to former President Barack Obama, who is not endorsing anyone in the Democratic primary. He is expected to officially kick off his campaign at a Pittsburgh union hall on Monday. Peter Weber

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