#2020Vision: Sanders hits the road; California love lost; Booker's 'pause'; Klain vs. Penn on Democrats' future

Sanders delays release of single-payer plan
Sanders delays release of single-payer plan

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Sanders delays release of single-payer plan 01:18

Story highlights

  • Rep. Joe Kennedy III's online presence has skyrocketed this year
  • Two Democratic strategists offered dramatically different takes on the party's future

(CNN)Many Democrats expect Bernie Sanders to sit 2020 out because he'd be 79 on Election Day. But the reality is, Sanders hasn't quit campaigning yet.

The Vermont senator is back on the road this weekend. On Sunday he'll visit West Virginia and Kentucky -- two red states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act -- to make the case that the Republican effort to repeal Obamacare would devastate rural America. The following weekend, he'll be back in Iowa, speaking at a populist group's political convention.
Sanders' latest moves come a few days after Our Revolution, the political organization borne out of his 2016 campaign, joined with a handful of progressive and leftist groups to organize nationwide sit-ins protesting the Senate Republican health care bill.
    Vox's Matt Yglesias makes a case that Sanders is Democrats' 2020 front-runner. There's no question Sanders has the biggest megaphone in progressive politics. He's also the only potential candidate with a nationwide network. And, quietly but importantly, he is moderating on some key issues.
    Two real challenges facing Sanders: accusations around his wife Jane Sanders' land deal at Burlington College are an ongoing headache and there's the reality that, in a wide-open Democratic primary, a host of campaigns would have reason to attack more aggressively than Hillary Clinton did. "Most of the opposition research on Bernie Sanders aside from his opposition to gun safety measures has never seen the light of day," a Democratic operative told me. "With a large field of Democratic candidates competing, that will undoubtedly change and cause big problems for him."
    Sanders: Health care reform idea is absurd
    Sanders: Health care reform idea is absurd

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      Sanders: Health care reform idea is absurd

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    Sanders: Health care reform idea is absurd 02:29
    We're watching for Sanders to introduce his "Medicare-for-all" single-payer health insurance bill in the coming weeks — to see if the details stand up to serious scrutiny, and to see how many Democrats sign onto the measure.

    News and notes:

    The next President Kennedy?: Rep. Joe Kennedy III's online presence has skyrocketed this year, fueling more speculation that he's destined to become the next member of his family to seek the presidency. Matt Viser's Town & Country profile is a good introduction.
    Feinstein's burn: California Sen. Kamala Harris has built a major new following in recent weeks and is angling to build her national profile. But that didn't stop the state's senior senator, Dianne Feinstein, from delivering a terse reality check for the freshman senator, telling The New York Times that "she just got here."
    Booker's Pharma "pause": New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker recently made an odd announcement aimed at wooing progressives who see him as too tight with the pharmaceutical lobby. "We put a pause on even receiving contributions from pharma companies because it arouses so much criticism," he told NPR. He didn't make clear how long this "pause" would last. A reminder that in January, he angered progressives by voting against a measure that would have allowed the importation of cheaper prescription drugs. Booker has -- as The Intercept's Zaid Jilani lays out -- worked hard to reverse perceptions of his approach to Pharma. Still, right now, that view is his biggest political liability as a 2020 prospect. Thus, the "pause" that's noncommittal enough that it just might backfire.
    (By the way, Booker tread carefully around a 2020 question this week. "I don't know what the future's going to bring," Booker told David Axelrod on "The Axe Files" podcast. "I'm not making predictions, but I want to unleash the fullness of who I am right now, and I want to call out injustice where I see it.")
    Gillibrand vs. DeVos: New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a 2020 prospect, teamed up with Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill to urge Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to reverse her department's decision that they say hinders sexual assault investigations. "We have seen through our work on this issue that often if a school fails to protect students from sexual assault or mishandles an incident of sexual assault that this is rarely an isolated case on that campus," the two told DeVos in a letter.
    Klain and Penn's divergent advice: Two Democratic strategists with years of experience on the presidential level -- Ron Klain and Mark Penn -- offered dramatically different takes on the party's path back to relevance this week. In The Washington Post, Klain recommends a platform of defending Obamacare, offering four years of free higher education, fixes for the gig economy, making affordable child care a "right" -- as well as "honest talk" that makes no excuses for diversity and makes clear that an education past high school is necessary. "The nostalgia for an America where brawn alone was enough to create a middle-class life and where a comfortable stagnation was revered as 'tradition' must be abandoned," Klain writes. In The New York Times, Penn asserts: "The path back to power for the Democratic Party today, as it was in the 1990s, is unquestionably to move to the center and reject the siren calls of the left, whose policies and ideas have weakened the party." In a stark contrast with Klain's advice on diversity, he calls on Democrats to reject "identity politics" and moderate on abortion -- and move to the right on a long list of issues.

    The week ahead:

    Friday, July 7: A Republican event worth watching: Nebraska GOP Sen. Ben Sasse — a frequent critic of President Donald Trump — is speaking in Iowa, at a Story County Republican dinner at 6 p.m. CT.
    Thursday, July 13: A four-day National Governors Association meeting begins in Rhode Island.
    Saturday, July 15: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will speak in Des Moines at a convention hosted by the populist group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.

    Before you go:

    Governing explores why liberals don't like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ... Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander booked a July 19 event in Deerfield, Illinois. ... Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper professes "a strong desire to return to a normal life" once he's done in office in early 2019.