Vice President Joe Biden has two high profile events coming with Republicans
Sen. Bernie Sanders is building up his allies in the Deep South
Our weekly roundup of the news, notes and chatter about the prospects for the next Democratic presidential race:
Former Vice President Joe Biden was back on the political scene in the South this week as two of his friends – both of whom he’d urged to run for office – made headlines.
Biden was in Alabama on Tuesday for a rally with Doug Jones, the Democrat running against Roy Moore in the state’s Senate race. Then, on Thursday in South Carolina – a key early-voting state in 2020, of course, and where Biden revved up the crowd with a recent Charleston NAACP speech – a close Biden ally, state Rep. James Smith, kicked off his campaign for governor.
Smith was a “Draft Biden” leader in 2015 and has urged the former vice president to run in 2020. But their relationship goes deeper than that, a source familiar with their relationship said. Biden was looking for elected officials who served overseas to correspond with when his now-deceased son, Beau Biden, was about to deploy to Iraq. He was put in touch with Smith, recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. The two began speaking on the phone regularly and are still in touch. Biden urged Smith to run for governor. (Here they are together last month.)
Two more Biden notes: He diagnosed some of Hillary Clinton’s problems during a stop at the University of Texas, saying he predicted five weeks out that Donald Trump’s myriad controversies “took the eye off the ball” and that Clinton would lose. “I think we so vastly underestimated the Trump campaign and Mr. (Steve) Bannon,” he said.
Biden will be in the news – and will be crossing party lines – in the weeks ahead. On October 16, he’ll present the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal to Arizona Sen. John McCain. The next day, he and Ohio Gov. John Kasich will appear at the University of Delaware’s Biden Institute for a discussion about bridging the nation’s political divides.
News and notes:
STEAK FRY ENCORE IN 2018: A scooplet out of Iowa: The Polk County Democratic Party resurrected former Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry last weekend, and it was a hit, with more than 1,500 Iowans buying tickets to see Reps. Cheri Bustos, Seth Moulton and Tim Ryan, per county party chair Sean Bagniewski. So Bagniewski is bringing it back next year. The Polk County Democrats will announce Friday with this highlight video that the next Steak Fry is September 29, 2018.
BERNIE’S BUILDING STRENGTH DOWN SOUTH: From Gregory Krieg – Our Revolution, the Bernie Sanders-backed political organization, scored another win this week with the election of Randall Woodfin in the Birmingham, Alabama, mayoral race. Like Chokwe Antar Lumumba, the new mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, Woodfin is young, black and ran a progressive campaign bolstered by endorsements from Our Revolution and aligned groups, like the Working Families Party. In Georgia, Sanders is supporting state Sen. Vincent Fort in his run for mayor of Atlanta (election coming this November; likely runoff in December) and has an ally in khalid kamau, who was elected to the South Fulton, Georgia, City Council back in April.
The upshot: Sanders is quietly building a base of support among (young, dynamic and unabashedly left) elected officials in states he lost badly back in 2016. Not only that: Our Revolution is continuing to spread its roots – and presumably growing that vaunted email list – in places Sanders will need to compete if he runs again.
WARREN AND THE PROGRESSIVE TAKEOVER: Remember Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s big Netroots Nation speech? And our story on her increased focus on cultural issues and outreach to black leaders? The Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter parses new Pew data and finds Warren was onto something. She writes that “a Democrat who wants to win the 2020 nomination has to speak as forcefully on structural racism as they do on economic inequality. The base is passionate – and unified – about both.”
BOB IGER’S NEXT STEP?: While Disney’s outgoing CEO Bob Iger claims he doesn’t know whether he wants to enter the political arena, he didn’t shy away from politics during a discussion with Vanity Fair at the New Establishment Summit this week. Iger, the longtime Democrat who says he is leaving his job in 2019, urged stricter national gun laws after he announced that a Disney employee died in the Las Vegas shooting. He said: “We have the worst record in the modern world when it comes to gun violence and gun deaths. And something’s gotta be done about it.”
ANOTHER POL GETS A PODCAST: Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown is using his voice in a new venture, launching a podcast called “Canarycast,” a reference to the pin of a canary the senator wears on his suit lapel rather than the official Senate pin. “On this podcast, we are going to talk about what we can do to make hard work pay off once again,” said Brown.
He isn’t the only politician embracing a new role as podcast host these days. “The Bernie Sanders Show” is a weekly podcast released by the independent senator from Vermont and Rep. Keith Ellison, who also serves as deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, hosts “We the Podcast.” Joe Biden has one too, the daily “Biden’s Briefing,” which premiered last month.
CALIFORNIA BECOMES A ‘SANCTUARY STATE’: On Thursday, which was the deadline for DACA renewals, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill making California a “sanctuary state” where law enforcement officials won’t help enforce immigration laws.
Why this matters for 2020: Brown is a three-time presidential candidate himself. California also just moved its primary up to early March, making the state a critical player in the early stages of the 2020 Democratic race and elevating its key issues. And California has at least three other potential presidential contenders: Sen. Kamala Harris, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti and billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer.
HARRIS TO RHODE ISLAND: Kamala Harris will be in Rhode Island on October 27 with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. Her itinerary there is expected to include a fundraiser at the Rhode Island Convention Center for Whitehouse, who is up for re-election in 2018, though not seen as vulnerable.
From the right:
GREITENS’ BUSY TRAVEL SCHEDULE: Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is traveling like a man determined to be included on lists of future Republican presidential contenders. He was in Virginia on Thursday campaigning with gubernatorial hopeful Ed Gillespie. He’ll be in Nebraska with Gov. Pete Ricketts and Iowa with Gov. Kim Reynolds later this month, too.
KASICH LEADS ON BUMP STOCKS: Ohio Gov. John Kasich said on CBS this week that he supports outlawing the bump fire stocks the Las Vegas shooter used. Still, he acknowledged the political realities around gun control, saying of whether he’d seek such a law in Ohio: “I don’t know that I could pass it.”
Is it even a safe bet Kasich, a staunch Donald Trump critic, remains a Republican? “If the party can’t be fixed, Jake, then I’m not going to be able to support the party, period,” he told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” last weekend.
The week ahead:
— Friday, October 13: Former agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack, health and human services secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Missouri secretary of state Jason Kander and Maryland Rep. John Delaney speak at the State Historical Museum of Iowa in Des Moines at a daylong forum hosted by the new centrist group New Democracy and called “Winning Back the Heartland.”
— Sunday, October 15: Third-quarter campaign finance reports are due.
Before you go:
Some Democrats’ dream 2020 candidate, Michelle Obama, knocked Republicans as “all men, all white” this week. … A theme to watch in the coming days: The sexual harassment accusations facing Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein — a Democratic mega-donor — have put 2020 prospects in the position of deciding whether to give that money back.
CNN’s Jennifer Hansler, Tal Kopan, Greg Krieg, Sophie Tatum, Ashley Killough, Betsy Klein, Miranda Green and Saba Hamedy contributed to this memo.