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Kamala Harris enters 2020 presidential race
Washington Post
Focuses on her diverse background (Indian and Black) and prosecutor background, but doesn't go too deeply into her prosecutorial background.
Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California joined the 2020 presidential contest Monday, thrusting a daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India into the Democratic race two years after she arrived in the Senate.

Harris, a 54-year-old former prosecutor raised in a state that has been the crucible of the Trump resistance, expanded a growing field of candidates fighting for the nomination of a party that is increasingly nonwhite and fueled by women alienated by the president.

She made the announcement during an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and in a video that her campaign posted online.

“The future of our country depends on you and millions of others lifting our voices to fight for our American values,” she said in the video. “That’s why I’m running for president of the United States.”

Harris plans a more formal campaign launch in Oakland, Calif., on Sunday, when she will give a speech outlining her candidacy.

As she weighed whether to enter the race, Harris spoke about the challenges of running a campaign that would attempt to break several barriers. If elected, she would be the first woman, the first person of Asian heritage and the first African American woman as president.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) speaks to members of the media at her alma mater, Howard University, on Monday, following her announcement earlier in the morning that she will run for president. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Yet on Monday, Harris’s message was largely one of unity. During a news conference at Howard University hours after her announcement, she said the core issue of her campaign is “the people,” as opposed to any of the vast array of issues that other Democratic candidates say drew them to run.

“Nobody is living their life through the lens of one issue. I think what people want is, they want leadership that sees them through the complexity of each of our lives and pays equal attention to their needs,” Harris said. “Let’s not put people in a box. And as they make their decisions, let’s make sure we give them credit for being smarter than that.”

[Listen on Post Reports: How Kamala Harris is making conversations about identity central to her run for president]

Harris’s announcement drew on history, coming on a day commemorating the legacy of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., a timing that she said was “very important” to her. Her campaign noted that Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to run for president in a major party, launched her campaign 47 years ago this week.

Amid that context, however, Harris played down the role of race on Monday.

“When people wake up in the middle of the night — whether it be a mom in Compton or a mom in Kentucky — she’s waking up having the same concerns,” Harris said, “about how she’s going to be able to raise those babies, how she’s going to be able to pay the rent at the end of the month, how she’s going to be able to retire with dignity.”

When a reporter asked how she would describe her identity, Harris replied: “I describe myself as a proud American.”

Harris is relatively unknown nationally — a CNN survey in September found that 51 percent of registered voters had not heard of her — and has recently tried to introduce herself through the requisite campaign book “The Truths We Hold,” released Jan. 8. In the Senate she has earned a reputation for sharp questioning and a skeptical approach to Trump administration officials. On the Senate Judiciary Committee, she has been one of the body’s more pointed interrogators, particularly during high-profile moments such as the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.

During a tense exchange with then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions over Trump campaign contacts with Russia, Sessions stopped her.

“I’m not able to be rushed this fast,” he said. “It makes me nervous.”

Harris’s rich mixture of heritage has led some supporters to refer to her as “the female Barack Obama.” The former Democratic president also launched his presidential campaign two years after joining the Senate.

As a child, Harris attended a Hindu temple and a black Baptist church. Her first name (which she pronounces “comma-la”) comes from the Sanskrit word for lotus plant.

Harris’s late mother immigrated to the United States from India as an adult and became a physician specializing in breast cancer. Her Jamaican father became an economics professor at Stanford University. They divorced when Harris was young, and her mother raised her and her younger sister, Maya.

Harris attended Howard University in Washington and the University of California Hastings College of the Law. She then set out on a career as a prosecutor.

When she ran in 2003 and unseated her onetime boss, San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan, she became the first black woman to be elected district attorney in California. When she was elected attorney general of California in 2010, she became the state’s first female, the first African American and first Asian American to hold the position.

Her tenure as attorney general was marked by efforts to protect consumers and fight sexual trafficking. But she also came under fire for tough stances against felons whose guilt fell under question.

Some of that tenure is bound to come under scrutiny during her presidential campaign, but she nonetheless is expected to highlight her career as a prosecutor. The campaign slogan in her announcement video is “For the People,” which campaign advisers said was a nod to her rising in court to say, “Kamala Harris, for the people.”

In her first remarks after announcing her presidential campaign, Harris described the criminal justice system as “horribly flawed” and in need of change. Yet, she said, all communities also support law enforcement.

“There is a lot of work to do, but to suggest it’s one or the other, I don’t buy that,” she said.

In 2014, she married Doug Emhoff, a media, entertainment and intellectual property partner, with two children from his earlier marriage.

Harris’s Senate colleagues Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) have announced presidential bids. Among those expected to join the race are Democratic Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) Also pondering a run is Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

In the weeks before the November elections, Harris made trips to Iowa and South Carolina, both early-voting states. She is positioned to do well in her home state, which has moved its primary from June to March 2020, as well as neighboring Nevada.

Harris has faced controversy: One of her senior advisers, Larry Wallace, resigned in December amid questions about a $400,000 lawsuit that was settled in 2017. The suit resulted from allegations that he sexually harassed a female assistant when they worked for Harris at the California Department of Justice.

Among several allegations in a lawsuit cited by the Sacramento Bee, Wallace placed a printer underneath his desk and forced his female assistant to replace ink or paper in it every day, even when she asked to move it to another location to avoid crawling under his desk in dresses or skirts.

Harris has played a prominent role as Washington confronted the #MeToo movement, and was among the first senators to call on Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to resign last year amid allegations of misconduct.

Harris is planning to base her presidential campaign in Baltimore, with a second office in Oakland, Calif. It will be led by Juan Rodriguez, who was the manager of her 2016 Senate campaign and was also a senior adviser to California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s campaign.
Harris-21-Jan-19-Washington Post-ab3c9
Sen. Kamala Harris’s 2020 policy agenda: $3 trillion tax plan, tax credits for renters, bail reform, Medicare for all
Washington Post
Very policy focused, with emphasis on her healthcare and tax proposals. Nothing about foreign policy, though.
Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) will run for president proposing a nearly $3 trillion tax plan, billions in tax credits to low-income renters, a Medicare-for-all health-care system, and a reduction in cash bail for inmates charged with criminal offenses, her aides said.

Harris announced her candidacy Monday.

Aides said Harris’s platform will incorporate Sen. Bernie Sanders’s Medicare-for-all health-care proposal, while also pushing enormous tax relief intended to help low-income renters and boost incomes for working-class families.

In that combination, Harris appears to be unique. Several other liberal presidential candidates favor Medicare-for-all and new government spending programs. For instance, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) will tout her plan to create a universal paid leave program, while Juli√°n Castro, who was an official in the Obama administration, will propose universal prekindergarten, funded by the federal government.

Harris, by contrast, is expected to run on both a single-payer health program projected to cost more than $30 trillion, as well as tax benefits that would significantly reduce federal revenue. Supporters say that reflects her willingness to try to use different solutions to solve big problems.

“She understands you can change society by writing laws, or by bringing a bunch of CEOs to the table,” said Daniel Suvor, who served for three years as Harris’s chief of policy while she was attorney general of California and who considers himself a friend of Harris.

[Warren’s 2020 agenda: Break up monopolies, give workers control over corporations, fight drug companies]

But some critics on the left, who have begun scrutinizing Harris’s record as a prosecutor in California, are likely to question whether cutting tax revenue will make it more difficult to enact the kinds of social programs that have become increasingly popular among the Democratic base. Conservatives, meanwhile, already have criticized Harris’s tax plan as being prohibitively expensive at a time when annual deficits are approaching $1 trillion.

Harris will also run on legislation to improve elections security, citing Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, as well as a proposal to reduce the racial gap for black women in the risk of dying from pregnancy-related causes, campaign aides said.

Here’s a look at the policy ideas Harris hopes will carry her to the White House:

$2.8 trillion middle-class tax plan. Last fall, Harris released a proposal aimed at enacting a tax plan for middle- and working-class families, and it will be a centerpiece of her presidential campaign, her aides said.

Under Harris’s plan, the federal government would pay tax credits that match a person’s earnings up to $3,000 (or $6,000 for married couples). Those credits would phase out for higher earners, and would not benefit Americans with no earnings, in an attempt to reward people who work.

“Americans are working harder than ever, but stagnant wages mean they can’t keep up with cost-of-living increases,” Harris said at the time. “We should put money back into the pockets of American families.”

Harris’s tax plan was intended to contrast sharply with the Republican tax law President Trump signed in 2017. The richest 1 percent of Americans were projected to receive about 21 percent of the benefits from the GOP tax law in 2018, and 83 percent of its benefits in 2027, according to the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank. Only 17.4 percent of the benefits from the GOP tax cuts would go to the lower and middle classes, the center has found.

[Almost all of Sen. Harris’s $2.8 trillion tax plan would help middle and working class, study finds]

For Harris’s plan, that number is about 90 percent. But its cost would be high, adding $2.8 trillion to the federal deficit in its first 10 years and an additional $3.4 trillion in the following decade. Harris has proposed paying for the tax cut by eliminating the parts of the Republican tax law passed last fall that benefits the rich, as well as levying a new tax on large financial institutions.

Fiscal hawks say it would cost too much, even more than the GOP tax law, and that it would drive up an already soaring federal deficit. Those on the left have said Harris’s plan should also offer benefits to the poorest Americans, and they argued that it is difficult to explain to voters.

Matt Bruenig, founder of the People’s Policy Project, wrote that the plan reflects a policy design that “perversely exclude[s] the most needy from assistance in favor of those who are on the rung just above them.”

Rental relief. In 2018, Harris proposed legislation aimed at combating the high cost of rent in major U.S. cities.

The plan would give tax credits to renters who make less than $100,000 a year but spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent (including utilities) — a widely used gauge of housing affordability.

The size of the benefit increases for poorer families and decreases higher up the income distribution. The credit also would be refundable, meaning taxpayers could receive payments even if their tax liability were $0, and those in particularly expensive areas could earn up to $125,000 and still receive the credit.

Harris’s plan would benefit at least 13 million Americans and is similar to a plan written by the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California at Berkeley, estimated to cost $76 billion.

Will Wilkinson, vice president for research at the libertarian-leaning Niskanen Center, said Harris’s plan to put additional money in the hands of renters may simply lead landlords to increase prices rather than address the scarcity of housing that cuts into renters' bargaining power.

“The problem with housing prices is a lack of housing supply relative to demand,” said Wilkinson, who has instead proposed creating a pot of federal funding to reward states that rapidly create new housing stock. “Cities need to build a lot more units, and fast. A tax credit for renters may take the edge off in the short term, but it does nothing about the fundamental problem and could even make the problem worse.”

Medicare-for-all: In August 2018, Harris announced that she would become the first Senate Democrat to co-sponsor Sanders’s Medicare-for-all bill to nationalize health insurance.

Medicare-for-all is a proposal to move every American to a single government-run insurer that charges no deductibles or premiums. Doing so would significantly increase government expenditures — by as much as $33 trillion over a ten-year period, according to one conservative think tank’s estimate — while offering health insurance to the Americans who lack it and preventing millions more from being forced into medical bankruptcy. It would require enormous tax increases to finance, although supporters maintain that they would be offset by zeroing out every family’s spending on premiums and deductibles.

At least four other declared presidential candidates — Gillibrand, Castro and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) — also say they support Medicare-for-all.

Reforming cash bail. A number of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have proposed plans to reform the current cash bail system, which disproportionately jails poor Americans who cannot make cash bail payments. According to a 2015 report from the Public Policy Institute of California, for instance, tens of thousands of inmates in the state sit behind bars simply because they cannot pay the state’s median bail amount of $50,000.

Harris has proposed legislation that would create a three-year $10 million grant program to encourage states to figure out how to find alternatives to their cash bail systems. The legislation is co-sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

“If they’re awaiting trial and they don’t pose a risk, let’s not have the taxpayers foot the bill, especially when a similarly situated person is not in jail because they could write a check,” Harris told McClatchy.

Other Democratic presidential candidates have also proposed changes to the cash bail system. Sanders, an independent from Vermont, has released a bill that would directly outlaw cash bail in the federal criminal justice system. The legislation, co-sponsored by Gillibrand, would also give states money to reform their bail systems, said Inimai Chettiar, director of the Justice Program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.

“The Harris bill would be helpful, but the Sanders-Gillibrand one is more aggressive,” Chettiar said. “The Harris bill would have an impact, but it’s hard to quantify.”
Harris-21-Jan-19-Washington Post-1fd70
Kamala Harris to run for president in 2020
Devotes a fair amount of time to her time as prosecutor. Positions her in opposition to Trump a bit more than other articles.
(CNN) Kamala Harris announced Monday that she is running for president in 2020, arguing that the time has come to fight against what she views as the injustices of the past two years of the Trump presidency.

In a brief video from her campaign that was released on social media Monday morning at the same time she appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America," Harris called on her supporters to join with her to "claim our future."

"Justice. Decency. Equality. Freedom. Democracy. These aren't just words. They're the values we as Americans cherish. And they're all on the line now," Harris said in the video, teasing her official kickoff in her birthplace of Oakland next Sunday.

"The future of our country depends on you and millions of others lifting our voices to fight for our American values," the Democratic California senator said. "That's why I'm running for president of the United States. "I'm running to lift those voices, to bring our voices together."

Harris is the first African-American woman to announce a run for the White House in 2020, and the fourth woman in the field. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard announced earlier this month that she is running, and Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York have both announced exploratory committees, a step that Harris is skipping.

In a 2020 field that now includes four women, her allies believe that her life's work as a prosecutor -- from her start in Alameda County trying grisly crimes such as sexual assault to felonies including homicide -- will help set her apart. The style developed over those years helped her build a national following when she grilled President Donald Trump's nominees, including Brett Kavanaugh when he was a Supreme Court nominee.

Her book tour earlier this month served as a soft launch for her presidential bid, showcasing her strong appeal among women, minorities and millennials — as well as the criticism she will face over aspects of her long and complex record as a prosecutor, district attorney of San Francisco and attorney general of California.

Harris sought to use the anecdotes in the new book to demonstrate her toughness, including how she took on the big banks as California's attorney general after the foreclosure crisis and held out for a $20 billion settlement for California homeowners. The clear subtext throughout her appearances was that she would not be bullied by anyone, including Trump.

While avoiding directly engaging Trump, Harris has accused the President of stoking racist and xenophobic rhetoric, while aligning his administration with white supremacists at home, and cozying up to dictators abroad.

She has argued that the needs of the middle class have been ignored, citing the federal shutdown over the President's "vanity project" — a border wall — as the latest example.

Shortly after Harris announced her presidential bid Monday, Michael Ahrens, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, previewed a Republican line of attack against Harris, telling CNN in a statement she is "arguably the least vetted Democrat running for president, but it's already clear how unqualified and out-of-touch she is."

'Kamala Harris for the people'

Harris' campaign will be headquartered in Baltimore — giving aides an East Coast hub in a racially diverse city that has struggled with wide income disparities — and Oakland, where Harris was born to immigrant parents who came to the US to advance their academic careers.

Harris chose to announce on Monday to honor the legacies of two of her heroes.

Forty-seven years ago this week, Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman ever to run for president, launched her campaign. And Martin Luther King Jr. has been a role model for Harris throughout her life in what she views as his "aspirational fight for progress."

The former prosecutor chose yellow and red for her campaign logo in a nod to Chisholm's bid for president with its red and yellow campaign buttons.

Her signs will carry her campaign theme "Kamala Harris for the people," the words that she spoke each time she rose in the courtroom as a prosecutor.

"I was honored by and conscious of the immense responsibility I held—the duty to protect those who were the most vulnerable and voiceless members of our society," Harris writes in her book.

That has been a constant theme of her appearances over the past year on her book tour, and in early-voting states like Iowa and South Carolina, where she will campaign on Friday.

Her progressive record as a prosecutor

Harris' record as a prosecutor has come under scrutiny each time she has run for office, both from the right and left. Some of the criticism has come into sharper focus as she has weighed a run for president and criminal justice has moved to the forefront of the Democratic agenda.

From the time that Harris told her family that she wanted to become prosecutor, she was on the defense about why she, as the child of civil rights activists, would be part of a system that disproportionately incarcerated black and brown men.

Harris sought to be part of changing the system from within from her early days as district attorney in 2004, when she created a diversionary program for first-time offenders charged with drug offenses that moved them into job training and apprenticeship programs.

She also launched programs aimed at reducing implicit bias as district attorney of the city and county of San Francisco and as California's attorney general beginning in 2011. But some felt she did not do enough to support progressive ballot propositions revising California's three-strikes law, for example, when she became attorney general. She maintained that she should not take a position, because she was responsible for writing the ballot language.

When she became attorney general, she came under fire for her decision to defend the death penalty — out of what she described as a sense of duty to the office — even though she personally opposed it. She won praise from the Los Angeles Times editorial board, but disappointed activists who had hailed her for withstanding intense pressure in 2004, when she did not seek the death penalty for the killer of San Francisco police officer Isaac Espinoza.

Her path

Juan Rodriguez, the strategist who managed Harris' successful campaign for Senate in 2016 and advised California Gov. Gavin Newsom in his recent campaign, will be her campaign manager. Her sister Maya Harris, who advised Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, will serve as her campaign chair. She will continue to be guided by her longtime strategists Sean Clegg and Ace Smith.

Harris' team has been interviewing potential aides in Iowa and New Hampshire. Her team clearly sees her strongest potential for an early state victory in South Carolina, where African-Americans made up 61 percent of the Democratic primary electorate in 2016.

From the Palmetto State, Harris hopes to notch another win because of her neighboring state advantage in Nevada, where she has campaigned extensively for other candidates.

The challenging task for Harris after those early state hurdles would be to try to fend off her challengers and consolidate the African-American vote. If successful, the goal would be to rack up a series of wins in the Southeastern states of the old Confederacy, where the most powerful force within the Democratic primary electorate is African-Americans.

Harris' home state of California has also moved up its primary to Super Tuesday—but that will also be a tough battle given the expense of driving a message on television in the Golden State.

That is one of the many reasons she'll be kicking off her campaign in her home base of Northern California, the place where she first campaigned for office, greeting voters at grocery stores while using her ironing board to hold her posters and her flyers.

In her video sign-off, she sought to build the crowd for her Jan. 27 rally there: "I'll see you in Oakland," she said.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to include Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's announcement that she will run for president in 2020, making Sen. Kamala Harris the fourth woman to enter the field of candidates.
How Kamala Harris wins
Paints her as a candidate with wide appeal, but a tough road to electoral victory.
Holly Thomas is a writer and editor based in London. She tweets @HolstaT. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. View more opinion articles on CNN.

(CNN) This week, on Martin Luther King Day, Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris announced that she will run for president in 2020. Almost immediately, headlines appeared declaring her the " female Barack Obama ." Like many other prominent women, she is -- wrongly and inaccurately to boot -- best known as a derivative of a more-famous predecessor.

There are similarities between Harris and Obama, to be sure. Both are Democrats, both have a background in law, both have a mixed-race background. There is an obvious convenience to the comparison. It neatly captures the public imagination at a time when Harris is yet to be world famous, but is charismatic, on the rise and prepared to challenge President Donald Trump, while Obama's name continues to conjure a nostalgic, anti-Trump emotion.

It makes superficial sense. But it's also symptomatic of a lazy habit that infantilizes high-profile women in America and abroad, and skims over the personal details and unique circumstances that shaped them.

The two are very different political beings. Obama , with some liberal moves such as reduced sentences for drug offenses aside, did not make prison reform a priority, and was against mass incarceration. But the prison system is a subject close to Harris' heart.

Despite personal reservations, she promised to defend the death penalty in California as attorney general, and proved herself an often harsh prosecutor , favoring long periods of imprisonment. In other areas, Harris has positioned herself further to the left than the former President. Those only aware of her overlap with Obama might make assumptions about her attitudes elsewhere, which would turn out to be untrue.

Harris is far from the only female politician to receive this media treatment -- and that treatment isn't always limited to comparisons to more famous men (though admittedly that's overwhelmingly the case when it comes to world leaders).

Considering Margaret Thatcher was in favor of Europe, fought for Britain's interests within the EU, and for Britain to strengthen its position as a member of the EU, this likeness is especially ironic.

Theresa May's Brexit strategy has been to make determined noises while championing a cause -- leaving the EU -- she campaigned and voted against , and she consistently makes zero productive headway with it. Her predecessor David Cameron's negotiation of the ultimately null EU reform deal in 2016 was far more Thatcheresque in its intention and execution (even if the referendum he called subsequently was not). Coverage of his doings, however, didn't call him "Maggie" -- or indeed, refer to other male PMs who went before him. When he acted in his own name, he was treated as such.

The fudging of political personalities can be derogatory in both directions, depending on individual sympathies. When Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer succeeded Angela Merkel as leader of Germany's Christian Democratic Union last year, she noted the commentary describing her as a "mini Merkel," or "Merkel 2.0."

"I have read a lot about what I am and who I am," she told her party. "Mini, a copy, simply 'more of the same.' Dear delegates, I stand before you as I am and as life made me, and I am proud of that."

The attention paid to Kramp-Karrenbauer's likeness to Merkel distracts from the future implications of her attitudes for the country, and indeed, Europe at large. Kramp-Karrenbauer is extremely conservative on same-sex marriage, and has likened it to incest in the past. Her stance on migration is also vastly stricter than Merkel's, and she has made it clear she is keen to dial down the more liberal attitude exhibited by the party in the last decade.

While Merkel's political career was catalyzed by the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification, Kramp-Karrenbauer's has been forged in the wake of Merkel's. That by definition gives her an adapted frame of reference, which merits its own scrutiny.

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Every politician -- every person -- is a product of their own time and place. In the coming months, it looks quite possible that Kamala Harris might win Obama's endorsement of her bid for president.

If she does, the comparisons between the two are likely to reignite. As with May and Kramp-Karrenbauer, those watching would do better to pay attention to the political landscape Harris is working within now, rather than any nostalgic connotations. The president whose footsteps are most pertinent to Harris, the president who she will be measured against should she prevail against her fellow Democratic candidates, is Donald Trump.

If she finds herself competing with him, the very least Harris deserves, the very least the voting public deserves, is to be judged as an adult in her own right, running under her own name.
Kamala Harris Declares Candidacy, Evoking King and Joining Diverse Field
New York Times
Thorough look at her background and strong points, but not a wide coverage of policy stances.
"Senator Kamala Harris, the California Democrat and barrier-breaking prosecutor who became the second black woman to serve in the United States Senate, declared her candidacy for president on Monday, joining an increasingly crowded and diverse field in what promises to be a wide-open nomination process.

The choreography of the announcement carried abundant symbolism: Ms. Harris entered the race on the holiday of Martin Luther King’s Birthday, an overt nod to the historic nature of her candidacy. Her timing was also meant to evoke Shirley Chisholm, the New York congresswoman who became the first woman to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for president 47 years ago this week.

In addition, Ms. Harris will hold her first campaign event on Friday in South Carolina, where black voters are the dominant force in the Democratic primary, rather than start off by visiting Iowa and New Hampshire, the two predominantly white states that hold their nomination contests first. She will hold a kickoff rally Sunday in Oakland, Calif., her hometown, and a town hall in Iowa later next week.

“The core of my campaign is the people,” Ms. Harris said at an afternoon news conference at Howard University, the historically black college she attended in the 1980s. “Nobody is living their life through the lens of one issue. And I think what people want is leadership that sees them through the complexity of their lives and pays equal attention to their needs. Let’s not put people in a box.”

Ms. Harris’s campaign is already facing skepticism from some in the party’s liberal wing, who believe she has lurched to the left only in recent years as preparation for a presidential campaign. She has repeatedly come under scrutiny from liberals for several “tough-on-crime” positions she took as a prosecutor in California, including defending the use of the death penalty as recently as 2015 and establishing a measure that sought to punish parents for chronically truant children.

For the first time, the Democratic presidential race now includes several high-profile women, with Ms. Harris joining two other prominent senators, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. Representative Tulsi Gabbard, a Hawaii Democrat, has also said she is running, and more women could enter the race in the coming weeks.

Ms. Harris made her announcement during a morning interview on “Good Morning America.” She also released a video aimed at supporters and other Democrats, debuting a campaign slogan that played off her background as a prosecutor: “Kamala Harris For the People.”

“The future of our country depends on you, and millions of others, lifting our voices to fight for our American values,” Ms. Harris said in the video. “Let’s do this together: For ourselves, for our children, for our country,” she said.

Her announcement kicked off a day of tribute and outreach to black voters by Democratic presidential candidates and potential candidates. Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Bernie Sanders of Vermont made appearances, as did Ms. Gillibrand, Ms. Warren and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who expressed regret for supporting crime bills earlier in his career that have been criticized for disproportionately impacting black Americans.

Ms. Harris’s long-expected entry comes as many Democrats are eager to find new leaders and as the party grasps for a unifying message that can appeal to its increasingly progressive base and more moderate voters who have recoiled from President Trump.

A 54-year-old former California attorney general and San Francisco district attorney, Ms. Harris is something of a bridge between the Democrats eyeing the race who are in their 70s, like Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders, and those in their 40s, like Mr. Booker and former Representative Beto O’Rourke. Further, while she hails from one of the country’s most famously liberal cities, she has ties to both the pragmatic and leftist wings of the party: She is rooted in the Bay Area’s Democratic establishment but has embraced a more progressive agenda since being elected to the Senate in 2016.

While other Democrats have focused their economic policy on regulating corporations or limiting the influence of Wall Street, Ms. Harris’s signature proposal is more focused on individuals and would provide lower-income families with monthly cash payments of up to $500. She has also proposed a bail reform bill that’s backed by several civil rights groups, and she focused her initial Senate work on curbing maternal death rates, particularly among black women.

Like many Democrats, Ms. Harris has sought to align herself with the party’s leftward drift in recent years, proclaiming her support for “Medicare for All” and, after an initial hesitation, disavowing most corporate donations. She has also embraced the legalization of recreational marijuana, a position she once rebuffed.

“She has long been a reform-minded prosecutor who struck a balance between the need for public safety and reckoning with civil rights ideals,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

But not everyone agrees that Ms. Harris can easily assuage Democrats worried about her record as a prosecutor and district attorney.

“If Kamala Harris wants people who care about dismantling mass incarceration and correcting miscarriages of justice to vote for her, she needs to radically break with her past,” wrote Lara Bazelon, a law professor, in an opinion piece for The Times last week.

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Ms. Harris is still not yet well known to voters, but there is curiosity about her among the party rank-and-file as they face a Democratic nomination contest that is defined primarily by its uncertainty.

Mr. Trump has thrust issues of race and identity to the forefront of the national debate, and with the Democratic coalition growing even more dependent on racial minorities, Ms. Harris — the daughter of a Jamaican father and Indian mother — would represent a history-making contrast in a general election against the president.

As the first black woman in the Senate in over a decade, she garnered attention from her perch on key committees for her intensive interrogations of Trump administration officials and nominees, most famously during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing with former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“Did you have communication with Russian businessmen or any Russian national? Are you aware of any communications?” Ms. Harris asked Mr. Sessions during the tense exchange.

“You let me qualify,’’ Mr. Sessions responded. “If I don’t qualify, you accuse me of lying, so I need to be correct as best as I can. I’m not able to be rushed this fast. It makes me nervous.”

Ms. Harris focused her initial campaign message on broad themes of unity and revitalization, which emphasize her unique status as one of — if not the — most viable black women to ever run for president. Her announcement video borrows language from “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the song and poem written in 1900 and long referred to as America’s “black national anthem.”

She has been compared to former President Barack Obama, who also ran for president just two years after coming to the Senate. But unlike Mr. Obama, who became a political celebrity even before he arrived in Washington, Ms. Harris has made her name since being elected to Congress.

“We can’t have business as usual, and I like that she’s not waiting her time — but she wants to make this time her own,” said Aaron Jenkins, a 37-year-old who works in education policy and attended the National Action Network’s breakfast honoring the King holiday on Monday.

Her centrist standing in the party could also turn out to be an asset. Her campaign advisers, which include several people who helped shepherd her from San Francisco to Capitol Hill, believe she is well-suited to build coalitions within the Democratic electorate, because she is not tethered to a single faction.

However, even before she formally entered the race, Ms. Harris was criticized by some in her own party.

One of her top aides, Larry Wallace, resigned in December after revelations that he was involved in a harassment lawsuit and a $400,000 settlement while working for the California Department of Justice. Ms. Harris has said she did not know about the settlement, but she apologized and took “full responsibility” for hiring Mr. Wallace.

Critics on Ms. Harris’s left have also called her record into question, pointing to a dramatic increase in the state’s prison population during her years in public office.

“Kamala Harris is a cop” goes one often-repeated criticism that floods the senator’s social media accounts.

“There were cases where folks who made a decision in my office and didn’t consult me and I regret that,” Ms. Harris said Monday when asked about some of her more controversial cases. “But there’s a lot of what I did as a prosecutor that I’m proud of.”

A Quinnipiac University poll in mid-December illustrated Ms. Harris’s potential, finding her with a favorable rating among Democrats but with the majority of respondents still wanting “to hear more.” About 40 percent of Democrats had a favorable opinion of her, compared with just 4 percent who viewed her unfavorably.

Ms. Harris, the first major candidate for president from California in over a quarter-century, could also benefit from changes to the 2020 nominating calendar. Her native state has moved up its primary to early March, immediately after the first four early-nominating states, presenting the possibility that she could capture a large trove of delegates just as the contest gets underway.

Republicans were quick to denigrate her candidacy on Monday.

“Kamala Harris is arguably the least-vetted Democrat running for president, but it’s already clear how unqualified and out of touch she is,” the Republican National Committee said in a statement, adding, “All she has to show for her brief time in the Senate is a radically liberal voting record.”

Ms. Harris’s campaign will be based in Baltimore with a second office in Oakland. Among the staff members she announced Monday was Maya Harris, her sister, who was a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and will serve as Ms. Harris’s campaign chair.

The campaign also premiered a logo that reads “Kamala Harris For The People” in blue and red letters across a yellow background. It was intended as another nod to Ms. Chisholm, who used a similar color scheme for her presidential campaign in 1972."
Harris-21-Jan-19-New York Times-f0b7d
Kamala Harris, a Front-Runner
New York Times
Portrays her as an extremely capable candidate.
By formally entering the presidential race, Kamala Harris immediately becomes one of the front-runners for the Democratic nomination. As Nate Silver recently explained, Harris has the potential to fare well among several of the five big Democratic constituencies: party loyalists; hard-core progressives; young voters; African-Americans; and Hispanic and Asian-American voters.

So take her candidacy seriously. But once you’ve done so, I would encourage you to mostly ignore whether she is likely to win and focus your attention instead on whether she deserves to win. Make your own decisions about the candidates, rather than trying to guess what other voters will do.

Harris has signaled that she is likely to run a more thematically broad-based, less focused campaign than some others. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders (if he runs) will focus on inequality and economic justice, for example. Joe Biden would probably emphasize his experience and electability. Kirsten Gillibrand has centered her pitch partly on #MeToo. The Harris campaign, for now, is looking less specific — which has both downsides and benefits.

“Nobody is living their life through the lens of one issue,” she said yesterday. “And I think what people want is leadership that sees them through the complexity of their lives and pays equal attention to their needs. Let’s not put people in a box.”

Her policy agenda looks fairly typical for a Democrat today. One of her main proposals is a large package of tax cuts and credits for middle-class and poor families. The Atlantic’s Annie Lowrey has reviewed the proposal positively and Slate’s Jordan Weissmann has reviewed it negatively.

The core of Harris’s record is her six years as California’s attorney general. In a recent Times Op-Ed, the writer and legal advocate Lara Bazelon criticized Harris for supporting unjust imprisonment. Another California-based advocate, Lateefah Simon, responded to that piece with a defense of Harris.

Briahna Gray of The Intercept argued that Harris’s specific performance was not the most relevant issue: “The problem isn’t that Harris was an especially bad prosecutor. She made positive contributions as well — encouraging education and re-entry programs for ex-offenders, for instance. The problem, more precisely, is that she was ever a prosecutor at all. To become a prosecutor is to make a choice to align oneself with a powerful and fundamentally biased system.”

My view is that Harris deserves to be treated as a front-runner. She has a fascinating personal story, and she has handled the national spotlight well in her first two years in the Senate.

I’ll be interested now to see whether she can offer a compelling story about what ails the country — how we’ve come to suffer from fraying democracy, stagnant mass living standards and a violently warming planet — and what she will do to change our course.

For more on her, see:

Jim Geraghty in National Review, on “Twenty things you probably didn’t know about Kamala Harris,” which includes her handling of the mortgage crisis in California.

Perry Bacon Jr. in FiveThirtyEight: “There may be no other candidate who better embodies how the modern Democratic Party has changed over the last few decades in identity and ideology … Post-Obama, the Democratic Party is increasingly the party of women and the ‘woke,’ and Harris’s biography and politics align well with where the party has moved.”

Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post: “Harris’s policy positions — Medicare for all, progressive tax reform, raise in the federal minimum wage, green energy, etc. — are not unique in a field with many progressive candidates. She is unique because of her biography — a daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica, and spent years as a prosecutor and then state attorney general — and her personal appeal. Of those candidates already declared, she might be the most engaging and dynamic.”
By formally entering the presidential race, Kamala Harris immediately becomes one of the front-runners for the Democratic nomination. As Nate Silver recently explained, Harris has the potential to fare well among several of the five big Democratic constituencies: party loyalists; hard-core progressives; young voters; African-Americans; and Hispanic and Asian-American voters.

So take her candidacy seriously. But once you’ve done so, I would encourage you to mostly ignore whether she is likely to win and focus your attention instead on whether she deserves to win. Make your own decisions about the candidates, rather than trying to guess what other voters will do.

Harris has signaled that she is likely to run a more thematically broad-based, less focused campaign than some others. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders (if he runs) will focus on inequality and economic justice, for example. Joe Biden would probably emphasize his experience and electability. Kirsten Gillibrand has centered her pitch partly on #MeToo. The Harris campaign, for now, is looking less specific — which has both downsides and benefits.

“Nobody is living their life through the lens of one issue,” she said yesterday. “And I think what people want is leadership that sees them through the complexity of their lives and pays equal attention to their needs. Let’s not put people in a box.”

Her policy agenda looks fairly typical for a Democrat today. One of her main proposals is a large package of tax cuts and credits for middle-class and poor families. The Atlantic’s Annie Lowrey has reviewed the proposal positively and Slate’s Jordan Weissmann has reviewed it negatively.

The core of Harris’s record is her six years as California’s attorney general. In a recent Times Op-Ed, the writer and legal advocate Lara Bazelon criticized Harris for supporting unjust imprisonment. Another California-based advocate, Lateefah Simon, responded to that piece with a defense of Harris.

Briahna Gray of The Intercept argued that Harris’s specific performance was not the most relevant issue: “The problem isn’t that Harris was an especially bad prosecutor. She made positive contributions as well — encouraging education and re-entry programs for ex-offenders, for instance. The problem, more precisely, is that she was ever a prosecutor at all. To become a prosecutor is to make a choice to align oneself with a powerful and fundamentally biased system.”

My view is that Harris deserves to be treated as a front-runner. She has a fascinating personal story, and she has handled the national spotlight well in her first two years in the Senate.

I’ll be interested now to see whether she can offer a compelling story about what ails the country — how we’ve come to suffer from fraying democracy, stagnant mass living standards and a violently warming planet — and what she will do to change our course.

For more on her, see:

Jim Geraghty in National Review, on “Twenty things you probably didn’t know about Kamala Harris,” which includes her handling of the mortgage crisis in California.

Perry Bacon Jr. in FiveThirtyEight: “There may be no other candidate who better embodies how the modern Democratic Party has changed over the last few decades in identity and ideology … Post-Obama, the Democratic Party is increasingly the party of women and the ‘woke,’ and Harris’s biography and politics align well with where the party has moved.”

Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post: “Harris’s policy positions — Medicare for all, progressive tax reform, raise in the federal minimum wage, green energy, etc. — are not unique in a field with many progressive candidates. She is unique because of her biography — a daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica, and spent years as a prosecutor and then state attorney general — and her personal appeal. Of those candidates already declared, she might be the most engaging and dynamic.”
Harris-22-Jan-19-New York Times-4fa19
Kamala Harris announces she is running for president in 2020
Fox News
Focuses on her strength in the Democratic field, along with prosecutor stuff.
California Sen. Kamala Harris announced Monday she is running for president, joining a fast-growing crowd of Democrats jumping into the 2020 race.

“I’m running for president of the United States, and I’m very excited about it,” Harris, 54, told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”


Harris paired the announcement with the release of a campaign video on Twitter in which she said, "Truth. Justice. Decency. Equality. Freedom. Democracy. These aren’t just words. They’re the values we as Americans cherish. And they’re all on the line now."

"The future of our country depends on you and millions of others lifting our voices to fight for our American values," Harris said. "That’s why I’m running for president of the United States."

The former California attorney general was elected to the Senate in 2016. Since then, she has worked to establish a national profile -- by aggressively questioning President Trump’s judicial nominees, writing a book and stumping for Democrats in last year's midterm elections.

Her announcement comes as some Democrats, emboldened with their new majority in the House, have suggested impeaching the president. Asked on ABC on Monday if she believes Trump has committed an impeachable offense, Harris wouldn’t say, but said it’s important that Special Counsel Robert Mueller continue his investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians in the 2016 race.

She plans a formal campaign launch in Oakland on Jan. 27. The campaign will be based in Baltimore, with a second office in Oakland.

Harris, who is black, launched her presidential as the nation observes what would have been the 90th birthday of the slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Still, her record as a prosecutor and state attorney general has attracted new scrutiny from liberals as she has inched closer to a presidential run.


University of San Francisco associate law professor Lara Bazelon recently argued in an op-ed piece that the perception that Harris acted as a “progressive prosecutor” during her tenure as the district attorney of San Francisco and then California’s attorney general contradict her actions.

"Time after time, when progressives urged her to embrace criminal justice reforms as a district attorney and then the state’s attorney general, Ms. Harris opposed them or stayed silent,” Lara Bazelon wrote in the New York Times.

But Republicans are taking her seriously as a top-tier candidate.

“At 54, Harris is two decades younger than some of her septuagenarian competitors – an age that enables her to appeal to the Instagram crowd without being painted as inexperienced,” said Colin Reed, a Republican strategist who worked for former Republican Sen. Scott Brown. “A child of immigrants, she brings diversity to a party obsessed with racial and gender politics."

Harris’ announcement comes as a slew of Democrats have begun making plans to run for the White House in 2020.

In recent weeks, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro have moved forward with plans to seek the party’s nomination.


Other prominent figures, including former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, are also mulling possible campaigns.

Fox News' Louis Casiano and Jennifer Girdon and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Harris-21-Jan-19-Fox News-b4a30
Five reasons Kamala Harris is the Democratic Frontrunner
Fox News
Makes her case as mostly reliant on identity politics.
It may seem presumptuous to declare that freshman Senator Kamala Harris of California, who has been in office for only two years, is the most likely Democrat to be nominated for president next year. But those few who said the same thing about another freshman Senator of mixed race heritage named Barack Obama in 2006 found themselves proven right. In Harris’ case she has an even better chance than Obama since she won’t face the Clinton Machine that Obama did.

Here are the five reasons why Kamala Harris should be viewed as the frontrunner:

1. The mega-state of California has about a quarter of the delegates needed to nominate a president. It has moved its primary to March (from its traditional June date) and the winner will garner outsize media attention - and delegates. While California isn’t winner-take-all and apportions its delegates by congressional district, Harris is likely to dominate the delegate count. Any candidate who wins less than 15 percent of the vote in a Congressional seat won’t get any delegates, with their votes allocated to those getting above that number. Analysts say Harris probably can place first in almost every district and will likely win the lioness’ share of delegates.


2. Democratic primaries are now heavily “feminized.” In 2016, 58 percent of Democratic primary voters were women. That figure is likely to top 60 percent in 2020 because recent polls show 62 percent of self-described Democrats are women. Women are also increasingly likely to vote for another woman - especially in the wake of the #MeToo sexual harassment movement. A poll by the Barbara Lee Family Foundation found that 37 percent of women said #MeToo made them more likely to vote for female candidates. That number rises to 50 percent among millennial women and 40 percent among African-American women.

Many women see voting for a “sister” as a distinct way to send a message about their values. “A large number of women use their identity as a woman as their primary political identity,” says Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Indeed, a 2016 poll by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News found nearly 90 percent of Democratic women saying the country would be better off with more women in office.

Democratic pollsters say women now are likely to pick up support from other women and sympathetic men at the polls if candidates are viewed as roughly equal in qualifications. “It’s incredibly difficult for each candidate to communicate, and gender serves as a shortcut,” pollster Stanley Greenberg said. “Voters might think, ‘I don’t know much about the candidate, so I’m going to vote for the woman.’”

3. Democratic primaries are also weighted towards minority candidates such as Kamala Harris. In 2016, a full 35 percent of Democratic primary voters were members of minority groups, and a full three-fifths of them were African-American. Black voters have long been very loyal to candidates who share their background. In 2008, Barack Obama routinely beat Hillary Clinton in Democratic primaries among African-American voters by margins of greater than 8 to 1. In 2004, more than a tenth of African-American voters voted for Al Sharpton in the primaries that year, even though he had a highly checkered past, and no real chance of winning any primary.

“Will voters in the key Rust Belt states like Wisconsin where Trump won identify with a San Francisco Democrat?”

Harris can even claim she has more “street cred” than Obama did with blacks, having attended Howard University, an historically black college, rather than Harvard. More than Obama, she is viewed as a fighter for progressives - she is known to use the “F-word” in public to blast Republicans. In her victory speech after winning the Senate seat in 2016, she quickly pivoted to attacking President-elect Trump and used the word “fight” 33 times in just eight minutes. She has embraced Bernie Sanders’ single-payer national health care and making community college free for all.

4. Harris’ parents hailed from Jamaica and India, so she would be the first major female candidate for president with a family background in the Indian subcontinent. (Bobby Jindal fared poorly in the 2016 GOP primaries and Nikki Haley has not yet run for president).

Indian-Americans – 4 million strong – are the most wealthy demographic subgroup in America. “Indian-Americans consistently over time tend to be the most progressive leaning among Asian groups,” Karthick Ramakrishnan, a political scientist who directs the National Asian American Survey told Politico in 2016. His survey before the 2016 election found that only 18 percent of Indians had a favorable view of the Republican Party, compared with 64 percent who viewed the Democratic Party favorably.

Expect wealthy Indians to create SuperPACS to turbocharge Kamala Harris’ candidacy in a way that will make other candidates highly jealous. Ditto with her support from Silicon Valley moguls, who will like the idea of having a San Francisco Democrat in the White House.

5. Harris will also make an electability argument. Conventional wisdom on the left is that Hillary Clinton failed to match the African-American turnout that Barack Obama generated. With Harris, the Democratic nominee would be a ‘two-fer” – a candidate who would appeal to feminists and minorities alike and drive turnout up.

“If Washington were a Hollywood movie, you couldn’t cast anyone more different than Donald Trump,” says Nathan Ballard, a San Francisco political consultant who worked with Harris when she was district attorney of San Francisco, before being elected attorney general, the state’s top law-enforcement position, in 2010.

Harris checks all the requisite liberal boxes. She has a law enforcement background but with a decidedly liberal twist. In 2004, as San Francisco DA she refused to seek the death penalty against a man accused of killing a police officer. She’s also emerged as one of the leading political figures standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Liberal fans of Harris in her native California are already trying to grease the skids for her. In September, the state moved its presidential primary from June to March, making it a Prime Time Player in the race for the Democratic nomination. Harris would have a huge advantage in such a primary given her name recognition and vast donor network in Hollywood and Silicon Valley.

Harris is also a new political avatar for gay voters. In late October, she shared the podium with Hillary Clinton at the Human Rights Campaign’s national dinner where she proclaimed gay rights were now “under attack by a Justice Department that now stands on the side of discrimination instead of equality.”

So it’s clear that Harris is on her way to pushing all the hot buttons of Democratic primary voters. But what does that say about her ability to defeat Donald Trump or another Republican in 2020?


“All the points she is scoring with the left, including the F-bombs, may not play well across middle America,” Bill Whalen, a former speechwriter for GOP California Governor Pete Wilson who is now a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, told me. “Will voters in the key Rust Belt states like Wisconsin where Trump won identify with a San Francisco Democrat?”

Harris might even struggle in a state like Minnesota, which Hillary Clinton won by only 44,000 votes. “I don’t see her as having appeal outside the big urban areas,” says Barry Castleman, who writes the Prairie Editor blog out of Minneapolis. “She is clearly a liberal not a populist.”

But Harris is convinced that 2020 will be the Year of the Liberal, just as the mid-term elections of 2018 were. When it comes to running for president she's already started her warm up and if you soon see a blur on your TV screen it’s probably her sprinting down the track to 2020.

Harris-22-Jan-19-Fox News-c3412
Kamala Harris Is Running For President In 2020
Huffington Post
Focuses heavily on her identity and background, not much on policy.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) announced Monday that she will be running for president in 2020.

The theme of Harris’ campaign will be “For the people,” and she is expected to formally announce her candidacy in a speech on Jan. 27 in Oakland, California.

The senator previewed her announcement in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday, and her campaign released a short introductory video.

“I love my country,” Harris told ABC. “This is a moment in time that I feel a sense of responsibility to stand up and fight for the best of who we are.”

She added: “My entire career has been focused on keeping people safe. It is probably one of the things that motivates me more than anything else. And when I look at this moment in time, I know that the American people deserve to have someone who is going to fight for them.”

Harris recently published a memoir, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, that dove into many of the messages she is expected to focus on during her campaign. In the book, she describes her upbringing in Oakland as a daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica, and her personal history going from prosecutor to district attorney to senator.

According to a Harris aide, her priorities in the campaign will be addressing the cost of living, pushing for a more just society, expanding access to better quality of life and restoring dignity and responsibility to public office. Issues like immigration, education and criminal justice reform are expected to feature prominently in her agenda.

JUST IN: @KamalaHarris on announcing she will be running for president in 2020: "I feel a responsibility to stand up and fight for who we are." — Good Morning America (@GMA) January 21, 2019

Elected to the Senate in 2016, Harris made history as the first Indian-American to serve in the body, as well as just the second black woman. As attorney general of California for six years, she was the first woman, African-American and Indian-American in that role.

Harris announced her presidential bid on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and her campaign’s logo and color scheme draw inspiration from the 1972 presidential bid of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to run for the presidency from one of the major parties.

Kamala Harris campaign

“My parents were very active in the civil rights movement, and that’s the language that I grew up hearing,” Harris told ABC on Monday. “It was about a belief that we are a country that was founded on noble ideals and we are the best of who we are when we fight to achieve those ideals.”

“The thing about Dr. King that always inspires me is he was aspirational,” she continued. “He was aspirational like our country is aspirational. We know that we have not yet reached those ideals, but our strength is that we fight to reach those ideals.”

.@KamalaHarris on why she is announcing she will be running for president on #MLKDay: MLK "was aspirational like our country is aspirational...we know that we've not yet reached those ideals but our strength is that we fight to reach those ideals." — Good Morning America (@GMA) January 21, 2019

Harris is expected to make her first campaign stop in one of the early states on Friday, in Columbia, South Carolina. She is slated to speak at the Pink Ice Gala, a major event held by the local chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Harris was a member of the sorority during her time at Howard University.

The 2020 field is expected to get more crowded in the coming weeks, with Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), as well as former Vice President Joe Biden, among the speculated entrants.

Harris recently gained national attention through her tough questioning of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Senate hearings.

When Trump won the presidency against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016, crushing many Americans’ hopes for the first female president, some turned to Harris as a potential candidate to break that glass ceiling.

Bill Clark via Getty Images Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on homeland security on Jan. 16, 2018.

Harris’ track record includes support for LGBTQ rights, recent support for “Medicare for all,” and what she dubs her “smart on crime” strategy, which includes reducing sentences for low-level offenders.

Some have criticized her record as California attorney general, notably because her office declined to prosecute now-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s OneWest Bank for foreclosure violations in 2013.
Harris-21-Jan-19-Huffington Post-e75f2
Kamala Harris: ‘I Take Full Responsibility’ For Decisions I Made As A Prosecuto
Huffington Post
Predominantly about how her prosecutor experience could serve as a weakness.
WASHINGTON ― Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) on Monday addressed questions about her long history as a California prosecutor shortly after announcing her campaign for president in an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

In recent weeks, Harris has faced criticism from some on the left about her record as a district attorney in San Francisco and later as California’s attorney general. In a widely shared New York Times op-ed, law professor Lara Bazelon called Harris a “regressive” prosecutor who was often on “the wrong side of history” on the matter of criminal justice reform, as well as someone who “fought tooth and nail to uphold wrongful” convictions in California.

Prominent Bay Area activist Blake Simons also accused the senator on Twitter of “terrorizing Black communities” by working to strengthen the state’s prison system.

In her first press conference as a presidential candidate on Monday, Harris said she took responsibility for decisions she made a prosecutor and expressed regret for not being able to do more in certain cases she was involved in.

“I can tell you of the cases where I really regret that we were not able to charge somebody that molested a child but the evidence wasn’t there. There are cases ... where there were folks who made a decision in my office who did not consult with me and I wish they had. But again, I take full responsibility for those decisions,” Harris said at Howard University, her alma mater.

But Harris made no apologies about her career, stating that “there is a lot about what I did as a prosecutor that I’m proud of,” including starting a first-in-the-nation program that offered first-time nonviolent offenders a chance to have their charges dismissed if they completed vocational training.

“There are fundamental flaws in the criminal justice system and ... this criminal justice system needs to be reformed,” she said.

Harris’ campaign slogan, “For the people,” is more evidence she is embracing her background as a prosecutor despite the criticism from some progressives. According to The San Francisco Chronicle, the line is a reference to how she began her introduction to the court as a prosecutor: “Kamala Harris, for the people.”

On Monday she also responded to questions about her decision to defend California’s choice to deny sexual reassignment surgery to a trans inmate. She said she was obligated to defend the state’s positions as attorney general and that “unfortunately” she was sometimes forced to take stances “contrary to my beliefs.”

“But the bottom line is the buck stops with me, and I take full responsibility for what my office did,” Harris said.
Harris-21-Jan-19-Huffington Post-90752
Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 chances, broken down
Washington Post
Mentions DNA test/ancestry debacle as a big weakness. Focus on her as a populist.
The 2020 presidential race just lurched to a start — on the last day of 2018.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Monday announced an exploratory committee — a step that almost always leads to an actual campaign (and for which there is no real legal distinction). The announcement features a biographical video and a honed message that makes clear plenty of preparation has already been put into getting a campaign off the ground.

A couple of other Democrats have launched campaigns (Rep. John Delaney of Maryland) and exploratory committees (former Housing and Urban Development secretary Juli√°n Castro). but Warren is the first entrant who can credibly be described as a front-runner. In fact, I recently pegged her as the No. 1 most likely 2020 Democratic presidential nominee.

Just how much of a front-runner, though? Let’s break it down.

Her populism

Warren is perhaps one of two senators most associated with a form of liberal populism that is clearly ascendant in the Democratic Party. While Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) rose to prominence in the 2016 presidential race with a message decrying a “rigged” system, Warren has been using such language for years. In the first TV ad of her 2012 Senate campaign, in November 2011, she said, “Washington is still rigged for the big guys, and that’s got to change.”

And her efforts to crack down on corporate malfeasance date to before that campaign. As a Harvard University professor, she laid the groundwork for what became the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Put plainly: If Democratic voters are looking for the kind of candidacy Sanders was selling in 2016, Warren has about as good a claim on it as Sanders does — if not better. And as Sanders and President Trump showed in the 2016 primaries, populism has broad appeal, when packaged correctly. That’s why I had her at No. 1; there is so much upside.

But it’s not clear there is the same populist desire on the Democratic side as the GOP side. Sanders performed well even in defeat, yes, but part of that undoubtedly owed to Hillary Clinton’s weakness as the Democratic front-runner. And an October 2016 University of Maryland poll actually showed significantly fewer Democratic voters strongly agreed that the system was “rigged” against them (16 percent) than Republicans (35 percent) and independents (43 percent). That may have been due to Trump’s focus on that message, but it’s worth entertaining the idea that Sanders’s success wasn’t all about a liberal yearning for a populist uprising.

There is also the possibility that Warren will be fighting for the same voters as Sanders, who is considered a likely 2020 candidate and would undoubtedly be one of a handful of front-runners — if not the front-runner. The race will undoubtedly be very crowded, scrambling the idea of any one candidate monopolizing a “lane.” But the likely battle between Warren and Sanders for the 2016 Sanders voters is a major subplot involving a tranche of voters who could prove decisive.

Black voters

While the size of the populist tranche is up for debate, there is no disputing the huge influence of black voters on the Democratic nominating contest. And that’s an area where Warren, like Sanders, could suffer.

As the Republican Party has become whiter and more male in recent years, the Democratic Party has trended in the opposite direction. In 2016, about one-quarter of all Democratic primary voters were black, and their strong preference for Clinton was a big reason she secured the nomination. Fully 78 percent of black voters supported her in states where we had exit polls available, and she won virtually every state with a large black population. That’s an especially big deal given that Southern states feature heavily on Super Tuesday.

But as The Washington Post’s Annie Linskey reported this weekend, while Warren has tried to make inroads with black voters — including being one of the first white politicians to endorse the Black Lives Matter movement — there’s little evidence of progress. Few black leaders came to her defense when she recently released a DNA test showing a distant Native American relative. She also faces the prospect of two black Democratic senators — California’s Kamala D. Harris and New Jersey’s Cory Booker — running against her.

From Linskey, a former Boston Globe reporter who has covered Warren for years:

Warren has been traveling around the country to speak in front of black audiences, added black staffers in key roles, and cultivating key black leaders. But there remains an awkwardness she hasn’t quite addressed, according to strategists who focus on the demographic. The reasons include her message of economic populism that can clang in the community, her ties to Boston and her DNA test, which dredged up ugly reminders about defining ethnicity. ... “She would have done much better not to address Trump’s racism,” said Aimee Allison, the executive director of She the People, a group that supports nonwhite female candidates. Allison’s group released a straw poll of black female activists and strategists earlier in December that illustrated how much work Warren has ahead of her among those influential leaders. Just 22 percent picked Warren as one of their top three candidates.


One of the biggest questions for Democrats in 2020 — as it has been since the 2018 election — is whether there will be a call for generational change. Like their congressional leadership, the Democrats’ crop of 2020 front-runners skews older. And while Warren isn’t a septuagenarian like Sanders, Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg or Hillary Clinton, she will be come June 2019. If the party demands youth as a counterbalance to the oldest newly elected president in history, Warren isn’t it.

But there are a couple mitigating factors. One is that Warren has been on the political scene for less than a decade — which will help her fight back against the idea that she’s part of an entrenched political class that requires uprooting. Second is that she doesn’t really project “senior citizen.” Most voters will likely be surprised to learn she’s only eight years younger than Sanders.

The DNA test — and divisiveness

To the extent primary voters are strategic and just want someone who can beat Trump, Warren might not be it. While she quickly became a liberal star when she joined the Senate, there is a real argument to be made that a Harvard professor from Massachusetts is not what the party needs in the 2020 general election.

(It’s worth noting here that Warren is originally from Oklahoma and was a registered Republican until her 40s.)

That’s in large part because she’s such a divisive figure — the kind of bogeywoman Trump thrives on attacking. Trump seems to relish feuding with Warren just like he relished feuding with Clinton. And a divided electorate is how Trump won in the first place, despite only 4 in 10 Americans liking him.

Warren also clearly has some liabilities, starting first and foremost with that DNA test. It was clearly an attempt to put to rest an old controversy that had dogged her dating back to her 2012 campaign, when her past claim to Native American heritage was cast by Republicans as an attempt to obtain unwarranted Affirmative Action.

That Warren finally decided to get a DNA test and release it was an unmistakable sign of her 2020 intentions, but it also went poorly. The Cherokee Nation’s secretary of state called it “inappropriate and wrong” and said it made “a mockery out of DNA tests and its legitimate uses while also dishonoring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens, whose ancestors are well documented and whose heritage is proven. Senator Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage.”

A Quinnipiac University poll earlier this month showed independents had a negative impression of Warren, with 41 percent viewing her unfavorably and 24 percent viewing her favorably.

None of this is to say she couldn’t win — and there is an argument that you fight a fire-breather with a fire-breather. But Democrats saw in 2016 what can happen when 6 in 10 Americans dislike their nominee, and that’s a distinct possibility with Warren in 2020.
Warren-31-Dec-18-Washington Post-f9b14
In Iowa, Elizabeth Warren accents a fight against Trumpism, without focusing on Trump
Washington Post
— Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s first presidential campaign foray to this early voting state merged the economic views she has honed for years and the lesson learned by successful Democratic candidates in the midterm elections two months ago.

She aimed directly at voters tempted by President Trump’s angry populism in 2016 but avoided mentions of Trump himself almost entirely.

“Our 2020 issue will be how we talk about what we stand for,” Warren said, when asked why she was not taking on Trump, something she has not been shy about doing in the past.

“Our affirmative vision of how we build a country that reflects our best values. That’s what I try to talk about every chance I get.”

For Warren, virtually every position she advocated was, in policy terms, a repudiation of the president and the course he has set for the nation in his first two years.

That was true from specifics — her demand that presidential candidates release their taxes, which the president has refused to do — to the generic — her repeated lament that the middle class has been hollowed out as economic and political fairness has been lost.

She connected issues that galvanize the left under the idea that America’s political and economic system is “corrupt” — the precise word used in 2016 by both Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — and that is preventing working-class families from getting ahead.

Implicit in that was criticism of both Trump and, more broadly, of politics as practiced in Washington.

“The heart of it is this question of corruption,” Warren told a crowd in Sioux City on Saturday morning. “Every issue that affects us in this country right now . . . they intersect with this fundamental question of who government works for.”

The senator from Massachusetts made nearly identical pitches on her five-town, three-day tour of the western side of the state, projecting energy and eagerness to engage with voters even as she was hobbled by a cold that made her voice raspy. She spoke to crowds that totaled about 2,700 people during the trip — addressing each for about an hour.

Before she entered politics, Warren was an academic studying consumer bankruptcy, and much of her focus in office has followed that vein. But as she outlined her agenda in Iowa, Warren expanded beyond that: She proposed an anti-corruption bill that would ban lawmakers from becoming lobbyists, advocated stronger unions and touted a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to vote.

“We need to attack, head on, the costs that are crushing ­middle-class families,” she said, listing health care, housing, child care and education. “Those are investments we need to make as a country,” Warren said.

Missing from Warren’s overarching presentation were the micro issues that are of particular interest to Iowa. She said little about agriculture and gave a vague answer when asked about the recently passed farm bill.

“It has some good provisions,” said Warren, who voted for the bill. She added: “It’s got a lot of compromises in it. And I think we need a farm bill that works better for smaller farms. That’s the part that interests me the most.”

Warren also took pains to broaden what Democrats and other voters may know of her biography, beyond her representation of a strongly liberal state. When asked how she would appeal to conservatives, the former Harvard law professor harked back to her youth in Oklahoma and her family members who are still there.

“I have three older brothers,” Warren told a crowd at a panel for women’s right activists in Ankeny on Sunday. “And one of my three brothers is a Democrat. I love all three of my brothers.”

The brothers, she said, can all agree that “government should reflect our values.”

She linked her hardscrabble upbringing to her interest in seeking the White House. Her mother, she said, was able to save their family from poverty with a minimum-wage job.

“Back when I was in middle school . . . a minimum-wage job in America would support a family of three,” Warren said. “Today a minimum-wage job in America will not keep a mama and a baby out of poverty.”

Her message appeared to penetrate.

“I think she has the middle class in mind,” said Alison Anker, 27, after seeing Warren in Des Moines on Saturday. “She wants everyone to have an opportunity.”

During the trip, which crossed through the rolling, brown Iowa fields, Warren seemed to enjoy the enthusiastic crowds.

In Des Moines, when an audience member shouted “Do you like to dance?” Warren raised her hands in the air, and did a little kick to show her moves.

When her microphone stopped working at her first event in Council Bluffs on Friday night, she soldiered on, straining her voice. In Des Moines, she joked about it using a criticism of her by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that has become a call to arms for Warren and other femalepoliticians.

“The bad news is I’ve caught a cold,” Warren said. “The good news is, nevertheless, I persist.”

At times she showed off a droll wit: “How do you debate someone who isn’t interested in civility or in facts?” one audience member asked at the Des Moines event.

Warren deadpanned: “Did you have somebody specific in mind?”

Warren avoided not only mentions of Trump but also other potential Democratic candidates, by name at least.

But she did repeat her call that Democrats running for president refrain from self-funding, an obvious reference to possible candidates such as former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg or environmental activist Tom Steyer. Both have spent tens of millions in recent elections and have more to use on their own behalf.

Warren took questions from audience members at every event, using an unusual raffle system to determine who would get a question. In total, she took 31 audience queries, a number her highly organized campaign staff carefully tracked. She also took questions from reporters after four of her five events.

Warren endured a rocky few months before making her candidacy official last week, some of it caused by her October release of a DNA test meant to prove a distant relative was Native American. The claim had drawn criticism from President Trump and other Republicans; after the results were released they continued to criticize her, and she also came under fire from some Democrats upset that she’s defined ethnicity with a test.

But that came up only briefly during a trip that rewarded Warren with robust crowds and expressions of support, a year before Iowans have to choose a favorite.

After deplaning at the Omaha airport, she was recognized by several people, some of whom wished her good luck as she stood in a lengthy line for the bathroom.

And after three days in Iowa, as Warren and her aides walked briskly through a sports bar to head for a flight from Des Moines to Boston, people began to cheer.

One person on her cellphone exclaimed: “I think I just saw Elizabeth Warren!”
Warren-6-Jan-19-Washington Post-179eb
Elizabeth Warren launches exploratory committee ahead of likely 2020 presidential run
Anti-corruption focus, background as Oklahoman lead her profile. Again with the DNA test.
(CNN) Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren took a major step toward a presidential run on Monday, announcing in a video message and email to supporters that she is forming an exploratory committee ahead of an expected campaign for the Democratic nomination in 2020.

With her announcement 13 months before the Iowa caucuses, Warren, who became a progressive star by taking on Wall Street after the 2007 financial crisis and, more recently, President Donald Trump, is the first Democrat with a national profile to take formal action ahead of an anticipated presidential campaign.

"Corruption is poisoning our democracy," Warren says in the video as images of Republican leaders flash across the screen. "Politicians look the other way while big insurance companies deny patients life-saving coverage, while big banks rip off consumers and while big oil companies destroy this planet."

The clip begins with the senator recalling a hardscrabble childhood in Oklahoma -- her mother got a minimum-wage job after her father suffered a heart attack. He would eventually work as a janitor.

"He raised a daughter who got to be a public school teacher, a law professor and a senator. We got a real opportunity to build something," Warren says. "Working families today face a lot tougher path than my family did."

In one of multiple nods in the video to racial inequality, she adds that "families of color face a path that is steeper and rockier, a path made even harder by the impact of generations of discrimination" -- an early acknowledgment of the political importance of appealing to and winning the support of minority voters.

As she warns of a deepening crisis faced by the American middle class, Warren points a finger squarely at the Republican Party, using images of former presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, along with grinning cameos from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, departing House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Trump.

Warren is a searing critic of the President, and Trump has responded by openly mocking her Native American heritage and referring to her as "Pocahontas." Her decision in October to respond to Trump and other critics by releasing the results of a DNA test aimed at proving her ancestry fell flat with many Democrats and overshadowed her midterm message.

In an interview with Fox News on Monday, Trump skewered Warren over the test and said he would "love to run against her."

Asked whether he thought Warren believed she could defeat him in 2020, Trump said, "I don't know. You would have to ask her psychiatrist."

Warren's announcement also comes in the midst of a prolonged partial government shutdown over Trump's insistence on funding for a border wall, which has caused political chaos that has spooked investors and sparked turmoil in the stock market. This backdrop could prove to be a boon for Warren, who is widely expected to build a campaign centered around her signature economic populist message and anti-corruption platform.

By launching an exploratory committee, Warren can begin raising money for the coming campaign. Despite swearing off corporate PAC money, she enters the 2020 cycle with $12.5 million left over from her 2018 Senate campaign, according to Federal Election Commission records. Warren can transfer that money into her presidential coffers.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Warren suggested she was unlikely to seek the assistance of a big-money outside group.

"I don't think we ought to be running campaigns that are funded by billionaires, whether it goes through super PACS or their own money that they're spending," she said. "Democrats are the party of the people, and the way we make that clear is we join together and we fund our campaigns, we make our campaigns work through the people."

Warren added, "I've already received donations from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. That's how you build a grassroots campaign, that's what I believe."

A source close to Warren has said the timing of Monday's announcement -- on New Year's Eve, when most people aren't plugged into the news -- had more to do with a need to "build an apparatus" by "identifying and hiring staff" than influencing other contenders' plans.

But some Democratic operatives are skeptical, and one fundraiser suggested the Warren team might be hoping that a hefty day-one haul, made public in early 2019, could cause potential rivals to reconsider their options.

"It's a gamble that folks will give a ton of small money today," the Democrat said.

Rufus Gifford, former President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign finance director, made the same point in a tweet.

"Elizabeth Warren must think she can put up huge $$ numbers on her January report - scaring others out of the race," he wrote. "Only reason I can figure you'd launch a Presidential Campaign on New Year's Eve."

Even before Monday's notifications went out, the work of building the infrastructure to support a presidential bid had been well underway.

Since her re-election to the Senate in November, Warren has made hundreds of calls to political grassroots leaders in the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, the source said. She is expected to hit the campaign trail later this week if no votes are scheduled to end the government shutdown.

Warren's staff members are also having discussions with operatives in those states and are in the process of searching for campaign office space in the Boston area, the expected location of her presidential campaign headquarters.

Dan Geldon, Warren's longtime aide who served as her chief of staff in the Senate and was once the senator's student at Harvard Law School, is likely to serve a senior role in the eventual Warren campaign, the source said.

More than a year out from the first round of voting and with months to go until the first debate, the coming Democratic primary is already shaping up to be one of the most fierce and feisty nominating contests in a generation.

Warren's work to establish and defend the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, made her a star among progressives who first pushed for what would be a successful 2012 Senate run and then, with less luck, a presidential bid she ultimately passed up four years later.

This time around, the large Democratic field is expected to include multiple candidates touting progressive platforms -- a reality that underscores her influence within the party but could also complicate her path to its nomination.

Some two dozen candidates are said to have shown interest in a 2020 bid. Warren's national profile, which traces back to her work as a watchdog following the 2008 bank bailouts, immediately places her among the favorites, alongside former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and rising star Beto O'Rourke, the departing Texas congressman who just lost a bid for the US Senate.

A CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom survey earlier this month of likely Iowa caucusgoers found Warren with 8% support, trailing Biden (32%), Sanders (19%) and O'Rourke (11%) -- numbers broadly consistent with other early national polling.

Warren welcomed the coming fight during her remarks on Monday, and in particular, the potential for a crowded field of progressive hopefuls.

"I think it's great that we have a strong and growing group of Democrats who are making these arguments, who are fighting these fights," she said. "That's how we build a movement -- we do it together."

Warren's decision to more formally begin the process comes less than a month after the editorial board for her hometown newspaper, the Boston Globe, ruffled progressive feathers by suggesting she consider abandoning a potential run.

"Warren missed her moment in 2016, and there's reason to be skeptical of her prospective candidacy in 2020," the board wrote in early December, citing a poll from September 2018 that put former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat who has since ruled out a presidential run this cycle, ahead of Warren.

It also suggested she had become too much of a "divisive figure," an apparent reference to the heavily publicized DNA test. It confirmed Warren had distant Native American ancestry, but was met with backlash from some tribal leaders, activists and outspoken Democrats who fretted over whether Warren had played into Trump's hands.

In a statement Monday, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel gave a preview of the attacks to come, dismissing Warren as "another extreme far-left obstructionist and a total fraud." McDaniel also took a swipe at what she described as Warren's "phony claim to minority status."

Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. was among the most outspoken critics and said in October that Warren had undermined "tribal interests."

"Using a DNA test to lay claim to any connection to the Cherokee Nation or any tribal nation, even vaguely, is inappropriate and wrong," Hoskin said in a statement.

But any early missteps -- or even disappointing polling -- are unlikely to dampen excitement among the party's increasingly influential progressive bloc.

"Elizabeth Warren, on a visceral level, is fighting for everyday people and against powerful interests," Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder Adam Green said, "and that comes through with an authenticity this moment demands."

Green, whose group has supported Warren for years while talking up "the Warren wing" of the Democratic party, also gave a hint of how his group and potentially others might seek to distinguish the Massachusetts senator from other leading contenders.

"There are different theories on being effective, but she believes in picking issues that are super popular and forging coalitions to win on those issues," he said. "Others can be more of a loner, or willing to charge into battle first before having a fully baked plan."
Elizabeth Warren makes her pitch for radical reform in Washington
Manchester, N.H. (CNN) Sen. Elizabeth Warren in her first visit to New Hampshire in more than two years made the case for radical reform in Washington, telling voters here that the time for "change at the margins" has passed.

Returning to the trail a week after making her debut as a likely presidential candidate in Iowa, Warren again hammered a government, led now by President Donald Trump, that she described as fatally compromised by wealthy influence peddlers.

"This is about who the rules work for," Warren said. "We need to make change in this country. Not little, itty-bitty change. Not change at the margins. Not a nibble around the edges. Not even pass one good law here and one good law there. We need to make systemic change in this country."

New Hampshire could be an electoral linchpin for Warren, who will arrive here next year with outsize expectations -- the two most recent Democratic presidential nominees from Massachusetts won the next-door primary -- and likely at least one other likely high-powered 2020 rival in Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who also represents a bordering state. Sanders defeated Clinton in New Hampshire by more than 20 percentage points three years ago.

Nancy Johnson, who voted for Sanders then but drove down 20 miles down from Northwood to see Warren on Saturday, said the 2020 contest would, for her, be a two-horse race -- with Warren currently a few lengths ahead.

Read More
Elizabeth Warren Announces Iowa Trip as She Starts Running for President in 2020
New York Times
Skeptical, highlights controversies she's been involved in. Notes her involvement in anti-corruption/anti-Wall street arena.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat and a sharp critic of big banks and unregulated capitalism, entered the 2020 race for president on Monday, becoming the first major candidate in what is likely to be a long and crowded primary marked by ideological and generational divisions in a Democratic Party determined to beat President Trump.

Ms. Warren quickly made plans to campaign this weekend in Iowa, which holds the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses in February 2020. The senator, who has not traveled to Iowa recently, announced Tuesday that she would visit several of the state’s major cities: Des Moines, Council Bluffs, Storm Lake and Sioux City.

The competition for the Democratic nomination is poised to be the most wide open since perhaps 1992: The party has no single leader, no obvious front-runner for 2020, and no broadly unifying ideology as it moves away from a quarter-century of dominance by the Clintons and Barack Obama.

After a midterm election in which many women, liberals, minorities and young Democrats won, the presidential primaries and caucuses next year are likely to be fought over not only who is the right policy match for the party, but also which mix of identities should be reflected in the next nominee. The range of candidates will also force Democratic voters to consider which electoral approach is best suited to defeat Mr. Trump, balancing questions of ideological purity with how to appeal to a wide range of demographic groups like white rural voters, suburban women, college students, and black and Latino Democrats in the South and the Sun Belt.

Ms. Warren, 69, is among the best-known Democrats seeking to take on Mr. Trump, whom she has denounced in the past as “a thin-skinned racist bully” and a “wannabe tyrant.” Mr. Trump, who has already announced his re-election campaign, frequently mocks her as “Pocahontas” because of her claims to Native American ancestry, a slur Native American groups have denounced as a racist epithet.

While Ms. Warren’s stinging attacks on Mr. Trump and Wall Street have helped make her a favorite of grass-roots liberals, she also faces challenges as a presidential candidate: controversy over a DNA test to prove her Native American heritage, skepticism from the party establishment and a lack of experience in a national race.

The editorial board of The Boston Globe, her hometown newspaper, recently urged her not to run for president, saying she had become “a divisive figure.” And some in her party believe she missed her best chance to run in 2016, when liberal activists urged her to challenge Hillary Clinton.

Two potential top-tier candidates who have run before, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Bernie Sanders, are eyeing 2020 and are expected to disclose their plans this winter. Yet both men carry political baggage and would be in their late 70s on Election Day 2020, and many Democrats say they want a fresh face as their next nominee.

On Monday, Ms. Warren called Mr. Sanders — a fellow Senate liberal who is also popular with grass-roots activists — as a courtesy and had a brief, matter-of-fact conversation, according to a Democrat briefed on the call.

The presidential race is expected to draw several women and nonwhite contenders like Senator Kamala Harris, Democrat of California.CreditSarah Silbiger/The New York Times
More than three dozen Democratic senators, governors, mayors and business leaders are also weighing bids — most of whom have not sought the White House before. The race is expected to draw several women and nonwhite contenders, making for the most diverse field in history. Several Senate colleagues of Ms. Warren’s are likely to enter the race soon: Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. A mix of liberal and more moderate politicians are also considering a run, including Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York City mayor, who has said he is prepared to spend well over $100 million of his own money on the race.

Getting a jump on the competition, Ms. Warren plans to head not just to Iowa but other early voting states in the coming weeks. According to a person familiar with Ms. Warren’s thinking, the timing of her announcement had been decided weeks in advance.

In an email to supporters on Monday — 13 months before votes will be cast in Iowa — Ms. Warren said she was forming an exploratory committee, which allows her to raise money and fill staff positions before a formal start of her presidential bid.

On Monday afternoon outside her home in Cambridge, Mass., flanked by her husband, Bruce H. Mann, a professor at Harvard Law School, and their golden retriever, Bailey, Ms. Warren leaned into her stinging criticisms of wealthy financial interests as she ripped Mr. Trump and branded herself as a champion of the middle class.

“The problem we’ve got right now in Washington is that it works great for those who’ve got money to buy influence, and I’m fighting against that,” Ms. Warren said. “And you bet it’s going to make a lot of people unhappy. But at the end of the day, I don’t go to Washington to work for them.”

In her remarks before a pack of cameras, Ms. Warren shrugged at a question about how she had handled the release of her DNA test, reiterating that she had “put it all out there” and people could see the information for themselves.

She also took a revealing warning shot at the emerging field of presidential hopefuls. “I don’t think we ought to be running campaigns that are funded by billionaires, whether it goes through super PACs or their own money that they’re spending,” she said. “Democrats are the party of the people.”

Among grass-roots activists eager to highlight their message of a rigged economic system, there was particular excitement that a video released by Ms. Warren on Monday focused on issues like income inequality and corporate greed. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee said that “Elizabeth Warren meets the moment,” and Waleed Shahid, a spokesman for the leftist group Justice Democrats, said Ms. Warren’s “message of multiracial populism is exactly the right way to take on Trump’s divide-and-conquer agenda.”

In an interview set to air on Fox News on Monday night, Mr. Trump addressed Ms. Warren’s entrance into the race.

“She did very badly in proving that she was of Indian heritage,” Mr. Trump said, according to a partial transcript. “That didn’t work out too well. So, we’ll see how she does. I wish her well, I hope she does well, I’d love to run against her.”

A longtime bankruptcy law professor at Harvard who never held public office before 2013, Ms. Warren became the first woman elected to the Senate from Massachusetts after defeating a self-styled moderate Republican incumbent, Scott Brown, with a populist message based on advocacy for strict Wall Street regulation.

Ms. Warren has both assets and possible drawbacks in a White House run. Strategists for several other likely Democratic candidates say private polling found Ms. Warren’s political brand — as a warrior against powerful corporate interests — to be exceptionally strong with Democratic primary voters. Her signature initiative in recent months has been a sweeping bill to crack down on government corruption, effectively adapting her longtime focus on private-sector greed for the public-sector scandals of the Trump era.

But Ms. Warren has also become a favorite target of conservatives, who have sought to label her as an out-of-touch liberal from academia. In 2012, the political director for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said Ms. Warren represented a “threat to free enterprise,” and this year two Democratic senators — facing difficult re-election races in states Mr. Trump won in 2016 — took the unusual step of distancing themselves from Ms. Warren, their own colleague.

Sue Dvorsky, a former chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party, said in an interview Monday that it had been a mistake for Ms. Warren to spend so much time sparring in personal terms with Mr. Trump and called that a losing path for her or any other presidential candidate.

But Ms. Dvorsky also said Ms. Warren’s announcement video — particularly her focus on “how the middle class is being destroyed” — would resonate in Iowa.

“She has always done well in Iowa,” said Ms. Dvorsky, who recalled hosting Ms. Warren when she campaigned there for Democrats in the 2014 midterm elections. “She had people eating out of her hand, in tears, because her story is extremely powerful and she is a powerful teller of it.”

A Quinnipiac University poll in mid-December underscored Ms. Warren’s strengths as a primary candidate, finding her better known, and better liked, by Democrats than any other candidate who had not run for president before. Three in five Democrats had a favorable opinion of her, compared with just 12 percent who viewed her unfavorably, a ratio outdone only by Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders.

But the same poll pointed to Ms. Warren’s likely challenges. Voters at large were far more divided in their views of her: Only about 30 percent viewed her favorably, with 37 percent holding an unfavorable view and the rest undecided.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in New York in December. Mr. Biden is also eyeing a run in 2020.CreditKrista Schlueter for The New York Times
To the extent that Democratic primary voters are inclined to cast their ballots tactically — in favor of a candidate who appears likeliest to beat Mr. Trump — Ms. Warren may have some serious convincing to do. She is regarded with anxiety by much of the Democratic political establishment, including some Senate colleagues who complain that she has pursued an inflexible agenda on matters like bank regulation at the cost of party unity.

During her Senate years, Ms. Warren has demonstrated the most influence as a member of the Banking Committee, aggressively questioning leaders of the financial industry about excesses and abuses, seeking accountability for the Great Recession and challenging the Obama and Trump administrations to take tougher lines on regulations and trade policy. In 2015, Ms. Warren sank the nomination of Antonio Weiss, the Wall Street banker selected by the Obama administration to serve as the third-ranking official at the Treasury Department, taking on her party on the grounds that Mr. Weiss, the former head of investment banking for Lazard, was too closely connected to the financial services industry to serve in public office.

The map of states with early nominating contests appears, at least on the surface, to be an inviting one for Ms. Warren: The race begins in Iowa, where Farm Belt populism long defined Democratic politics, before moving to her political backyard of New Hampshire. During the midterm elections, she got a rousing reception in Nevada, an early state that suffered grievously in the 2008 financial crisis, and where rhetoric lashing Wall Street and major mortgage lenders tends to resonate.

Ms. Warren’s prospects may also depend, in part, on which Democrats decide to run. Like other white liberals in a historically diverse field, Ms. Warren may have to work harder to win over black primary voters. African-American Democrats have played a decisive role in settling the last two open contests for the party’s nomination, and Ms. Warren is expected to be competing against her party’s only two black senators, Ms. Harris and Mr. Booker.

And several other fiery economic populists could join the Democratic field, including Mr. Sanders and Senators Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, potentially splintering the voters most energized by Ms. Warren’s core themes. Advisors to other top-tier candidates, who were granted anonymity because their campaigns are yet to be announced, said that while they were surprised that Ms. Warren had announced her candidacy before the new year, it would have no influence on their decisions.
Warren-31-Dec-18-New York Times-7795e
Elizabeth Warren and her party of ideas
New York Times
Almost 40 years have passed since Daniel Patrick Moynihan — a serious intellectual turned influential politician _— made waves by declaring, “Of a sudden, Republicans have become a party of ideas.” He didn’t say that they were good ideas; but the G.O.P. seemed to him to be open to new thinking in a way Democrats weren’t.

But that was a long time ago. Today’s G.O.P. is a party of closed minds, hostile to expertise, aggressively uninterested in evidence, whose idea of a policy argument involves loudly repeating the same old debunked doctrines. Paul Ryan’s “innovative” proposals of 2011 (cut taxes and privatize Medicare) were almost indistinguishable from those of Newt Gingrich in 1995.

Meanwhile, Democrats have experienced an intellectual renaissance. They have emerged from their 1990s cringe; they’re no longer afraid to challenge conservative pieties; and there’s a lot of serious, well-informed intraparty debate about issues from health care to climate change.

You don’t have to agree with any of the various Medicare for All plans, or proposals for a Green New Deal, to recognize that these are important ideas receiving serious discussion.

The question is whether our media environment can handle a real party of ideas. Can news organizations tell the difference between genuine policy wonks and poseurs like Ryan? Are they even willing to discuss policy rather than snark about candidates’ supposed personality flaws?

Which brings me to the case of Elizabeth Warren, who is probably today’s closest equivalent to Moynihan in his prime.

Like Moynihan, she’s a serious intellectual turned influential politician. Her scholarly work on bankruptcy and its relationship to rising inequality made her a major player in policy debate long before she entered politics herself. Like many others, I found one of her key insights — that rising bankruptcy rates weren’t caused by profligate consumerism, that they largely reflected the desperate attempts of middle-class families to buy homes in good school districts — revelatory.

She has also proved herself able to translate scholarly insights into practical policy. Full disclosure: I was skeptical about her brainchild, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I didn’t think it was a bad idea, but I had doubts about how much difference a federal agency tasked with policing financial fraud would make. But I was wrong: Deceptive financial practices aimed at poorly informed consumers do a lot of harm, and until President Trump sabotaged it, the bureau was by all accounts having a hugely salutary effect on families’ finances.

And Warren’s continuing to throw out unorthodox policy ideas, like her proposal that the federal government be allowed to get into the business of producing some generic drugs. This is the sort of thing that brings howls of derision from the right, but that actual policy experts consider a valuable contribution to the discussion.

Is there anyone like Warren on the other side of the aisle? No. Not only aren’t there any G.O.P. politicians with comparable intellectual heft, there aren’t even halfway competent intellectuals with any influence in the party. The G.O.P. doesn’t want people who think hard and look at evidence; it wants people like, say, the “economist” Stephen Moore, who slavishly reaffirm the party’s dogma, even if they can’t get basic facts straight.

Does all of this mean that Warren should be president? Certainly not — a lot of things determine whether someone will succeed in that job, and intellectual gravitas is neither necessary nor sufficient. But Warren’s achievements as a scholar/policymaker are central to her political identity, and clearly should be front and center in any reporting about her presidential bid.

But, of course, they aren’t. What I’m seeing are stories about whether she handled questions about her Native American heritage well, or whether she’s “likable.”

This kind of journalism is destructively lazy, and also has a terrible track record. I’m old enough to remember the near-universal portrayal of George W. Bush as a bluff, honest guy, despite the obvious lies underlying his policy proposals; then he took us to war on false pretenses.

Moreover, trivia-based reporting is, in practice, deeply biased — not in a conventional partisan sense, but in its implicit assumption that a politician can’t be serious unless he (and I mean he) is a conservative, or at most centrist, white male. That kind of bias, if it persists, will be a big problem for a Democratic Party that has never been more serious about policy, but has also never been more progressive and more diverse.

This bias needs to be called out — and I’m not just talking about Warren. Consider the contrast between the unearned adulation Ryan received and how long it took conventional wisdom to recognize that Nancy Pelosi was the most effective House speaker of modern times.

Again, I’m not arguing that Warren should necessarily become president. But she is what a serious policy intellectual looks and sounds like in 2019. And if our media can’t recognize that, we’re in big trouble.
Warren-7-Jan-18-New York Times-71d85
Elizabeth Warren gives Trump the silent treatment as 2020 campaign kicks off
Fox News
Entirely about her in opposition to Trump. References his "Wounded Knee" twitter jab.
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- As she sets out on an almost-certain White House bid, Sen. Elizabeth Warren so far has curiously avoided uttering the name of one prominent politician: President Trump.

At a town hall-style session at Manchester Community College on Saturday, the Massachusetts Democrat referenced him only indirectly. Touting “the biggest anti-corruption proposal since Watergate,” Warren implored that “everyone who runs for public federal office put their tax returns online, everyone.”


It was a clear jab at Trump, who as both a candidate and as president has repeatedly refused to release federal income tax returns. But she made an effort not to speak his name -- a tactic that's apparently part of a broader party strategy, albeit one that could leave candidates like Warren limited in their ability to strike back at an incumbent who shows no qualms about personally attacking every political foe.

Trump, true to form, unloaded on Warren over the weekend, mocking her Instagram video timed with her exploratory committee announcement -- while also making an off-color reference to the Wounded Knee massacre that earned him more political scorn.

"If Elizabeth Warren, often referred to by me as Pocahontas, did this commercial from Bighorn or Wounded Knee instead of her kitchen, with her husband dressed in full Indian garb, it would have been a smash!" he wrote.

But the tweets showed Trump eager to engage the ever-expanding field of 2020 candidates, and to specifically hammer Warren over her past claims of Native-American heritage which she has tried to explain.

One reason Warren isn’t firing back may be that “she doesn’t have a good answer,” a veteran GOP strategist told Fox News.

“She must have reached a calculation that engaging him on this is just not going to be beneficial to her,” said Colin Reed, a former campaign manager for ex-Sen. Scott Brown who later served as executive director at the conservative opposition research shop America Rising. “If she engages with him on this issue, I think it’s a battle that she doesn’t really win right now.”

As a top surrogate for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign, Warren often unloaded on then-candidate Trump, at one time calling him a "thin-skinned, racist bully.” In her Senate re-election campaign last year, Warren repeatedly tied her Republican challenger to the president. And she’s long been a very vocal Trump critic in the Senate.

But in an hour-long speech and question-and-answer session in New Hampshire – her first stop in the state that holds the first-in-the-nation primary since she launched a presidential exploratory committee two weeks ago – Warren didn’t say Trump’s name.

Instead, Warren repeatedly painted a picture of a political system beset by dysfunction and corruption as she called for the “need to make systemic change in this country, real change.”

Trump also went nameless in an interview Warren did with Fox News and a couple of Granite State news organizations, as well as during her brief question-and-answer session with reporters. It was a similar story the previous weekend, as Warren made multiple campaign stops in Iowa.

“I think we need to talk about our affirmative version,” Warren explained to reporters in Manchester. “I talked serious policy here in New Hampshire and that’s what I’m going to continue doing.”

But she also added that “I’m willing to fight. Everybody knows that.”

Her approach speaks to the dilemma facing each Democrat entering the 2020 fray: each needs to decide how to deal with a president known to quickly fire off insults on Twitter. While high-profile attorney Michael Avenatti – who flirted with a Democratic nomination run last year before deciding against a White House bid – called for fighting fire with fire, most of the potential Democratic contenders are avoiding a slugfest with Trump.

Strategists suggest it's part of an effort to demonstrate what they're for, and not just what they're against.

Mo Elleithee, the founding executive director of Georgetown University's Institute of Politics and Public Service and a Fox News contributor, said “it’s early and I think each Democratic candidate is going to have to find the right balance between proving that they can take on the president, but also that they have something unique to offer themselves.”

And attacking the president doesn’t, for now, appear to further candidates' goal of introducing themselves to a primary audience – an audience that already assumes those running for the Democratic nomination vehemently oppose Trump.

“Folks already know that any Democratic candidate is going to need to take on the president and that they are anti-Trump. So spending some time at the beginning explaining who they are, what they have to offer, why they are running, is an important part of the calculus,” added Elleithee, a senior spokesman for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign who later served as communications director for the Democratic National Committee.

Emphasizing issues like health care helped Democrats win back the House of Representatives in November’s midterm elections. So far the 2020 contenders seem to be following the 2018 playbook, rather than Clinton’s 2016 strategy, when she spotlighted Trump as unfit to serve in the White House.

“In this early stage, voters want to kick the tires and test-drive these candidates to see who is authentically the antidote to Trump but they can't do that if you spend all day playing bumper cars with his latest Twitter tantrum,” Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson said.

“In the long run, when you focus on policies that help people, you implicitly expose that Trump has never done anything that doesn't help himself,” added Ferguson, who served as a senior spokesman on the 2016 Clinton campaign.

If any 2020 contender had a reason to trade punches with the president, it would be Warren, whom Trump routinely derides as “Pocahontas.”


While Warren’s avoided uttering Trump’s name at campaign events, it was a different story when she sat down for an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow two days after launching her presidential exploratory committee.

"Donald Trump is an accelerant," Warren told the progressive host. "He takes a problem that has just been growing and growing and growing and he just sets it off. And makes it worse than it ever was."

Some of that kind of language will sooner or later make its way onto the campaign trail.

“I have no doubt that as the campaign progresses, [Warren] and others are going to try to prove their willingness to take him on,” Elleithee predicted.

Ask Democratic activists, and they’ll tell you electability matters. And as next year’s primaries and caucuses come closer into view, Democratic voters will increasingly seek the candidate they think is best-positioned to defeat Trump in the general election.


“It will be incredibly important. One of the unifying factors within the Democratic Party is the desire to beat the president,” Elleithee added. “But it’s not the only one. Before they can take on the president, these candidates have to set themselves apart from one another and have to show who they are.”
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Elizabeth Warren barnstorms Iowa amid 2020 push, says she wants to 'return politics to the people’
Fox News
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., hit Iowa this weekend with her brand of left-wing populism as she considers a 2020 presidential run -- calling for a better deal for the middle class and to "return politics to the people.”

“We need to make structural change,” she told a crowd early Saturday in Sioux City, “Think big, fight hard.”

Warren announced this week that she had launched an exploratory committee to consider whether to jump into what is expected to be a packed 2020 field.


But in her stump speech in the first-in-the-nation caucus state, Warren barely mentioned Trump, focusing her ire on the status quo in the nation’s capital and what she said was a too-tight relationship between Washington and Wall Street.

“Washington works great for giant drug companies, but just not for people trying to get their prescriptions filled,” she said. “Washington works great for giant financial companies like Equifax but not for people whose social security numbers get stolen.

Later she said Washington worked, only if one was armed with an army of lawyers or lobbyists: “It is corruption, pure and simple, and it’s time to fight back."

While some Democrats have pushed to focus on Trump, and impeachment amid the FBI special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Warren’s address indicated she was more interested in dealing with “kitchen-table” issues such as the economy, minimum wage, health care and education.

“Tackling head-on costs crushing middle-class families -- health care, education -- those are the investments we need to make as a country,” she said, saying rising costs and flat wages had “hollowed out” the middle class.


“We need to return politics to the people,” she said.

Warren also took time to talk about her achievements in the Senate, including the formation of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform. She also told the crowd about how she worked with Republicans to get a bill through Congress that resulted in lower prices for hearing aids.

Warren brings more experience in the Senate to the table that some of the other top-tier candidates who are flirting with the idea of getting into the race. But she has also faced criticism from the right and the left for the handling of her claims of Native American ancestry -- particularly her release in October of DNA test results that showed only a trace amount of Native American heritage.

It was the first question she faced from the audience on Saturday, and one she seemed prepared for as she made it clear that she was not part of any tribe.

“I’m not a person of color, I’m not a citizen of a tribe. Tribal citizenship is very different from ancestry. Tribes and only tribes determine tribal citizenship and I respect that difference,” she said.

In her one reference to the current occupant of the White House, she brushed off the criticism she received over the DNA controversy from President Trump.

“I can’t stop Donald Trump from what he’s going to do, I can’t stop him from hurling racial insults, I don’t have any power to do that, but what I can do is I can be in this fight for all of our families,” she said.

On Friday, she appeared in Council Bluffs and said that “America is only working for those on the top” and called for top-to-bottom change.

“This is the moment we need to make big structural change in this country,” she said.

She said her motivation came from being grateful for the opportunities she had to become a Harvard law professor and later a senator, after an upbringing in Oklahoma that saw her father become a janitor and her mother support the family on a minimum wage job.

“I am grateful to America, down to my toes,” she said.
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Elizabeth Warren Moves Toward 2020 Bid With Launch Of Exploratory Committee
Huffington Post
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) became the highest-profile Democrat to officially test the waters for a 2020 presidential run, with the launch of an exploratory committee that allows her to start raising money for a campaign.

Warren is making the announcement Monday morning in an email to supporters, accompanied by a video laying out the case for her candidacy. It hews to her core message, that the system is no longer helping working-class Americans.

From her email:

The problem isn’t caused by some indisputable law of physics, like gravity. The problem isn’t that people aren’t willing to work hard. The problem starts in Washington. Our government has been bought and paid for by a bunch of billionaires and giant corporations that think they get to dictate the rules that affect everyone. Tax loopholes. Prescription drug pricing. Financial rules. Environmental protection. These companies define policies that are great for their bottom line, while good, honest people who work hard get squeezed harder every year. It’s corruption, pure and simple. That’s not how government is supposed to work. You know it. I know it. And we know it is time to fight back. I’m forever grateful that I got a chance to go to college for $50 a semester, a chance that opened a million doors for me. I’m grateful, and I’m determined. That’s why I fight my heart out so that everyone gets a real chance in life, a chance to build something solid, a chance to create their piece of the American dream.

While Warren is not yet a formal candidate, it is unprecedented in recent political history for a high-profile candidate to decide not to run for president after launching an exploratory committee.

Warren will be on Capitol Hill for the first day of the new 116th Congress on Thursday, and an aide said she expects to hit the road soon for visits to the early primary states.

Warren is one of the fiercest defenders of Dodd-Frank, a massive financial reform bill signed by President Barack Obama in 2010. That law created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which Warren first proposed in 2007 as a Harvard Law School professor.

Long before her time in the Senate, Warren attracted the ire of Republicans. While still a professor, she promised, in an interview with HuffPost, to use her position to fight for a strong Dodd-Frank and CFPB, pledging to put “plenty of blood and teeth” on the Senate floor to do so.

Warren wanted to become director of the CFPB, but GOP senators were so opposed to her appointment that Obama never even nominated her, convinced she couldn’t be confirmed. Instead, she ran for Senate in 2012, taking a seat away from Republicans ― the seat had been won by Scott Brown in a special election ― and becoming a colleague of those same senators who had criticized her.

“We created America’s first consumer watchdog to hold the big banks accountable,” Warren says in her announcement video. “I never thought I’d run for office. Not in a million years. But when Republican senators tried to sabotage the reforms and run me out of town, I went back to Massachusetts and ran against one of them. And I beat him.”

In the Senate, Warren has gained national attention in Senate Banking Committee hearings for going after bank executives and government officials who are supposed to be overseeing them. Unlike some senators in some hearings, Warren understands financial policy just as well, if not better, than the people she questions. After Wells Fargo was caught opening millions of fake bank and credit card accounts without customers’ consent, Warren tore into the CEO, John Stumpf.

“Your definition of accountability is to push this on your low-level employees,” she said. “This is gutless leadership.”

She also, like many other high-profile female politicians, has a way of getting under the skin of some of her male colleagues. Republican senators tried to silence Warren during a speech against Jeff Sessions’ nomination for attorney general in 2017, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) explaining, “Sen. Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Chris J Ratcliffe via Getty Images

That last line became a rallying cry for feminists, with Warren at the front and center of the controversy.

She also became one of the most high-profile critics of President Donald Trump, and he took to calling her “Pocahontas” to mock her for claiming Native American ancestry. In October, Warren released a DNA test showing “strong evidence” that she had a Native American ancestor in her family tree, accompanied by a video talking about her family story.

The DNA test did nothing to silence her critics, and the rollout raised questions, even among Democrats, about whether she understands minority issues fully enough, and whether she’s truly the strongest person to go up against Trump.

Launching an exploratory committee early allows the candidate to start raising money as soon as possible. Warren already has several dozen staffers in primary and other battleground states, whom she sent there during the midterms to help elect other Democrats. Many of them have stayed, however, and the exploratory committee will allow her to raise the funds to keep paying them.

Without ever running for president, Warren has become one of the most prolific small-dollar fundraisers in the history of Democratic politics. She raised $42 million, nearly half of that in contributions under $200, in her 2012 run to defeat Brown. And she raised $30 million over the past six years, with two-thirds of that haul coming from small dollar donors. She’s expected to rely on a similar strategy to fund her presidential bid, and like most Democratic candidates in 2020, isn’t expected to rely on a super PAC to boost her candidacy during the primary.

So far, the only Democrat officially running in 2020 is Rep. John Delaney (Md.). Julián Castro, Obama’s former secretary of Housing and Urban Development, has already launched an exploratory committee and plans to announce his next steps in San Antonio, Texas, on Jan. 12. Other potential contenders, like Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.), Cory Booker (N.J.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) are also expected to potentially jump into the race in the coming weeks.

While Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders laid exclusive claim to the progressive lane in his 2016 primary challenge to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Warren will likely face stiff competition to win over progressive voters, including from Sanders himself. (The two senators, longtime political allies, met earlier this month to discuss the likelihood both would run for president.) Warren has tried to separate herself from Sanders by noting she doesn’t share his socialist beliefs.
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Elizabeth Warren Blitzes Iowa With Populist Message
Huffington Post
SIOUX CITY, Iowa ― Sen. Elizabeth Warren is finding friendly faces in unfriendly territory for Democrats on her first trip to Iowa since announcing she will almost certainly challenge President Donald Trump in 2020.

The Massachusetts Democrat on Friday and Saturday spoke to overflow crowds that appeared eager to hear her economic populist pitch and her denunciations of corporate greed and a corrupt Washington.

“Washington keeps working great for people with money, but not for anyone else,” Warren said to a round of applause at a packed theater in Sioux City, promising to “end lobbying as we know it.”

“We need to call it out for what it is: It is corruption, pure and simple. And it needs to stop,” she said.

Although she is the first major candidate to announce a likely bid, Warren’s visit ― complete with a throng of reporters following her, a full complement of staff assisting her, and vendors hawking political merchandise outside the rallies ― seemed to also mark the kickoff to a caucus season that will consume the party for the next year and could see dozens of candidates enter the Democratic fray. Former Housing Secretary Julian Castro is expected to formally announce a bid soon, and other candidates ― including everyone from former Vice President Joe Biden to California Sen. Kamala Harris to South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigeg ― could launch campaigns in the coming months.

“This is how it starts. Person to person. Town to town. Across Iowa and then across America,” Warren told a crowd of about 500 in Council Bluffs.

Warren’s itinerary took her through western Iowa, starting in Council Bluffs and Sioux City, two midsize cities on the Missouri River that border Nebraska, before a jaunt to Storm Lake, a meatpacking town with a significant immigrant population. All three locales are in counties Trump won handily in the 2016 election, and Storm Lake and Sioux City are in the congressional district of notorious GOP Rep. Steve King.

In Sioux City, she grounded her pitch in her own family’s life story, relating how they almost fell into poverty when her father had a heart attack in middle age and her mother feared losing their house, which was saved when her mom got a minimum wage job.

“Today, a minimum wage job in America, full time, will not keep a mama and a baby out of poverty,” she said, arguing the fight for the middle class has been her life’s work as a teacher, professor and U.S. senator. “And it is wrong, and that’s why I’m in this fight.”

She also boasted about her work creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, her defeat of GOP Sen. Scott Brown in 2012, and legislation she passed that will drastically lower the cost of hearing aids.

ASSOCIATED PRESS Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speaks at McCoy's Bar Patio and Grill in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Jan. 4.

Warren’s travels continued with an event Saturday night in the state capital of Des Moines that drew more than 1,000 people. On Sunday, she’ll meet with a group of female leaders in the rapidly growing suburb of Ankeny. The trip is her first to Iowa since 2014, when she campaigned for former Rep. Bruce Braley in Iowa’s Senate race.

The events were not without hiccups ― Warren’s mic cut out for five minutes during her Council Bluffs event, a Trump supporter was arrested outside the Storm Lake event for striking a person with a selfie stick, and the candidate was beginning to lose her voice by midday Saturday. But the toughest moment for Warren came when a voter questioned her about her decision to get a DNA test to prove her Native American ancestry.

“Why did you undergo the DNA testing and give Donald Trump more fodder to be a bully?” a woman asked.

“I am not a person of color,” Warren responded. “I am not a citizen of a tribe. Tribal citizenship is very different from ancestry. Tribes ― and only tribes ― determine tribal citizenship, and I respect that difference.”

She then shifted back to her core message: “What I can do is I can be in this fight for all of our families. What I think 2020 is going to be about is not my family, it’s about the tens of millions of families across this country who just want a level playing field.”

Trump has signaled he has no plans to stop his attacks on Warren’s heritage. This week, he tweeted out a fake bumper sticker mocking the senator. For the most part, Warren avoided direct attacks on the president – she never mentions him by name in her stump speech.

With the pivotal caucuses still more than a year away, Warren is the first major candidate to travel to the Hawkeye State. Dozens of candidates, including many of Warren’s fellow senators, are likely to enter the contest. Early opinion polls of Iowa place Warren in the mix, but position Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders as the Democratic front-runners. Warren is expected to draw support from both former backers of Sanders and voters who backed eventual nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016.

In her appearances throughout the state, there were also hints of how she would differentiate herself from Sanders, who could be her main rival for the votes of progressives. While the Vermonter almost never mentions his own life experiences on the trail, Warren dwelled heavily on her own biography: She rued her decision to drop out of college at age 19 to get married and referenced her efforts to potty-train her 2-year-old daughter and her time as a fifth-grade Sunday school teacher.

And while Sanders’ biggest applause lines typically come when he mentions one of his signature policy pushes ― expanding Medicare for people over the age of 65 to the entire American population ― Warren avoided directly mentioning the issue, instead repeatedly discussing the importance of Medicaid. Warren has co-sponsored “Medicare for All” legislation in the Senate.

“No one’s raised it,” Warren told reporters in Sioux City when asked why she hadn’t mentioned the plan. “But I have had a chance to talk about Medicaid. We’ve had a national conversation about health care, and I think it’s been enormously valuable.”

Still, few people at any of the events were ready to commit to vote for Warren a year from now, with many hoping to hear from former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Harris or other candidates.

Tim Daugherty, a post office worker from Council Bluffs, said he thought Iowa voters would appreciate Warren’s fighting spirit.

“She’s not afraid to stand toe to toe with Trump,” he said.

Woodbury County Democratic Party Chair Jeremy Dumkrieger, who attended the Sioux City event, said he was pleased Warren started out in western Iowa.

“It shows all of us that she understands Iowa is a lot more than just Des Moines,” he said. And he anticipated voters would be ready for Warren’s message. “After a couple of years of Trump, we’re ready to just say what we believe.”
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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand tells Stephen Colbert she will run for president
Washington Post
Again focuses on her work on gender issues and her opposition to Trump. Mentions her somewhat fluid political backstory.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York announced Tuesday that she will run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, in a campaign that is expected to lean heavily on gender issues and imagery.

She told host Stephen Colbert on CBS’s “Late Show” that she believes she has “the compassion, the courage and the fearless determination” necessary.

“The first thing I would do is restore what’s been lost: the integrity and the compassion in this country,” she said. “I would bring people together to start getting things done.”

Gillibrand, 52, is most well known for her efforts to combat sexual assault in the military and on college campuses, to repeal the military’s policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and to make it easier for Capitol Hill staffers who have been sexually harassed or assaulted to report their experiences.

[Listen on Post Reports: Reporter Jenna Johnson breaks down Gillibrand’s unconventional entry into the race]

The senator has latched on to the burst of activism prompted by President Trump’s election and his policies, a movement that’s largely driven by women. She called the 2017 Women’s March on Washington “truly the most inspiring moment of my entire life” and joined the protesters who challenged Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court last fall. She also stood up to fellow Democrats as the #MeToo era dawned, criticizing then-Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota and former president Bill Clinton for their alleged inappropriate behavior toward women.

Gillibrand is also a vocal critic of Trump, and she has voted against his political appointees and positions at a higher rate than most Democrats. The president responded in December 2017 by attacking her in a tweet that she called “a sexist smear.”

With the announcement made, Gillibrand plans to spend time with her husband and two sons on Wednesday in Troy, N.Y., where she lives and where her campaign will be headquartered. On Friday, she will start a three-day tour of Iowa. Gillibrand emphasized her family in Tuesday’s announcement.

“I’m going to run for president of the United States because, as a young mom, I’m going to fight for other people’s kids as hard as I would fight for my own. Which is why I believe that health care should be a right and not a privilege,” she said. “It’s why I believe we should have better public schools for our kids because it shouldn’t matter what block you grow up on. And I believe that anybody who wants to work hard enough should be able to get whatever job training they need to earn their way into the middle class.”

Since Gillibrand was appointed to the Senate in January 2009 to fill the seat left open when Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, she has undergone a rapid and dramatic political shift, abandoning many of the centrist positions she held during her time as a congresswoman from Upstate New York and becoming one of the Senate’s most liberal members.Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale has seized on this transformation, pointing to Gillibrand as an example of Democratic “political contortionism” — even as Trump, too, has shifted in nearly all of his policy positions.

Gillibrand has said that she developed a passion for politics while growing up in Albany. Her maternal grandmother was an influential political organizer, and her mother worked as a lawyer, had a black belt in karate and shot the family’s Thanksgiving turkey each year.

Gillibrand studied at Dartmouth College and the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law, then worked as a corporate attorney in Manhattan for more than a decade. She helped represent the tobacco company Philip Morris in the 1990s amid a federal investigation — controversial work, at least among Democrats, that she has struggled to defend. In the late 1990s, Gillibrand volunteered on Clinton’s first Senate campaign and distinguished herself as an aggressive fundraiser, a skill that has been key to her political career.

“In my adult life, politically, no one has inspired me to get off the sidelines and truly make a difference more than Hillary Clinton has,” Gillibrand wrote in a January 2016 essay endorsing Clinton for president. Clinton wrote a foreword for Gillibrand’s 2014 memoir.

Gillibrand first ran for office in 2006, beating a four-term Republican in a conservative congressional district that includes the Albany suburbs. In the House, Gillibrand joined the Blue Dog Democrats, a centrist group, and embraced many conservative positions. Her support of gun rights legislation earned her a 100 percent approval rating from the National Rifle Association. She opposed amnesty for undocumented immigrants and voted to cut off some federal funding to New York City until the city cracked down on illegal immigration.She opposed legalizing same-sex marriage.

When Clinton resigned her Senate seat in January 2009, New York Gov. David Paterson (D) appointed Gillibrand, who was then barely known outside Upstate New York — angering many Democrats who considered Gillibrand too conservative.On the Hill, members of the New York delegation nicknamed Gillibrand “Tracy Flick” after the bubbly, blond and ambitious character played by Reese Witherspoon in the movie “Election.”

Some of her policy positions rapidly changed. The night before her appointment was announced, she called a gay rights group to profess her full support for same-sex marriage. As she voted for gun-control measures, her NRA rating fell to an F.

Gillibrand said in a CBS News interview last year that as she expanded her views beyond “the lens of Upstate New York,” she realized that her gun rights and immigration positions were “wrong.”

“I just didn’t take the time to understand why these issues mattered because it wasn’t right in front of me. And that was my fault,” Gillibrand said in the interview.“It was something that I’m embarrassed about and I’m ashamed of.”

She won a special election in 2010 with 63 percent of the vote and followed with 72 percent of the vote in 2012, when she earned her first full term, and 67 percent in November. Her last campaign came as Gillibrand navigated intraparty divisions over how to handle the #MeToo movement.

In November 2017, Gillibrand said that Bill Clinton should have resigned during his presidency following his affair with a White House intern. That angered some Clinton loyalists. Former adviser Philippe Reines, who tweeted: “Over 20 yrs you took the Clintons’ endorsements, money, and seat. Hypocrite. Interesting strategy for 2020 primaries. Best of luck.”Three weeks later, Gillibrand called on her colleague Franken to resign following accusations of sexual misconduct from several women. She was the first prominent Democrat to do so, and many others followed, although she also faced criticism from members of her party and some major donors .

“Enough is enough,” Gillibrand wrote in a Facebook post. “The women who have come forward are brave and I believe them. While it’s true that his behavior is not the same as the criminal conduct alleged against Roy Moore, or Harvey Weinstein, or President Trump, it is still unquestionably wrong, and should not be tolerated.”A few days later, Gillibrand called on Trump to immediately resign because he had been accused of sexual assault by more than a dozen women.

Trump responded the next day in a tweet: “Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. . . someone who would come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump.”

Gillibrand said the tweet was “a sexist smear intended to silence me.”

One of the most prolific fundraisers in Congress, Gillibrand has raised more than $56 million during her political career, including $20 million between 2013 and 2018. But her prowess has led to criticism that she was too cozy with Wall Street.In 2013, the Daily Show’s John Oliver confronted Gillibrand about campaign donations from Wall Street and said: “What I deeply want to know is: What do you have to do for that? What is required of you for that money? Because it makes me uncomfortable.”

Gillibrand responded that it was her job to represent New York and its people, which includes those employed on Wall Street.She noted that she has called for more regulation of the banking industry and voted against the government bailout of banks. Nearly a year ago, Gillibrand stopped taking money from corporate political action committees, following the example of Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

During her reelection campaign last year, Gillibrand promised that she would “serve my six-year term” and not challenge Trump in 2020. Her Republican opponent replied: “Honestly, I don’t believe that.”

Two days after she was reelected, Gillibrand said in a late-night television interview that she was considering a run.

“I believe it is a moral question for me,” she said. “I’ve seen the hatred and the division that President Trump has put out into our country, and it has called me to fight as hard as I possibly can to restore the moral compass of this country.”

Philip Bump contributed to this report.
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‘I will stand up for what I believe in’ Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand says — but what she believes quickly changed as she moved from House to Senate
Washington Post
When Kirsten Gillibrand moved left on guns in 2009, she did it fast.

The moderate Democrat from Upstate New York had just been appointed to the Senate and liberals were in an uproar. Then a congresswoman, Gillibrand had an A-rating from the National Rifle Association. She co-sponsored bills to roll back restrictions on firearms in the District of Columbia and to limit disclosure of gun trace information by law enforcement. Gun control advocates were stunned that she was chosen to fill the seat.

But Gillibrand’s transformation had already begun. The day of her appointment, she vowed to work on a bill to strengthen background checks with a fierce critic of her gun record, then-Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.). The following day, she told an audience in Harlem that she could perhaps be flexible on gun control.

The new senator proved more than flexible. She voted against the NRA’s entire agenda and received an F-rating from the group by her next election, less than two years later. Her shift on guns was so rapid that it drew a word of caution from McCarthy, who became an ally.

“I remember saying to her one time, ‘Don’t change your mind so fast — learn the issue first,’ ” McCarthy said.

Gillibrand overhauled her political identity during this period, abandoning the conservative positions that made her popular upstate and embracing or even moving further left than the liberal consensus on guns, immigration, Wall Street and same-sex marriage. As the Democratic Party itself moved left, she staked out positions popular with the party’s swelling base of liberals, a posture most evident when she called for abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. She has voted against President Trump’s agenda more than any other senator.

Gillibrand’s evolution seemed to reach its apex last week when she introduced herself as a candidate for president and a fighter for liberal values. But her shift in views from a decade ago is already raising questions among Democrats and provoking attacks from Republicans eager to define her as a flip-flopper.

Experts who have followed Gillibrand’s rise said the impression that she has hair-trigger judgment and an overriding instinct to capi­tal­ize on the political moment could prove more problematic than any one shift on policy.

“This urge to have answers now, now, now is strong and can come across as inauthentic,” said Ted Johnson, a senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice who has observed Gillibrand. “It’s okay to say, ‘I didn’t know.’ It’s okay to engage audiences. But it’s not okay to compensate for the not knowing and the not engaging with a super strong position immediately in order to win them over. The thing about growth is that it takes time.”

Jonathan Tasini, a labor activist and supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) who weighed a primary challenge against Gillibrand in 2010, said the Democratic left should not reflexively turn its back on candidates who have changed positions.

“The thing we have to look at is: Does the evolution make sense? Is it a whiplash evolution or does it have some content to it where you can see someone changing? I don’t know the answer, in all candor, with Kirsten Gillibrand,” he said.

Gillibrand, now 52, has often described her changes of view as epiphanies. On the subject of guns, she tells about meeting in 2009 with the parents of a Brooklyn teenager who was killed by a stray bullet. She dropped her NRA-backed positions as a result, she says.

“When you absorb any amount of someone’s pain that they’re living in that moment, it’s hard to ignore it,” Gillibrand told GQ last year. “It changed my view completely and it changed my view immediately. It wasn’t an evolution. It wasn’t a thoughtful process. It was immediate.”

Last week, she said her shifts reveal political courage.

“I think it’s important to know when you’re wrong and to do what’s right. And I will do what’s right, and I will fight for what’s right, and I don’t back down from those fights,” she said Wednesday at a news conference in Troy, N.Y.

Gillibrand has gone against her own party on a number of matters related to women. She crossed fellow Democrats with her bipartisan push to remove the adjudication of military sexual assault cases from the chain of command. The plan failed to advance to a final Senate vote in March 2014.

She alienated the Clintons and some of their allies in 2017 when she became the highest-profile elected Democrat at that point to say Bill Clinton should have resigned over his affair with Monica Lewinsky. She had previously benefited from their support, financial and otherwise.

That same year, she was the first senator to call for the resignation of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) after he was accused by eight women of groping or forcible kissing. Dozens of colleagues followed; Franken, who denied some allegations and said he remembered other encounters “very differently,” said the next day that he would leave the Senate.

The Franken episode angered some on the left who felt Gillibrand abandoned Franken for her own gain. Through a spokesman, Franken declined to comment for this piece.

“I will stand up for what I believe in, especially when it’s hard,” Gillibrand said Wednesday. “With Sen. Franken, it’s sad for many people, but after eight allegations of sexual harassment and groping, credible allegations at the time, I just couldn’t stay silent. My job was not to stay silent. I couldn’t defend it. . . . If some wealthy individuals — that makes them angry, that’s on them,” she said.

Susie Buell, a major Democratic donor who has criticized Gillibrand’s handling of the episode, wrote in an email to The Washington Post that she saw Gillibrand as “the leader in the force” calling for Franken’s resignation, calling it a rush to judgment “at a very intense moment.”

“It has nothing to do with wealthy people not wanting women being protected. It is about a great US senator, Al Franken, being accused and then driven out of his seat without the opportunity to defend himself. That to me is not acceptable,” Buell wrote.

Still, some liberal activists are not convinced the decision will be a problem for Gillibrand.

“If we’re going to be the party who believes women — and I think we should — Kirsten took a courageous position and that should be acknowledged,” said Neil Sroka, communications ­director for Democracy for America, a liberal political action committee.

Republicans have already started to hammer her.

“If you looked up ‘political opportunism’ in the dictionary, Kirsten Gillibrand’s photo would be next to it,” Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens said last week. “From jumping on the ‘abolish ICE’ bandwagon to turning on the Clintons, Gillibrand always goes where the political wind blows. Democrats know it, which is why she’s barely registering in the polls.”

Yet that ignores a central facet of Gillibrand’s policy changes: She has swung left in line with and occasionally ahead of Democratic voters, the sort of moves voters typically reward, not punish. The share of Democrats who want stricter gun laws has risen by 20 points since she embraced that view in 2009. What were once liberal views on immigration and LGBT rights have become mainstream.

In the Senate, Gillibrand has fought for the LGBT community, helping to lead the successful effort to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the policy barring military service by out gays and lesbians, and pushing legislation to stop discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Her aides are particularly sensitive to her record on same-sex marriage and how it is described. Gillibrand started to vocally support same-sex marriage when she was appointed to the Senate. Under criticism at the time, she noted that she had backed a New York gay-marriage bill the previous year.

As a member of the House, Gillibrand said she personally supported same-sex marriage but argued for civil unions and letting states decide what to call them.

“I think the way you win this issue is you focus on getting the rights and privileges protected throughout the entire country, and then you do the state-by-state advocacy for having the title,” she told an LGBT publication not long before her Senate appointment, according to the Advocate.

While support for same-sex marriage is unanimous among high-ranking Democrats now, her position was common at the time among party leaders. Only two senators publicly supported same-sex marriage as of early 2008, according to Baptist Press, the news service of the Southern Baptist Convention. Gillibrand was among about six senators, all Democrats, who supported it at the time of her appointment, the news service reported. (As president, Barack Obama didn’t formally support same-sex marriage until 2012.)

Immigration represented a more dramatic shift for Gillibrand. As a House member, she opposed amnesty for undocumented immigrants and supported making English the official language and deputizing police officers to act as immigration agents. After joining the Senate, she began to support comprehensive immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship, along with other liberal priorities on immigration.

In late June, Gillibrand denounced ICE as a “deportation force” and joined calls by liberal activists to abolish it. She was the first U.S. senator to take the position, and at the time, her language put her further to the left than her potential Democratic presidential rivals. Abolishing ICE and replacing it with a different agency is now a position shared by much of the field.

“I don’t think ICE today is working as intended. . . . I believe that it has become a deportation force, and I think you should separate the criminal justice from the immigration issues,” Gillibrand said on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time.”

Peter Rivera, a former New York labor commissioner who in 2009 said Gillibrand’s then-

opposition to amnesty “borders on xenophobia,” said she accepted his invitation to meet with Hispanic legislators and has been “completely supportive” of their agenda ever since.

“I attacked her,” Rivera said. “I was opposed to her and she did not hold that against me. For all intents and purposes, she broke bread with me and said I want your support.”

Emily Guskin in Washington and Jenna Johnson and David Weigel in Sioux City, Iowa, contributed to this report.
Gillibrand-20-Jan-19-Washington Post-76349
Gillibrand doesn't shy away from her conservative past in Iowa
Sioux City, Iowa (CNN) Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand brought up the period in her life where she represented -- and personally reflected -- a conservative House district in upstate New York in response to the first question from a voter at the first event of her first trip to Iowa on Friday.

Sitting at a small coffee shop in Sioux City, Iowa, Gillibrand parried a question about beating Republicans everywhere -- including conservative districts like the one she currently sat in -- by using her personal experience of ousting a longtime Republican member in a conservative district by taking positions on guns and immigration that are now out of step with Democratic voters.

"I first ran for office in 2006 in my 2-to-1 Republican district in upstate New York not unlike JD's district right here, a rural district, agriculture and manufacturing," Gillibrand told around a dozen Iowans, referring to JD Scholten, the former congressional candidate who came within a few percentage points of unseating controversial Republican Rep. Steve King.

Democrats seized control of the House for the first time in more than a decade in 2006, helped by a slate of moderate and conservative candidates and opposition to the Iraq war. They lost control four years later.

Gillibrand ran and won a House seat around Albany, New York, in 2006 by attacking her Republican opponent from the right on immigration and guns, calling securing the border "a national security priority" and touting an A-rating from the National Rifle Association.

Hours later, at a house party nearby, Gillibrand responded to a question about her previous position on guns by addressing the previous sterling rating.

"So, I had an A-rating as a House member," she said. "I only really looked at guns through the lens of hunting. My mother still shoots the Thanksgiving turkey. But when I became Senator, I recognized I had a lot to learn about my state and all of the 20 million I was going to represent."

And the next morning, at a coffee shop in Boone, Iowa, Gillibrand opened with a simple nod to her past.

"I represented a rural place in Congress," she told the audience at Livery Deli, a small coffee shop in the rural Iowa enclave.

Gillibrand's conservative record is one of the key criticisms her nascent candidacy receives from the left, but it shows how the 2020 candidate's early strategy is to face up to questions about her record, not run away from them, believing that embracing her story and evolution on issues like guns and immigration could win plaudits from caucus goers here in Iowa and convince them that she could win a general election against President Donald Trump by appealing to a spectrum of voters.

"My story is my story. And when I am wrong, I admit it," Gillibrand told CNN about not running from her more conservative past. "It is just who I am. And so that is why these stories are part of my story and it is what it is. It just defines who I am."

Gillibrand was quick to admit when she was wrong throughout this first trip to Iowa.

Asked by CNN why she took more than $1 million from lobbyists in her career, but is now swearing off super PAC and lobbying money, Gillibrand described her decision as a presidential candidate a "first step" and admitted she wishes she had done it sooner.

"Yeah, I do," she said. "And I think it is important to start somewhere and that is why I am starting here."

It was clear throughout Gillibrand's first trip to Iowa that few people on the ground knew much about her -- something even the senator recognized.

"I am not a national name," Gillibrand said on Saturday, "so the fact that you turned out is a blessing to my heart."

Some mentioned watching her announce her run on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" and a few more men and women said they watched her interview with Rachel Maddow earlier this week.

But Gillibrand's three-day trip to Iowa was mostly an introduction for both the senator (whose visit was the first time she had ever traveled to Iowa) and the people she met.

"We are just kind of lifting the veil today," Karen Heidman, a 72-year old Sioux City resident, said before meeting Gillibrand. "We want to see if she is street-able, if she can appeal to the kinds of people she needs to win in Iowa."

That unfamiliarity was clear in Ames on Saturday when State Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell introduced Gillibrand by making the most common mistake about her: Botching her first name.

"Please join me in welcoming Senator," Wessel-Kroeschell said, before taking a long pause.

Gillibrand, familiar with this mistake, jumped in: "Kirsten!"

"Kirsten Gillibrand," a relieved Wessel-Kroeschell echoed.

Gillibrand's visit was also punctuated with clear references to the fact that her being the mother of two boys will be a common theme of her candidacy.

JUST WATCHED Gillibrand on Franken: Silence was not an option (2018) Replay More Videos ... MUST WATCH Gillibrand on Franken: Silence was not an option (2018) 02:01

When she was asked about being the first Democratic senator to call for Sen. Al Franken to resign after a series of years-old allegations of inappropriate touching were leveled against him, she quickly brought up a conversation she had with her son, Theo, at the time.

"I am also a mom of boys and the conversations I was having at the time with Theo, who is 15, was 'Mom, why are you being so mean to Al Franken,'" she said in Sioux City. "And I had to be very clear with him as a mother: It's not okay to grope a woman anywhere on her body without her consent, it's not okay to forcibly kiss a woman without her consent, it's not okay for Al Franken, and it's not okay for you, and I could not be ambiguous about that."

She returned to her sons in lighter moments, too.

During a walking tour of Des Moines, Gillibrand agonized over what witty T-shirts to buy her two sons at RayGun, an iconic T-shirt and apparel store in the city's hip East Village. In the end, she bought them both sweatshirts and picked up an "America Needs Love" T-shirt for herself.

And she talked about how much her sons would have enjoyed a cookie baking session she attended with Jill Means at Kitchen Collage.

"Can I have that recipe?" Gillibrand asked as she rolled chocolate cookies and dipped them in sugar. "I have boys."

Gillibrand's maternal persona was on full display at almost all times on the visit.

When a tripod fell at a coffee shop, Gillibrand stopped her conversation to ask if anyone had fallen and hurt themselves. And at one point during the walking tour of Des Moines, the senator grabbed a reporter's arm to prevent them from stepping in something unseemly on the ground. And she was publicly worried about cameramen walking backwards in the snow.

"You are going to create anxiety," she said. "And we don't want anxiety."

Gillibrand is likely to be one of a handful of women running for president this election. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has announced an exploratory committee and both Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and California Sen. Kamala Harris are considering a run.

Gillibrand announced her candidacy by making clear that gender equality is central to her bid and that continued in Iowa, where she spoke to the Women's March Iowa event in Des Moines.

What was clear throughout all her events this weekend is that voters, particularly women, are eager to back a woman a few years after Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump.

"Men have had their shot," said Deb Mandicino, a 61-year old woman from Sioux City." Women do things differently and it's time to see that work out."
Kirsten Gillibrand enters 2020 race
Frames her as a candidate focused on gender, opposition to Trump.
Washington (CNN) Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand entered the 2020 presidential race on Tuesday, telling Stephen Colbert that she was forming an exploratory committee just days before she heads to the critical state of Iowa.

"I am filing an exploratory committee for president of the United States tonight," the New York Democrat said, adding that she is "going to run for president of the United States because as young mom I am going to fight for other people's kids as hard as I will fight for my own, which is why I believe health care should be a right, not a privilege. It is why I believe we should have better public schools for our kids because it shouldn't matter what block you grow up on. And I believe anybody who wants to work hard enough should be able to get whatever job training they need to earn their way into the middle class."

Shortly after taping the show, Gillibrand officially filed with the Federal Election Commission and released her first campaign video, which highlighted her work on the 9/11 health bill, women's rights and fighting President Donald Trump.

"I am not afraid of him," Gillibrand said of the President.

The video opens by showing someone Googling the name "Kristen" -- not "Kirsten" -- a mistake often made regarding the New York senator.

Gillibrand, who was elected for her second full term in the Senate in 2018, rose to national prominence in recent years as a forceful proponent of the #MeToo movement and fierce critic of Trump. People close to Gillibrand have indicated the senator will run a campaign centered on gender issues, something she has championed in the House and Senate.

In her interview with Colbert, Gillibrand added, "You are never going to accomplish any of these things if you don't take on the systems of power that make all of that impossible, which is taking on institutional racism, it is taking on the corruption and greed in Washington, taking on the special interests that write legislation in the dead of night. And I know that I have the compassion, the courage and the fearless determination to get that done."

CNN reported earlier on Tuesday that Gillibrand intended to make her announcement to Colbert and had informed key supporters of her plans.

Although Gillibrand is forming an exploratory committee -- something politicians often do to get more information on whether to run -- Gillibrand told Colbert that there was no chance she wouldn't run.

"It's an important first step and it's one that I'm taking because I'm going to run," she said.

While it is certain that Gillibrand's focus on Trump will continue during her campaign, the New York Democrat will have to get through a sizable field of Democrats considering a run for President, including a handful of her colleagues in the Senate. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts announced an exploratory committee last month and has traveled to Iowa and New Hampshire, while California Sen. Kamala Harris, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and others are publicly considering a bid.

A spokesperson for Gillibrand declined to comment on her plans.

Ahead of her trip to Iowa this weekend, Gillibrand has been calling top Iowa Democrats to pick up advice and discuss her upcoming trip, multiple sources in the state tell CNN.

Among them is Troy Price, the chair of the Iowa Democratic Party.

Price told CNN that he urged the New York Democrat to begin "laying the ground work" in the state and "show that she is ready to get to know people here."

"Voters are ready to get to know her," Price told CNN of Gillibrand. "So, I think it's important for anyone who comes through to start thinking about those relationships because a caucus process is one where people want to get to know you" before they support you.

Gillibrand has already stacked her campaign with a number of top hires who were speaking with other contenders.

Jess Fassler, Gillibrand's chief of staff, will work as the senator's campaign manager. Fassler has been with Gillibrand since she was a House member representing upstate New York.

Dan McNally, formerly the political director at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, will work as Gillibrand's campaign director. McNally, a longtime Democratic operative who managed Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet's 2016 campaign, has worked at both the DSCC and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Meredith Kelly, the former communications director for the DCCC, will be the senator's communications director. And Emmy Bengtson, digital director to Gavin Newsom's successful California gubernatorial campaign last year and deputy social media director for Hillary Clinton in 2016, will work as Gillibrand's deputy communications director.

Gillibrand, formerly a moderate Democrat in the House of Representatives, has shifted to more liberal positions since being appointed to Clinton's Senate seat in 2009.

She is a vocal critic of Trump and has sparred with him on Twitter, the President's favorite social media platform.

After Gillibrand called for Trump's resignation after multiple women renewed their sexual misconduct allegations against him, Trump slammed the senator with language that Gillibrand called a "sexist smear."

"Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office "begging" for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump," Trump tweeted in December 2017.

Gillibrand responded by calling the tweet a "a sexist smear intended to silence me."

Gillibrand enters the 2020 field with $10.5 million in the bank, a sizable war chest that would make her one of the most financially formidable candidates.

While her most recent Senate run helped replenish her campaign coffers, it also provided opponents with a potential attack and a question Gillibrand has to answer: She promised voters in 2018 to serve her full term.

"I will serve my six-year term," she said during a Senate debate when asked about her 2020 plans.

In 2017, Gillibrand ran afoul of some powerful Democratic donors after leading calls urging Minnesota Democrat Al Franken to resign from the Senate. Franken quit following allegations -- one of which included photographic evidence -- that he touched women inappropriately.

Some donors believed Franken, a popular lawmaker, was pushed out of office too quickly and could have weathered the controversy.

Addressing the criticism, Gillibrand told CNN's Van Jones in December: "Sometimes you just have to do what's right, even if it's painful ... if I can't protect the women in my workspace, if I can't — not only stand up for women who feel abused, or feel harassed in our workplace — then I'm not doing my job, and so I just got to a point where enough was enough."

Around the same time that she came out against Franken, Gillibrand also said that in hindsight, former President Bill Clinton should have resigned because of his affair with then-White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

"Things have changed today, and I think under those circumstances there should be a very different reaction," Gillibrand said in an interview with The New York Times. Asked if he should have resigned, she added, "Yes, I think that is the appropriate response."

Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens told CNN in a statement, "If you looked up 'political opportunism' in the dictionary, Kirsten Gillibrand's photo would be next to it. From jumping on the 'abolish ICE' bandwagon to turning on the Clintons, Gillibrand always goes where the political wind blows. Democrats know it, which is why she's barely registering in the polls."
In Iowa, Gillibrand Uses Small-Town Roots to Sell Electability
New York Times
BOONE, Iowa — Senator Kirsten Gillibrand represents one of the biggest and bluest states in America, anchored by the nation’s largest urban metropolis. But as she made her way across snowy Iowa during her first visit as a presidential candidate, Ms. Gillibrand put far more emphasis on her upstate New York roots, bipartisanship and small-town political ancestry.

She talked about her love of RVs and her family vacation last summer to see a Nascar race — and suggested she could make an RV trip in Iowa this year. She spoke of her faith and finding common ground with Republicans. And she harked back repeatedly to her first run for Congress, in 2006, when she ousted a Republican incumbent in a seat that her pollster warned she couldn’t win because there were “more cows than Democrats.”

“I grew up in upstate New York, a community not unlike this one,” Ms. Gillibrand said as she introduced herself at a house party in Sioux City on Friday evening. Of her first race, she said, “It was a two-to-one Republican district, a lot like the district we’re in today.”

The next morning, inside a cafe in Boone, she told the dozen or so people there: “I really appreciate being in a rural place. I’m from a rural place. I grew up in a rural place. I represented a rural place for Congress.”

At a political moment when many Democratic voters are desperate to find a winner who can beat President Trump, Ms. Gillibrand’s emphasis on her past representing a conservative House seat seemed an effort to ensure she is not pigeonholed as just another blue-state Democrat, or someone who does not understand rural America.

To that end, Ms. Gillibrand has placed her campaign headquarters in Troy, N.Y., near where she grew up and in her old House district but relatively far from a major urban center (though a short drive to New Hampshire). She made her first campaign appearance at a diner there, too.

Mr. Scholten, who attended two of Ms. Gillibrand’s events, said the problem with the current Democratic Party is that it’s “more and more a Whole Foods party and we’re in a Dollar General district.”

“She’s able to have that experience,” Mr. Scholten said of Ms. Gillibrand, “and that’s important for Democrats.”

The challenge for Ms. Gillibrand is that the candidate she was, ideologically, in 2006 to win that upstate district is no longer the candidate she is now. In the House, she had an A-rating from the National Rifle Association; now she has an F. Her stances on immigration have flipped, as well. She has said she is now embarrassed by her old positions.

Ms. Gillibrand, who appears especially comfortable meeting voters in small and more intimate settings, was generally well-received on her first Iowa trip, which included a mix of coffee-shop stops and business tours, a house party and a speech to the Women’s March at the State Capitol.

“If we change who’s at the decision-making table, we change everything,” she told the crowd at the march. (Ms. Gillibrand also said there was “no room for anti-Semitism” in the Women’s March movement, a reference to the controversy involving one of the original march organizers that has caused fewer national Democrats to attend this year.)

Unlike Senator Elizabeth Warren, another Democratic contender, who has mostly avoided mentioning Mr. Trump on the campaign trail, Ms. Gillibrand offered plenty of direct attacks on the president, saying he had brought a “darkness” on the nation, using words like “heartless,” “immoral,” “inhumane” and “beyond disgraceful,” and citing his “racist message.”

Of the federal shutdown under Mr. Trump, she said, “He’s doing it all for himself and his own ego.”

But almost as often as she mentioned her voting record against Mr. Trump’s agenda or appointments, Ms. Gillibrand cited her across-the-aisle work with Republicans, including how she bonded with Senator Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican, at Bible study, and name-dropping her alliance with Senator Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican reviled by many Democrats, in her legislative battles on sexual assault in the military.

“I can work with anybody,” she said to laughs after mentioning Mr. Cruz.

In Boone, a town of about 12,500 people, a 43-year-old Iowan, Chris Bennett, asked Ms. Gillibrand to say what separated her most from what could be a sprawling field of two dozen or more Democratic candidates in 2020.

“I really believe that I can bring this country together,” she began her answer.

Voters mostly responded positively.

“We’ve had enough divisiveness over the last couple years,” said Amy Young, a college professor, whom Ms. Gillibrand pitched about finding common ground at a coffee shop in Ames. “We are one country. We need to remember that.”

Linda Santi, who met Ms. Gillibrand in Sioux City, said: “She talked about running in a red congressional district. That was important to me. How do we talk? How do we engage Trump voters in civil discourse?”

Ms. Santi saw Ms. Warren on her recent visit — Iowans famously love to size up their presidential candidates in person before making a decision — and said Ms. Gillibrand’s arrival was far more “downscale”: no street vendors hawking goods, no organized selfie line.

“Warren was pressing the populist button in more of an us-them kind of way,” Ms. Santi said.

In Sioux City, Ms. Gillibrand did get a question about her decision to become the first Democratic senator to call for the resignation of the former senator Al Franken in late 2017 following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. Some Democratic donors and activists had lamented his departure and her role in it.

“Enough was enough,” Ms. Gillibrand said of the final allegation.

“Al Franken was entitled to whatever process he wanted,” she said. “If he wanted to stay and wait six months for his ethics hearing, he was entitled to whatever he wanted. His decision was to resign. My decision was not to remain silent.”

Several people at her events said they learned much of what they know about her from television appearance this week, including on Rachel Maddow’s show on MSNBC, where Ms. Gillibrand was a guest. Ms. Maddow opened the interview by dissecting Ms. Gillibrand’s shifting stances.

“Tell me about that transformation,” Ms. Maddow pointedly began her questioning.

“I understand her policy positions have evolved,” said Rick Mullin, 65, who attended the house party with Ms. Gillibrand in Sioux City. He was sympathetic. His positions have shifted, too. “Not as much as hers have,” he added.

Ms. Gillibrand remains widely unknown. People quietly asked each other who the blonde woman with the media entourage was at a coffee shop in Des Moines. And as she entered the state Capitol for the Women’s March speech, the security guard asked her, “So when are you running for president?”

“Right now!” she replied.
Gillibrand-19-Jan-19-New York Times-def8b
Kirsten Gillibrand, New York Senator, Joins Democratic Race for President
New York Times
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, an outspoken advocate for women’s causes and electing more women to office, is herself entering the 2020 race for the White House, becoming the latest candidate to join what is expected to be a crowded Democratic primary to take on President Trump.

In an appearance Tuesday on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” Ms. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, said she was forming an exploratory committee to raise money and travel the country for her run. She is scheduled to start campaigning within days, with plans to spend the weekend in Iowa.

“I’m going to run for president of the United States because as a young mom I am going to fight for other people’s kids as hard as I would fight for my own,’’ she said.

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Ms. Gillibrand, 52, has emerged as one of the most forceful critics of the Trump administration in the last two years. She has voted against nearly every significant nominee Mr. Trump has put forward, and rallied opposition to his congressional agenda. In the last two months, as she publicly considered a campaign, she has spoken repeatedly about the need to restore the “moral compass” of the nation.


But Ms. Gillibrand, a former corporate lawyer, has been criticized by opponents as a politician without a firm ideological bearing of her own, having transformed from a pro-gun, conservative upstate congresswoman with deep ties to Wall Street financiers to a crusading liberal who rails against guns and refuses corporate political action committee money.

Ms. Gillibrand’s 2020 announcement was widely expected after weeks of presidential buildup, in which she secured office space for a headquarters in Troy, N.Y., and expanded her political staff.

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“The first thing I would do is restore what’s been lost: the integrity and the compassion of this country,” Ms. Gillibrand told Mr. Colbert when he asked about her Day 1 priorities.

Ms. Gillibrand is not the first woman or even the first one in the Senate to announce her bid; Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts formed an exploratory committee two weeks ago.

Other senators expected to enter the race soon include Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, while Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and former Representative Beto O’Rourke are weighing candidacies.

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Ms. Gillibrand has registered little support in early presidential polls, but she is still widely seen as a formidable candidate. Fiercely competitive and a prolific fund-raiser — she had more than $10.5 million in the bank as of late 2018 — she has invested heavily in recent years to build up a small donor network online, as well.

Notably, Ms. Gillibrand pitched bipartisanship in her announcement. “I would bring people together to start getting things done,” she said. “If you want to get health care done, you have to bring Democrats and Republicans to the table on the shared values of this country.”

But nothing would be accomplished, she said, without taking on “the systems of power,” including “institutional racism” and corruption in Washington.

Ms. Gillibrand appeared nervous as the interview began, gripping Mr. Colbert’s hand just before making her announcement. At the end of the segment, Mr. Colbert gave her a gift basket of items to take with her on the trail, including a ticket to Michigan to ensure she campaigns there.

The 2018 midterms demonstrated the appetite among Democratic voters to elevate women into power, and Ms. Gillibrand is expected to make her advocacy for women’s causes and candidacies a key part of her campaign. For years, she has raised money for women seeking office through her Off the Sidelines PAC, which shares a name with her memoir. That work has helped her develop a national network of female donors for 2020.

She has lined up with the left flank of her party on policy positions, embracing economic populism, but she is not expected to run a campaign as explicitly ideological as rivals like Ms. Warren and, if he runs, Mr. Sanders.

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Senator Kirsten Gillibrand leaving the Ed Sullivan Theater after a taping of “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” on Tuesday.
Craig Ruttle/Associated Press

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand leaving the Ed Sullivan Theater after a taping of “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” on Tuesday.CreditCraig Ruttle/Associated Press
Instead, Ms. Gillibrand is expected to lean on her ability to connect with audiences on a personal level.


Her presidential announcement comes almost a decade to the day she was appointed to represent New York in the United States Senate — in what was then a surprise pick by former Gov. David A. Paterson, who elevated Ms. Gillibrand over some better-known rivals to replace Hillary Clinton when she became secretary of state.

At the time of her appointment, Ms. Gillibrand had just won re-election to her second term in the House after seizing her Albany-area seat from a Republican incumbent in 2006. She has moved steadily to the left politically since then, abandoning her former positions on guns and immigration, in particular, as she has become one of the Democratic Party’s most reliably liberal voices.

In the Senate, she has taken on some big fights, including her successful push to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the military and her continuing battle to remove sexual assault cases in the armed forces from the military chain of command. She has pushed to end the scourge of sexual harassment on college campuses and to strengthen protections for women working on Capitol Hill.

In late 2017, she was the first Democratic senator to call for the resignation of Senator Al Franken of Minnesota as he faced multiple accusations of sexual misconduct. Her decision — which was quickly echoed by other senators, both men and women — led to a backlash from some Democratic activists and donors who were angered that Mr. Franken was forced to resign while a president accused of harassment by multiple women remained in office.

Ms. Gillibrand’s stance on Mr. Franken came on the heels of saying that, in retrospect, President Bill Clinton’s sexual relationship with an intern would have been cause to resign, even though the Clintons had championed her early in her career.

The back-to-back episodes cemented her reputation as a woman willing to buck powerful men in her own party.

Born in Albany to a political family, Ms. Gillibrand was greatly influenced by her grandmother, Dorothea Noonan, known as Polly, a powerful figure in the political machine of the longtime mayor of Albany, Erastus Corning.


Ms. Gillibrand began her career as a Manhattan lawyer in the 1990s, and has said she was inspired to get into politics by listening to Mrs. Clinton, then the first lady.

She eventually ran for Congress, in 2006, in what was seen as a long-shot race against an entrenched incumbent, John E. Sweeney. The district was 93 percent white, and Republicans vastly outnumbered Democrats.

She easily secured re-election in 2008 in a House race that was the most expensive in the nation that year.

While some 2020 candidates are expected to make explicit their appeal in Middle America, Ms. Gillibrand, at least among the Democrats from coastal blue states, can point to her initial representation of a heavily Republican and more rural House district as a sign of her experience, if not electability, with such voters.

Last November, she won election to the Senate for the third time after she pledged during the campaign’s final weeks that she would serve her full six-year term.

Ahead of her impending presidential candidacy, Ms. Gillibrand met last Saturday with a group of two dozen women for a listening session at the home of the author Letty Cottin Pogrebin.

Among the pointed questions the senator was asked: How would she become known in the rest of America?

“Her answer was that she would proceed living room by living room,” recalled Gloria Steinem, the feminist icon, who was among the attendees and said she came away impressed by Ms. Gillibrand. “Just as she was doing with us.”
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Who is Kirsten Gillibrand? 5 things to know about the New York senator and 2020 candidate
Fox News
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is running for president in 2020.

The New York Democrat announced her White House bid on Jan. 15 during an episode of Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show.”

From Troy, New York, Gillibrand, 52, said she’s running because she wants to “make a difference.”

“I believe in right vs. wrong – that wrong wins when we do nothing. Now is our time to raise our voices and get off the sidelines,” Gillibrand said in a tweet announcing her plans.

From being a mother to her work combating sexual assault in the military, read on for five things to know about Gillibrand.

She took Hillary Clinton’s old seat

Gillibrand was appointed to the U.S. Senate in January 2009 by then-New York Gov. David Paterson after Hillary Clinton was tapped to be President Obama’s secretary of state. She beat Caroline Kennedy and Andrew Cuomo for the appointment.

She won her first election to the seat in 2010 and was re-elected in both 2012 and 2016.


Gillibrand aided Clinton in her own Senate campaign. Adviser Ann Lewis told Time in 2009 that Gillibrand was a “natural organizer” and helped mobilize women to vote for Clinton.

Her grandmother was a powerful political figure in New York

Gillibrand’s grandmother, Polly Noonan, led the Albany Democratic Women’s Club for more than 30 years. She was closely tied to Albany Mayor Erastus Corning, advocated for women’s rights and was known for speaking her mind, according to The New York Times.

“As a 10-year-old girl, I would listen to my grandmother discuss issues, and she made a lasting impression on me,” Gillibrand once said. “What I admired so much about her was her passion. I thought, ‘Someday I may serve, someday I may be a part of this.’”


Noonan, who Gillibrand described as her “greatest political hero,” died in 2003.

She’s a lawyer

Before she was a senator, Gillibrand worked as a lawyer and was elected to Congress twice.

Gillibrand worked as an attorney in both upstate New York and New York City and served as a law clerk on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, according to her Senate biography. She also served as special counsel to then-Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo.

Gillibrand was first elected to Congress in 2006, defeating longtime incumbent Republican Rep. John Sweeney in New York’s 20th district. She won re-election in 2008.

She thought about running for Congress in 2004, but Clinton reportedly advised her to wait.

Gillibrand is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the UCLA School of Law. She’s married with two children.

She’s gone after sexual assault and harassment

In the Senate, Gillibrand has been one of the more outspoken lawmakers combatting sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military and on college campuses.


With Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, Gillibrand pushed a bill in 2013 that would have created a new system for prosecuting military sexual assaults. She invited Emma Sulkowicz, an activist who gained national notoriety for her protests against how her university handled her sexual assault, to the State of the Union address in 2015.

She once had a perfect approval rating from the NRA

Gillibrand’s appointment to the Senate upset some New York gun control advocates. As a congresswoman, Gillibrand had a 100 percent approval rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Her NRA score has since been downgraded to an “F,” and she’s said she was “embarrassed” by her past positions on guns.

“After I got appointed, I went down to Brooklyn to meet with families who had suffered from gun violence in their communities. And you immediately experience the feeling that I couldn’t have been more wrong. You know, I only had the lens of upstate New York,” she said in 2018.

When her rating shot down, an NRA spokesman noted it was unusual for a lawmaker’s score to change so drastically in such a short amount of time.


She has also changed her position on immigration. As a congresswoman, Gillibrand opposed amnesty for illegal immigrants, wanted English as the official U.S. language and called for local police officers to enforce federal immigration laws.
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Gillibrand tells Colbert she's forming presidential exploratory committee
Fox News
Very high up in the story, mentions that she spoke in "generalities" and that she had previously said she would stay in the Senate. Incredibly negative overall
New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced during a taping of Stephen Colbert's "Late Show" on Tuesday night that she has formed an exploratory committee for a 2020 presidential run, reversing her previous reassurances that she would continue to serve in the Senate instead.

Gillibrand, 52, will be entering an increasingly crowded field of Democrats seeking to unseat President Trump. She spoke largely in generalities on Tuesday, as she vowed to take on powerful "special interests" and work on behalf of children.

"I'm filing an exploratory committee for president of the United States, tonight," Gillibrand said, holding Colbert's hands as she spoke, in a video posted by CBS Tuesday afternoon. "I'm going to run for president of the United States because as a young mom, I'm going to fight for other people's kids as hard as I would fight for my own -- which is why I believe health care should be a right, not a privilege."

Fox News has learned that Gillibrand is heading to Iowa, which hosts the pivotal first-in-the-nation caucuses, on Friday for a meeting and fundraiser with local Democrats.

Less than three months ago, Gillibrand promised when asked directly about her possible White House ambitions that "I will serve my six-year term" in the Senate, rather than run for the presidency. Gillibrand won re-election in 2018, after being appointed to fill Hillary Clinton's seat in 2009.

New York GOP spokeswoman Jessica Proud had much the same criticism.

In a statement on Tuesday, she said: “It was only three months ago during the campaign that Kirsten Gillibrand point-blank lied to New Yorkers that she would fulfill her term if re-elected. In her lackluster career as an elected official, she has demonstrated a disturbing disregard for the truth and principled positions in the name of self-serving personal advancement. If she treats her current constituents with such disrespect, we shudder to think what she’d do to the nation.”

Added Republican National Committee (RNC) spokesman Michael Ahrens: “If you looked up ‘political opportunism’ in the dictionary, Kirsten Gillibrand’s photo would be next to it. From jumping on the ‘abolish ICE’ bandwagon to turning on the Clintons, Gillibrand always goes where the political wind blows. Democrats know it, which is why she’s barely registering in the polls.”

In her interview with Colbert, Gillibrand focused on providing equality of opportunity, which she said is currently "impossible."

"It's why I believe we should have better public schools for our kids, because it shouldn't matter what block you grow up on," she said. "And I believe that anybody who wants to work hard enough should be able to get whatever job training they need to be able to earn their way into the middle class.

"But you are never going to accomplish any of this things if you don't take on the systems of power that make all of that impossible, which is taking on institutional racism, it's taking on the corruption and greed in Washington, taking on the special interests that write legislation in the dead of night," Gillibrand concluded, haltingly and frequently interrupted by applause. "And I know that I have the compassion, the courage, and the fearless determination to get that done."


Colbert's full interview with Gillibrand will air later Tuesday night.

Republicans, and some on the left, have recently criticized Gillibrand for apparently attempting to shed her moderate and establishment roots by pivoting deliberately and dramatically towards the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

Analyst Nate Silver noted that Gillibrand has "the most anti-Trump voting record of any Democratic senator" -- but, he added, "that comes after she had a pretty moderate record when she was a House member from Upstate New York. Maybe it's not a bad thing in a system of representative government to change positions when you change constituencies, but she often gets accused of being opportunistic."

In December, Gillibrand was roundly mocked as a sexist panderer after saying the future is “female” and “intersectional."

“Our future is: Female, Intersectional, Powered by our belief in one another. And we’re just getting started,” Gillibrand wrote in a tweet.

Critics immediately claimed Gillibrand was trying to virtue signal to progressives ahead of run for president in 2020, looking to portray herself as a feminist firebrand.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., for one, fired back at Gillibrand, saying “our future is: AMERICAN.”

“An identity based not on gender, race, ethnicity or religion. But on the powerful truth that all people are created equal with a God given right to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness,” he added.

Gillibrand would become the fifth Democrat — and second senator — to jump into a presidential primary that could ultimately feature dozens of candidates. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts along with former Obama Cabinet member Julian Castro and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii are among those who have taken steps toward a 2020 run. Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California could also enter the race soon.

While Gillibrand's prominence as a face of her party has grown, she faces a tough battle to capture the attention of Democratic voters in a crowded field that's expected to include multiple women. Several of her potential rivals have spent more time in critical primary states while Gillibrand has visited one — New Hampshire — in October to stump for the Democratic candidate for governor.

She's expected to move quickly this week to make connections in the leadoff caucus state of Iowa. She's scheduled to headline a meeting with Democratic activists in Sioux City on Friday evening. The event is to be held at a private home with top donors to the Woodbury County Democratic Party.


Gillibrand has been in touch with some Iowa Democrats and enlisted the help of Lara Henderson, who was finance director for Fred Hubbell, the 2018 Democratic candidate for governor. But she hasn't built up a network in the state to the degree of prospective rivals, including Booker and Harris.

She was appointed to the Senate in 2009 to succeed Clinton, who became secretary of state, and she easily won re-election, most recently in November. She has $10.6 million in her campaign fund, which can be used to jump-start a presidential bid.

During her time in the Senate, Gillibrand has been a central figure in Washington's reckoning with the #MeToo era.

In 2017, she was the first Senate Democrat to call on Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, a fellow Democrat, to resign amid multiple sexual misconduct allegations. That landed her in hot water with some of her colleagues and progressive supporters, who felt Franken was unfairly maligned.

Gillibrand has also said President Bill Clinton should have stepped down after his relationship with a White House intern was revealed and has also called on President Donald Trump to resign over sexual assault allegations.

And before #MeToo, Gillibrand spent several years pushing for legislation addressing sexual assault in the military and on college campuses.

In recent weeks, Gillibrand has worked to expand her fundraising network and improve her standing among key voting blocs, including African-American voters.

Fox News' Lukas Milekonis and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Fox News' Patrick Ward contributed to this report.
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Kirsten Gillibrand Launches 2020 Presidential Exploratory Committee
The Huffington Post
NEW YORK ― Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has launched an exploratory committee to begin raising money for a possible 2020 presidential campaign, she said Tuesday during an appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

“I’m filing an exploratory committee for president of the United States ― tonight!” Gillibrand told host Stephen Colbert, eliciting cheers from the studio audience.

Asked why she was running, Gillibrand replied, “I’m going to run for president of the United States, because as a young mom I am gonna fight for other people’s kids as hard as I fight for my own, which is why I believe health care is a right and not a privilege.”

“It’s why I believe we should have better public schools for our kids ― it shouldn’t matter what block you grow up on, and I believe that anybody who wants to work hard enough should be able to get whatever job training they need to earn their way into the middle class,” she said.

Gillibrand went on to argue that any president hoping to accomplish those goals would have to take on “systems of power” that currently stand in the way, including “institutional racism,” “corruption and greed in Washington,” and “special interests that write legislation in the dead of night.”

“I know that I have the compassion, courage and the fearless determination to get that done,” the senator said.
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Kirsten Gillibrand Highlights Rural Roots In Iowa Debut
The Huffington Post
Steve Pope/Getty Images Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) speaks at the Iowa Women's March on Saturday in Des Moines. The speech was part of her first presidential campaign trip.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa ― When Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) walked into Sioux City Gifts on Friday afternoon, the store was virtually empty save for the dozen reporters who had tagged along to document her inaugural presidential campaign swing.

But after greeting the cashier, Gillibrand spied a lone patron ― visibly stunned to be surrounded by the media entourage ― and immediately introduced herself.

The customer, Diane Desy, 55, a local retail worker and avid Republican, told Gillibrand she was concerned about crimes committed by undocumented immigrants and supported building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Gillibrand asked whether Desy would support comprehensive immigration reform combining, among other things, tougher border security with a pathway to citizenship for those undocumented immigrants already in the country.

Desy responded favorably and the two got to talking about veterans issues. By the time Gillibrand moved on to inspect the store’s photography studio, she had made a dent in Desy’s lifelong allegiance to the GOP.

Although the woman said she has never voted for a Democratic presidential candidate and is relatively satisfied with President Donald Trump, she told reporters she would at least give Gillibrand serious consideration.

“I’m very impressed with her,” Desy said. “I lean more conservative, but I’m not close-minded to other points of view.”

Gillibrand, a 52-year-old attorney and 10-year Senate member who announced her presidential run on Wednesday, couldn’t have found a better case study for her presidential pitch if she had invented one from scratch. And sure enough, she referenced Desy ― anonymously ― in virtually every subsequent speech she delivered on the stump in all-important Iowa ― from Boone to Des Moines.

While registered Republicans like Desy won’t decide who gets to take on Trump in the 2020 general election, a key part of Gillibrand’s pitch to her fellow Democrats is that she has a record of winning over more conservative voters in rural areas.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images Gillibrand, surrounded by Republican senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ted Cruz of Texas, speaks in 2013 about legislation on dealing with sexual assault in the military. She has touted her ability to work with conservatives.

‘I Can Work With Anybody’

Over the course of a 36-hour tour of northwestern and central Iowa on Friday and Saturday, Gillibrand frequently mentioned how much the wintry, agriculture-heavy state reminded her of upstate New York ― the region where she grew up and with her husband raises their two sons.

“I kind of recognize you, because you are hardy and you are hardworking and you don’t give up. It’s a lot like upstate New York Democrats,” she told a capacity crowd of hundreds at the Peace Tree Brewing Co. outlet in Des Moines on Saturday night. “We don’t mind the cold, either.”

I kind of recognize you, because you are hardy and you are hardworking and you don’t give up. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)

Gillibrand began her political career by upsetting a GOP incumbent in a 2006 House race in a district where Republicans outnumbered Democrats 2 to 1. She recalled to her Iowa listeners that one skeptical consultant claimed the district had “more cows than Democrats,” and she cited her win as evidence of her ability to prevail in hostile territory.

But in recounting that first foray into electoral politics, she also was careful to emphasize stances from that run that liberal voters would agree with: opposition to the Iraq War and support for what Gillibrand calls “Medicare for All” (though her plan might more accurately be described as a Medicare buy-in or public option).

The voters she wooed in that initial race “cared about a lot of the same things you might have cared about ― that rank-and-file Democrats cared about,” Gillibrand said.

She even managed to make the case that her subsequent Senate wins in New York, a solid blue state in presidential voting, had further honed her political skills. She noted that outside of New York City, the state largely consists of moderate “purple” and conservative “red” pockets.

In early 2009, Gillibrand was the surprise gubernatorial pick to temporarily fill the Seate seat Hillary Clinton gave up to become then-President Barack Obama’s secretary of state.

Gillibrand easily won a 2010 special election for the seat, and in 2012 she won a full term with 72 percent of the vote ― which she told Iowa voters is the highest tally for any statewide candidate in New York history. (In her 2018 re-election win,she picked up 67 percent of the vote, losing many of the rural counties she carried in 2012.)

At her brewery appearance, Gillibrand appeared to hit her stride rhetorically, letting her sense of humor flow a little more freely than at her previous stops as she spoke against the backdrop of stacked beer barrels.

A joke she had made elsewhere got bigger laughs than before.

“I work with [Sen.] Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on ending sexual harassment in Congress. I can work with anybody,” she said, prompting hoots of laughter and then applause from the crowd.

ASSOCIATED PRESS/Nati Harnik Gillibrand greets voters at the Pierce Street Coffee Works café in Sioux City, Iowa, on Friday. At that stop and others, she pitched herself as a Democrat capable of attracting support from rural voters who could prove crucial to Democratic hopes of winning the White House in 2020.

‘Not A National Name’

Gillibrand has the challenge ― and perhaps the benefit ― of entering the presidential race with relatively little national name recognition. It’s a reality that she noted at the close of a well-attended question-and-answer session on Saturday at a coffee shop in Ames, thanking local Democrats for showing up even though she is “not a national name.”

It’s one reason why Gillibrand barely registered in a mid-December poll of Iowa Democrats about their preferred presidential candidates in the state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses. (Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), both of whom are considering presidential bids, took first and second place, respectively.)

But it also gives her the chance to shape her brand with voters without having to undo any major preconceived notions about her.

And Gillibrand’s argument that her success in rural areas ― as well as in suburbs ― makes her uniquely equipped to take on Trump attempts to turn what may be her greatest liability into a selling point.

The more conservative stances she took on guns and immigration in the first stages of her political career have prompted scrutiny. In her first House race, she tried to outflank her Republican opponent from the right when it came to cracking down illegal immigration. She also earned an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association for her support of gun rights. (As recently as February 2009, she boasted of keeping two guns under her bed.)

In Iowa, Gillibrand parried queries about her past stances without getting flustered, chalking up her evolution to more progressive positions to insights she gained upon becoming a senator.

She is a workhorse in the Senate and that’s one thing I do appreciate. Jefferson Fink, Des Moines voter

Responding to a question from a Democratic activist in Sioux City on Friday about why the NRA once considered her an ally in the fight against greater gun regulation, she grew emotional describing how meeting the parents of a teenager in Brooklyn killed by gun violence helped change her mind about the need to toughen firearm laws. It’s part of what inspired her, she said, to back 2011 legislation cracking down on illegal gun trafficking.

“Since [meeting those parents] 10 years ago, I have been 100 percent trying to end gun violence. I proudly have an ‘F’ rating from the NRA,” she said.

The crowd responded with approving applause.

Bernie Scolaro, a Sioux City public school teacher, was the only Democrat over the course of the trip who told HuffPost that she associated Gillibrand with the successful effort to pressure former Minnesota Sen. Al Franken (D) to resign in December 2017. Gillibrand was the first senator to call for Franken to leave after he faced multiple accusations of unwanted groping and other sexual misconduct.

Franken was popular as an effective Senate voice against Trump, and some Democratic donors have expressed anger that Gillibrand fueled the effort to oust him from office. But she has vehemently defended her action, noting that Franken had been accused credibly by eight women of misconduct when she called on him to resign.

As Gillibrand spoke at a house party, Scolaro asked the senator about her role in the Franken matter and the criticism it has sparked. Gillibrand replied that she spoke out because she believed she could no longer speak credibly to her teenage son about how to treat women respectfully if she did not act on those same principles in the U.S. Senate.

Scolaro seemed persuaded by the answer. “She was genuine and [Gillibrand’s response] was from the heart,” the woman said afterward.

ASSOCIATED PRESS/Matthew Putney Leading Democrats are quickly lining up for presidential bids. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) spoke in Des Moines shortly after announcing her intention to run.

A Focus On Electability

Gillibrand is the second Senate Democrat to announce presidential ambitions ― Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) jumped into the race on Dec. 31. Those two are not expected to be the last; Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Corey Booker of New Jersey, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota are mulling candidacies. And as the party awaits the decisions by Biden and Sanders, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) jumped into the race earlier this month.

Unlike many in what will be a crowded field, Gillibrand doesn’t fit neatly into a particular ideological “lane.”

In lieu of Sanders-style references to Nordic nations, Gillibrand cites her faith in God and the “Golden Rule” when explaining her support for policies like paid family leave. On a key education issue, she tends to stress making the acquisition of professional skills more affordable, rather than eliminating tuition at public colleges (though she has co-sponsored a bill that would do the latter for families making less than $125,000 annually).

At the same time, Gillibrand is leaning into her opposition to the influence of money in politics, calling for public financing of political campaigns. Like Warren, she has sworn off money from corporate political action committees and support from super PACs.

What’s more, Gillibrand has gotten behind ambitious progressive policies and legislation in the last two years. She co-sponsored Sanders’ Medicare for All legislation in September 2017, and rolled out her own bill last May that aimed to put payday lenders out of business. In June, she came out in favor of abolishing ICE ― the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency that has elicited notoriety for its aggressive raids against undocumented immigrants in the nation’s interior.

Still, Gillibrand appears to be betting that touting her electability is a way to distinguish herself among a likely raft of candidates whose populist bona fides are harder to assail.

That could be a potent formula for Democratic primary voters whose interest in finding a candidate with general-election viability ― who first and foremost can beat Trump ― seems only to have intensified since he took office.

“She is a workhorse in the Senate and that’s one thing I do appreciate,” said Jefferson Fink, 28, who works at Kitchen Collage in downtown Des Moines. (Gillibrand stopped at the cooking specialty store on Saturday afternoon to bake cookies and discuss her family’s culinary habits.)

Fink supported Sanders in Iowa’s 2016 caucuses and he said he would be fine with him entering the race again. This time around though, Fink said he does not yet have a favorite.
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Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey joins the 2020 presidential race
Washington Post

Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images (Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images)

Opinion writer

Cory Booker is running for president, and he has a story to tell.

Which actually distinguishes the New Jersey senator from some other Democrats who have already joined the 2020 race, and some others who probably will before long. Not only are there already eight major announced candidates, we’ve come so far that one candidate, former West Virginia state senator Richard Ojeda, who had already entered the race, decided his candidacy wasn’t getting traction and dropped out.

When I say Booker has a story to tell, what I mean is that his campaign has a theme, a point, an idea that he wants voters to understand and sign on to when they choose him instead of other candidates. Some candidates have one and some don’t: If I asked you why Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is running for president you could probably tell me (the system is rigged against ordinary people and we need to break the power of the plutocrats), but if I asked you why Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) or Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) is running, you’d probably have a more difficult time.

To focus on campaign themes may sound shallow or trite, but it's been central to campaigning as long as there has been campaigning. And every successful presidential candidate has fashioned that kind of story to tell the voters, one that explains what the problem in America is, what the solution is, and why they're the only one who can deliver it.

Let's take a look at the video with which Booker launched his campaign this morning:

So the story Booker is telling is that our country has been riven by political conflict and he can bring us together, whereupon we’ll be able to solve our problems in a way that that allows all Americans to share in prosperity and progress. Or, as another candidate memorably once said: “I’m a uniter, not a divider.”

I only sort of mean that as a dig against Booker. The fact is, this message is true to who he is and who he has always been. Booker can be as partisan as the next politician, but he has always presented himself as the kind of guy who will hug everybody and talk anybody into supporting him. My favorite scene in “Street Fight,” Marshall Curry’s terrific 2005 documentary about Booker’s first unsuccessful run for mayor of Newark, is the one where Booker meets with a group of Orthodox Jews and starts comfortably dropping Yiddish phrases into his pitch (Booker and the Jewish community go way back). He really does want to bring everyone together.

But if that story sounds a little stale, it’s because it’s the same one Barack Obama told, and the same one George W. Bush told before him, and the same one Bill Clinton told before him. It’s safe to say that the number of Americans who think we can transcend our differences to solve problems together is not particularly large. And it’s especially small in the Democratic Party, where voters are looking for someone who will not only fight vigorously against President Trump but will do so in a way that makes a strong case for progressivism.

Before I go any further, I should say that the best starting point when assessing any presidential candidate is to remember that we really don’t know how they’ll perform, or how appealing they’ll be, until the campaign gets going. Running for president is unlike anything any of them have ever done, and history is full of candidates who seemed like strong contenders but turned out to be duds (John Glenn, Joe Biden), as well as candidates no one expected to be as strong as they were (Paul Tsongas, Howard Dean, Bernie Sanders).

Booker has strengths — tirelessness, youth and the fact that, as an African American, he at least has the possibility of doing well with the party’s most important constituency, the base of the base. There’s nothing sure there, however, not only because there’s another African American candidate in the race, but also because there are plenty of African Americans who take issue with Booker’s record.

Which leads us to what may be his central challenge, which is that his ideological profile is . . . complicated. He takes some strongly progressive positions (supporting Medicare-for-all and the legalization of marijuana), but also has parts of his record in Newark and the Senate that will draw skeptical questions from voters. To highlight this, let’s look at what former New Jersey governor Chris Christie said when asked about Booker at a recent Washington Post event:

Talented, smart, articulate, hope that he stays in this campaign to the roots that I saw him establish in New Jersey. He was someone who was pro-voucher, he was pro-charter school, he was somebody who was tough on crime in the city of Newark. If he stays in that lane, and is the articulate, inspirational guy that he is, then I think he’s got a legitimate chance to be a serious potential problem for the president in the general election. If he goes way wacky left, then he’s just going to be another one of those people and he won’t be able to distinguish himself. I like him. He’s a friend. We’ve been friends for 15 years. He’s a good person, and I like Cory Booker.

You can see the problem. He’ll be questioned thoroughly on matters like charter schools, which are controversial among liberals, as well as his complicated relationship with Wall Street and pharmaceutical companies, which have a huge presence in his home state. When those questions are raised, Booker’s people push back hard, listing proposals he has — such as allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, which is anathema to the industry. They say, and he will too, that whether he took some contributions from big pharma hasn’t affected the positions he takes or how he would treat them as president. But the mere fact that he gets praise from Republicans such as Christie will be enough to make many primary voters suspicious.

I’m sure Booker will have a passionate argument to make on that score, one that reinforces his central message that he is capable of working across the aisle if that’s what it takes to achieve important goals. The question is whether that’s what Democrats are looking for right now.

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Cory Booker is running for president. Here’s why it won’t be easy.
Washington Post
Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey said Friday that he will seek the Democratic nomination for president, adding his name to a growing and increasingly diversified field of 2020 candidates intent on taking on President Trump.

Booker made his announcement via video Friday morning. He also spread the news through a round of interviews and at an afternoon conference outside his house in Newark, where he reiterated his intention to run a campaign “not just to beat the Republicans but to unite Americans.”

His news conference, which he interrupted to call out “hermana” to a neighbor watching across the street, included numerous references to his efforts as mayor of Newark. It also included much of his signature rhetoric about the power of love to overcome society’s most troublesome issues.

“We used to be a people who could look at the sky, point at the moon and change it from a dream to a destiny,” Booker said. “There’s no Democratic or Republican way to get there. You definitely don’t get there by fighting each other, tearing each other down or dividing people against each other.”

Booker joined a field that already included three other senators — Kamala D. Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York — as well as several other candidates. He was immediately called upon to differentiate himself from his colleagues.

Harris made headlines earlier this week when she said she would be in favor of doing away with private health insurance as part of transitioning the country to Medicare-for-all. Booker was asked if he would do away with private health care.

“Even countries that have vast access to publicly offered health care still have private health care,” Booker said. “So, no.”

In a midday interview on ABC’s “The View,” Booker said his campaign would be distinguished from other campaigns by his entree into politics and his continued residence in Newark.

“They’re going to see a very different, not usual path,” he said of voters.

Booker also emphasized his past work to lessen incarceration rates and criticized the president’s border policy, particularly the decision to separate young children from their families.

“This is a moral vandalism on the ideals of our country,” he said.

View Graphic Who is running for president in 2020?

Like many of his fellow Democratic candidates, Booker — who has received corporate PAC money in the past and criticism from those on the left and right for his close ties to Wall Street and Silicon Valley donors — declared he will not accept corporate PAC money for his campaign.

Booker’s decision to run did not come as a surprise. He has been traveling to early-voting states for months, teasing his eventual entrance. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, he visited South Carolina, the first of the early-voting states in which black voters dominate.

That same day, Harris announced that she was running for president. Booker also played into symbolism, joining the race on the first day of Black History Month, a fact he noted on “The View.”

Booker’s entry makes this the first nomination contest with at least two major African American contenders. Former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. is also considering a run.

Booker’s announcement came toward the close of a week that raised the prospect of a significantly more complicated 2020 campaign. Howard Schultz, the former chief executive of Starbucks, confirmed on CBS’s “60 Minutes” that he was considering an independent run for the presidency.

While Schultz, a billionaire, argued that both major political parties were broken — and he plans to spend lavishly to make his point — Booker implicitly defended the Democratic Party and its policy priorities.

Booker, 49, has been looked at as a potential presidential contender for most of his political life. In 2002, when he made his first, unsuccessful bid for mayor, he was followed by reporters and documentary crews; a chronicle of the campaign, “Street Fight,” was nominated for an Academy Award. Four years later, Booker ran again and won by a landslide.

From City Hall, Booker became one of the country’s best-known mayors, leveraging his fame into attention and lucrative investments for Newark. Months after taking office, the digital audio start-up Audible moved its headquarters to Newark. Months after Booker won a second term, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg plowed $100 million into a fund to improve the city’s schools.

The mayor found plenty of critics, who argued that his effervescent Twitter presence and willingness to visit constituents at their homes masked persistent problems with public services. In 2012, Booker angered liberals by criticizing President Barack Obama’s attacks on Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, saying that painting Wall Street with “broad brushes” was unfair to “the good people who work there.”

But in 2013, when the death of Frank Lautenberg opened one of New Jersey’s U.S. Senate seats, Booker zoomed through a special election and won easily, with a donor list that included Ivanka Trump. Booker was the first black Democrat to join the chamber since Obama had left it, and he quickly established himself as a business-friendly liberal.

After winning a full term in 2014, Booker began to make moves on the left. He broke with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) to back Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran and helped protect states that had legalized medical marijuana.

In 2016, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) quietly vetted Booker as a potential running mate. In 2017, Booker endorsed Sanders’s Medicare-for-all heath-care plan, as well as legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Despite that, Booker has been viewed skeptically by his party’s left and been ridiculed by conservatives, who say his image has been carefully manufactured.

Booker is the rare bachelor to seek the presidency; none has been elected since 1856.

In his announcement video sent to supporters, Booker talked of his upbringing in New Jersey, one that he noted distinguishes him from the rest of the Senate — as well as his competitors in the presidential race.

“When I was a baby, my parents tried to move us into a neighborhood with great public schools, but Realtors wouldn’t sell us a home because of the color of our skin,” he said. “A group of white lawyers, who had watched the courage of civil rights activists, were inspired to help black families in their own community, including mine. And they changed the course of my entire life. Because in America, courage is contagious.

“My dad told me, ‘Boy, never forget where you came from or how many people had to sacrifice to get you where you are.’ ”

Read more at PowerPost
Booker-1-Feb-19-Washington Post-f0d37
Cory Booker announces he is running for president
(CNN) Sen. Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat who rose to prominence as Newark's charismatic and ambitious mayor, announced Friday that he is running for president.

Booker chose the first day of Black History Month to launch his campaign, timing that nods to Booker's own heritage and suggests he will put it at the center of his pitch to voters.

"The history of our nation is defined by collective action; by interwoven destinies of slaves and abolitionists; of those born here and those who chose America as home; of those who took up arms to defend our country, and those who linked arms to challenge and change it," Booker narrates in a video released on Friday morning, which features him walking through his Newark neighborhood.

"I'm Cory Booker and I'm running for president of the United States of America," he says in the video.

Booker joins a crowded and growing Democratic field that is already the most diverse in history -- with multiple women, one gay candidate, a Latino and, with Booker now in the mix, two black candidates.

His announcement comes nearly a year to the day from the Iowa caucuses and the start of the primary calendar. Booker plans to head to Iowa February 8-9 and then to South Carolina on February 10. He also intends to visit New Hampshire over Presidents Day weekend.

Booker is one of several senators running for president or seriously considering it. At 49, he is the youngest among his Senate colleagues in the race. His age is not all that sets him apart: Booker is unmarried and vegan, two unique qualities among the emerging Democratic field.

In his announcement video, Booker also notes that he is "the only senator who goes home to a low-income, inner city community" in Newark, "the first community that took a chance on me."

In the Senate, Booker has at times favored a pragmatic approach, teaming up with like-minded Republicans on issues like criminal justice. But he has also emerged as a passionate interrogator of President Donald Trump's nominees -- including Justice Brett Kavanaugh, at whose confirmation hearing Booker memorably unloaded in a heated "Spartacus moment."

Public polling suggests Booker is unknown to many Americans. But in a field where there is no clear front-runner, he brings a raw political talent that some Democrats believe could make him a powerful contender.

The campaign message of Booker, who's a gifted orator on the stump, will center on his signature themes of finding "common purpose" and a bringing about a "revival of civic grace" in American society, drawing a stark, if implicit, contrast with President Donald Trump's harsh rhetoric.

While Booker has been reluctant to attack the President directly, not wanting to emulate his tactics, Trump has not hesitated to target the senator -- saying during a White House event in October that Booker "ran Newark, New Jersey, into the ground."

It's unclear how Booker's record as mayor will play in the Democratic primary or beyond. Critics say Booker did not meet his lofty promises to reshape the city, with some progressives faulting his support for school choice, among other issues. But Booker's allies believe this chapter of his story will be an asset, affording Booker some distance from Washington and demonstrating his executive chops.

As a senator, Booker has sought to sand off some of his rough political edges ahead of 2020, burnishing his progressive credentials by signing on to policies such as "Medicare-for-all." Last year, he announced he would no longer accept corporate PAC money; some progressives have been skeptical of Booker for the support he has received from Wall Street donors. Booker will also oppose super PACS supporting his candidacy or others.

Reflecting its central place in Booker's story, Newark will be the headquarters for his campaign. Logistically, that home base will offer the candidate and his team easy access to the power hubs of Washington and New York, plus proximity to three major airports to facilitate travel to key primary states and fundraising hotspots around the country.

His campaign manager will be Addisu Demissie, a veteran of Booker's 2013 Senate race, who most recently ran Gavin Newsom's successful bid for California governor. Demissie also boasts experience on the ground in Iowa, having cut his teeth as a field organizer for John Kerry's 2004 caucus campaign, returning in the 2008 cycle on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

Other top campaign officials announced Friday include Jenna Lowenstein, who formerly ran Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy's 2018 re-election campaign, as deputy campaign manager; Booker's Senate chief of staff Matt Klapper as senior adviser; and Modia Butler, a longtime Booker adviser dating back to his days in Newark, as senior strategist.

Booker's path to the nomination would almost certainly run through South Carolina, where African-American voters compose a majority of the Democratic primary electorate. But Booker has also aggressively cultivated a network in Iowa, recognizing that a strong performance there would build valuable momentum for later contests.

To steer his Iowa operation, Booker has already lined up a team of sought-after operatives: Michael Frosolone, who led Iowa Democrats' statehouse campaigns in 2018; Joe O'Hern, who ran the Democratic coordinated campaign in Ohio during the midterms and oversaw Martin O'Malley's 2016 caucus efforts; Haley Hager, most recently the Iowa director for Tom Steyer's NextGen group targeting young voters; and Tess Seger, outgoing communications director for the Iowa Democratic Party.

Comparisons to Obama

JUST WATCHED Who is Cory Booker? Replay More Videos ... MUST WATCH Who is Cory Booker? 01:18

Born in 1969 in Washington, Booker enjoyed a comfortable upbringing in the post-civil rights era, a lot he ascribes to a "conspiracy of love" that enabled his parents to break barriers. Cary and Carolyn Booker were among the earliest black executives at IBM and, because of anti-discrimination laws, they were able to buy a home and raise their children in the affluent, mostly white community of Harrington Park, New Jersey.

Booker attended Stanford as a star football recruit, playing for four years but, by his own admission, never breaking through at the college level. Booker's interests were broad, however: He also served as student body president and ran a crisis hotline for students. He would go on to attend Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and later graduate from Yale Law School.

With an elite law degree in hand, Booker bypassed more lucrative opportunities and moved into an affordable housing complex in one of Newark's poorest neighborhoods, planning to lend his skills to a nonprofit. He soon turned to local politics, however, unseating a longtime incumbent on the City Council.

In 2002, Booker once again took on an uphill political battle, mounting a challenge to Newark Mayor Sharpe James, an avatar of old-school political corruption. Although Booker fell short by a few thousand votes, he won in losing -- becoming a media and political darling in the process.

Four years later, Booker ran again and won, cementing his status as a rising star in the Democratic Party.

As a talented and ambitious black politician, Booker has elicited predictable comparisons to former President Barack Obama, whom he endorsed during the 2008 primary and campaigned for in 2012.

Booker has acknowledged the trope and jokes about it, but he doesn't neatly fit the mold. Whereas Obama often was guarded and serious, Booker is an extrovert whose unbridled enthusiasm and brimming energy can seem almost comical.

Booker also did not take the express lane to a presidential bid, as Obama did. Instead, he served nearly eight years as mayor, passing on an opportunity to lead Obama's Office of Urban Affairs in 2009, before successfully running for Senate in 2013 in a special election following the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

Booker will be up for re-election in New Jersey in 2020; state law would permit him to run for Senate and president simultaneously.

Booker's core message has remained consistent over many years in politics -- with a focus on love and unity that undergirds everything else.

In some ways, Booker is a political heir to former President Jimmy Carter, who in the aftermath of the Nixon administration pledged a government "as good and honest and decent and compassionate and filled with love as are the American people." Booker recently described Carter as a "moral (giant) in America" and a model for "what I want my message to be in leadership." Carter, for his part, had urged Booker to run for president.

Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who seems poised to be one of Booker's chief rivals, also embraced some of Carter's signature themes in her debut rally last week, repeatedly invoking the Carter-esque term "truth."

But Booker makes a distinctly emotional appeal, with soaring, often sermon-like oratory. Last year, he said he doesn't know if he has tapped into "a winning political message or not, but I will always be talking about trying to unify this country, trying to bring us together."

And he has not been cowed by steep political odds before.

"He's a person who operates between instincts, gut and faith," said Rep. Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana Democrat who's the most recent former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. "What he did when he decided to take on an incumbent mayor, I think he's driven more by faith and purpose than politics."
What Cory Booker's rollout tells us about his 2020 campaign
NEWARK, N.J. (CNN) On his first day as a presidential candidate, Sen. Cory Booker sent a strong message about what his primary campaign will look like and the types of Democratic voters he will engage with a campaign rollout that spoke directly to African-American, Latino and female audiences.

Booker's first interviews bypassed more mainstream media in favor of a targeted approach, taking his message directly to a trifecta of groups that Booker will aim to win over in a Democratic primary.

"The rollout wasn't just, how many eyeballs can we get on this?" a person close to Booker explained. "It's going to people where they are."

As a newly announced presidential candidate, Booker called in to the "Tom Joyner Morning Show," an urban radio show that caters to a black audience, on the first day of Black History Month.

"I wanted to come on this show, Tom, because of what you mean to so many people in this country," Booker explained.

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Cory Booker declares 2020 bid: 5 things about the New Jersey Democrat you may not know
Fox News
Sen. Cory Booker, a loyal New Jerseyite who was raised in the Garden State, first made a name for himself in the political world when he became Newark's mayor in 2006.

During his acceptance speech, he praised voters for "embracing a change." Now, more than a decade later, the Democrat is hoping the American people are once again ready for a shakeup — particularly, taking aim at President Trump — as he announced his bid for the presidency in 2020 on Feb. 1.

“The history of our nation is defined by collective action; by interwoven destinies of slaves and abolitionists; of those born here and those who chose America as home; of those who took up arms to defend our country, and those who linked arms to challenge and change it,” Booker said in a campaign video titled "We Will Rise."


The New Jersey Senator became the second black candidate to enter what's already considered a crowded Democratic field. He's been compared to former President Obama by fellow Democrats.

Here are some things you may not know about Booker as the political heavyweight officially enters the race.

He kickstarted his career in the City Council

In 1998, a year after graduating from Yale Law School, Booker moved back home and won a seat on the Newark City Council. He was elected at the young age of 29.

Booker credits a supporter for encouraging him to take the plunge into politics following his brief role as coordinator of the Newark Youth Project.

"Boy, are you here to be a lawyer or to make a difference?" Booker recalled the skeptical voter asking, according to The Record.

He drew attention for his 10-day hunger strike

In 1999, Booker drew attention for going on a 10-day hunger strike and living in a tent to spark a discussion about drug problems within his community.

“Acting on the cause was better than taking no action at all," he previously said of his decision to participate in the crusade, per Time.

There's an Oscar-nominated documentary about his first failed mayoral run

It's true. Booker's hard-fought — but ultimately failed — run for Newark mayor in 2002 was chronicled in an Oscar-nominated documentary titled, "Street Fight," by Marshall Curry.

"This documentary follows the 2002 mayoral campaign in Newark, New Jersey in which a City Councilman, Cory Booker, attempted to unseat longtime mayor Sharpe James," an IMDB description of the 1-hour, 23-minute film reads.

The New York Times described the campaign as "ugly," adding it could have put an abrupt end to Booker's political career. In the end, he lost by six percentage points.

"In many ways, he went underground, below the radar," his campaign manager Carl Sharif told the newspaper after Booker's unsuccessful run. "He was talking to a lot of people, just not in public."

Eventually, he made a triumphant return and won the mayoral seat after James decided to not seek a sixth term. He was known as a mayor of the people, personally shoveling the snow of residents.

Years later, Booker had another major political victory: he won a special Senate election in 2013 to replace Democrat Frank Lautenberg and then won a full Senate term in 2014.

He's been open about his family's past struggles

Booker's father grew up in a low-income community in North Carolina, and the senator has recalled his family's later struggle to settle in suburban New Jersey amid discrimination against black homebuyers. The senator has brought a heartfelt and passionate style to his achievements in the Senate, at times fusing his personal spirituality with policy proposals that focus on social justice.

His 2020 campaign team previously worked with Hillary Clinton

Booker's campaign manager will be Addisu Demissie, who managed California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom's campaign last year and previously worked on Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential bid. His deputy campaign manager, Jenna Lowenstein, is also a veteran of Clinton's 2016 campaign, while his current Senate chief of staff, Matt Klapper, will serve as a senior campaign adviser.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Booker-1-Feb-19-Fox News-e9593
Cory Booker jumps into 2020 White House race
Fox News
Calling for a sense of common purpose, Sen. Cory Booker on Friday morning declared his candidacy for president.

The high-profile Democrat from New Jersey announced his White House run with a new website and a tweet featuring a two-minute-long campaign launch video, as well as an email to supporters.

“I believe that we can build a country where no one is forgotten, no one is left behind; where parents can put food on the table; where there are good-paying jobs with good benefits in every neighborhood,” Booker said in the video.


The former mayor of Newark, known for his oratory skills, added that he envisions a country “where our criminal justice system keeps us safe, instead of shuffling more children into cages and coffins; where we see the faces of our leaders on television and feel pride, not shame.”

Booker’s entry into the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination race was widely expected. His jam-packed December visit to New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House, had the look and the feel of a presidential campaign trip. Aides confirmed that in recent weeks, Booker’s been hiring staffers for his emerging campaign.

Unlike some of his rivals for the nomination, Booker skipped setting up an exploratory committee as a first step toward running for the White House. Campaign aides said that next weekend (Feb. 8-9) Booker will visit Iowa – the state that holds the first-in-the-nation caucuses – and then head straight to South Carolina (Feb. 10-11) – which holds the first southern contest. They added that Booker – who turns 50 in April - will return to New Hampshire over President’s Day weekend.

Booker joins a growing field of candidates including Sen. Kamala Harris of California; former San Antonio mayor and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii; and former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York have set up presidential exploratory committees, as has Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.


Booker’s announcement came less than two weeks after Harris jumped into the race on Martin Luther King Day, followed by a massive rally in her hometown of Oakland, Calif., days later. The two senators, both African-American, are expected to battle for the influential black vote in the Democratic primaries.

In his video, Booker told the story of his parents' struggle to move their family into a predominantly white neighborhood with great public schools. He also highlighted how as an adult, he moved into Newark's Central Ward, a low-income inner-city neighborhood where he continues to live.

“Together, we will channel our common pain back into our common purpose,” Booker said at the end of the video announcement. “Together, America, we will rise.”

His campaign highlighted that Booker – like many of his primary rivals – would reject contributions from corporate political action committees (PACs) and federal lobbyists. They added that Booker also opposed the use of super PACs to help his campaign or those of his rivals.

Booker, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, last summer and fall was one of the Democrats leading the push against the confirmation of now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. He raised eyebrows and was widely mocked by Republicans for comparing himself to Spartacus, the Thracian gladiator and rebel slave who led a rebellion against the Roman Empire.


Booker was ridiculed by Republicans after threatening to defy the Senate rules and release what he thought were confidential documents concerning Kavanaugh’s past.

“This is about the closest I’ll probably ever have in my life to an ‘I am Spartacus’ moment,” he said at the time.

Reacting to his announcement Friday, the Republican National Committee blasted him as a "self-promoter" who's out of touch with most Americans.

“Cory Booker is a political opportunist who left Newark ridden with crime and an ‘emblem of poverty.’ Even the liberal base thinks he’s a disingenuous self-promoter, and his embrace of policies like higher taxes, single-payer health care, and government-guaranteed jobs make him totally out-of-touch with most Americans,” RNC spokesman Michael Ahrens said.
Booker-1-Feb-19-Fox News-afa45
Cory Booker Announces Run For President In 2020
The Huffington Post
Democratic Sen. Cory Booker is running for president in 2020.

The junior senator from New Jersey announced his bid Friday in a video to supporters.

“I believe that we can build a country where no one is forgotten, no one is left behind ... where we see the faces of our leaders on television and feel pride, not shame,” Booker said. “Together, we will channel our common pain back into our common purpose. Together, America, we will rise.”

Booker plans to travel to Iowa the weekend of Feb. 9, then to South Carolina and New Hampshire over the following week, according to his campaign.

Like Harris, Booker has said he will not accept campaign donations from corporate PACs and lobbyists. He also opposes super PACs supporting any candidacy.

Unity and bringing people together are central themes of Booker’s campaign ― a contrast to the fighting rhetoric of other Democratic presidential candidates, such as Harris and Warren. It is an approach that Booker has become known for. He has called for “faith” in bipartisan efforts for criminal justice reform, and for “love” in response to hate and division in the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s election.

Bill Clark via Getty Images Sen. Cory Booker speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for William Barr, the attorney general nominee, on Jan. 15.

Booker joined the Senate in 2013 as the first black senator from his state. He grew up in New Jersey and served as mayor of Newark, where he currently lives, from 2006 to 2013.

Booker has gained national prominence partly for his tough questioning in Senate hearings, such as during last year's confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who had been accused of sexual assault.

Booker’s policy pushes have included calling for criminal justice reform, such as reduced sentences for nonviolent offenders, and combating climate change, such as by investing in clean energy. He is a supporter of the Green New Deal and ― like fellow presidential hopefuls Harris, Warren and Gillibrand ― co-sponsored Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) Medicare for All bill in 2017.

Booker has been called out for his perceived defense of the powerful pharmaceutical industry: In 2017, he voted down a bill designed to lower prescription drug prices. (Booker at first said it was because the legislation didn’t address consumer protections for imported drugs ― a month later he backed a similar bill after activists called him out, saying he had been able to add robust safety provisions to the measure.)

Progressives have also criticized the senator for having ties to Wall Street. He received about $2 million from the securities and investment industry for his 2014 Senate campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. During the 2012 presidential race, Booker criticized Barack Obama’s re-election campaign for attacking GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s work for private equity giant Bain Capital.

The senator appears to have been mulling a presidential run for a while.
Booker-1-Feb-19-The Huffington Post-20ec2
Cory Booker Defends Progressive Cred In Presidential Announcement
The Huffington Post
NEWARK, N.J. ― Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who announced his presidential candidacy on Friday morning, defended his record against criticism from the left later in the day during a news conference outside of his home.

Booker calmly fielded questions about how he would respond to hypothetical attacks from President Donald Trump about Booker’s ties to Wall Street, the perception that he is “too corporate” and his support for public charter schools at a moment of resurgent teachers union militancy.

Rather than adopt the populist rhetoric of Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) or Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Booker defended his work combating predatory financial practices, including exploitative lending to low-income homeowners in Newark, and vowed that he would continue to stand up to “bad actors” in corporate America whose practices harm ordinary people.

“Anyone who knows my history knows my history of standing up for people who have been hurt by bad actors,” he said.

Booker did not deny supporting public charter schools. It would have been difficult for him to do so: He spoke at a rally co-sponsored by a charter school system in New Orleans on Jan. 18, at a time when Los Angeles schoolteachers were on strike in part over the growth of charter schools there.

Without once saying the word “charter,” Booker affirmed, “We shouldn’t have one-size-fits-all education. Local leaders should be able to decide what works best for them.”

Instead, he cast himself as a champion of higher public school teacher pay and better school funding that would enable more hiring of teachers, counselors and mental health professionals. One way he suggested to address the issue is by reforming the tax code so young stockbrokers, who may benefit from the carried-interest loophole or the lower tax rate on capital gains, don’t pay a lower tax rate than teachers.

“Our teachers are ridiculously underpaid in America,” he said. “If you look at this in an economic analysis, they are the professionals who contribute the most to a thriving American economy. And we cannot continue to devalue one of the greatest professions in our country, which is public school teachers.”

“I’m going to run the boldest pro-public school teacher campaign there is, which is how I ran the city of Newark,” he added.

In addition, during a discussion of health care, Booker avoided a pitfall encountered by a fellow presidential contender, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), earlier this week.

Harris declared at a CNN town hall in Iowa on Monday that she supported a Medicare-for-all system that included “get[ting] rid” of private health insurance. But by Tuesday, under fire from Republicans, Harris’ staff was clarifying that while Medicare for all was her preferred policy, she was open to multiple paths to universal coverage.

Booker, like Harris, is a co-sponsor of Sanders’ September 2017 legislation replacing all but supplemental private insurance with one public federal program.

On Friday, however, when a reporter asked Booker if he would eliminate “private health care” ― seemingly referring to insurance, not the actual medical care ― the New Jersey senator took a different tack.

Without elaborating further, he responded, “Even countries that have vast access to publicly offered health care still have private health care.”

Notwithstanding the below-freezing temperatures, Booker’s decision to address reporters outside his Newark home in a working-class neighborhood provided an opportunity to showcase his status as a hometown favorite. (Booker served as mayor of Newark from 2006 to 2013, before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2014.)

When Narcissa Quito, a neighbor of Booker’s from across the street, noticed the news conference, she opened up her window, waved and called out to him frantically.

Booker, who was in the middle of his answer to the question on charter schools and public education, smiled, calling back, “Hermana!”

“Hola! Como estas?” he continued in Spanish. “A la victoria!”

“Yes!” she replied in English. (In a follow-up interview, Quito, who immigrated from Ecuador more than 30 years ago, confirmed that she is already an enthusiastic backer of his bid.)

Booker had ample opportunity to showcase his facility with policy details, including on criminal justice and immigration reform, causes he has long championed.

He previewed a presidential run that is likely to focus on uplift, appealing to American “decency and goodness” to overcome the divisiveness that has consumed the country under Trump.

Pressed on whether he was up for the task of taking on Trump, given his focus on “love” as a driving force in American politics, Booker expounded on the compassion of white lawyers who helped his parents overcome discrimination in the housing market and other civil rights advocates who helped move the country forward.
Booker-1-Feb-19-The Huffington Post-7ad7d
Cory Booker Announces Presidential Bid, Joining Most Diverse Field Ever
New York Times
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, the former mayor of Newark who has projected an upbeat political presence at a deeply polarized time, entered the 2020 race for president on Friday, embarking on a campaign to become the nation’s second black president in a Democratic primary field that is the most diverse in American history.

Mr. Booker announced his candidacy on the first day of Black History Month to the sound of snare drums and with a clarion call for unity. In an email to supporters, he drew on the spirit of the civil rights movement as he laid out his vision for a country that will “channel our common pain back into our common purpose.”

“The history of our nation is defined by collective action; by interwoven destinies of slaves and abolitionists; of those born here and those who chose America as home; of those who took up arms to defend our country, and those who linked arms to challenge and change it,” Mr. Booker said in an accompanying video.

RiseCreditCreditVideo by Cory Booker
The Democratic field now features two black contenders — Mr. Booker and Senator Kamala Harris of California — and four women: Ms. Harris, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand, and Representative Tulsi Gabbard. There is also a Hispanic candidate, Julián Castro, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary under President Barack Obama, and a gay candidate, Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind.

The field reflects a party in which women and candidates of color have injected a surge of new energy, and given urgency to the Democrats’ imperative of ousting President Trump. And it follows midterm elections in which women and minority candidates for Congress won in record numbers and have assumed some key positions in party ranks.

“It shows the growth of the country and that many of us who have struggled for civil and human rights feel that we are in a new moment that we wanted,’’ the Rev. Al Sharpton said in an interview. He added: “It’s like the new America against the old America and a lot of Americans who are older and younger want to make sure they participate in the new America.”

With Ms. Harris announcing her candidacy last month, Mr. Booker’s entry amounts to a presidential first: offering black voters, who have been crucial in determining the last two Democratic nominees, a choice between two black candidates as well as other contenders.

In an interview on SiriusXM’s Joe Madison show, Mr. Booker touted “the coalitions that we need to build in this country,’’ adding “we’ve got to begin to see each other with a far more courageous empathy to understand that we have one destiny in America.”

Mr. Booker’s announcement had long been anticipated. He was among the most conspicuous campaigners for other Democrats during the 2018 midterm election, making 39 trips to 24 states as he honed a central message — that this was a “moral moment in America” — that is likely to frame his future critiques of the Trump administration.

Through his soaring oratory, laced with inspirational quotes, Mr. Booker has projected a relentless optimism that provides perhaps the starkest contrast to the divisive politics ushered in by Mr. Trump. His message of unity also comes amid a fractured Democratic coalition, where far-left progressives like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez view traditional Democrats with caution.

It remains to be seen whether Mr. Booker’s aspirational tones will fall flat with a Democratic electorate energized by seething anger toward Mr. Trump. Mr. Booker has at times been a harsh critic of the president, denouncing Mr. Trump’s degradation of African and Haitian countries as “the most vile and vulgar language.” He may face pressure to adopt a harsher, more confrontational message in his campaign.

Mr. Trump, in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation” that will air this weekend, cast doubt on Mr. Booker’s candidacy.

“He’s got no chance,” the president said. When asked why, Mr. Trump replied: “Because I know him. I don’t think he has a chance.”

Mr. Booker also has a lengthy record of moderate, pro-business stances that could be problematic for the party’s ascendant progressive wing.

For example, he defended the investment firm Bain Capital against attacks from the Obama campaign during the 2012 presidential election, and he had a chummy relationship with Chris Christie, the Republican former governor of New Jersey, for most of his tenure.

His continued embrace of charter schools, long a favorite of wealthy donors but currently out of favor among the Democratic grass roots, could create still more problems.

In a press event Friday outside his home on a crowded street in Newark, Mr. Booker pushed back on criticism that he favored special interests.

“My record as a mayor, my record as a senator is fighting those interests that are trying to screw people,” Mr. Booker said. “And when it comes to defending folk, I will be ferocious.”

In announcing his bid for president, Mr. Booker is seeking to fulfill the promise that many have seen in his future for two decades, ever since he moved from Yale Law School to the blighted Brick Towers of Newark, the symbolic launching pad for his career as an inner-city politician.

His first electoral victory was for the City Council in Newark, ousting an incumbent Democrat. He failed in his first bid for mayor, in 2002, against another entrenched Democrat, Sharpe James. But the loss made Mr. Booker famous as he raised millions of dollars in a race that drew national attention.

A documentary about his failed run, “Street Fight,” was nominated for an Oscar. Mr. Booker won the mayoralty four years later when Mr. James, who would eventually land in federal prison on charges of fraud, opted against a rematch.

As mayor, Mr. Booker crafted celebrity status through his early adoption of Twitter. He drew attention and money to the struggling city, including a $100 million check from Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, to be injected into Newark’s schools. The gift was announced with much fanfare on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” but brought mixed results to the troubled school system.

After running on a platform of making Newark a safer place to live, crime fell early in his tenure, but began to rise after budget cuts led Mr. Booker to lay off about 10 percent of the police force. At the same time, Mr. Booker’s police director embraced the controversial “stop-and-frisk” policy, and the American Civil Liberties Union accused the department of brutality, baseless searches, intimidation and false arrests. The Department of Justice launched an investigation into the department, though it was billed as “cooperative” and Mr. Booker said he “welcomed” the inquiry.

Mr. Booker’s connections to financial titans, on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley, have also lifted him throughout his career, generating money for campaigns and for the city he ran. Those connections could power a presidential bid: One California donor, Steve Phillips, created a super PAC with a goal to raise $10 million in the coming months to support Mr. Booker’s bid — even before he announced his candidacy.

But in a Democratic Party where a backlash to the sway of billionaires and financiers is strong, Mr. Booker’s ties to both Wall Street and Silicon Valley risk harming his campaign as much as helping it.

His campaign, which will be called “Cory 2020,” said it would not accept contributions from corporate PACs and federal lobbyists, and also said it would oppose any supportive super PAC, even though Mr. Phillips’s already exists.

For all the attention drawn to Newark by Mr. Booker’s national celebrity, recovery in the city has been mixed. Though crime is currently on a downward trend under Mayor Ras Baraka and development is booming, murders and robberies were on the rise when Mr. Booker left office in 2013.

Using his perch on the Judiciary Committee, he has been a forceful opposing voice to many of Mr. Trump’s key nominations, releasing confidential emails during the confirmation hearing of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and, more recently, questioning the attorney general nominee William P. Barr’s record and past statements on race and criminal justice.

Mr. Booker has a relatively thin record of signature legislative accomplishments in the Senate. He did notch a major victory in co-sponsoring and pushing for a bipartisan criminal justice bill signed by Mr. Trump at the end of 2018, capping a long effort of advocating criminal justice reform in the Senate.

Mr. Booker was one of the first politicians to fully embrace the direct reach of social media, tweeting out direct responses to Newark residents complaining of potholes and broken heaters. Stories of him shoveling out residents of Newark in snowstorms, rescuing a shivering dog or darting into a burning building to save his neighbor went viral. He was invited to the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin in 2012 to pontificate about Twitter, and said he joined the social media network thanks to a tip from the actor Ashton Kutcher.

Though he has been courting political operatives in Iowa and New Hampshire for months, Mr. Booker will likely focus heavily on South Carolina and other southeastern states with large black voting populations.

His first campaign events as a candidate will be a two-day swing through Iowa on Feb. 8, followed by two days in South Carolina. He plans to visit New Hampshire over Presidents’ Day weekend.

Mr. Booker, who visited a church in Newark on Thursday night to pray before his announcement, said that he hadn’t quite settled on a campaign theme song, though Kirk Franklin’s “Stand” had been in heavy rotation.

“This last week, leading up to this day,” Mr. Booker said on the “Tom Joyner Morning Show,” “all I’ve been listening to is gospel.”
Booker-1-Feb-19-New York Times-8abb8
Cory Booker on the Issues: Where He Stands
New York Times
In his six years in the Senate, Cory Booker has progressed from a moderate who defended private equity to a leading progressive voice on issues like criminal justice reform and marijuana legalization. As he transitions to a national presidential campaign, which he announced Friday, the candidate has been focusing on some key issues that animate the left wing of the Democratic Party.

Criminal Justice
Mr. Booker has made criminal justice reform a cornerstone of his Senate tenure. He sought early on to craft bipartisan bills that would have changed penalties for nonviolent crimes and reduced prison sentences, though neither effort became law. Late last year, Congress passed a criminal justice reform act, signed by President Trump, that Mr. Booker had originally sponsored. But during his time as mayor, Newark’s police department faced accusations of brutality and intimidation, and the Department of Justice launched an investigation into the department; Mr. Booker said he “welcomed” the inquiry.

Health Care
In 2017, Mr. Booker announced his support for the Medicare for All Act drafted by Senator Bernie Sanders, and reiterated his support in an interview after he announced his candidacy Friday, saying “I signed up and am a big believer in Medicare for all.” But as a senator from New Jersey who had received millions in campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical industry, Mr. Booker had been reluctant to focus regulatory efforts on the industry, voting against a measure in 2017 that would have greatly reduced drug prices by allowing imports from Canada. He has since reversed course, announcing his support this year for Mr. Sanders’s bill to rein in prescription drug costs.

Green New Deal
Mr. Booker said Friday that “environmental justice” will be one of the three top policy issues of his campaign. He has recently signed on to endorse the Green New Deal, a progressive litmus test on the environment pushed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, that pushes for investments in clean-energy infrastructure and policies to directly address climate change.

From his time as mayor of Newark, Mr. Booker has been a strong champion of charter schools, a stance that runs counter to the progressive Democratic base. And it’s a position that he continues to hold. He said in a 2018 interview that “my loyalty is to a free public school, high-quality public school education,’’ adding that this includes charter schools.

Education reform also gave Mr. Booker his most high-profile moment as mayor of Newark, when he went on The Oprah Winfrey Show with Gov. Chris Christie to announce that Mark Zuckerberg would be donating $100 million to turn around Newark’s ailing school system. Though Mr. Booker defends the reforms made with the money, many critics have said it was not put to good use, and the city’s system continued to teeter.

Mr. Booker has long been a proponent of many core Democratic issues, such as protecting a woman’s right to choose and favoring same-sex marriage. He presided over New Jersey’s first same-sex marriage ceremonies as a senator-elect in 2013. From his position on the Senate Judiciary Committee, he recently challenged Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over their views on gay rights.

Legalizing Marijuana
In 2017, Mr. Booker introduced legislation that would have legalized marijuana and expunged federal marijuana convictions from criminal records. While the bill had no hope of passing the Republican-held senate, Mr. Booker reiterated his support for legalizing marijuana after announcing his candidacy, telling a radio show that he was for “changing our drug laws, ending prohibition against marijuana.”
Booker-1-Feb-19-New York Times-09dd8
Bernie Sanders’s 2020 policy agenda: Medicare for All; action on climate change; $15-an-hour minimum wage
Washington Post

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced Tuesday that he will run for president and again seek the Democratic Party's nomination. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will run for president proposing to enact a “Medicare-for-all” health-care system, stave off catastrophic climate change through a “Green New Deal” and other climate measures, and implement a $15-an-hour minimum wage for all American workers, according to aides to the senator.

Sanders will also tout proposals to mandate breaking up the biggest Wall Street banks; free tuition at public colleges; lower drug prices through aggressive government intervention; new labor laws to encourage union formation; curbed corporate spending on elections; paid family and medical leave; gender pay equity; and expanded Social Security benefits, aides said.

His criminal justice platform will include legalizing marijuana, ending cash bail throughout the United States, and abolishing private prisons, while he will also run on the standard Democratic policy goals of protecting young immigrants brought to the United States as children, and limiting the sale and distribution of guns.

Sanders’s policies would require trillions of dollars in additional government spending. The senator has previously called for significant cuts to U.S. military spending and a number of plans to ramp up taxes, including through heavy taxation of wealthy estates, corporations, the richest 1 percent of Americans and offshore tax havens. Some of his plans, such as Medicare-for-all, would also require higher taxes on the middle class, although supporters say they would on net help everyday Americans by eliminating their private health-care costs.

These policies are unlikely to be enacted in the form proposed by Sanders even if he becomes president, given opposition from centrist Democrats and the difficulty of moving legislation through the Senate.

The senator from Vermont, who announced his bid for the Democratic presidential primary in an email to supporters on Tuesday, lost to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary but is frequently ranked near the top of a wide-open early primary field. Republicans and centrist Democrats have said that Sanders promotes socialism — Sanders identifies as a democratic socialist — and that his policies would bankrupt the United States at a time of already mounting fiscal deficits.

“Every 50 years, there is someone who can fundamentally alter the course of American politics. Bernie Sanders has the chance to reorient our economic policy toward workers and communities left behind instead of corporate interests,” said Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who has encouraged Sanders to run.

Others say a Sanders nomination is more likely to get Trump reelected, with think tanks such as Third Way arguing that “ultraprogressive” candidates did less well in the 2018 midterm election.

Here are some of the policies Sanders hopes will power him to the White House.

Medicare-for-all. Sanders plans to campaign on a promise to move the nation to a single-payer “Medicare-for-all” system, in which every American would be enrolled in a government plan. In the fall of 2017, 16 Senate Democrats co-sponsored Sanders’s bill, which previously garnered zero Senate co-sponsors and was criticized by Clinton’s campaign in 2016 as wildly unrealistic.

Medicare-for-all would give health insurance to the approximately 30 million Americans who lack it, while also eliminating all premiums, co-pays and deductibles. U.S. health-care spending per capita is more than two times as large as the average for developed nations, even as Americans have below-average life expectancy at birth and lag on a number of other key health outcomes. Single-payer advocates say one government insurer would have the bargaining power to drive down costs, while giving free health care to those who lack coverage.

Critics say the plan would require prohibitive, impossibly large new taxes, and question the political wisdom of forcing nearly half the country to switch from the current private plan to a public insurer. Even Democrats who have signed onto Sanders’s bill have balked at its core feature of eliminating private insurance, and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said he does not favor doing so.

Sanders has argued that virtually eradicating private health insurance — excepting things such as “cosmetic surgery, you want to get your nose fixed,” Sanders has said — is essential to preventing the costs of a Medicare-for-all system from becoming prohibitive.

Conservatives have also warned that a single-payer system could impede quality of care for those who have it, pointing to long wait times in the Canadian system.

Major climate action, including the “Green New Deal.” Sanders has repeatedly called climate change “the single greatest threat facing our planet,” and in 2016 campaigned on cutting carbon pollution by 40 percent by 2013, in part through an aggressive carbon tax on pollution.

Sanders will in the next few months also introduce a proposal to fight climate change through a “Green New Deal,” which will similarly aim to slash emissions with an enormous public works program that would create tens of millions of jobs. The effort is moving on a parallel track to that announced earlier this month by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and a number of 2020 presidential candidates in the Senate, including Sanders, Booker, and Sens. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

The upcoming Sanders plan is expected to contain significantly more details about how a Green New Deal would move the nation’s economy to one that zeros out carbon emissions, according to aides to the senator, while the Ocasio-Cortez resolution supported by the other 2020 candidates mostly laid out ambitious targets for carbon reduction.

The White House said in a recent statement that the Green New Deal would be a “central planning disaster” and a “road map to destroy the American economy,” and President Trump called it “a high school term paper that got a low mark.” The Trump administration has not announced a plan to address climate change, and Trump has repeatedly dismissed the scientific consensus behind it. But the plan also has faced some criticism from proponents of action to address global warming, including some who have called for a greater focus on exporting renewable energy technology to developing countries and others who have argued that the problem can be addressed more cost-effectively through market-based mechanisms.

In the fall, the top scientific body studying climate change found that the world had to take “unprecedented” steps to reduce carbon levels, with the planet on pace to warm by 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) over preindustrial levels. Scientists called the report a “deafening, piercing smoke alarm going off in the kitchen.”

$15-an-hour minimum wage. As he did in 2016, Sanders will campaign on a national $15-an-hour minimum wage for all U.S. workers.

The nation’s existing $7.25-an-hour minimum wage has not been raised since 2009, although a number of states have passed their own increases. That includes typically conservative places such as Arkansas and Missouri, suggesting their potential popularity with parts of Trump’s base.

Critics of higher minimum wages say they drive up business costs and reduce employment, and can also cut hours for workers, according to one study on Seattle’s $15-an-hour minimum wage. Other research has contradicted those results, with left-leaning economists questioning results showing negative effects from Seattle’s $15-an-hour minimum wage.

In 2016, Clinton pushed a $12-an-hour minimum wage at the federal level. The number of Democrats in Congress supporting Sanders’s legislation to achieve a $15-an-hour minimum wage has risen from about 60 in 2015 to more than 200 in 2018, according to Sanders’s aides. Larry Kudlow, the president’s top economic adviser, has called the federal minimum wage a “terrible idea.”

Tuition-free colleges and universities, and reducing student loan debt. Sanders has also pushed legislation to abolish tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities and intends to run on the plan in 2020, according to aides.

The amount of total student debt has ballooned from $480 billion in 2006 to $1.5 trillion in 2018, affecting home-ownership rates and causing young people to delay starting families. A 2017 report found that the price of college has increased more than 100 percent since 2001.

Sanders has also proposed cutting all student loan interest rates in half, and allowing Americans to refinance student loans at low interest rates. Researchers with the Levy Economics Institute have proposed retiring the $1.5 trillion in outstanding student loan debt, a measure Sanders does not embrace.

The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said in 2016 that Sanders’s plan for free college would cost about $800 billion over 10 years. Sanders has proposed paying for it with a transaction tax on large Wall Street firms, which would raise $600 billion over a decade, CRFB found.

Some more centrist Democrats have stopped short of calling for that significant overhaul of the nation’s higher education system. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a presidential candidate, said at a CNN town hall event on Monday night that she would focus first on two-year colleges: “No, I am not for free four-year college for all, no.”

Break up biggest Wall Street banks. In October 2018, Sanders released an update to his 2016 campaign proposal to break up the largest Wall Street banks, announcing a plan that would bar them from holding assets worth more than $584 billion. At least six banks — including JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup — would be broken up by federal regulators under the proposal, which aides say is expected to play a prominent role in Sanders’s campaign.

Sanders touts the plan as a way to prevent a repeat of the financial crisis of a decade ago. But it has been criticized by some analysts and allies of the financial industry, who pointed to significant improvements in the capital cushions that banks now hold to ward against collapse. Dodd-Frank, an Obama-era banking law, put new capital requirements into effect for the largest financial institutions.

Criminal justice overhaul. Sanders will also be pushing measures intended to overhaul the nation’s criminal justice system, including to legalize marijuana, end private prisons and significantly reduce cash bail.

In summer 2018, Sanders introduced legislation to end bail in federal proceedings, while giving grants to states in an attempt to get them to reduce the number of prisoners they hold on bail. In 2016, he also called for “automatic” federal investigations of deaths in police custody.

Cash bail disproportionately jails poor Americans, in particular black Americans, who cannot afford to make court-ordered payments.

Paid family leave, and gender pay equity. Right now, the United States is alone in the developed world in not requiring businesses to give new mothers paid leave, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Although mothers are not guaranteed time off by the government, families that do get time off from their employers tend to be more affluent, said Heather Boushey, executive director and chief economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.

In 2013, Gillibrand released a bill to create the nation’s first universal paid family leave program. It would pay workers while they take time off if they have to take care of a sick child, parent or spouse; give birth to a child; or get sick themselves. Sanders is a co-sponsor of the bill, and he talked about the need for paid family leave in his 2016 presidential campaign.

Sanders has also co-sponsored legislation, titled the Paycheck Fairness Act, that would bar employers from retaliating against workers who ask about their wages, as well as making employers liable to civil litigation.
Sanders-19-Feb-19-Washington Post-237ba
Sen. Bernie Sanders will seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020
Washington Post
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, whose 2016 presidential campaign grew from a left-wing insurgency to a force that reshaped the Democratic Party, announced Tuesday that he will seek its nomination for president again in 2020.

Sanders wrote in an email sent to supporters Tuesday that he was building “an unprecedented and historic grassroots campaign” that would draw on people across the country.

“Our campaign is not only about defeating Donald Trump, the most dangerous president in modern American history. It is not only about winning the Democratic nomination and the general election,” he wrote. “Our campaign is about transforming our country and creating a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice.”

The senator, an independent, cited health care, climate change, student debt, the “demonization” of undocumented immigrants, income inequality, gun violence and the myriad problems of America’s needy as propelling him into his second presidential contest.

“In a sense, this campaign is a continuation of what we did in 2016,” Sanders said during an interview Tuesday on “CBS This Morning.”

Asked how this bid would differ from his first run, Sanders said, “We’re gonna win.”

During an earlier interview with Vermont Public Radio, where he first announced his bid, Sanders called Trump “an embarrassment to our country.

“I think he is a pathological liar,” Sanders said. “I also think he is a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe, somebody who is gaining cheap political points by trying to pick on minorities, often undocumented immigrants.”

Sanders, who has held dozens of political rallies across the country since the 2016 election, enters the race with the biggest social media following — and biggest mailing list — of any candidate for the Democratic nomination. His decision came after a number of groups that spun out from his 2016 run, such as Our Revolution and People for Bernie, held house parties to mobilize his old supporters, and to find new ones.

After coming a few hundred delegates short of victory in 2016, Sanders begins a 2020 race with some advantages. He is one of the best-known and most admired figures in Democratic politics, though he is not a member of the party. He built campaign operations in every primary and caucus state.

But unlike Hillary Clinton, who recovered from her 2008 primary defeat to become the party’s front-runner in 2016, Sanders has not built on his support from the prior campaign. In early polls of Iowa and New Hampshire, where he won 50 percent and 60 percent of the vote, support for the senator from Vermont has ranged from the low teens to 30 percent.

Two Democrats who endorsed him in 2016, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and author Marianne Williamson, have themselves entered the race; a third, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), is considering a bid. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who has long been a friend of Sanders and shared an overlapping network of supporters, announced her campaign on New Year’s Eve. And some strategists and endorsers who helped Sanders in 2016 have already moved to other campaigns.

Sanders also faces a crowded and liberal-leaning field of candidates that bears little resemblance to the lengthy two-way race with Clinton. Most of the Democrats currently seeking the nomination back Sanders’s signature legislation to turn Medicare into a universal health-care plan, and to raise the federal minimum wage to $15.

“There are some really good people who have announced, and they’re friends of mine,” Sanders told The Washington Post last month. “My views are maybe a little bit different.”

Both Sanders and Trump in 2016 argued that Americans were suffering from a rigged economy and that chunks of the country had been forgotten as Wall Street and other elites prospered. Sanders bridled at such comparisons in 2016, and on Tuesday upbraided the president in stark terms.

“You know as well as I do that we are living in a pivotal and dangerous moment in American history,” he wrote. “We are running against a president who is a pathological liar, a fraud, a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe and someone who is undermining American democracy as he leads us in an authoritarian direction. I’m running for president because, now more than ever, we need leadership that brings us together — not divides us up.”

Sanders’s successes in 2016 capped an unlikely political ascent. He ran for multiple offices in Vermont before a stunning 1981 upset that made him mayor of Burlington, the state’s largest city.

In office, Sanders became the best-known democratic socialist in American politics, bringing new development to the city while building ties to international left-wing movements. In 1990, he won the state’s sole seat in the House of Representatives, as an independent, after Democrats did not field a candidate of their own — an understanding that would continue through seven more House campaigns and three for the Senate.

Despite that, Sanders was not viewed as a first-tier challenger to Clinton when his 2016 bid began. Liberal groups had launched efforts to draft Warren, although she chose not to run. When he announced his campaign, Sanders parried questions about poll numbers that showed Clinton 40 or 50 points ahead, saying he was “in this race to win” and battling the impression of a fringe candidacy.

To Clinton’s surprise, Sanders’s campaign caught fire. By the summer of 2015, he was regularly speaking to crowds numbering in the thousands or tens of thousands. He stuck to the issues that animated him: universal health care, free college tuition and higher taxes on the rich. After several speeches were disrupted by protesters, he began speaking more about criminal justice reform and an end to the war on drugs.

“We can live in a country where every person has health care as a right, not a privilege,” Sanders said on the trail, words he repeated in Tuesday’s presidential announcement.

As Sanders’s last campaign surged, neither candidate was comfortable making personal attacks. Sanders refused to talk about the investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server while at the State Department, focusing instead on whether Clinton was too close to Wall Street; Clinton accused Sanders of making unrealistic promises, warning that his agenda would lose in a general election.

Sanders nonetheless won more than 13 million votes and consistently trounced Clinton among voters under 30. While the senator later endorsed Clinton and campaigned for her, some of his supporters walked out of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, and Republicans used social media to urge Sanders’s voters to cast protest votes or embrace Trump as the real change candidate.

“His attacks caused lasting damage, making it harder to unify progressives in the general election and paving the way for Trump’s ‘Crooked Hillary’ campaign,” Clinton wrote in her 2017 campaign memoir.

Clinton’s surprise defeat left Democrats leaderless. Sanders, who had never actually joined the party, began to take a bigger role in shaping it. He joined the Senate Democratic leadership for the first time and held dozens of rallies around the country — some alongside Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez — to build opposition to the Republican agenda.

Sanders also began recrafting and reintroducing ambitious bills to enact his agenda, starting with “Medicare-for-all” legislation that was co-sponsored, for the first time, by more than a dozen colleagues. Through much of 2018, he worked with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) to pass a war powers resolution to end America’s involvement in the Saudi bombing of Yemen.

If successful, Sanders, 77, would also be the oldest nominee ever put forward by a major political party.

John Wagner contributed to this report.

Read more at PowerPost
Sanders-19-Feb-19-Washington Post-f6866
Bernie Sanders launches second presidential campaign
(CNN) After months of deliberation, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders announced Tuesday that he is running for president again in 2020. It will be Sanders' second consecutive bid for the Democratic nomination after losing to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

"I am asking you to join me today as part of an unprecedented and historic grassroots campaign that will begin with at least a million people from across the country," he wrote in an email to supporters following an interview on Vermont Public Radio.

Sanders enters the 2020 race as one of the frontrunners -- a remarkable turn for the democratic socialist who, three years ago, was viewed as a protest candidate from the political fringe. Today, Sanders is one of the most popular politicians among Democratic voters and his policy agenda -- a suite of progressive proposals to expand health care, broaden the social safety net and make higher education free -- has been embraced by many of the Democratic party's leading figures.

"I can tell you very happily, and I think any objective observer would confirm what I'm saying, is that in the last year and half or so, the Democratic party has moved in a far more progressive direction than they were before I ran for president," he said in an interview with CNN last year. But in the run-up to his announcement, Sanders and top aides insisted the decision would ultimately turn on a much simpler question: whether he was the best candidate to defeat President Donald Trump next year.

But in his Tuesday morning email and video announcing his run, Sanders -- who described Trump as "a pathological liar, a fraud, a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe and someone who is undermining American democracy as he leads us in an authoritarian direction" -- also set out loftier goals.

"Our campaign," he said, "is about transforming our country and creating a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice."

And in a message to rich and "powerful special interests," Sanders warned: "They may have the money and the power. We have the people."

By 7:30 a.m. ET, an aide told CNN, the campaign had received donations and sign-ups from all 50 states.

Sanders to face more crowded, progressive field

Sanders, 77, begins his campaign this time around with a higher profile and better organized base of support, but rather than having a single establishment favorite to fight, perhaps a dozen other candidates with wide and often overlapping appeal are already pursing the nomination. That includes as many as a half-dozen credible progressive hopefuls who, though not social democrats in the Sanders mold, share many of his policy priorities and political style. The primary field will also be more racially diverse and, on average, younger. Less than two months into the year, five of his Senate colleagues are either running or exploring campaigns, including four of the six women in the race.

And though he has joined the race now earlier than he did at this point in 2015, Sanders' entry comes in the wake of about a dozen others, like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, another progressive populist, who announced the formation of an exploratory committee on New Year's Eve and formally declared her candidacy 10 days ago. She quickly scooped up Sanders' 2016 Iowa caucus director and has already traveled to six key states and Puerto Rico.

Sanders has spent much of the past few years spreading his message and developing relationships with like-minded officials and activists during exhaustive travels around the country — with a particular eye on states won by Trump in 2016 — and via his unrivaled digital operation. His core of supporters, though their vote share will likely diminish in a crowded field, could be stubborn enough to carry him to victories in some of the key early voting states. His media footprint and ability to raise big numbers of small-dollar donations should allow him to compete in California, which moved up its primary for 2020, creating an expensive new challenge for candidates who have largely forsworn corporate PAC donations and super PAC support.

"He never stopped," Our Revolution president Nina Turner, a trusted adviser, said in January. "He stays on the mission. People sometimes try to knock him off the path but he's right there, and he never wavers in that. And that's a hard thing to do, to be the one who's pushing the vision even when it's not popular. It's easy to come on board when things are popular."

But Sanders' increased influence has also invited stricter scrutiny from the political opponents, including a vocal faction inside the Democratic party who blame him for dampening support for Clinton ahead of her loss to Trump, the press and even some of his most dedicated advocates.

In January, he was forced to publicly confront allegations of sexual harassment by staffers on his 2016 campaign. Sanders apologized but, during an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, said he was unaware of the misconduct at the time because he "was little bit busy running around the country trying to make the case." The explanation fell flat and, days later another report emerged accusing an operative on the campaign of forcibly kissing a younger female staffer. When Sanders met with a group of men and women who wrote a letter to his office detailing their experiences in 2016, he was, according one former staffer in attendance, "conciliatory" and opened his remarks with what she described as an "honest apology."

Both Sanders critics and allies will keep a close eye on the makeup of his early hires, most notably his choice of a campaign manager to replace Jeff Weaver, who ran the show in 2016 and will remain on as a senior adviser. An aide told CNN in January that the process was already underway. There is also the question of whether influential progressives like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who volunteered on Sanders' 2016 campaign, and traveled with him during the midterms to campaign for progressive hopefuls, will offer their public support. California Rep. Barbara Lee, one of the most respected progressive lawmakers in the country, endorsed Sen. Kamala Harris last week.

From the backbench to the front lines

Sanders' increased visibility has yielded substantial gains for the Democratic party's left flank and -- through an unlikely alliance with a Republican -- helped deliver a historic rebuke to the Trump administration's policy in the Middle East. Along with GOP Sen. Mike Lee and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, Sanders last year won bipartisan backing for a War Powers resolution calling for an end to military support for the Saudi-led offensive in Yemen. His pressure campaigns on major corporations like Amazon also helped secure a $15 minimum wage for workers there and a pledge from the company to back legislation raising it nationwide.

"He has reached out more to work with colleagues in the last few years to show that effectiveness and that's his biggest plus point on a substance level," said Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna, who led the successful push for a matching resolution this year in the House.

The policy principles behind a second Sanders campaign are expected to be largely the same as in 2015 and 2016. Still, he has over the past few weeks begun to roll out or re-up proposals to combat economic inequality and fortify programs like Social Security. He is also planning to reintroduce his Medicare for all legislation in tandem with Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who has taken over developing and shepherding the accompanying House bill.

Over two weeks in January and February, Sanders unveiled plans to buy more than 50 years of padding for Social Security by raising payroll taxes on income above $250,000 and hike the estate tax on the wealthiest Americans -- suggesting a top rate of 77% on billionaire heirs.

"Our bill does what the American people want," Sanders said in a statement ahead of the rollout, "by substantially increasing the estate tax on the wealthiest families in this country and dramatically reducing wealth inequality. From a moral, economic, and political perspective our nation will not thrive when so few have so much and so many have so little."
Bernie Sanders lost in 2016. Here's what he needs to do to win in 2020.
(CNN) Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is hoping the second time is the charm in seeking the Democratic nomination for the White House.

Sanders, who announced Tuesday he's running for president in 2020, starts off in a very different position than he did four years ago, when he was considered a long shot. He has near universal name recognition and is in clear second place to former Vice President Joe Biden in the polls.

But to build on his current poll support and improve upon his 2016 performance, Sanders will need to expand on his base and do better in at least five areas.

1. Black voters

If you were to pinpoint one reason Sanders lost in 2016, it was his inability to make inroads into this important part of the Democratic base. Hillary Clinton beat Sanders by about 57 points among black voters in the average of states with an exit poll , which is a devastating margin when you recognize black voters make up about 20% of the Democratic base.

A repeat performance from Sanders among them would almost certainly doom his candidacy from the start. That's why Sanders is making outreach to black voters a top priority for 2020

2. Democrats

Not surprisingly, the independent senator did best among voters who identified as independents. He won them by about 29 points in the average primary with an exit poll.

The problem is that Sanders did poorly with self-identified Democrats. He lost them by about 27 points in 2016. That math just doesn't work out for Sanders because self-identified Democrats outnumbered self-identified independents by a 3:1 margin in 2016 Democratic primaries. The good news for Sanders is independents will likely be a larger proportion of the 2020 electorate, if the Republican primary is uncompetitive.

Still, Sanders has to realize this is a Democratic primary in order to have a real shot of winning. Labels matter.

3. Older voters

Sanders was the candidate of young voters in 2016. Among those under 45 years old, he won an impressive 19-point margin in the average primary with an exit poll. If Sanders does even better among young voters, it would definitely smooth a pathway to victory in 2020. Even so, those under 45 years old are the minority of primary voters.

Democrats who are 45 years old and older made up about 60% of Democratic primary voters in 2020. Sanders lost them by 33 points in the average primary in 2016. He'll likely have to improve with older voters in his second run. That won't be easy given that older Democrats have traditionally been more moderate and therefore less receptive to a self-described Democratic Socialist.

4. Women voters

The 2016 primary featured a gender gap normally seen in general elections. Sanders lost men voters by only 2 points in the average state with an exit poll. (He actually won them by 1 in the median state.) A primary among just men voters would have gone down to the wire in 2016. Unfortunately for Sanders, he lost women by 22 points in the average state. Women made up about 58% of Democratic primary voters in the average state in 2016.

The question is whether Sanders can do better with women the second time around. He might have the opportunity to since he isn't running against a candidate who is trying to be the first woman major party presidential nominee in American history. Of course, Clinton didn't win the general election and the desire to see the first woman president may be quite strong in 2020, especially with six women already in the race. Either way, Sanders is either going to have to be much stronger with men or try to close the gender gap to be competitive in 2020.

5. Very liberal voters

Sanders has made his bones as being the most liberal candidate in a party that is running left. Yet, the best he could do was fight Clinton to a tie among self-identified very liberal voters in 2016. To win in 2020, he'll probably need to run up the score with very liberal voters in a way he didn't in 2016.

The good news for Sanders is the Democratic Party is becoming more liberal. Very liberal voters made up 25% of primary voters in 2016, and they could be an even larger percentage in 2020. With so many candidates running, Sanders could win pluralities overall with a large win among very liberal Democratic primary voters.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders enters crowded 2020 presidential race
Ryan Gaydos
Fox News
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., announced Tuesday he will make another bid for president by entering the already crowded 2020 race, as he tries to rekindle the grassroots energy from his 2016 primary run against Hillary Clinton.

Sanders made the announcement in an interview with Vermont Public Radio, followed by a web video and email to supporters.


"Together, you and I and our 2016 campaign began the political revolution. Now, it is time to complete that revolution and implement the vision that we fought for," he told supporters.

While blasting President Trump as a "pathological liar," Sanders said in the radio interview he's running to pursue policies like universal health care and a $15 minimum wage. His challenge this time, however, will be standing out in a field of candidates who largely have adopted the big-government policies he championed three years ago.

The Republican National Committee cited his influence on the field's present-day policies in blasting his announcement. "Bernie Sanders is a self-avowed socialist who wants to double your taxes so the government can take over your health care. The vast majority of voters oppose his radical agenda, just like they are going to oppose all the 2020 Democrats who have rushed to embrace it," RNC Spokesman Michael Ahrens said.

Sanders, a progressive populist who identifies as a democratic socialist, put up a serious fight against Democratic contender Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primary.

He joins a field already that already consists of top Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker. And two of the most progressive lawmakers in the Senate – Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Jeff Merkley of Oregon – are also seriously considering presidential bids. Merkley was the only senator to endorse Sanders in 2016. Another progressive, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii – who also backed Sanders’ first White House bid – is also in the race.

Sanders, 77, has had to deal in recent months with a sexual harassment and mistreatment controversy stemming from his 2016 campaign staff, which elicited apologies from the senator.


But Sanders still enjoys widespread name recognition and strong support from progressives across the country. In New Hampshire, which holds the first primary in the race for the White House, a steering committee of top supporters of his 2016 campaign continues to meet on a monthly basis.

While many of those Granite States supporters will stick with Sanders, some are eyeing other candidates. And the state will be considered a "must win" for Sanders, as well as for Warren, who comes from neighboring Massachusetts.

The senator also slammed Trump, telling Vermont Public Radio that "I think the current occupant of the White House is an embarrassment to our country."

"I think he is a pathological liar,” he added. “I also think he is a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe, somebody who is gaining cheap political points by trying to pick on minorities, often undocumented immigrants."

Sanders spread the news of his announcement through an email to his supporters nationwide. And he conducted a national interview with CBS News. Asked what would be different the second time around, he answered that this time, “we’re going to win.”

Fox News’ Sarah Tobianski contributed to this report.
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Democrats ignore Bernie Sanders’ 2020 announcement while embracing his socialist policies
Fox News
The political world barely raised its eyebrows when news broke that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, had recorded a video announcing his 2020 presidential campaign. Normally, last time’s runner-up nominee of a major political party – someone who won 12 million votes and raised more than $230 million dollars – preparing to mount another White House bid would be a momentous event.

To be fair, Sanders’ actual launch will get more fanfare. But why the collective yawn around news of his imminent candidacy? For one thing, presidential campaign announcements in 2019 are a dime a dozen. There are already nine declared Democratic candidates with many others waiting in the wings.

For another, since dropping out in July 2016, Sanders never really stopped running. The cantankerous septuagenarian has remained a ubiquitous presence on cable television and the campaign hustings. Democratic candidates covet his endorsement, and the national press corps hangs on his every utterance.


Although his candidacy seems a foregone conclusion, it’s also immaterial in many ways. If he decides that the rigors of another national campaign are not for him at 77-years-old, his indelible imprint on national politics is not going away.

Sanders has re-set the foundation of the Democratic Party – ironic given his steadfast refusal to identify as a Democrat. Since his election as mayor of Burlington in 1981, Sanders has worn the “socialist” badge while caucusing with the Democrats.

Sanders might not be interested in joining, but his policy prescriptions have found a welcome home with Democratic party faithful. Free college, free government health care, a debate over whether a marginal tax rate of 70 or 90 percent is high enough – these are all ideas Sanders has been championing for decades.

One town in California is giving $500 dollars each month to its residents – a page out of Sanders’ wealth redistribution playbook. In a few short years, ideas like these have gone from extreme to mainstream in Democratic circles.

Even if Bernie Sanders decides to retire to Burlington or serve out the remaining six years on his Senate term, the party he won’t join has nonetheless adopted his policy proposals.

Even Sanders’ preferred “socialist” identification is enjoying its moment in the sun. A Fox News poll showed that 50 percent of self-identified liberals view socialism favorably.

Already, Sanders is influencing world events. His thunderous opposition to billionaires paved the way for a 29-year-old freshman congresswoman to send the world’s largest company run by the world’s richest man packing from Queens, New York. It takes a lot to unite bitter enemies like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, not to mention outflank their left-wing credentials. That’s precisely what U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did last week when she speared Amazon’s plans to come to New York City.

Ocasio-Cortez is basking in the glory of the “win” (if that’s how the left sees chasing 25,000 good-paying jobs away from an up-and-coming neighborhood), but Sanders seeded the ground to make it possible. He has been flogging Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his company for months, even shaming him last year by introducing legislation dubbed the “BEZOS Act”.

Bashing billionaires may be smart politics in this era of pitchfork populism, but it has limitations beyond primary voters. That same FOX poll found 57 percent of voters holding a positive opinion of capitalism compared to just 25 who feel good about socialism.

There’s a reason President Trump took time out of his State of the Union address to zero in on socialism. In a moment that will play out countless times between now and 2020, the president telegraphed he intends to win back voters nonplussed with his presidency but also not on board with what the Democrats are selling.


Presidential elections are choices – not referendums – and Mr. Trump knows that. Far easier to disqualify his Democratic opposition as extremists who want government to take 90 percent of voters’ paycheck than to try and win back the swing and suburban parts of America who turned on him last fall.

Bernie Sanders is never going to be president, but his legacy will live on. Even if he decides to retire to Burlington or serve out the remaining six years on his Senate term, the party he won’t join has nonetheless adopted his policy proposals. Ironically, those ideas might be just what Trump uses to get re-elected.

Sanders-19-Feb-19-Fox News-cd6c1
Sen. Bernie Sanders Confirms 2020 Presidential Run
The Huffington Post
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is taking another crack at the White House, telling Vermont Public Radio that he will run for president again in 2020.

“I wanted to let the people of the state of Vermont know about this first,” Sanders told VPR’s Bob Kinzel on Tuesday.

He also made the announcement in an email to supporters later that morning.

“I have decided to run for president of the United States,” Sanders wrote in a version of the email provided to HuffPost on Monday. “I am asking you today to join me as part of an unprecedented and historic grassroots campaign.”

The independent senator, who caucuses with the Democrats and battled Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, had long hinted he would make another run but said that he would step aside if a better candidate came forward to defeat President Donald Trump.

Tuesday morning, it was clear Sanders has decided he is the best person for the job.

“Together, you and I and our 2016 campaign began the political revolution. Now, it is time to complete that revolution and implement the vision that we fought for,” he wrote.

Asked what would be different from his 2016 run during an interview on “CBS This Morning” that aired Tuesday morning, Sanders said: “We’re going to win.”

“It is absolutely imperative that Donald Trump be defeated because I think it is unacceptable and un-American — to be frank with you — that we have a president who is a pathological liar, and it gives me no pleasure to say that, but it’s true,” he said. “We have a president who is a racist, who is a sexist, who is a xenophobe.”

He promised that his second presidential bid would be a “continuation of what we did in 2016,” noting that many of his progressive policy proposals “are now part of the political mainstream.”

Sanders has long been known as one of the most progressive members of the Senate. A self-described democratic socialist, his platform calls for “Medicare for all” and a $15 minimum wage. He has also advocated for free tuition at public colleges and universities, lowering the costs of prescription drugs and placing heightened attention on climate change.

In his email, Sanders directly credited his supporters with shifting the Democratic Party toward a more progressive message since the 2016 election.

“Three years ago, during our 2016 campaign, when we brought forth our progressive agenda we were told that our ideas were ‘radical,’ and ‘extreme,’” he wrote. “We were told that Medicare for All, a $15 an hour minimum wage, free tuition at public colleges and universities, aggressively combating climate change, demanding that the wealthy start paying their fair share of taxes, were all concepts that the American people would never accept.”

“Well, three years have come and gone,” he continued. “And, as a result of millions of Americans standing up and fighting back, all of these policies and more are now supported by a majority of Americans.”

Kayleigh McEnany, the national press secretary for Trump’s re-election campaign, also noted Sanders’ influence on the Democratic Party in a statement.

“Bernie Sanders has already won the debate in the Democrat primary, because every candidate is embracing his brand of socialism,” McEnany said in part.

Sanders won re-election to the Senate for a third term in November, taking more than 67 percent of the vote. That same month, he said he was considering a second White House run, but he told panelists on ABC’s “The View” that his primary objective was to defeat Trump, even if that meant the Democrats ran someone else.

“There are other great candidates out there, many of them personal friends of mine,” Sanders said during the November interview. “But what I think is most important right now is that Trump be defeated ... and that we as a nation come together respectfully.”

The Vermont senator, seen on "The View" in November, has said his primary goal is to ensure that President Donald Trump does
The Vermont senator, seen on “The View” in November, has said his primary goal is to ensure that President Donald Trump does not win re-election.
He took a slightly different tone on Tuesday. Though Sanders did call Trump a “racist” and “pathological liar” who was leading the country in an “an authoritarian direction,” he also made clear his campaign would stand for more than just stopping the president.

“Our campaign is not only about defeating Donald Trump, the most dangerous president in modern American history. It is not only about winning the Democratic nomination and the general election,” Sanders wrote. ”Our campaign is about transforming our country and creating a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice.”

Sanders took shots at Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry and Amazon in his email, and he said the country needed to end voter suppression, the “epidemic of gun violence,” “the destructive ’war on drugs,’” the “demonization of undocumented immigrants” and “racism, sexism, homophobia, religious bigotry and all forms of discrimination.”

When he first announced he would run for president in 2015, Sanders was scoffed at as a fringe candidate. By the end, Sanders had proved to be a national political force, amassing an army of loyal followers and unprecedented amounts of small-donor fundraising money. When all was said and done, he had won more than 1,800 delegates.

In recent months, that same campaign has faced criticism, however, after two dozen women came forward with allegations that they were subjected to harassment or discrimination by members of Sanders’ team. The senator issued a public apology to those who experienced such harassment and thanked them for speaking out.

“What they experienced was absolutely unacceptable and certainly not what a progressive campaign, or any campaign, should be about,” he said in a Jan. 10 statement.

Sanders has continued to poll favorably among Americans since the 2016 election.
Sanders has continued to poll favorably among Americans since the 2016 election.
There are also concerns about Sanders’ age. He would be 79 on Election Day in 2020, which would make him the oldest president elected in U.S. history.

Nevertheless, Sanders has continued to poll favorably among Americans over the last two-plus years.

The Harvard Harris poll, which releases its findings monthly, has repeatedly named him the most popular active politician in the country. Poll results from both January and December placed him among the three most favored political figures in the country, just behind former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden, who is also eyeing a presidential run.

In his email, Sanders asked for people to sign their support. His campaign hopes to receive 1 million signatures through Tuesday’s request for support.

“They may have the money and power. We have the people. That is why we need one million Americans who will commit themselves to this campaign,” he wrote. “Stand with me as we fight to win the Democratic nomination and the general election.”
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Meghan McCain Warns ‘Don’t Underestimate’ Bernie Sanders: He’s ‘Truly Formidable’
The Huffington Post
Now that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is officially in the running for 2020, Meghan McCain is warning voters not to overlook his potential to win the election.

“The thing I will say about him is don’t underestimate him,” the “View” co-host said Tuesday, citing his 2016 sweep of New Hampshire and his success in taking nearly half of Iowa — the first two primary states, which will be important targets for candidates.

“This time there are no superdelegates to come against him at the convention like what happened before,” McCain added, referring to the Democratic National Committee’s rule change last year that stripped superdelegates of much of their power in deciding the party’s nominee.

IS THIS THE RIGHT TIME FOR BERNIE? Sen. Bernie Sanders announced he will seek the White House again in 2020 — the co-hosts weigh in. — The View (@TheView) February 19, 2019

Weighing Sanders’ chances, McCain called him “a truly formidable candidate,” arguing that “he’s still the original, with all the socialist disciples coming up after him.”

“He’s the most popular politician in the country right now,” she added

According to a January Morning Consult survey of registered voters, McCain is right. For the 11th consecutive time, the quarterly poll had Sanders as the senator with the highest approval rating in his or her state, with 64 percent of Vermonters approving of his performance. Another declared presidential candidate, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), isn’t far behind, coming in sixth place with a 58 percent approval rating.
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Bernie Sanders on the Issues: Where He Stands and What Could Derail Him
New York Times
Senator Bernie Sanders may have been the runner-up in the last Democratic primary, but by the time he gave Hillary Clinton his endorsement in July 2016, he had garnered the fervent support of millions. With messages about income inequality and proposals like universal health care, free public college and a higher minimum wage, Mr. Sanders sought what he framed as a transformation of the Democratic Party — a platform that many voters enthusiastically rallied around.

Three years later, many of Mr. Sanders’s progressive ideas have increasingly become part of the Democratic mainstream, with other candidates echoing them during the race for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination. Now that Mr. Sanders has announced that he will run for it again, here is a refresher on where he stands on key issues and what challenges he faces this time around.

The economy
Perhaps the most indelible message offered by Mr. Sanders has been his continued insistence that Wall Street and billionaires have “rigged” the system such that wealth and income flow to the country’s richest and most powerful people. The result of this rigging, he argues, is a continuing decline of the middle class and a growing gap between the rich and everyone else.

[Make sense of the people, issues and ideas shaping American politics with our newsletter.]

To combat these forces, Mr. Sanders has introduced legislation that would increase the number of wealthy Americans subject to the estate tax; called for raising the national minimum wage to $15 an hour (while criticizing companies like Amazon for paying its workers too little); and asked for a $1 trillion infrastructure investment that would create jobs.

Mr. Sanders has also repeatedly railed against the political campaign finance system, which he contends is controlled by wealthy people and special interest groups that can contribute unlimited amounts of money to campaigns. He rejected corporate political action committee money when he sought the Democratic nomination in 2016 — a practice that caught on among Democrats in the 2018 midterms — and is well positioned to again raise funds via small-donation contributors. The New York Times has reported that he would begin his 2020 presidential bid with 2.1 million online donors, a huge lead on his competitors.

Health care
Mr. Sanders, now in his third term representing Vermont in the Senate, drafted a Medicare-for-all bill in 2017 that has since been endorsed by several other Democratic senators, including the presidential candidates Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

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[Read more on Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential run.]

“Medicare for all” has become a rallying cry for progressive Democrats, though it means different things to different people, and exactly which version candidates embrace has become something of an early policy test.

Supporters generally agree that it is a way to achieve universal coverage with a system of national health insurance in which a single public program would pay most of the bills, but care would still be delivered by private doctors and hospitals. Such a single-payer, government-run health plan would increase federal spending by at least $2.5 trillion a year, according to several estimates.

The environment
This month liberal Democrats formally proposed a Green New Deal with a sweeping resolution that addresses climate change by calling for the United States to eliminate additional emissions of carbon by 2030.

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The measure, drafted by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, was co-sponsored by Mr. Sanders as well as Ms. Gillibrand and Mr. Booker.

One set of proposals Mr. Sanders presented in 2016 that drew widespread attention was the idea of making public colleges and universities tuition-free and significantly lowering student loan interest rates. He continued to highlight the cost of higher education in the months after the 2016 campaign.

A victim of his own success
As some of Mr. Sanders’s supporters have pointed out, the 2020 Democratic primary landscape looks far different than the one in 2016. This time, Mr. Sanders, an independent, will not be the only progressive opponent facing an establishment-backed front-runner. Instead, the 2020 Democratic primary field is already crowded with candidates, some who are newer to the national political scene than he is, and some who have embraced the very policies he championed in 2016.

[Check out the Democratic field with our candidate tracker.]

As The Times reported in December, Mr. Sanders is struggling to retain the support he garnered two years ago, when he was far less of a political star than he is today. His supporters have conceded that in some ways, Mr. Sanders is a victim of his own success.

“Ironically, Bernie’s agenda for working families will be the Democratic Party’s message in 2020, but he may not be the one leading the parade,” Bill Press, a talk show host who supported Mr. Sanders in 2016, said last year.

Recent turmoil
Mr. Sanders has also had a weak track record with black voters — a vital base in the Democratic Party — which could be a potential threat to his candidacy. On Sunday, The Times reported that interviews with nearly two dozen current and former advisers and staff members revealed an uneven commitment on the part of Mr. Sanders and his top advisers to organize and communicate effectively with black voters and leaders during his 2016 campaign.

And this year, Mr. Sanders is already dealing with another problem involving his 2016 staff: allegations from women who say they were mistreated or harassed during the campaign. Last month, after The Times published an investigation into complaints by female staff members, Mr. Sanders publicly apologized and later met with former staff members in an effort to calm the unrest.

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Bernie Sanders Joins the 2020 Presidential Race
New York Times
Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent and 2016 Democratic primary runner-up whose populist policy agenda has helped push the party to the left, embarked on Tuesday on a second run for president, in a bid that would will test whether he could retain the anti-establishment appeal he enjoyed with many liberal voters three years ago.

A self-styled democratic socialist whose calls for “Medicare for all,” a $15 minimum wage and tuition-free public colleges have become pillars of the party’s left wing, Mr. Sanders is among the best-known politicians to join an already crowded Democratic field and one of the most outspoken against President Trump, whom he has repeatedly called a “pathological liar” and a “racist.”

“Three years ago, during our 2016 campaign, when we brought forth our progressive agenda we were told that our ideas were ‘radical’ and ‘extreme,’” Mr. Sanders said on Tuesday in an early-morning email to supporters, citing those health, economic and education policies as well as combating climate change and raising taxes on wealthy Americans.

“Well, three years have come and gone. And, as result of millions of Americans standing up and fighting back, all of these policies and more are now supported by a majority of Americans,” he said.

Mr. Sanders did not immediately announce where he would campaign first, nor did he disclose any staffing decisions for his political operation. His senior advisers have been spending the weeks leading up to the announcement attempting to recruit a more diverse array of aides than were on his earlier campaign.

A sensation in 2016, Mr. Sanders is facing a far different electoral landscape this time around. Unlike his last bid for the White House, when he was the only liberal challenger to an establishment-backed front-runner, he will be contending with a crowded and diverse field of candidates, including popular Democrats like Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts who have adopted his populist mantle.

Victories in the 2018 midterm election by women, minorities and first-time candidates also suggest that many Democrats may prefer fresh energy, something that skeptics believe Mr. Sanders could struggle to deliver. A 77-year-old whose left-wing message has remained largely unchanged in his decades-long career, Mr. Sanders will also need to improve his support from black voters and quell the unease about his campaign’s treatment of women that has been disclosed in recent news accounts, and that has prompted two public apologies.

Yet almost immediately after making his announcement, Mr. Sanders drew criticism for his response to Vermont Public Radio when asked if he thought he best represented the current Democratic Party.

“We have got to look at candidates, you know, not by the color of their skin, not by their sexual orientation or their gender and not by their age,” Mr. Sanders said. “I think we have got to try to move us toward a nondiscriminatory society which looks at people based on their abilities, based on what they stand for.”

In an interview on CBS This Morning, Mr. Sanders did not shy away from calling himself a democratic socialist.

Mr. Trump, Mr. Sanders said, is “going to say, ‘Bernie Sanders wants the United States to become Venezuela.’”

“Bernie Sanders does not want to have the United States become the horrific economic situation that unfortunately exists in Venezuela right now,” he said. “What Bernie Sanders wants is to learn from countries around the world why other countries are doing a better job of dealing with income and wealth inequality than we are.”

Mr. Sanders will start with several advantages, including the foundation of a 50-state organization; a massive lead among low-dollar donors that is roughly equivalent to the donor base of all the other Democratic hopefuls combined; and a cache of fervent, unwavering supporters. A coveted speaker, he is still capable of electrifying crowds in a way few politicians can. He enjoys wide name recognition, and several early polls on the 2020 race had Mr. Sanders running second behind former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

[Check out the 2020 Democratic field with our candidate tracker.]

And while rising stars like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley have siphoned off some of his authority over the progressive wing of the party, he still claims to have spawned a “political revolution” that, true revolution or not, has ignited a generation of young, socialist-leaning voters and has reshaped the Democratic Party. While Mr. Sanders caucuses with the Democrats, he remains an independent and has not joined the party.

Mr. Sanders is also partly responsible for the party’s decision last year to overhaul its presidential nomination process, including sharply reducing the influence of superdelegates and increasing the transparency around debates — factors he felt greatly favored Hillary Clinton in 2016.

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Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont marched with others from a prayer service at Zion Baptist Church in Columbia, S.C., to the state house last month during an event on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Travis Dove for The New York Times

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont marched with others from a prayer service at Zion Baptist Church in Columbia, S.C., to the state house last month during an event on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.CreditTravis Dove for The New York Times
Asked in his interview with CBS what would be different about this presidential run compared to 2016, Mr. Sanders replied bluntly: “We’re going to win.”

“Bottom line,” he said, “it is absolutely imperative that Donald Trump be defeated.” Though he had harsh words for the president, he said he was fond of the five other senators who were running for the Democratic nomination. “They are in some cases my friends,” he said in the interview, which was broadcast shortly after his Tuesday announcement.

With his booming voice and familiar wide-armed grip at the lectern, Mr. Sanders has long positioned himself as a champion of the working class and a passionate opponent of Wall Street and the moneyed elite. His remarks often include diatribes against “the millionaihs and billionaihs” — one of his most common refrains is that the “three wealthiest people in America own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent” — as well as denunciations of “super PACs” and the influence of big money on politics. In particular, he has sharply criticized Amazon and Walmart over their wages and treatment of workers.

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In his email to supporters, as well as a campaign announcement video, Mr. Sanders laid out a litany of policy issues, familiar to anyone who has followed him through the years: universal health care, tuition-free public college, women’s reproductive rights, lower prescription drug prices, criminal justice reform.

“Our campaign is about taking on the powerful special interests that dominate our economic and political life,” he said.

While some presidential candidates have avoided direct broadsides against President Trump, Mr. Sanders — ever combative — addressed his potential opponent head on.

“You know as well as I do that we are living in a pivotal and dangerous moment in American history,” he said. “We are running against a president who is a pathological liar, a fraud, a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe and someone who is undermining American democracy as he leads us in an authoritarian direction.”

Born in Brooklyn, with an accent to match, Mr. Sanders ran unsuccessfully in the 1970s for governor and United States senator in Vermont before being elected mayor of Burlington in 1981. For 16 years, he served as the only congressman in the state before he was elected to the Senate in 2006.

Mr. Sanders has been a modest legislator and something of a lone wolf in Washington, promoting largely the same legislative agenda since his early days as a mayor. He voted against the Iraq War and, in 2008, he was one of roughly two dozen senators to vote against the $700 billion bailout of big banks.

And while he is often viewed as a pesky left-wing gadfly, he is also known to reach across the aisle, working on legislation with Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa and Senator John McCain of Arizona, both Republicans. He has rationalized voting for the 1994 crime bill, now heavily criticized for some of its draconian provisions, by saying he had favored progressive parts of the bill, including the Violence Against Women Act, while strongly opposing measures that would lead to mass incarceration.

Mr. Sanders is the longest-serving independent in congressional history, a point of pride for him but one of consternation and annoyance for some Democrats who are quick to suggest he does not have the party’s interests at heart. Some Democrats blame him for Mrs. Clinton’s loss in 2016, saying his anti-establishment rhetoric during his campaign inflamed divisions in the party that proved insurmountable.

Mr. Sanders largely avoided scrutiny during his 2016 presidential run but he will likely face more direct attacks from his opponents and more attention from the news media in a second bid for the White House.

One 2016 campaign issue that will almost certainly resurface is his record on gun control, Democratic strategists have said, given the intensity of the debate around gun violence following recent mass shootings. In 2005, Mr. Sanders voted for a law that granted immunity to gun manufacturers and dealers from most liability lawsuits. Mr. Sanders has also come under fire for support he received from the N.R.A. when he was running for Congress in 1990, in part because he vowed not to support a bill that mandated a waiting period for handgun sales.

Though his message is well worn, Mr. Sanders has indicated that he is trying to remedy weaknesses from his first presidential campaign. In recent months, he has made a series of trips to the South, where in 2016 he drew less than 20 percent of the black vote. On the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday this year, he made a two-day swing through South Carolina — where black voters made up about 60 percent of the Democratic primary vote in 2016 — that included addressing supporters and students and speaking with lawmakers.

In a radio interview with Mark Thompson, a progressive African-American radio host, Mr. Sanders said his message included a call to “end institutional racism” though he only offered some broad agenda items for addressing inequality.

“We’ve got to pay special attention to those people who have been hard hit economically, we have to invest in urban communities, and we have to deal with all of the massive disparities that currently exist in American society,” he said.

He has also tried to shore up his foreign policy credentials, becoming a vocal critic of the United States support of Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. Late last year, the Senate passed a resolution, which Mr. Sanders helped introduce, to end American military assistance for the kingdom’s war there.
Sanders-19-Feb-19-New York Times-1b898
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, touting herself as dogged Midwesterner, announces her Democratic presidential bid
Washington Post
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota announced Sunday that she will run for president in 2020, putting a pragmatic Midwesterner touting a message of competence and mettle into the burgeoning field of Democratic candidates.

Klobuchar held her rally at a park on the banks of the Mississippi River, near the site of the 2007 collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge, in which 13 people were killed and scores were injured.

The bridge was quickly rebuilt in 2008, after politicians and officials, including the senator, came together to expedite the construction process. The intended takeaway of its role as the emotional heart of her speech: Klobuchar is someone who will get things done.

“That sense of community is fracturing across our nation right now, worn down by the petty and vicious nature of our politics. We are all tired of the shutdowns and the showdowns, the gridlock and the grandstanding,” Klobuchar said. “Our nation must be governed not from chaos but from opportunity. Not by wallowing over what’s wrong, but by marching inexorably toward what’s right. And it has to start with all of us.”

Presidential announcements are typically choreographed to the second, with all exigencies covered. In Klobuchar’s case, her entry into the race came at an outside event at which the bareheaded candidate, her introductory speakers and hundreds of supporters were pelted by relentless snow. She sought to use that, too, as defining her candidacy.

“We don’t let a little snow stop us! We don’t let a lot of cold stop us!” Klobuchar said as she started her speech.

Later, speaking to reporters, she noted that she made her announcement “in the middle of a blizzard, and I think we need people with grit. I have that grit.”

When a reporter asked if she was tough enough to take on President Trump, she replied: “I’d have loved to see him sitting out here in the snow for an hour giving this speech.”

Trump commented on Klobuchar’s announcement via Twitter:

“Amy Klobuchar announced that she is running for President, talking proudly of fighting global warming while standing in a virtual blizzard of snow, ice and freezing temperatures,” he tweeted. “Bad timing. By the end of her speech she looked like a Snowman(woman)!”

In response, the senator tweeted: “Science is on my side, @realDonaldTrump. Looking forward to debating you about climate change (and many other issues). And I wonder how your hair would fare in a blizzard?”

The sprawling field Klobuchar joined Sunday includes four Democratic senators — Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Kamala D. Harris (Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Cory Booker (N.J.). Other senators, including Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and the 2016 runner-up to the party’s nomination, Bernie Sanders (Vt.), are considering bids.

Klobuchar aimed to distinguish herself with a Midwestern earnestness, as she made clear in her speech.

“Today, on an island in the middle of the mighty Mississippi, in our nation’s heartland, at a time when we must heal the heart of our democracy and renew our commitment to the common good, I stand before you as the granddaughter of an iron-ore miner, as the daughter of a teacher and a newspaperman, as the first woman elected to the United States Senate from the state of Minnesota, to announce my candidacy for president of the United States,” Klobuchar said.

She said she was running “for every worker, farmer, dreamer and builder.”

“I am running for every American,” she said. “I am running for you. I promise you this as your president: I will look you in the eye. I will tell you what I think. I will focus on getting things done. That’s what I’ve done my whole life. And no matter what, I’ll lead from the heart.”

That middle-American positioning came under threat last week as multiple news organizations published reports that quoted unnamed staff members as saying Klobuchar had been an exceptionally difficult boss.

She has the third-highest staff turnover rate in the Senate, with an annual turnover rate of 35 percent, according to data from 2001 to 2017 collected by LegiStorm, a nonpartisan congressional research company.

Asked about the reports after her speech, Klobuchar praised her staff for putting together the announcement event.

“Yes, I can be tough. And yes, I can push people. I know that,” she said. “But in the end, there are so many great stories of our staff that have been with me for years who have gone on to do incredible things. And I have, I’d say, high expectations for myself. I have high expectations for the people who work for me. And I have high expectations for this country. That’s what we need. We need someone who is focused on getting things done for our country.”

The 58-year-old former prosecutor has spent much of her career attempting to be a bipartisan coalition-builder, willing to appear on Fox News as well as MSNBC. She can point to election victories that illustrate an ability to win in liberal urban areas as well as conservative rural ones.

Klobuchar in 2006 became the first woman from Minnesota elected to the U.S. Senate, and has continued to win as that area of the country has become more Republican. She was easily reelected in 2012 and 2018, carrying conservative areas of the state that Trump won in 2016.

She can tout a record of productivity, with Medill News Service ranking her in 2016 as the senator who sponsored or co-sponsored the most bills that became law.

But she is relatively untested when it comes to raising the kind of money needed for a campaign, as well as appealing to minorities and winning over liberals. She has voted with Trump’s position nearly a third of the time, which is far more often than other Democratic senators running for president or considering a campaign, according to a tally maintained by FiveThirtyEight.

Klobuchar was born and raised in Minnesota. Her father, a sportswriter and columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, was an alcoholic, which put strains on the family that she recounted in her 2015 memoir, “The Senator Next Door: A Memoir from the Heartland.”

She discussed her family history when she questioned Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh during his hearing before the Senate last year, asking him if he had ever blacked out after drinking.

“I don’t know. Have you?” he shot back, in an exchange that drew widespread attention and for which he later apologized.

Klobuchar was the valedictorian of her public high school, and earned a degree in political science from Yale University while spending a summer working as a construction worker, pounding stakes into the ground for the Minnesota Highway Department. She earned a law degree from the University of Chicago, and in 1998 was elected as attorney of Hennepin County, Minnesota’s most populous.

Her status as a neighbor to the first state to cast ballots in 2020 may be beneficial, as Klobuchar suggested in her speech Sunday. She spoke of the meandering Mississippi River, on whose bank she stood, and noted that further south it passed through Iowa — a state, she said, where Minnesotans “go south for the winter.”

“At least I do,” she said.
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Klobuchar bets on competence
Washington Post

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) listens as she is introduced during a campaign stop in Goffstown, N.H., on Feb. 18. (Cheryl Senter/AP)

Opinion writer

Adhering to the adage that voters will always spot a phony, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is not trying to be someone else. She isn’t pretending to be the farthest left candidate, nor does she aim to win crowds over with soaring eloquence. She’s not going to out-fire-and-brimstone some of the other contenders. What she is doing is betting voters are sick of strife, dysfunction and hyper-partisanship.

Before a CNN town hall on Monday night, she readily acknowledged she isn’t running as the most progressive candidate. “You’ve gotta be able to be yourself and not just try to be someone different than you’ve been,” she said.

At the town hall, she stuck to that theme. “I think what we need right now in this country is less of this grandstanding and gridlock, less of the shutdowns, which we just saw, and the putdowns, and much more of moving our country forward,” she told the first questioner. She talked about ending the “chaos” that envelops this president.

She pledged to reenter the Paris climate agreement on her first day in office. Nevertheless, she doesn’t fall into the trap of signing onto the Green New Deal, which she rightly said, “This is put out there as an aspiration . . . something that we need to move toward.” For her, “compromise” is not a dirty word. Likewise, she said Medicare-for-all may be a long-term goal, but for now she aims to fix Obamacare and expand coverage.

On the emergency declaration, she delivered in an even tone a concise recitation of the facts and flat condemnation of his actions:

Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar responds to President Trump declaring a national emergency to secure funding for his long-promised border wall: “I believe this is unconstitutional, what he is doing. OK? It is wrong.” #KlobucharTownHall — CNN (@CNN) February 19, 2019

Even when talking emotionally about her father’s alcoholism and how that influenced her work as a prosecutor, she remained upbeat, telling the crowd she and her father “got through that together” and remain close. She said the message of redemption followed her as a prosecutor and into the Senate on her work on drug courts and addiction.

In some ways, she’d be an ideal moderate for a general election. She’s not going to scare ex-Republicans disgusted with Trump. In fact, she talked about the debt Trump has rung up, something self-described conservatives ignore, and refuses to buy into “free college for all.”

She would offer independents who hate acrimony a candidate who likes to point to concrete achievements, even small ones. For pundits and pols bemoaning the loss of “candidates in the middle” and dealmakers, she should be a breath of fresh air. In short, she’s going to appeal to the same voters who turned out in droves in 2018 to elect moderate Democrats (many women) in the suburbs.

The question for her is whether that will work in a Democratic primary, where voters like rhetorical fire and historically have fallen in love with inspirational candidates. Does the “energy is on the left” nostrum actually apply here? Part of the answer will depend on how crowded the left lane becomes (the candidates are piling up already) and whether she can use Iowa and New Hampshire as places where retail politics can overcome other candidates’ money and celebrity.

Klobuchar reminded us she has several skills.

For one, she is terrifically disciplined. She’s got her answer down on the “mean boss” question. “Am I a tough boss sometimes? Yes,” she told an audience member. “Have I pushed people too hard? Yes. But I have kept expectations for myself that are very high. I’ve asked my staff to meet those same expectations.” That’s her answer, and she delivered it confidently (as if she is the job interviewee who, asked her biggest flaw, says, “Gosh, I just work too hard”) without a trace of resentment.

Second, in defense of popular Democratic positions, she often makes conservative arguments. She opposes taking money from the military to pay for the wall because “we should be standing up for the troops.” She sounds like the constitutional conservative that Republicans can no longer be when she says emergency powers should be used, well, for emergencies. That, once more, is an advantage in a general election.

Third, she uses few words to great effect (as she did in the Brett M. Kavanaugh hearings) and, despite her “Minnesota nice” demeanor, can land a zinger now and then. Her succinct, direct speech pattern certainly differentiates her from some long-winded candidates who seem to compete to use the most words to convey a simple point.

At bottom, she really does come across as the kind of Midwestern neighbor you’d trust to give you a good referral for a handyman or to keep an eye on your house when you’re away. (Instead of an impassioned speech about restoring faith in democracy, she said matter-of-factly, “Well, I think the first thing is to stop governing by tweet. Okay? … You see this news on TV, you don’t want your kids to see it.”)

Voters tired of an incumbent president often look for a challenger least like the incumbent. In Klobuchar, voters would have an opportunity to replace incompetence with no-nonsense efficiency, blather with brevity, lies with directness and drama with practicality. There certainly is a need felt by emotionally exhausted voters to return to “normal.” Right now, to many voters, “normal” sounds like nirvana.
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Sen. Amy Klobuchar enters presidential race
Minneapolis (CNN) Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced her presidential bid at a snowy, freezing outdoor event on Sunday, vaulting the three-term senator from Minnesota into the crowded field of Democrats angling to take on President Donald Trump in 2020 .

Klobuchar, with snow piling up around her and blanketing the thousands of people before her, cast herself as the product of working-class roots who can win bipartisan support and help Democrats win back the Midwestern cities and towns that drifted toward President Donald Trump in 2016. Throughout her speech , she pledged to take on issues like money in politics, climate change and election reform, and leaned heavily into her Minnesota roots.

"On an island in the middle of the mighty Mississippi, in our nation's heartland, at a time when we must heal the heart of our democracy and renew our commitment to the common good, I stand before you as the granddaughter of an iron ore miner, the daughter of a teacher and a newspaperman, the first woman elected to the United States Senate from the state of Minnesota, to announce my candidacy for president of the United States," Klobuchar said.

The snowstorm featured heavily throughout Klobuchar's announcement.

"I'm asking you to join us on this campaign. It's a homegrown one," she said. "I don't have a political machine. I don't come from money. But what I do have is this: I have grit."

She added: "I have all of you who are willing to come out in the middle of the winter, all of you who took the time to watch us today from home, all of you who are willing to stand up and say people matter."

The senator also used the snow and freezing temperature to set herself apart from a crowded field of Democrats running in 2020.

Asked by CNN's Suzanne Malveaux after the speech what set her apart from others running, Klobuchar looked around, "What makes me unique is I did this announcement speech in the middle of a blizzard and I think we need people with grit -- I have that grit."

And when another reporter asked whether she was tough enough to take on Trump, she laughed and sad, "I am tough enough to take on Donald Trump. I would have liked to seen him sitting here in the snow for an hour giving this speech."

In her speech, Klobuchar also took a swipe at officials in Washington, promising that her honesty will set her apart from them.

"I promise you this: As your president, I will look you in the eye. I will tell you what I think. I will focus on getting things done. That's what I've done my whole life. And no matter what, I'll lead from the heart," she said.

The senator also went after Trump without mentioning him by name, criticizing the President's foreign policy and use of Twitter.

"We need to stand strong — and consistently — with our allies. We need to be clear in our purpose. We must respect our front line troops, diplomats and intelligence officers ... who are out there every day risking their lives for us ... they deserve better than foreign policy by tweet," she said.

It was clear early in Klobuchar's remarks that her campaign will be centered on making inroads in the Midwest, an area of the country that has been wooed by Trump in recent years. Minneapolis and the nearby Mississippi River, which rolled slowly down the hill from where Klobuchar spoke, played a central role in the senator's pitch.

"The Mississippi River, all our rivers connect us, to one another. To our shared story," she said. "For that is how this country was founded, with patriots who saw more that united them than divided them."

The setting also provided a clear example of how the senator hopes to run for president as a Minnesotan and Midwesterner.

Klobuchar's uncovered head was covered in light snow by the end of her speech and snowflakes blanketed everything in front of her, from her eyelashes to the microphone she used to the pages of her speech that were enclosed in plastic covers.

Ahead of the event, snow blowers cleared the stage multiple times and volunteers were frantically working to shovel walkways for people. The skyline of Minneapolis was barely visible behind the stage and the banks of the freezing Mississippi River were covered in snow.

Klobuchar's team planned for the event by ordering 100 gallons of hot cocoa and 100 gallons of apple cider. Volunteers handed out small American flags and packs of Little Hotties hand warmers as people entered the park. A small covered area to the side of the event had a roaring fire and a number of event attendees either cross-country skied or snow-shoed to the speech.

Most attendees were unfazed by the weather -- and gave Klobuchar credit for announcing outside in February.

"It just truly represents Minnesota," said Renee Anderson, a 22-year old from Bloomington. "If somebody doesn't want to come to an event that is outside in Minnesota, do they really live here? Are they really excited?"

Scott Herzog, a 50-year-old manufacturer from West St. Paul, said the same as he stood in front of the stage two hours before the event started: "This is true Minnesota: Snow and Amy Klobuchar."

And Lauren Noyes, who came to the event with her husband, David, and their twins Gabriel and Kiera, said the fact that Klobuchar kept the event on showed "grit."

"She's tough! She is showing her grit," she said as her 9-month-old twins sat in sleds at her feet. "This tells me we are made from tough stuff."

Klobuchar will follow her event in Minnesota with a trip to Iowa and Wisconsin next weekend and then another trip to Iowa on February 21, where she will speak at the Ankeny Area Democrats Winter Banquet and Fundraiser.

Klobuchar's presidential aspirations have not been a secret to many in her home state and around Washington.

"She's going to do it," Minnesotan and former Vice President Walter Mondale told KFGO on Thursday. "I'm very positive that she will run and announce on Sunday. I think she's got a real shot here."

And Klobuchar told reporters in early January that she was "getting close to a decision" about running for president in 2020.

"I'm continuing to talk to people about it," she said.

People close to Klobuchar told CNN she plans to run as a deal maker who is able to get things done when things need to get done. She will cast herself throughout the campaign as the granddaughter of rural America, someone whose life was helped by a grandfather who saved money in a coffee can to send her father, who would go on to become a journalist, to college.

Klobuchar's team believes there is an opening in the Democratic primary for someone who is able to relate to voters in Iowa because of her local ties, but is also able to talk to Democrats eager to beat Trump in 2020 as well as win back Trump voters.

That is where Democrats believe Klobuchar's electoral record will factor in: The senator has consistently overperformed against other Democrats in Minnesota, winning her three terms in office by an average of 26 percentage points.

"All Amy Klobuchar does is win," said Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz when he introduced Klobuchar.

Klobuchar won re-election in 2018 with 60% of the vote. She visited all 87 Minnesota counties during the campaign, including 42 that went for Trump in 2016. This win helped burnish Klobuchar's credibility with rural and lean-Republican voters and will likely be the backbone of her campaign.

"She could surprise pundits here," said Matt Paul, Hillary Clinton's Iowa state director during the 2016 caucus. "She's a neighbor, has long been working to elect Democrats in Iowa and established herself as a Democrat who gets things done."

Klobuchar has a liberal voting record but is not considered as liberal as other candidates running for president or considering a 2020 run. Klobuchar does not support abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' Medicare-for-all bill -- instead pushing to lower the age when people are allowed to buy into the government health care program.

Some Democrats question whether her more moderate voting record -- she supported, for example, Trump's nominations of Wilbur Ross, Mike Pompeo and John Kelly and a host of other nominees -- is left enough to succeed in a Democratic primary. According to FiveThirtyEight's congressional vote tracker, Klobuchar voted with Trump's interests 31% of the time since he took office.

Klobuchar has also been dogged in the days leading up to her campaign launch by a series of headlines about how she treats her staff poorly and creates a hostile work environment.

In a not-so-subtle nod to those stories, one of the first things Klobuchar did from the stage was thank her staff for putting on the event.

And when asked about the stories after the event, the senator admitted that she can be tough on people.

"Yes, I can be tough. And yes, I can push people. I know that." she said. "But in the end, there are so many great stories of our staff that have been with me for years who have gone on to do incredible things. I have high expectations for myself. I have high expectations for the people who work for me, but I have high expectations of this country. And that is what we need."

Born in Plymouth, Minnesota, Klobuchar returned to her home state after attending Yale University and getting her law degree at the University of Chicago. She began her career in private practice before being elected narrowly as Hennepin County attorney in 1998. She was re-elected with no competition in 2002.
Amy Klobuchar's novel pitch for the Democratic nomination: Pragmatism
Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN) Sen. Amy Klobuchar seems willing to say one word that often goes unspoken by presidential candidates eager to win over voters: No.

At a CNN town hall with voters here on Monday night, the Minnesota Democrat offered few sugar-coated promises on causes that have become popular among the party's progressive base. Instead, she gave detail-laden answers about why there are no easy fixes to these challenges, despite what they might hear from other Democrats.

With her presidential campaign only eight days old, Klobuchar is testing the balance between pragmatism and purity, while resisting the urge to pander to the party's progressive wing.

Her approach on stage at St. Anselm College, which echoes early conversations she is having with voters in New Hampshire and Iowa, offers a glimpse into how she hopes to differentiate herself from a large and still-growing field of 2020 Democratic hopefuls. Even as she touts her progressive record, she is seeking to carve out a more moderate lane, while emphasizing her ability to accomplish the goals she lays out.

The winds of the Democratic presidential primary are blowing fiercely from the left, but on Monday night she showed few signs of bending.

Read More
Amy Klobuchar joins 2020 Democratic field, promising to win back Midwest voters from Trump in snowy speech
Fox News
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., became the latest Democrat to throw her hat in the ring for the 2020 presidential race – announcing on Sunday her candidacy during a speech in Minneapolis’ frigid and snowy Boom Island Park.

Klobuchar, a moderate, Midwestern Democrat who has served in the Senate since 2007, highlighted in speech her ability to work across the aisle with Republicans and her "grit" as Democrats try to win back voters in a region that supported then-candidate Donald Trump in the 2016 race.

"We worked across the aisle to get the federal funding and we rebuilt that I-35W bridge — in just over a year," Klobuchar said in her speech with the Interstate 35 bridge over the Mississippi River as her backdrop. "That's community. That's a shared story. That's ordinary people doing extraordinary things," she said in her prepared remarks.

She added: "But that sense of community is fracturing across our nation right now, worn down by the petty and vicious nature of our politics. We are all tired of the shutdowns and the putdowns, of the gridlock and the grandstanding. Today on this snowy island, we say enough is enough. Our nation must be governed not from chaos but from opportunity. Not by wallowing over what's wrong, but my marching inexorably toward what's right."

The I-35W Mississippi River bridge collapsed in August 2007, killing 13 people.


The Minnesota Democrat becomes the eighth major candidate – and the fifth Democratic senator - to announce a bid for president or the formation of an exploratory committee. Klobuchar’s announcement came a day after Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., officially launched her presidential campaign.

"I don’t have a lot of money," she said on Sunday. "I have grit. I have family. I have friends, and I have you."

Klobuchar, 58, is hoping to belay her success in her home state – she easily won a third term last year and has enjoyed broad support from voters in urban, suburban and rural areas, including in dozens of counties Trump won in 2016 – and her reputation as a straight-shooting pragmatist who gets legislation passed onto the national stage. Klobuchar already is scheduled to speak Feb. 21 in Iowa, the site of the nation's first caucuses on the nominating calendar.

Her campaign, however, ran into a speed bump even before she made her presidential announcement when HuffPost reported this week that Klobuchar had such a bad reputation over her treatment of staff that a number of potential staffers withdrew from consideration to manage her campaign because of it.

Some former staffers described Klobuchar as “habitually demeaning and prone to bursts of cruelty,” although others said that while working for Klobuchar was challenging, it was also rewarding. Some pushed back and questioned whether those making the accusations “were falling for sexist stereotypes about female leaders with high standards.”

Klobuchar’s team issued a lengthy statement saying she has been “proud” of her staff.


Klobuchar's focus in recent months has included prescription drug prices, a new farm bill and election security. She supported the "Green New Deal," a Democratic plan proposed this past week to combat climate change and create thousands of jobs in renewable energy.

However, her legislative record has drawn criticism from both the GOP and some fellow Democrats. Some Republicans said Klobuchar has been able to get things done by pushing smaller issues. Some progressives said she'd lacked the kind of fire and bold ideas needed to bring significant change and excite voters.

Klobuchar, a lawyer and the former prosecutor in Minnesota's largest county, raised her national profile during a Senate Judiciary Committee last fall for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexually assaulting a woman when they were both in high school.

When Klobuchar asked Kavanaugh whether he ever had had so much to drink that he didn't remember what happened, he turned the question around. He asked Klobuchar, "Have you?"

Unruffled, Klobuchar continued as Kavanaugh asked again. Kavanaugh later apologized to Klobuchar, whose father is an alcoholic.

"When you have a parent who's an alcoholic, you're pretty careful about drinking," she said. "I was truly trying to get to the bottom of the facts and the evidence."


While Klobuchar has positioned herself as the only Democratic candidate able to win back other Midwestern states such as Michigan and Wisconsin, which were reliably Democratic in presidential races for decades until Trump's victory over Hillary Clinton, that could change as more candidates enter the fold.

Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio has been visiting early-voting states and is rumored to be considering a run and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, established an exploratory committee last month. There is also widespread speculation that former Vice President Joe Biden could enter the field.

"She starts out, perhaps, with a better understanding of Midwestern voters, but I think she faces the same hurdles every one of them face, which is: Are Iowans going to find them either the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump or the candidate that most aligns with their ideologies and issues?" John Norris, a longtime Iowa-based Democratic strategist, told The Associated Press. "I don't know that coming from Minnesota gives her any advantage with Iowans."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Klobuchar-10-Feb-19-Fox News-3f2cc
Klobuchar downplays Green New Deal as 'aspirational,' addresses binder-tossing report
Fox News
Democratic Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who launched her presidential bid at a snow-covered address in Minneapolis on Sunday, told Fox News on Tuesday that the "Green New Deal" proposal is merely "aspirational" and that she would likely oppose specific elements of the plan if they came up for a vote.

Klobuchar's comments made her one of the only 2020 Democratic presidential contenders to openly cast doubt on the Green New Deal's viability. Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., all co-sponosored the Green New Deal resolution.

"The Green New Deal? I see it as aspirational. I see it as a jump-start," Klobuchair said on "Special Report with Bret Baier." "So I would vote yes [on the Green New Deal resolution], but I would also -- if it got down to the nitty-gritty of an actual legislation, as opposed to, 'Oh, here's some goals we have' -- uh, that would be different for me."

Separately, Klobuchar responded to multiple reports that she mistreated staffers in her Capitol Hill office by acknowledging that she has been a "tough boss" -- and did not flat-out deny a report she had thrown a binder at one point.

According to a Buzzfeed News report, "one aide was accidentally hit with a flying binder, according to someone who saw it happen, though the staffer said the senator did not intend to hit anyone with the binder when she threw it."

The outlet also cited numerous staffers claiming Klobuchar routinely sent late-night emails and berated her subordinates over minor details and missteps. Some critics have charged that the insinuations in the reports are sexist against women in managerial positions.

"I don't know, it's all anonymous. I will say that I'm proud of our staff," Klobuchar said. "And yes, I can be a tough boss, and push people -- that's obvious. But that's because I have high expectations of myself, I have high expectations of those who work for me, and I have a high expectation for our country. My chief of staff has worked for me for six years, my state director for seven years, my campaign manager for 14 years."


Asked specifically whether she had thrown a binder at someone, Klobuchar responded: "If you look at that story, I think you'll see it said something about me throwing a binder down -- not at somebody," Klobuchar said. "I just know that I should be judged, and I will take responsibility for, everything that happens on this campaign."

The Minnesota Democrat, who has taken some moderate positions on Capitol Hill, distanced herself from several elements of the Green New Deal proposed by New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, when asked in rapid-fire succession for her thoughts by host Bret Baier.

A document sent by Ocasio-Cortez's office to NPR last week stated, "We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast."

A FAQ and background materials posted -- and later removed -- from Ocasio-Cortez's website stated that the Green New Deal would provide "economic security for all who are unable or unwilling to work."

On air travel, Klobuchar responded: "I am not for reducing air travel."


On achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in ten years: "I don't think that is going to happen in the next few years, but you can imagine, by new technology -- and by the way, that includes nuclear and everything else -- that we can get to a better place."

"I see it as aspirational." — Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, on the Green New Deal

On providing economic security to those unwilling to work: "Um, don't agree with the 'unwilling to work.'"

"I am a Democrat and not a socialist. I actually worked in the private sector for 14 years, and I believe in capitalism," Klobuchar said, adding that she believed consumer protection laws and antitrust laws were still necessary. "Our country was founded on a strong economic system. And I believe in competition and capitalism."

The official Green New Deal resolution submitted to Congress did contain the goal of promising a job to "all people of the United States" -- but did not include the language of those "unwilling to work."

"I think we should put in better building standards," Klobuchar said, in response to the Green New Deal resolution's goal of upgrading all buildings in the U.S. to make them more environmentally friendly. "I would like to see, on day one, to get back into the international climate change agreement. Uh, we are the only country not in it. I would like to see us put in place those clean-power rules again."

The Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accords in June 2017. The U.S. has since cut carbon emissions more than several countries that criticized the U.S.' departure from the agreement.

Meanwhile, labor unions -- a key liberal voting bloc -- this week sounded notes of caution on the Green New Deal.


Some other top Democratic politicians also have sought to pump the brakes on the Green New Deal. For example, Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, appeared unimpressed when asked about the plan's aspirations to replace planes with high-speed rail.

"That would be pretty hard for Hawaii,” she laughed.

And, last Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared to dismiss the plan: “It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive,” Pelosi told Politico. “The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?”

Separately, Klobuchar suggested that Democrats and Republicans working on a compromise deal to avert another federal government shutdown should find a way to keep nonviolent offenders in the country. Congressional negotiators revealed Monday evening that they've reached "an agreement in principle" on border security funding that includes more than $1.3 billion for physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Talks nearly collapsed over the weekend after Democrats pushed to reduce funding for detention beds to curb what they've called unnecessarily harsh enforcement by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). A proposal to cap at 16,500 the number of detainees caught in areas away from the border — a limit Democrats said was aimed at preventing ICE overreach — ran into its own Republican wall.

Although Klobuchar said she had not yet reviewed the specifics of that tentative deal, she added that she broadly supported the idea of limiting enforcement actions against nonviolent illegal immigrants, and opposed a lengthy border wall.

"I would say you look at people who have committed crimes -- serious crimes, and that should be, of course, your number-one enforcement priority. My problem is, they've been going after, say, professors in Minnesota" who initially "came in undocumented" but have lived in the U.S. for "a number of years."

"What I don't like about what's going on is that they seem to be targeting certain people that have maybe even tried to apply for citizenship and done the right thing," Klobuchar said. "So, the way you solve this is what we've done in the Senate, with bipartisan immigration reform."

Klobuchar called drug smuggling a "major problem," but said they typically come in through ports of entry, citing Homeland Security statistics showing that narcotics are typically seized where its agents have the most presence.

Asked whether she supports legislation that requires employers to prioritize hiring qualified American workers first, prior to hiring a guest worker in the country on a visa, Klobuchair said the idea made sense as part of larger reforms.

"I mean, I like that part of what we have in place right now, and I think we could strengthen it with our H-1B visas and some of the others," Klobuchar said. The H-1B visa permits employers to temporarily hire foreign workers in certain occupations.


The Minnesota Democrat also took aim at freshman Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, who faced a bipartisan wave of criticism this week, including a rebuke from House Democratic leadership, for weekend tweets in which she suggested the U.S. relationship with Israel was “all about the Benjamins, baby.”

"There is just no room for those kinds of words," Klobuchar said. "I think Israel is a beacon of democracy, and I've been a strong supporter of Israel, and that will never change."

Fox News' Bret Baier contributed to this report.
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Amy Klobuchar Announces 2020 Presidential Run
The Huffington Post
MINNEAPOLIS — Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) announced Sunday that she will seek the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, entering an already crowded field of candidates looking to challenge President Donald Trump.

“I stand before you as the granddaughter of an iron ore miner, the daughter of a teacher and a newspaperman, the first woman elected to the United States Senate from the state of Minnesota, to announce my candidacy for president of the United States,” Klobuchar said during a snowy rally in Minneapolis.

Klobuchar is one of several Democratic senators running, and among several women in the field, already considered the most diverse pool in history. She said she will campaign at a time when the country is worn down by the “petty and vicious” nature of U.S. politics.

“We are all tired of the shutdowns and the putdowns, the gridlock and the grandstanding,” she added. “Our nation must be governed not from chaos but from opportunity. Not by wallowing over what’s wrong, but by marching inexorably toward what’s right.”

Let’s join together, as one nation, indivisible, under God, and pursue the good. — Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) February 10, 2019

First elected in 2006 after serving as a county prosecutor, the three-term Minnesota senator has been a formidable Trump critic, particularly in questioning the president’s appointees during Senate confirmation hearings, such as then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

As the top Democrat on the Senate Rules Committee, she helped spearhead Capitol Hill lawmakers’ overhaul of their arcane system of addressing sexual misconduct claims, catalyzed by the Me Too movement. Among several lawmakers who resigned or retired after sexual misconduct allegations was Klobuchar’s colleague, then-Minnesota Sen. Al Franken (D).

In addition to serving as a foil to Trump, Klobuchar hopes to capitalize on her Midwestern roots as an asset, given how Trump’s 2016 victory hinged on narrow victories in nearby states like Michigan and Wisconsin.

“She’s the woman for the job,” said Minneapolis resident Brenda Kivi, who attended Sunday’s rally with her husband, Bruce. “She’s got a lot of heart and compassion for others. There’s too much divisiveness right now; we need someone to bring people together.”

ASSOCIATED PRESS Snow falls Sunday as rallygoers arrive at Boom Island Park in Minneapolis for Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar's announcement that she plans to run for president.

Despite her personable public image, Klobuchar has a reputation for mistreating her staff, leading to high staff turnover rates in her Capitol Hill office, and difficulties securing people to helm her potential 2020 campaign, as HuffPost reported earlier this month.

Klobuchar on Sunday acknowledged the reports for the first time publicly, telling reporters that she “can be tough.”

“Yes, I can push people,” she said. “I have high expectations for myself, I have high expectations for the people that work for me, but I have high expectations for this country. ... In the end there are so many great stories of our staff that have been with me for years.”

In a roughly 25-minute speech Sunday in Minneapolis’ Boom Island Park, Klobuchar outlined some of the progressive issues that will make up the centerpiece of her 2020 campaign, including campaign finance reform, climate change, universal health care and tax reform.

“As your president, I will look you in the eye. I will tell you what I think. I will focus on getting things done. That’s what I’ve done my whole life,” she said. “And no matter what, I’ll lead from the heart.”

In January, Klobuchar said that she was nearing a decision about a 2020 bid, consulting with family, friends and advisers.

“I do think with a field this big, you don’t have the luxury of waiting for six months or something like that,” she told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “There’ll be raising money issues, you have issues of hiring people and starting an organization. So all of those things would dictate that you have to make a decision sooner rather than later.”

Watch Klobuchar’s entire 2020 announcement below.
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Amy Klobuchar Calls Climate Change A ‘Day One’ Priority In Presidential Town Hall
The Huffington Post
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) declared Monday that if elected president in 2020 she would immediately move to reinstate federal protections for the environment and work to tackle climate change in her first 100 days.

“For too long we’ve just been admiring the problem. We’ve been saying, ‘Oh, it’s happening,’” Klobuchar said during a CNN town hall. “But what are you going to do about it? I will, on the first day as president, sign us back into the international climate change agreement. That is on day one.”

The Democratic candidate spoke about a range of topics with host Don Lemon in New Hampshire, in the third such event held by the network in recent weeks. Her pledge to reenter the Paris Agreement would be a dramatic departure from the policies of President Donald Trump, who withdrew the U.S. from the international pact in 2017, calling it “draconian.”

Klobuchar continued to lay out sweeping policy proposals, including the reintroduction of a federal Clean Power Plan, which was introduced under former President Obama but scuttled under Trump, and said she would work to increase gas mileage standards. The Trump administration has proposed gutting fuel economy rules in what’s been lambasted as a “giant giveaway” to Big Oil and automakers.

Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar on whether the Green New Deal is achievable: "I think we can get close ... This is put out there as an aspiration in that something that we need to move towards." #KlobucharTownHall — CNN (@CNN) February 19, 2019

Klobuchar did express some caution about the Green New Deal, a dramatic proposal spearheaded by some Democrats to immediately address climate change and ultimately move toward carbon neutrality by the 2030s. The lawmaker said the move was “aspirational” at best, but called it an important foundation for “something that we need to move towards.”

“I think we can get close. I don’t think we are going to get rid of entire industries in the U.S.,” Klobuchar said. “I think that would be very difficult to do. We have tried so many things, and they just stuck in their tracks.”

The senator announced her bid earlier this month during a snow-covered rally in Minneapolis, hoping to tout her Midwestern roots and no-nonsense attitude to appeal to voters.

“As your president, I will look you in the eye. I will tell you what I think. I will focus on getting things done,” she said at her launch event. “That’s what I’ve done my whole life. And no matter what, I’ll lead from the heart.”

She joined an already crowded field on the left. Fellow Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have both launched their campaigns, as have Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and John Delaney (D-Md.), former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Other notable lawmakers are still mulling their bids, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden (D).

Only Harris and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, a potential independent candidate who has not yet announced an official run, have had a CNN town hall so far.

Klobuchar also addressed reports first made by HuffPost that she had mistreated staff and had trouble hiring people to work on her presidential campaign.
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Amy Klobuchar Enters 2020 Presidential Race
New York Times
MINNEAPOLIS — Amy Klobuchar, the third-term Minnesota senator, entered the race for the Democratic presidential nomination on Sunday, hopeful that her moderate politics, Midwestern roots and carefully cultivated history of bipartisanship can appeal to a broad swath of voters in contentious times.

On a snow-covered stage in Minneapolis along the banks of the Mississippi River, with the temperature barely above single digits, Ms. Klobuchar said that as president she would “focus on getting things done” and reverse some of President Trump’s signature policies. On her first day in office, she said, the United States would rejoin the Paris climate agreement.

“For too long, leaders in Washington have sat on the sidelines while others try to figure out what to do about our changing economy and its impact on our lives, what to do about the disruptive nature of new technologies, income inequality, the political and geographic divides, the changing climate, the tumult in our world,” she said.

“Let’s stop seeing those obstacles as obstacles on our path,” she continued. “Let’s see those obstacles as our path.”

Ms. Klobuchar, 58, is the fifth woman currently serving in Congress to announce her candidacy, joining a crowded and diverse field of Democratic presidential hopefuls. With most of the top-tier candidates hailing from coastal states, Ms. Klobuchar believes her low-key brand of “Minnesota nice” politics could make her a compelling candidate, particularly to the Iowa voters who cast the first primary votes and in states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania that swung the 2016 election to President Trump.

“She’s not afraid to just be herself,” said Shirley Friberg, 81, of suburban Minneapolis, who clutched a cup of hot cocoa before the event and offered a scarf to a frozen stranger. “And I think in small towns, that’s a big thing.”

[Check out the Democratic field with our candidate tracker.]

A politician who prides herself on being able to “disagree without being disagreeable,” Ms. Klobuchar coasted to victory in November, beating her Republican opponent with 60 percent of the vote in a state that Mr. Trump nearly won in 2016.

Despite Ms. Klobuchar’s friendly public persona, she’s said to be a difficult boss. A survey of senators by the website LegiStorm from 2001 to 2016 found that her office had the highest turnover in the Senate. “I have high expectations,” she told The New York Times last year. A recent HuffPost article portrayed her as a demanding manager who lost some potential 2020 campaign staff members because of her reputation.

Republicans latched onto that criticism on Sunday, dismissing her candidacy as one of limited appeal.

“She has virtually no grass-roots backing and even her own staff is complaining that she’s ‘intolerably cruel,’” Michael Ahrens, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said in a statement.

Her popularity at home, however, was hard to dispute. Despite the distinctly Minnesota weather, supporters turned out by the thousands on Sunday, cramming into a riverfront park wearing snow pants, ski goggles and parkas. Some arrived on cross-country skis or brought dogs wearing coats.

Asha Harris, 37, of Minneapolis, said the criticisms of the senator’s management style were plainly sexist.

“When a woman is demanding and wants something and wants people to perform, it’s seen as difficult,” said Ms. Harris, who was still deciding which Democratic candidate to support. “I’ve had a lot of demanding bosses, male bosses, in my life, and nothing was said of them. They were told they were great leaders.”

As snow accumulated on her coat and microphone, Ms. Klobuchar told the crowd that she would focus on reforming election laws, including a plan to automatically register people to vote when they turned 18. She also pledged to expand laws protecting online privacy.

Her announcement caught the attention of Mr. Trump, who said on Twitter on Sunday afternoon: “Amy Klobuchar announced that she is running for president, talking proudly of fighting global warming while standing in a virtual blizzard of snow, ice and freezing temperatures. Bad timing.”

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A spotlight on the people reshaping our politics. A conversation with voters across the country. And a guiding hand through the endless news cycle, telling you what you really need to know.

Well, it happened again. Amy Klobuchar announced that she is running for President, talking proudly of fighting global warming while standing in a virtual blizzard of snow, ice and freezing temperatures. Bad timing. By the end of her speech she looked like a Snowman(woman)!

5:04 PM - Feb 10, 2019
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While her approach may appeal to centrists and moderate Republicans in her home state, her breaks with liberal orthodoxy risk alienating the ascendant progressive wing of her party. Ms. Klobuchar backs a less expansive college affordability proposal, has not embraced Senator Bernie Sanders’s “Medicare for all” legislation and has not joined the movement to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Ms. Klobuchar with her husband John Bessler, left, and her daughter Abigail.CreditJenn Ackerman for The New York Times
Facing a relatively safe re-election race, Ms. Klobuchar spent most of the midterms promoting other Democrats running for office in her home state. She has made numerous visits to Iowa during her 12 years in office, most recently to push a message of “heartland economics” to rural residents and farmers, arguing that Democrats cannot afford to forget about the middle of the country.

“Minnesota matters, Wisconsin matters, Nebraska matters, Ohio matters — and, yes, Iowa matters,” she told the Iowa Farmers Union in December.

Ms. Klobuchar grew up in the Minneapolis suburbs as the daughter of a schoolteacher and a columnist for The Minneapolis Star Tribune. After graduating from Yale and the University of Chicago Law School, she returned to Minnesota to work as a corporate lawyer. The birth of her daughter, who was born with a condition that required her to remain in the hospital, plunged her into political activism. Ms. Klobuchar pushed for legislation that would guarantee new mothers a 48-hour hospital stay, a proposal that eventually became federal law. She was elected prosecutor for the state’s most populous county in 1998 and became the first elected female senator from her state in 2006.

In the Senate, Ms. Klobuchar has cultivated a worker-bee persona, not leading on divisive issues like immigration and focusing instead on curbing the cost of prescription drugs, addressing sexual harassment and protecting online privacy. A 2016 analysis found that she had passed the most laws of anyone in the Senate.

Ms. Klobuchar rose to national prominence during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, when she pressed the nominee on whether he had blacked out drinking. “Have you?” he shot back, to which she calmly replied, “I have no drinking problem, Judge.”

“When I turned on the TV and watched that hearing, I was so damn proud she was our senator,” said Gov. Tim Walz, one of several Minnesota officials who spoke at Ms. Klobuchar’s event.

After she took the stage to chants of “Amy,” Ms. Klobuchar reminisced about her family ties to northern Minnesota’s mining-centric Iron Range. The region, once a Democratic stronghold, has remained supportive of Ms. Klobuchar even as Mr. Trump and other Republicans have made inroads.

“I always liked Amy,” said Bob Vlaisavljevich, the Republican mayor of Eveleth, Minn., an Iron Range town with 3,700 residents, who said he voted for Ms. Klobuchar last year and posed for photos with her in front of the world’s largest free-standing hockey stick. “She’s just more reasonable, more accessible, more sympathetic to where we’re coming from on things.”

Whether that bipartisan appeal would come through in a presidential election remains uncertain. If there were a Klobuchar-Trump matchup in 2020, Mr. Vlaisavljevich said he would probably lean toward the president.
Klobuchar-10-Feb-19-New York Times-ce178
Amy Klobuchar’s Path
New York Times
Minnesota’s first congressional district stretches across the state’s entire southern border. The district is mostly rural and also includes the city of Rochester, home to the Mayo Clinic. Last year, it was one of only three House districts in the entire country that flipped from Democratic to Republican.

But Amy Klobuchar — Minnesota’s senior senator, running for re-election — won that region in her own race last year, comfortably. She ran up big margins around Rochester and held her own in many rural areas.

She did it with a folksy, populist style and an emphasis on pocketbook issues like health care costs. As Lawrence Jacobs of the University of Minnesota told me, while I was reporting my column for today, “She’s a progressive who’s found a way to connect with a wide range of people Democrats often struggle to reach.”

Klobuchar announced her presidential campaign yesterday at a snowy rally in Minnesota. She is not a front-runner. As of now, I’d reserve that category for Kamala Harris and, if he runs, Joe Biden. But Klobuchar is part of a strong next tier that includes Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and a few others. Any of them could win the nomination.

I think Klobuchar and Sherrod Brown — the Ohio senator who may run — are arguably the strongest general-election candidates in the field, and my column explains why. If nothing else, the other candidates should study why the two of them have been so successful winning over swing voters.

A geography quiz

I mentioned above that Minnesota’s first congressional district runs along the state’s southern state. Do you know what state is on the other side of that border?


Klobuchar’s path to winning the nomination almost certainly runs through Iowa, the site of the first nomination contest, early next year. She’s already fairly well known there, because Minnesota television ads spill over into Iowa, as Jacobs notes. If she can do well in Iowa, she may jump into the race’s top tier and be able to consolidate the support of candidates who drop out or fade after Iowa.

Nate Silver, in FiveThirtyEight, lays out the full scenario for Klobuchar.

You can also read and watch her announcement speech.

I’ve previously mentioned her interest in antitrust issues.

HuffPost and BuzzFeed published critical stories last week, quoting former staff members who say Klobuchar has a bad temper. I found some of the anecdotes upsetting. If Klobuchar really is a poor manager, I expect that she will struggle to run a strong primary campaign, which is more complex than running a Senate office. But I also know that a good number of presidents have had bad tempers — and I can’t think of a male candidate who has ever gotten so much early attention for it. The standards for female candidates really are different.

For a fuller picture of Klobuchar, Maya Rao of The Star Tribune (in Minneapolis) has profiled her, as have Josephine Marcotty of The Star Tribune and Julia Felsenthal of Vogue. Jeffrey Goldberg, the editor of The Atlantic, interviewed her on a podcast last year.
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Crime lab scandal rocked Kamala Harris’s term as San Francisco district attorney
Washington Post

Kamala Harris, then San Francisco’s district attorney, fields questions on April 23, 2010, in the ongoing investigation of evidence tampering in the city's crime lab. A crime technician in the lab was accused of skimming cocaine evidence from the lab, compromising hundreds of cases. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

Kamala D. Harris was this city’s top prosecutor, running to become California’s elected attorney general, when a scandal stunned her office and threatened to upend her campaign.

One of Harris’s top deputies had emailed a colleague that a crime lab technician had become “increasingly UNDEPENDABLE for testimony.” Weeks later, the technician allegedly took home cocaine from the lab, possibly tainting evidence and raising concerns about hundreds of cases.

Neither Harris nor the prosecutors working for her had informed defense attorneys of the problems — despite rules requiring such disclosure. Harris “failed to disclose information that clearly should have been disclosed,” Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo wrote in a scathing decision in May 2010.

At first, Harris fought back. She blamed the police for failing to inform defense lawyers. She estimated that only about 20 cases initially would be affected. And her office accused the judge of bias because Massullo’s husband was a defense lawyer.

But the turmoil increased. With the local criminal-justice system at risk of devolving into chaos, Harris took the extraordinary step of dismissing about 1,000 drug-related cases, including many in which convictions had been obtained and sentences were being served.

Now this episode, which undercut Harris’s image as a polished leader and raised questions about her management style, has taken on new relevance as the senator seeks the Democratic nomination for the presidency. Casting herself as a “progressive prosecutor” who was concerned for the rights of defendants, Harris has highlighted her seven-year tenure as San Francisco’s top law enforcement official as evidence of how she balanced her roles.

Harris’s opponent in the Democratic primary for attorney general, former Facebook general counsel Chris Kelly, said at the time that the ruling showed Harris had “systematically violated defendants’ civil and constitutional rights” because her office hid “damaging information about a police drug lab technician and was indifferent to demands that it account for its failings.” Kelly declined to comment.

A review of the case, based on court records and interviews with key players, presents a portrait of Harris scrambling to manage a crisis that her staff saw coming but for which she was unprepared. It also shows how Harris, after six years as district attorney, had failed to put in place written guidelines for ensuring that defendants were informed about potentially tainted evidence and testimony that could lead to unfair convictions.

Harris, in an interview with The Washington Post, stressed that the crime lab was run by the police. But she took responsibility for the failings, including that she had not developed a written policy so that her office would notify defendants about problems with witnesses and evidence, as required by law.

“No excuses,” Harris said, sitting in a small, windowless office near the U.S. Capitol. “The buck stops with me.”

San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi in his office in San Francisco on Aug. 22, 2018. (Mason Trinca/for The Washington Post)

One of the most important players in the case was Jeff Adachi, the city’s elected public defender, who was at odds with the way Harris handled the scandal.

“When all that happened, I think she was slow to respond,” Adachi said, while not blaming Harris directly. Some of the attorneys in Harris’s office “knew it was a problem and never informed us, the defense, that there was a problem with this.”

Adachi spoke at his office in an hour-long interview with The Post nine days before he died on Feb. 22.

[Kamala Harris ‘grew up’ with Jeff Adachi. Then tragedy struck.]

Adachi and Harris were old friends from the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. But for much of 2010, the crime lab scandal pitted them against each other. Harris was elected district attorney in 2003 and reelected in 2007. As a candidate for attorney general, she stressed that she had simultaneously pushed criminal-justice reforms while also being tough on violent crime.

Following state guidelines, her office had pursued thousands of cases against drug offenders, an unpopular position among many in liberal San Francisco. Those cases depended on evidence examined by the city’s understaffed crime lab, whose technicians regularly testified in court when Harris’s prosecutors went to trial.

Deborah Madden was one of three lab workers. The city’s police department knew that Madden had been convicted for her role in a 2007 domestic altercation in which she threw a phone that injured another person. She was sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years of probation and prohibited from possessing alcohol or a firearm. She was temporarily suspended from working at a crime lab.

Separately, Sharon Woo, an assistant district attorney working for Harris, became concerned that Madden wasn’t showing up to testify in court. That led her to write the email to Harris’s chief deputy in November 2009 that said Madden was “UNDEPENDABLE.”

Massullo said in her ruling that when Woo wrote the email, “individuals at the highest levels of the District Attorney’s Office knew that Madden was not a dependable witness.” The judge did not name the individuals.

Harris said in the interview that she was not told of the problem at the time by the police or her top assistants. Shown a copy of the correspondence during the interview, she said, “I never saw this email . . . and that was part of my frustration with the process. But I take full responsibility.” The email was not copied to Harris.

Woo said in an interview that she did not discuss her concerns with Harris but sent her email to Harris’s top assistant at the time, Russell Giuntini. He did not return a call seeking comment.

Judge incredulous

A month after Woo’s email, the crisis escalated as Madden’s sister told authorities that she had discovered a vial of cocaine in Madden’s apartment. Madden later admitted that “she had taken some cocaine salt from the lab for personal use,” according to her attorney’s sentencing memorandum. She pleaded no contest to the state’s cocaine possession charge, which was removed from her record after she completed a drug-treatment program, according to her lawyer, Paul DeMeester. Madden declined to comment.

Finally, in March 2010, the police publicly announced that there might be problems with evidence from the crime lab. Harris said it was not until that time that she was told of the problems.

Lab director Jim Mudge shows criminalist Deborah Madden's work station at the police crime lab on March 10, 2010. The unit was closed shortly after Madden was accused of skimming cocaine evidence. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

During the three months after Woo’s email, Harris’s office prosecuted cases that relied on crime lab testing, but defense attorneys were not told that evidence might have been tainted or that Woo had questioned the credibility of a key prosecution witness.

With her race for attorney general underway, Harris, then 45, faced increasing scrutiny about when she knew about the scandal and why information had been withheld from defense attorneys. Adachi, the public defender, wrote to Harris, asking when her office first learned about the possible tainted evidence.

As questions mounted, a group of defendants asked Massullo, the judge, to dismiss their drug cases.

Woo appeared on behalf of Harris’s office to answer questions about why the district attorney didn’t inform defense lawyers about potentially tainted evidence. Under a 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case, Brady v. Maryland, prosecutors must turn over evidence that could exonerate defendants. A note attached to the Madden file said “Brady implications.”

Woo testified that the district attorney’s office had no written procedure outlining how to handle Brady material that should be given to defense attorneys. Woo said Harris relied on police to inform them that such exculpatory evidence existed.

The judge was incredulous.

Former San Francisco lab technician Deborah Madden stands next to attorney Paul DeMeester for her arraignment on drug possession charges on April 5, 2010. (Paul Sakuma/AP)

“But it is the district attorney’s office affirmative obligation,” Massullo said, according to a court transcript. “It’s not the police department who has the affirmative obligation. It’s the district attorney. That’s who the courts look to. That’s who the community looks to, to make sure all of that information constitutionally required is provided to the defense. . . . What I am gathering from what you are saying is that there is no formal way for your office —”

Woo interjected: “In terms of a written policy, I don’t think there’s a written policy.”

Massullo put the blame directly on Harris. In her ruling, she excoriated the district attorney for having “failed to disclose Madden’s criminal record, her suspension, and information relating to her ability to perform her work as a lab criminalist.”

Harris, asked why her office had not developed a written Brady policy after six years in office, said she had been working on it for two years but had not completed it due to complications over who had access to police personnel information.

“I cared a lot about working out a Brady policy. . . . I was saying in my office, we have to have one. It was a big controversy,” she told The Post. “We were working on this, and it was much too slow. It took too long.”

Harris bristles

At the office of the public defender, meanwhile, attorneys began an expensive, months-long process of examining hundreds of cases that might have involved tainted evidence.

“We held a press conference and publicized the fact that all this misconduct was occurring, and I immediately said, ‘This is going to result in dismissal of hundreds of cases,’ ” Adachi said in the interview. “Her response was something like, ‘Yeah, this might affect a dozen cases.’ Right away, I knew this is much bigger, and you know as it happened, we got over a thousand cases dismissed.”

Brian Buckelew, who was Harris’s director of legal affairs and public information, said Harris was “shocked” at the scope of the problem. “There was recognition that this is just sloppy and could result in something that is unfair,” he said. “It caught not only San Francisco by surprise but also counties across California and perhaps across the country.”

As the criticism hurt Harris’s campaign for attorney general, she bristled at Massullo’s harsh words about her conduct. In June 2010, Harris’s office called Massullo’s ruling “contrary to law” and blamed the police for failing to disclose Madden’s conduct.

Then, Harris’s office accused the judge of bias because her husband was a defense lawyer. That strategy failed when a Monterey County Superior Court judge ruled in August 2010 that Massullo had no bias in the case.

The scandal escalated further when Adachi questioned whether Harris had also failed in separate cases to reveal the names of police officers who had been convicted or found to have committed misconduct. He said at the time that Harris was acting in an “unethical” fashion and “is putting the privacy interests of police officers who have misconduct records and who have been convicted of crimes above the rights of citizens to a fair and honest trial,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Harris said at the time that Adachi was “playing politics with public safety.” She said in the Post interview that the police had legitimate privacy concerns.

Harris, newly elected as attorney general, gives her first news conference in Los Angeles on Nov. 30, 2010. (Damian Dovarganes/AP)

Harris won her primary and then faced the Republican nominee, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley. He decided not to raise the specifics of the crime lab issue, while calling her a “radical” who threatened public safety. Harris declared victory on election night, but the race was so tight that Cooley did not concede until three weeks later. Cooley declined to comment.

Harris said the crisis taught her lessons that she carries into her presidential campaign.

“You cannot run an office without designating folks and giving them authority,” she said. But she told her deputies after the crime lab scandal to alert her about serious problems: “Hey, I need to know these things. It will not be bothering me. . . . My name is on the door. And I took an oath.”

Some of Harris’s aides raised the possibility that only those cases with a proven taint should be dismissed, not all of those that might have been affected. “And I said, ‘No, we have to deal with the fact this now called into question the integrity of the system,’ ” Harris said. “There has to be consequences paid for that.”

Alice Crites contributed to this report.
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Kamala Harris brought sex work into the 2020 spotlight. Here’s what she should do next.
Washington Post

Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 27, 2018, in Washington. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Melissa Gira Grant is a senior reporter covering criminal justice, gender and sexuality at the Appeal.

On Tuesday, Kamala Harris became the first mainstream U.S. presidential candidate to publicly state she supports the decriminalization of sex work. In an interview with the Root, the career prosecutor and junior senator from California was asked, “Do you think that sex work ought to be decriminalized?” She answered, “I think so. I do.” She later added that “when you are talking about consenting adults, I think that, you know, yes, we should really consider that we can’t criminalize consensual behavior as long as no one is being harmed.”

Harris’s newfound — if less-than-full-throated — support for decriminalizing sex work, like her stance on marijuana, may be an attempt to re-position her past work as San Francisco district attorney and California attorney general for prospective primary voters. Even if that is so, then this is the first time in U.S. history that any candidate for this office has tried to pander to the public by supporting the rights of sex workers. And while tentative, Harris’s words could propel an overdue national conversation about sex work into the presidential campaign spotlight.

However striking those words from Harris might be to a general audience, advocates for sex workers’ rights are especially suspicious about Harris’s remarks. As with her recent mischaracterization of a policy she backed of reporting undocumented minors charged with crimes to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Harris’s claim to support decriminalizing sex work is at odds with her record.

In 2008, Harris opposed Proposition K, a San Francisco ballot measure brought by sex workers to end prostitution arrests in the city. “I think it’s completely ridiculous, just in case there’s any ambiguity about my position,” she told reporters at the time, standing outside a shuttered massage business in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood. “It would put a welcome mat out for pimps and prostitutes to come on into San Francisco.”

Harris also remained unapologetic about her efforts to shut down, a classifieds website with an adult services section that included listings for sex work, in her interview with the Root. She did not acknowledge the site’s importance to sex workers, emphasizing instead that she believed it had to be stopped from taking ads that may have advertised minors.

As California’s attorney general, Harris sought to prosecute Backpage’s owners, alleging that operating a website where sex workers post advertisements was tantamount to pimping. In the Senate, Harris played a role in crafting legislation to target Backpage, on the basis that the website was allegedly involved in human trafficking. In April 2018, President Trump signed that bill, known as the combined Stop Enabling Child Traffickers Act/Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (SESTA/FOSTA), into law.

Sex workers opposed the campaign to shut down Backpage — not to defend Backpage but to defend their safety. They said the website provided a platform for them to have more control over the conditions of their work. Some anti-trafficking advocates also opposed the strategy of targeting so-called online brothels pushed by Harris and others. Both groups said closing such websites might make it that much harder to help people facing danger in the sex trade. As sex workers had predicted, the law led websites to refuse sex workers’ ads and other content, including discussions of workplace safety and political organizing. Under the policies Harris supported, sex workers were made more marginalized and more vulnerable.

Sex workers’ nationwide protests against SESTA/FOSTA in June 2018 prompted a new generation of political candidates, such as New York state Sen. Julia Salazar (D) and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), to offer support for decriminalization in their own platforms. And on Monday, a new coalition called Decrim NY announced a collaboration with Salazar, along with state Sen. Jessica Ramos (D) and other state lawmakers, to introduce legislation to fully decriminalize sex work in New York.

By the standard set by these lawmakers, Harris’s shift is — perhaps unsurprisingly, given her prosecutorial background and the still-marginal status of sex workers’ rights nationally — less definitive and quite possibly damaging for sex workers. It would be genuinely important if Harris was definitively throwing her support behind the full decriminalization of sex work. That means removing criminal penalties against people engaged in trading sex and their customers. But despite Harris’s discussion of decriminalizing the sale of sex between consenting adults in her interview with the Root, it’s not clear that she is truly committed to such a position.

That’s because Harris appears to still support criminalizing purchasing sex. In the same interview, Harris defended her position as a progressive one by saying that as San Francisco district attorney, “I was advocating then that we have to stop arresting these prostitutes, and instead go after the johns and the pimps.” Targeting customers is not a novel approach. It’s sometimes called the Nordic model or End Demand. Rights groups such as Amnesty International report it still harms sex workers. Despite supporters’ claims that such policies decriminalize sex workers, they don’t permit any legal way to engage in sex work. As such, sex workers remain penalized and surveilled by police.

By contrast, full decriminalization removes police entirely from the business of regulating sex work, returning more power and control to workers themselves. It also means that those who take advantage of sex workers’ criminalized status to prey on them — whether they are violent customers, intimate partners or law enforcement — could no longer do so with the impunity.

While Harris now says she opposed arresting sex workers as district attorney, back then she campaigned against a ballot measure to end those arrests. Harris needs to be confronted with these inconsistencies. She also needs to clearly explain what policies she does support and would act on as president.

Harris’s stance on decriminalization falls short of sex workers’ demands. It remains far less clear and committed than that of the New York legislators. But for a keen politician such as Harris to even float the idea of supporting decriminalization at all represents a major win for sex workers. Her professed support may even owe to the visibility and political power that sex workers have achieved, all in the wake of Harris’s attempts to shut down the places they used for work.
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Kamala Harris takes on questions about her 'blackness'
(CNN) Sen. Kamala Harris directly confronted critics Monday who have questioned her black heritage, her record incarcerating minorities as a prosecutor and her decision to marry a white man.

In an interview with The Breakfast Club hosts DJ Envy and Charlamagne Tha God that aired Monday, the show's hosts asked the California Democrat to address a series of derogatory memes that have circulated on social media. One of the hosts cited a meme that said Harris is "not African-American" because her parents were immigrants born in India and Jamaica and she spent her high school years in Canada.

"So I was born in Oakland, and raised in the United States except for the years that I was in high school in Montreal, Canada," Harris responded with a laugh. "And look, this is the same thing they did to Barack (Obama). This is not new to us and so I think that we know what they are trying to do."

"They are trying to do what has been happening over the last two years, which is powerful voices trying to sow hate and division, and so we need to recognize when we're being played," Harris said.

One of the hosts followed up by asking Harris how she responds to people who question "the legitimacy of your blackness."

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Kamala Harris supported 2008 San Francisco policy that reported arrested undocumented juveniles to ICE
(CNN) As district attorney of San Francisco, Kamala Harris supported a city policy that required law enforcement to turn over undocumented juvenile immigrants to federal immigration authorities if they were arrested and suspected of committing a felony, regardless of whether they were actually convicted of a crime.

Harris, who was San Francisco's district attorney from 2004 to 2011, sided with then-Mayor Gavin Newsom in a political fight over San Francisco's status as a sanctuary city that split the city's municipal government, with the mayor's office supporting the policy and the city's elected Board of Supervisors opposing it.

Harris' past position could open her up to attacks from immigration activists as well as the more progressive wing of the party as she seeks the Democratic nomination in 2020. The fight over the San Francisco policy was covered extensively at the time, but Harris' role has not been closely examined since she entered the national spotlight. KFile explored her position during a review of her record on immigration.

In a statement to CNN, Harris campaign spokesman Ian Sams said that the "policy was intended to protect the sanctuary status of San Francisco and to ensure local police, who needed to have strong relationships with the communities they serve regardless of immigration status, were not forced to operate as immigration agents, which is the responsibility of the federal government. Looking back, this policy could have been applied more fairly."

Since winning election to the US Senate in 2016, Harris has established herself as an advocate for undocumented immigrants by pushing hard for a deal to protect from deportation those who came to the country as children, a group known as Dreamers. She has also called for the role of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be re-examined.

Still, her past position could prove a vulnerability in an increasingly crowded Democratic primary where candidates have been highly critical of President Donald Trump's policies on immigration and abolishing ICE has become a popular position among the party's base.

At issue in 2008 was Newsom's policy of reporting juvenile undocumented immigrants arrested by local police to ICE. As district attorney for San Francisco, Harris was responsible prosecuting crimes in the city.

San Francisco has been a sanctuary city since 1989, meaning that police were not obligated to give any information to federal immigration authorities about interactions with undocumented residents of the city. The city's policy was amended in 1992 to remove protections for criminal adult suspects, but the protection remained for arrested juveniles.

This policy came under scrutiny in 2008 when a 21-year-old undocumented man named Edwin Ramos was arrested for murdering three members of a San Francisco family.

After the news of the Ramos murders -- and his previous arrest records -- was reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, Newsom announced a change in the city's policy so that police would begin reporting arrested undocumented juveniles to ICE, regardless of whether they had been found guilty in court of any crime. Ramos had previously been arrested as a youth at 17 and was found guilty of attempted robbery and assault, but he was never reported to federal immigration authorities.

Up to this point in her tenure, Harris had established a record as a supporter of immigrant rights while district attorney: She supported issuing specialized visas for undocumented victims of violent crimes, prosecuted an unlicensed contractor in a labor exploitation case for wage theft of immigrants, and denounced proposed federal legislation that would have criminalized assisting undocumented immigrants. Her office put out a statement that "We are a sanctuary city, a city of refuge, and we always will be."

Still, Harris supported Newsom's policy change and issued a statement that the original sanctuary law "was never intended to shield anyone from being held accountable for a crime. It's intended to encourage immigrant victims and witnesses to report crimes without fear of reprisal so we can hold offenders accountable."

"While detained juveniles are under the custody and control of the juvenile probation office and the court every city agency needs to work together to balance our obligations under federal law and the sanctuary ordinance to solve crimes and put the offenders behind bars."

By 2009, the new policy had been in place for a year. The New York Times said over 100 juvenile suspects were reported to federal custody for deportation.

Multiple juveniles faced deportation over relatively minor crimes: in one instance reported by the Times, a 14-year-old who had been in the United States since he was 2 was handed over to ICE after he took a BB gun to school to show off to friends. In another instance, a 13-year-old and his family faced deportation after he punched another boy at school and stole 46 cents.

The city Board of Supervisors passed legislation making it so that youths could only be reported to federal immigration authorities if convicted of a felony. After Newsom vetoed the legislation, the Board had enough votes to override his veto, and passed the law without his signature. Despite this, Newsom refused to follow the legislation and ordered the city to continue reporting undocumented juvenile suspects to ICE.

During the fight between Newsom and the Board of Supervisors, Harris publicly supported Newsom and opposed the Board's legislation. She argued her position by saying that she believed the ordinance would be in violation of federal law and would be struck down in courts. San Francisco City Attorney's office told CNN this month that the ordinance has never been challenged in court.

In a speech at Stanford University in 2009 Harris explained her position, saying, "There was then an initiative that was written by the board of supervisors that was passed and there was opposition to that but it did pass," Harris said. "And so we're gonna have to wait to see how the courts interpret what it means. From my perspective, I think that it would be in conflict with federal law, and we have to follow the law. We have to follow that law. You may not agree with it, but you know, that's why we have a process where you can challenge laws. And it is the law."

The lead figure opposing Newsom and Harris was David Campos, a former member of the Board of Supervisors who introduced and passed the legislation to protect undocumented juveniles form deportation.

In a recent interview with CNN, Campos discussed the political fight and his disappointment with Harris position, and said that the two are friends who supported each other early in their political careers, but they disagreed over the issue.

"I tried to reach out to her on that issue and I never really got a response from her," Campos said.

"And actually when she left the district attorney's office, one thing that did happen was there was more openness to discussing the issue with the new D.A., when George Gascón became the district attorney after Kamala left. It was after Mayor Newsom and after Kamala Harris left that that issue potentially got resolved."

After Newsom left office in 2011 , his successor changed the city's policy again so that law enforcement would only report undocumented juvenile immigrants who were arrested to ICE if they couldn't prove family ties to the Bay Area, leading to a sharp drop in reporting. In 2013 , San Francisco passed another ordinance which prohibited reporting any arrested person to ICE except in limited circumstances.

Newsom was attacked from both the left and right for his position during his successful run for governor of California in 2018. He ultimately admitted that the policy could have been handled differently.

"These were people charged ... but not convicted. Some people ultimately were exonerated that got caught up in it," he told The Sacramento Bee last year. "I'll just say this to my critics: fair game. Looking back, there were things we could have done differently. I'm very honest about that."

Sams, spokesman for the Harris campaign, invoked Newsom's response in a statement to CNN, saying, "As Governor Newsom said last year, his policy was intended to protect the sanctuary status of San Francisco and to ensure local police, who needed to have strong relationships with the communities they serve regardless of immigration status, were not forced to operate as immigration agents, which is the responsibility of the federal government. Looking back, this policy could have been applied more fairly, as the governor has stated as well."

The spokesperson continued, "Senator Harris has always been a supporter of San Francisco's commitment to protecting undocumented people and keeping communities safe, which is why as D.A. she cracked down on trafficking that preys on undocumented immigrants, prosecuted individuals scamming or exploiting undocumented immigrants, and pushed for temporary protection visas for victims of crime."

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of George Gascón's name.
Kamala Harris dismisses concerns about Green New Deal price tag: 'It's not about a cost'
Fox News
Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris pointedly declined in an interview broadcast Sunday to put a price tag on the Green New Deal and "Medicare-for-all," which she has endorsed wholeheartedly even as Republicans cite nonpartisan cost estimates of trillions of dollars for each unprecedented proposal.

Harris, D-Calif., joined Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Cory Booker, D-N.J. to co-sponsor the Green New Deal resolution earlier this month. The resolution's botched rollout included the release of an official document by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's office that promised economic security even for those "unwilling to work," as well as the elimination of "farting cows" and air travel.

"There's no question we have to be practical. But being practical also recognizes that climate change is an existential threat to us as human beings," Harris began. "Being practical recognizes that greenhouse gas emissions are threat to our air, and threatening our planet. And that it is well within our capacity as human beings to change our behaviors in a way that we can reduce its effect. That's practical. Of course we can afford it."

CNN's John King asked Harris for her response to conservative arguments that progressive proposals could end up doing more harm than good, by crippling the U.S. economy even as major polluters like China continue unabated.


According to the Mercatus Center at George Washington University, for example, Ocasio-Cortez's plan for universal Medicare would end up costing more than $30 trillion, even after factoring in the sweeping tax hikes that would offset the expense by only roughly $2 trillion. Charles Blahous, a senior strategist at the Mercatus Center and an author of the study, later charged that Ocasio-Cortez had wildly misinterpreted his study to try to argue that "Medicare-for-all" would save money.

"One of the things that I admire and respect is the measurement that is captured in three letters: ROI," Harris responded. "What's the return on investment? People in the private sector understand this really well. It's not about a cost. It's about an investment. And then the question should be, is it worth the cost in terms of the investment potential? Are we going to get back more than we put in?"

Harris' loose invocation of an economics term echoed language by Ocasio-Cortez, who has repeatedly and confidently said "there's a little thing in economics known as externalities" to justify her Green New Deal proposal.

The Green New Deal push has seen resistance not only from Republicans, but also some key Democrats. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, was asked about the plan to replace planes with high-speed rail and did not seem impressed.

“That would be pretty hard for Hawaii,” she laughed.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi similarly appeared to dismiss the plan.

“It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive,” Pelosi told Politico. “The green dream, or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?”

"It's not about a cost. It's about an investment." — 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris

Other Democratic presidential hopefuls, including Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, have cautioned that the Green New Deal resolution is merely "aspirational" and will likely need to be scaled back.

"The Green New Deal? I see it as aspirational. I see it as a jump-start," Klobuchar said on "Special Report with Bret Baier" earlier this month. "So I would vote yes [on the Green New Deal resolution], but I would also -- if it got down to the nitty-gritty of an actual legislation, as opposed to, 'Oh, here's some goals we have' -- uh, that would be different for me."


But Harris said she was looking forward to hashing out the dispute with her rivals in public, during one of the 12 planned Democratic primary debates.

"I look forward to that debate on the debate stage," Harris said. "I look forward to it very much."

Meanwhile, the White House is angling for socialism to become the defining issue in the 2020 debate, amid Democrats' evolving vows for higher minimum wages and a new array of costly, universal benefits.

Speaking in a major foreign policy address in Miami to members of the Venezuelan community, President Trump declared Monday that "a new day is coming in Latin America" and issued a stark assessment that "socialism is dying" across the world. The address was the second time Trump publicly and forcefully has condemned what he has called "the horrors of socialism and communism" and "massive wealth confiscation" in recent weeks, following his similar vow during the State of the Union address that "America will never be a Socialist country."

But before Trump takes on the eventual nominee head-to-head, Democratic Party leaders acknowledged some internal divisions need to be resolved. Harris joined Warren this week in saying she supports taxpayer-funded reparations for black Americans affected by slavery, a stance that Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez told "Fox News Sunday" was not officially endorsed by the party and would need to be hashed out during the debates as well.

In the meantime, Harris emphasized that her main concern is the concerns of everyday Americans.

"I'm hearing people in the state of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina -- wherever you want to, name the state. Wisconsin, Michigan, I've been to those places too," Harris said, drawing a pointed contrast with Hillary Clinton, who did not visit Wisconsin following the 2016 Democratic National Convention and ended up losing the state to now-President Trump. "What they want to know is that people who want to be the leaders of this country are actually seeing them and thinking about the issues that keep them up at night."

But labor leaders -- who represent typically Democrat-leaning rank-and-file constituents -- have pushed back in recent weeks against the Green New Deal, saying its call for a total economic transformation could lead to widespread poverty.


Speaking to Reuters, a spokesman for the coal industry union United Mine Workers (UMWA) specifically took umbrage at the Green New Deal's resolution's call for a "fair and just transition for all communities and workers" in order to "achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions" in the span of just ten years.

“We’ve heard words like ‘just transition’ before, but what does that really mean?" the spokesman, Phil Smith, said in an interview. "Our members are worried about putting food on the table."

Even aside from the Green New Deal, conservative commentators have argued that most proposed solutions to global warming would do more harm than good, and also have accused climate activists of crying wolf. In 2006, a NASA scientist and leading global warming researcher declared that the world had only 10 years to avert a climate catastrophe -- a deadline that has come and gone.
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Kamala Harris calls for decriminalizing sex work, insists Trump is racist
Fox News
Presidential candidate Kamala Harris made some bold statements in an interview on Tuesday, calling for the decriminalization of sex work and labeling President Trump a racist.

“When you're talking about consenting adults, I think that yes, we should really consider that we can't criminalize consensual behavior, as long as no one is being harmed," Senator Harris, D-Calif., told The Root. "But at the point that anyone is being harmed or exploited, then we have to understand that's a different matter."

When asked if she thought sex work should be decriminalized, Harris said: “I think so. I do.”

She added, however, that the issue “is not as simple as that.”

“There is an ecosystem around that, that includes crimes that harm people,” Harris said. “I do not believe that anybody who hurts another human being or profits off of their exploitation should be ... free of criminal prosecution."

Interviewer Terrell Jermaine Starr also asked Harris, “Is President Trump a racist?”

“Well look, when you talk about his statement [responding to the violence protests in Charlottesville, Virginia], when you talk about him calling African countries ‘s---hole’ countries, when you talk about him referring to immigrants as racists and murderers, I don’t think you can reach any other conclusions,” Harris responded

Starr asked Harris again if she “definitely” agreed that the president was a racist.

“I do, yes. Yes.” Harris said.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere responded Tuesday night: “The Senator’s claims are disgusting. President Trump has supported and passed historic criminal justice reform, pushed policies that have created the lowest unemployment rates for African Americans and Hispanic Americans in history, and repeatedly condemned racism and bigotry.”

For his part, in discussing his comments about undocumented immigrants being “murderers” and “rapists,” Trump has insisted he was talking specifically about MS-13 gang members and criminals.

But the issue that has garnered Trump the lion's share of criticism may be his reaction to the Charlottesville protests, during which neo-Nazis and white nationalists in Charlottesville marched and a counterprotester was fatally hit by a car.


“I think there is blame on both sides,” Trump said in August 2017.

“To equate the ‘both sides’ gave me an incredible amount of pain and concern,” Harris told The Root about the president’s reaction.

Harris is not the first presidential candidate to call Trump a racist. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., did so last month.

Starr also asked Harris if it was worthwhile to pursue the votes of Americans who voted for Trump “despite all the racist things he has said.”

“I’m going to compete for every vote; not everybody will vote for me, but I’m going to compete for every vote,” Harris said.


Harris said she has rejected the idea America was a “postracial" society for years.

“Race is still a big issue in America,” Harris said.

Fox News' John Roberts contributed to this report.
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Kamala Harris Leaves Iowa With A Promise To Keep Getting Better
The Huffington Post
DES MOINES, Iowa ― “Can you tell me your mother’s name?” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) asked from across the table.

The woman she was speaking to, Monica Reyes, a 28-year-old with DACA status, had traveled to the Iowa Capitol on a blustery Saturday morning in February to let the senator know how much her immigrant mother had done for her growing up. And now Reyes wanted to know what the senator could do for people like her mother if Harris is elected president.

Harris would eventually give Reyes her position on the matter, criticizing the Trump administration for “trying to create a scapegoat” out of Mexicans and reiterating her support for comprehensive immigration reform, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA).

But before she did that, she wanted to know the name of Reyes’ mother. It’s Brenda, Reyes said.

“I think it’s important,” Harris replied, “that we speak her name.

“Her story is the story of so many people, and I applaud her.”

Stephen Maturen via Getty Images Sen. Kamala Harris is positioning herself more as a common-sense fighter, but her trip in Iowa made clear that voters are still expecting their candidates to have detailed policy ideas and know the issues inside and out.

The audience applauded as well. Over the course of her first full-on tour around Iowa this weekend, Harris’ ability to boil such political moments down to the personal garnered many of her largest cheers. The next day in Bettendorf, she spoke about the pain of watching her mother battle colon cancer before she died in 2009. “It requires physical strength, emotional strength, mental strength, but what that should not require of anyone is that you also have to figure out how you’re going to pay those medical bills,” she said to loud applause.

Dan Audi, a 54-year-old maintenance supervisor who is considering Harris, Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), said after the Bettendorf event that he appreciated Harris’ “positive, happy persona.”

“You can be a fighter without being angry,” he added.

But after the previous morning’s event, Reyes said, she couldn’t help feeling that Harris’ answer fell short. The former California attorney general is positioning herself more as a common-sense fighter, sans the wonkiness of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), but her trip in Iowa made clear that voters are still expecting their candidates to have detailed policy ideas and know the issues inside and out.

“I felt like she maybe needs to know a little more about the current and past policies on immigration to be able to better answer the question that I gave her,” said Reyes, a co-founder of the immigration advocacy group Dream Iowa, as Harris stood nearby. “Not just her but all of the presidential candidates.”

Iowans have long taken their responsibility seriously as the first state to hold a Democratic nominating contest every presidential election. Elementary schools teach children about the complicated caucus process, instilling in many of them a sense of democratic duty, said Sean Bagniewski, the chairman of the Polk County Democrats.

“It is ingrained in you, as an Iowan, that one of your roles in America is to vet and screen and vote for presidential candidates,” he said.

But a year out from the 2020 Iowa caucuses, many feel an even higher sense of obligation to make sure they put the correct candidate on track in the presidential primaries, peppering candidates — including Harris, Warren and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) — with questions that can border on the uncomfortable.

“The whole country is depending on us to have smart, wide-open conversations,” said Sue Dvorsky, a former Iowa Democratic Party chair.

Regardless of the various shifts in the primary process, the state’s influence remains indisputable. Every Democrat to take first in Iowa has gone on to win the primaries after 1992, when an Iowa native, Tom Harkin, bested an Arkansas governor named Bill Clinton at the caucuses. The stakes are also more than clear with a wide-open Democratic field and growing ideological fissures in the party, not to mention President Donald Trump.

Democrats around Iowa appear to understand the urgency of the moment as well. Bagniewski said he recently helped set up a last-minute event for another presidential candidate, Gillibrand, and 50 to 60 people were expected to attend, but about 300 showed up.

Bloomberg via Getty Images Harris in Ankeny, Feb. 23. Early polls of likely Iowa caucusgoers have placed her in the top tier with former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

This weekend, it was Harris’ turn to cycle through Iowa, and crowds once again turned out in droves for her first full tour around the state. According to one of her aides, 760 people braved the cold to watch her speak in Ankeny on Saturday ― so many that the organizers had to rush out more chairs as the event began. The next day, 750 showed up in freezing temperatures to watch her speak in Bettendorf. Early polls of likely Iowa caucusgoers have placed her far ahead of Gillibrand and roughly in the top tier with former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Some who attended the events, like 20-year-old Jordan Milligan of Upper Iowa University, have already decided Harris is their candidate.

“She’s the one,” he said.

But many other attendees were undecided, there more to vet than to cheer. That even included some who attended the gatherings in Harris T-shirts, like Justin Comstock, a self-employed 43-year-old who said he was “window shopping” last Saturday.

“I’m coming into it with an open mind and expecting to see if the hype’s there or not,” said Comstock, who said he’s also intrigued by Klobuchar.

“We’ll probably go see everyone,” said Jim Woods, 67, who spent 25 years at the Davenport Fire Department before becoming a teacher. “This is Iowa. They just come through.”

As much as Iowa Democrats have high expectations of themselves to pick the right contender, they expect even more of their candidates. Like Reyes, many Iowans take pride in their willingness to ask tough questions, said Jeff Link, one of the state’s top Democratic strategists. That isn’t exactly new. He still remembers riding around the state with then–Vice President Al Gore as his state director during the 2000 presidential election. “It was just mind-boggling the kinds of questions he would get,” Link said. “They’re not just going to ask about corn.”

Joe Amon/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images via Getty Images Ammertte Deibert, 70, of Ames, Iowa, jots down notes as she listens to Harris, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and former HUD Secretary Julián Castro at the Story County Democrats Soup Supper on Feb. 23.

Some of the questions thrown at Harris were light, like the man in Ankeny who preceded his question by telling her he also puts hot sauce on his greens, and she received loud applause for her shots at Trump (“The first thing is to not conduct trade policy through tweets,” goes one well-practiced line) and for toeing the Democratic line by pushing for universal background checks for gun sales, free college, “Medicare for all” and her proposed LIFT Act, which would hand middle-class households up to $500 per month.

But over the course of the weekend, she also fielded pointed questions on topics such as Puerto Rico, agricultural technology, foreign policy and the environment. In Ankeny, a young man asked whether she would support abolishing the Senate filibuster, adding, “Just give me a really articulated defense on wherever you come down on that issue.”

“That’s a great question!” Harris replied, before joking, “Let’s change the subject!” (She then said she felt conflicted on the issue.)

In Bettendorf, a man in the crowd wanted to know where she stood on Israeli-Palestinian relations and whether she would release off-the-record comments she made to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee last year. When she didn’t answer the AIPAC part of the question, he yelled it out again, leading her to say, “Sure,” while the microphone was away from her mouth. (Her team later released a transcript to HuffPost.)

Even an opening question from a young girl named Nora, who was sporting a “Future president” T-shirt, proved far from a softball, as she asked Harris how she would deal with the $22 trillion national debt. “It’s like not being invited to a birthday party but still having to bring a gift,” the young woman said.

The last time Harris touched down in Iowa, in January, one of her answers to a question led to a small national controversy, when she suggested at a CNN town hall that she supported eliminating private health insurance. (A spokesperson said a day later that she is open to more moderate health insurance fixes as well.) This time around, she impressed many of the people who spoke to HuffPost.

“She’s done her homework,” said Mary Campos, 89, a co-president of the Brown and Black Presidential Forum. “She’s ready to answer questions.”

Richard Lynch, 51, said he supported Sanders in 2016. While he said that Harris “sidestepped” some of the questions she was asked, he added that he welcomed all candidates moving into Sanders’ space. Asked if he believed Harris had done that, he cited her support of “Medicare for all,” saying, “It sounds to me like the answer is, yes, she’s moving into the space he created, and frankly, I’m not sure it should be his space, per se.”

Bloomberg via Getty Images Harris greets people in Ankeny, Feb. 23. Many Iowans feel a sense of obligation to make sure they put the correct candidate on track in the presidential primaries.

Ed Fallon, an Iowa talk show host and the director of the environmental organization Bold Iowa, said he wished Harris had organized smaller events, where people could have even more time one-on-one time with her.

“That’s great when a candidate can draw that big of a crowd, but it’s good to try and organize smaller opportunities as well,” he said, “where you can look them in the eye and dialogue with them directly about where they stand about things that you care about.”

“So far, I haven’t had that experience with Harris,” he said. “Hopefully that changes.”

Blizzardlike conditions forced the Harris campaign to cancel two smaller events Sunday morning in Waterloo, Iowa ― a stop at a coffee shop and a meet-and-greet at a Baptist church ― but after most of her events last weekend, the senator stayed around to take questions and pose for photos.

That included her discussion Saturday at the Capitol, where Harris spoke for a few moments with Reyes, who had asked the question about immigration. Reyes told the senator that she felt her answer focused too much on DACA and DAPA, which deal with only a fraction of the undocumented population. Reyes said she hoped Harris would be more inclusive.

“She, at the end, was like, ‘You know, I understand, and I’ll do better at that in the future,’” Reyes said.
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Kamala Harris Says She Supports Decriminalizing Sex Work
The Huffington Post
Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris said on Tuesday that she supports the decriminalization of sex work ― a massive shift from her days as a prosecutor.

“I think so,” she said when asked by The Root if sex work should be decriminalized

But the California senator added that “it’s not as simple as that.”

“There is an ecosystem around that that includes crimes that harm people, and for those issues, I do not believe that anybody who hurts another human being or profits off of their exploitation should be free of criminal prosecution,” the California senator said. “But when you’re talking about consenting adults, we should consider that we can’t criminalize consensual behavior.”

Sex workers have long criticized Harris for her role in marginalizing their community by conflating sex work with sex trafficking.

“There are lots of good reasons to root for Kamala Harris,” Melissa Petro, a writer and former sex worker, wrote in The Establishment in 2017. “But the fact that Harris was an active force behind a campaign that endangered the lives of sex workers makes it understandably difficult for people with experiences in the sex trades to throw her our support,” Petro added.

As district attorney for San Francisco, Harris wrote in her 2009 book, Smart on Crime, that prostitutes should be arrested. “Smart always starts with enforcing the law ― we must arrest the prostitutes as well as the pimps and the johns,” she said.

In 2016, as attorney general of California, Harris went after the founders of Backpage on pimping charges. Backpage was a website that sex workers used to screen clients, protect their own identities and keep themselves safe. Harris said on Tuesday that she has “no regrets” about getting it shut down.

As AG, she also failed to investigate Bay Area police officers for trafficking sex worker Celeste Guap, which they started doing when Guap was just 14 years old. Many of those officers are still working in law enforcement.

Barcroft Media via Getty Images Sex workers protest against criminalization of their trade and FOSTA-SESTA, the combined legislation that included the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act.

More recently, Sen. Harris voted in support of the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, a law that was ostensibly written to protect victims of sex trafficking but that, in effect, has done severe damage to sex workers. The legislation holds online platforms, such as Craigslist and Backpage (before it was shut down), liable for user content related to sex trafficking and encourages websites to censor sex-related ads to protect themselves from litigation. What this has done is move the sex trade further underground and make sex work more dangerous. A recent study suggested that Craigslist “erotic services” section had actually reduced fatal violence against women in the sex trade.

Members of the Sacramento, California, branch of the Sex Workers Outreach Project sought to work with Harris during her Backpage lawsuit but said they were ignored.

“We called her office and spoke to aides. We wrote letters. Never once did I get a call back or anything. One time I even got hung up on,” Kristen DiAngelo, the executive director of SWOP-Sacramento, a current consensual sex worker and a human trafficking survivor, told HuffPost.

DiAngelo believes that Harris’ sudden support for decriminalization is an empty promise made to help the senator’s presidential run.

“My take on it is that we are actually starting to do some damage to her campaign ... so she had to change her stance,” DiAngelo said. “But do I think she believes it? No.”

Other sex workers feel the same.

“Harris has not only been negligent of sex workers, she’s also been an active antagonist,” employees at Slixa, an escort directory, wrote in a blog post after Harris announced her candidacy in late January. The post was titled “On The Topic Of Sex Worker Rights, Kamala Harris May As Well Be Trump.”

Since announcing her presidential bid, Harris has had to answer for her record as a prosecutor ― not just on the topic of sex work, but reparations, mass incarceration, truancy and legalization of marijuana as well.

In a CNN town hall gathering last month, Harris stuck by the decisions she’d made.
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For Kamala Harris, a Strong Start, but With Some Notable Stumbles
New York Times
When Senator Kamala Harris came to Iowa last month shortly after entering the presidential race, she surprised some in her own party by breezily stating her support for a single-payer health care plan that would end private insurance.

�Let�s eliminate all of that,� Ms. Harris said during a prime-time town hall event on CNN. �Let�s move on.�

Her comments caused an immediate stir in the political world � and Republicans saw a chance to link her to a more extreme policy proposal than she perhaps intended. So when she returned to the state on Saturday, she had a much more precise answer ready when asked about universal health care.

�In my vision of �Medicare for all,� there would be a phasing in of it, and there would still be the option to have private insurance for the purposes of supplemental coverage,� she told a voter in suburban Des Moines whose question had actually been about how best to finance a single-payer system.

Few other Democratic presidential hopefuls have enjoyed as splashy a start as Ms. Harris has: She drew 20,000 people to her formal campaign launch in Oakland, Calif.; raised $1.5 million in her first full day in the race; and has been talked about on social media more than any of her rivals, vaulting to the top tier of the rapidly growing field.

But the candidate is still catching up to the campaign � and not just on health care policy.

On issues ranging from breaking up big technology companies to the crisis in Venezuela to reparations for African-Americans � and even the allegations against the actor Jussie Smollett � Ms. Harris has not offered positions when asked, had to clarify her views and softened her previous comments.

It is hardly unusual for candidates to stumble or appear ill at ease at the outset of the grueling political crucible that is a presidential campaign; even former President Barack Obama, who is remembered as a political phenom, struggled at times in the early weeks of the 2008 campaign.

[Make sense of the people, issues and ideas shaping American politics with our newsletter.]

But the scrutiny has grown even more intense since that race, and the margin for error is minuscule in a field with so many candidates.

With the growth of political news outlets, the rise of social media, and the global interest surrounding President Trump and his re-election, high-profile candidates do not have the luxury of honing their stump speeches before a few dozen voters, and even fewer reporters, in a cozy Concord living room.

Instead, there have been hundreds of attendees at many of the early gatherings featuring the best-known candidates � as well as dozens of writers and photographers eager to capture every moment.

�There is no on-ramp today,� said Stephanie Cutter, a top aide in John Kerry�s 2004 presidential campaign. �It�s instantaneous, which means it is harder for the candidates to work out their positions or decide their positions.�

In this environment, it is perhaps not surprising that Ms. Harris�s first response on private health care echoed as loudly as it did. It was not just because of the implications for the nearly 60 percent of Americans who receive employer-based insurance � it was also because she made her remarks on live national television.

Past campaigns did not feature made-for-cable-TV town halls more than a year before the first primary.

Yet health care is not the only issue Ms. Harris, who was elected in 2016 to represent California in the Senate, has handled with uncertainty since she entered the race.

Asked Saturday morning about the growing tensions in Venezuela, and specifically how to get aid into the country and whether America should consider using force there, she offered a brief answer with few particulars.

�We need to take it very seriously,� Ms. Harris told reporters. �But I don�t know that at this point we need to, and I would not condone, military action at this point.�

Later that afternoon, though, she offered a more detailed response on Twitter about what she called �a crisis� stemming from President Nicol�s Maduro�s rule.

�As President, I would immediately extend TPS status to Venezuelans,� she said, referring to temporary protected status for migrants. �It�s the right thing to do. America must show moral leadership in this hemisphere.�

On reparations, Ms. Harris said, �Yes, I am,� in a radio interview this month when she was asked if she was in favor of what her interviewer called �some type of reparations� for black Americans affected by slavery.

But when asked in another interview last week to be more specific, she highlighted her tax proposal for middle-class families, a more universal approach that is inconsistent with the definition of reparations.

�I�m not going to sit here and say I�m going to do something that�s only going to benefit black people,� Ms. Harris told theGrio, a news website focused on African-American issues.

In other instances, she appears uneasy committing to a policy at all, perhaps sensing a political hazard.

On Saturday, for example, an Iowan asked Ms. Harris if she would favor eliminating the filibuster if Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress and the presidency, to more easily push through the party�s agenda. The urgent necessity of doing so has become an article of faith to many on the left.

She initially joked that she wanted to change the subject, twice allowed that she was �conflicted� and did not offer a direct answer. �Sorry I can�t give you more than that right now,� she told the voter.

Similarly, when a reporter asked Ms. Harris last month on her first campaign trip to South Carolina about Senator Elizabeth Warren�s suggestion that technology giants like Amazon should be subject to antitrust laws, the California senator sidestepped the issue, which is a delicate matter in her state. �I don�t know enough about what she�s proposing, but I�m happy to follow up with you,� Ms. Harris said twice.

At a voter forum in Des Moines on Saturday, Ms. Harris said she did not want to be pegged in any fixed ideological category � a posture that can frustrate some progressive Democrats.

�That was evasive,� said Ed Fallon, a liberal Iowa activist who attended the forum. �It�s clear that she wasn�t being clear.�

Her how-will-it-play hesitation is also frustrating to some more pragmatic Democrats who believe the candidates should not try to meet some imagined standard of ideological orthodoxy.

�They�re playing too assiduously to the critics of Twitter,� said Paul Begala, the longtime Democratic strategist. �And the truth is that doesn�t matter.�

Mr. Begala said party activists were overwhelmingly fixated on defeating Mr. Trump and were unlikely to penalize a candidate if they think he or she is up to that job.

�The scrutiny is far more harsh this time, but the voters are much more forgiving if they think you can win,� he said.

Yet her response to the Smollett case may only reinforce her instinct for caution.

Immediately after the actor, a gay African-American, said he had been attacked in Chicago by a pair of Trump supporters in what he described as a hate crime, Ms. Harris wrote on Twitter that the incident represented �an attempted modern day lynching.�

But after the Chicago police last week accused Mr. Smollett of staging the attack and charged him with filing a false police report, Ms. Harris was caught flat-footed. Reminded by a reporter that she had called the case a �modern day lynching,� she appeared to look back toward her aides before offering a halting answer.

�I think the facts are still unfolding,� she said. �I�m very concerned about obviously the initial allegation that he made about what might have happened.�

The good news for Ms. Harris and all the Democratic candidates, Ms. Cutter said, is that �it�s O.K. not to have a position today� on some issues.

�Voters just need to know you�re thinking about issues and are intellectually curious,� she said.

That kind of leeway, she said, will disappear in just over three months, when candidates gather for the first Democratic debate.

�When they have to stand onstage next to each other and debate each other, platitudes aren�t going to win the day,� said Ms. Cutter.
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Kamala Harris Says Jussie Smollett Developments Are Disappointing
New York Times
Several Democratic presidential candidates spoke up when the actor Jussie Smollett described a hateful attack based on his race and sexual orientation in January.

Not as many have spoken up since the police said the assault had been staged.

Mr. Smollett surrendered to face a felony charge of filing a false police report on Thursday, after the police in Chicago said he hired two brothers for the assault. Mr. Smollett denies the accusation, and his legal team said Thursday that he �feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.�

At first, several Democratic presidential candidates expressed support for Mr. Smollett, who stars on the show �Empire.� Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker both called the reported assault a �modern day lynching,� comments that Republicans are now criticizing them for.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, Ms. Harris said she was �sad, frustrated and disappointed� by the reports about Mr. Smollett. But other candidates have not publicly revisited their initial views of the case.

President Trump, who initially told reporters the alleged attack was �horrible,� criticized Mr. Smollett on Twitter on Thursday for what he called �racist and dangerous comments.�

Here are the responses � and lack thereof � of Democratic presidential contenders on social media. Several candidates have not said anything.

Updated statements on Thursday
Two candidates who made statements in January offered new thoughts on Thursday: Ms. Harris and Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.

On Jan. 29, Ms. Harris called Mr. Smollett �one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know.�

This was an attempted modern day lynching. No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate.

But in her Facebook post on Thursday, she said a false claim to the police �not only diverts resources away from serious investigations but it makes it more difficult for other victims of crime to come forward.� She then pivoted to a discussion of hate crimes, citing F.B.I. statistics showing a 17 percent increase last year.

�Part of the tragedy of this situation is that it distracts from that truth, and has been seized by some who would like to dismiss and downplay the very real problems that we must address,� she said.
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Does Elizabeth Warren’s breakup plan for the tech giants mark the end of a political romance?
Washington Post

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Scott Olso/Getty Images)

Some of the Democrats jockeying to win the White House in 2020 are taking aim at Facebook, Google and other tech giants, opening a major new rift between the party and an industry it has courted politically for years.

The latest example came Friday, when Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts unleashed the most aggressive attack to date on Amazon, Facebook and Google, pledging that if she becomes president in 2020 she will break each of those companies apart and rein in others that have “too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy.”

The senator’s threat sent shock waves through Silicon Valley, where for years, tech companies enjoyed close ties to national Democrats who wanted to burnish their digital credentials and benefit from tech executives’ deep pockets. The result long had been lax regulation of the industry — something Warren’s proposal would end.

Tech experts said they fear other Democratic presidential hopefuls soon would follow her lead.

“I don’t believe this will be an out-of-the-mainstream proposal in 2020,” said Rob Atkinson, the president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a think tank whose board of directors includes representatives from Apple, Microsoft, Google and other tech companies.

Calling Warren’s plan “appalling,” Atkinson said of the tech industry’s ties to Democrats: “Not only is the honeymoon over, but they’re in divorce court.”

Amazon, Facebook and Google did not respond to requests for comment.

Warren’s proposal illustrates the tech industry’s political fall from grace as policymakers grapple with the ills posed by Silicon Valley — from job losses threatened by the rise of automation to the spread of malicious falsehoods online. In recent years, members of Congress have grown frustrated with the privacy mishaps at Facebook, which is now facing the prospect of a multibillion-dollar fine for mishandling its users’ data. And the concern is bipartisan: A key federal watchdog agency in the Trump administration just this month commissioned a new task force to study if big tech had become too big.

Nearly a decade ago, then-candidate Barack Obama famously appeared at Google headquarters during the early days of his 2008 campaign, hoping to tout his tech savviness particularly with younger voters. Now, though, the party’s White House aspirants in 2020 have become some of the Valley’s fiercest critics in pursuit of a different political edge. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), for example, broadly has decried the “major monopoly problem” in the United States — particularly with big tech. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), meanwhile, has tangled specifically with Amazon over its treatment of workers.

Spokesmen for Klobuchar and Sanders did not respond to requests for comment.

Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University, last year raised concerns about corporate consolidation across industries, including tech. But Booker, a regular patron of the Bay Area, has long raised considerable money from the tech industry. His office declined to comment.

Warren’s new pledge, which was published on the Medium website, has two key elements. First, the Democratic lawmaker said her administration would appoint “regulators committed to reversing illegal and anti-competitive tech mergers,” including Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods, Facebook’s tie-up with WhatsApp and Instagram and Google’s ownership of Waze, Nest and DoubleClick.

Second, Warren said she would push legislation that would label key services — such as Amazon’s marketplace for goods — as “platform utilities,” which would have to be spun off from those tech giants’ other businesses. In effect, it could theoretically stop the e-commerce giant from making, selling and promoting clothes, toys or other goods alongside those same offerings from competitors on its website, a ban that’s meant to embolden Amazon’s rivals.

Warren unveiled her blueprint before she spoke to supporters in Long Island City, New York, where Amazon initially sought to construct one of two new headquarters. The company ultimately withdrew from the city amid staunch local opposition and fierce criticism from national figures, including Warren, who said Amazon had received “taxpayer bribes” from New York. She has not yet introduced her proposal as a bill in Congress, where it would likely face heavy opposition.

“We must ensure that today’s tech giants do not crowd out potential competitors, smother the next generation of great tech companies, and wield so much power that they can undermine our democracy,” she wrote in her post.

Recognizing the stakes, the tech industry’s advocates in Washington quickly blasted Warren’s proposal. The Computer and Communications Industry Association, a trade group that represents Amazon, Facebook and Google, said it was an “unwarranted and extreme proposal, which focuses on a highly admired and highly performing sector.” In a statement, Ed Black, the president of the group, added that it “is misaligned with progressive values, many of which are shared within the tech industry.”

Supporters, meanwhile, said Warren’s antitrust pledge drew inspiration from history. In 1933, Congress passed the Glass-Steagall Act, a law that forced banks to separate commercial and investment activities. Even today, banks are not permitted to control shopping chains, said Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor and a critic of large tech firms, though Glass-Steagall was essentially repealed during the Bill Clinton presidency.

Wu and others also said AT&T offers a historical model for the kind of breakup Warren is proposing for the tech industry. In the 1980s, the U.S. government moved to split apart AT&T’s telecom monopoly, severing its long-distance service from what became seven regional “Baby Bells.” Before the breakup, AT&T controlled virtually every aspect of a consumer’s telephone experience, from owning the handset in Americans’ homes to operating the switches that connected their calls.

Warren’s proposal also draws inspiration more recently from a forthcoming law article written by Lina Khan, an advocate of more aggressive antitrust enforcement, according to several people familiar with Warren’s plan who requested anonymity to speak openly about her efforts. Khan helped renew an academic debate about large tech companies with an essay on Amazon in the Yale Law Journal in 2017.

To that end, the senator’s proposal foretells a looming struggle among Democrats over how far to distance themselves from an industry they once considered an ally, according to Hal Singer, an economist at George Washington University’s Institute of Public Policy.

“This is going to be a fight for the soul of the Democratic party,” he said.
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Sen. Elizabeth Warren announces an end to high-dollar fundraisers for her presidential campaign
Washington Post
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said she will still accept large checks but won’t offer those donors “one-on-one time with me.” (Elise Amendola/AP)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) announced Monday that she will not participate in a high-dollar fundraising program during her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, staking out a position that differentiates her from most other contenders in the field.

“Candidates spend too much time with wealthy donors, and I’ve made a decision to change that,” Warren wrote as the subject line in an email that went out to her supporters Monday morning explaining the decision.

“That means no fancy receptions or big money fundraisers only with people who can write the big checks,” Warren wrote. “It means that wealthy donors won’t be able to purchase better seats or one-on-one time with me at our events.”

Eschewing traditional fundraising during the primary race will provide Warren with a potentially potent talking point on the stump, bolster her self-definition as a fighter for the working class and free up a significant amount of time in early states to organize and meet voters.

But it comes at a risk: Warren has acknowledged in her fundraising emails that she hasn’t achieved her online targets, a problem confirmed by a person familiar with her campaign’s finances. Closing the door to high-dollar events will put even more pressure on her to come up with smaller contributions.

An aide to Warren’s campaign said the decision will cost the senator “millions” of dollars she could otherwise have raised.

The move will also provide Warren’s camp with a ready-made excuse if her first-quarter fundraising totals are lower than expected. Those figures are released in mid-April and are traditionally seen as an early gauge of a candidate’s strength.

In her 2018 Senate race, Warren did not rely heavily on big donors, defined as those who gave the maximum allowed per election of $2,700. About 220 donors wrote Warren at least one check for $2,700, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. About 80 donors, including actor Ben Affleck, who was raised in Massachusetts, wrote her two checks for this amount, providing the maximum for the primary and the general elections.

The federal limits have been raised slightly for the 2020 election cycle, and candidates can raise $2,800 per person for their primary campaigns.

According to the rules she set out Monday, Warren will still accept checks of this size, but she will not hold the private dinners and events typically associated with big contributions. Her top staffers will still call big donors, but they will be barred from offering access to the senator as part of the pitch, according to a Warren aide.

Warren will try to make up for the lack of traditional fundraisers by adjusting her stump speech to make a direct request for supporters to donate via her website, according to an aide.

The senator has not held any private fundraisers since she announced her presidential campaign, according to Warren aides. But she did hold high-dollar events during her 2018 Senate reelection effort, and the money raised was part of the $11 million she transferred to her presidential campaign.

And she has appeared at money events for other groups. Last Friday, she was the main speaker at a fundraising dinner for the New Hampshire Democratic Party. The state party said it raised about $400,000.

Warren already had said that she would not accept money from lobbyists and political action committees, and would not sanction a super PAC to operate on her behalf.

The only other top contender in a position to entirely fund a campaign via smaller donations is Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). He reported raising $6 million in the 24 hours after announcing his presidential bid — an average of $27 per donor.

Sanders held several high-dollar fundraisers during his 2016 presidential campaign.

Warren’s decision sets her apart from other Democratic candidates, including Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Kamala D. Harris (Calif.). Harris initially defended taking donations from corporate PACs and corporate lobbyists, but later reversed herself to say she wouldn’t accept such money.

Neither Harris’s nor Sanders’s campaign responded to a request for comment on Warren’s move.

Harris has held high-dollar fundraisers since entering the race, including an event in Warren’s home territory of Boston, first reported by the Boston Globe. It drew several past Warren donors.

Anu Narayanswamy contributed to this report.
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Elizabeth Warren's new plan: Break up Amazon, Google and Facebook
(CNN) Sen. Elizabeth Warren released an aggressive plan on Friday to break up tech giants like Amazon, Google and Facebook, targeting the power of Silicon Valley with her populist message as sprawling Internet giants face mounting political backlash ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

The far-reaching proposal would impose new rules on certain kinds of tech companies with $25 billion or more in annual revenue, forcing Amazon and Google to spin off parts of their companies and relinquish their overwhelming control over online commerce. The plan also aims to unwind some of the highest profile mergers in the industry, like the combinations of Amazon and Whole Foods, and Google and DoubleClick, as well as Facebook's acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp.

The proposal from the Democratic presidential candidate is sure to rankle Silicon Valley executives and investors as well as opponents of government regulations, while drawing applause from progressive activists, consumer advocates and a range of lawmakers who have railed against what they see as unsustainable monopolies in the industry.

Warren's presidential campaign shared with CNN details of the plan, which outlines specific measures to break up large tech companies. It marks the Massachusetts Democrat's third major policy unveiling so far this year and is yet another sign that the progressive firebrand intends to set herself apart in a growing Democratic field by laying out an ambitious agenda centered around her campaign's overarching theme of dismantling wealthy and powerful interests.

"Today's big tech companies have too much power -- too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy. They've bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else. And in the process, they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation," Warren wrote in a Medium post about the proposal. "That's why my Administration will make big, structural changes to the tech sector to promote more competition—including breaking up Amazon, Facebook, and Google."

Read More
Elizabeth Warren declines to say if she supports financial compensation as a form of reparations
New York (CNN) Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Friday declined to say whether she would support monetary compensation as a form of reparations for African-Americans whose ancestors were slaves, further highlighting the deeply complicated and sensitive nature of an issue that is increasingly becoming politically salient in the 2020 Democratic primary.

In an interview with CNN in Harlem -- a neighborhood of Manhattan rich with African-American history -- Warren was asked three times whether she supports money being given to Americans who can trace their roots to slavery. Reparations for slavery in America is often interpreted as financial compensation for descendants of slaves.

"I think it's time for us to have the conversation. We need to address the fact that in this country, we built great fortunes and wealth on the backs of slaves and we need to address that head-on -- we need to have that national conversation," the Massachusetts Democrat told CNN. "There are scholars, there are activists who've talked about a lot of different ways we might structure reparations."

Pressed a second time on whether she supports money being given to African-Americans, Warren said she was focused on sparking a national conversation about the issue.

"You know, there are people who don't want to have this conversation at all," she said. "I believe that's what's right is we to sit down, we need to talk about our history, we need to address it head-on, we need to talk about what the long-term implications of racial discrimination have been, including more recent racial discrimination."

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Elizabeth Warren’s attention-grabbing progressive playbook
Fox News
Elizabeth Warren has gone off the rails. Frantic to stand out in a crowded field of Democrats running for president, the Massachusetts senator has grabbed ahold of one outlandish policy after another, leaving most commonsense Americans far behind. Her most recent idea? Breaking up America’s successful tech companies, which have created untold wealth for the United States and are the envy of the world.

Warren looks desperate. She is desperate. And it has nothing to do with her embarrassing (and offensive) claims to Native American heritage.


Instead, Warren has probably concluded that her moment has passed. The financial crisis put Ms. Warren on center stage as legislators struggled to rein in and punish the nation’s largest banks. Thanks to the recurring financial failures of her father, Warren grew up dreading that the local bank would foreclose on the family’s home. Simply stated, she hates banks and bankers, and jumped at the chance to put them in their place.

In the aftermath of the downturn, she became the financial sector’s fiercest critic, ultimately helping to establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as part of the Dodd-Frank legislation. Her advocacy was so strident that President Obama declined to appoint her head of the controversial new agency, but her fingerprints were all over it, earning her substantial visibility.

Come 2016, many expected Warren to run, but she demurred to Hillary Clinton. Now, the country has moved on. Dodd-Frank, which raised capital requirements and put in other safeguards, became law in 2010. It has since been softened somewhat, over the objections of Warren, as even Democrats realized the bill was overly restrictive. Last year we noted the 10-year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, one of the seminal events that triggered the crisis. Those dark days are not forgotten, certainly, but are not top of mind, either.

With her anti-bank crusade no longer resonating as it once did, Warren is flailing, appropriating every far-left program in sight. She adores the Green New Deal, can’t wait to legalize marijuana, enthusiastically backs reparations, and naturally favors Medicare-for-all. She has also proposed a wealth tax, even though it has proved damaging in other countries.

But the bedrock of Warren’s platform is that corporate America is the enemy.

It’s a strange focus, given that about 40 percent of American workers are employed by big firms. Do those people agree with Warren?

Warren has been in the Senate for over six years; if she doesn’t like our tax code, she should try to change it.

Last year, Warren introduced the Accountable Capitalism Act, which would put Uncle Sam in charge of how American businesses are run. Among other things, it demanded that every company with more than one billion in revenues acquire a federal charter and that employees elect 40 percent of corporate board representatives. Jeffrey Miron, Harvard director of undergraduate studies, said in an interview on CNBC that Warren’s bill would “destroy capitalism.” He was not alone in that assessment.

Warren’s most recent attack on business is her proposal to break up large tech firms like Amazon and Facebook, an idea the New York Times described as “expansive.” Our tech giants, it’s worth noting, have spawned countless related businesses and inspired an entire generation of innovation. What millennial does not pine to create the next Facebook or Google?

In launching this latest fantasy, the New York Times reported, Warren likened Amazon to “the dystopian novel “The Hunger Games,” in which those with power force their wishes on the less fortunate.” Warren summarized: “I’m sick of freeloading billionaires.”

Such rhetoric may resonate with progressives, but it sounds phony coming from a supposedly intelligent law professor. Who are those free-loading billionaires? Jeff Bezos, who has built an extraordinary company that most Americans rely on to make life simpler and that employs nearly half a million workers? Amazon’s sin is that it doesn’t pay much in taxes; that’s because the company had many years of losing money. Our tax code allows firms to carry forward past losses to reduce current taxable income. Warren has been in the Senate for over six years; if she doesn’t like our tax code, she should try to change it.

Meanwhile, the country does not share her view that the government needs to bring big business to heel. According to Gallup, nearly three-quarters of the country thinks there is “too much” or “about the right amount” of government regulation of Big Business, with only 25 percent thinking there should be more.

Warren recently declared that during primary season she will not hold the kind of pricey events that typically attract deep-pocket donors and big contributions. “The wealthy and well-connected have been taught by politicians to expect that more money buys more access,” she said smugly.

Some think that Warren’s self-righteous pledge is designed to lower expectations of her fund-raising ability. The day Warren announced the formation of an exploratory committee, she raised $299,000 in online donations. The day Kamala Harris entered the race she took in $1.5 million and Bernie Sanders hauled in $6 million.


Elizabeth Warren ranks fourth or fifth in most surveys of likely candidates; Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris have the pole position, with Joe Biden looming as possible front-runner should he enter the race. Judging from anxious emails the senator is sending out pleading for donations, and despite having $11 million left over from her Senate campaign, she will not likely have the funds to narrow the gap.

Meanwhile, she has offended the financial and tech industries – both important constituents in her state – as well as wealthy donors. No wonder Warren is desperate.

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Elizabeth Warren proposes breaking up Apple, in addition to Google, Facebook, and Amazon
Fox News
Democratic 2020 presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren announced in an interview on Saturday that she wants to break up not only Amazon, Google, and Facebook, but also Apple -- as the Massachusetts senator pushes further to the left of her numerous Democratic rivals on a host of populist issues.

Speaking to The Verge at the South by Southwest (SXSW) technology conference in Austin, Texas, Warren specifically demanded that Apple must be forced to either surrender control over the App Store, or cease selling its own apps within it.

"Apple, you’ve got to break it apart from their App Store. It’s got to be one or the other," Warren said. "Either they run the platform or they play in the store. They don’t get to do both at the same time."

She elaborated: "If you run a platform where others come to sell, then you don’t get to sell your own items on the platform because you have two comparative advantages. One, you’ve sucked up information about every buyer and every seller before you’ve made a decision about what you’re going to to sell. And second, you have the capacity — because you run the platform — to prefer your product over anyone else’s product. It gives an enormous comparative advantage to the platform."

Warren asserted that similar antitrust principles were "applied to railroad companies more than a hundred years ago," and that "we need to now look at those tech platforms the same way."

Responding to a federal appeals court's recent rejection of the Trump Justice Department's bid to block the planned AT&T-Time Warner merger, Warren told The Verge: "How well do I think the Justice Department and the FTC are doing? Not well at all, and not well for a long time now."


In a lengthy post on the website Medium on Friday, Warren targeted Amazon, Facebook, and Google for breakup, but did not mention Apple.

Warren said the large tech giants had used mergers to "limit competition," citing examples such as Facebook's acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp; Amazon using its market power to "force" smaller competitors, such as to sell to the company; and Google buying mapping company Waze and advertising company DoubleClick.

She also mentioned that their marketplaces were used to limit competition. "Amazon crushes small companies by copying the goods they sell on the Amazon Marketplace and then selling its own branded version. Google allegedly snuffed out a competing small search engine by demoting its content on its search algorithm, and it has favored its own restaurant ratings over those of Yelp," Warren wrote.

Warren, who specifically denied being a Socialist as recently as this weekend, proposed two ways of restoring competition to the tech sector, including passing legislation that would designate the large platforms as "platform utilities" and reversing already approved mergers, which she deemed "illegal and anti-competitive."


Rob Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a think tank for science and technology policy, sharply disagreed with Warren's proposal.

"The Warren campaign’s call to break up big tech companies reflects a 'big is bad, small is beautiful' ideology run amok," Atkinson said in a statement obtained by Fox News. "The proposal ignores the fact that many of the services big tech companies now provide free used to cost consumers money. Breaking up large Internet companies just because they are large won’t help consumers. It will hurt them by reducing convenience, reducing quality of service and innovation, and in some cases leading to the introduction of priced services."

"Breaking up large Internet companies just because they are large won’t help consumers." — ITIF president Rob Atkinson


Warren herself tempered some of her rhetoric on Saturday, saying simply, "I am not" when asked if she considered herself a democratic Socialist, in the vein of New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“All I can tell you is what I believe – there’s an enormous amount to be gained from markets. Markets create opportunities. … but markets have to have rules. They have to have a cop on the beat,” Warren told an energetic crowd at the Austin City Limits’ Moody Theater.

Warren's calls for major changes in antitrust law follow her other relatively radical proposals, including her idea of taxing idle wealth. Specifically, Warren has proposed an annual 2 percent tax on every dollar of net worth above $50 million and a 3 percent tax on every dollar of net worth above $1 billion.

But because Warren would seek to tax wealth itself -- as opposed to income or some other kind of transfer -- without equally apportioning such a tax among the states, legal experts say it is likely unconstitutional.

Warren has also said that Native Americans should be “part of the conversation” on reparations for African-Americans -- a move that threatens to bring back her own history with Native Americans.

Her fellow 2020 hopefuls Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro have come out in favor of reparations for African Americans, but have so far not gone as far as Warren in opening the door to reparations for Native Americans.

Fox News' Chris Ciaccia and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.
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Senator Elizabeth Warren Announces Plan To Break Up Amazon, Google And Facebook
The Huffington Post
“I want a government that makes sure everybody ― even the biggest and most powerful companies in America ― plays by the rules. And I want to make sure that the next generation of great American tech companies can flourish,” she continued. “To do that, we need to stop this generation of big tech companies from throwing around their political power to shape the rules in their favor and throwing around their economic power to snuff out or buy up every potential competitor.”

Warren, who hopes to secure the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, is scheduled to make a campaign stop in New York City Friday night in Long Island City, Queens, where Amazon was slated to build its highly publicized new headquarters before pulling out amid protest last month.

Seth Pollack, a Queens native who worked on Zephyr Teachout’s campaign to become New York attorney general in 2018, said Friday that Warren’s announcement felt like something of a turning point.

“It feels like these issues are kind of finally, belatedly becoming part of the mainstream conversation,” he said.

Like many of the other Democratic presidential hopefuls, Warren has pledged her support for proposals like student loan relief, Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. But the Massachusetts senator has set herself apart from the pack by also announcing specific and out-of-the-box policy ideas, including universal child care and an annual wealth tax on people with more than $50 million to their names.

Such ambitious proposal have led some, including billionaire and possible independent presidential candidate Howard Schultz, to label Warren a socialist, a title she vigorously eschews.

“I am a capitalist. Come on. I believe in markets,” she told CNBC last year. “What I don’t believe in is theft, what I don’t believe in is cheating. That’s where the difference is.”

Her newest proposal falls right in line with that idea. In Friday’s post, Warren breaks her proposal down into “two major steps.” The first would be passing legislation that designates tech platforms with annual revenues surpassing $25 billion as utilities that “would be prohibited from owning both the platform utility and any participants on that platform.”

“Amazon Marketplace, Google’s ad exchange, and Google Search would be platform utilities under this law,” she writes. “Therefore, Amazon Marketplace and Basics, and Google’s ad exchange and businesses on the exchange would be split apart. Google Search would have to be spun off as well.”

Additionally, Warren proposes disallowing these so-called “platform utilities” from sharing data with third parties.

The second major proposal of Warren’s plan would be appointing regulators dedicated to using current rules to “unwind anti-competitive mergers,” like those between Amazon and Whole Foods, Facebook and Instagram. “Unwinding these mergers will promote healthy competition in the market ― which will put pressure on big tech companies to be more responsive to user concerns, including about privacy,” she said.
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Elizabeth Warren Vows Not To Hold Any High-Dollar Campaign Fundraisers
The Huffington Post
ASSOCIATED PRESS Sen. Elizabeth Warren is ratcheting up her calls to rid the Democratic Party of big money, a challenge to the other candidates running for the nomination.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has declared war on one of the fundamental elements of modern-day politics: the high-dollar fundraiser.

In an email to supporters on Monday, the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate pledged not to give additional access to people who donate large sums to her campaign or even to participate in “call time” ― that is, the hours that many candidates spend stuck in a room requesting money from donors over the phone.

“My presidential primary campaign will be run on the principle of equal access for anybody who joins it,” Warren wrote. “That means no fancy receptions or big money fundraisers only with people who can write the big checks. And when I thank the people giving to my campaign, it will not be based on the size of their donation. It means that wealthy donors won’t be able to purchase better seats or one-on-one time with me at our events.”

Warren’s new oath is an escalation of her prior efforts to ensure that small-dollar fundraising is the only politically acceptable way to rake in campaign cash during the 2020 Democratic presidential nominating contest. It’s a rejection of the way that almost every presidential candidate in recent memory ― from Barack Obama to Jeb Bush ― has brought in campaign funds. The senator has previously asked all the Democrats running for the right to challenge President Donald Trump to swear off support from super PACs, which can take unlimited donations, and from corporate PACs, which bundle together donations from a company’s employees and send them to elected officials.

The pledge will also deprive Warren’s campaign of significant funds as she battles as many as a dozen other candidates for the Democratic nomination.

Warren, California Sen. Kamala Harris and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are seen as the candidates with the most potential to bring in small-dollar donations online. Sanders notably raised $6 million in a single day after announcing his campaign last week, and Harris raised $1.5 million in the first 24 hours after announcing her bid. Warren hasn’t released similar fundraising numbers, but she does have $11 million left in the bank from her Senate re-election bid in 2018.

Other candidates including Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Sherrod Brown of Ohio also have a proven appeal to small-dollar donors. But some potential candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have almost no history of raising cash online.

While Warren has challenged the rest of the field to swear off super PACs, corporate PACs and self-funding ― and most candidates so far have entered the race on those terms ― she didn’t issue a similar call for her rivals to ditch big-dollar fundraisers.

But she made clear she would spend her time organizing and rallying voters instead of hobnobbing with the wealthy, which is a powerful message in a Democratic Party increasingly skeptical of its leaders’ reliance on sizable donations from Wall Street and business interests. She noted that studies have shown congressional candidates are often forced to spend more than two-thirds of their time dialing for dollars and that a reliance on big donations has created a system in which 91 percent of contributors in the 2018 election were white.

“For every time you see a presidential candidate talking with voters at a town hall, rally, or local diner, those same candidates are spending three or four or five times as long with wealthy donors ― on the phone, or in conference rooms at hedge fund offices, or at fancy receptions and intimate dinners ― all behind closed doors,” Warren wrote. And she noted, “Making this decision will ensure that I will be outraised by other candidates in this race.”

The cultivation of big donors and bundlers has been a fundamental part of presidential campaigns in both parties for years. Sufficiently large donations were likely to get a lobbyist or supporter face time with the candidates as well as policy and political briefings from staffers. The more a donor gave, the more access they got.
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Elizabeth Warren to Forgo Receptions and Fund-Raisers With Big Donors
New York Times
Senator Elizabeth Warren on Monday escalated her presidential campaign�s battle against big money in politics, announcing that her bid for the Democratic nomination will forgo traditional fund-raising methods meant to cultivate a candidate�s relationships with the wealthy.

The Massachusetts senator said she would no longer hold the private fund-raisers and one-on-one meetings with big donors that have become typical for Democrats and Republicans.

�That means no fancy receptions or big money fund-raisers only with people who can write the big checks,� Ms. Warren said in a morning email to supporters. �It means that wealthy donors won�t be able to purchase better seats or one-on-one time with me at our events. And it means I won�t be doing �call time,� which is when candidates take hours to call wealthy donors to ask for their support.�

Ms. Warren made the announcement as the Democratic primary to oppose President Trump�s re-election bid begins to take shape, and candidates in the crowded field are trying to find ways to distinguish themselves. Ms. Warren, who rose to prominence as a harsh critic of big corporations and unrestrained capitalism, has attempted to push the field in that direction, announcing expansive, liberal ideas on money and wealth more than a year before the first votes are cast.

They include a recently announced plan for universal child care and a tax on the wealthiest Americans.

[Make sense of the people, issues and ideas shaping American politics with our newsletter.]

Since Ms. Warren was unlikely to receive the majority of support from big donors, the announcement�s most important function could be its political impact. In a crowded field where the slightest factor could influence a voter�s decision, Ms. Warren is seeking to separate herself from other Democrats in the race, including Senator Kamala Harris of California and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who have both benefited from high-priced fund-raising events and could now be under more pressure to disavow them.

�The wealthy and well-connected have been taught by politicians to expect that more money buys more access � they�ve done it for generations,� Ms. Warren said in her email, �and it too often closes out women and communities of color. We have to do things differently.�

The announcement comes as Ms. Warren experiences fund-raising struggles of her own. Last week, as Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont � an ardent progressive like Ms. Warren � boasted a historic fund-raising haul in the first 24 hours after his announcement, Ms. Warren sent multiple emails to her supporters warning them of lagging totals.

In the email, which had the subject line �We�re falling short,� Ms. Warren seemed to acknowledge that her campaign would never match the money raised by those of her rivals.

�We will be outraised. We will be outspent,� she said. �We just can�t let ourselves be drowned out.�
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Elizabeth Warren Proposes Breaking Up Tech Giants Like Amazon and Facebook
New York Times
Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat who is bidding to be the policy pacesetter in the Democratic presidential primary, championed another expansive idea on Friday evening in front of a crowd of thousands in Queens: a regulatory plan aimed at breaking up some of America�s largest tech companies, including Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook.

At a rally in Long Island City, the neighborhood that was to be home to a major new Amazon campus, Ms. Warren laid out her proposal calling for regulators who would undo some tech mergers, as well as legislation that would prohibit platforms from both offering a marketplace for commerce and participating in that marketplace.

�We have these giants corporations � do I have to tell that to people in Long Island City? � that think they can roll over everyone,� Ms. Warren told the crowd, drawing applause. She compared Amazon to the dystopian novel �The Hunger Games,� in which those with power force their wishes on the less fortunate.

�I�m sick of freeloading billionaires,� she said.

Ms. Warren�s policy announcement sent reverberations from New York to Silicon Valley, as she further cemented herself as one of the Democratic candidates most willing to call for large-scale changes to the country�s structure in the name of equality.

Among the crowded field of Democrats seeking the presidential nomination, Ms. Warren has done the most to add detail to those early proposals, including a plan for universal child care, a tax on the country�s wealthiest families, and, as of Friday, breaking up big technological giants.

Ms. Warren�s regulatory plan would also force the rollback of some acquisitions by tech giants, the campaign said, including Facebook�s deals for WhatsApp and Instagram, Amazon�s addition of Whole Foods, and Google�s purchase of Waze. Companies would be barred from transferring or sharing users� data with third parties. Dual entities, such as Amazon Marketplace and AmazonBasics, would be split apart.

Pressure for elected officials to place additional oversight on mega-tech companies has been building for months, particularly after revelations that companies such as Facebook may have violated customer privacy agreements. Ms. Warren is also sending a political warning shot across the Democratic primary field, where decisions on how much to embrace or reject Silicon Valley and its wealthy donors could become an important dividing line among candidates.

In the wide-open nomination race, Democrats such as Ms. Warren, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota have expressed a willingness to limit the influence of companies such as Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon � though Mr. Sanders and Ms. Klobuchar have yet to present clear policy details. Senator Kamala Harris, who represents many of those companies based in her home state of California, has repeatedly pressed executives on consumer privacy but has stayed away from direct calls to limit their influence. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey has been more willing to embrace the controversial corporations, who have frequently used their vast resources to lobby politicians of both parties.

�Our technology industry is the envy of the world and we need policies that will foster innovation and consumer choice � but we also need stronger enforcement of antitrust law,� said Ro Khanna, the California House Democrat who represents Silicon Valley headquarters of companies such as Apple and eBay. He said that blanket statements against big tech companies weren�t helpful, but that each company needed to be �evaluated on a case-by-case basis and afforded due process.�

Ms. Warren�s plan creates two tiers of companies that would fall under the new regulations: those that have an annual global revenue of $25 billion or more, and those with annual revenue of $90 million to $25 billion. The upper tier would be required to �structurally separate� their products from their marketplace. Smaller companies would be subject to regulations but would not be forced to separate themselves from the online marketplace.

Ms. Warren, who has previously said moving to Boston would have been a �good opportunity� for Amazon, said in a Medium post Friday morning that companies have grown so powerful that they can bully cities and states into showering them with massive taxpayer handouts in exchange for doing business, and can act � in the words of Mark Zuckerberg � �more like a government than a traditional company.�

During a brief interview later in New York, Ms. Warren refused to say whether Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was right to have offered hefty tax incentives to Amazon in return for the proposed campus in Queens. Boston�s mayor, Martin J. Walsh, from Ms. Warren�s home state, also offered similar incentives.

�That�s not the point,� she said. �Before you even get into the question of do you need to change the statutes, there are structural changes you can make in the economy to prevent Amazon from dancing its way across America saying, �What will you offer me if I came?��

This is a refrain she has hit for years, including in a 2016 speech titled �Reigniting Competition in the American Economy.� Last year, she introduced the Accountable Capitalism Act, which seeks to curb shareholder power by forcing corporations to increase worker representation on their governing boards, while also reducing incentives for big companies to pay out shareholders rather than reinvest in businesses.

Matt Stoller, a fellow at the Open Markets Institute in Washington and a former senior adviser to the Senate Budget Committee, said Ms. Warren�s plan was �practical� and �necessary.� He compared big tech companies to the tobacco monopolies of America�s past, which were eventually subjected to antitrust lawsuits.

�There�s been a traditional sense around the politics of D.C. that these companies are progressive,� Mr. Stoller said. �Their employees give to Democrats, they�re friendly to social liberalism, there�s an idealism to how they talk about the world. That�s been the traditional sense.�

�But these companies have the moral frame of Big Tobacco,� he added. �They don�t care.�

Carl Szabo, who is vice president at an e-commerce trade association called NetChoice, said he felt Ms. Warren�s plan was unnecessary. He warned that it could lead to weaponization of antitrust laws, as legislators target companies deemed to be their enemies.

�Politicizing and weaponizing antitrust law is ripe for abuse,� said Mr. Szabo, who is a professor of privacy law at George Mason University�s law school. �We�ve already seen how politics can inject itself into antitrust reviews, and I don�t think our legislators should be encouraging this precedent.�

Though tech giants have experienced several controversies in recent years, it is unclear how popular Ms. Warren�s antitrust proposal would be with voters. Rob Atkinson, president of Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, an industry-sponsored group, defended the power of big companies in the technology sector for what he described as benefits to consumers.

�The Warren campaign�s call to break up big tech companies reflects a �big is bad, small is beautiful� ideology run amok,� Mr. Atkinson said. �The proposal ignores the fact that many of the services big tech companies now provide free used to cost consumers money.�

Matt McIlwain, a partner at the Seattle venture capital firm Madrona Venture Group, which was an early Amazon investor, said in an email, �Senator Warren and others with a similar mind-set are misguided on the need to break up larger tech companies.�

�Companies in the innovation economy have a strong track record of creating quality products and services that are often free or at dramatically lower costs than previous services,� Mr. McIlwain said.

For those closely watching the Democratic presidential nomination contest, the announcement was another example of Ms. Warren�s political strategy, which is to appeal to voters based on policy ideas and retail politics, not soaring oration or feel-good messages of unity.

Among the crowd in Queens, which included more young people than many Warren rallies across the country, several said they appreciated her policy focus.

�The fact that she focuses on concrete policy, this early in the race, is really aspirational,� said Milo Vassallo, who is involved in several Brooklyn leftist groups. Mr. Vassallo said he particularly liked Ms. Warren�s new proposal on technology.

�Her goal is not to undermine big tech, but just make it more competitive,� he said.

Kevin Murray, a 28-year-old law student who lives in Queens and who has not decided on a candidate to support, praised Ms. Warren�s proposals as �tangible.� Mr. Murray also wanted to come to the rally because Ms. Warren is the author of one of his law school textbooks.

�I would�ve brought it for her to sign,� he said, �but it was a rental.�
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Kirsten Gillibrand’s sexual misconduct hypocrisy
Washington Post

In April 2018, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand urged Senate leaders to pass her bipartisan Congressional Harassment Reform Act. “Congress has a sexual harassment problem — and isn’t taking it seriously,” Gillibrand wrote in Fortune magazine. “If we can’t clean up our own act, how can anyone expect Congress to do the right thing for victims and survivors in the rest of the country? Congress has to do better. I believe that elected officials should be held to the highest ethical standard — not the lowest.”

Just a few months later, when a woman in her own office reported that a married male staffer was making repeated, unwanted and increasingly aggressive sexual advances toward her, Gillibrand did not do the right thing and fire him. Politico reported that “Less than three weeks after reporting the alleged harassment and subsequently claiming that the man retaliated against her for doing so, the woman told chief of staff Jess Fassler that she was resigning because of the office’s handling of the matter.”

Gillibrand’s office defended her inaction, saying in a statement that the senator’s office had conducted a “full and thorough investigation” that included “multiple interviews with relevant current employees who could potentially corroborate the claims” but did not find cause to fire the male staffer.

They could not “corroborate” her claims? Gillibrand was willing to destroy Brett Kavanaugh’s career, and derail his Supreme Court nomination, over uncorroborated allegations, but when a female employee alleged that she was sexually harassed by one of Gillibrand’s closest aides, the senator hid behind a supposed lack of corroboration. Why was her office unable to corroborate the allegations? Maybe it’s because they never contacted two former employees the woman said could corroborate her story?

Politico had no problem doing that. The news organization interviewed more than 20 former Gillibrand staffers who alleged a pattern of harassment by aide Abbas Malik. One former staffer said that “Malik often called her fat and unattractive to her face and made light of sexual abuse.” Others said Malik “regularly made misogynistic jokes, frequently appraised what they wore, disparaged the looks of other female staffers and rated the attractiveness of women who came in for interviews.” If a reporter could dig this information up, then her office could have done so, too. Only after Politico contacted Gillibrand’s office about the additional allegations against Malik did the senator finally fire him.

The fact is, while publicly positioning herself as a champion of harassment victims, Gillibrand apparently allowed a serial harasser to torment her female staff. And when a woman on her staff risked her own career to report the abusive conduct, “I was belittled by her office and treated like an inconvenience,” the woman told Politico. “She kept a harasser on her staff until it proved politically untenable for her to do so.”

Why did Gillibrand fail to act? Politico reported that “Malik had spent years by Gillibrand’s side as her driver — the senator officiated at his wedding — while the woman was a more recent hire and had significantly less stature in the office.” She apparently did not take action because she liked him personally. The hypocrisy is rank. Gillibrand is pushing legislation, the Military Justice Improvement Act, that would make independent prosecutors, rather than military commanders, responsible for handling allegations of sexual misconduct in the military, because of “the bias and inherent conflicts of interest posed by the military chain of command’s sole decision-making power.” Yet when faced with such allegations in her own office, she had no concern about bias and inherent conflicts of interest.

Gillibrand is a political opportunist who has seized on the #MeToo movement to advance her political career. In 2017, she shocked many Democrats by declaring that President Bill Clinton should have resigned during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. But she said nothing about Clinton’s misconduct when he campaigned for her in 2006 or when he headlined a fundraiser for her in 2009, and she was happy to accept the help of the Clinton political machine to raise an estimated $70 million for her. It was only after Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election, and the Clinton political machine was finally defunct, that Gillibrand finally stepped forward to condemn him. What a profile in courage.

Gillibrand’s idea of congressional harassment reform is that high-profile men such as Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) must go, but her driver is allowed to stay — at least until the media got wind of it. As Gillibrand put it in her Fortune op-ed, “Congress needs to show leadership and make it clear that we won’t tolerate sexual harassment anymore.” She can start in her own office.

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand defends handling of sexual harassment accusations against former aide
Washington Post
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), a 2020 presidential candidate and leading voice in Congress on combating sexual misconduct, on Monday defended her handling of sexual harassment allegations against a former aide who was not fired until a media outlet contacted the senator’s office last month.

Gillibrand’s office had investigated allegations against the aide, Abbas Malik, last year. But Malik had kept his job until last week. His firing came after reporters from Politico approached Gillibrand’s office with information from two witnesses the senator’s staff had earlier failed to interview, despite the urgings of the woman who made the initial accusations.

Gillibrand’s office opened a new investigation and fired Malik the following week.

Gillibrand told reporters outside the Capitol on Monday evening that she had no regrets about the way her office handled the case.

“As we do in all cases, we take these kinds of allegations very seriously,” Gillibrand said.

She told reporters that her staffers had conducted a “professional and thorough investigation” last year during which they were able to substantiate claims of derogatory comments made by Malik but were “not able to substantiate the sexual harassment claims.”

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) speaks during a Fox News interview Feb. 25. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

During that investigation, Gillibrand said her office “interviewed all current employees that had relevant information.”

Neither the senator nor her spokeswoman explained why Gillibrand’s staff had failed to contact the two witnesses who were recommended to them by the initial accuser. Both witnesses were former employees of Gillibrand’s office.

The Washington Post tried to contact Malik for comment via his Senate email Monday night but did not receive a response.

In an interview with Politico, the accuser said she felt let down by the way Gillibrand’s office handled her accusations.

“When I had the courage to speak up about my harasser, I was belittled by her office and treated like an inconvenience,” she said. “She kept a harasser on her staff until it proved politically untenable for her to do so.”

The woman told Politico that Malik, who was Gillibrand’s driver and military adviser, began making unwanted and increasingly aggressive advances toward her after he received a promotion in July that placed him in a supervisory position. She also said he frequently made crude and inappropriate remarks about women, including female staffers in Gillibrand’s office.

After she reported the alleged harassment and Gillibrand’s office investigated, Malik was reportedly given a warning and his promotion was revoked. The woman said he then retaliated against her by not keeping her informed of changes to Gillibrand’s schedule as he had previously done.

The woman later resigned in protest of the way Gillibrand’s office handled her accusations as well as the aftermath of the investigation, during which one senior Gillibrand aide had reportedly told the woman that she, too, had committed fireable offenses.

Several other former employees told Politico that Malik often made inappropriate comments; one of the former employees whom Gillibrand’s office failed to contact said he once told her that another woman “couldn’t get laid unless she was raped.”

Gillibrand has developed a reputation in the Senate as being at the forefront of efforts to combat sexual misconduct, particularly on the issue of sexual assault in the military. During a Senate hearing on the issue last week, she spoke out forcefully in defense of her long-held position that such cases should be handled outside the military’s chain of command.

“When we’ve asked service members, ‘What would you do? What would make you actually report?’ Overwhelmingly they have answered, ‘If you took it out of the chain of command,’ ” Gillibrand said at the hearing, noting that the perpetrator is often a member of the chain of command.

She was also the first senator to call for the resignation of Sen. Al Franken in 2017 after eight women accused the Minnesota Democrat of groping or forcibly kissing them. Franken has denied some of the allegations and said he remembers others “very differently.”

Some Democratic donors and others on the left have criticized Gillibrand for urging Franken to resign, while others have argued that such critics are using Gillibrand as a scapegoat for Franken’s own actions.

Days after she kicked off her presidential campaign in January, Gillibrand defended her call for Franken to step down, telling reporters, “I will stand up for what I believe in, especially when it’s hard.”

“With Senator Franken, it’s sad for many people, but after eight allegations of sexual harassment and groping, credible allegations at the time, I just couldn’t stay silent,” she said.

Elise Viebeck contributed to this report.
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Gillibrand's Senate office restructured top aide's role in wake of sexual harassment investigation
Washington (CNN) Kirsten Gillibrand's Senate office restructured a top aide's role in the wake of sexual harassment allegations between two other staffers last year, a Gillibrand aide tells CNN, the clearest sign yet that the office acknowledges mistakes had been made after the investigation into the allegations was completed and the accused staffer was not fired.

A Gillibrand aide acknowledged that post-investigation, there had been human error in communicating with the woman who made the accusations. The aide said that Deputy Chief of Staff Anne Bradley, who made the error, would no longer have any involvement with investigations or personnel cases in the office. Bradley's title did not change.

The controversy around the office's handling of a sexual harassment allegations has undercut a key reason for Gillibrand's rise to national prominence: Her stands against sexual assault and her championing of the #MeToo movement. The New York Democrat is now open to accusations that she did not live up to the standards she has sought to set for others.

The controversy also comes at a perilous time for Gillibrand's 2020 effort: Her presidential exploratory committee, announced in January, has yet to gain much traction in national or statewide polls, and the second-term senator has failed to garner much support from leaders in her home state.

Gillibrand was defiant in defending the office's handling of the investigation on Monday when pressed by reporters, but changing Bradley's role is the first acknowledgment by Gillibrand's team that some errors had been made.

On Monday, Politico reported and CNN later confirmed that a woman who worked in Gillibrand's Senate office accused a senior staffer of sexual harassment in 2018.

After Gillibrand's staff investigated the allegations and a subsequent allegation of intimidation, the accused staffer -- Gillibrand military adviser Abbas Malik --was not fired, leading the accuser to resign from Gillibrand's office over the handling of the matter. Instead, Malik was punished by not receiving a promotion or boost in salary he was in line to get.

Politico reported that after it began looking into the story and found further allegations of derogatory comments against Malik, Gillibrand's office decided to fire Malik.

In a letter the accuser wrote to Gillibrand, her then-chief of staff and now campaign manager Jess Fassler and general counsel Keith Castaldo, the accuser details her interactions with Bradley following the investigation and said that Bradley and Fassler informed her that it was "too much of a 'he said, she said' situation."

"On Tuesday, July 31, 2018, Anne came into my office and said that 'Jess told Abbas that he could have fired him for a number of reasons but isn't going to. So he should consider himself lucky.' Thinking I had the full support of the office, I was deeply confused and saddened by this," the accuser wrote. "Later that afternoon, I decided to discuss this with Jess and Anne. Jess responded to me by saying, 'You could also be fired at any minute, for any reason.'"

The accuser wrote in her letter that she "offered my resignation because of how poorly the investigation and post-investigation was handled. I hope your office will choose to handle cases like this with more sensitivity and understanding in the future."

Gillibrand has remained strident throughout the controversy, defending her and her top aide's handling of the matter and deflecting questions about whether her closeness to Malik clouded her decision-making on the issue.

"I will always look to improve my processes with my new chief of staff, with her experience, we will look to see how we can improve," Gillibrand told reporters on Monday. "But this investigation was thorough and professional, and the allegations were taken seriously from the very first day."

She added: "The sexual harassment claims did not rise to the level of sexual harassment."

Gillibrand went on to say she told the accuser that she "loved" and supported her. But the accuser clearly did not feel that support was sufficient and referenced Gillibrand's own record of championing women accusers to critique the senator in her resignation letter.

"I trusted and leaned on this statement that you made: 'You need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is O.K. None of it is acceptable,'" the accuser wrote. "Your office chose to go against your public belief that women shouldn't accept sexual harassment in any form and portrayed my experience as a misinterpretation instead of what it actually was: harassment and ultimately, intimidation."

The handling of the situation did not sit well with a number of Democratic activists, including Angela Rye, a CNN commentator. When asked for her thoughts on the situation, Rye called it "pretty incredible."

Sexual harassment is "black and white until our feelings get involved," Rye said. "It's black and white until it's somebody we know. Until it's somebody who we say they would never do that. ... But what happens when you say something like that, and it automatically debunks the real, credible stories of so many other real women victims."

Gillibrand refuted the idea that her judgment was clouded by her closeness to Malik, telling reporters on Monday that she stood by the way they handled the investigation and that Malik had been "punished severely."

"He was denied a promotion, he was denied pay, his desk was removed and he was unable to have unsupervised contact with" the accuser, she said.

Organizations and advocates who push for more stringent rules around sexual assault and harassment widely credit Gillibrand's work on the issue, with many believing she is one of the most steadfast supporters they have on Capitol Hill. That is one reason why it may be difficult to see her handling of the accusations against Malik gaining traction in a Democratic primary; one of Gillibrand's Democratic opponents would have to use it against her, something a Democrat may be reluctant to do.

Still, the timing creates a headache for the senator: Her 2020 effort has sputtered since announcing and the story involves her top campaign aide and longtime adviser, Fassler. Additionally, it rekindles talk of her handling of allegations against Sen. Al Franken, who resigned after a series of sexual misconduct allegations against him.

Gillibrand was the first senator to call on Franken to resign after allegations of unwanted touching and kissing were made against him. Though more than 20 Democrats would eventually call on Franken to step down, Gillibrand led the charge by saying it would be "better for our country" if Franken stepped down and sent a message that "any kind of mistreatment of women in our society isn't acceptable." That decision has rankled some Democrats who were fond of the Minnesota Democrat, but Gillibrand has defended her call for Franken's ouster and used it on the campaign trail to demonstrate how she is willing to stand up for victims even when the accused is a close friend.

Aides are also confident that Gillibrand will get a boost when she officially announces a presidential campaign, an announcement that is expected to come soon.

Fassler, after working as Gillibrand's chief of staff, became her campaign manager earlier this year, building on his years of work with the New York senator.

According to the letter from the accuser, Fassler played a central role in the investigation.

A separate Gillibrand aide defended Fassler's handling of the matter, saying he "repeatedly demonstrated his respect and gratitude for the employee, and he was grateful she came forward."

"The investigation determined that the individual was also responsible for an unrelated office policy violation, which as the top manager he had a responsibility to raise, while also making clear that she would not be disciplined to ensure that she and other employees felt safe to report any personnel issues in the future," the aide said.

Fassler did not respond to request for comment.

Despite the confidence shown by Gillibrand aides, the accuser's letter makes clear she did not feel supported by Fassler's comments.

"I felt defeated, not just from the humiliation and pain that the harassment had brought me, but that in attempting to seek appropriate disciplinary actions for my harasser, my experience was devalued. I was devalued," she wrote.

Gillibrand said Monday, after the story had been reported, that she maintains "complete confidence" in Fassler.
Gillibrand defends handling of sexual harassment allegations in Senate office
(CNN) Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and her senior aides are pushing back against claims that the New York Democrat mishandled allegations of sexual harassment in her Senate office.

The situation could undercut Gillibrand's efforts to be a champion of the #MeToo movement and of sexual assault and harassment accusers, something that the senator has made central to her 2020 presidential campaign.

A woman who worked in Gillibrand's Senate office accused a senior staffer of sexual harassment in 2018. The accused staffer, Gillibrand military adviser Abbas Malik, was not fired for the allegations. The accuser told Gillibrand, her chief of staff Jess Fassler and general counsel Keith Castaldo that she was offering her resignation "because of how poorly the investigation and post-investigation was handled," according to a letter obtained by CNN and first reported by Politico

CNN has agreed not to name the accuser because of her desire to stay private.

Efforts to reach Malik were not successful and Politico reported that he did not respond to their requests for comment.

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol Monday, Gillibrand said she told staffer who made the accusations that she was valued and loved.

"I told this employee at the time that she was loved, that we loved her. I deeply valued her. Which is why we took her allegations immediately, investigated them immediately and did a professional and thorough investigation," Gillibrand said. "It was taken very seriously from the very beginning."

She added, "I will always look to improve my processes with my new chief of staff, with her experience, we will look to see how we can be improve. But this investigation was thorough and professional and the allegations were taken seriously from the very first day."

In a statement earlier in the day, Gillibrand defended her handling of the investigation.

"When allegations are made in the workplace, we must believe women so that serious investigations can actually take place, we can learn the facts, and there can be appropriate accountability," she said in the statement.

"That's exactly what happened at every step of this case last year. I told her that we loved her at the time and the same is true today," Gillibrand said.

Malik, who had not been dismissed in the wake of the allegations, was fired last week, according to Whitney Mitchell Brennan, Gillibrand's Senate communications director.

"Recently, we learned of never-before-reported and deeply troubling comments allegedly made by this same individual," Brennan said. "The office immediately began another investigation and interviewed relevant witnesses, which has led to the office terminating the employee from staff last week."

A Gillibrand aide, who requested anonymity to speak openly about the issue, said the Senate office had launched an investigation into the initial sexual harassment claims within an hour of the allegations being made and the office had interviewed all current employees who were named during the course of the investigation as having additional information, in addition to other relevant current employees.

In total, the aide said, seven interviews were conducted and though the investigation concluded that inappropriate behavior had happened, the employee's specific behavior did not meet the standard for sexual harassment.

The interviews with other current employees, the aide added, confirmed Malik had engaged in other unprofessional behavior that violated office policy - including derogatory comments about women's appearances -- and the military aide was given a final warning and was punished by having a promotion and salary increase taken away.

The investigation, the aide said, took roughly a week to complete and the office worked to accommodate the accuser during that time, including moving Malik from the suite he shared with the accused in the senator's Russell Office Building office, canceling ongoing meetings so the accuser did not have to be in the same room with Malik and offering to allow the accuser to work from home.

After the investigation was completed, the accuser said Malik had threatened to retaliate against her for reporting the behavior. The aide said that Fassler, Gillibrand's chief of staff and now campaign manager, "replied within four minutes regarding her complaint of retaliation saying it would be handled." The subsequent investigation found there had been no retaliation, the aide said.

The process, however, was clearly not sufficient for the accuser, who resigned after the series of investigations.

"I have offered my resignation because of how poorly the investigation and post-investigation was handled," the accuser wrote in the letter to Gillibrand, Fassler and Castaldo. "I hope your office will choose to handle cases like this with more sensitivity and understanding in the future."

She added: "I trusted and leaned on this statement that you made: 'You need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is O.K. None of it is acceptable.' Your office chose to go against your public belief that women shouldn't accept sexual harassment in any form and portrayed my experience as a misinterpretation instead of what it actually was: harassment and ultimately, intimidation."

The accuser also used her letter to outline how she reported her complaints, saying she first filed her complaint on July 25, 2018 and resolved it by July 30. The accuser goes on to say that she was told the office "did not find cause to fire Abbas for sexual harassment" and said the allegations were a "he said, she said" situation.

The Gillibrand aide told CNN that the office had asked the accuser to reconsider her resignation and discussed other jobs within the office she could take if she were interested.

The aide added that Gillibrand's office had held three sexual harassment training sessions for the whole staff in the eight months preceding this woman's claim.

Gillibrand's rise to national prominence has been rooted in her handling of sexual assault, both in Congress and in the military. Gillibrand has been a primary force behind legislation that would remove sexual assault allegations from the chain of the command in the military, allowing a prosecutor, not the commander, to handle them.

Gillibrand was also the first senator to call on Sen. Al Franken to resign after allegations of unwanted touching and kissing were made against him. That decision has rankled some Democrats who were fond of the Minnesota Democrat, but Gillibrand has defended her call for Franken's ouster, using it on the campaign trail to demonstrate how she is willing to stand up for victims even when the accused is a close friend.
Gillibrand, champion of #MeToo movement, saw aide resign in protest over sexual harassment case
Fox News
She’s making the fight against sexual assault and harassment a key component of her Democratic presidential campaign.

But now Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York – one of the most vocal advocates of the #MeToo movement who also led the charge in calling for fellow Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota to resign – is dealing with a harassment issue in her own Senate office.


Last summer, a female aide in her mid-20’s who was working in Gillibrand’s office resigned in protest as she criticized the office’s handling of her sexual harassment complaint against a senior male adviser to the senator.

“These are challenges that affect all of our nation’s workplaces, including mine, and the question is whether or not they are taken seriously,” Gillibrand said in a statement Monday morning, after the news was reported by Politico.

“As I have long said, when allegations are made in the workplace, we must believe women so that serious investigations can actually take place, we can learn the facts, and there can be appropriate accountability. That’s exactly what happened at every step of this case last year,” the senator explained. “I told her that we loved her at the time and the same is true today.”

The female staffer alleged that the male aide – who was a decade older than her and married – made repeated unwelcome advances and crude, misogynistic comments.

The woman – who was granted anonymity because of fears of retaliation – resigned less than three weeks after reporting the alleged harassment.


“I have offered my resignation because of how poorly the investigation and post-investigation was handled,” the woman wrote to Gillibrand in a letter obtained by Politico.

In the letter, the woman urged that the senator “draw a line in the sand and say none of it is O.K. None of it is acceptable. Your office chose to go against your public belief that women shouldn’t accept sexual harassment in any form and portrayed my experience as a misinterpretation instead of what it actually was: harassment and ultimately, intimidation.”

In a statement obtained by Fox News, Gillibrand Senate office communications director Whitney Mitchell said that “at every step of the process, immediate action was taken by the office. The previous allegations in question were investigated in consultation with Senate Employment Counsel, and included multiple interviews with relevant current employees who could potentially corroborate the claims. A full and thorough investigation into the evidence revealed employee misconduct that, while inappropriate, did not meet the standard for sexual harassment.”

Mitchell added that “the office did find unprofessional behavior that violated office policy, including derogatory comments, the office took strong disciplinary action against the employee in question and he was given a final warning.”

But Mitchell explained that the senior aide – Abbas Malik – was terminated last week after “we learned of never-before reported and deeply troubling comments allegedly made by this same individual.”

She said the Senate office “immediately began another investigation and interviewed relevant witnesses, which has led to the office terminating the employee from staff last week.”

The episode hits home for Gillibrand, who’s long been a leader in the fight against sexual harassment. Even before the start of the #MeToo movement, the senator was holding high-profile hearings on rape in the military and battling on behalf of survivors of sexual assaults on college campuses.

She was the first Democratic senator in 2017 to call for Franken to resign after he faced multiple allegations that he had in the past forcibly kissed and touched women. And she ignited a firestorm that same year when she suggested that Bill Clinton should have resigned the presidency during the scandal over his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Fox News' Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.
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Gillibrand claims ‘there’s nothing socialist’ about the Green New Deal
Fox News
2020 presidential hopeful Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand claimed in an interview this week that, if done using market forces, there is “nothing socialist” about the Green New Deal -- a proposed vast government-led overhaul of the nation’s economy and energy use.

Gillibrand made the comments in an interview with New York Magazine, where she was asked about her support for the controversial plan that has shot into Democratic mainstream thought after spending years as a fringe, far-left idea.


“I love the framework of the Green New Deal, and the reason is this: I believe that global climate change is the greatest threat to humanity that exists in our generation, and it needs a bold and powerful set of solutions to actually attack it, and to solve it,” she said.

The non-binding resolution was introduced last month by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., for what Ocasio-Cortez called a “wartime-level, just economic mobilization plan to get to 100 percent renewable energy ASAP!”

The resolution includes calls for “net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers;” infrastructure investment; guarantees of clean water, healthy food and sustainable environment; and a curiously undefined “access to nature.”

It envisions a 10-year mobilization that would upgrade and expand power sources and power grids to meet 100 percent of power demand via clean energy sources, as well as overhauling transport systems to “eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as is technologically feasible.”

On the economic front, the plan bundled together a host of liberal wish-list items. Among the most ambitious components is a plan to guarantee a job “with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States.” The plan also calls to provide health care, affordable housing, economic security and access to clean water, air, food and nature to all “people of the United States.”

The rollout was marred, however, by the release of two FAQs that suggested the plan would aim to make air travel obsolete, upgrade or replace every building in America to ensure energy efficiency and give economic security even to those "unwilling" to work.

Republicans have called the proposal a "socialist wish list" that would kill at least 1 million jobs and disrupt global trade -- while costing trillions.

But Gillibrand isn’t so sure, telling the magazine that she would add a “price on carbon” to the deal, arguing this could spur innovation.


“The best thing about putting a price on carbon is you allow the market to work as it’s intended to work,” she said. “People will innovate because they want to save money, and they want to have an economic advantage.”

“Let’s use market forces to create investment and, you know, there’s nothing socialist about it,” she said. “You’re saying we need to do this to protect humanity.”

The call by Gillibrand to inject some form of market-based activity to the plan may be an effort to make it more palatable to moderates. She recently said she believes she could get Republicans to vote for the deal.

The ambitious plan has seen opposition not just from conservatives, but even some environmentalists. Patrick Moore, the co-founder of the environmentalist group Greenpeace, ripped into Ocasio-Cortez over the weekend as a “pompous little twit,” saying the Green New Deal plan she’s advocating is “completely crazy.”

“If fossil fuels were banned every tree in the world would be cut down for fuel for cooking and heating," Moore said in a tweet Saturday directed at Ocasio-Cortez. “You would bring about mass death.”

Fox News’ Alex Pappas contributed to this report.
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Kirsten Gillibrand: Aide’s Misconduct Claim ‘Did Not Rise To The Level Of Sexual Harassment’
The Huffington Post
“I trusted and leaned on this statement that you made: ‘You need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is O.K. None of it is acceptable,’” the woman wrote in her resignation letter to Gillibrand in August.

“Your office chose to go against your public belief that women shouldn’t accept sexual harassment in any form and portrayed my experience as a misinterpretation instead of what it actually was: harassment and ultimately, intimidation,” the staffer added.

Gillibrand initially responded to the Politico report in a Monday morning statement to HuffPost reiterating that people need to believe women when they make accusations like this.

“As I have long said, when allegations are made in the workplace, we must believe women so that serious investigations can actually take place, we can learn the facts, and there can be appropriate accountability,” the senator wrote. “That’s exactly what happened at every step of this case last year. I told her that we loved her at the time and the same is true today.”
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Kirsten Gillibrand Delivers Lukewarm Statement On Ilhan Omar
The Huffington Post
Speech that fuels hate and prejudice has no place in public discourse, whether it’s directed at Jews, Muslims, African Americans or other Americans. Those with critical views of Israel, such as Congresswoman Omar, should be able to express their views without employing anti-Semitic tropes about money or influence, just as those critical of Congresswoman Omar should not be using Islamophobic language and imagery that incites violence, such as what we saw in West Virginia.

We must also call out the hypocrisy of the Republican Party in this instance. Many Republicans have taken offense to Congresswoman Omar’s remarks and condemned her in the harshest terms, but said little or nothing when President Trump defended white supremacists at Charlottesville or when Leader McCarthy promoted a conspiracy about Jewish donors buying elections.

Both are unacceptable. As elected officials, we must be held to a higher standard and we must all do better.
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What Kirsten Gillibrand Is Missing: New York Endorsements for 2020
New York Times
WASHINGTON � Senator Cory Booker has been endorsed for president by New Jersey�s entire 11-member Democratic congressional delegation, his state�s governor and its other senator. Senator Bernie Sanders has the backing of Vermont�s other senator and its lone House member. Senator Kamala Harris has support from three-quarters of the Democrats in the California State Senate, the governor and a handful of House members from her state.

Even John Delaney, the former Maryland congressman running a long-shot bid for president, has the support of a House member from his home state.

But Senator Kirsten Gillibrand? No one from New York�s 21-member congressional delegation is yet backing her bid for president. And neither is New York�s governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, or its other senator, Chuck Schumer, who as minority leader is staying neutral because numerous senators are in the race.

�Is there a question mark on the end of that?� Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, a Hudson Valley Democrat, said this week when told that none of his colleagues had yet endorsed Ms. Gillibrand. �She hasn�t spoken to me. And that�s the most honest thing I can tell you.�

Home-state political insiders almost certainly will not prove decisive in a presidential primary race that begins in Iowa and New Hampshire. But Ms. Gillibrand�s missing support back home is revealing of both her New York relationships and how she has constructed her national profile, often by staying far from the state�s notoriously fractious and rough-and-tumble fray.

In interviews with two-thirds of New York�s Democratic congressional delegation, lawmakers this week offered a variety of rationales and dodges for why none of them has lined up behind their colleague.

�For me, it�s just too early,� Representative Eliot Engel said.

�The field is still developing,� Paul Tonko added.

�This race is so significant that I don�t see how you just do something because of home state,� Gregory Meeks said.

�I�m just watching. I�m listening. I�m listening,� Nydia Velazquez said as she stepped into a Capitol elevator. �I�ll take my time.�

Presidential candidates often roll out early endorsements as a show of strength. Rival campaigns, for instance, took note of Mr. Booker�s ability to unite the full spectrum of New Jersey Democratic leaders behind him shortly after he entered the race.

Mr. Sanders nailed down the early endorsement of his fellow Vermont senator, Patrick J. Leahy, who supported Hillary Clinton in 2016. Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota both have secured prominent home-state congressional backers.

It�s not that Ms. Gillibrand and her aides have not been trying. This week, she invited the full New York delegation to her Washington home next Wednesday for drinks. It�s just that no endorsements have materialized so far.

�I haven�t made a decision about endorsements yet simply out of respect for all the other folks who have reached out to me,� said Representative Yvette Clarke of Brooklyn, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, who spent time with Ms. Gillibrand over the weekend.

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Ms. Gillibrand�s campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

Ms. Gillibrand is also technically still only �exploring� a White House bid, though she and her staff have begun telling potential endorsers that she will formally declare later this month.

�She hasn�t announced,� Representative Carolyn Maloney said. �I�m sure a lot of people will endorse her if and when she announces.�

One complicating factor for Ms. Gillibrand is that she may not be the only New York Democrat to run in 2020. While the former New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took himself out of the running this week, the current mayor, Bill de Blasio, is headed to South Carolina this weekend as he teases the possibility of a campaign. (Mr. de Blasio has drawn even less home-state support; all the recent Democratic candidates in a citywide special election debate said he should not run in 2020.)

Mr. Cuomo has said that he is not running for president and that former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. would be the party�s strongest choice � a notable snub to Ms. Gillibrand, who once worked for him at the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

But if Mr. Biden opts out, Mr. Cuomo has left open the faintest possibility that he would run after all. That has not gone unnoticed by other New York lawmakers familiar with the governor�s long memory and his demands of fealty.

�Andrew Cuomo may be a candidate,� Representative Brian Higgins volunteered of the evolving field.

Ms. Gillibrand joined the Senate in 2009, a surprise pick to replace Mrs. Clinton by the governor at the time, David Paterson. Her line-skipping appointment was not necessarily welcomed by a delegation filled with ambitious lawmakers who coveted that seat for themselves.

In her decade in the Senate, Ms. Gillibrand has often sidestepped the internecine blood feuds that so often define Democratic politics in New York, whether it�s the yearslong saga between Mr. Cuomo and Mr. de Blasio or the open attorney general�s race last year where she declined to make an endorsement.

That more risk-averse approach has earned her few enemies and widespread support among the electorate � she won the most votes of any Democrat on the ballot in 2018 by a wide margin � but it has also deprived her of the kind of deep loyalty inspired by other politicians.

In interviews, lawmakers and others hailed Ms. Gillibrand�s work ethic and intellect. She is respected. But she is neither feared nor beloved.

�She certainly hasn�t prioritized trying to become a power broker within New York State,� said Peter Kauffmann, a Democratic strategist in New York and former press secretary for Mrs. Clinton when she served as senator. �The folks that are familiar with her tend to see her on cable news fighting for progressive issues. She doesn�t do a lot of the work at home that extends your influence in the state.�

In 2018, a New York-based political magazine, City and State, published a ranking of the city�s most powerful people in politics. Ms. Gillibrand ranked 16th, one spot behind Mr. de Blasio�s wife, Chirlane McCray. (The top four were, in order, President Trump, Mr. Cuomo, Mr. de Blasio and Mr. Schumer.)

Representative Nita M. Lowey hailed Ms. Gillibrand as a friend and close colleague for years. But she, too, is staying on the sideline.

�Frankly I�m not endorsing anybody,� Ms. Lowey said. �It�s a huge field and I just want to win this White House so badly.�

Mr. Engel, the representative, said he did not think anyone had rejected Ms. Gillibrand out of hand. �I know I certainly haven�t,�� he said. �I�m just doing other things and want to wait a few months.�
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Former Gillibrand Aide Complained About Handling of Sexual Misconduct Claim
New York Times
A former aide to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand resigned last year after accusing top aides to the senator of mishandling a sexual harassment complaint she filed against a colleague. Ms. Gillibrand�s office investigated the claim and kept the worker on staff, but dismissed him last week after Politico presented new details about the allegations to her Senate office.

The allegations stand in contrast to Ms. Gillibrand�s record as an advocate for women�s causes who has battled sexual harassment in the workplace, a message she has made central to her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The staff member�s resignation, first reported Monday by Politico, included a letter she wrote to Ms. Gillibrand and two top aides in August in which she describes frustration over the office�s response to allegations of harassment and intimidation against the co-worker, Abbas Malik, a former special assistant to the New York senator.

She had accused Mr. Malik of making unwelcome advances toward her, as well as inappropriate misogynistic remarks about female colleagues and potential hires, Politico said. The woman was not identified by the news organization and her name was redacted from the letter.

�I felt defeated, not just from the humiliation and pain that the harassment had brought me, but that in attempting to seek appropriate disciplinary actions for my harasser, my experience was devalued. I was devalued,� the aide said in her resignation letter.

The former staff member could not immediately be identified by The New York Times. Mr. Malik, who served primarily as a driver for Ms. Gillibrand, could not immediately be reached for comment. His recent firing followed the emergence of a new allegation, according to a member of Ms. Gillibrand�s staff.

Ms. Gillibrand�s communications director, Whitney Mitchell Brennan, defended the office�s handling of the complaint. �At every step of the process, immediate action was taken by the office,� she said in a statement Monday. �A full and thorough investigation into the evidence revealed employee misconduct that, while inappropriate, did not meet the standard for sexual harassment.�

Speaking with reporters outside the Capitol later in the day, Ms. Gillibrand also asserted that the woman�s complaint was taken seriously. �I told this employee at the time that she was loved, that we loved her,� Ms. Gillibrand told reporters. �I deeply valued her.�

She said her office investigated the allegations immediately �and did a professional and thorough investigation that was taken very seriously from the beginning.�

Asked why her office did not interview two former staff members whom the woman suggested they contact, Ms. Gillibrand said that the allegations those former employees knew about � involving inappropriate comments � had already been corroborated.

Taking an unyielding stand against sexual misconduct has been central to Ms. Gillibrand�s political profile since late 2017, when she was the first Democratic senator to call for the resignation of Senator Al Franken of Minnesota following allegations that eventually led to him stepping down.

Tracy Sefl, a Democratic strategist, said that because Ms. Gillibrand has taken up the cause of sexual harassment, she should respond to the allegations by discussing them publicly.

�It�s an opportunity for her to talk about these issues and their complexity,� said Ms. Sefl, a former senior adviser to the super PAC Ready for Hillary. �And the fact that a lot of people get it wrong. How do you make it right? I�d like to hear from her about that.�

The allegations from the former aide included claims that Mr. Malik called a woman fat, called someone ugly, rated women�s appearances and said that a woman working at the Senate as an intern was �into him.�

Mr. Malik had served two tours in Iraq and was at one point assigned a title related to military affairs, but his primary responsibility remained as a driver.

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The former aide initially indicated she thought the investigation was fair, but she later complained in her letter that she felt retaliated against for making the complaint.

One senior staff member commented to her that Mr. Malik could have been fired for �a number of reasons but isn�t going to. So he should consider himself lucky,� the letter said. The woman then said she was �deeply confused and saddened by this.�

An aide to Ms. Gillibrand, who asked not to be identified to discuss internal matters, said an investigation into the staffer�s complaint was initiated within 42 minutes after she filed it in July. Seven staff members were subsequently interviewed.

After the investigation confirmed unprofessional behavior, the office rescinded Mr. Malik�s promotion and warned him that any additional misbehavior would result in his firing.

He was fired recently, after Politico began working on its article, when new information emerged.
Gillibrand-11-Mar-19-New York Times-a2993
Cory Booker is gambling his 2020 hopes on an unlikely proposition
Washington Post

In the most acrid and divisive political environment in recent memory, Cory Booker is gambling his presidential hopes on the unlikely proposition that it is still possible to summon people to grace.

Indeed, that is the word the Democratic senator from New Jersey uses more often than any other as he travels the early-primary states.

“What’s called me to run for president is because I think we need a revival of civic grace. We need to reignite a more courageous empathy,” Booker told a recent Democratic gathering at a downtown arcade here, where his presentation was punctuated by eruptions of video games. “We need to understand that old African saying that if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.”

On the stump, Booker weaves a spellbinding argument with his call to unity and collective decency. He starts with how his own destiny was changed by a volunteer lawyer who helped his parents buy the home of their dreams at a time when New Jersey real estate agents steered African Americans away from white neighborhoods. He touts his work with unlikely allies, such as conservative Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), with whom he advanced recent criminal-justice reforms.

His appeal to our better selves sets him apart in a combative Democratic field that now features nearly a dozen candidates and is growing by the week. Booker is not answering the populism of the right with an equally fierce version from the left.

And he stands in even sharper contrast from the utter lack of grace that has defined the presidency of the White House’s current occupant.

“I think this campaign is an opportunity to be more than about an election, but trying to return our country to the ability to address persistent injustices that existed long before Donald Trump,” Booker told me during an interview. “We had toxic water crises across our country that proliferated before Donald Trump. We had a criminal-justice system that was broken before Donald Trump, and low wages in this country as a percentage of GDP.”

If the election becomes “all about what we hate, and what we’re against, and we can’t find a way to reunify our country or to reignite that quest for a more beloved community, then I think we lose an opportunity here,” he added.

This antidote to cynicism is not the message some Democrats want to hear as they are looking for their champion to take on Trump and the Republicans.

“Maybe we should think about kicking them out first and loving them later,” Wendy E.N. Thomas, a state representative from Merrimack, told Booker.

It was not the first time Booker has heard that kind of skepticism. “I know that some people might think this messaging is a risk. I had a friend of mine this morning send me some social science data about how outrage is so much more motivating than a message of love. They literally sent me social science stuff,” he told me. “But I do not believe you can campaign wrong and then hope to govern right.”

Then again, virtue is a fragile platform for a politician, particularly one who made his way up in the brutal world of big-city politics. Booker’s rivals for the nomination will no doubt point to where they say his own record stands at odds with the values he embraces.

When Booker was mayor of crime-ridden Newark from 2006 to 2013, the police department there aggressively employed the “stop and frisk” policy that disproportionately subjects racial minorities to baseless searches. He worked with Betsy DeVos, the Trump education secretary reviled by the left, on school choice. And his political career benefited, as his city did, from his close ties to Wall Street and Silicon Valley.

Still, the real test for Booker will likely come when the country gets a chance to see the Democratic contenders side by side on the debate stage beginning in June. Once the candidates start throwing elbows, will his uplifting message shine by comparison, or will it disappear?

“I do believe that there is a large enough core of Americans — decent, kind and aspirational people — who are hungering for us to get back to work with dignity, the kind of work that produces better results for everyone,” Booker said.

Grace, surely, is what the country needs right now. What is far less clear is whether that is what it wants.
Booker-3-Mar-19-Washington Post-8ae6c
A better Cory Booker
Washington Post

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) speaks at a campaign stop in Marshalltown, Iowa, on Feb. 9. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Opinion writer

Fairly or not, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) probably is best known for a couple of dramatic moments in the Senate — his “I am Spartacus” declaration in the confirmation hearing for now-Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and his decision to testify on (not merely question) then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) in his confirmation hearing for attorney general. Some people admire those passionate displays; others regard them warily as showboating. Whether you like that sort of thing or not, his more effective and, I think, authentic demeanor is quieter, more contemplative and sunnier than what has been evident in Senate hearings.

The more sober, less angst-filled Booker was on display in his interview this week with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, whose show has become a rite of passage for Democratic presidential candidates. It is worth viewing in full. One comes away with a different impression of him than one has from casual observation of him in his role as senator.

For starters, he talks about the substantive, bipartisan wins he achieved on criminal-justice reform but also on less visible issues, ranging from investment in low-income communities to a ban on solitary confinement for juveniles to a ban on some types of chemical testing on animals. A more serious and detail-oriented Booker dispels the impression some may have of a superficial, performance-oriented politician.

In quieter tones than one sees in a stump speech or in the Senate, he can vividly describe what he calls a “nation in crisis,” in which he says the forces pulling us apart are stronger than those keeping us together. Part of that he lays at President Trump’s feet, but he emphasizes that widespread disillusionment and alienation, often stemming from inequality and perceived unfairness, began before Trump, who just made things worse, Booker says. It’s the loss of faith in government and institutions that he wants to address.

In explaining what he sees are the troubling disparities in America, he emphasizes his experience growing up near, serving as mayor of and returning to live in Newark, N.J. This is much more interesting and revealing, frankly, than his experience in the Senate. It’s rare that we have a presidential candidate whose perspective and life are rooted in a low-income community. This is no limousine or Ivy League liberal (although he attended Stanford, Oxford and Yale.) His corny but accurate line — “I got my BA from Stanford and my PhD on the streets of Newark” — certainly sets him apart from the rest of the field.

The issues he talks fervently about — voting rights and mass incarceration — are leavened with what seems like authentic optimism. He clearly comes from the perspective that the country is tired of hate, division and negativity and wants uplift, love and reconciliation. He may be right, although it’s not clear that is what Democratic primary voters are looking for.

Booker also appears to be more circumspect on policy than some of his opponents. His recent answer on the Green New Deal exemplifies his ability to describe an issue, to frame a proposal not his own as “bold” but not endorse the specifics:

The first question I was asked in Iowa was about #GreenNewDeal. The hard truth is climate change has imperiled our planet—it’s going to take bold action now to save it including dramatic investment in green energy that will create the jobs of the future. We can do this. — Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) February 8, 2019

This, as we’ve described, is a wise way of steering clear of the obvious problems associated with an utterly impractical wish list.

Likewise, he separated his stance on health care from that of Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) by saying that even in countries with a national health care system, private insurance continues to be available. He seems to be smartly refining his position after signing on to Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) maximalist Medicare-for-all plan in 2017.

The Cory Booker we now see — more measured, more focused, more conversational — will serve him well, I suspect. The ability to modulate tone and position is not a sign of hypocrisy or inauthenticity. To the contrary, it’s a sign of maturity — and in Booker’s case suits him much better than the showy Senate committee member.

Read more:

Jennifer Rubin: The ‘civic grace’ of Cory Booker

Paul Waldman: Cory Booker is running for president. Here’s why it won’t be easy.

Jennifer Rubin: The press needs to ask hard questions on the Green New Deal

Ed Rogers: Exactly which Trump policies do Democrats want to undo?

Paul Waldman: Why Democrats’ old contributions will haunt them in 2020
Booker-14-Feb-19-Washington Post-a2f79
Cory Booker picks up early endorsement in key primary state of South Carolina
(CNN) Sen. Cory Booker has picked up an early endorsement in the key primary state of South Carolina, an early indicator of his appeal and organizing strength in the key first-in-the-South primary state.

Brady Quirk-Garvan, chairman of the Charleston County Democratic Party for the past five years, will step down from his post and endorse the New Jersey Democrat on Thursday, he told CNN, with plans to act as a surrogate for Booker in South Carolina. Booker's campaign says he is the first South Carolina Democratic official to endorse in the primary.

"Having met and spent time with several other candidates in the field, I am confident that Sen. Booker will inspire Americans from across the spectrum to remember that we are a stronger and better nation when we are looking out for one another," Quirk-Garvan said. "I did not take this endorsement lightly, nor was it an easy decision to step down as party chair. But I believe in my soul that Cory is the right leader in this critical time."

He is stepping down from his post because he "felt it would be inappropriate to stay on as chair" as a committed Booker supporter and active surrogate, he said.

Quirk-Garvan emceed a campaign event last month for Sen. Kamala Harris of California in North Charleston, and last weekend hosted a Booker event. That visit by Booker "solidified it for me," Quirk-Garvan said.

Read More
Cory Booker says he won't comment further on Smollett case until more information comes out
(CNN) New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker declined on Sunday to comment directly on reports that police believe actor Jussie Smollett paid two men to carry out a hoax assault on himself last month.

Smollett told authorities he was attacked in late January by two men who were "yelling out racial and homophobic slurs." Two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation told CNN on Saturday that Chicago Police believe Smollett paid two men to orchestrate the assault on him.

Booker, who is running for president, was one of several Democrats to weigh in on the initial reports of the attack on Smollett, tweeting that it was "an attempted modern-day lynching."

The vicious attack on actor Jussie Smollett was an attempted modern-day lynching. I'm glad he's safe.

To those in Congress who don't feel the urgency to pass our Anti-Lynching bill designating lynching as a federal hate crime-- I urge you to pay attention. — Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) January 29, 2019

Asked as he campaigned in New Hampshire about the recent reports that the attack was a hoax, Booker said, "I'm going to withhold until all the information actually comes out from on the record sources."

In a statement on Saturday night, Smollett's attorneys said the actor denies playing a role in the attack. "(Smollett) has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack," the statement read. "Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying."

Read More
Booker slams Trump over border emergency, says he won't push his vegan diet on Americans
Fox News
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – Sen. Cory Booker on Saturday took aim at President Trump over his declaration of a national border emergency and defended his credentials as a political fighter as he kicked off a three-day presidential campaign swing in the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House.

“If there’s any emergency at the border, it’s the one he created, the crisis he created," the Democrat from New Jersey said during an interview with Fox News. "If there’s any crisis, you see it in humanitarian issues about separating families, caging children and more.”

On Friday, the president declared a national emergency along the southern border, with the hopes of diverting billions in Defense Department funding toward wall construction. “We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border … one way or the other, we have to do it,” Trump said in the Rose Garden.

But Booker, making his first trip to New Hampshire since declaring his candidacy for president, argued that “we’ve been making progress and we still need to do more to secure our border but not with a wasteful wall.”

Booker on Thursday joined three other Democratic senators running for White House – Kamala Harris, of California; Kirsten Gillibrand; of New York, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts – in voting against a bipartisan compromise that averted another federal government shutdown. The deal also gave the president $1.3 billion for the construction of barriers along the U.S.-Mexican border, far less than the more than $5 billion Trump demanded.

“This is outrageous,” Booker said of president’s actions in signing the compromise agreement from Congress and then declaring the border emergency. “I didn’t vote for that simply because of the way the president has his posture towards all this.”


The senator was also noncommittal on a recent call by former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas to tear down existing parts of the border wall in his hometown of El Paso.

“I have no specific knowledge of that section,” Booker told Fox News.

O’Rourke, who’s seriously mulling a White House bid of his own, said Thursday in an interview with MSNBC that he’d “absolutely … take the wall down," referring to the barrier by El Paso, Texas.

O’Rourke, who came close to upsetting GOP Sen. Ted Cruz in last November’s Senate election in Texas, argued that the existing 600 miles of wall and fencing along the 2,000-mile border have “not in any demonstrable way made us safer.”

Republicans quickly criticized O’Rourke, charging that he embraces open borders.

Booker, if elected, would be the first vegan president in American history. In a recent interview with VegNews, he lamented that “the tragic reality is this planet simply can’t sustain billions of people consuming industrially produced animal agriculture because of environmental impact.”

Asked if he would advocate for Americans to eat a vegan diet, Booker said, “I think that whatever you eat is a very personal decision and everybody should what eat what they want to eat. That’s America. That’s freedom. Here it’s live free or die. The last thing we want is government telling us what to eat.”


But he warned that massive corporate companies “are coming in here and polluting our water and creating unsustainable practices.”

During his speech to a jampacked crowd that his campaign estimated at nearly 500, Booker touted his credentials as a fighter. Pushing back against those who might term as “weak” his advocacy of a politics of love, he said “come on…love is the most powerful force,” adding it “can topple the strongest of leaders.”

And he touted his credentials a political fighting coming up through the ranks in Newark, New Jersey, where he served two terms as mayor before being elected to the Senate.

But Booker added that the 2020 election “cannot be just about who can beat the guy in the White House. … This has got to be not just about how to beat somebody but how to unite all of us.”

During a question and answer session with the audience, the conversation turned to health care.

Booker spotlighted that there are a “lot of pathways” to achieve universal coverage. But he warned that those who back the "Medicare for All" proposal will “have to find ways to advance the ball given the Congress we have.”

Ahead of his trip to New Hampshire, the Republican National Committee attacked Booker for his “support of out-of-the mainstream policies, to his over-the-top theatrical style.”

“Cory Booker is nothing but extreme - and so is his agenda. Booker's Presidential platform would upend our way of life, cost taxpayers trillions of dollars and is more pie-in-the-sky than actual reality,” the RNC said.
Booker-16-Feb-19-Fox News-8b944
Cory Booker evades questions on Dem policies, changes topic to Paul Manafort
Fox News
2020 presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, appeared on “The Late Show” and completely hijacked a portion of the interview that was meant to discuss policy.

Returning from a commercial break, “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert wanted to delve into specific proposals being pushed by congressional Democrats, but Booker managed to avoid any tough questions that may have been asked.

“Let’s talk about some specific policies that have been thrown out by the new Democrats in Congress,” Colbert said, “and by some of the people".


“Can I just say one thing?” Booker interrupted. “Because this news came out about Paul Manafort and I’m really ticked off about this.”

Manafort, who was President Donald Trump’s campaign chairman during the 2016 election, was sentenced this week to 47 months in prison, which fell short of the 19-24 year prison sentence the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller recommended.

“One of my friends says that we have a criminal justice system that treats you better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent,” Booker told Colbert. “And there are people from neighborhoods like mine in America who get convictions for doing things that two of the last three presidents have admitted to doing.”


“In our country, we prey upon the most vulnerable citizens in our nation; poor folks, mentally ill folks, addicted folks, and overwhelmingly black and brown folks,” Booker continued.

“Were you shocked that he only got 47 months?” Colbert asked.

“No, this criminal justice system can’t surprise me anymore,” Booker responded.

The New Jersey Democrat went on to declare that Manafort “betrayed our nation” and repeated his efforts in pushing for criminal justice in Congress.


It is uncertain if Colbert would have asked Booker about policies like the Green New Deal, Medicare For All, reparations, or the newly-passed anti-hate resolution that was originally meant to condemn anti-Semitism in reaction to controversial remarks by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. Colbert ran out of time before he could ask.
Booker-9-Mar-19-Fox News-7bcaa
Cory Booker Woos Iowans With ‘Love’-Heavy Brand Of Progressive Patriotism
The Huffington Post
WATERLOO, Iowa ― New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s favorite presidential campaign-trail yarn ― and he has a lot of them ― is about how his parents, two of IBM’s first black executives, overcame housing market discrimination to raise him and his brother in a predominantly white neighborhood in one of his state’s suburbs.

As an adult, Booker likes to recall, he asked Arthur Lessman, the white lawyer who helped his parents outsmart a racist real estate agent, why the attorney was inspired to do it. It turned out that Lessman had volunteered his services after watching television one day in 1965 when the normal programming was interrupted by breaking footage of Alabama state troopers brutally bludgeoning black civil rights activists marching for voting rights in Selma, Alabama.

Recounting the tale Friday afternoon to an audience of about 100 Democrats at a community college in Waterloo, Booker marveled at the far-reaching power of individual political sacrifices. It’s a testament, he declared with excitement in his voice, to his deeply held belief that “love is a radical force.”

The marchers in Selma “stood up for love of country and unleashed that energy and it instantaneously leapt a thousand miles and changed the heart of one man on a couch in New Jersey, who then would go on and change generations not yet born,” he said. “I am here right now because of that chain reaction.”

On the same weekend that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) officially launched her presidential campaign with a pledge to “fight back” against the “class warfare” waged by the super-rich against the rest of the country, Booker laid out a progressive vision of a different sort.

Rather than embrace a populist dichotomy that pits the broader American public against a common enemy ― an “us” against a proverbial “them” ― Booker focuses almost entirely on the “us” ― on an affinity for his fellow Americans and their historic capacity for self-improvement.

Booker, a 49-year-old graduate of Yale Law School, is fond of calling the United States’ forefathers “imperfect geniuses” for founding the country on Enlightenment ideals of humanism and liberal democracy even as they themselves clung to a narrow definition of who was truly human and who was not.

I was looking for a positive antidote to the poison that Trump puts out ― and I heard it. Tom Swartz, former Iowa state representative, referring to Booker

In this narrative, the cure for President Donald Trump’s racial demagoguery, cynicism and general nastiness is not simply to fight back with anger directed at corporate and political elites, but to follow Arthur Lessman’s lead and respond with compassionate patriotism.

“If we stand up with that energy, if we stand up with that force, if we stand with that love in America, I tell you this, we will rise,” he concluded his remarks to applause at a packed brewery in Marshalltown on Saturday.

Unsurprisingly, Booker’s appeals to America’s better angels recalled for many Iowans who saw him the rhetoric of former President Barack Obama, who, as a White House candidate in 2008, asked his countrymen to continue the founders’ work of forming a “more perfect union.”

The question is whether, in an era of an emboldened activist left skeptical of Obama’s optimistic outlook and appetite for bipartisan compromise, Booker is the man rank-and-file Democrats want to nominate for the top job.

On Booker’s first campaign swing since announcing his plans to seek the presidency on Feb. 1, voters mostly warmed to his pitch.

“I was looking for a positive antidote to the poison that Trump puts out ― and I heard it,” said Tom Swartz, 71, a former state representative who heard Booker speak in Marshalltown.

After the speech, Sue Blaisdell, 69, a homemaker who has read several of Warren’s books, wanted to hear more from Booker about how he planned to help struggling farmers. (Booker had referenced leveraging antitrust policy to help farmers; he supports enacting a moratorium on agribusiness mergers.)

But Blaisdell said she appreciated his positive message and its contrast with Trump’s invective.

“It probably is the one most important thing a candidate needs to do to get my vote,” Blaisdell said.

ASSOCIATED PRESS/Charlie Neibergall Booker minged with voters at the First Congregational United Church of Christ on Friday in Mason City, Iowa.

‘I Had To Run Something’

Booker joins the already crowded field of Democratic presidential contenders ― which includes several of his Senate colleagues. Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) have announced their candidacies; Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are still mulling runs.

Booker, whose mother’s family hails from the now-deserted Iowa mining town of Buxton, made clear that he plans to fiercely compete in the state where the balloting kicks off in the presidential race. Few White House contenders have won their party’s nomination without placing in the top three in the Iowa caucuses.

“My story is your story,” he told Democrats in Marshalltown, recounting his Iowa-based ancestors journey out of poverty and into the working class.

Booker tells story of his Iowa roots. His ancestors moved from Alabama to mining town of Buxton; grandmother grew up in Des Moines. — Daniel Marans (@danielmarans) February 9, 2019

Many of the Iowans who came to hear Booker speak knew him already from his dramatic, televised confrontations with Trump Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings last year.

He burnished his credentials among many Democrats when he released a memo Kavanaugh had written on racial profiling after the Republican-controlled committee refused to publicize it and barred Booker from questioning the nominee about it. On a less positive note, he dramatically referred to the flap as providing him a “Spartacus moment,” a reference that left observers quizzical.

Regardless, the hearings gave him a level of name recognition that Gillibrand, for instance, perhaps lacked when she made her first visit to Iowa as a presidential contender in January. And with his partisan bona fides already solid, one way Booker sought to distinguish himself this weekend from the pack based on his experience as mayor of Newark, an impoverished city where he held the top job from 2007 to 2013.

“I had to run something,” Booker said in Marshalltown. “And it wasn’t just something. It was a very challenged city. I had to manage it through the worst economic crisis of our lifetime. I had to stand in the saddle and make difficult, difficult decisions.”

The experience, which required Booker to work for several years with then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), imbued him with a pragmatism and appetite for bipartisan cooperation that he believes benefited him in the Senate.

Booker recalled at his various Iowa stops how a particular Republican senator spoke out against his proposals to reform the criminal justice system, before revealing to his listeners, with a smile, that it was their very own Sen. Chuck Grassley. At a Des Moines event, some in the audience booed at the mention of Grassley, which Booker admonished them against doing.

Grassley, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, can make or break any proposed legislative changes to the country’s system of law enforcement and incarceration.

Rather than respond by attacking Grassley over the issue, Booker said he made his case to him exhaustively behind closed doors. The result of their collaboration was the passage of the bipartisan First Step Act in December, which makes the most significant changes to the criminal justice system since the 1990s. Among other things, the bill expanded in-prison job training and reduced mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.

“Some people in this election are going to tell you we are going to fight fire with fire,” Booker said, referring to partisan sniping. “Well, I ran a fire department. That’s not going to be a constructive strategy.”

ASSOCIATED PRESS/Susan Walsh Booker cajoles Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to join him in an Instagram Live post in December. Looking on is Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).

Shrugging Off Criticism From The Left

Of course, Booker’s tenure as Newark mayor is also the source of some of his harshest criticism from the left. He courted Wall Street to help redevelop the city and subsequently spoke up against an ad released by Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012 because the spot blasted Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s work in private equity. As of now, he does not use the term “Wall Street” ― a favorite target of attack among his party’s other White House contenders. (He is quick to point out that he has supported aggressive financial regulation and voted against the 2017 rollback of key elements of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law.)

In his efforts to improve Newark’s troubled public schools, Booker championed the introduction of charter schools, which progressives lambaste for undermining labor unions and the concept of education as a public good.

Booker’s embrace of charter schools has followed him into Congress. He addressed a convention sponsored by a charter school chain in New Orleans in January at a time when public school teachers in Los Angeles were on strike, partly in opposition to pro-charter school policies.

In addition, Booker has faced questions about his willingness to stand up to the pharmaceutical industry, which has an outsize presence in New Jersey. He drew progressive ire for voting against a resolution in favor of allowing prescription drug re-importation from Canada two years ago.

Booker subsequently worked overtime to prove his bona fides on the issue, foreswearing donations from pharmaceutical industry political action committees and top executives in June 2017. He is also a co-sponsor of the most ambitious drug price legislation in Congress, including a bill he introduced with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that would deprive drug companies of their patents if they failed to offer prescription drugs at the prices for which they sell them in other developed nations.

In Iowa, Booker did not get many tough questions from voters about his ties to Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry or even his support for public charter schools.

Time and again, Booker nonetheless opted to lean into his perceived weaknesses, particularly on public education. He lamented attacks on public educators and their labor unions, promising higher pay, more staffing and universal preschool, as well as a more equitable tax code to finance those priorities.

Rather than mention charter schools explicitly, the former mayor alluded to his openness to the alternative education institutions with a colorful metaphor.

“I was like Malcolm X — by any means necessary, [the children of Newark] were going to get an education,” he said at a panel discussion in the African American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids on Friday evening.

At the same time, Booker did not run away from the stances that clearly put him in a more moderate category on economic policy than a Sanders or a Warren.

He admitted at the Cedar Rapids event that prior to passage of the Republican tax cut bill in late 2017, he believed the top corporate tax rate was too high. But rather than lower it to 21 percent from 35 percent, as the GOP measure did, he would have left it at 25 or 26 percent.

And in a conversation that night about climate policy in Iowa City, he described nuclear energy as part of the solution.

More on climate change: He supports nuclear energy and thinks any climate bill must be bipartisan (unless there’s a 60-vote Senate due to “blue tsunami”). This is at supporter’s home in Iowa City. — Daniel Marans (@danielmarans) February 9, 2019

Booker was keen to emphasize that action on what he sees as the country’s most urgent priorities ― such as universal health coverage and addressing climate change ― would require either compromise with Republicans or a “blue tsunami” big enough to grant Democrats a filibuster-proof 60-vote supermajority in the Senate.

Booker is a co-sponsor of Sanders’ Medicare for All legislation, which would replace private health insurance with a federal single-payer program. But on two occasions in Iowa, he suggested that the bill is an aspiration unlikely to be realized in the near future, given the constraints of GOP numbers in the Senate.

Single-payer health care “is a goal we should shoot at,” he told a crowd of 500 people at Kum & Go Theater in Des Moines on Saturday.

In the interim, he proposed backing a Medicare buy-in or lowering Medicare’s eligibility age to 55 or 50.

What Booker did not volunteer in his discussion is that he not only opposes efforts to abolish the filibuster in the Senate, he has promised to personally defend the practice if it came under assault.

Still, many of the Democrats who attended Booker’s events seemed either unaware of Booker’s deviations from progressive orthodoxy or relatively unbothered by it after hearing him speak.

Shawn Harmsen, a 46-year-old journalism professor, hosted a campaign gathering for Booker at his home in Iowa City, where he prominently displayed a blue “I [heart] public educators” sign on his front lawn. Harmsen wants to know more about Booker’s support for charter schools, but held out the possibility that such educational alternatives might be acceptable in circumstances “where you have minority communities who are tired of waiting for the public school system.”

Roberta Rosheim, a 69-year-old retired school teacher and union activist, and her husband, David, 74, a seller of rare books, went into Booker’s Des Moines town hall skeptical. Roberta had read about his support for charter schools and his past receipt of pharmaceutical industry money.

But Roberta said they emerged “impressed.”

David added, “I thought he came out very much for public education.”
Booker-11-Feb-19-The Huffington Post-8449e
Cory Booker Says He Doesn’t Want A Super PAC. He’s Getting One Anyway.
The Huffington Post
“I expect, frankly, there are going to be thousands of people, many of them professionals of color, who are supportive of Cory and want to give him more than $2,700,” he said, referring to the legal limit for federal campaign donations at the time. “And we want to give them a vehicle, because we think he represents the best chance to reassemble the Obama coalition and bring back the White House.”

Booker, who has political roots in northern New Jersey, has long-standing ties to donors on Wall Street and in the pharmaceutical industry, but Phillips has said he wants to build a broad donor base instead of relying on a few wealthy individuals.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which is allied with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), said Booker should directly ask Phillips to shut down the super PAC.

“It’s important to make clear for voters that Democrats stand on the side of everyday working people against big-money interests,” PCCC spokeswoman Marissa Barrow said. “Cory Booker is in a unique position with a super PAC already existing ― he can send an important signal to voters about the strength of his values by publicly calling on his longtime friends to shut down their big-money Super PAC on his behalf, and either return the checks or donate them to voter registration organizations.”

Still, there’s nothing Booker can do to force Phillips to shut down the group. In 2008, Phillips continued to fund an outside group supporting Obama’s candidacy even after the Obama campaign asked him to stop. And Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) unsuccessfully tried to stop a super PAC funded by National Nurses United from supporting him in the 2016 presidential race.

Phillips, in a statement, said his group’s work was necessary not just to help Booker to win the primaries but also to lift a Democrat over Trump in the general election.

“Cory Booker’s candidacy is the best vehicle for inspiring the kinds of large voter turnout in communities of color that will be necessary for progressives to win up and down the ticket in 2020,” Phillips said. “Whomever the Democratic nominee ends up being, she or he is going to need voters of color to win. As our team has done for a decade, Dream United will work with all interested parties to move resources into communities of color to expand the electorate. What we are doing goes beyond Booker. We are doing this for our country.”

No other super PACs supporting 2020 Democrats have been launched so far, although The New York Times reported in December that allies of Harris and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand have discussed the possibility.

Democratic operatives watching the 2020 contest have speculated that candidates may decide to set up super PACs in order to better compete in ultraexpensive California, whose primary is taking place earlier in 2020 than in previous cycles.

This story has been updated to include comments from Marissa Barrow and Steve Phillips.
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Presidential Hopeful Booker, in Selma, Says U.S. Failing Its People
New York Times
Presidential hopeful Cory Booker told a service commemorating the 1965 �Bloody Sunday� march, a turning point in the civil rights movement, that the United States is still failing many Americans, citing poverty and gun violence as constant threats.

Booker, 49, a black second-term senator from New Jersey and former mayor of Newark, also lamented that clean water and affordable healthcare are still unavailable in many communities.

�We live in a nation that is failing its moral obligations to its children, to its people,� Booker said in a short speech at a church near the bridge in Selma, Alabama, where civil rights activists were attacked more than half a century ago.

Nearly 600 activists marching for African-American voting rights were met on the Edmund Pettus bridge on March 7, 1965, by white state troopers who beat them with batons and sprayed them with tear gas.

Images of the violence brought attention to the cause, and President Lyndon Johnson passed the Voting Rights Act that year.

Every year, the �Bloody Sunday� anniversary is marked by demonstrators marching across the bridge, many of them singing �We Shall Overcome.�

Booker told the congregation he was proud to be in Selma to remember the history of the movement.

�But I worry now that we are at a point in our country where we see a moral vandalism that is attacking our ideals and beliefs and eroding the dream of our nation,� he said.

Another Democratic candidate for the party�s 2020 nomination who spoke at the church, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, said it was time for the current generation to demand an end to voter suppression in the United States.

�And not only do we end voter suppression, but we make it easier for people to vote, not harder,� Sanders said.

The Democratic Party is looking at a crowded field of candidates aiming to win back the White House. At least six U.S. senators are vying to challenge President Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee.

Booker has made race relations a focal point of his campaign, aiming to appeal to young, diverse voters who twice elected former Democratic President Barack Obama.

Booker announced his candidacy on Feb. 1, the first day of Black History Month, citing the impact of racial discrimination on his family and saying he would focus on creating good jobs and reforming the criminal justice system.
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