The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden looks to rebound after tough week

Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, your new weekly rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races from Max Greenwood, Jonathan Easley and Julia Manchester. Email us at and, or follow us on Twitter at @KMaxGreenwood@JonEasley and @JuliaManch

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I’m Julia Manchester, and here’s what we’re watching this week on the campaign trail. 



Sen. Kamala Harris‘s (D-Calif.) presidential campaign is seeing the dividends of confronting former Vice President Joe Biden head-on at last week’s Democratic primary debate, getting a boost in the polls and the attention of the former vice president himself. 

Harris has been surging in post-debate polls after questioning Biden over his opinions on civil rights issues, in particular federally mandated busing. And that strong showing has helped her win over the support of Black Caucus members.

Biden, while still leading the pack, appears to be slipping. Those troubling signs are not lost on the campaign. 

The former vice president spent the Fourth of July holiday in defense mode, trying to minimize the growing controversy over his past stance on federally mandated busing and civil rights.

Biden on Thursday argued that he didn’t need to “atone” for his position on busing during an event to celebrate the holiday in the aptly named town of Independence, Iowa.

He also took part in a sit-down interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Thursday evening, and talked more about last week’s debate clash with Harris, saying he didn’t expect her to “come at me the way she came at me.” 

But there are few signs that the controversy over busing is dying down.

Harris has also had to clarify her remarks. During the debate, Harris had suggested the federal government should be responsible for ensuring schools are not segregated and criticized Biden for voting against federally mandated busing.

But on the campaign trail she said she thought of busing as “being in the toolbox of what is available and what can be used for the goal of desegregating America’s schools.”

She later told reporters that busing should be one method school districts can use to desegregate but that it does not need to be federally mandated.

Biden and Harris staffers have even gotten in on the action, taking to Twitter to defend their candidates. Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager and communications director, and Harris’s national press secretary Ian Sams, got into a spat this week on the platform over the issue of busing. 

Harris’s bump after challenging Biden won’t be lost on the other candidates in the field, who could be encouraged to stand out and take their own shots at the former vice president.

Biden’s camp will likely need to steel themselves for more attacks from the field.

In his Friday morning interview, Biden defended his more centrist views against the ideas from progressive challengers, saying that mainstream Democrats win “general election fights.”

And he told CNN that he was going to avoid attacking other Democrats, focusing instead on President Trump. Stay tuned …


Read more: 

The Memo: Fight for black voters intensifies as Biden struggles via The Hill’s Niall Stanage 

Biden’s support slips as Harris makes strides in new post-debate polls via The Hill’s Rachel Frazin 



HAPPY FOURTH: The Democratic 2020 contenders did not take a day off for Independence Day, but instead celebrated (and tried to woo voters) by attending events and parades in early contest states.

Biden, Harris, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg swept through Iowa, while Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) and Marianne Williamson, as well as Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) stormed New Hampshire. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio even missed the famous Nathan’s hot dog eating contest in Coney Island, opting instead to talk with voters in the Hawkeye State. 

Meanwhile, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) headed out west to meet voters in Nevada. 

But not all the candidates spent time on the campaign trail. A spokesperson for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told me that the governor would be watching the fireworks with his grandkids at his home in Bainbridge Island, Wash. 


Read more: 

2020 Democrats use July 4 to storm early contest states via The Hill’s Julia Manchester 



NO MORE NATO?: During his wide-ranging interview with CNN, Biden predicted that there may not be a North Atlantic Treaty Organization in the not-so distant future if Trump is reelected. Biden is seeking to tout his foreign policy experience from his stints on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.


HEALTH CARE: In the same interview, Biden said he supported undocumented people having access to health care in the U.S., telling the network that it’s “just common decency.” 


Read more: 

That stance will help him in progressive circles, but Republicans also see a potent 2020 line of attack on the promise of health care access for undocumented immigrants. The Hill’s Jessie Hellmann explains why.



REUTERS/IPSOS: Biden’s support from black voters dropped from 40 percent in June to 20 percent after the first debate, where Harris attacked his record on civil rights. The same poll found that Harris’s support among the voting group ticked up from 4 percent to 10 percent, the largest bump for any Democratic candidate. The same poll also found Biden slipping among all voters polled, while support for Harris increased, via The Hill’s Rachel Frazin and The Hill’s Julia Manchester.


ECONOMIST/YOUGOV: Biden holds a slim 3-point lead over Warren, according to a poll released on Wednesday. Twenty-one percent tapped Biden as their first choice candidate in this week’s poll, marking a 3-point drop from last week, via The Hill’s Rebecca Klar.


DAVID BINDER/FOCUS ON RURAL AMERICA: Harris and Warren are climbing in Iowa, finding themselves in a virtual tie with Biden, according to the poll. Warren leads the field with 20 percent of the vote, while Harris and Biden are 18 and 17 percent respectively, via The Hill’s Reid Wilson. 


The latest from RealClearPolitics: Biden leads the field with 27.2 percent, Sanders takes second with 14.8 percent, Harris gets third with 14.7 percent support and Warren and Buttigieg round out the top five with 13.5 and 5.3 percent respectively.


FROM 1600 PENN:  

BREAKING JOBS NEWS: The Labor Department announced on Friday that the economy added 224,00 jobs in June, exceeding expectations. 

President Trump celebrated the news on Twitter


SALUTE TO AMERICA: Trump celebrated America’s birthday on Thursday, marking the day with his highly anticipated “Salute to America” event at the Lincoln Memorial. The event was marked by controversy, but the president’s remarks were largely uncontroversial. Trump touted the U.S. armed forces and America’s military might during his 45-minute address, which critics worried could veer off into a campaign-style event. 

But Trump is getting criticism for some gaffes during the address, most notably, mistakenly claiming that Revolutionary War soldiers “took over airports” in 1775.

And a number of Canadians took to Twitter, taking issue with Trump’s characterization of Alexander Graham Bell as an American. For the record, the Scottish-born Bell had British, American and Canadian citizenship. 

But Trump is calling the production a success and wrapped up the holiday by retweeting tweets praising the event. 




Read more: Trump focuses July 4 speech on celebrating armed forces, via The Hill’s Maggie Miller and Brett Samuels 



SENATE WATCH: Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are predicting the battle for the Senate majority will depend on the winner of the Democratic presidential nomination and the general election, via The Hill’s Alexander Bolton. 


AMASH’S FAREWELL: Longtime GOP maverick and libertarian Justin Amash announced his exit from the Republican Party on Independence Day, making it official in a Washington Post op-ed. 

The piece caused a stir in Washington on Thursday morning and led to Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) calling for Amash to leave the Republican Conference. 

But don’t hold your breath on Amash switching to the Democratic Party. The congressman wrote that the “the two-party system has evolved into an existential threat to American principles and institutions.”

Polls show Amash trailing his primary challenger by 16 points, but the congressman has not ruled out a third-party presidential run, so stay tuned. 



ON THE PRESIDENTIAL FRONT. Biden brought in $21.5 million in fundraising during the second quarter, and boasted that he raised more money per day during the second quarter than any other campaign. However, Buttigieg is leading the fundraising battle so far, this quarter, bringing in $24.8 million. The two candidates both kicked off their campaigns in April. Meanwhile, Sanders raised $18 million in the second quarter, with his campaign emphasizing that he’s stayed away from high-dollar fundraisers. 

Takeaway: The latest figures show how far Buttigieg has come from being a little-known midwestern mayor just months ago, to leading the race’s two, well-known front-runners in fundraising. 

Don’t forget Trump: Trump and the RNC announced they had raised $105 million in the second quarter, more than former President Obama raised over a similar period in 2011. That large haul will likely worry Democrats who still face what could be a long primary fight.


SENATE RACES. The second quarter also treated a number of Senate Democratic contenders well, something that could worry Republicans trying to defend the upper chamber in 2020. Theresa Greenfield, who is challenging Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst (R), announced that her campaign for Senate raised more than $625,000 in less than one month. Greenfield officially kicked off her campaign on June 3. 

Meanwhile in Maine, Sen. Susan Collins’s (R) challenger, state Speaker Sara Gideon (D), raised more than $1 million in the first week of her campaign. Moving south to the Palmetto State, Sen. Lindsey Graham’s Democratic challenger, Jaime Harrison brought in $1.5 million since launching his campaign just a month ago. 




Biden will travel to South Carolina, making stops in Sumter and Orangeburg, per his campaign. 

On Sunday, he will meet with voters in Charleston at 6 p.m. EDT.  

11:18 a.m. CDT: Harris speaks at the Essence Festival in New Orleans 

1:05 p.m. CDT: Booker speaks at the Essence Festival in New Orleans. 

2:52 p.m. CDT: Warren speaks at the Essence Festival in New Orleans 

4:04 p.m. CDT: Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) speaks at the Essence Festival in New Orleans

11:30 a.m. PDT: Sanders holds his West Las Vegas Town Hall

3:00 p.m. PDT: Sanders speaks at the Veterans Issues Roundtable with the Nevada Democratic Veterans & Military Families Caucus

4:30 p.m. PDT: Sanders will attend the 2020 East Las Vegas Office Grand Opening


  • There are 213 days until the Iowa caucuses, 221 days until the New Hampshire primaries, 232 days until the Nevada caucuses, 239 days until the South Carolina primaries and 242 days until Super Tuesday. 



2020 HIRES: O’Rourke’s campaign picked up former Gov. John Hickenlooper’s (D-Colo.) former 2020 campaign finance director, Dan Sorenson, this week, per Politico.


ENDORSEMENTS: Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.) became the seventh Congressional Black Caucus member to endorse Harris, making the case for the freshman California senator in an Essence op-ed.


EDUCATION ROLL OUT: Inslee rolled out his education plan on Friday, pushing for universal preschool, free or reduced college tuition, as well as a focus on teaching students how to combat climate change. 



CANDIDATE LITE: We’ve seen Warren drink a beer on Instagram Live, while Hickenlooper frequently touts his past work as a brewer. This week, The Hill’s Alicia Cohn writes how 2020 contenders are connecting with voters over beer this election cycle, taking a deep dive into the age-old question: “Would you have a beer with that candidate?”

Read more: 2020 Democrats connect with voters over beer, via The Hill’s Alicia Cohn 


See you next week! Cheers!  

Tags Amy Klobuchar Bernie Sanders Beto O'Rourke Bill de Blasio Chris Cuomo Cory Booker Donald Trump Eric Swalwell Jahana Hayes Jay Inslee Joe Biden John Delaney John Hickenlooper Joni Ernst Justin Amash Lindsey Graham Marianne Williamson Mark Walker Pete Buttigieg Seth Moulton Susan Collins Tulsi Gabbard
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