The Hill's Campaign Report: Obama legacy under spotlight after Detroit debates

The Hill's Campaign Report: Obama legacy under spotlight after Detroit debates
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Welcome to The Hill's Campaign Report, your weekly rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.

We're Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley, and here's what we're watching this week on the campaign trail. 



FAMILY FEUD: Obama administration alums and allies are warning 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls to lay off the former president on the campaign trail after some members of the pack hit the former administration over health care and immigration.

It all started when a number of Democratic hopefuls took shots at the former president, without mentioning Obama by name. Those candidates are pushing to overhaul ObamaCare in favor of "Medicare for All," and some also took aim at the former president's record on immigration and the number of deportations during his tenure.

During the Detroit debate, New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioBloomberg compared civil libertarians, teachers union to NRA 'extremists' in 2013: report De Blasio endorses Sanders for president While Klobuchar surges, Warren flounders MORE pressed former Vice President Joe BidenJoe Biden'Where's your spoon?' What we didn't learn in the latest debate Sanders nabs endorsement from Congressional Hispanic Caucus member Poll: Sanders holds 7-point lead in crucial California primary MORE on whether he thought the 3 million deportations under the Obama administration were a good idea. Biden said he wouldn't spill the details about his private conversations with Obama. That response gave Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDemocratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe CNN signs Andrew Yang as contributor Bloomberg qualifies for South Carolina primary debate MORE (D-N.J.) an opening to take a shot at the former vice president. Booker told Biden he couldn't have it both ways in picking and choosing when he would tout his relationship with Obama. 


But after the words of caution, the candidates are making clear their support for the former president, with Booker saying that while no leader is perfect, he wouldn't be running in 2020 if Obama was pursuing a third term. Meanwhile, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi Harris5 takeaways from Las Vegas debate California lawmakers mark Day of Remembrance for Japanese internment Democratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe MORE (D-Calif.), who has called for moving the country to Medicare for All system over 10 years, told reporters on Thursday that the idea would not be possible without ObamaCare and that she has "nothing but praise" for the former president. 

The strategy of attacking Obama, who is largely seen as the most popular Democrat, seems to have backfired for some of the Democratic candidates, at least for now. President TrumpDonald John TrumpChasten Buttigieg: 'I've been dealing with the likes of Rush Limbaugh my entire life' Lawmakers paint different pictures of Trump's 'opportunity zone' program We must not turn our heads from the effects of traumatic brain injuries MORE was paying close attention from the other side of the aisle, noting at a campaign rally in Cincinnati on Thursday that "the Democrats spent more time attacking Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaMeghan McCain after Gaetz says Trump should pardon Roger Stone: 'Oh come on' Trump seeks to distance strong economy from Obama policies in White House report The Hill's Morning Report - Democrats duke it out during Nevada debate MORE than they did attacking me, practically." 

And it's given Biden an opportunity to fire back at his critics. Biden decried the attacks on his popular former boss, telling reporters on Thursday that he thought it was "bizarre" that the previous administration's actions were being compared to Trump's. While the candidates on stage may have thought they were striking a more progressive tone, they actually gave Biden another opportunity to tie himself to Obama. Afterall, who wouldn't want to be associated with someone who had a 95 percent approval rating with Democrats at the end of their presidency? 


LOOKING AHEAD: We may have just wrapped up the second Democratic primary debates, but all eyes are shifting to Houston and who will make it to the stage. Only eight candidates have qualified for the forum, but expect that number to rise. The debate is set for Sept. 12 -- and potentially a second night on Sept. 13, if the field is big enough. So far, Biden, Harris, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Peter Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersNevada Democratic debate draws record-breaking 19.7 million viewers 'Where's your spoon?' What we didn't learn in the latest debate Ocasio-Cortez defends Warren against 'misogynist trope' MORE (I-Vt.), Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren declines to disavow super PAC that supports her San Diego Union-Tribune endorses Buttigieg 'Where's your spoon?' What we didn't learn in the latest debate MORE (D-Mass.), Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharWarren declines to disavow super PAC that supports her San Diego Union-Tribune endorses Buttigieg 'Where's your spoon?' What we didn't learn in the latest debate MORE (D-Minn.), former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeCNN signs Andrew Yang as contributor Krystal Ball: Voters are coming to their own judgements about who is electable Warren campaign to host series of events in Texas MORE (D-Texas) and Booker have met the qualifications for the debate. 

-- Julia Manchester



Biden's team believes that his performance in Wednesday night's debate served to steady his presidential campaign after a shaky showing in the first round of debates in June, The Hill's Jonathan Easley and Amie Parnes report.


Sanders, Warren and Booker were among the winners of the second round of debates, while Biden got mixed reviews. The losers? O'Rourke, who failed to get a breakout moment, and the primary contest's centrists, The Hill's Niall Stanage reports.


Democratic lawmakers fear that the negative tone of Wednesday night's presidential debate may distract from what they believe the party's main goal should be: building the case against President Trump, reports The Hill's Alexander Bolton.


More from Detroit:

Five takeaways from night one in Detroit, via The Hill's Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley.

Five takeaways from night two in Detroit, from Jonathan.

Democrats are going all out to rebuild 'blue wall' in Michigan after it collapsed in 2016, Max reports from Detroit.


AND THEN THERE WERE EIGHT: Klobuchar's campaign announced on Friday that she has qualified for the third and fourth Democratic debates this fall after reaching the 130,000-donor threshold. That makes her the eighth candidate to meet the tougher requirements. 



Dana Milbank: Biden was gloriously adequate.

Branko Marcetic: Sanders, Warren obliterate the corporate Democrats.

Paul Starr: Democrats need a first-things-first campaign.

Mark Penn: The Democratic debate was a pander-fest.

Allan Lichtman: Biden versus Warren may be the ultimate primary battle.

Albert Hunt: These Democratic candidates should drop out now.

Alfredo Ortiz: Democratic moderates fuel the case against the socialists.



THE ECONOMIST/YOUGOV: Biden leads the field with 26 percent support among likely Democratic primary and caucus voters. He's followed by Warren at 18 percent, Sanders at 13 percent, Harris at 10 percent and Buttigieg at 5 percent, according to the survey.


QUINNIPIAC: Biden holds a wide lead over the rest of the field, taking 34 percent support among Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters. Warren, meanwhile, rose to second place with 15 percent support. Harris dropped to third with 12 percent, followed by Sanders at 11 percent and Buttigieg at 6 percent.


TEXAS OPINION SURVEY: O'Rourke has struggled to gain traction in the Democratic race, but he leads all Democrats in the Super Tuesday state of Texas.


EMERSON POLLING: Biden has a wide lead over the field of Democrats nationally at 33 percent, followed by Sanders at 20 percent.



Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdGun control group plans to spend million in Texas in 2020 Trump to attend California fundraiser with Oracle chairman The Hill's Morning Report - Nearing witness vote, GOP rushes to acquit Trump MORE (R-Texas), the only black Republican member of the House, will not seek reelection next year, making him the eighth GOP retirement of the cycle. Hurd has been a fierce critic of the Trump administration, and his retirement underscores growing fears among Republicans about a wave of retirements.

"Democrats will win this seat and if Will Hurd doesn't believe he can keep his job in a changing Texas, his colleagues must be having second thoughts too." -- Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) spokesman Avery Jaffe.


It ended up being a good week for the DCCC after a rocky start.

Several Democratic lawmakers came out in support of Rep. Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosHouse GOP campaign arm mocks Democrats after stumbling upon internal info on races Julián Castro endorses Rep. Cuellar's primary opponent in Texas Vulnerable Democrats fret over surging Sanders MORE (D-Ill.), the chairwoman of the DCCC, after outrage over a lack of diversity at the top rungs of the House Democratic campaign arm raised questions about her leadership, reports The Hill's Jonathan Easley.


> Progressive groups are launching an effort to pressure House Democrats on impeachment. They plan to show up at town halls and confront the lawmakers in public, according to BuzzFeed News.


> The super PAC aligned with House Republican leadership is launching a six-figure field operation in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District ahead of a closely watched special election there. From the Congressional Leadership Fund: "The effort will focus on persuading swing voters in key precincts in Mecklenburg County and to turning out mid-to-high propensity GOP voters in Union County." The group said that it expects to drop $150,000 on the program.


Senate Democrats view proposals from Sanders and Warren as totally unfeasible, reports The Hill's Alexander Bolton.



> The Sanders campaign raised more than $1 million in the 24 hours after the debate in Detroit, further evidence that the Vermont senator remains a small-dollar fundraising juggernaut, reports The Hill's Max Greenwood.


> Priorities USA, the largest Democratic super PAC, and its affiliated nonprofit raised $23.4 million in the first six months of the year, outpacing the Trump-endorsed America First Action and the nonprofit America First Policies, which announced raking in $17.8 million in the same time frame, Politico's Maggie Severns and Alex Isenstadt report. 


> Sara Gideon, the Maine House speaker challenging Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDemocratic Senate campaign arm raised more than .5 million in January On the Trail: Senate GOP hopefuls tie themselves to Trump Susan Collins in statistical tie with Democratic challenger: poll MORE (R) for her seat, used funds from a corporate-funded PAC to reimburse herself for donations in 2015 and 2016, the Washington Free Beacon's Brent Scher reports. 

In a statement to the Bangor Daily News, Gideon's campaign manager, Amy Mesner, said that the fundraising committee was given "incorrect guidance on how to process" the reimbursements. "As soon as we were made aware of the error, it was addressed."


> Democratic donor George Soros has launched a super PAC ahead of 2020, Politico reports



5 p.m. PST: Sanders and Buttigieg will attend the First Friday Festival in Las Vegas.



9 a.m. PST: At least 19 presidential candidates are scheduled to appear at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees' Public Service Forum in Las Vegas. The lineup includes: Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand Bennet2020 race goes national in sprint to Super Tuesday Toward 'Super Tuesday' — momentum, money and delegates Trump seeks split-screen moments in early primary states MORE (D-Colo.), Biden, Booker, Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockStates, cities rethink tax incentives after Amazon HQ2 backlash Democrats redefine center as theirs collapses Democratic governors worried about drawn-out 2020 fight MORE (D), Buttigieg, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, de Blasio, former Rep. John DelaneyJohn Kevin DelaneyLobbying world The Hill's Campaign Report: Four-way sprint to Iowa finish line John Delaney drops out of presidential race, Krystal and Saagar react MORE (D-Md.), Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardBloomberg, Sanders, Biden beat Trump in head-to-heads in North Carolina: poll Sanders takes lead in new Hill/HarrisX poll The Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg to face off with rivals at Nevada debate MORE (D-Hawaii), Harris, Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeAndrew Yang ends presidential bid Bloomberg, Steyer focus on climate change in effort to stand out Our government and public institutions must protect us against the unvaccinated MORE (D), Klobuchar, Rep. Seth MoultonSeth MoultonTrump set to confront his impeachment foes Biden lines up high-profile surrogates to campaign in Iowa The DCCC's 'blacklist' protects a white male political status quo MORE (D-Mass.), O'Rourke, Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanDemocrats tear into Trump's speech: It was a 'MAGA rally' Democrats walk out of Trump's address: 'It's like watching professional wrestling' Trump set to confront his impeachment foes MORE (D-Ohio), Sanders, Tom SteyerTom Fahr SteyerKlobuchar rolls out ads in Super Tuesday states Poll: Democrats trail Trump in Wisconsin, lead in Michigan and Pennsylvania Bloomberg, Sanders, Biden beat Trump in head-to-heads in North Carolina: poll MORE, Warren and Marianne WilliamsonMarianne WilliamsonDemocrats: The road to kumbaya The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump, Pelosi take the gloves off; DNC wants Iowa recanvass Iowa and New Hampshire haters should think twice MORE.



5 p.m. PST: Klobuchar will hold a meet and greet in Orange, Calif.


  • There are 178 days until the Iowa caucuses, 193 days until the New Hampshire primary, 204 days until the Nevada caucuses, 211 days until the South Carolina primary and 214 days until Super Tuesday.



POST DEBATE FUN: The internet gods appeared to smile down on the Democratic debates this week, giving political junkies a plethora of hilarious of memes, GIFs and videos stemming from the two-night forum in Detroit. 

Marianne Williamson's comparison of the Trump administration to a "dark psychic force" was a hit, spiking in Google searches during the debate.


But Williamson's post-debate performance also became the subject of attention on Tuesday and Wednesday, specifically when she revealed the fate of her former feline companion to a young, aspiring reporter. 


The second night of debates also gave way to meme-worthy content, and a few shoutouts to some all-American brands. 

Booker invoked Kool-Aid to clap back at Biden's criticism of his record as Newark mayor, telling the former vice president that he was "dipping into the Kool-Aid and you don't even know the flavor."

The folks at Kool-Aid quickly gave the comment their stamp approval on Twitter. 


Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandGinsburg, accepting lifetime achievement award, urges working fathers to take an active role in kids' lives Gillibrand PAC, End Citizens United launch effort to boost female candidates Clinton to honor Ginsburg at fashion designer's awards show MORE (D-N.Y.) also had a zinger during the forum, revealing that the first thing she would do as president would be to Clorox the Oval Office

We can only assume the folks at Clorox were thrilled with the shout out, but what about our friends at Lysol? 


We'll see you next week for more campaign coverage!

We hope you'll enjoy your weekend with a cold one like Pete and Chastain!