The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats clash over future of party in heated debate

The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats clash over future of party in heated debate
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The Hill’s Campaign Report: Democrats clash over future of party in heated debate

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. Here’s what we’re watching this week on the campaign trail.

 

LEADING THE DAY:

POST DEBATE RUNDOWN: Happy Friday! The third Democratic primary debate is in the books! There were a number of standout moments from the nearly three-hour showdown in Houston, including former Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s (D-Texas) declaring, "Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro accusing former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGiuliani clashes with CNN's Cuomo, calls him a 'sellout' and the 'enemy' Giuliani says 'of course' he asked Ukraine to look into Biden seconds after denying it Trump whistleblower complaint involves Ukraine: report MORE of not fulfilling former President Obama’s legacy on health care (Ouch!).

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But don’t get too excited about those fiery exchanges. While O’Rourke has gotten attention for talking about gun control in the wake of last month’s El Paso shooting, recent history shows that single-issue candidates (ahem, Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellDemocrats press Nadler to hold Lewandowski in contempt Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats clash over future of party in heated debate MORE (D-Calif.) and Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeOvernight Energy: Trump officials formally revoke California emissions waiver | EPA's Wheeler dodges questions about targeting San Francisco over homelessness | 2020 Dems duke it out at second climate forum Yang floats nominating Inslee as 'climate czar' The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats clash over future of party in heated debate MORE) don’t have the longest shelf lives in campaigns. Plus, O’Rourke has continued to trail in the polls, despite a number of passionate speeches and exchanges on the campaign trail on gun control.

Meanwhile, Castro’s attacks on Biden fell flat, and came across to many as mean and bitter. A number of analysts concluded that one of the lowest moments of the debate came when Castro appeared to hit Biden, 76, on his age, accusing him of forgetting details of health care policy.

So how did the three front-runners fare?

While Biden appeared to go on the offensive more than he has in past debates, he, along with his progressive opponents, Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes Krystal Ball calls on Sanders to follow Yang's lead on war on drugs Buttigieg calls Warren 'evasive' on Medicare for all MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes Buttigieg calls Warren 'evasive' on Medicare for all Sanders hits 1 million donors MORE (D-Mass.), continued to lay out their plans and policy proposals.

The exchange between the three on health care was one of the high points of the evening, and gave voters a chance to see two different philosophies within the party. If the candidates are smart, they will continue to engage in thoughtful discussions about the future of health care among themselves and with voters.

This proved to be a winning strategy in the 2018 midterms, but the party will first have to mend its divide over the future of health care, i.e. building upon ObamaCare or scrapping it in favor of "Medicare for All." That is the debate to watch out for throughout this primary cycle.

— Julia Manchester

 

READ MORE: 

The campaign goes on for those left off the debate stage. The Hill’s Reid Wilson interviews Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockNew poll finds Biden, Warren in virtual tie in Iowa Gabbard drives coverage in push to qualify for October debate Partisan divisions sharpen as independent voters fade MORE, who is doubling down on campaigning in Iowa.

Five takeaways from Thursday night’s Democratic debate, from The Hill’s Max Greenwood and Julia Manchester.

Wondering who came out on top after last night’s debate? The Hill’s Jonathan Easley has you covered from Houston. 

 

FROM THE TRAIL:

Trump’s campaign is moving to block three Republicans challenging him in next year’s primary election, cognizant of the potential threat those challengers represent to Trump’s hold on his vaunted Republican base. The Trump campaign has worked for months to limit a challenger’s ability to test him, The Hill’s Reid Wilson reports 

Business Insider will host a debate featuring Trump’s challengers, The Hill’s Joe Concha reports.

 

ODDS AND ENDS:

Julie Hollar: The Democratic debates should not be in the hands of corporate media.

Goldie Taylor: Gaffes or not, rank-and-file Democrats are ridin’ with Biden.

Krystal Ball: Why the media dislike Sanders, Yang, Gabbard and Williamson.

Karl W. Smith: Trump should be worried about these economic trends.

 

POLICY ROLLOUTS:

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisTwo former Congressional Black Caucus chairmen back Biden Strippers, 'Hustlers' and the Democratic debates 2020 Dems honor Emily Clyburn MORE (D-Calif.), the former attorney general of California, has released a criminal justice reform plan (The Hill) … Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerOvernight Energy: Trump officials formally revoke California emissions waiver | EPA's Wheeler dodges questions about targeting San Francisco over homelessness | 2020 Dems duke it out at second climate forum Two former Congressional Black Caucus chairmen back Biden Strippers, 'Hustlers' and the Democratic debates MORE (D-N.J.) has introduced the Federal Firearm Licensing Act, which would require potential gun purchasers to go through the Justice Department to obtain a gun license. 

Trust me’: Harris makes big play on criminal justice reform. (New York Times)

 

FROM CONGRESS:

Max Greenwood reports from Charlotte, N.C. -- Republican Dan Bishop edged out Democrat Dan McCready in the special election on Tuesday to represent North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, narrowly holding on to a House seat that has been in the GOP’s hands for nearly 60 years.

Trump’s campaign advisers immediately took credit for the win. In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, his campaign manager Brad ParscaleBradley (Brad) James ParscaleMORE was blunt: “There’s no question that [Bishop is] the congressman-elect this morning because of the personal efforts of President TrumpDonald John TrumpMarine unit in Florida reportedly pushing to hold annual ball at Trump property Giuliani clashes with CNN's Cuomo, calls him a 'sellout' and the 'enemy' Giuliani says 'of course' he asked Ukraine to look into Biden seconds after denying it MORE.”

But the special election results flashed warning signs for both parties, The Hill’s Reid Wilson reports.

While Bishop outperformed former Republican candidate Mark HarrisMark HarrisThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats clash over future of party in heated debate Why my American Indian tribe voted Republican in NC's special election North Carolina race raises 2020 red flags for Republicans, Democrats MORE’s margins in a handful of rural counties, McCready tightened his grip on Mecklenburg County, where Charlotte and its immediate suburbs are located. That reaffirmed one of the biggest takeaways from the 2018 midterm elections: the GOP’s once-solid support in the suburbs is still weakening.

For Democrats, however, the election raised questions about what they need to do to turn out their core voters. McCready campaigned as an unabashed moderate, touting the slogan “country over party” and distancing himself from more liberal Democrats in Washington. But whether that will motivate the party’s activist base in 2020 is unclear. 

Warren is getting involved in House primaries, backing challengers to two centrist Democratic House members - Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and Daniel LipinskiDaniel William LipinskiOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi set to unveil drug price plan | Abortion rate in US hits lowest level since Roe v. Wade | Dems threaten to subpoena Juul Ocasio-Cortez accuses NY Times of 'dripping condescension' Khanna calls out progressives who haven't endorsed Lipinski challenger MORE (D-Ill.).

GEORGIA SENATE: Former congressional candidate Jon Ossof will challenge. Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

CA-50: Former Rep. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaIssa's Senate confirmation hearing delayed over concerns about background check The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats clash over future of party in heated debate Issa says he will run for Congress if not confirmed to trade post by Nov. 3 MORE (R-Calif.) says he will run for Rep. Duncan HunterDuncan Duane HunterIssa's Senate confirmation hearing delayed over concerns about background check Can Carl DeMaio save the California GOP? The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats clash over future of party in heated debate MORE’s (R-Calif.) seat if he is not confirmed to a top trade post in the Trump administration by Nov. 3.

 

POLL WATCH:

Biden is holding steady in the polls ahead of the third Democratic presidential primary debate, leading the next closest contender by 15 points, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.

ABC News-Washington Post: Five Democratic contenders lead Trump in a hypothetical head-to-head match-up.

Trump is not having it.

 

 

UNIVISION: All of the top Democratic White House hopefuls are leading Trump in Texas.

NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist: Warren has the highest favorability rating in the field.

EMERSON UNIVERSITY: Biden and Warren lead in New Hampshire, as Sanders slips.

Franklin Pierce: Sanders leads in New Hampshire.

 

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:

Sanders will embark on Sunday on a three-day campaign swing through South Carolina, with stops in Charleston, Galivants Ferry and Hartsville. Castro will also visit the Palmetto State this weekend.

  • There are 143 days until the Iowa caucuses, 151 days until the New Hampshire primary, 162 days until the Nevada caucuses, 169 days until the South Carolina primary and 172 days until Super Tuesday.

 

ONE FUN THING

WIZARD OF OZ: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) tried to make a point about President Trump at Thursday’s debate by invoking the classic flick, "The Wizard of Oz."

"Donald Trump, in office, on trade policy ... he reminds me of that guy in 'The Wizard of Oz,' you know, when you pull back the curtain, it's a really small dude," Harris said.

Here’s the awkward part — Harris was speaking to moderator George StephanopoulosGeorge Robert StephanopoulosSunday shows - Guns dominate after Democratic debate Cruz on reported Kavanaugh allegations: There's nobody Democrats don't want to impeach Klobuchar: Investigation into Kavanaugh 'a sham' MORE, who himself stands at 5 feet, 5 inches tall. 

But the broadcast news veteran took it all in stride. 

“OK,” Stephanopoulos said. "I'm not even going to take the bait, Sen. Harris."

"Oh George, it wasn't about you,” Harris said. 

The internet, in turn, had a field day.   

 

We’ll catch you next week for more campaign news and analysis!

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