The Hill's Campaign Report: DNC toughens December debate criteria

The Hill's Campaign Report: DNC toughens December debate criteria
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We're Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here's what we're watching this week on the campaign trail. 




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The Democratic National Committee is toughening the criteria for the sixth primary debate set to take place in December, a move that is likely to further winnow the field of presidential candidates who can make the stage.

To qualify for the debate on Dec. 19, candidates must now meet one of two polling thresholds: receive a minimum of 4 percent support in at least four polls, which can be national polls or single-state polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and or Nevada; or receive at least 6 percent support in two single-state polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and or Nevada.

Polls must be sponsored by a group on a list of 16 media entities, as well as meet other specific criteria.

In addition, candidates must receive donations from at least 200,000 unique donors as well as a minimum of 800 unique donors per state in at least 20 U.S. states, U.S. territories, or the District of Columbia.

The deadline for qualification will be at the end of the day on Dec. 12, 2019.


Here's our developing story on the new debate criteria.



Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump to hold campaign rally in Michigan Castro hits fundraising threshold for December debate Buttigieg draws fresh scrutiny, attacks in sprint to Iowa MORE is taking heat from his 2020 rivals for signaling a willingness to endorse a super PAC in a potential general election fight against President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrumps light 97th annual National Christmas Tree Trump to hold campaign rally in Michigan 'Don't mess with Mama': Pelosi's daughter tweets support following press conference comments MORE.

Biden's campaign said that he would still aim to end the influence of big money outside groups if he's elected, but that the Democrats will need every tool at their disposal to defeat Trump, who could spend a billion dollars this cycle in conjunction with the Republican National Committee.

"In this time of political crisis, it is not surprising that those who are dedicated to defeating Donald Trump are organizing in every way permitted by current law to bring an end to his disastrous presidency. Nothing changes unless we defeat Donald Trump." -- deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield

The Hill: Biden campaign signals openness to super PACs to defeat Trump.


Of course, Biden's rivals viewed the remarks as a statement about his fundraising struggles in the primary in the third quarter.

Biden spent more than he raised and finished the quarter with about $9 million on hand. Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump to hold campaign rally in Michigan Castro hits fundraising threshold for December debate Buttigieg draws fresh scrutiny, attacks in sprint to Iowa MORE (I-Vt.) has $33.7 million on hand, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump to hold campaign rally in Michigan Castro hits fundraising threshold for December debate Buttigieg: Harris 'deserves to be under anybody's consideration' for vice president MORE (D-Mass.) has $25.7 million and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegCastro hits fundraising threshold for December debate On The Money: Congress races to beat deadline on shutdown | Trump asks Supreme Court to shield financial records from House Democrats | House passes bill to explicitly ban insider trading NYT editorial board calls on Buttigieg to disclose details of work at consulting firm MORE (D) has $23.3 million.

"We're on a course to do extremely well. I'm not worried about being able to fund this campaign. I really am not, truly," Biden in an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes" that will air Sunday.

But the incoming fire for Biden's posture toward super PACs was swift:

"The former Vice President has been unable to generate grassroots support, and now his campaign is endorsing an effort to buy the primary through a super PAC that can rake in unlimited cash from billionaires and corporations. That's not how we defeat Trump. It's a recipe to maintain a corrupt political system which enriches wealthy donors and leaves the working class behind." -- Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir.

Expect to hear a lot more about this in the coming weeks as the candidates sharpen their attacks ahead of the Iowa caucuses.



Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanGM among partners planning .3B battery plant in Ohio San Francisco 49ers suspend announcer after reference to quarterback's 'dark skin' More than 100 Democrats sign letter calling for Stephen Miller to resign MORE (D-Ohio) has dropped out of the 2020 presidential race, ending a long-shot bid that failed to gain traction amid a crowded field of high-profile candidates. The Hill's Zack Budryk reports.

That leaves Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardCastro hits fundraising threshold for December debate Saagar Enjeti ponders Hillary Clinton's 2020 plans The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi says House will move forward with impeachment MORE (D-Hawaii) as the final current House member in the presidential race, and Gabbard is going all in. 

Gabbard announced over Twitter that she will not seek another term in the House, pushing all her chips in with a longshot presidential bid. Gabbard was facing a tough primary fight back home against state Sen. Kai Kahele, Politico reports. The news is sure to stoke suspicions that Gabbard will run as a third party or independent candidate, although she insists that it is Democratic nomination or bust. Former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump to hold campaign rally in Michigan Saagar Enjeti ponders Hillary Clinton's 2020 plans Political ad spending set to explode in 2020 MORE has called Gabbard a "favorite of the Russians" and warned that Gabbard could try to play spoiler by launching an independent bid, but there has been backlash against those remarks, with Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg and former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeButtigieg picks up third congressional endorsement from New York lawmaker Klobuchar hires staff in Nevada Deval Patrick enters 2020 race MORE (D-Texas) coming to Gabbard's defense.


Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) has qualified for November's primary debate, becoming the ninth presidential contender to secure a spot on stage. The Hill's Tal Axelrod reports.



Democratic bed-wetting over the 2020 primary has reached a previously unseen level. Fear that the party doesn't have the candidate to win is an evergreen aspect of the modern presidential race. In just about every presidential contest in recent memory, there have been moments of existential fear among Democrats. But the worry this time, when the party will nominate a candidate to take on President Trump in an effort to end his time in office at one term, are like nothing seen before, Democrats say. Read The Hill's Amie Parnes.

That's sparked whispers that a Democrat who is presently on the sidelines might ride to the rescue, but most view that as unlikely.

"Democrats don't need more candidates to enter this primary. We have great candidates already." -- Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerCastro hits fundraising threshold for December debate The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi says House will move forward with impeachment Booker: Primary voters 'being denied' their candidates of choice MORE (D-N.J.)


The Hill: Hillary Clinton whisper campaign hits new heights.

The New York Times: Clinton would join the race if she thought she could win.



Democratic presidential candidates are shifting their positions on "Medicare for All" as they battle for different wings of the party.

The Hill's Peter Sullivan reports: South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) praised Medicare for All earlier this year, but now is attacking Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for supporting the plan as he tries to become the favorite of more moderate voters who have mostly flocked to former Vice President Joe Biden.

"I think [Warren's] not being honest about her plan, and I think her plan -- which costs $33 trillion -- is the equivalent of 70 percent of all the taxes that the federal government will collect over the next 10 years … I mean it is a massive increase in taxes to this country and it hasn't been explained to the American people. It's a sound bite."- Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetSenators want FERC to protect critical infrastructure from Huawei threats Krystal Ball: What Harris's exit means for the other 2020 candidates Democrats hit gas on impeachment MORE (D-Colo.). 

The Hill: Warren faces tough choices on funding 'Medicare for all.'



Liz Peek: 2020 isn't about Trump or Biden, it's about personal freedom

A.B. Stoddard: Dems beware -- the RNC is crushing it

Brad Bannon: The three women defining the race to unseat Trump

Matt Taibbi: Everyone is a Russian agent

Al Hunt: Warren needs a plan to win in November



Sanders has a plan to legalize marijuana and ensure that former convicted drug offenders benefit from it (The Hill) … O'Rourke is proposing reforms to strengthen enforcement of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution and prevent presidents from using pardons to protect themselves (The Hill) … He also has a plan to deal with the opioid epidemic (The Hill) … Warren has released a plan to quadruple federal funding for public schools with incentives for states to fund poor and rich schools more equally (The Hill) ... Buttigieg has a plan for women to accumulate power (The Hill).



Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibHouse moves ahead on long-stalled resolution supporting two states for Israelis and Palestinians GOP leader says he had 'a hard time' believing Pelosi Al Green calls for including Trump's 'racism' in impeachment articles MORE (D-Mich.) will become the third member of "the squad" to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) this weekend.


Vice President Pence will appear at a Virginia rally in support of Republican candidates in the commonwealth. Pence will appear at a rally in Virginia Beach on Nov. 2 ahead of the state's Nov. 5 elections


The Supreme Court, in another defeat for gerrymandering reformers, overturned a lower court's ruling that Michigan's electoral districts are overly partisan and need to be redrawn. The Hill's Harper Neidig reports.



An early rush of big money into key states has both Democrats and Republicans eyeing as many as a dozen potentially competitive U.S. Senate seats up for election next year as voter interest in a riveting presidential contest upends what had appeared to be a narrow map. The Hill's Reid Wilson breaks down races in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Alabama, Michigan, Iowa, North Carolina, Kansas, New Hampshire and Kentucky.


Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro appealed to supporters on Monday to donate $800,000 by Oct. 31, saying he would be forced to end his presidential campaign otherwise. The Hill's Zack Budryk reports.



New polls find independent voters increasingly supportive of impeachment, the latest sign of trouble for President Trump as he struggles to defend himself only 13 months out from Election Day. Those results have Democrats cautiously optimistic that their message on impeachment is resonating and potentially setting their eventual nominee up to land the knockout blow against Trump in the general election next year. The Hill's Jonathan Easley reports.


CNN: Former Vice President Joe Biden has opened up his widest lead nationally in several months and holds a 15-point lead over Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) not far behind. The national polls have been all over the place -- a Quinnipiac University polls has Warren up 7, while a Survey USA poll has Biden with a double-digit lead.


SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY-USA TODAY: South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) now stands at third place in Iowa, according to a new poll, closely trailing Biden and Warren in the early caucus state.


MONMOUTH UNIVERSITY: Biden has a 17-point lead in South Carolina.


MASON-DIXON-MINNEAPOLIS STAR: President Trump trails Democratic White House hopefuls in Minnesota.



There are 101 days until the Iowa caucuses,109 days until the New Hampshire primary,120 days until the Nevada caucuses,127 days until the South Carolina primary and 130 days until Super Tuesday. 


The League of United Latin American Citizens National and Newsmax TV host a town hall in Des Moines, Iowa, beginning today and going all weekend, featuring 500 registered Latino voters. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) will all speak at the event.



An all-female panel will moderate next month's Democratic presidential primary debate, hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post.

The moderators for the Nov. 20 debate will be: Rachel MaddowRachel Anne MaddowSNL mocks Buttigieg campaign's viral dance video as part of strategy to get 'a negative percentage of the black vote' The Hill's Morning Report - Sondland stuns; Dems pull punches in fifth debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate MORE, host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC; Andrea Mitchell, host of "Andrea Mitchell Reports" on MSNBC and NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent; Kristen Welker, NBC News White House correspondent; and Ashley Parker, Washington Post White House reporter.

It's only the second all-female panel for a major political debate in U.S. history.

And finally, Washington is divided, but everyone in town will take a break from politics to tune in to Game 3 of the World Series tonight between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros.

The Nationals can take a commanding 3–0 lead in the series with a victory tonight. Trump says he'll attend Game 5, if the series goes that far.