The Hill's Campaign Report: Impeachment looms large over Democratic debate

The Hill's Campaign Report: Impeachment looms large over Democratic debate
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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. Here’s what we’re watching this week on the campaign trail.

LEADING THE DAY: 

IMPEACHMENT VS CAMPAIGN: With impeachment sucking most of the air out political news, 10 of the Democratic presidential contenders took the stage at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta on Wednesday. 

While the impeachment hearings are taking place far from the campaign trail in Washington, the issue impacts a number of the candidates, notably Biden and the sitting senators. 

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Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden: Buttigieg 'doesn't have significant black support even in his own city' Biden: 'I'd add' Warren to my list of potential VP picks How can top Democrats run the economy with no business skill? MORE, who is closely tied to the inquiry because of Trump’s calls for Ukraine to investigate him and his son, said at Wednesday’s debate that one of the main takeaways he got from the hearings is that Trump doesn’t want him to be the Democratic nominee. 

However, the senators running for president, i.e. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden: 'I'd add' Warren to my list of potential VP picks Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades How can top Democrats run the economy with no business skill? MORE, Bernie SandersBernie SandersHow can top Democrats run the economy with no business skill? Biden rallies with John Kerry in early primary states Buttigieg campaign says 2000 people attended Iowa rally MORE, Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSunday shows — Nadler: A jury would convict Trump in 'three minutes flat' Booker on Harris dropping out: 'Iowa voters should have the right to choose' Booker campaign rakes in million after Harris exits 2020 race MORE, and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSunday shows — Nadler: A jury would convict Trump in 'three minutes flat' Booker on Harris dropping out: 'Iowa voters should have the right to choose' Booker campaign rakes in million after Harris exits 2020 race MORE, will also be drawn into the impeachment process if they have to split their time between the campaign trail and Capitol Hill should the Senate hold a trial.

Warren said at the debate she would work to convince her Republican colleagues in the upper chamber to cast a guilty vote if Trump is impeached in the House. 

“And the obvious answer is to say, first, read the Mueller report, all 442 pages of it,” she said. 

Meanwhile, Klobuchar responded by saying she would wait to hear evidence before determining whether she would convict. 

“I have made it very clear that this is impeachable conduct, and I’ve called for an impeachment proceeding,” she said. “I just believe our job as jurors is to look at each count and make a decision.” 

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Sanders, when asked how he would balance impeachment with the campaign trail, said “the Congress can walk and chew bubble gum at the same time.” Harris also showed her support for impeachment, repeating her “we have a criminal in the White House line.” 

Booker told me on the spin room after the debate that he “swore an oath to do my job as a senator. Politics, campaign, I’m sorry, I swore an oath.” 

If all of the Democratic senators running for president make it to the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, we’ll be watching their balancing act between the trail and the Hill. 

— Julia Manchester

READ MORE: 

The top Democratic White House hopefuls are in a high-stakes race to win the support of black voters, who will play a key role in determining the nominee once the contest moves past the predominantly white states of Iowa and New Hampshire. That dynamic was on full display at the latest Democratic debate in Atlanta on Wednesday night, as the candidates tailored their policy proposals and emotional appeals to African Americans, who make up two-thirds of the Democratic primary electorate in South Carolina and will be a force on Super Tuesday. The Hill’s Jonathan Easley reports.

Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.) and Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharBiden: All-white debate not representative of party, but 'you can't dictate' nominee Delaney to DNC: Open second debate stage for candidates who qualified for past events There's a lot to like about the Senate privacy bill, if it's not watered down MORE (Minn.) are looking to capitalize on their Wednesday night debate performances. The two candidates both earned strong reviews and are hoping they can somehow turn that into momentum for campaigns that have been overlooked by many voters so far. By The Hill’s Amie Parnes.
 
Former President Obama spoke candidly Thursday to a room of 100 donors who paid top dollar to see him speak, telling the room that “everybody needs to chill out” about the differences among the 2020 Democratic candidates.

FROM THE TRAIL:

Former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael Rubens BloombergBannon: Clinton waiting to enter 2020 race and 'save the Democratic Party from Michael Bloomberg' Bloomberg reporting policy not pretty or perfect, but right Booker campaign rakes in million after Harris exits 2020 race MORE filed an official statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Thursday, moving him closer to a potential 2020 presidential run, The Hills Max Greenwood reports. Of course, the filing doesn’t lock him into a campaign; an aide said that Bloomberg still hasn’t made a final decision but acknowledged that the statement of candidacy is “another step towards running.”

Booker made it halfway to qualifying for the sixth Democratic presidential debate in December, announcing on Thursday that he had met the DNC’s 200,000-donor threshold, The Hill’s Tal Axelrod reports. He was helped across the finish line by a surge of donations following his performance in Wednesday night’s debate, his campaign said. Of course, he’ll still need to meet the polling threshold before he earns the right to appear on the debate stage next month.

Abdul El-Sayed, a progressive former Detroit health official, endorsed Sanders’s presidential bid on Thursday. El-Sayed ran for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Michigan last year, finishing in second place behind the eventual nominee and now-current Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. 

“I’m honored to receive the endorsement of Abdul El-Sayed,” Sanders said in a statement. “He knows we need a Medicare for All, single-payer system and a government that represents all the people – not just the insurance companies and drug companies. We will together finish what we started in 2016 and transform our country so it works for all of us.”

Sanders wasn’t the only candidate to notch a high-profile progressive endorsement this week. Ady Barkan, a prominent activist and well-regarded health care expert, threw his support behind Warren on Wednesday, The Hill’s Jonathan Easley reports. The endorsement could help provide cover to the Massachusetts senator, who has faced attacks by her 2020 rivals about her Medicare for All proposal.

Buttigieg released two additional years of his tax returns on Wednesday amid questions about his tenure at consulting behemoth McKinsey & Company, The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda reports. The returns cover his finances for 2007 and 2008, years when he worked as a consultant at the firm. His 2008 federal tax return reports adjusted gross income that year of $122,680 and total taxes of $25,776. His 2007 return reports adjusted gross income of $80,397 and total taxes of $13,954.

PERSPECTIVES:

Brad Bannon: The 2 events that reshaped the Democratic primary race

Steve IsraelSteven (Steve) J. IsraelThe Hill's Morning Report - Dem dilemma on articles of impeachment Republicans need to face reality with hypocrisy on impeachment Elise Stefanik tests impeachment waters for moderates in Congress MORE: Is Mayor Pete the man to beat?

Stephen Weissman: Joe Biden's super PAC stumble

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Jessica Tarlov: Political purity tests are for losers

FROM CONGRESS AND THE STATES:

Fresh off their success in helping flip control of the Virginia legislature, gun control advocates are now turning their attention to 2020 races in Texas and Colorado, two states that are likely to present tougher hurdles, The Hill’s Rebecca Klar reports.
 
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) on Tuesday endorsed state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Calif.) to succeed former Rep. Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillKatie Hill pens op-ed about Congress resignation, toxic marriage, mental health and resilience Young Turks founder: Past remarks on women were attempt 'to be a stupid, politically incorrect Republican' Feinstein endorses Christy Smith for Katie Hill's former House seat MORE.

After Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Job growth soars in November The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats worry about diversity on next debate stage Doug Collins on potential 2020 Senate run: I'm not 'ruling it out' MORE (R-Ga.) said earlier this year he would resign from the Senate, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) took the unusual step of asking those interested in filling the seat to apply online. By Monday, when the deadline to apply passed, more than 500 Georgians had taken up Kemp’s offer, Reid Wilson reports.

MONEY WATCH:

Bloomberg is planning to spend between $15 million and $20 million on a voter registration campaign in five battleground states as he weighs a potential entrance into the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, Tal Axelrod reports. The campaign will target voters in Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin – five states that Trump won in 2016 but that Democrats see as potential pickup opportunities in 2020. While Bloomberg hasn’t made a final decision on a presidential run, he has already taken steps to get on the ballot in a handful of Super Tuesday states.

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FUNDRAISING BREAKDOWN: The DNC saw its best monthly fundraising total of 2019 last month, raking in just more than $9 million in October, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings. In that same period, the committee spent roughly $8.9 million. It ended the month with $8.75 million in the bank. 

The Republican National Committee (RNC) raised just less than $25.3 million in October, and spent $23 million over the course of the month, its most recent FEC filing shows. It reported having about $61.4 million in cash on hand. 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) raised $12.2 million in October and spent roughly $4.8 million, FEC filings show. It had $43.7 million on hand at the end of the month.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) brought in about $10 million in October, according to its monthly FEC filing. It spent $5.6 million over the course of the month and reported $28.3 million in the bank.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) reported that it raised $5.4 million last month, while it spent about $5.6 million, according to its federal filings. The committee had about $17.4 million on hand at the end of the month. 

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) raised $6.7 million in October and spent just nearly $4.8 million, its most recent FEC filings show. That left the committee with about $15 million in cash on hand.

POLL WATCH:

EMERSON UNIVERSITY: A new national survey finds independent voters leading a sharp swing in opposition to impeachment, the second major poll to produce those findings this week. Emerson found that 45 percent oppose impeaching Trump, against 43 percent who support it. That’s a swing in support from October, when 48 percent of voters supported impeachment and only 44 percent opposed. There was a dramatic shift toward opposition from independents in the survey.

IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY/CIVIQS: Buttigieg leads the pack in Iowa with 26 percent support among likely Democratic caucusgoers, making it the latest poll to show the 38-year-old mayor with momentum in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. He’s followed by Warren at 19 percent and Sanders at 18 percent. Biden is the only other candidate to notch double digits in the poll, coming in fourth place with 12 percent support.

MARQUETTE UNIVERSITY: Trump leads the top Democrats in Wisconsin, where voters are increasingly likely to oppose impeachment.

EMERSON UNIVERSITY: Sanders and Biden are tied for the lead nationally, the latest round of good polling for the Vermont senator.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:

There are 73 days until the Iowa caucuses, 81 days until the New Hampshire primary, 92 days until the Nevada caucuses, 99 days until the South Carolina primary and 102 days until Super Tuesday. 

ONE FUN THING: 

The outsider candidates, tech entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangEmanuel jokes: 'I'm a new, mellow Rahm' Yang expands campaign with senior hires for digital operations Biden: All-white debate not representative of party, but 'you can't dictate' nominee MORE and Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardGabbard commemorates John Lennon's passing by singing 'Imagine' Biden: All-white debate not representative of party, but 'you can't dictate' nominee Delaney to DNC: Open second debate stage for candidates who qualified for past events MORE (D-Hawaii), are flourishing in the Democratic primary. Is there room for an outsider challenge on the GOP side?

The odds are near impossible — Trump is in charge of the GOP, and the Republican National Committee has taken steps to ensure a potential challenger is blocked off.

But a bid for the GOP nomination from futurist and transhumanist Zoltan Istvan was just unique enough to catch our eyes this week.

His number one goal? To overcome “biological death,” a problem that the tech giants are already working on behind the scenes.

But beyond that, he’s got a slew of policy proposals that are hard to fit into any box.

For instance, Istvan supports a universal basic income, which has been popularized this cycle on the left by Yang.

"My Presidential campaign is about trying to get conservatives to be more open-minded so they can also contribute to this new world,” Istvan said. "It's quite possible to be both fiscally conservative and open-minded, and there is an appetite out there for a political movement that encompasses both.”

The goal is to “upgrade” the Republican Party to “encourage a more youthful and forward-looking GOP that will champion the radical innovation of science and technology to drastically improve our lives.”

CNET: Meet the cyborg running against Trump for president.
The New York Times: The man campaigning against death.