The Hill's Campaign Report: Buttigieg becomes top target at December debate

The Hill's Campaign Report: Buttigieg becomes top target at December 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. 

A quick programming note: This will be our last Campaign Report for the year. We won't be publishing on Friday, Dec. 27. Our next edition will roll out on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020.




LOS ANGELES – South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegDes Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Candidates weighing using private jets to get to Iowa Biden nabs endorsement from Iowa Democrat in swing district MORE found himself on the receiving end of an all-out assault by several of his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday night, with the candidates taking turns criticizing his experience, fundraising and political brand during the last primary debate of 2019.

That Buttigieg came under fire wasn't entirely unexpected. He's irked many of his fellow candidates over the past several months with his rapid ascent to the top-tier of the Democratic primary field and has feuded openly for weeks with Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDes Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Sanders faces lingering questions about appeal to women voters Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for week two of impeachment trial MORE (D-Mass.), perhaps his most significant rival in the Iowa caucuses.

The most significant skirmish at Thursday night's debate unfolded between Buttigieg and Warren after the Massachusetts senator made a passing remark about candidates who raise large sums of money from wealthy donors.

"I can't help but feel that might have been directed at me," Buttigieg said in response, before defending his fundraising practices and reminding Warren that she too took money from large donors before launching her presidential bid.

The dispute gave rise to one of the night's most memorable lines of attack: that Buttigieg had held a fundraiser in a so-called "wine cave."


"We made the decision many years ago that rich people in smoke-filled rooms would not pick the next president of the United States," Warren said. "Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the president of the United States."

The clash between Warren and Buttigieg gave way to a handful of other fights -- Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharDes Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for week two of impeachment trial Moore defends Sanders's reputation: 'We don't want the fake, and the phony and the fraudulent' MORE (D-Minn.) attacked Buttigieg, Buttigieg attacked Warren and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersKaine: Obama called Trump a 'fascist' during 2016 campaign Des Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Sanders faces lingering questions about appeal to women voters MORE (I-Vt.) took a shot at former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDes Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Sanders faces lingering questions about appeal to women voters George Conway: Witness missing from impeachment trial is Trump MORE.

But beyond the squabbles, the debate at Loyola Marymount University here in Los Angeles was perhaps the most substantive to date. Throughout the first hour of the forum, the candidates took turns criticizing President TrumpDonald John TrumpKaine: Obama called Trump a 'fascist' during 2016 campaign Kaine: GOP senators should 'at least' treat Trump trial with seriousness of traffic court Louise Linton, wife of Mnuchin, deletes Instagram post in support of Greta Thunberg MORE and discussing policy areas including foreign policy and climate change.

And with only seven candidates on stage -- the smallest debate lineup so far -- each hopeful got more speaking time, giving a boost to lesser-known candidates like former tech executive Andrew YangAndrew YangSunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for week two of impeachment trial John Leguizamo joins the 'Yang Gang' CNN to host two straight nights of Democratic town halls before NH primary MORE.

That's a wrap for this year. Like the debates, we'll be back next year with more Campaign Report!

--Max Greenwood



Battle for Iowa takes center stage at Democratic debate, by The Hill's Jonathan Easley

Buttigieg, Warren square off on donors at Democratic debate, by Max  



Democrats say it's entirely possible that Trump could be reelected in November, despite the shadow of impeachment cast over his president. Amie Parnes has the view from nervous Democrats

"I think that it's going to be a very tough election...probably closer than one would like or expect and in part because we are so divided." - Hillary Clinton



BOOKER UPDATE: While a number of his competitors were on the debate stage Thursday night, Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSenate Dems to Pompeo: Comments about NPR reporter 'insulting and contemptuous' Black caucus in Nevada: 'Notion that Biden has all of black vote is not true' The Hill's 12:30 Report: House managers to begin opening arguments on day two MORE's campaign released his first televised ad during the forum. The ad, which is titled "Together," is slated to run during the debate in 22 media markets, including in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. In addition to releasing the ad, Booker kicked off a five-day bus tour in Iowa on Thursday. 


YANG GANG: Andrew Yang's ride through the primaries ended up positioning him as the only person of color and the lone outsider to qualify for Thursday's debate, a stunning achievement for a previously unknown tech entrepreneur who is building a presidential campaign on the fly. The Hill's Jonathan Easley reports that Yang has managed to outraise and outlast governors, senators and House members on the strength of his personality, viral momentum, grassroots enthusiasm and guerilla marketing. 


THE CONTRARIAN: Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardJoe Rogan says he's probably voting for Bernie Sanders Gabbard tells Fox that Clinton's 'Russian asset' remark is 'taking my life away' Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Bezos phone breach raises fears over Saudi hacking | Amazon seeks to halt Microsoft's work on 'war cloud' | Lawmakers unveil surveillance reform bill MORE (D-Hawaii), the 2020 Democratic White House hopeful who has not been afraid to cross her own party, voted "present" on the articles of impeachment against Trump.




Jonathan Allen: Trump pays historic price for doing business his way.

Carl Cannon: Is the American experiment in need of a renewal?

Brad Bannon: Biden has a Super Tuesday firewall in the South.

Jeffrey McCall: Televised Democratic debates are going awry.

Christian Arana: Democrats must do more to reach Latino youth.




Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsSunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for week two of impeachment trial Meadows says Trump told him he didn't threaten senators on impeachment vote Impeachment trial to enter new phase with Trump defense MORE (R-N.C.), the influential former chair of the House Freedom Caucus and one of Trump's staunchest allies in the chamber, announced on Thursday that he will not seek reelection in 2020, The Hill's Al Weaver reports. Unlike some of his fellow Republicans in North Carolina's congressional delegation, Meadows's decision to retire wasn't due to recent redistricting in the state. Rather, he said that he had long considered his tenure in Congress "temporary." It may not mark the end of his career in Washington. He's previously expressed interest in a position in the Trump administration. 


A group of former Republicans are launching a super PAC aimed at protecting Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashSanders co-chair: Greenwald charges could cause 'chilling effect on journalism across the world' Trump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Overnight Defense: Foreign policy takes center stage at Democratic debate | House delivers impeachment articles to Senate | Dems vow to force new vote on Trump's border wall MORE (I-Mich.) in the face of an expectedly aggressive challenge next year, The Hill's Tal Axelrod reports. The PAC, Country Above Party, was formed by a handful of ex-GOP operatives, including Jeff Timmer, the strategist behind former Ohio Gov. John Kasich's (R) unsuccessful 2016 presidential bid. Amash, a former Republican who left the party earlier this year, has drawn the ire of Trump. He represents a district that the president carried by 9 points in 2016 and is seen as a vulnerable target for Republicans when he faces reelection in 2020.



NBC NEWS/WALL STREET JOURNAL: Biden holds a relatively wide lead over his top rivals, registering 28 percent support nationally. Sanders and Warren, meanwhile, are battling it out for second place with 21 percent and 18 percent support, respectively. Buttigieg finished in fourth, but didn't manage to score double-digit support. He notched just 9 percent in the poll.


EMERSON COLLEGE: Biden leads the pack with 32 percent support among Democratic primary voters. He is trailed by Sanders at 25 percent and Warren at 12 percent. Buttigieg scored only 8 percent support, while Yang wasn't far behind, coming in with 6 percent support.


IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY: Buttigieg has a small lead in the Hawkeye State but Sanders and Warren are close behind.



There are 45 days until the Iowa caucuses, 53 days until the New Hampshire primary, 64 days until the Nevada caucuses, 71 days until the South Carolina primary and 74 days until Super Tuesday. 



FROM HOLLYWOOD TO THE TRAIL: Hip-hop legend Donald Glover, also known by his stage name Childish Gambino, is officially joining the Yang Gang. 

Yang's campaign announced on Thursday that Glover was joining their team as a "creative consultant."

The announcement came after Glover and Yang rolled out collaborative merchandise at a one-time pop-up store in Los Angeles earlier in the day.

Yang said Thursday after the debate that he was pleasantly surprised when Glover reached out, adding that he was a big fan of the musician. 

"Someone on his team reached out to an agent that we knew...and said 'hey Donald wants to sit down with you,'" Yang told CNN.

The presidential contender said the two sat down and realized they were aligned on a number of key issues. 


We'll be off for the holidays for the next two weeks, but we will be back in the new year with the latest news from the campaign trail. 

Happy Holidays from The Hill's Campaign Team!