The Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg in the spotlight for Nevada debate

The Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg in the spotlight for Nevada debate
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Welcome to The Hill's Campaign Report, your daily 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 today on the campaign trail. 

 

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LEADING THE DAY:

SIN CITY SHOWDOWN: Six of the Democratic presidential candidates will faceoff on stage at the Paris Las Vegas hotel tonight ahead of the Nevada Caucuses on Saturday. While there have already been eight presidential debates this cycle (yes, you read that correctly, eight!), this forum will be different from the rest. For one, former Democratic contender Andrew YangAndrew YangSolving the coronavirus economic downturn — good psychology makes for good politics and policy Andrew Yang nonprofit to dole out checks to 500 households Senate GOP mulls forgivable loans to businesses to halt layoffs, bankruptcies MORE will not be on stage, but rather commentating on CNN. However, the biggest change will be Michael BloombergMichael BloombergFormer Bloomberg staffer seeks class-action lawsuit over layoffs Bloomberg spent over 0M on presidential campaign The Hill's Campaign Report: Officials in spotlight over coronavirus response MORE's presence on stage. The former mayor of the Big Apple hasn't been on the debate stage since announcing his presidential run in November. He also hasn't given a ton of interviews to the press, so tonight will be the first time we will see Bloomberg grilled by the moderators and the candidates. 

A number of Bloomberg's rivals have already signaled they will attack him in Las Vegas, despite him not being on the ballot in the state. Senior aides for former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenWith VP pick, Biden can't play small ball in a long ball world Poll: Trump, Biden in dead heat in 2020 matchup Coronavirus pushes GOP's Biden-Burisma probe to back burner MORE's campaign told reporters on Wednesday that he will hit Bloomberg on a number of controversies he's been tied to recently -- his past support of the stop-and-frisk policy used by New York City police; his 2008 comments linking the financial crisis to the end of a discriminatory housing practice known as "redlining"; and allegations of sexual harassment at his company.

You can also bet that the former mayor will take fire from progressive Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWith VP pick, Biden can't play small ball in a long ball world Poll: Trump, Biden in dead heat in 2020 matchup Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers, state governors talk coronavirus, stimulus package and resources as pandemic rages on MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenHillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike Democratic Senators urge FTC to prevent coronavirus price gouging Democratic senators call on FDA to drop restrictions on blood donations from men who have sex with men MORE (D-Mass.). Warren referred to Bloomberg as "an egomaniac billionaire" in a tweet on Tuesday, and accused him of "buying his way into the debate." Meanwhile, Sanders was locked into a war of words with Bloomberg on Monday after he said Bloomberg did not have the energy needed to defeat Trump. Bloomberg later hit back with an ad calling Sanders out for the behavior and rhetoric of some of his supporters. 

Will Bloomberg fold under pressure on stage? Will he lash out? Will he hit back? Will he stay cool? We'll be watching for how Bloomberg performs under pressure and how he is able to defend himself from the expected onslaught of attacks. 

--Julia Manchester 

 

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READ MORE: 

Five things to watch in tonight's Nevada debate, by Julia.

 

FROM THE TRAIL:

In the leadup to Wednesday night's primary debate, most of the candidates found time to swing by a picket line of striking casino workers outside The Palms Resort in Las Vegas. Among those that showed up: Biden, Warren, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegReuters poll finds Sanders cutting Biden national lead to single digits Biden says he'll adopt plans from Sanders, Warren Buttigieg guest-hosts for Jimmy Kimmel: 'I've got nothing else going on' MORE, Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharWith VP pick, Biden can't play small ball in a long ball world Hillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike Democratic Senators urge FTC to prevent coronavirus price gouging MORE (D-Minn.) and billionaire activist Tom SteyerTom SteyerProgressive advocates propose T 'green stimulus' plan Candidates want data privacy rules, except for their own campaigns Budowsky: Biden should pull together a 'dream team of rivals' MORE. The Hll's Jonathan Easley paid a visit of his own to the site of the strike:

 

 

DEBATE COUNTERPROGRAMMING: President TrumpDonald John TrumpWith VP pick, Biden can't play small ball in a long ball world Coronavirus hits defense contractor jobs Wake up America, your country doesn't value your life MORE is set to campaign across three western states – Arizona, Colorado and Nevada – this week, offering a kind-of counterprogramming to the Democratic primary race, The Hill's Morgan Chalfant reports. One of the events in Phoenix on Wednesday will coincide with the Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas. Arizona, in particular, has emerged as an electoral battleground in recent years. Trump carried it in 2016 by only 4 points and the state has shown signs of drifting in Democrats' favor. 

 

HEALTH FIGHT:A spokesperson for Sanders's presidential campaign said she misspoke on Wednesday when she falsely claimed on CNN's "New Day" that Bloomberg had previously suffered a heart attack, The Hill's Rebecca Klar reports. The spokesperson, Briahna Joy Gray, said she intended to say that the former New York City mayor had undergone a stent procedure similar to the one Sanders underwent last fall after having a heart attack. She also fended off criticism over Sanders's refusal to release additional medical records, noting that he had already made three detailed reports public. Still, the squabble may reignite questions over age in the Democratic primary race. Both Sanders and Bloomberg are 78 years old, and would, if nominated, hold the distinction of being the oldest major-party presidential nominee in U.S. history.

 

IOWA FOREVER: The results of a recanvass of Iowa caucus results released on Tuesday show Buttigieg and Sanders separated by just thousandths of a percentage point, Tal reports. Buttigieg leads Sanders by .08 state delegate equivalents – 26.186 percent for Buttigieg to 26.182 percent for Sanders. Still, the former South Bend mayor is expected to be awarded more national delegates due to caucus rules. Sanders's campaign, meanwhile, has signaled that he could request a full recount in Iowa. "We now believe a recount will give Sen. Sanders enough State Delegate Equivalents to put him over the top by that metric as well," said Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser for Sanders's campaign, noting Sanders's lead in the popular votes. "We want to thank the people of Iowa, our supporters, our volunteers and everyone who made this possible."

 

A WARNING TO MODERATES: Bloomberg's campaign is warning that Sanders could take an "insurmountable" lead in the delegate count if moderate candidates continue to crowd out one another in the primary race, Julia reports. In a memo, advisers to the former New York City mayor asserted that the 2020 presidential contest has become a three-way race between Bloomberg, Sanders and Trump. In terms of the Democratic primary race, they wrote, Sanders stands to amass a massive delegate lead over his rivals, because of the crowded state of the moderate lane. "If Biden, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar remain in the race despite having no path to appreciably collecting delegates on Super Tuesday (and beyond), they will propel Sanders to a seemingly insurmountable delegate lead by siphoning votes away from [Bloomberg]," the advisers, Mitch Stewart and Dan Kanninen, wrote.

 

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PERSPECTIVES:

Steve IsraelSteven (Steve) J. IsraelThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden looks for end to Democratic primary The bad record of this national crisis Can Joe Biden save the economy? MORE: What to watch at the debate tonight

Ed Rendell: Advice for fellow Democrats: Don't count out Biden, don't fear a brokered convention

 

MONEY WATCH:

BIG MONEY: Warren has long denounced the role of big money in politics, vowing for more than a year not to take money from political action committees in her presidential bid. Now, she's getting a boost from a supportive super PAC in Nevada, The Hill's Tal Axelrod reports. The group, Persist PAC, launched a new $1 million-plus ad on Wednesday casting the Massachusetts senator as an ally of the working class. In a statement, a spokesperson for Warren said that the senator's position on big money in politics hasn't changed, but did not explicitly call for the super PAC to shut down, leaving open the possibility that it could continue to spend money in support of Warren's presidential ambitions. "Senator Warren's position hasn't changed. Since day one of this campaign, she has made clear that she thinks all of the candidates should lock arms together and say we don't want super PACs and billionaires to be deciding our Democratic nominee," the spokesman Chris Hayden said.

 

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POLL WATCH:

ABC NEWS/WASHINGTON POST – NATIONAL

Sanders: 32 percent (+4)

Biden: 17 percent (-7)

Bloomberg: 14 percent (+9)

Warren: 11 percent (+/-0)

Buttigieg: 7 percent (+2)

Klobuchar: 6 percent (+3)

 

UMASS LOWELL – SOUTH CAROLINA

Biden: 23 percent

Sanders: 21 percent

Steyer: 13 percent

Buttigieg: 11 percent

Warren: 11 percent

Klobuchar: 9 percent

Gabbard: 4 percent

 

THE WELCOME PARTY/CHANGE RESEARCH – SOUTH CAROLINA

Biden: 23 percent (-2)

Sanders: 23 percent (+3)

Steyer: 20 percent (+2)

Buttigieg: 15 percent (+8)

Warren: 9 percent (-2)

Klobuchar: 8 percent (+6)

Gabbard: 1 percent (-2)

 

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:

There are 3 days until the Nevada caucuses, 10 days until the South Carolina primary and 13 days until Super Tuesday. 

 

CNN will host town hall events with five Democratic presidential candidates this week ahead of the Nevada caucuses. The first round of forums began on Tuesday. Here's what's up next:

THURSDAY, FEB. 20

8 p.m. EST: Joe Biden

9 p.m. EST: Elizabeth Warren

 

And here's the upcoming Democratic debate schedule:

TUESDAY, FEB. 25 in Charleston, S.C. 

SUNDAY, MARCH 15 in Phoenix 

 

We'll update you as soon as the DNC announces the date and location of the 12th (and final) Democratic primary debate.

 

ONE FUN THING: 

DEBATE SNACKS: Reporters like to often share their debate night or election night snacks (I always have my go-to Kind Bars), but today we're going to hone in on what Bloomberg, the new kid on the debate block, is snacking on the run up to his 2020 Democratic debate debut. 

The New York Times reports that in between breaks during debate prep, Bloomberg has been noshing on matzo with peanut butter. The protein-rich snack of choice for the candidate got Twitter talking on Wednesday with a number of takes.  

 

 

We'll be back tomorrow with a debate recap and a look ahead at Saturday's Nevada Caucuses!