The Hill's Morning Report - 2020 Dems make last dash for debate stage

 

 

 

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Tuesday! Our newsletter gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Co-creators are Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver (CLICK HERE to subscribe!). On Twitter, find us at @asimendinger and @alweaver22.



The clock is ticking on the 2020 Democratic primary field as candidates fight and claw to make it on the debate stage in Miami in what is largely considered the first major event of the primary campaign and a make-or-break moment for some fledgling campaigns.

 

The debates are less than a month away, but there is just over two weeks left for some campaigns to qualify for the debates, either by meeting a polling threshold by June 12 or by qualifying with the number of individual donors. The next few weeks are a sprint to the finish line as they try to clear hurdles to join crowded events on two consecutive nights.

 

According to The Hill’s whip list, 12 Democratic candidates have met both the polling and donor thresholds set by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), while six others have cleared the polling threshold. Five candidates are in a scramble to reach either requirement: Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetDemocratic presidential hopefuls react to debate placement Democratic presidential hopefuls react to debate placement The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Biden, Sanders to share stage at first DNC debate MORE (D-Colo.), New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioPoll: Biden leads Sanders by 22 points Poll: Biden leads Sanders by 22 points Democratic presidential hopefuls react to debate placement MORE (D) and Rep. Seth MoultonSeth Wilbur MoultonThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Biden, Sanders to share stage at first DNC debate The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Biden, Sanders to share stage at first DNC debate Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg to debate; Warren on separate night MORE (D-Mass.), who joined the race recently.

 

Despite the expectation that more than 20 candidates will qualify for the debate stage, the number of invitations remains set at 20, with 10 candidates taking part on each night. DNC Chairman Tom PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE told Jonathan Easley in a recent interview that candidates who find themselves shut out understood the requirements.

 

“We were very transparent because we wanted to give everybody ample time to qualify,” Perez said. “People have known the ground rules for some time and we’re not moving the goalposts in any way, shape or form.”

 

Perez added that the party will keep the same details in place for the second debates on July 30-31 in Detroit, with changes beyond the summer.

 

“We clearly have to adjust the thresholds, and if you look at history, that’s what has happened over time,” Perez said. “People have to demonstrate progress and those that do will stay on the debate stage. Those that don’t, won’t.”

 

The Hill: The Top 10 Democrats in the 2020 race.

 

The New York Times: De Blasio got their donations. Their votes for president? Not so much.

 

NBC News: Look over here! Democratic candidates struggle for recognition in outsize field.

 

As for one person who will take center stage at the debate, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump hits polling on Fox News: 'Something weird going on at Fox' Trump hits polling on Fox News: 'Something weird going on at Fox' 2020 Democrats look to cut into Biden's lead with black voters MORE has stuck as the favorite for the nomination as he has been able to parry attacks across the board from 2020 candidates who are trying to knock him off his perch as the front-runner.

 

As Amie Parnes reports, Biden holds a 17-point lead and holds advantages in each of the early primary states, including a commanding advantage in South Carolina. While his national lead has slimmed slightly, he has shown a Teflon-like quality to survive criticism lobbed against him.

 

“I think this month has proven that it’s not just name recognition,” said one longtime Biden ally and friend. “People just like Joe Biden. And Democrats right now really want to beat President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says 'Failing New York Times' should be held 'fully accountable' over Russia report Trump says 'Failing New York Times' should be held 'fully accountable' over Russia report Trump tweets ICE will begin removing 'millions' of undocumented migrants MORE, and he is uniquely qualified for this moment.”

 

One other state where Biden leads is Nevada, which is lining up to be the wild card of the 2020 Democratic primary. As Jonathan Easley reports:

 

The Silver State, which is third in line to vote in the 2020 nominating process, has largely been ignored by the candidates in the rush to lavish attention on Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

 

So far, only seven of the 24 Democrats running for president have paid staff on the ground in Nevada, making it anyone’s ball game and a potential launching pad for a dark horse candidate trying to break out from the pack.

“It’s a wide-open race,” said Molly Forgey, the communications director for the Nevada Democratic Party. “Nevada is a real wild card and there are any number of reasons to believe any of the candidates could do well here.”

 

The New York Times: How Democrats are, and aren’t, challenging the Trump economic record.

 

Politico: Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump hits polling on Fox News: 'Something weird going on at Fox' Trump hits polling on Fox News: 'Something weird going on at Fox' 2020 Democrats look to cut into Biden's lead with black voters MORE' (I-Vt.) extreme makeover.

 

The Washington Post: New York Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandOvernight Health Care: Democrats attack after Trump revives talk of ObamaCare replacement | Cruz, Ocasio-Cortez efforts on birth control face major obstacles | CVS investing M to fight teen e-cig use Overnight Health Care: Democrats attack after Trump revives talk of ObamaCare replacement | Cruz, Ocasio-Cortez efforts on birth control face major obstacles | CVS investing M to fight teen e-cig use Trump's 2020 campaign strategy is to be above the law MORE’s presidential campaign problem: A crowded niche.

 

 

 



LEADING THE DAY

WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: While President Trump’s four-day trip to Japan was filled with glitz and glamor and focused intently on his relationship with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the policy fallout remains to be seen as the two were on opposite sides of the spectrum on issues concerning trade and North Korea. (The Associated Press).

 

Thus far, a strong personal relationship between the two world leaders has not translated to trade policy. Trump continued to threaten Abe with auto import tariffs that could cripple the Japanese economy if no deal is reached in six months.

 

"When I talk about a security threat, I talk about a balance sheet," Trump said at Monday's press conference in Tokyo, adding that there is an “unbelievably large” trade imbalance between the two nations.

 

 

 

 

On North Korea, Trump tossed cold water on Japanese qualms that the short-range missile tests were of concern.

 

“No, I’m not. I am personally not,” Trump said when asked if he was bothered by the tests. Abe, on the other hand, said the tests were “of great regret.”

 

CNBC: Trump says he expects trade gap with Japan to be “straightened out rapidly.”

 

Politico:  Trump finds himself increasingly alone on North Korea.

 

The Hill: Trump Defense Department nominee expected to face tense confirmation.

 

NBC News: Trump's ban on Chinese telecom giant Huawei could cut off rural Americans' cell service.

 

> Trump is quick to tout the positive economic news out of the United States, but his escalating trade war with China threatens to undo the positive economic effects from the GOP’s tax-cut law and harm his reelection chances in 2020.

 

As Niv Elis reports, Trump has regularly singled out the booming economy as the main reason for potential electoral success, including the U.S.’s 3.6 percent unemployment rate and the effects from the tax law. But economists argue that his latest tariffs are all but canceling out the effects of the tax cuts for everyone but the wealthiest American families. An additional round of tariffs Trump has threatened in hopes of securing a trade deal with China could tip the scales altogether.

 

The Hill: Brazilian firm draws scrutiny on Trump farm aid.

Steve Rattner: The economy is Trump’s formidable tailwind.

 

> Advocates are vowing to fight the Trump administration's attempt to roll back transgender health protections.

 

The proposed rule unveiled Friday by the Department of Health and Human Services would rewrite Obama era nondiscrimination law that prohibited health discrimination based on sex, and it faced immediate backlash from patient and transgender advocate groups, which signaled they are gearing up for a protracted court fight (The Hill).  

 

“The ACLU refuses to allow the Trump administration to try to drag us backwards and roll back these essential, life-saving protections against discrimination,” said Louise Melling, deputy legal director with the American Civil Liberties Union.



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

CONGRESS & INVESTIGATIONS: There is an emerging gulf between the views of Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCalifornia Democrat in swing district calls for Trump impeachment inquiry California Democrat in swing district calls for Trump impeachment inquiry Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments MORE (D-Calif.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerFrom abortion to obstruction, politicians' hypocrisy is showing Watergate figure John Dean earns laughter for responses to GOP lawmakers The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by MAPRx - Nadler gets breakthrough deal with DOJ on Mueller docs MORE (D-N.Y.) on launching impeachment proceedings against the president.

 

Daylight is growing between the two high-profile House Democrats over how best to combat the Trump administration as they stonewall congressional subpoenas on a regular basis. As Scott Wong and Olivia Beavers report, Nadler has pushed leadership privately to begin an impeachment inquiry and a contempt vote against Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrForeign interference is a threat to the 2020 elections — presidential interference is, too Foreign interference is a threat to the 2020 elections — presidential interference is, too America's crisis of compassion is a Constitutional crisis, too MORE following the Memorial Day recess, both of which committee members are pushing for.

 

 

 

 

Pelosi, however, is still preaching caution and is not sure that Democrats have swayed public opinion enough to move forward with these calls. The Speaker is also pointing to a string of court victories over the Trump administration and business entities, bolstering Democrats’ arguments that the law is on their side as they methodically probe the president.

 

The Hill: Seven key allies for Pelosi on impeachment.

 

Dan Balz: For Pelosi, the biggest test awaits: Impeach or not impeach?

 

> As the issue of impeaching the president continues to be a weekly topic in the House, one group is not taking as strong of a stand on the impeachment issue: Senate Democrats.

 

According to Alexander Bolton, Senate Democrats are taking a much softer line on impeachment than House lawmakers. Even Democrats who are running for president, such as Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisTrump hits polling on Fox News: 'Something weird going on at Fox' Trump hits polling on Fox News: 'Something weird going on at Fox' 2020 Democrats look to cut into Biden's lead with black voters MORE (D-Calif.), say they're not putting any pressure on Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerEx-state senator in North Carolina enters race against Tillis Ex-state senator in North Carolina enters race against Tillis Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw MORE (D-N.Y.) to take a more aggressive stance on impeachment. Schumer has declined to go as far as Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashJohn Oliver advocates Trump impeachment inquiry for 'high crimes and misdemeanors' John Oliver advocates Trump impeachment inquiry for 'high crimes and misdemeanors' The Hill's Morning Report - Is US weighing military action against Iran? MORE (R-Mich.) in characterizing Trump's actions as "impeachable conduct."

 

Senate Democrats who see an uphill battle to retaking the Senate majority see impeachment proceedings as something that would make it tougher to win competitive races next year.

 

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans are ready to silence all impeachment chatter. In addition to their 53-47 majority, they also have the power to set the rules and ensure the briefest of trials. They say that any trial would be given the bare minimum amount of floor time (The Hill).

 

“Why on earth would we give a platform to something that I judge as a purely political exercise?” said Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisOvernight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Senators revive effort to create McCain human rights commission MORE (R-N.C.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “We have to perform our constitutional duty, but if people think that we’re going to try and create a theater that could give you the perception that this is a matter that rises to the level of Watergate, that’s nonsense.”

 

> Faced by the dearth of women in their conference, House Republicans are amping up their efforts to recruit more women to run in 2020.

 

As Juliegrace Brufke writes, House Republicans are beefing up their push to increase the number of House GOP women from 13 — down from 23 in the 115th Congress. According to Rep. Susan BrooksSusan Wiant BrooksDCCC chair: Brooks retirement signals challenge for GOP women DCCC chair: Brooks retirement signals challenge for GOP women Indiana GOP Rep. Brooks says she won't seek reelection MORE (R-Ind.), the recruitment chairwoman for the House GOP’s campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has already spoken to 157 women interested in running in 2020, with 42 having declared their candidacies.

 

“The road back to the majority is through the suburbs, and the road through the suburbs is going to be with strong female candidates,” NRCC Chairman Tom EmmerThomas (Tom) Earl EmmerDCCC chair: Brooks retirement signals challenge for GOP women DCCC chair: Brooks retirement signals challenge for GOP women Indiana GOP Rep. Brooks says she won't seek reelection MORE (R-Minn.) told The Hill. “And we're going to have it.”

 

Emmer added he’s met with a number of potential candidates, including New York State Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, who is running for the Staten Island seat currently occupied by freshman Rep. Max RoseMax RoseFreshman Democrats call on McConnell to hold vote on election reform bill Freshman Democrats call on McConnell to hold vote on election reform bill The Hill's Morning Report - 2020 Dems make last dash for debate stage MORE (D-N.Y.). He also pointed to Iowa state Rep. Ashley Hinson, who is running against first-term Rep. Abby FinkenauerAbby Lea FinkenauerYoungest black congresswoman says millennial colleagues have 'less fighting over partisan nonsense' Youngest black congresswoman says millennial colleagues have 'less fighting over partisan nonsense' The Hill's Morning Report - 2020 Dems make last dash for debate stage MORE (D-Iowa), as another candidate to watch out for on the 2020 scene.

 

Politico: 'Ghosted': GOP abandons female House hopeful despite talk of electing women.



The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!



OPINION

Merit, not nepotism, should guide our immigration law, by Dale L. Wilcox, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2HFjxTl

 

To 'preserve and protect' does not include pardoning war crimes, David M. Crane, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/30Owwtu



WHERE AND WHEN

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program, starting at 8 a.m., features Shihoko Goto, the deputy director for geoeconomics at the Wilson Center, to discuss the president’s trip to Japan, and Jim Sciutto, CNN national security correspondent, to talk about his new book, “The Shadow War.” http://thehill.com/hilltv

 

The House is out until June 4.

 

The Senate returns to work on June 3.

 

The president and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpPress: Why do we need a new press secretary? What President Trump needs in his next press secretary  White House mulling restoring daily press briefing with Sanders replacement: report MORE return from Tokyo. They are expected to land at Joint Base Andrews at 2:15 p.m.

 

Vice President Pence has no official events on his schedule today.

 

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoU.S. releases new photos purporting to show Iran was behind tanker attack U.S. releases new photos purporting to show Iran was behind tanker attack Tensions with Iran reach new stage over uranium threat MORE speaks to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in New York at 5:30 p.m., and he speaks at 6:30 p.m. to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), also in New York.



ELSEWHERE

European Union elections: Centrists will no longer be in the majority in the European Parliament as the center-right and center-left blocs (the center-right European People’s Party and the center-left Socialist and Democrats) will take 326 of the 751 seats (CNBC). Among those who made gains are the left-leaning Greens, who came in fourth with 69 seats, an uptick from only 17 seats five years ago in the last election (The Associated Press). The most important takeaways from the European Parliament elections (The New York Times).

 

Mountain climbing: “It was like a zoo,” said Arizona physician Ed Dohring, who summited Mount Everest this month. An unruly, overcrowded Mount Everest has produced one of the deadliest climbing seasons on record (The New York Times). ... How Mount Everest’s popularity turned fatal (The Washington Post).

 

Jeopardy! Like clockwork, James Holzhauer kept up his winning ways Monday night, piling up $130,222 on Memorial Day and stretching his winning streak to 28 games. Overall, the professional sports bettor has won $2,195,557 during his stretch on the game show. Holzhauer correctly answered all three Daily Double clues and bet $58,000 in Final Jeopardy en route to his latest win. The total was just shy of his one-day total of $131,127, set on April 9. Holzhauer is now just over $325,000 away from overtaking Ken Jennings’s total during his 74-day streak (USA Today).



THE CLOSER

And finally …  on a somber note, Bill Buckner, a longtime first baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and, most notably, the Boston Red Sox, passed away Monday at the age of 69 after a bout with dementia. Infamously, while playing for Boston, Buckner allowed a ball go through his legs in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium, handing the game and ultimately the series to the Mets, setting off a strained relationship with the city of Boston for more than two decades.

 

Buckner retired four years later following a 22-year career, but was remembered most for the error. Nearly two decades after he retired, he returned to Fenway Park to be honored and throw out the ceremonial first pitch.