2020 watch
January 13, 2019

Former Vice President Joe Biden has told friends he would like to run for president in 2020, Axios reported Saturday, joking, "If I'm walking, I'm running." Biden's younger brother also said last week he expects the campaign will happen. However, a formal decision is yet to be made, Axios' sources say, and an announcement is not yet scheduled.

President Trump reacted to Biden's possible candidacy in an interview with Fox News host Jeanine Pirro late Saturday, calling him "weak" and a "one-percenter" because Biden "ran two or three times, [but] he never got above 1 percent [of the vote]. And then, [former President Barack] Obama came along and took him off the trash heap, and he became the vice president." Biden withdrew from the 2008 Democratic primaries after a poor showing in Iowa and soon endorsed Obama.

"I'm not worried," Trump concluded, reflecting on the 2020 Democratic field more broadly. "So far, I love the competition. I love what I see." Bonnie Kristian

January 12, 2019

Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro is expected to announce his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nod in his hometown San Antonio, Texas, on Saturday.

Castro would be the only Latino candidate and, at 44, among the youngest of anticipated contenders. In addition to his time in the Obama administration, he previously served as mayor and city council member in San Antonio. He announced his formation of an exploratory committee last month and has already visited the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) also announced her candidacy Friday. "I have decided to run and will be making a formal announcement within the next week," Gabbard said. "There are a lot of challenges that are facing the American people that I'm concerned about and that I want to help solve," she continued, listing "the issue of war and peace" as "central to the rest." Bonnie Kristian

January 5, 2019

Hillary Clinton has been meeting with likely candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, Axios and CNN reported Friday, citing sources close to the former presidential candidate and secretary of state.

Among those she has met with so far are Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D). This "has been going on for months and will continue," Axios reports, "since Clinton will talk to any Democrat who wants to talk."

Contenders are seeking her endorsement and advice, though another major prize would be access to her extensive fundraising network.

"I won't comment on private discussions she's had," Clinton aide Nick Merrill told Axios, "except to say that she's more than happy to talk to anyone considering a run about the challenges (as well as the great things) that go with it, and lessons learned on what to watch for in this next cycle (aside from [Russian President] Vladimir [Putin])." Bonnie Kristian

January 4, 2019

McSweeney's had a wry, Onion-like tongue-in-cheek response to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) entering the 2020 presidential arena: "I Don't Hate Women Candidates — I Just Hated Hillary And Coincidentally I'm Starting To Hate Elizabeth Warren." But it was anchored in reality.

"The 2020 presidential campaign is expected to include the largest field ever of female candidates, all of them campaigning in the wake of the defeat of the first female nominee of a major party," say Annie Linskey and David Weigel at The Washington Post. And like Warren, they'll probably all "feel compelled to come up with an answer" to a question "asked of female candidates and rarely of men: 'Is she "likable" enough to be president? Others put it another, potentially more devastating, way: Is she too much like Hillary Clinton to be the nominee?'"

Warren and the other potential 2020 women — Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) — differ significantly from Clinton in age, personality, policies, and life stories, but "the women looking at White House campaigns continue to shoulder gendered criticism and demands not placed on their male counterparts," the Post says. And for the Democratic women, they may have their own preliminary primary: "Demonstrating they're not Hillary Clinton — nothing like her! — before they earn the nod to take on Trump."

On the other hand, the #MeToo movement changed how women campaign in 2018, and there may be strength in numbers. "With more women in the race you're less likely to become a caricature of ambition and more likely to have your qualities come to the fore and be examined," Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton's 2016 communications director, tells Axios. Warren's already facing the "likability" question, she added to the Post, but "if it continues to happen to the other female candidates, it will be more obvious that there are gender biases at work." Peter Weber

December 31, 2018

Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) is about to be unemployed — he'll be fine — after giving up his seat to run against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). But over the weekend, he posted a video on his Twitter account without explanation or caption. It is a multifaceted, narrator-less rebuttal of President Trump's proposed border wall, set to a fittingly sweeping soundtrack.

The border wall is extremely relevant, policy-wise — it is the central point in the current partial government shutdown. Trump says he won't reopen the government without a $5 billion down payment on his wall, and Democrats won't give more than $1.3 billion for non-wall border security, for some of the reasons O'Rourke lays out in his video. But he almost certainly won't be in Congress anymore when the issue gets resolved, so speculation has turned to higher jobs.

One of the critiques of O'Rourke as a presidential contender is his lack of experience in Washington. But as a native and current resident of El Paso, he knows more about the border than most members of Congress. Peter Weber

December 27, 2018

Is it too soon to be polling for the 2020 Democratic presidential primary? Maybe — President Trump launched his re-election campaign right after being sworn in, remember — but pollsters are asking anyway. Former Vice President Joe Biden topped one CNN poll this month, and Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) led a MoveOn straw poll, but polling this early "typically doesn't tell you much beyond name recognition," USA Today notes. So, for its poll with Suffolk University, USA Today said it "tested which candidates now seem intriguing to voters, and who turns them off, in an effort to get clues about the dynamic ahead."

The candidate Democratic and independent voters are most excited about? "Someone entirely new," at 59 percent. Biden, 76, stirred excitement from 53 percent of respondents, while 24 percent wanted him to sit out the race. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) generated the third-highest level of excitement, 36 percent, but 41 percent urged him not to run. Thirty percent were excited about O'Rourke, but 35 percent of respondents said they'd never heard of him. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) had a similarly promising excitement-to-recognition ratio. There was broad agreement that Hillary Clinton should not run again.

There were interesting demographic undercurrents in the results — Biden is more popular than someone new among black voters, for example, and Sanders tops the list among Latinos. The entire poll reached 689 Democrats and independents by phone Dec. 11-16, and its margin of error is ±3.7 percentage points.

"The 'someone new' versus Joe Biden finding illustrates the generational divide within the Democratic Party dating back to Walter Mondale versus Gary Hart in 1984," said Suffolk's David Paleologos. (Mondale won the nomination but lost in a landslide to President Ronald Reagan.) "The test is which candidate can build on their core 'excitement' and not lose the voters of other Democrats who fall by the wayside." Peter Weber

November 25, 2018

ABC's George Stephanopoulos had 2020 on the mind while hosting This Week Sunday, asking Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) if they're considering a presidential campaign. All three said yes.

"We're seriously talking about it with family, with friends, and with political allies who have come to me about this," Brown explained. However, he also said he does not have a longstanding ambition for the presidency and has not taken concrete steps like visiting early primary states.

Kasich as a presidential candidate would find himself challenging a sitting president from his own party. "We need different leadership. There isn't any question about it," he told Stephanopoulos. "I'm not only just worried about the tone and the name-calling and the division in our country — and the partisanship — but I also worry about the policies."

Klobuchar was the most tentative of the lot. "Right now, I am just still thinking about this, talking to people," she said, emphasizing her effectiveness as an elected official and the enthusiasm among her constituents.

If 2016 is any guide, presidential candidacy declarations could begin as soon as March of 2019. But don't worry: A 21-month election is totally normal and healthy, right, guys? Right? Bonnie Kristian

September 30, 2018

Watching Thursday's Brett Kavanaugh hearings in the Senate, "I thought: Time's up," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said Saturday at a town hall event in her home state.

"It's time for women to go to Washington and fix our broken government, and that includes a woman at the top," she continued. "So here's what I promise: After Nov. 6, I will take a hard look at running for president."

Warren is one of several Democratic senators expected to make a play for the progressive vote in 2020. No Democrats have declared their candidacy so far, and Warren pledged in April to serve her full Senate term if re-elected. Bonnie Kristian

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