More than half of the Democratic field crowded into San Francisco this past weekend for the California Democratic Convention, where they tried to stand out in the crowded primary as the clock ticks away for the candidates to qualify for the first debates.
And with less than a week for candidates to hit the threshold to make the debate stage, the Democratic National Committee announced a rule change that leaves Montana Gov. Steve Bullock on the outside looking in. Bullock had qualified for the first debates, in Miami at the end of June, based on polling, but the DNC said Thursday that two ABC News/Washington Post polls — one of which had put Bullock over the top — would no longer be counted. As of Thursday afternoon, that left 20 candidates who had met thresholds via polling and/or fundraising.
Meanwhile, the mass shooting in Virginia Beach last week brought the issue of gun violence to the fore, and former Vice President Joe Biden seemingly set himself apart from the rest of the crowd when he said he supported the Hyde amendment, which blocks federal funding of abortions. On Thursday, however, he appeared to reverse that position.
Here’s the weekly candidate roundup:
May 31-June 6, 2019
Michael Bennet (D)
Bennet met the polling criteria to participate in the first Democratic debate, which is scheduled to take place later this month in Miami. He received 1 percent support in a national CNN poll, the third qualifying poll in which he has earned 1 percent.
In the aftermath of the mass shooting in Virginia, Bennet told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” that he thinks the president “can make a difference.” The U.S. House “has passed background checks to close the internet loophole,” he said. “This person bought the guns lawfully, as we know. Every single fact pattern will be different. We should pass those background checks — 90 percent of Americans support it.”
The Colorado senator spent the weekend campaigning in South Carolina while many other Democratic presidential candidates were at the California Democratic Convention.
Joe Biden (D)
Biden broke from the other 2020 candidates when his campaign announced Wednesday that he supports the Hyde Amendment but that he would be open to repealing it. Then, on Thursday, he said he no longer supported the policy. “I’ve been working through the final details of my health care plan like others in this race, and I’ve been struggling with the problems that Hyde now presents,” he said.
The Hyde Amendment was first passed in 1976 and says that federal funding cannot be used to pay for abortions. A few years later, Congress made an exemption for cases in which there was a threat to the patient’s life. An exemption for cases of rape or incest was added in the early 1990s. The law largely affects patients who are on Medicaid.
Biden also released a $5 trillion climate plan that calls for net zero emissions of carbon pollution in the U.S. by 2050. The plan includes $1.7 trillion in federal spending over 10 years; the rest of the spending would come from the private sector.
Cory Booker (D)
The New Jersey senator unveiled a plan to make housing more affordable by offering a tax credit to people who spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent. According to researchers at Columbia University, the refundable renters credit would benefit more than 57 million people — including 17 million children — and lift 9.4 million Americans out of poverty.
Booker’s housing plan also includes measures to expand access to legal counsel for tenants facing eviction, reform restrictive zoning laws, build more affordable housing units and combat homelessness through funding grants.
At the California Democratic Convention over the weekend, Booker also addressed the issue of gun violence. “We are seeing the normalization of mass murder in our country,” Booker said. “It is time that we come together and stand together and take the fight to the NRA and the corporate gun lobby like we have never seen before. We can lead that fight, and we can win.”
Steve Bullock (D)
On Wednesday, Bullock announced the first official policy of his presidential campaign, designed to keep foreign money out of U.S. elections. His “Check the Box” proposal would require all 501(c)(4) groups that aren’t required to disclose any of their donors and super PACs to “check a box” saying that they are not taking money from foreign actors. Lying “will carry the penalty of perjury,” according to Bullock’s policy.
In a Des Moines Register op-ed, the Montana governor wrote: “Trump’s dark money loophole is telling these secretive groups that they don’t even have to disclose the source of their funding to the IRS. It opens the door not only to significantly more spending by corporations and wealthy donors, but also to potential spending by foreign entities.”
Pete Buttigieg (D)
During a MSNBC town hall on Monday, Buttigieg said he “would not have applied that pressure” for Sen. Al Franken to resign in 2017 over sexual harassment allegations without first learning more about the claims.
“I think it was his decision to make,” the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said. “But I think the way that we basically held him to a higher standard than the GOP does their people has been used against us.”
At the California Democratic Convention, Buttigieg leaned into his position as a Washington outsider and said the country needs “something completely different.”
“Why not a middle-class millennial mayor with a track record in the industrial Midwest? Why not a mayor at a time when we need Washington to look more like our best run cities and towns, not the other way around? And why not someone who represents a new generation of leadership?” the 37-year-old mayor said.
Julian Castro (D)
The former secretary of housing and urban development unveiled a sweeping police reform plan Monday, with the goals of preventing officer-involved shootings, increasing transparency and ending “police militarization.”
“Even though we have some great police officers out there, and I know that because I served as mayor of San Antonio, this is not a case of just a few bad apples,” Castro said on CNN. “The system is broken.”
Included in the proposal are restrictions on the use of deadly force, the increased adoption of technology such as body cameras, an end to stop-and-frisk tactics and expanded bias training.
Bill de Blasio (D)
De Blasio earned his first union endorsement since launching his presidential campaign. The New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council announced their support on Wednesday and said it would campaign for the New York City mayor in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
John Delaney (D)
Delaney criticized the DNC guidelines that include a 65,000-donor threshold as one way to qualify for the first presidential debates. He argued that the criteria leaves voters excluded from the process. “I don’t think we should have a donor standard,” he said on MSNBC. “I absolutely don’t think the Democratic Party should be about money. Fifty percent of the American people can’t afford basic necessities. I’m running for those people.”
At the California Democratic Convention, the former congressman from Maryland was aggressively booed for denouncing “Medicare for all” as “bad policy.” His proposed health care plan would keep private insurance as an option.
Tulsi Gabbard (D)
The Hawaii congresswoman reacted to the House passing legislation that which would protect young undocumented immigrants and immigrants with temporary status who were once covered by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. On Fox News, Gabbard said: “The hyper-partisanship around this issue has gotten in the way of delivering a real solution. This legislation and finding a solution for these Dreamers is something that has had bipartisan support.”
Kirsten Gillibrand (D)
Gillibrand released a plan to legalize marijuana that calls for expunging all nonviolent marijuana convictions. The New York senator said that under her plan, tax revenue from recreational marijuana would be put “toward programs that help repair the damage done by the war on drugs.”
During a Fox News town hall, she attacked the network for its coverage of abortion. Gillibrand was asked about her position on “late-term abortion,” and she said that “when it comes to women’s reproductive freedom, it should be a woman’s decision.” She then criticized Fox News, accusing it of creating “a false narrative” on the issue.
Gillibrand was cut off by the moderator, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, who said: “Senator, I just want to say we’ve brought you here for an hour.” Wallace continued: “We have treated you very fairly. I understand that, maybe, to make your credentials with the Democrats who are not appearing on Fox News, you want to attack us. I’m not sure it’s frankly very polite when we’ve invited you to be here.”
Gillibrand said she would “do it in a polite way” but was interrupted again by Wallace, who said: “Instead of talking about Fox News, why don’t you answer” the audience member’s question? Gillibrand then attacked the network for their use of the word “infanticide,” calling it “illegal” and “not a fact.” She added, “I believe all of us have a responsibility to talk about the facts.”
Kamala Harris (D)
Harris was rushed off the stage Saturday while speaking at the MoveOn #BigIdeas forum in San Francisco after an activist grabbed the microphone out of her hand. Harris returned to the stage about a minute later to chants of “Ka-ma-la” from the audience.
An animal activist group claimed responsibility for the man’s rushing of the stage and identified him as Aidan Cook. The group’s spokesperson, Matt Johnson, told ABC News that Cook was not detained or arrested; he was kicked out of the event.
John Hickenlooper (D)
The former Colorado governor faced a disruptive crowd at the California Democratic Convention when he said, “If we want to beat Donald Trump and achieve big progressive goals, socialism is not the answer.”
The crowd of Democratic activists responded to his message with a chorus of boos and a massive display of “Bernie” signs. Hickenlooper responded by saying, “You know, if we are not careful, we are going to help reelect the worst president in American history.”
Jay Inslee (D)
The Washington governor has been pushing hard for the DNC to dedicate one of the primary debates to the topic of climate change. DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa responded in a statement saying that “the DNC will not be holding entire debates on a single issue area because we want to make sure voters have the ability to hear from candidates on dozens of issues of importance to American voters.”
Inslee called the DNC’s decision to not host a climate debate “deeply disappointing.”
“The DNC is silencing the voices of Democratic activists, many of our progressive partner organizations, and nearly half of the Democratic presidential field, who want to debate the existential crisis of our time. Democratic voters say that climate change is their top issue; the Democratic National Committee must listen to the grassroots of the party,” Inslee’s campaign said in a press release.
Amy Klobuchar (D)
Klobuchar secured her first Iowa endorsement from state Rep. Ruth Ann Gaines. Gaines said she’s endorsing Klobuchar because of the senator’s “commitment to addressing and prioritizing mental health.”
Seth Moulton (D)
Moulton said in a CNN town hall that if elected, he would seek to change Justice Department guidelines that prevent a sitting president from being indicted. The comment came after former special counsel Robert Mueller said that a “longstanding” department policy prevents a sitting president from being charged with a federal crime.
Beto O’Rourke (D)
O’Rourke released a voting rights plan that called for term limits for members of Congress and for Supreme Court justices. O’Rourke is calling for members of the House and Senate to serve for no more than 12 years and for justices to be allowed one 18-year term. O’Rourke said that after justices complete their terms, they would be permitted to serve on federal appeals courts.
The former Texas congressman’s plan also includes measures to increase voter participation, including making Election Day a federal holiday and allowing automatic and same-day voter registration.
Tim Ryan (D)
Ryan flipped his position on impeachment this week, saying that he believes Congress should begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump. The Ohio congressman made his announcement during a CNN town hall, saying that Mueller’s statement last week helped change his mind.
Bernie Sanders (D)
Sanders spoke at Walmart’s annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday. He accused the company of paying its employees low wages and lobbied for a resolution that would give hourly workers representation on the company’s board of directors.
As many Democratic candidates spoke out on abortion rights this week, comments by Sanders in 1972 — before the Roe v. Wade decision — resurfaced via Newsweek. He told a Vermont newspaper at the time that it struck him as “incredible” that the male-dominated state legislature, and politicians in general, “think that they have the right to tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her body.”
This weekend, Sanders visits Iowa to speak at the Capital City Pride Candidate Forum in Des Moines. He also will march with McDonald’s workers who are seeking higher wages and attend the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame Celebration in Cedar Rapids, among several other events.
Eric Swalwell (D)
Swalwell talked about his assault weapon ban and buyback plan on ABC’s “The View.” He said he’s the only candidate calling to “ban and buy back every single assault weapon in America.”
The California congressman also left the door open to drop out of the presidential race and run for reelection for his House seat. Swalwell said he is open to running for a fifth term in Congress but said he wouldn’t make that decision until December.
Elizabeth Warren (D)
Warren announced on Thursday that her campaign staff has unionized. “My campaign has submitted their support to join IBEW 2320,” Warren tweeted. The Sanders and Castro campaigns have also unionized, and the Swalwell campaign had previously said they were unionizing.
Andrew Yang (D)
June is gay pride month, and in an interview with BuzzFeed News, Yang said he thinks his signature universal basic income proposal could help members of the LGBTQ community. “I have many friends in the LGBTQ community, and what they tell me is that they get kicked out of the house at higher levels, that they get fired from jobs at higher levels, so they’re very excited about the freedom dividend,” Yang said, referring to his plan to give all American adults $1,000 per month. That could help people “adjust if they’re economically singled out,” he said.
Yang will be among the speakers at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame Celebration in Cedar Rapids on Sunday.