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What The Potential 2020 Candidates Are Doing And Saying, Vol. 13

Welcome to a weekly collaboration between FiveThirtyEight and ABC News. With 5,000 people seemingly thinking about challenging President Trump in 2020 — Democrats and even some Republicans — we’re keeping tabs on the field as it develops. Each week, we’ll run through what the potential candidates are up to — who’s getting closer to officially jumping in the ring and who’s getting further away.


Money alone can’t win an election — look no further than Beto O’Rourke’s Senate defeat in Texas last November for evidence of that. But an influx of cash can set the tone in the early days of a national campaign, as candidates jet across the country in an effort to make an impression in early-voting states.

In that respect, the numbers revealed this week by O’Rourke, Sens. Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders, and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg made an early impact as each demonstrated the fundraising strength they’ll need for an seemingly endless campaign. But even more revealing could be the numbers made public by candidates who have — so far — stayed mum. Meager fundraising may prompt questions about the viability of their campaigns in a field that now boasts 17.

Here’s the weekly candidate roundup:

Mar. 29 – Apr. 4, 2019

Stacey Abrams (D)
In an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday, Abrams said that a decision on her political future could come as late as this fall, explaining that she is first examining a run for Senate to determine if it is “the right job that I need to hold.”

The former Georgia gubernatorial candidate also pushed back, again, on reports that she has discussed with Joe Biden the prospect of being his running mate, and said that if she does launch a bid for the White House, it would not be a “vanity exercise.”

Michael Bennet (D)
Bennet revealed this week that he has prostate cancer — a diagnosis he said he received just as he reached a decision to run for president. The Colorado senator told the Colorado Independent that he still intends to run, provided he is cancer free following surgery next week.

“I’m too busy to really sit back and think about it,” Bennet said. “And that’s probably the best thing.”

This weekend, the senator visits New Hampshire and holds events in Nashua, Concord, Exeter and Dover.

Joe Biden (D)
Biden and his team spent much of the weekend responding to claims that he made several women uncomfortable by inappropriately touching them or invading their personal space.
From ABC News:


In a video the former vice president tweeted on Wednesday, he said that he has used physical touch as a way of demonstrating that he cares and is listening, but will now change his behavior.

“Social norms are changing. I understand that, and I’ve heard what these women are saying,” Biden said “Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future. That’s my responsibility and I will meet it.”

On Friday, Biden is scheduled to speak at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Construction and Maintenance Conference in Washington.

Cory Booker (D)
During remarks at a Human Rights Campaign gala in Los Angeles last weekend, Booker was sharply criticalof the Trump administration’s treatment of LGBTQ Americans.

“Demi-gods in the White House and the administration are working systematically to undermine and dismantle LGBTQ rights — from President Trump’s discriminatory and un-American ban on transgender Americans serving on the military to the Department of Justice’s refusal to protect LGBTQ Americans from employment discrimination to Betsy DeVos’ failure to protect our transgender students.”

Booker visits New Hampshire this weekend, with events Saturday in Amherst and Sunday in Bedford, Londonderry and Dover.

Pete Buttigieg (D)
Thursday morning, Buttigieg released a video inviting supporters to join him for an event next weekend in his native South Bend, Indiana — widely expected to be the official kick-off of his presidential campaign. He launched his exploratory committee in January.
From ABC News:


In a subsequent appearance on “Good Morning America,” Buttigieg defended his ongoing criticisms of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, arguing “we do need to call out hypocrisy when we see it … but we need to be factual and we need to be honest and we do, in resolving all of this disagreement, need to be decent as well.”

Buttigieg raised $7 million in the year’s first quarter, he announced Monday.

On Friday and Saturday, the South Bend mayor stops in Manchester and Concord, New Hampshire, respectively, for events, and on Sunday he is scheduled to headline the LGBTQ Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch in Washington.

Julian Castro (D)
In a blog post Monday, Castro called for a pathway to citizenship for young, undocumented immigrants, arguing that they “aren’t a threat to national security” and that “migration shouldn’t be a criminal justice issue.”

He expanded on the topic of immigration Tuesday night on MSNBC, saying that the U.S. “should decriminalize people that are coming here and go back to the way we were treating it before 2004 — as a civil matter.”

“We need to end detention, I don’t think we should be putting people in cages,” Castro said. “We need to increase the number of refugees we are letting into this country.”

The former Housing and Urban Development secretary will hold a rally in Los Angeles on Saturday.

John Delaney (D)
In conjunction with an appearance at the National Action Network’s convention this week, Delaney issued a “Commitment to Black America,” including increasing funding to low income schools and transforming infrastructure in minority communities, offering a tax credit to promote investment in minority-owned business and removing marijuana from the Controlled Substance Act.

Tulsi Gabbard (D)
In a video posted to her Twitter page, the Hawaii congresswoman criticized Trump’s decision to allow American companies to engage in nuclear-related work with Saudi Arabia, calling the move “mind-blowing and inexplicable.”

“President Trump needs to answer this question: How does it serve our interests to help Saudi Arabia develop nuclear weapons?” she said. “It doesn’t.”

Kirsten Gillibrand (D)
Gillibrand, who continues to receive questions about her role as the first U.S. senator to call for former Sen. Al Franken’s resignation in late 2017 over sexual misconduct allegations, took a stance similar to that of nearly every other presidential candidate in the wake of the accusations of inappropriate touching against Biden.

“If Vice President Biden becomes a candidate, this is a topic he’ll have to engage on further,” Gillibrand said in a statement.

Later, during an MSNBC appearance, she said that “voters will have to decide.”

This weekend, the New York senator visits New Hampshire for events in Dover, Laconia and Concord.

Kamala Harris (D)
Harris raised $12 million from 218,000 individual contributions in the first quarter of 2019, her campaign announced Monday, touting that 98% of contributions were less than $100 and $6 million of the total came via online fundraising where the average contribution was $28.

Next week, the California senator campaigns in Iowa on Wednesday and Thursday, with a focus on her recently unveiled proposal to raise teacher salaries nationwide.

John Hickenlooper (D)
In a Politico Magazine profile last weekend, Hickenlooper discussed the challenge of running as an “extreme moderate,” explaining that his background as a scientist taught him not to “jump to snap judgments” on issues.

“You try to make sure you get all the facts, and think it through, then make better decisions,” he said.

Friday, the former Colorado governor has an event in Montgomery, Alabama and this weekend, he is scheduled to meet with survivors of the 2015 Charleston, South Carolina church shooting and will also make stops in Okatie and Charleston.

Jay Inslee (D)
The Washington governor released 12 years worth of tax returns earlier this week, with his 2018 version showing that he and his wife earned just over $200,000 and paid nearly $30,000 in federal taxes.

Inslee, who has made climate change the centerpiece of his presidential campaign, testified before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee Wednesday where he expressed concern about the consequences of global warming and criticized the Trump administration’s rollback of environmental regulations.

Amy Klobuchar (D)
Klobuchar posted 12 years of tax returns to her website Monday, revealing that she and her husband made $300,000 in 2017, the most recent year disclosed, and paid about $62,000.
From ABC News:


Last weekend, the Minnesota senator visited Iowa, where she spoke about her $1 trillion infrastructure plan, while touring areas devastated by recent flooding. At a rural issues forum, she argued that it was “important to have a candidate from the Midwest who can talk about these Midwestern issues.

She earlier told a group in southwestern Iowa that she was “really focused on improving access to the internet in rural areas and small towns” and “want[ed] kids who grow up in small towns to be able to stay here, and they can’t do that without the internet.”

Beto O’Rourke (D)
O’Rourke raised $9.4 million in the first 18 days of his campaign, he announced Wednesday, a total that resulted from 218,000 contributions, with an average of $43 donated.
From ABC News:


At the National Action Conference convention on Wednesday, the former Texas congressman discussed the legalization of marijuana as a criminal justice reform issue and an end to both the cash-bail system and for-profit prisons. He added that, as president, he would sign a bill proposed by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, creating a commission to study reparations.

This weekend, O’Rourke makes his second trip to Iowa as a presidential candidate for 11 events across the state Friday through Sunday.

Tim Ryan (D)
The Ohio congressman officially announced his presidential candidacy during an interview on “The View” Thursday.
From ABC News:


Recalling a conversation with his daughter, after one of her friend’s father was transferred from an Ohio automotive plant, he said, “My daughter called me and she said, ‘You got to do something.’ And I said, ‘I’m going to do something. I’m going to run for president of the United States. We’re going to make sure this doesn’t happen anymore.'”

Ryan went on to outline his plan to the U.S. a leader in green manufacturing and argued that, as president, Trump forgot the blue collar workers he courted so hard during the 2016 campaign.

Bernie Sanders (D)
In the 40 days from the launch of his campaign through the end of March, Sanders raised over $18 million, the largest sum among candidates who have revealed their first quarter fundraising totals. Aides to the senator told reporters Tuesday that the total came from 900,000 individual donations, with an average donation of $20 and that 99.5% of donations were $100 or less.

Sanders’ campaign put out a call to its claimed 1 million volunteers to host events on April 27, as it launches its organizing program.

The senator will spend the forthcoming weekend in Iowa, with events in Davenport on Friday, Muscatine, Burlington and Fairfield on Saturday and Oskaloosa and Malcolm on Sunday.

Elizabeth Warren (D)
Warren captured headlines with the announcement of the Corporate Executive Accountability Act, her plan to hold company leaders liable for their firms’ potential misdeeds. Violations could lead to punishments including multiple years in prison.

On Thursday, the Massachusetts senator sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general calling for an investigation into access to Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club, in the wake of an arrest of a Chinese woman who allegedly bypassed security at the club in late March.

Andrew Yang (D)
Yang raised $1.7 million in less than two months across February and March, his campaign announced Tuesday, with 99% of donations arriving in denominations less than $200 and an average donation of less than $18. The campaign added that over $250,000 was raised in the last four days of March.

The entrepreneur released an ambitious travel schedule for the month ahead, with events taking him to New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., Georgia, California, Nevada and Iowa before then end of April.

Adam Kelsey is a reporter for ABC News’s political unit.

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