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What The Potential 2020 Candidates Are Doing And Saying, Vol. 17

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.

Former Vice President Joe Biden‘s first events of his presidential campaign drew a wave of attention this week, prompting other candidates to answer questions about how they would contend with the man who has led nearly every national poll this year. But before the field takes aim at Biden, they must first compete among themselves for a spot in the first two Democratic debates.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet’s entry into the race Thursday is putting the Democratic National Committee’s 20 participant limit for the two nights of debates to the test. Now, the candidates have less than two months to drive up their numbers of individual donors and attempt to climb the polls so as not to be the lone person left off the stage and out of the conversation.

Here’s the weekly roundup:

April 26-May 2, 2019

Stacey Abrams (D)

Abrams announced Tuesday that she would not seek the Democratic nomination in Georgia’s 2020 Senate election, prompting increased speculation that she could mount a presidential bid, particularly after she said in a radio interview that day that she “keeps giving thoughts to other opportunities.”

In the video in which she made her Senate announcement, Abrams, who unsuccessfully ran for Georgia governor in 2018, said, “the fights to be waged require a deep commitment to the job and I do not see the U.S. Senate as the best role for me in this battle for our nation’s future.”

Michael Bennet (D)
Bennet formally announced the launch of his presidential campaign in an interview with “CBS This Morning” on Thursday, becoming the 21st Democrat to enter the race and pitching himself as someone who could work across the aisle.

“I’ve got a track record of bipartisan work that’s been harder to do during the Trump administration,” he said in the interview.

The Colorado senator — a former superintendent of Denver Public Schools and chief of staff to then-Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, now a fellow Democratic presidential candidate — also released a video outlining some of his positions, including a public health care option. It’s “not Medicare for all,” he says, explaining that he doesn’t want those with employer and union-provided insurance to give up their plans.

Joe Biden (D)
After entering the presidential race last week, Biden appeared on ABC’s “The View,” was interviewed with his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, by ABC’s Robin Roberts, co-anchor of “Good Morning America,” and then held his first campaign event Monday in Pittsburgh, before continuing on to Iowa for a two-day tour of the Hawkeye State.

From ABC News:

Joe and Jill Biden address allegations in new interview

In Pittsburgh, Biden courted union voters and earned the endorsement of the International Association of Fire Fighters, a decision met with derision by President Donald Trump, who launched a tweetstorm Wednesday in the wake of the announcement.

From ABC News:

Trump unleashes tweetstorm amid Biden firefighter union endorsement

During the interview that aired on “Good Morning America” Tuesday, the Bidens addressed issues from the former vice president’s past that have drawn criticism, including the treatment of Anita Hill during Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ 1991 confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in which Biden said she wasn’t “treated well.”

From ABC News:

Joe Biden takes responsibility for treatment of Anita Hill

“I apologize again because, look, here’s the deal. She just did not get treated fair across the board. The system did not work,” he added.

Cory Booker (D)
The New Jersey senator wrapped up his “Justice for All” tour last weekend before heading back to Washington to take part in the Senate Judiciary Committee questioning of Attorney General William Barr.

During the hearing, Booker took issue with the language Barr used in his press conference the morning of the release of the Mueller report, saying his remarks were “alarming” and called “into question [his] objectivity when you look at the actual context of the report.”

He later called for Barr’s resignation, tweeting that “it’s become clear that [Barr] lied to us and mishandled the Mueller report.”

Pete Buttigieg (D)
The South Bend, Indiana mayor and his husband Chasten are featured on the cover of Time Magazine this week, and the pair’s relationship and Buttigieg’s recent rise in the presidential field are featured in a profile.

Buttigieg calls himself a “policy guy” in the story, elaborating, “Every good policy that I’ve developed in my administration happened not because I cooked it up on the campaign, kept the promise intact and then delivered it, but because I stated a priority in one of my campaigns, ­interacted with my legislative body and my community, and developed something that really served people well.”

From ABC News:

Pete Buttigieg defends stance on not allowing felons to vote from prison

Chasten Buttigieg was the focus of his own Washington Post profile, in which his coming-out story, bout with homelessness and popularity on Twitter were detailed.

Julian Castro (D)
Castro was one of the first presidential candidates to call for Barr to resign from his position,

In an interview with CNN that evening, he explained that he believed Barr was “completely compromised,” having “actively tried to mislead the public and Congress.”

The former Housing and Urban Development secretary toured tunnels beneath Las Vegas last weekend that have been used by some of the city’s homeless population as shelter, described later by a spokesperson it as an “eye-opening” experience.

John Delaney (D)
Delaney released a mental health care plan Wednesday that included the expanding access for “at-risk populations” and increasing Medicaid mental health reimbursement rates.

He emphasized the issue during a trip to Iowa this week, telling the Des Moines Register that sweeping ideas like Medicare for all were dominating the health care debate in the campaign, something he said he believed was “really misguided.”

Tulsi Gabbard (D)
Gabbard’s focus on foreign policy continued this week, including in a Fox News interview in which she expressed concern over how the conflict in Venezuela would affect the U.S. and Russia.

“Any time we are in this situation where you have tensions being ratcheted up and this conflict being pushed closer and closer between nuclear-armed countries like the United States and countries like Russia and China, this is something that poses an existential threat to the American people,” the Hawaii congresswoman said.

Kirsten Gillibrand (D)
The New York senator announced a “clean elections” plan Wednesday, calling for public campaign financing to replace the “corrupting influence of big donors and special interests on politicians,” her campaign said in a press release.

The initiative would provide $200 to every adult U.S. citizen to allocate to the federal candidates of their choosing in order to fund campaigns. In order to be eligible to receive such donations, candidates would not be allowed to take contributions of over $200, according to the plan.

Kamala Harris (D)
After Harris’ questioning of Barr during Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, the California senator was singled out by Trump who said she was “probably very nasty” to the attorney general, during an interview with the Fox Business Network.

From ABC News:

Kamala Harris calls on AG William Barr to resign

Harris joined with several other Democratic candidates in calling for Barr’s resignation, saying in an MSNBC interview that he was aware he was misleading the public and tweeting that his responses to her questions at the hearing — including his acknowledgement that he did not review all of the special counsel’s underlying evidence prior to writing his summary of the Mueller report — were “unacceptable.”

John Hickenlooper (D)
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper released a five-page outline for his “New Open and Fair Trade Policy.” His plan, according to CBS News, calls for greater trade cooperation and includes adding climate change goals into trade agreements.

Hickenlooper also welcomed Sen. Michael Bennet, who served as an adviser to Hickenlooper’s campaign for Denver mayor and later as his chief of staff for two years, into the 2020 presidential race in a tweet saying, “Welcome to the adventure of a lifetime @MichaelBennet! Good luck on the campaign trail.”

Jay Inslee (D)
The Washington governor joined a growing list of Democrats calling for Barr’s resignation following Senate testimony on special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“Americans cannot trust William Barr to serve as our nation’s top law enforcement officer. He should resign immediately,” Inslee tweeted.

Inslee is currently on a four-day tour in California participating in various campaign events across the state.

Amy Klobuchar (D)
The Minnesota senator will be speaking at the National Organization of Black County Officials Conference in Michigan during her first campaign visit to the state.

Klobuchar also had a chance to question Barr during the Senate Judiciary hearing, pressing him on his handling of the dissemination of Mueller’s findings.

Alex Wong/Getty Images Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks as U.S. Attorney General William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee, May 1, 2019, in Washington.more +

“I think that’s my point here. You look at the totality of the evidence, that’s what I learned when I was in law school. You look at the totality of the evidence and the pattern here,” Klobuchar told Barr after the Attorney General attempted to explain why he concluded that Trump’s actions related to the Mueller probe did not amount to obstruction of justice.

Seth Moulton (D)
In an interview with Reuters, Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., criticized his fellow 2020 presidential candidates Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren for pushing America “too far left,” and for being just as “divisive” as Trump.

“The problem with some of the candidates in our party is that they’re divisive in the same way that Trump has been so divisive,” Moulton said. “They are pitting different parts of America against each other.”

Beto O’Rourke (D)
O’Rourke released his first major presidential candidacy policy proposal outlining what he would do as president to combat what his campaign calls the “existential threat of climate change.”

The $5 trillion plan calls for federal investment to “transform” the nation’s infrastructure “and empower our people and communities to lead the climate fight,” according to a campaign memo released Monday.

O’Rourke also signed a “No Fossil Fuel Money pledge” to reject and return donations by oil and gas executives.

Tim Ryan (D)
The Ohio Congressman joined other 2020 presidential candidates and released a decade’s worth of tax returns.

While campaigning in New Hampshire, Ryan was asked by Fox News about Biden’s entry into the presidential race and appeared to take jab at the former vice president saying, “I don’t think people are looking for a superstar. I don’t think they’re looking for a savior. I don’t think they’re looking for a miracle. I think they’re looking for someone who can roll their sleeves up and grind this thing out.”

Bernie Sanders (D)
In response to Barr’s Senate testimony on the Mueller report, the Vermont senator appeared on Sirius XM radio and called his actions “outrageous,” but did not go as far to call for his resignation as some of his other 2020 presidential competitors have.

Sanders will be in Iowa this weekend and is set to deliver a major agriculture policy address in Osage.

Eric Swalwell (D)
The California congressman officially qualified for the Democratic presidential primary debates after polling at at least 1 percent in three polls recognized by the Democratic National Committee.

Following the deadly shooting at the Poway, California synagogue, Swalwell was the only presidential candidate to directly mention Trump, saying in a response to Trump’s tweet, “Spare us your thoughts and prayers. It’s an alibi for inaction. You told the NRA yesterday you’d keep dangerous guns in the hands of dangerous people. We will take it from here with action.”

Elizabeth Warren (D)
A Quinnipiac University poll published this week showed the senator from Massachusetts up eight points and ranked second behind Biden.

Warren, in an Essence Magazine op-ed, rolled out her latest policy proposal announcements, on how she intends to improve the structure of the country’s health care system when it comes to the “epidemic” of maternal mortality rates of women of color.

Warren also found herself in a Twitter back-and-forth with Amazon after she described the company as a giant corporation that’s using it’s influence to stomp out the little guys, saying sellers who use their marketplace are seeing “record sales every year.”

Bill Weld (R)
The former Massachusetts governor penned an op-ed weighing in on Barr’s Senate testimony on the Mueller report.

While Weld has stopped short of calling for Barr’s resignation, he did target the attorney general in his New Hampshire Journal op-ed saying, “Barr’s own remarks make clear that his review of the Mueller Report was limited to whether to seek criminal charges against the President or members of his campaign on the issue of collusion.”

Marianne Williamson (D)
Following the deadly shooting at Chabad of Poway synagogue in California, Williamson proposed a U.S. Department of Peace-Building that would work in conjunction with the U.S Department of Justice to coordinate domestic violence prevention efforts.

Andrew Yang (D)
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang will continue his Humanity First Tour with various campaign appearances throughout Iowa this weekend.

Elizabeth Thomas is a reporter for ABC News’ political unit.

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