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What The Potential 2020 Candidates Are Doing And Saying, Vol. 16

Former Vice President Joe Biden joined the 2020 presidential field Thursday, immediately becoming its front-runner on the back of near universal name recognition and polls that regularly show him capturing around 30 percent of respondent’s support.

From ABC News:

Joe Biden announces 2020 presidential bid

While many of Biden’s fellow Democrats openly welcomed him to the race, behind the scenes, several — including Sen. Cory Booker, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Kamala Harris and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke — began to fundraise off of the news, showcasing an awareness that the path to the nomination just became all the more difficult.

Here’s the weekly candidate roundup:

April 19-25, 2019

Michael Bennet (D)
The Colorado senator tweeted last Friday that he “underwent a successful surgery” to treat his prostate cancer and “requires no further treatment.” Bennet previously said that he had been ready to announce a presidential run until he received the cancer diagnosis, but would still enter the race if he was ultimately declared cancer free.

Joe Biden (D)

The former vice president announced the launch of his presidential campaign Thursday after months of build up, releasing a video in which he said that “everything that makes America, America, is at stake” in the upcoming presidential election.

Biden’s first television interview will take place on ABC’s “The View” on Friday and then he will hit the road, making trips to Pittsburgh Monday, Iowa and South Carolina later next week, then Nevada, California and New Hampshire before mid-March.

He and his wife Dr. Jill Biden will also sit down with Robin Roberts, co-anchor of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” ahead of his Pittsburgh event. The interview will air on GMA Tuesday.

Biden’s campaign was immediately endorsed by Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and all three members of his home state of Delaware’s congressional delegation, Sens. Tom Carper, Chris Coons and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester.

From ABC News:

‘I asked President Obama not to endorse’: Biden

Cory Booker (D)

Booker became the latest Democratic presidential candidate to release his tax returns Wednesday evening, posting 10 years’ worth to his campaign website.

Though the New Jersey senator made only $152,715 in 2018 — on which he paid $29,446 in taxes and donated $24,000 to charity — he revealed himself to be relatively wealthy from years of accumulated speaking fees and royalties nearing $3 million total. The returns also showed fairly substantial charitable giving, with over $20,000 in contributions every year since 2012, including two years that topped $82,000 and $240,000, respectively.

At Wednesday’s “She the People” forum in Texas, Booker again pledged to select a female running mate should he be the Democratic presidential nominee.

Pete Buttigieg (D)

Buttigieg earned his first endorsement from a member of Congress this week, with Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia releasing a statement saying that he was backing the South Bend, Indiana mayor and comparing him to former President Barack Obama.

“I endorsed Barack Obama early, having been moved by both his intelligence and his political capability. I am similarly inspired by Mayor Pete,” Beyer said. “With him, I feel the promise of a new generation, and I see a way out of the darkness.”

Julian Castro (D)

In an interview with The New Yorker, Castro outlined his position on immigration, which has been the centerpiece of his campaign, explaining that he doesn’t believe those attempting to cross the southern border “are a national security threat” and that he found it “beautiful” “that people still see this country as a place of opportunity and safety.”

Speaking with BuzzFeed News Tuesday, Castro pushed back against the idea that Congressional impeachment proceedings would backfire on Democrats, saying that it was possible for the party to “walk and chew gum at the same time” — holding Trump accountable while pitching their strengths ahead of the 2020 election.

Castro was the center of a humorous moment at Wednesday’s “She the People” forum in Texas, when he revealed that the event’s program featured a photo of his twin brother Rep. Joaquin Castro and joked that his brother “would say that’s a good thing because he’s better looking than I am.”

John Delaney (D)

After President Donald Trump met with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Tuesday and reports emerged that the president raised concerns about a dip in the number of his followers, Delaney called on Twitter users to unfollow Trump’s account, arguing that he “cares more about his Twitter followers than the American people.”

In a tweet, the former Maryland congressman said that Trump’s “continued dishonesty and weaponization of social media has been divisive” and that the reduction to his follower count would “hit him where it actually hurts him… his ego.”

Tulsi Gabbard (D)

The Hawaii congresswoman shared her belief that “it’s time for the country to focus on the issues that matter most to Americans” in lieu of the investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia after the Mueller report revealed “no collusion.”

“The conclusion that came from that Mueller report was that no collusion took place,” Gabbard said on Fox News Sunday. “Now is the time for us to come together as a country to put the issues and the interests and the concerns that the American people have at the forefront, to take action to bring about real solutions for them.”

Kirsten Gillibrand (D)

In an appearance on “The View” Wednesday, Gillibrand was supportive of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats’ efforts to subpoena key figures named in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, despite Trump’s insistence that they should not have to testify before Congress.

From ABC News:

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand calls Mueller report ‘very damning’

“The Mueller report was very damning,” Gillibrand said, adding, “If President Trump takes on Nancy Pelosi over whether he’s going to respond to her subpoenas, I will put my money on Nancy Pelosi every time.”

During the same appearance on “The View,” a day ahead of Biden’s official campaign announcement, she said he’s “going to have to directly answer to voters” on allegations of inappropriate touching.

From ABC News:

Biden must answer on touching claims: Gillibrand

Kamala Harris (D)

Harris received some criticism that she was too cautious during a CNN town hall on Monday, during which she repeatedly called for “conversations” and “debate” about a number of issues, including felon voting rights, the voting age, slavery reparations and student debt forgiveness.

The California senator did signal her support for impeachment during the event, arguing that the Mueller report presented evidence that Trump engaged in obstruction of justice, but said she was a “realist” about the whether the efforts would ultimately be successful, given Senate Republicans’ support for the president.

John Hickenlooper (D)

The former Colorado governor joined in calls for Mueller to testify before Congress in an interview with WBUR-FM, and, on evidence that Trump and his administration misled the public about contact with Russia, said that Americans should “expect more from our commander-in-chief.”

Larry Hogan (R)

Hogan, the governor of Maryland, continues to say that he is considering a Republican primary challenge of Trump, explaining at a New Hampshire Institute of Politics “Politics and Eggs” event Tuesday morning that people continue to approach him about the possibility.

“People have asked me to give this serious consideration and I think I owe it to those people to do just that. That’s what I’m doing,” he said.

Hogan was further critical of the Republican National Committee, which he said had “the right to support the sitting president” but shouldn’t “change the rules and… insist 100% loyalty.”

Jay Inslee (D)

The Washington governor penned an open letter on Earth Day to his fellow 2020 candidates urging them to support his proposal for the Democratic National Committee to dedicate one out of 12 planned primary debates to solely focus on climate change.

Amy Klobuchar (D)

In the CNN Town Hall hosted earlier this week, the Minnesota Senator said that Trump should be held accountable following the Mueller report, but she stopped short of calling for impeachment.

Klobuchar also hosted a meet-and-greet event in Lexington, South Carolina to talk with local residents about her positive economic agenda to move the country forward.

Wayne Messam (D)

Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam’s presidential campaign was undergoing allegations that his campaign staff isn’t getting paid.

According to a report published by the Miami New Times, an anonymous former campaign staffer said that a campaign team member sent an email to staff with the subject line “Notification of hold on paychecks,” which blamed the failure to disburse checks on Messam’s wife, Angela.

Messam, whose lawyers are reviewing the allegations, told ABC News that “an unnamed staffer making a claim like that can’t be validated.”

Seth Moulton (D)

The Massachusetts congressman officially announced his candidacy for president this week on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

From ABC News:

Seth Moulton announces bid for 2020: Full interview

“And I am running because I am a patriot, because I believe in this country and because I have never wanted to sit on the sidelines when it comes to serving it,” Moulton said.

Beto O’Rourke (D)

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, while speaking to the press at the “She the People” forum in Texas, joined some of his fellow 2020 presidential candidates by stating that he is willing to “rethink” the voting rights of non-violent prisoners.

O’Rourke will also be returning to Nevada for his second trip since announcing his candidacy for president to participate in various grassroots events across the state.

Tim Ryan (D)

Ryan, who as a sitting member of the House would be in a position to vote on impeachment, said this week that he doesn’t believe his chamber should begin proceedings against Trump, telling CNN that the House Judiciary Committee should continue to investigate.

“Let the Judiciary Committee look at this. There’s a process in place here. I trust [committee chair Rep.]Jerry Nadler, he’s one of the smartest guys in the United States Congress, I think that’s the natural next step and let’s see where that leads,” Ryan said.

Bernie Sanders (D)

During a CNN town hall Monday, Sanders shared his opinion that incarcerated felons should be allowed to vote, a stance that was met with immediate backlash from Republican Party officials.

“I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy — yes, even for terrible people — because once you start chipping away … you’re running down a slippery slope,” Sanders said. “I do believe that even if they are in jail paying their price to society, that should not take away their inherent American right to participate in our democracy.”

Eric Swalwell (D)

Like Booker, Swalwell promised to select a woman to be his running mate, should he capture the Democratic nomination.

“I’ve pledged that I would ask a woman to serve as vice president,” he said in an appearance on MSNBC. “I would put forward a diverse candidate, and I would put forward policies that would make sure that inherent bias that exists, or discrimination that exists in communities, would be eliminated.”

Elizabeth Warren (D)

Warren was among the first presidential candidates to call for proceedings last Friday in the aftermath of the Mueller report’s release, tweeting that “to ignore a President’s repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country, and it would suggest that both the current and future Presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways.”

From ABC News:

Warren calls on House to initiate impeachment proceedings of Trump

The Massachusetts senator released a proposal this week to wipe out student loan debt for millions of people and make public colleges free. Warren said that the plan would cost the federal government $640 billion, but be paid for by a tax increase on families with $50 million or more of wealth.

From ABC News:

Student loan debt forgiveness in 2020 race

Bill Weld (R)

Weld outlined his campaign strategy in an interview with The New York Times, pointing out that independent voters can vote in the Republican primary in 20 states, including the early-voting state of New Hampshire and his home state of Massachusetts.

From ABC News:

GOP Trump challenger Bill Weld one-on-one

“If people speak to issues that are of interest to millennials and Gen Xers and suburban female voters, I think the size and character of the electorate who are going to be voting in the Republican primaries is going to be quite different than you get right now,” the former Massachusetts governor said.

Weld additionally revealed that he’ll campaign in California, Oregon and Washington in addition to heavy travel in New England and the mid-Atlantic states.

Andrew Yang (D)

A Yang rally in Los Angeles on Monday attracted over 2,000 people, his campaign claimed, and it’s the latest sign of widespread interest in a campaign once off most political observers’ radars.

At an event in Las Vegas Wednesday, Yang compared himself to Trump, explaining that like the real estate mogul in 2016, he plans to speak about issues and ideas that other Democrats are ignoring, highlighting automation as a threat to American jobs.

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

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