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What The Potential 2020 Candidates Are Doing And Saying, Vol. 2

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.

It was a historic week. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand entered the presidential race. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard did too, sort of; she has not yet formally announced but said she plans to this week. This is the first time that at least three women will vie for the nation’s most powerful office in one of the two major parties. It’s already an increase from the 2016 field, which featured Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina. And several other women could still join the field.

Jan. 11-17, 2019

Joe Biden (D)

  • Asked about the possibility that Biden could run for president, President Trump told Fox News on Saturday that Barack Obama took Biden “off the trash heap” when he selected him to be his running mate. Trump went on to describe Biden as “weak.”
  • On Monday, Biden is scheduled to attend the National Action Network’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast in Washington, D.C.

Cory Booker (D)

  • Booker questioned William Barr, Trump’s attorney general nominee, on race and the criminal justice system during Barr’s confirmation hearing Tuesday, objecting to Barr’s earlier claim that “there’s no statistical evidence of racism in the criminal justice system.” The pair ultimately pledged to meet and discuss the issue further.
  • The New Jersey senator sent best wishes via Twitter to Gillibrand after she announced her presidential exploratory committee. The two played a lighthearted game of “How Well Do You Know Your Co-Worker?” in a Marie Claire video in which Gillibrand described Booker as “Senate chiseled.”

Michael Bloomberg (D)

  • The former New York City mayor said he hasn’t made a final decision about a presidential run during the keynote address at an Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada event Tuesday. Bloomberg joked that “there’s actually no rush” because, in his case, “my donor isn’t walking away.”
  • Bloomberg visited Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Thursday to announce that the city was a winner in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Public Art Challenge and meet with a local Moms Demand Action gun control group. On Monday, he is scheduled to attend the National Action Network’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast in Washington, D.C., according to a spokesperson.

Sherrod Brown (D)

  • The Ohio senator announced Tuesday that he will embark on a “dignity of work” listening tour beginning at the end of the month, with stops in Ohio, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina. “What I want to accomplish is I want to continue to learn about the dignity of work,” Brown told MSNBC. “I want [the tour] to encourage my colleagues running for president that this should be the narrative. … It’s the best way to govern, fighting for the dignity of work, and it’s the best way to win elections.”
  • BuzzFeed News reported Thursday that Brown hired an Iowa-based former field director for Bernie Sanders’s 2016 campaign, an additional sign that he may launch a campaign.

Steve Bullock (D)

The Montana governor wouldn’t answer questions about his presidential plans during a Wednesday news conference in Helena. Bullock said that he is “at a great advantage to be able to do the job that I get to do, and that’s what I’m focusing on.”

Pete Buttigieg (D)

The South Bend Tribune previewed Buttigieg’s forthcoming book Thursday, which describes his first mayoral run in 2011, his coming out story, his missteps while leading South Bend, Indiana, and his unsuccessful 2017 bid to be the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He told the newspaper that a decision on a presidential campaign could come within the next few weeks. “For anybody who isn’t already very famous, you really don’t have long, past the end of this month, to make some kind of move,” he said.

Julian Castro (D)

  • Castro officially announced his presidential candidacy Saturday in his hometown of San Antonio, where he served as mayor for three terms. “I’m running for president because it’s time for new leadership, because it’s time for new energy and it’s time for a new commitment to make sure that the opportunities I’ve had are available for every American,” he said.
  • Following the announcement, Castro traveled to Puerto Rico where he met with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, an outspoken critic of Trump, toured communities affected by Hurricane Maria and spoke at a political summit.
  • The former Housing and Urban Development secretary spent much of the past week in New Hampshire, with various events in Concord, Laconia, Manchester and Somersworth. At Saint Anselm College in Manchester, Castro criticized the government shutdown and argued for “compassion” in developing immigration reform. He additionally pledged universal pre-K nationwide and a recommitment to the Paris Climate Agreement.

Bob Corker (R)

Corker, a former Tennessee senator, said in an interview with Nashville Public Radio that the ongoing partial government shutdown was Trump’s responsibility. “This is one where at the last minute the president changed his mind and so now we are sitting here shut down because — just because,” he said. “This whole thing, as I’ve mentioned before, is pretty juvenile, and at some point, government will open back up.”

Asked during the interview about a potential presidential run, Corker didn’t rule it out. “It’s something to consider, and certainly I’ve got the background and knowledge levels, and hopefully intelligence and judgment and all of those kind of things to be good at it, if I was elected,” he said. “But, again, it’s not necessarily even on the front burner; it’s a possibility. There are many other things that I’m going to be thinking about over the next period of time.”

John Delaney (D)

  • In an interview last Sunday on ABC News’s “This Week,” Delaney said he would focus the first 100 days of a potential presidency solely on “bipartisan proposals.” The former Maryland congressman said such initiatives could include action on infrastructure and criminal justice reform. He also said that he felt his campaign (now more than 500 days old) was “going great.”
  • Delaney will visit New Hampshire on Friday and Saturday for meet-and-greet events in Amherst, Hanover and Manchester, according to his campaign.

Tulsi Gabbard (D)

  • The Hawaii congresswoman said that she has “decided to run” for president and teased a forthcoming formal announcement in an interview with CNN last Friday. Gabbard, who has served in the House since 2013 and was one of the few elected officials in Washington to support Sen. Bernie Sanders’s candidacy in 2016, said that the “one main issue” she wished to address as president was “war and peace.”
  • Following the announcement, Gabbard quickly faced criticism for working for an anti-gay organization led by her father in the early 2000s that touted conversion therapy and fought same-sex marriage legislation. On Thursday, she apologized in a video and series of tweets, explaining that she was raised in a socially conservative household and that her personal opinions have since changed.

Eric Garcetti (D)

Garcetti’s hands were full this week with the ongoing Los Angeles Unified School District teacher strike. The mayor, who facilitated negotiations at City Hall Thursday according to his office, earlier described the strike as “electrifying” and expressed pride in the educators for standing up for a “righteous cause,” but cautioned that there must be consideration for the district’s “fiscal health.”

Kirsten Gillibrand (D)

  • Gillibrand announced on Tuesday that she is forming a presidential exploratory committee, making her the second female senator, after Elizabeth Warren, to take the step toward a White House bid. In an interview on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” where she made the announcement, the New York senator cited health care, education and economic inequality as key points of focus for her campaign. Asked what she would do on her first day in office, Gillibrand said she would “restore what’s been lost — the integrity and the compassion of this country,” and stressed the need for bipartisanship.
  • On Wednesday, Gillibrand addressed reporters outside a diner near her hometown in Troy, New York, and described her evolution from a centrist Democrat who once received an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association to a more liberal lawmaker, saying that “it’s important to know when you’re wrong and to do what’s right.”
  • Gillibrand will travel to Iowa this weekend for events in Sioux City on Friday and Cedar Rapids on Sunday, according to a Gillibrand campaign official. In-between, on Saturday, she’ll stop in Des Moines to speak at the Iowa Women’s March.

Kamala Harris (D)

On Thursday morning, Harris became the first member of the Senate Judiciary Committee to come out against the confirmation of attorney general-nominee William Barr. Harris tweeted that Barr’s hearing indicated to her that he “won’t defend independent investigations from attacks and ensure equal protection under the law for all Americans.”

During the hearing, Harris was critical of Barr’s role in promoting incarceration during the “war on drugs” amid his prior stints at the Justice Department.

“I would suggest to you that in the intervening almost 30 years since you were last Attorney General that there is consensus in the United States that when we look at the drug epidemic, whatever the narcotic may be, that there is now an understanding that the War on Drugs was an abject failure,” Harris said.

Jay Inslee (D)

Next Tuesday, Inslee will visit New Hampshire for two events focused on climate change, according to a media advisory from his office — a roundtable with students at Saint Anselm College and a speech at Dartmouth College. The trip comes as some local Democratic officials have criticized Inslee for not investing in New Hampshire’s 2018 gubernatorial race during his tenure as chair of the Democratic Governors Association.

John Kasich (R)

  • Upon leaving the Ohio governor’s office, Kasich signed on to become a CNN political commentator. In a tweet, he said that in the position he would “be like an umpire calling balls and strikes like I’ve always done throughout my entire career.” This week, in one of his first appearances on the network, Kasich questioned Trump’s command of the partial government shutdown and whether Democrats were seriously engaged in negotiations. “I think it’s incumbent on the leader to try to bring people together and get something done, and I just don’t see it,” he said, adding, “I wonder a little bit if the Democrats are enjoying this, because the numbers are all going against the president.”
  • On Friday, Kasich will be a guest on the 17th season premiere of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

Amy Klobuchar (D)

  • The Minnesota senator told MSNBC that she received the blessing of her family to move forward with a presidential campaign, relaying that they are “on board,” should she decide to run.
  • The internet worked itself into a tizzy on Tuesday after a Twitter user posted what appeared to be a Klobuchar 2020 campaign logo that he said he found at a Washington, D.C. coffee shop. The senator later responded, speculating that the artwork was the work of “a very enthusiastic supporter” and joking that the design’s mountains weren’t geographically accurate.
  • During this week’s confirmation hearings for attorney general-nominee William Barr, Klobuchar alluded to Watergate as she asked Barr whether “the attorney general [is] the people’s lawyer or the President’s lawyer.”

Mitch Landrieu (D)

The Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School announced on Wednesday that Landrieu would be among its visiting fellows for this year’s spring term. Landrieu will join former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter to “continue their discussion on ‘Politics, Potholes, and Public Service.'”

Jeff Merkley (D)

Merkley was one of the many Democratic senators on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee who had strong words for the Environmental Protection Agency’s acting administrator Andrew Wheeler during his confirmation hearing. Merkley shared his concern that “the rate [of carbon emissions] is actually accelerating despite the international conversations” and said he hopes Wheeler will “become more familiar with these issues.”

Seth Moulton (D)

  • Citing a source close to the Massachusetts congressman, WBZ-TV reported Wednesday that Moulton is exploring the idea of a presidential bid.
  • Moulton will visit New Hampshire on Feb. 2 for a private event with the Bedford Democratic Committee, the group confirmed to ABC News on Wednesday.

Beto O’Rourke (D)

  • O’Rourke gave an interview to The Washington Post on Tuesday that received attention more for what the former Texas congressman didn’t say than for what he did. In it, O’Rourke demurred when asked for solutions on the border and Syria, calling for “debate” and “discussion” but providing few concrete details about where he personally stands on the issues.
  • In a Medium post published on Wednesday detailing a visit to southwestern Kansas, O’Rourke admitted to being “in and out of a funk” but wrote that if he continues to travel to meet people, it’ll help clear his head. “Maybe if I get moving, on the road, meet people, learn about what’s going on where they live, have some adventure, go where I don’t know and I’m not known, it’ll clear my head, reset, I’ll think new thoughts, break out of the loops I’ve been stuck in,” he wrote.
  • O’Rourke will be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey as part of “Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations from Times Square” on Feb. 5.

Howard Schultz

Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks, announced a book tour beginning later this month to promote “From the Ground Up.” Notably, stops on the tour thus far do not include cities in early-voting states.

Bernie Sanders (D)

  • On Wednesday, Sanders met with women who have said they experienced sexual harassment or gender discrimination while working on his 2016 presidential campaign. A read-out of the meeting provided to ABC News indicated that the senator “was there to listen” and that there “is a desire to create a better process” and “put a good program in place” to combat the issues.
  • Sanders pointedly questioned acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler at Wheeler’s confirmation hearing Wednesday, pressing him about the EPA’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “We are the strongest economy in the world, and if the leadership in the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States says to China and to Russia and to India, and to countries all over the world, that we have got to move aggressively to protect this planet for our children and our grandchildren, we can have some impact on the entire international community, are you prepared to do that?”

Eric Swalwell (D)

  • The California congressman is headed to South Carolina on Saturday to speak at the Greenville Women’s March and the Spartanburg County Democratic Party’s Blue Carolina Black Tie Gala, according to an adviser.
  • In the wake of a New York Times report that the FBI investigated whether Trump was working on behalf of Russian interests, Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN that the question has “shifted from whether the president is working with the Russians to what evidence exists that the president is not working with the Russians?” He further criticized Trump for failing to meet personally with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Elizabeth Warren (D)

  • Warren visited Manchester, New Hampshire, last weekend — her first visit to the state since announcing her presidential exploratory committee. In public remarks, the Massachusetts senator called for “systemic change” as a course correction following the “bad decisions” currently being made in Washington. Warren returns to New Hampshire Friday for an event in Claremont.
  • On Sunday, Trump criticized Warren’s Instagram livestream from early January quipping on Twitter that she should have done the video “from Bighorn or Wounded Knee instead of her kitchen, with her husband dressed in full Indian garb, it would have been a smash!” Native Americans condemned the tweet as racist.

FiveThirtyEight’s 2020 draft: Episode 2

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