2020 Vision: Democratic field now largest in history

Dylan Stableford
Senior Editor
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., visits the Torrent Brewing Company in Ames, Iowa, on Thursday. (Photo: Rachel Mummey/Reuters)

Welcome to 2020 Vision, the new Yahoo News column covering the presidential race. Reminder: There are 297 days until the Iowa caucuses, and 570 days until the 2020 presidential election.

[Who’s running for president? Click here for Yahoo News’ 2020 tracker]

Who isn’t running?

Appearing on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” on Monday, Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., announced his bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

“I see a country in quicksand, unable to solve problems and threats from abroad, unable to make life better for people here at home,” Swalwell said. “I’m ready to solve these problems. I’m running for president of the United States.”

“Boy, did it feel good to say that!” he added.

Swalwell became the 18th candidate to enter the race on the Democratic side, making it the largest field of presidential candidates for a major party’s presidential nomination ever. In 2016, the Republican primary had 17 candidates. And the GOP didn’t reach that number until August 2015, when former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore jumped into the race.

At this point in 2015, just two candidates — Sen. Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton — had announced presidential bids. (Today is the 4-year anniversary of Clinton’s 2016 announcement.) The eventual winner, Donald Trump, did not announce until June 16, 2015, when he took his famous escalator ride to the lobby of Trump Tower.

The 2020 Democratic field is likely to grow even more. Former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to join the race later this month, while former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio continue to mull bids of their own.

Also worth remembering: While the field for the 2016 Republican primary was crowded, it thinned out before a single vote was cast. Five candidates — Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham and George Pataki — dropped out of the race before the Iowa caucuses.

The first Democratic debate of the 2020 cycle will be held over two nights, June 26-27, in Miami.

“In these debates, we’re not going to be talking about hand size — we’re going to be talking about health care.”

— Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, on CNN

Then Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, right, talks with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, May 1, 2015. (Photo: Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune via AP)

Buttigieg buzz brings $$$

With March coming to a close, most of the 2020 candidates have released their first quarter fundraising totals. Some of the numbers are not surprising (Sen. Bernie Sanders with $18.2 million, Sen. Kamala Harris with $12 million) but one number did impress: South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who reported $7 million in donations. That number trails former Rep. Beto O’Rourke ($9.4 million) but tops sitting Sens. Elizabeth Warren ($6 million), Amy Klobuchar ($5.2 million) and Cory Booker ($5 million).

Buttigieg also has found some success in a pair of new polls, finishing third in surveys of both Iowa and New Hampshire.

According to a poll by the Saint Anselm College Survey Center at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, Buttigieg has seen a 33 percentage point increase in name recognition since February.

One of the reasons for that bump is undoubtedly his sharp criticism of Vice President Mike Pence.

“If me being gay was a choice, it was a choice that was made far, far above my pay grade,” Buttigieg said in a speech Sunday. “And that’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand. That if you got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”

Pence responded in an interview with CNN Thursday.

“I think Pete’s quarrel is with the First Amendment,” Pence said. “All of us in this country have the right to our religious beliefs.” — Christopher Wilson

“I’m not critical of his faith; I’m critical of bad policies. I don’t have a problem with religion. I’m religious too. I have a problem with religion being used as a justification to harm people, and especially [those] in the LGBTQ community.”

— Pete Buttigieg on "The Ellen Degeneres Show" Friday

Then Vice President Joe Biden visits a diner in Seaman, Ohio, Sept. 9, 2012. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Dem voters shrug off Biden allegations

Although he hasn’t even officially launched his campaign yet, former Vice President Joe Biden came under fire over the last two weeks when seven women came forward to say that he touched them inappropriately. Biden declined to apologize, and even joked about the allegations, but promised to do a better job of recognizing people’s “personal space.”

Politico/Morning Consult poll released Wednesday found half of Democrats saying the allegations made no difference in their vote while 29 percent said they made them less likely to support him.

Biden currently leads in nearly every Democratic primary poll and has intimated he will officially announce his run soon. — Christopher Wilson

Just in: The Bernie Sanders campaign announced Friday that it has received more than a million donations since he launched his second presidential bid on Feb. 19.

Elizabeth Warren (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Warren takes aim at Amazon

No 2020 contender has leaned as much on policy as Elizabeth Warren, and Thursday she added to her platform with the Real Corporate Profits Tax. “This new tax only applies to companies that report more than $100 million in profits — about the 1200 most profitable firms in the country last year,” Warren wrote in a Medium post. “That first $100 million is left alone, but for every dollar of profit above $100 million, the corporation will pay a 7% tax.”

Warren singled out Amazon, which paid no federal income taxes in 2018 on profits of $11.2 billion.

The Massachusetts senator noted that under her plan “Amazon would pay $698 million in taxes instead of paying zero.”

Amazon responded to Warren’s post with a statement saying the company pays “all the taxes we are required to pay in the U.S. and every country where we operate,” and noted its American business investments as well as the 250,000 workers it employs here.

Warren was unimpressed. She responded with a tweet that acknowledged she wasn’t accusing Amazon of illegality:

“Yeah, I know,” she wrote. “You made more than $10 billion in profits last year and you were required to pay $0 in federal corporate taxes. That’s the problem.” — Christopher Wilson and David Knowles

“I wrote a best-selling book. If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too.”

— Bernie Sanders, who is about to release tax returns that will show he is a millionaire, to the New York Times

Sen. Bernie Sanders introduces the Medicare for All Act of 2019 on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. (Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Bernie introduces ‘Medicare for All’

Bernie Sanders introduced a major policy initiative this week, announcing the Medicare for All Act of 2019. Sanders’s universal health care proposal would get rid of the private insurance system, eliminating the need for employers to provide insurance for their workers. Yahoo Finance previously reported that a Sanders-style plan would boost federal health care spending from $1.1 trillion per year to $3.5 trillion per year, and require big tax hikes to fund it.

Individuals who now buy their own insurance and companies that provide it to their employees would see savings that, depending on individual circumstances, would offset some or all of those taxes.

Sanders’s bill was co-sponsored by several of his 2020 Democratic rivals in the Senate, including Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. And it was immediately mocked by the Trump White House.

“Self-proclaimed socialist Senator Bernie Sanders is proposing a total government takeover of healthcare that would actually hurt seniors, eliminate private health insurance for 180 million Americans, and cripple our economy and future generations with unprecedented debt,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. “Americans deserve relief from the empty promises of Obamacare. The Trump Administration is working on realistic solutions to provide Americans with the options and control they want, the affordability they need, the ease they expect, and the quality they deserve, rather than forcing a government takeover of the healthcare system. We will protect people with pre-existing conditions, lower prices for care and prescription drugs even further, end surprise medical bills, and make sure Americans get the absolute best quality of care.”

The Sanders campaign responded in kind.

“Donald Trump, who used to express his admiration for single-payer health care, has decided to put out statements that do the bidding of the largest insurance and pharmaceutical companies,” Faiz Shakir, Sanders’s campaign manager, said in a statement. “This campaign’s message to Trump is simple: we welcome this fight because we are going to defeat you in the election and guarantee health care as a right to all people.”

“Our troops deserve a Commander in Chief who fights for them as fiercely as they fight for this country. President Trump’s transgender military ban, taking effect today, proves he fails that standard. As president, I will end this.”

— Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., one of many Democratic presidential candidates to condemn the new policy

Members of the media are reflected in the eye of President Trump as he answers questions on the South Lawn of the White House. (Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Trump’s search for a 2020 villain

Earlier this week, President Trump tweeted what appeared to be a campaign video that was pulled from Twitter after Warner Bros. Pictures filed a copyright infringement complaint, saying it used part of the score from “The Dark Knight Rises” without the studio’s permission.

But for those who saw it, the two-minute spot highlighted what could become a problem for Trump’s reelection, at least at this stage of the campaign: it doesn’t have a villain to focus on.

The video included images Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton (who aren’t running), actor Brian Cranston and comedians Rosie O’Donnell and Amy Schumer, juxtaposed against images of Trump from his first two years in office, including his meetings with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. (Also included is footage of Trump’s visit to a memorial for tornado victims in Alabama.)

At his “Make America Great Again” rallies, Trump likes to point out how he vanquished 16 Republicans in the 2016 primary before taking on Clinton and the “fake news” media in the general election. But Trump probably won’t have a serious challenger until the 2020 Democratic Convention, still more than 15 months away. (Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld may announce a Republican primary run — focusing on climate-change issues — sometime this month.)

"I own a gun for probably the reason that a lot of people do: for personal safety."

— Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., to reporters in Iowa

Weekend preview

Bernie Sanders is holding weekend rallies in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — three states that flipped and voted for Donald Trump in 2016. He will also make additional stops in Indiana and Ohio.

• Four candidates will be in Iowa this weekend: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and former secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, who is making his third trip to the first-in-the-nation caucus state since announcing his candidacy in January.

• CNN is hosting presidential town halls on Sunday night with a pair of lesser-known Democratic candidates: self-help author Marianne Williamson at 6 p.m. ET and business executive Andrew Yang at 8 p.m. ET.


Weekend forecast

Des Moines, Iowa

• Friday, April 12: Cloudy, 44°/30°

• Saturday, April 13: Partly cloudy, 54°/33°

• Sunday, April 14: Clouds and sun, 53°/33°

Manchester, N.H.

• Friday, April 12: Cloudy, 49°/45°

• Saturday, April 13: Mostly cloudy, 73°/46°

• Sunday, April 14: Showers, 59°/45°

Source: Weather Underground

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