2020 Vision: Is Biden-Abrams the ticket for Democrats?

Dylan Stableford
Senior Writer
Former Vice President Joe Biden looks out into the audience as he delivers remarks at a dinner in Dover, Del., earlier this month. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Welcome to 2020 Vision, the new Yahoo News column covering the presidential race. Reminder: There are 318 days until the Iowa caucuses, and 592 days until the 2020 presidential election.

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

What is Joe Biden doing?

As the former vice president continues to drop hints that he is about to formally launch his bid for president, reports this week suggest it will be an unusual rollout.

According to the New York Times, Biden and his top advisers have “discussed two steps that could reassure voters about electing a 78-year-old president next year.”

They are considering “elevating an heir” by announcing a running mate early. Also under consideration is a possible pledge by Biden to serve only one term — and the framing of Biden’s 2020 campaign as “a one-time rescue mission for a beleaguered country.”

According to Axios, Biden’s advisers are “debating the idea of packaging his presidential campaign announcement with a pledge to choose Stacey Abrams as his vice president.”

Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams addresses supporters during an election night watch party in Atlanta last November. (Photo: John Amis/AP)

Abrams, a 45-year-old black woman, would bring youth and diversity to the ticket, and show voters that Biden, in the words of an Axios source, isn’t “just another old white guy.”

Biden and Abrams met for lunch last week to discuss her next political steps at the request of the former VP.

Both moves are fraught with political danger. Admitting he is only interested in serving one term would make Biden a lame duck before he even takes the oath of office. And the instant anointment of Abrams as a running mate would be seen by some as gimmicky and smacking of desperation.

Timing: According to a top-level Democrat, a Biden announcement is expected in April, after the deadline for candidates to report their first quarter fundraising has passed. Unlike Bernie Sanders or Beto O’Rourke, who have raised millions from individual small donors, Biden will likely have to rely on larger contributions, something he might not want to call attention to.

"I'd love to have Biden. I'd love to have Bernie. I'd love to have Beto. I mean Beto seems to be the one the press has chosen. The press seems to have chosen Beto. And when I watch Beto, I say, 'We could dream about that.'"

— President Trump, in a Fox Business interview Friday, on who he'd like to face in the 2020 election

Sweat beads on the temple of Democratic presidential candidate and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke as he speaks during a campaign stop at Popovers on the Square in Portsmouth, N.H., on Thursday. (Photo: Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Bloomberg’s lament

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who earlier this month announced he would not seek the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, candidly explained his rationale at a business event in Manhattan on Thursday:

“To start a four-year job, or maybe an eight-year job, at age 79 may not be the smartest thing to do. But I think if I had thought I could win, I would have, but I just couldn’t see a path to where I could get the nomination. And to spend the next year and a half, two years of my life campaigning ... it’s just not going to happen for somebody like me on a national level starting where I am unless I was willing to change all my views and go on what CNN called ‘an apology tour.’ Joe Biden went out and apologized for being male, over 50, white. He apologized for the one piece of legislation which is actually a pretty good anti-crime bill, which if the liberals ever read it, most of the things they like is in that bill. They should have loved that. But they didn’t even bother to read it. You’re anti-crime, you must be anti-populist. And so everybody else, Beto, whatever his name is, he’s apologized for being born. I mean, I don’t mean to be unkind. And a lot of people love him and say he’s a smart guy, and someday if he wins I’d certainly support him.”

“The current crop of candidates seems to think the hallmark of boldness is a willingness to tell reliable primary voters exactly what they’re desperate to hear, in the most dramatic terms possible.”

— Matt Bai, Yahoo News National Political Columnist, in his weekly column

Shocker: The Democratic Socialists of America announced Friday that its organization has voted to formally endorse self-described Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders for president.

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper participates in a live CNN presidential town hall in Atlanta on Wednesday. (Photo: Raymond McCrea Jones/CNN)

Town hall crawl

Mock them if you will, but CNN’s town halls with presidential candidates have produced more actual policy declarations and sharp exchanges than your average campaign event this early in the cycle.

During her CNN town hall in January, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said she fully supports the “Medicare for all” single-payer health insurance plan.

At her CNN town hall in Jackson, Miss., on Monday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., proposed getting rid of the Electoral College system.

“Come a general election, presidential candidates don’t come to places like Mississippi, they also don’t come to places like California or Massachusetts, because we’re not the battleground states,” Warren said. “My view is that every vote matters, and the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting and that means get rid of the Electoral College, and every vote counts.”

And in Austin, Texas, earlier this month, Pete Buttigieg, former South Bend, Ind., mayor, raised his national profile during his hour on CNN while attacking Vice President Mike Pence, the former Indiana governor and religious conservative.

“How could he allow himself to become the cheerleader of the porn-star presidency? Is it that he stopped believing in Scripture when he started believing in Donald Trump? I don’t know.”

— Pete Buttigieg on Vice President Pence during a CNN town hall on March 11

Of course, when it comes to substance, they all can’t be winners. At his CNN town hall in Atlanta, John Hickenlooper was asked whether he would pledge to choose a woman as his running mate. And the former Colorado governor offered a curious response.

“How come we’re not asking more often the women, would you be willing to put a man on the ticket?” Hickenlooper said.

He was also asked to explain why he took his mom to see the X-rated film “Deep Throat” on Thanksgiving break when he was a teenager. (He said he asked his mom, then-newly widowed, thinking she wouldn’t want to go. But he wanted to get out of the house.)

Checking in on a GOP primary challenge: While Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan isn’t completely ruling out a potential primary challenge to President Trump, Hogan told reporters Thursday that “it doesn’t make any sense at all,” given Trump’s high approval rating among Republicans.

Brad Parscale, President Trump’s campaign manager, appears on “Fox & Friends,” last May. (Photo: Richard Drew/AP)

MAGA 2.0

The new headquarters for Trump’s 2020 campaign in Arlington, Va., is a far cry from the makeshift Trump Tower office that served as the nerve center of his 2016 operation.

CNN, the network that Trump has derided as “fake news,” was recently given an “exclusive” tour:

The walls aren’t lined with an eclectic assortment of Trump swag and fan mail. There is no “wall of shame” exhibiting pictures of vanquished rivals. Staffers work at desks and in sleek, glass-doored offices rather than huddled behind plastic folding tables surrounded by unpainted dry wall.

In almost every way, the effort to re-elect Trump is a stark contrast to the insurgent, chaotic bid that propelled him to the White House in 2016. Moving out of the bare-bones production offices of “The Apprentice” in Trump Tower and into shiny, modern offices in the Washington suburbs is just the beginning.

“We now have an operation and time to build that — a building that has proper desks in it and proper things,” Parscale said in an interview with CNN. “Last time — not for any fault of some of the people that run it — but it just was fly-by-night sometimes because it was going so fast.”

“We already have the president of the United States,” Parscale added. “We have the incumbency, we know where we’re going.”

Required reading

• Hunter Walker: Joe Biden (almost) announces he is running for president

• Alex Nazaryan: Why did Kamala Harris let Herbalife off the hook?

• Matt Bai: Democrats are going big. They’re certainly not bold.

• Stephanie Sy: John Delaney wants to take on the ‘bully’ in the White House

Weekend preview

• Beto O’Rourke is in South Carolina.

• Kamala Harris will hold a rally at one of America’s largest historically black colleges and universities, Texas Southern University in Houston, on Saturday at 11 a.m. CT.

• Harris and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., are participating in a one-hour BET town hall, “American Justice,” which will air on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET.

• Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., is holding her formal campaign kickoff rally in front of the Trump International Tower in New York City on Sunday at 12 p.m. ET. She was in Iowa earlier this week.

Weather forecast

Des Moines

• Friday, March 22: Sunny, 56°/29°

• Saturday, March 23: Light rain, 54°/41°

• Sunday, March 24: Rain, 49°/34°

Manchester, N.H.

• Friday, March 22: Showers, 40°/35°

• Saturday, March 23: Partly cloudy, 42°/28°

• Sunday, March 24: Partly cloudy, 56°/35°

Source: Weather Underground


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