Trump makes history with appearance at March for Life

Dylan Stableford and Christopher Wilson
·Senior Staff

Welcome to 2020 Vision, the Yahoo News column covering the presidential race. Reminder: There are 10 days until the Iowa caucuses and 284 days until the 2020 presidential election.

Against the backdrop of an impeachment trial and reelection battle, President Trump on Friday became the first president to attend the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., where he delivered a speech aimed at shoring up his support among evangelical voters.

“We’re here for a very simple reason,” the president said to a crowd of tens of thousands of anti-abortion activists on the National Mall, “to defend the right of every child born and unborn to fulfill their God-given potential.”

“For 47 years Americans of all backgrounds have traveled across the country to stand for life,” Trump said. “And today as president of the United States I am truly proud to stand with you.”

“All of us here understand an eternal truth: Every child is a precious and sacred gift from God,” the president continued. “Together we must protect, cherish and defend the dignity and sanctity of every human life.”

He added: “Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House.”

President Trump speaks at the annual March for Life rally in Washington, D.C.
President Trump speaks at the annual March for Life rally in Washington, D.C., on Friday. (Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP)

It was the first appearance in person by a sitting president at the event, which has been held annually on or around the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion for the last 47 years. Vice President Mike Pence, who was in Rome Friday for a meeting with Pope Francis, in 2017 became the first sitting vice president to attend. Last year, Pence made a surprise appearance, and Trump addressed the crowd by video.

Trump used part of his March for Life address to attack the “far left” for “actively working to erase our God-given rights.”

“They are coming after me because I am fighting for you,” he said.

The president also asserted, falsely, that “nearly every top Democrat in Congress now supports taxpayer-funded abortion, all the way up until the moment of birth.”

Trump’s speech came shortly before the third day of opening arguments in his Senate impeachment trial on Capitol Hill, where House Democrats continued to present their case for his removal from office.

Trump’s presence at the March for Life is a reminder of how the president, whose past positions and personal behavior were antithetical to the values of evangelical Christianity, has enlisted the religious right as his most hard-core political constituency.

Earlier this week, Ralph Reed, a veteran of the religious right and Republican politics, told Yahoo News that Trump’s appearance is of “massive historical significance.”

“It is a game changer,” Reed said. “It lends the prestige and the bully pulpit of the presidency to the pro-life cause.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris shake hands before the start of a Democratic debate in Detroit in July. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris before a Democratic debate in Detroit in July. (Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Kamala Harris reportedly considering a Biden endorsement

Sen. Kamala Harris, who dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination early last month, is said to be weighing an endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden, the New York Times reported Thursday.

A spokesman for Harris said the California senator “remains focused” on her responsibilities as a juror in President Trump’s impeachment trial, and “no decisions have been made about whether she will endorse, which candidate, nor when an endorsement decision will be made.”

Quick flashback to June: During a Democratic debate, Harris attacked Biden over his record on race, sharply criticizing him for his fond recollection of serving with “civility” in the Senate with segregationist senators.

While endorsements might seem meaningless in the current political climate, such a move would add fuel to speculation that Harris is in contention to be Biden’s running mate if he wins the nomination.

A day after Harris ended her Democratic bid, Biden told reporters that said he would consider her as a potential vice president.

“Of course I would,” he said. “Look, Sen. Harris has the capacity to be anything she wants to be. I mean it sincerely. I talked to her yesterday. She’s solid. She can be president someday herself. She can be vice president. She could go on to be a Supreme Court justice. She could be attorney general. I mean, she has enormous capability.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is joined on stage by Sen. Bernie Sanders
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with Sen. Bernie Sanders during the Climate Crisis Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, in November. (Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Senators running in primary try to play catch-up

With just 10 days until the Iowa caucuses, the senators in the race who’ve spent the week at the impeachment trial will attempt to make up ground on Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, employing surrogates to speak for them and cramming in as many events as possible on their off days.

The Bernie Sanders campaign is dispatching some high-profile surrogates after canceling a rally that was originally scheduled for Wednesday night. Among those appearing at Iowa events for the Sanders campaign are Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, filmmaker Michael Moore and Rep. Mark Pocan, the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who recently endorsed Sanders and hails from neighboring Wisconsin. For the Elizabeth Warren campaign, former Housing and Urban Development chief Julián Castro and his brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro, spent the week traveling the state holding events for the Massachusetts senator.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the White House legal team’s presentation will not take the full scheduled eight hours on Saturday — and will begin at 10 a.m. ET, three hours earlier than originally scheduled. Amy Klobuchar’s campaign said she is set to speak in Bettendorf, Iowa, at 9 p.m. CT that day. (In addition to her New York Times co-endorsement, Klobuchar also picked up the support of Iowa’s Quad City Times and a number of state legislators.) Sanders’s team said he will be joining Ocasio-Cortez and Moore at a rally in Ames that begins at 8 p.m. CT on Saturday, followed by events on Sunday. Warren is expected to campaign with the state’s Democratic Senate leader, Janet Petersen, who endorsed her earlier this week.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, talks to reporters on Capitol Hill
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, talks to reporters on Capitol Hill last week. (Photo: Susan Walsh/AP)

Vulnerable senators deal with impeachment votes

Last week, Morning Consult released its quarterly polling of U.S. senator approval, and the results were not positive for Republicans, with four of the seven least-popular senators being GOP incumbents who are up for election this fall. With the impeachment trial, they face a dilemma: Vote to convict Trump and risk losing Republican support or vote to acquit and turn off voters who disapprove of the president’s actions.

  • Susan Collins, Maine: The least popular senator in the country among her constituents, per the Morning Consult poll, is Collins, who first won her seat in 1996. Money started pouring in against her after she voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, with millions going to a fundraiser that was dedicated to supporting her opponent, likely to be Sara Gideon, the speaker of Maine’s House of Representatives. Gideon announced she outraised Collins in the final quarter of 2019, although the senator has far more cash on hand. A poll released this week found 53 percent of Mainers believe that the president is guilty of abusing the power of his office.

  • Joni Ernst, Iowa: Ernst is serving in her first term, having come in on the wave that delivered the Senate back into Republican control in 2014. She has referred to the House’s case as “highly partisan.” Trump won Iowa by 10 points in 2016, but his approval rating is underwater there and the Republican’s margin of victory in the 2018 gubernatorial race was just 3 points.

  • Cory Gardner, Colorado: Gardner is also concluding his first term and faces perhaps the longest odds of any Republican incumbent in a state that is increasingly turning blue. Hillary Clinton won Colorado by 5 points in 2016, and two years later the Democratic candidate for governor won by 10. Gardner’s reaction to the potentially dire situation has been to go to ground, having not held a town hall with constituents since November 2017. He has said he would take the investigation seriously but declined to offer a yes-or-no answer when pressed on whether it was acceptable for a president to push for a foreign leader to investigate a political rival.

  • Martha McSally, Arizona: McSally lost a close 2018 Senate race to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema but then was appointed to the seat left vacant by the death of John McCain. She has stuck close to Trump and has attempted to raise funds based on her insulting CNN correspondent Manu Raju as a “liberal hack” after he asked if she would vote to allow more evidence in the Senate trial. (McSally also refused to answer the question when asked on Fox News.) Her likely 2020 opponent is astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords. Kelly has brought in massive fundraising totals so far, and while there’s been little polling in the race, the few published surveys have shown the Democratic challenger with small leads.

The above senators all voted against amendments that would have subpoenaed additional evidence for the trial, including White House documents and witness testimony. In a number of polls, a substantial majority of Americans say they want new witnesses to testify. Polling on whether Trump should be removed from office is much tighter, with a CNN poll this week finding support for removal at 51 percent.

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

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. (Photos: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, Elise Amendola/AP)

Verbatim

“Nobody likes him. Nobody wants to work with him; he got nothing done. He was a career politician. It’s all just baloney, and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it.”

— Hillary Clinton in an upcoming Hulu documentary, claiming Sen. Bernie Sanders has no allies in Congress

“On a good day, my wife likes me, so let’s clear the air on that one.”

— Sanders to reporters on Tuesday when asked for a response to Clinton’s comments

“For hundreds of years, America systematically stole black lives, black freedom and black labor.”

— Michael Bloomberg, announcing a $70 billion plan on Sunday aimed at bolstering economic opportunity for black Americans, but stopping short of reparations for African-Americans suffering from the legacy of slavery

“I don’t think we can be the country that we want to be until we acknowledge the past and move to accept the mistakes this country made that are dramatic and obvious, and then repair the damage.”

— Tom Steyer, in an interview with Yahoo News on Wednesday, reiterating his support for reparations

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