2020 Vision: Biden's family is serious; Harris stays focused on Trump; Franken cancels on Maher
Posted June 9
Welcome to #2020Vision -- our new weekly roundup of the news, notes and chatter about the prospects for the next Democratic presidential race. Check back here each Friday for a new edition.
The family of Vice President Joe Biden is serious about him being taken seriously as a 2020 candidate. His brother dialed in to a radio show this week to say Biden "absolutely" has another run in him. "Why anyone would think otherwise, I don't know," he said. Jill Biden recently pledged her husband "is not going away." His PAC gives him a way to pay for political travel in the 2018 midterms. And he got much closer to running last time than many people realize, building out a team and sketching out a detailed campaign plan, one person who helped develop that plan tells me.
But Democratic operatives are far more skeptical than Biden's family -- both that he'll really run, and that he'd be formidable. What several told me: The same factors that kept Biden from becoming president before -- he's a weak fundraiser, first and foremost, and then the discipline and age factors -- won't get better. And, importantly, no one would wait for him or defer to him.
"The fantasy of a Biden candidacy is vastly different from the reality," one operative said. "A lot of Democratic candidates waited their turn in 2016 -- hard to see them doing the same in 2020 if Biden were to run."
It's eight days away, but an event to watch will be Biden's speech at the Florida Democratic Party's "Leadership Blue" gala in Hollywood, Florida, on June 17.
News and notes:
About last night... Yes, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders - who's a bit of a night owl - was staying up watching UK election returns. And yes, he saw a bit of himself in Labour's Jeremy Corbyn. "All over the world people are rising up against austerity and massive levels of income and wealth inequality," Sanders said.
- Sanders' wife Jane Sanders just launched The Sanders Institute -- which they announced last year, at the same time Our Revolution was launched. It's being billed as a liberal think tank. What is it? What will it actually do? Good questions.
One comedian to another: Minnesota Sen. Al Franken canceled his appearance on Bill Maher's show, originally set for tonight, after Maher's use of the N-word in an interview with Sen. Ben Sasse last week.
Anti-Trump F-bombs: New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wasn't holding back at New York University this morning in her assessment of President Donald Trump. "Has he kept his promises? No. F--- no," she said.
A 2018-for-2020 move: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo rallied alongside Nancy Pelosi this week. New York has eight House seats the DCCC is targeting, giving Cuomo an easy way to dip his toes in the national water. (Cuomo's been making some moves. He hired two Florida fundraisers to help with out-of-state money and showed up for the first time at NGA over the winter.)
A Harris media moment: Getting silenced by Senate intelligence committee chairman Richard Burr helped California Sen. Kamala Harris win some admirers. Here's what Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted: "Silencing @SenKamalaHarris for not being "courteous" enough is just unbelievable. Keep fighting, Kamala! #NeverthelessShePersisted."
- Let's talk about Harris: Sure, there are big concerns about her as a 2020 prospect: She's inexperienced, might have fundraising and spending problems and more. Plus, she's being held to Barack Obama in 2004-like standards - and talents like Obama don't come around often. But one smart Democratic operative emails me that Harris is "doing a good job of not making everything about her own political future but about taking on Trump instead. My theory continues to be that the first candidates who are on planes to Iowa will do the worst in the primaries. Primary voters believe we're living in a time of clear and present danger now -- so focusing all your time on three years from now looks out of touch. She's playing this right."
Saying the 'i' word: New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker made headlines Wednesday by going there in a tweet that said: "When the truth comes out (and it will) & if the president has committed crimes, we (the people) will fight and win in the battle to impeach."
- Worth noting: Progressives are MUCH more eager and willing to talk impeachment than their representatives in Washington. Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas emailed me this week: "2018 will be about two things: impeach Trump, and let's get single-payer healthcare. And both those issues will mobilize the liberal base like nothing else, and neither should turn off moderate voters."
Facebookers are getting around: Sheryl Sandberg has been making the rounds in the Midwest. She visited a Milwaukee "Lean In" chapter on Monday, an emergency shelter for homeless youth in Cincinnati on Tuesday and the GM headquarters in Detroit on Thursday. Mark Zuckerberg, meanwhile, will be in Chicago for the Facebook Communities Summit on June 22-23. Speaking of Facebook: Don't miss its efforts to help people connect with their representatives (with extra verification that they are, in fact, constituents).
Speaking of billionaires... Mark Cuban was on the Thrive Global podcast, where he said Trump was "the best thing that happened to politics in a long time because he spoke his mind," but at some point he has to "learn the issues." On if he'll run for office: "If I ever decide, I'll talk to everybody about it. Trust me," Cuban said.
The week ahead
- Bernie Sanders will speak at "The People's Summit" in Chicago on Saturday. He's up at 7 p.m. Local time. It's a three-day summit organized by National Nurses United (the most active pro-Sanders union in 2016), Our Revolution and other progressive groups - more details here.
- Harris is speaking at the National Partnership of Women and Families gala in DC at 7:40 p.m. Wednesday.
- Virginia's Democratic primary is Tuesday. And Georgia's 6th District special election is a week from Tuesday. Expect some national names to try to help Jon Ossoff. (No, Bowzer from Sha Na Na, who was with Ossoff Thursday, doesn't count.)
Before you go
Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley's fiery exchange with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos over private schools' treatment of LGBT students got some pick-up. ... Virginia Sen. Mark Warner was profiled by WaPo for his prominent role on the Senate intelligence panel. ... Warren was happy to help old rival Scott Brown -- well, help him get shipped to New Zealand, that is. ... Warren's so toxic on the right that Republicans like Marsha Blackburn are getting grief for helping her pass an over-the-counter hearing aid bill. ... Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton is just back from a congressional delegation visit to the DMZ. ... Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, once an opponent of marijuana legalization and now probably the nation's most relevant voice on its regulation, just signed bills into law aimed at making sure pot is sold through legal means and off the black market.