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The Hill’s Campaign Report: Ten days to Iowa

Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, your weekly rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.

We’re Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here’s what we’re watching this week on the campaign trail. 

 

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LEADING THE DAY:

The Iowa caucuses are 10 days away, and the big question hanging over the race is whether Democrats will nominate a liberal from the left wing of the party or if a candidate from the moderate center will win out.

The fault lines could not be clearer as voting is set to begin. At the top of the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire are former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who represent the center, and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who are two of the party’s biggest stars on the progressive left.

Hillary Clinton set those tensions aflame this week in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, where she blasted Sanders, describing him as an unlikeable “career politician” whose supporters “got sucked into” backing him.

Clinton at first declined to say whether she would support Sanders if he wins the Democratic nomination, but later – amid intense blowback – said that she would.

Sanders and his campaign largely ignored Clinton, but progressives fumed at what they described as the “Clinton corporate wing” of the party that has repeatedly lost elections while warning that a left-wing candidate would be a surefire general election loser.

Those dynamics are coming into play between Biden and Sanders, who have begun to separate themselves from the pack in some national and early-state polls.

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Biden is widely viewed as the safe, establishment pick who will bring order back to Washington; Sanders is running as a disruptor. Both are polling strong in hypothetical head-to-head matchups against President Trump.

The New York Times tried to split the baby with its endorsements of Warren and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) for president, but Democratic voters don’t have that luxury.

Which way will they go?

— Jonathan Easley

 

READ MORE: 

Clinton tears open wound with attack on Sanders, by Jonathan Easley and Amie Parnes.

Sanders wants one-on-one fight with Biden, by Parnes and Easley.

 

FROM THE TRAIL:

All four of the senators running for president were in Washington this week to preside over President Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate. The trial comes roughly two weeks before the Iowa Caucuses, forcing Sens. Sanders, Warren, Klobuchar and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) to cut their time on the campaign trail. While the senators are maintaining it is their duty to show up for the trial, a number of them have admitted that the timing is not ideal. “I truly love this part of the campaign, and I hope I’ll be able to come back more,” Sanders said this week.

 

Sanders was forced to cancel an event in Iowa this week, citing the trial. CNN was also forced to cancel its back-to-back town halls with the candidates in Iowa. The town halls were originally slated to be held on Jan. 28 and 29. 

 

Impeachment isn’t completely preventing the senators from the campaign trail. Warren’s campaign said on Thursday that “Queer Eye” star Jonathan Van Ness would join her for a town hall in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Sunday. Meanwhile, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and progressive filmmaker Michael Moore are slated to join Sanders in Iowa on Sunday. Klobuchar will return to Iowa on Saturday for events through Sunday.

 

Meanwhile, candidates like Buttigieg and Biden have been able to take full advantage of the senators’ absence on the trail. Remember, most polling shows Biden, Sanders, Warren and Buttigieg as the top four candidates in the race. Without Sanders and Warren stumping, Biden and Buttigieg are able to fill the void to try and gather more support ahead of the caucuses. 

 

PERSPECTIVES:

Lara Brown: Trump’s reelection looks more like a long shot than a slam dunk

Bill Schneider: No patriotic poll bump for Trump, but Soleimani strike may still help him politically

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Albert Eisenberg: GOP can beat Democrats after impeachment — but it needs to do this one thing

Justin Haskins: Trump’s big reelection weapon: A remarkable manufacturing jobs boom

 

FROM CONGRESS AND THE STATES:

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is walking a fine line in Trump’s Senate impeachment trial. As one of the most vulnerable senators up for reelection in November, Collins has to show some independence from the president while not alienating his base in Maine. Collins was among the small group of moderate Republicans who successfully pressured Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to change the trial rules in favor of greater transparency. However, she joined Republicans on 10 other votes that blocked Democratic amendments, demonstrating her loyalty on the majority of the votes. The Hill’s Julia Manchester and Scott Wong report 

 

America First Policies, an outside group aligned with President Trump, is launching a seven-figure, multi-state ad campaign opposing impeachment, and its first target is Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Max reports. The ad spot ties Jones, one of the most vulnerable senators up for reelection this year, to the so-called “radical left,” and urges him to oppose the impeachment proceedings against the president. AFP said that it was prepared to spend $1 million across three states on the ad campaign, though it did not say what other states it would run ads in. 

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The conservative group Club for Growth is preparing to take on Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) with a seven-figure ad campaign targeting the congresswoman’s record on spending, Politico’s Alex Isenstadt reports. The group is also backing a primary challenger for Granger in the form of tech executive Chris Putnam.

 

MONEY WATCH:

Ten years after the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment protected the rights of corporate and labor groups to spend money promoting federal candidates, hundreds of millions of new dollars are flowing into political advertising — just not quite in the way many people expected in the wake of the landmark ruling. The Hill’s Reid Wilson looks back on the historic decision.

 

The national watchdog group Common Cause filed a complaint this week with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), accusing Our Revolution, a political nonprofit founded in 2016 by Bernie Sanders, of accepting contributions in excess of federal limits, while working to support the Vermont senator’s presidential campaign, Max reports. In a statement, Our Revolution denied wrongdoing and questioned the timing of Common Cause’s complaint, noting that the FEC is essentially dormant because it lacks enough members for a quorum. “For Common Cause to claim that Our Revolution is simply an arm of the Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign is an insult to our grassroots members and all that we have accomplished,” the group said in a statement.

 

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) announced on Wednesday that it would spend millions of dollars in key battleground states to lay the groundwork for the party’s eventual presidential nominee in the general election, Max reports. The committee declined to say exactly how much it would spend, but it’s targeting six states that Trump won in 2016: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The multimillion-dollar investment is the first battleground spending undertaken by the DNC this year, and committee officials said they could spend more and expand the list of states.

 

The impeachment trial is keeping some senators away from fundraisers as they head into a tumultuous election year, The Hill’s Alex Gangitano reports. An event for Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) was postponed on Wednesday, and Sen. Mitt Romney‘s (R-Utah) PAC pushed back its “Believe in America” kick-off reception. Likewise, a fundraiser for the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s PAC was rescheduled earlier this week, as well. The postponements underscore how Trump’s impeachment trial is affecting campaign politics on both sides of the aisle.

 

POLL WATCH:

MONMOUTH NATIONAL

Biden: 30 percent (+4)

Sanders: 23 percent (+2)

Warren: 14 percent (-3)

Bloomberg: 9 percent (+4)

Buttigieg: 6 percent (-2)

Klobuchar: 5 percent (+1)

Yang: 3 percent (+/-0)

 

CNN NATIONAL

Sanders: 27 percent (+7)

Biden: 24 percent (-2)

Warren: 14 percent (-2)

Buttigieg: 11 percent (+3)

Bloomberg: 5 percent (+/-0)

Klobuchar: 4 percent (+1)

Yang: 4 percent (+1)

Steyer: 2 percent (+1)

 

WBUR NEW HAMPSHIRE

Sanders: 29 percent (+14)

Buttigieg: 17 percent (-1)

Biden: 14 percent (-3)

Warren: 13 percent (+1)

Klobuchar: 6 percent (+3)

Gabbard: 5 percent

Yang: 5 percent

Steyer: 3 percent

 

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:

There are 10 days until the Iowa caucuses, 18 days until the New Hampshire primary, 29 days until the Nevada caucuses, 36 days until the South Carolina primary and 39 days until Super Tuesday.

 

ONE FUN THING: 

AXED: Andrew Yang tried his hand at axe throwing during a campaign stop in Osage, Iowa, on Wednesday. 

Yang did pretty well for someone who isn’t a pro, but it’s not his first time throwing the axe around. 

The candidate tried his hand at the activity in November, calling himself a “lumberjack.” 

Maybe it’s a good way to burn off some steam on the campaign trail? 

See you all next week for the latest 2020 campaign news! 

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