2019年11月14日 星期四

On Politics: Is There Room for One More?

Establishment Democrats seem to want new faces in the 2020 contest. But what about voters?
On Politics

November 14, 2019

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By Lisa Lerer

Politics Newsletter Writer

Hi. Welcome to On Politics, your guide to the day in national politics. I'm Lisa Lerer, your host.

Illustration by The New York Times

As a prominent Democrat told me over drinks last night: We are officially in the "bed-wetting phase" of the primary.

Some establishment Democrats are the ones quaking, anyway. Their hand-wringing assessment of the field's top four generally goes something like this: Joe Biden is too old. Pete Buttigieg is too young. And Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are too liberal.

That's created a rationale for former Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, and maybe former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, to jump into the race.

But readers of this newsletter might remember our first On Politics rule of 2020, crafted way back in the Howard Schultz-brews-a-presidential-bid days: "Morning Joe" is not the Democratic electorate. Pundits and party officials might be ready for new faces in the race, but that doesn't mean voters will embrace them.

Mr. Patrick's fledgling campaign and Mr. Bloomberg's possible run will offer a real-time test of our maxim. They will surely find some supporters, but outside of cable news greenrooms, Wall Street boardrooms and Silicon Valley ball pit rooms, there's no obvious constituency that's been calling for either man to enter the race.


Mr. Biden still leads in most national polls and with black voters, a crucial part of the primary electorate. The polling in early voting states shows most Democrats have gravitated to that short list of four candidates. And the most common complaint is that the field is already too big.

That's part of the reason both Mr. Patrick and Mr. Bloomberg face an uphill climb to the nomination. Neither will appear in the debate next week and both will be hard pressed to qualify for the one in December. In 2020, the Democratic National Committee is expected to raise the qualification standards further, making it even tougher.

People who've spoken to Mr. Patrick say he sees an opportunity in the flagging poll numbers of Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, the two major black candidates already in the race. If he can do decently well in early-voting New Hampshire, his neighboring state, he may gain support in South Carolina, where the majority of the primary electorate is black, the thinking goes.

The obstacles to this plan are obvious: money and manpower. Having been out of public life for nearly five years, Mr. Patrick has no list of donors to tap. And, at such a late date, he's scrambling to assemble a team, pulling in former staff members of Beto O'Rourke.


Money isn't a problem for Mr. Bloomberg, whose net worth is estimated to be more than $52 billion. But the first Iowa poll to include Mr. Bloomberg since news broke of his possible bid shows him with a negative 31 percent approval rating, making him the least popular candidate in the field. In New Hampshire, 54 percent of likely primary voters already say they would definitely not vote for him.

Those low numbers along with the shrinking calendar are the reasons Mr. Bloomberg is said to be considering an untraditional strategy of skipping the first four nominating states. He'd then carpet-bomb the more expensive media markets of the Super Tuesday contests with television advertising — the main way to reach voters in vast states like California and Texas that vote March 3.

It's a theory that has been attempted in more modest ways by other candidates — Rudy Giuliani in 2008 and Jerry Brown in 1976 — and met with failure. Success in the early-voting states offers proof that a candidate can do what Democrats, particularly in this election, want most of all: to win. Wait until March to make that case, and you might be too late.

Money matters in politics. But so does momentum.

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The week in impeachment

With the impeachment inquiry racing ahead, it can be hard to keep track of the daily stream of new developments. So our colleagues from the Impeachment Briefing newsletter have generously volunteered to catch us up every Thursday on what has happened during the week.

  • Public hearings began. The impeachment investigation officially moved into the open, as the House Intelligence Committee heard from two witnesses — Bill Taylor, the top diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, a senior State Department official — in a televised hearing. The men, who between them have 70 years of experience under presidents of both parties, presented themselves as nonpartisan civil servants who were alarmed by President Trump's decision to withhold crucial military aid from Ukraine.
  • We learned more about both parties' strategies. Democrats at the hearing argued that the facts of the case were not up for dispute, and that impeachment would come down to whether the country should tolerate the president abusing the power of his office for personal gain. Republicans made the case that because Ukraine never investigated Joe Biden, as Mr. Trump requested, a quid pro quo was never executed, and thus no crime was committed.
  • Republicans released their list of requested witnesses. Representative Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, submitted a list of eight people his party would like to call in for testimony. They include Hunter Biden, Mr. Biden's son, as well as the anonymous whistle-blower whose complaint kick-started the impeachment inquiry. Democrats, who have veto power as the majority party, are expected to reject a number of names on the list.
  • Next week's witness list has some big names. On Tuesday, investigators will hear from Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a Ukraine expert and Purple Heart recipient who listened in on Mr. Trump's infamous call with Ukraine's president. On Wednesday it will be Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, who others have testified was helping to manage the president's dealings with Ukraine. And Thursday will feature Fiona Hill, a National Security Council official who has provided detailed and gripping accounts from inside the West Wing.

You can sign up for the Impeachment Briefing newsletter here.

… Seriously

Meet Narwhal the Little Magical Furry Unicorn. A tiny puppy with a long name and an adorable "face tail."

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