October Democratic Debate: A better night for Biden than for Warren

Warren received blows from all around for her continued vagueness on how to pay for her Medicare for All plan, lack of details, what it would mean for people like union workers who like their current plans, and not really responding well to people like Biden, Klobuchar, and Buttigieg who are in favor of “Medicare for all who want it” – the public option that seems an achievable improvement on Obamacare, with an affordable public option.

Biden had a great moment that I think might go viral. He was talking about actually getting things done, which he has experience doing. Warren then responded by going on and on about her great consumer protection agency. Biden pointed out that he was the one who worked hard and got votes to establish that agency, another thing he got done. Warren stood there looking stunned for a minute, then she thanked… Obama. The audience had a negative reaction, and Biden gave a broad smile. He made his point.

There was a lot of bickering on the stage though. Cory Booker tried to bring focus back to what unites Democrats more than divides them. But of course he has been guilty of the same tactics in previous debates.

Klobuchar seemed very animated and made good points. Sanders looked perfectly healthy, waving his arms about as usual.

Warren and Biden – thoughts on where things are

I’m not very good at predicting presidential winners. When I was working on the McGovern campaign in NYC as a teenager, I was shocked he didn’t win. After all, everybody I knew in the city was for him except for my aunt in Brooklyn, and she changed her mind and voted for him at the last minute.

The leader until now has been Biden. And despite attempts by the far-right to portray Biden as dishonest, in order to deflect from Trump’s scandals (which some of my progressive friends seem to be buying into, like they did with Hillary), I think he is the most practical candidate and has the best chance of defeating Trump in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

But I also sense the Biden campaign might be running out of steam and falling behind Warren in enthusiasm, funding, and polling. And the Trump attacks are taking their toll.

So I’m sort of feeling right now that Warren might actually get the nomination.

If so, I’m worried she might lose because of her vague position on health care, and the fear that will be raised by attacks saying union members will lose their health care plans.

But Warren is extremely smart, and I’m also hoping if she gets the nomination she is clever enough to “thread the needle” and come up with something concrete that satisfies midwestern voters and also doesn’t leave her extreme left supporters feeling betrayed.

Possible 2nd whistleblower. And what does Sanders’ hospitalization mean for the Democratic primary?

Whistleblower Update

A second intelligence official who was alarmed by Trump’s dealings with Ukraine is weighing whether to file his own formal whistle-blower complaint and testify to Congress, according to two people briefed on the matter.

The official has more direct information about the events than the first whistle-blower, whose complaint that Trump was using his power to get Ukraine to investigate his political rivals touched off an impeachment inquiry. The second official is among those interviewed by the intelligence community inspector general to corroborate the allegations of the original whistle-blower, one of the people said.

Things are spinning all over Washington at a dizzying rate.

Meanwhile with the Democrats…

With Elizabeth Warren either closing in on, or slightly passing, Joe Biden in the latest polls, what impact does Sanders’ sudden hospitalization for stent procedures have on the nomination process?

If Sanders were to withdraw, would his supporters flock to Warren? And if so, would she then become the clear leader for the candidacy?

And if Warren gets the nomination, does she have a better chance of beating Trump than Biden has? She still has yet to clarify her health insurance ideas, even though she is famous for “having a plan” for just about everything else.

There is some concern that if she sticks to the idea of abolishing private health insurance in favor of a mandatory Medicare for All that it will frighten away many voters who like the plans their unions fought for. That could be too much of a sudden upheaval for the complicated U.S. market. On the other hand, if she threads the needle too finely and supports a public option, what Buttigieg calls, “Medicare for all who want it,” and is supported by Biden, Harris, and Klobuchar, that Warren’s supporters might feel sold out. Warren apparently is still saying that she is looking at all options.

The Trump-Ukraine whistleblower scandal and how Trump is trying to twist it in a dangerous way

As has been well reported in the media, Trump has asked, encouraged or demanded that the leader of a foreign government undertake an investigation designed to produce information that could damage a potential 2020 campaign rival, Joe Biden.

The contents of the Trump phone call prompted a government official to file a whistleblower complaint, a necessary but unprecedented grievance aimed at the president. The inspector general for the intelligence community found the whistleblower’s charge credible and urgent, in which case the information is required by law to be relayed to Congress. That hasn’t happened because the White House and Justice Department are fighting it.

In weekend tweets, Trump has redoubled efforts to draw attention away from himself and shift it to Biden and Biden’s son. “Someone ought to look into Joe Biden,” he said Friday.

This has a very familiar pattern. Remember when Trump started harping on Hillary’s emails? He’s trying to twist things around.

If you read comments in social media by Trump supporters (be they real or trolls or paid agitators) the essence of their remarks is that the “deep state” is involved in trying to get Trump, and that Biden is up to criminal activity. We’ve been here before. And it needs to be stopped in its tracks.

“This appears to be an overwhelming abuse of power, to get on the phone with a foreign power who is looking for help from the United States and ask about me, if that’s what happened, that’s what appears to have happened,” Biden told reporters. “Trump’s doing this because he knows I will beat him like a drum and is using the abuse of power and every element of the presidency to try and smear.”

Biden also challenged Trump to release a transcript of his phone call with the Ukrainian leader.

The Biden campaign sent a lengthy memo to reporters Saturday listing quotes from various news outlets, including the Kyiv Post in Ukraine, discrediting Trump’s attack.

Will it be Uncle Joe and Mayor Pete?

Strange premonition today: It could be Biden / Buttigieg. Think about it:

  • Buttigieg come out with his “Medicare for all who want it” plan which is almost verbatim the same as Biden’s public option plan.
  • Buttigieg at the same time attacks Warren for being evasive on how she is paying for her plan.
  • Biden thrills the left wing of the Democrats with his daring choice of Buttigieg. And injects youth into his campaign. Californians go wild.
  • Buttigieg faces off against Pence! Both from Indiana, both with a history.
  • All the strong blue states are ok anyway. All the strong red states are probably lost anyway. But this could play well in those key midwestern states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin because Buttigieg is not far left, has a good military record, and is smart and intellectual and a good debater.
  • And, finally, get this: somebody has bought up all the JoeAndPete domains.

Remember – you heard it hear first!

A Biden-Warren ticket?

‘It’s too late in the game to keep saying it’s too early.’

Philippe Reines, former Hillary Clinton advisor

For all practical purposes, it’s fair to say the Democratic race has come down to Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. They are the only candidates polling in double digits. Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg are in the next, outside circle, but polling in single digits. And everybody else is way behind.

So it has one thinking – for the purposes of unity and beating Trump, could there possibly be a Biden-Warren ticket?

It would mean getting practical and compromising on some moderate-vs-left positions. But isn’t that what always happens after the primary season is over and we’re facing the entire electorate?

The problem is they have a history. For example, Warren had been an antagonist of Biden’s in 2002, when she criticized him in a New York Times op-ed for his support of a bill that made it harder for consumers to declare bankruptcy.

The headline of Warren’s piece read: “A Quiet Attack on Women.” Warren, then a law professor at Harvard, detailed how the legislation would have a disproportionate impact on women, and implied that Biden was supporting the bill because of the finance industry’s outsized influence in Delaware, his home state.

This critique was clearly still on Biden’s mind in 2015, when he talked about reforms to the credit card industry enacted by President Obama’s administration.

“The credit card change we made, that alone has saved consumers over $20 billion a year,” he said. “If you look at Elizabeth Warren’s argument on this: ‘You should have just shut the suckers down.’”

But lately they have been quieter about directly criticizing each other. A spokesman for Warren, asked to comment declined to do so. A Biden spokesman also declined to comment. They both seem to be laying low on their differences.

In 2015, when Biden was considering running, he invited Warren to lunch at the vice presidential residence. He apparently was by that time convinced that if he ran for president in 2016, he would want her to be his running mate.

Since then he has also expressed regret on some of his past votes involving banking regulation, bringing himself more in line with Warren.

“The biggest mistake I made in my whole career,” he said, was voting to get rid of Glass-Steagall, the Depression-era law that prohibited commercial banks from engaging in investment banking.

The law was partially repealed in 1999. Biden defended President Bill Clinton, who signed the 1999 legislation, as doing “a good job in the economy at the time, shifting us toward capital formation.”

“But,” he said, capital formation “became a holy grail,” and Democrats became too afraid of regulating Wall Street. “We got to change that. We got to put this back in a lane where there is genuine oversight, where the cowboys can’t take the risk we have to pay for,” Biden said, bringing himself more in line with Warren’s views.

Of course there are also differences in their approach to health care reform which would need to be adjusted on both sides – both for good policy and also for appeal to the general electorate.

But it would sure be interesting if we had a Biden-Warren ticket.

Biden leads in latest poll, Sep 12 debate narrowed to 10 candidates, some tension between the Warren and Sanders camps

The latest poll published Wednesday, conducted by Quinnipiac University, showed Biden as the top choice of 32 percent of Democratic voters and independent voters who lean Democratic. Warren came in at 19 percent and Sanders was at 15 percent.

There has been some back and forth this past week, with another poll showing the three much closer.

Also, the deadline for qualifying for the third debate has passed. The debate will include just 10 of the 21 candidates still remaining in the race. They qualified based on recognized polls and unique donations. The next debate will be one night only, on September 12, 2019, and all the major candidates will face each other directly for the first time. The 10 will be (left to right on stage): Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Andrew Yang, Beto O’Rourke, and Julian Castro.

There seems to be some rattling going on between the so-called “Bernie Bros” and Warren supporters, where some Sanders supporters are accusing Warren of not really having a concrete position on health care reform, and basically copying Sanders in order to grab the progressives. Warren herself, who has a “plan for everything” still isn’t quite specific about what her health care plan is. She started with an incremental progress position, much like Biden’s public option, and then leaped into “Medicare for All” at the first debate. Some hope Warren and Biden, the top two candidates, can reach a working policy and cooperate together. That would be something.

Warren gains and Trump annoyed by the size of her rallies, Gillibrand drops out

Flash: Kirsten Gillibrand has withdrawn from the presidential race after not qualifying for the next debate. She says she will endorse another primary candidate, but has not said who yet.


Trump tweeted on Tuesday, complaining about the media coverage of crowd sizes at Elizabeth Warren’s campaign events.

“They do stories so big on … Warren’s crowd sizes, adding many more people than are actually there, and yet my crowds, which are far bigger, get no coverage at all. Fake News!” Trump tweeted.

This is nothing new with Trump of course. He has been fixated on rally sizes since inauguration day when he inflated the number of attendees and had a government photographer edit images of his inauguration to make the crowd size appear larger than it actually was. This led to adviser Kellyanne Conway famously defended the lies as “alternative facts.”

And Trump has lately been using all sorts of inappropriate venues to brag about his rally sizes. Just recently, when visiting a hospital treating victims of the El Paso mass shooting, Trump used the opportunity to talk about how much larger his crowd had been during a rally in in the Texas city months earlier compared to the crowd at a competing rally held at the same time by Democratic presidential candidate and El Paso native Beto O’Rourke (which was a lie).

In the meantime, Elizabeth Warren does seem to be gaining momentum. Monmouth University polls released Monday show both Warren and Bernie Sanders in a virtual tie with front-runner Joe Biden.