Warren mulls first Iowa visit

Sen. Elizabeth Warren could be coming to Iowa after all.

A spokeswoman for Secretary of State candidate Deidre DeJear said the campaign has been in talks with Warren’s staff about a possible visit to help boost Democrats during a major GOTV push on the state’s six major college campuses next week — or possibly during a subsequent tour of universities before the November midterm election.

DeJear spokeswoman Cynthia Sebian-Lander told POLITICO DeJear’s campaign has corresponded recently with Warren’s staff “mostly by email” over the possibility of a visit and that DeJear’s camp is still “holding out hope” that Warren shows.

“She did reach out to us, to Deidre, a couple of months ago. Deidre and her sat down in DC,” Sebian-Lander said. “We’ve been asking for her to come, we just haven’t heard one way or another if a trip is going to be or when it’s going to be. Continue reading “Warren mulls first Iowa visit”

Clinton and Pelosi take star turn — in GOP attack ads

Republicans will face a massive gender gap at the polls this November, but they’re still betting big on an ad strategy that demonizes two of the most recognizable women in American politics.

Over the last 30 days, close to 100 Republican-funded TV spots casting Hillary Clinton, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — or both — as villains have aired more than 34,000 times, according to data compiled for POLITICO by Advertising Analytics. In three battleground Senate races alone — Indiana, Missouri and West Virginia — ads featuring Pelosi or Clinton blanketed TV screens, running more than 1,100 times in each state.

All told, Republican campaigns or affiliated groups sank $28.4 million into the Clinton and Pelosi messaging over the last month.

“It’s all about energizing the Republican base,” said Republican strategist Ana Navarro. “If you are a Republican — man, woman, child or house plant — you are genetically Continue reading “Clinton and Pelosi take star turn — in GOP attack ads”

Cory Booker roars into Iowa

DES MOINES — Just hours after casting a vote in one of the most contentious Supreme Court confirmation battles in history, Cory Booker stepped on stage in a packed Iowa conference hall and unofficially launched his 2020 campaign.

Speaking before 1,500 energized Democrats at the party’s premier Fall Gala event, the New Jersey senator acknowledged their likely feelings of defeat and of anger after the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh earlier that day. He then delved into race struggles, poverty, his own personal political defeats and finding faith, despite it all.

If other top-tier potential contenders weren’t rethinking their decision to avoid Iowa this far in advance of 2020, they might be now.

Booker had the room silently mesmerized at some points, and won roaring standing ovations at others.

“How long will it take? I’m going to tell you not long now,” Booker roared, quoting from Martin Luther King Jr.’s Continue reading “Cory Booker roars into Iowa”

Inslee: I’m not ruling out a 2020 run

CHICAGO — Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday said he’s headed to Iowa for the second time this year and is “not ruling out” a 2020 presidential run.

The two-term Washington state governor, visiting Chicago on Monday, told POLITICO he’ll headline an Oct. 14 event in Johnson County, Iowa, with Rep. David Loebsack and take part in two GOTV events between Iowa City and Des Moines. In June, Inslee headlined an Iowa Democratic Party hall of fame dinner.

“We’ll have a good candidate in 2020. I’m not ruling out a run,” Inslee told POLITICO in an interview. “I think our country needs a Democratic party to produce a nominee who’s going to really be committed to climate change and defeating climate change and creating a clean energy economic message and clean energy jobs. I think we’ll need a candidate who will do that. Right now I’m trying to help everybody in Continue reading “Inslee: I’m not ruling out a 2020 run”

Poll: Biden leads among Iowa Democrats

Former Vice President Joe Biden was among the first to drop out of the 2008 Iowa caucuses after he won just under one percent.

Today, Biden holds a 21-point lead among potential 2020 Democratic contenders in a survey of likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers.

While that places him well ahead of the field of prospective candidates, his advantage might not hold for long, according to the new poll.

The same group, of which 37 percent said they’d caucus for Biden if the caucus were held today, also described their ideal presidential candidate as someone younger and free of Washington tarnish.

“I think while he has awesome numbers, my recollection in 2014 was Secretary Clinton had stratospheric numbers,” said Iowa-based Democratic strategist Jeff Link, whose client, former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge, funded the poll. “I think for people like Secretary Clinton or like Biden, they are very popular until they join the Continue reading “Poll: Biden leads among Iowa Democrats”

Clinton to campaign for Pritzker in Illinois

CHICAGO — Hillary Clinton plans to campaign with Democratic gubernatorial nominee J.B. Pritzker today, offering a lift to a longtime political ally days after Illinois early voting began in a state Clinton won by 16 points.

Clinton, a Chicago-area native, is to join Pritzker in hosting a late afternoon roundtable with at-risk, high school-aged women, according to Pritzker’s campaign.

The visit comes as Clinton is stepping up her midterm election involvement nationally, joining the Democratic National Committee to host fundraisers in the San Francisco area and scheduling campaign stops in Florida later this month to benefit Democratic gubernatorial contender Andrew Gillum.

This isn’t the first time Clinton has helped Pritzker, a longtime friend and ally. In the Illinois primary, Clinton recorded a robo-call supporting Pritzker and gave him a shout-out during a speech in April, referring to him as “the next governor of Illinois.”

Pritzker backed Clinton when Continue reading “Clinton to campaign for Pritzker in Illinois”

Ex-boyfriend filed restraining order against third Kavanaugh accuser

Julie Swetnick, the woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and a friend of attending house parties where women — including herself — were sexually assaulted, had a restraining order filed against her years later in Miami by her former boyfriend.

A Miami-Dade County court docket shows a petition for injunction against Swetnick was filed March 1, 2001, by her former boyfriend, Richard Vinneccy, who told POLITICO Wednesday the two had dated for four years before they broke up.

Thirteen days later, the case was dismissed, not long after an affidavit of non-ability to advance fees was filed.

According to Vinneccy, Swetnick threatened him after they broke up and even after he got married to his current wife and had a child.

“Right after I broke up with her, she was threatening my family, threatening my wife and threatening to do harm to my baby at that time,” Vinneccy Continue reading “Ex-boyfriend filed restraining order against third Kavanaugh accuser”

Third Kavanaugh accuser steps forward

A third woman stepped forward Wednesday through her attorney to lodge allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, accusing him and a friend of attending house parties where women – including herself – were sexually assaulted. She specifically accuses Kavanaugh of spiking drinks with drugs to “target particular girls so they could be taken advantage of.”

The woman, identified by her attorney, Michael Avenatti as Julie Swetnick, does not accuse Kavanaugh himself of sexually assaulting her in the affidavit. But she wrote that she witnessed him on several occasions “drink excessively and engage in highly inappropriate conduct, including being overly aggressive with girls and not taking ‘No’ for an answer. This conduct included the fondling and grabbing of girls without their consent.”

Avenatti posted on Twitter a photo of his client and her affidavit, and says she is a former government worker who still holds certain security clearances.

Continue reading “Third Kavanaugh accuser steps forward”

Avenatti: I wasn’t scammed

Michael Avenatti on Tuesday lashed out at reports that a client who was preparing to level allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was a fake and part of a ruse by an outside group targeting Avenatti.

“I made the determination she was 100 percent credible well before Sunday night,” Avenatti, the attorney who also represents the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President Donald Trump, told POLITICO, referring to the first time he disclosed the allegations involving Kavanaugh. “We’ve received over 3,000 inquiries in the last six months from people with all kinds of crazy stories and fabrications. I’ve heard it all. I’ve seen it all. Like we don’t vet clients. Give me a break.”

Kavanaugh is in a pitched battle to salvage his nomination, after two women have come forward to allege sexual misconduct decades ago. One of his accusers, Christine Blasey Ford, is set Continue reading “Avenatti: I wasn’t scammed”

Avenatti stars in ‘avenging angel’ role

He’s dismissed as a publicity hound, a carnival barker and even a “creepy porn lawyer.”

But for the third time this year, the combative Michael Avenatti — a sustained anti-Trump fixture on cable TV who is also exploring a 2020 presidential run — has found a way to claw his way into another major scandal, potentially making a bad situation even worse for the Trump White House.

Avenatti says his latest client is a victim of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh who is prepared to take her story public in the next 48 hours.

His claim has been met with more than a little skepticism — as has his prospective presidential bid. But Avenatti’s uncanny knack for drawing blood from the president and beating Trump at his own game has some top Democrats warning that the lawyer shouldn’t be dismissed outright as a factor in the Democratic presidential field.

Continue reading “Avenatti stars in ‘avenging angel’ role”

‘When they go low, we kick ’em in the nuts’

LAS VEGAS — It became a hymn of the 2016 campaign: “When they go low, we go high.” Michelle Obama’s aspirational rhetoric struck a chord with Democrats at a time when few believed Donald Trump could win.

But two years later — and with the coarse reality of Trump’s presidency wearing on— “We go high” has lost its resonance for many Democrats out of power in Washington and filled with rage. In the run-up to 2020, the party is sharpening its edges for a brawl.

Joe Biden, the former vice president, said of Trump’s treatment of women this year, “If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.” Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who is also considering a run, told a crowd in Iowa, “When they go low, I say we hit harder.”

Or as Sean Clegg, a Continue reading “‘When they go low, we kick ’em in the nuts’”

‘When they go low, we kick ’em in the nuts’

LAS VEGAS — It became a hymn of the 2016 campaign: “When they go low, we go high.” Michelle Obama’s aspirational rhetoric struck a chord with Democrats at a time when few believed Donald Trump could win.

But two years later — and with the coarse reality of Trump’s presidency wearing on— “We go high” has lost its resonance for many Democrats out of power in Washington and filled with rage. In the run-up to 2020, the party is sharpening its edges for a brawl.

Joe Biden, the former vice president, said of Trump’s treatment of women this year, “If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.” Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who is also considering a run, told a crowd in Iowa, “When they go low, I say we hit harder.”

Or as Sean Clegg, a Continue reading “‘When they go low, we kick ’em in the nuts’”

Biden confronts the ghost of Anita Hill

Joe Biden began the month by kissing foreheads and preaching unity at a breezy Labor Day march in Pittsburgh. He will end it under question about whether his decades-old record in Congress can withstand the withering scrutiny of the current political moment.

With a sexual assault allegation against Brett Kavanaugh roiling Washington, Biden’s handling of a similar matter — the Anita Hill hearings — has erupted back into public view, exposing a rare point of weakness for Biden in the run-up to the 2020 presidential campaign.

It’s an issue that can’t easily be sidestepped in the post-Obama era Democratic Party, where the conversation surrounding sexual harassment is light years beyond where it was in the early 1990s when Biden chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the grass-roots energy is in the progressive wing. If the former vice president decides to run, he’ll have to navigate a field that could exceed Continue reading “Biden confronts the ghost of Anita Hill”

Top Democrats flock to Iowa to help ‘young Robert Mueller’

Potential 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls have found a new cause to support: Rob Sand, a down-ticket candidate running for Iowa state auditor.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) helped identify a staffer hired by Sand’s campaign. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock headlined a fundraiser for Sand in Iowa. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley headlined an event for him in Washington.

Not to be outdone, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe plans to meet with Sand this week in Iowa, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) plans to lend her name to a fundraising email for the candidate this week or next, Sand’s campaign confirmed.

What explains the ring-kissing? Sand is viewed as one of the Democratic Party’s rising stars in a state where Republicans hold the governorship, both U.S. Senate seats and both state legislative chambers.

A former assistant state attorney general, he drew attention in Iowa for his work on Continue reading “Top Democrats flock to Iowa to help ‘young Robert Mueller’”

What the 2020 contenders learned from this year’s primaries

The primary election season is close to finished. Nearly all of the November midterm match-ups are set.

And now that New Hampshire settled its primary contests Tuesday, there’s a little more clarity about the landscape in another much-anticipated election: the 2020 presidential race.

For the first time since Donald Trump’s election, voters in Iowa, Nevada, South Carolina and New Hampshire — the four critical early presidential states — have spoken in statewide and congressional elections, offering a glimpse into what the massive Democratic presidential field can expect in the 2020 primaries.

What are the lessons of the 2018 early-state primaries? Democrats are sick of losing. In statewide contests, they didn’t back hardline Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton-aligned candidates so much as candidates who had a message they care about and a solid campaign operation.

Even typically left-leaning Iowa Democrats ushered in a more centrist candidate who seemed best positioned to Continue reading “What the 2020 contenders learned from this year’s primaries”

Democrats corner Scott Walker

GREEN BAY, Wisc. — There’s every reason to believe this is the beginning of the end for Scott Walker.

His presidential bid crashed and burned. He’s running for a third term as governor in what figures to be a hostile midterm for the Republican Party. Polling shows that the independent voters who were so critical to Walker’s wins in the 2012 recall and 2014 reelection are breaking away from him.

After years of futility, Democrats here are convinced they finally have him cornered.

“He’s stuck with a bad environment. He’s stuck with a long incumbency, and he’s stuck with a short general election,” said Tom Russell, a Wisconsin-based consultant with the Democratic Governors Association.

The signs that Walker is ripe to be taken down are everywhere. His opponent, Schools Superintendent Tony Evers, has a slight lead in recent polls and there’s evidence that critical suburban voters are shifting leftward.

Three Continue reading “Democrats corner Scott Walker”

Avenatti would base his 2020 campaign in St. Louis

He hasn’t decided yet if he’s running for president, but Michael Avenatti has already made a strategic 2020 decision.

The attorney will base his national presidential campaign headquarters in St. Louis, Mo. should he launch a White House bid, he told POLITICO on Sunday.

Best known for representing porn actress “Stormy Daniels” and holding an outsized presence on cable TV, Avenatti said he sees the Midwest as key to a successful run for president.

He believes he’ll be the first presidential candidate to headquarter in St. Louis since Dick Gephardt’s 1988 presidential run (Gephardt’s 2004 campaign was based in D.C.).

“I grew up there, I have ties to the area, my parents still live there; they’re getting older. It’s centrally located in the country. It’s the place that I identify most closely with as home,” said Avenatti, whose family moved to the St. Louis suburbs when he was Continue reading “Avenatti would base his 2020 campaign in St. Louis”

Milwaukee’s pitch to Democrats: Try visiting Wisconsin this time

In its bid to woo the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Milwaukee this week offered up a state-of-the-art arena, robust donor commitments and demonstrated the wherewithal to handle transportation, hotel and entertainment demands.

Then city officials got to the real argument: Donald Trump.

Milwaukee’s pitch to host the party’s convention in 2020 is predicated on laying out the political benefits of holding the event in Wisconsin, the state that slipped through the Democrats’ fingers in 2016 and unexpectedly voted for Trump.

The case for why Milwaukee is the perfect place to launch the effort to defeat the president goes like this: Hillary Clinton skipped Wisconsin in the general election campaign, leading it to go red for the first time since 1984. A Midwestern convention presence — especially in Wisconsin’s largest and most Democratic city — would send a message that party officials aren’t just coastal elites uninterested in connecting with heartland Continue reading “Milwaukee’s pitch to Democrats: Try visiting Wisconsin this time”

Democrats strip superdelegates of power in picking presidential nominee

CHICAGO – Democratic Party officials voted Saturday to strip superdelegates of much of their power in the presidential nominating process, infuriating many traditionalists while handing a victory to the party’s left flank.

The measure’s overwhelming approval – met by cheers in a hotel ballroom here – concluded a tense summer meeting of the Democratic National Committee, which had labored over the issue since 2016. Superdelegates that year largely sided with Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders, enraging Sanders’ supporters.

Under the new rule, superdelegates – the members of Congress, DNC members and other top officials who made up about 15 percent of delegates that year – will not be allowed to vote on the first ballot at a contested national convention. The change could dramatically re-shape the calculous of future presidential campaigns, rendering candidates’ connections to superdelegates less significant.

“It’s a big victory for the base of the party,” said Jeff Continue reading “Democrats strip superdelegates of power in picking presidential nominee”

Avenatti stirs up DNC meeting

CHICAGO — The media circled him. Onlookers stopped him to take selfies. His entrance into a little-known committee meeting created an unmistakable buzz.

On the first day of the DNC summer meeting on Thursday, attorney Michael Avenatti proved as recognizable and media-savvy as any of the prospects considering running for the party’s presidential nomination in 2020.

The attorney best known for representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in her lawsuits against President Donald Trump — now flirting with a presidential run of his own — appeared eager to convince that he’s more than just a face on TV.

Avenatti addressed the Ethnic Council, one of many DNC subgroups to meet over the three-day Chicago meeting, where he railed against family separations and the treatment of immigrants at the border. He later talked to the Black Caucus about a loss of empathy in America.

“The fact of the matter is, is that Continue reading “Avenatti stirs up DNC meeting”