By Eric Bradner and Gregory Krieg
Our weekly roundup of the news, notes and chatter about the prospects for the next Democratic presidential race:
Take it from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ son on Twitter: “Bernard is seriously contemplating a run in 2020 and I don’t mean a jog.”
Levi Sanders followed up three and a half hours later by joking, “I forgot to mention that he is taking his vitamins and going on long walks.” But the Sanders 2020 talk is serious. We told you last year that Sanders is deepening his early-state roots. Now his political team is putting together an early game plan for the 2020 presidential race.
Politico’s Gabe Debenedetti scooped that Sanders and his top political aides gathered in Washington for a discussion last weekend that included a gut-check on his 2020 decision. Though no decision was or has been made, the invite list offers some useful insight into the shape of Sanders’s campaign-in-waiting — and a level of early organization that was absent from his 2016 bid.
In the room, per Debenedetti: former campaign manager Jeff Weaver, strategists Mark Longabaugh and Julian Mulvey, pollster Ben Tulchin, along with close adviser Ari Rabin-Havt, and two more 2016 names — Revolution Messaging’s Tim Tagaris, who powered the Sanders digital fundraising operation during the primary, and Arianna Jones, another former aide and campaign vet. Also on hand was Our Revolution President Nina Turner, a surrogate in 2016. She now heads the grassroots political organization that would almost immediately have Sanders loyalists around the country ready to roll if he does enter the race.
Wait, wait, there’s more: After the weekend huddle, Sanders hosted a Tuesday night forum on his “Medicare for all” proposal at the US Capitol Visitor Center. The event was live-streamed by progressive digital media outlets and, according to Sanders, drew more than a million viewers. (California Sen. Kamala Harris gave it a boost on Twitter; so did New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.) A frequent guest and debater on CNN’s own town halls, Sanders touted the discussion as one “you’re not likely to see on the mainstream news.” It lasted about two hours and included panelists like Dr. Donald Berwick, an Obama-era administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, who said expanding Medicare was simply a matter of “will.”
Worth watching next week: Sanders, Julia¡n Castro, the former secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and DNC Chair Tom Perez will all address the Latino Victory Fund’s Latino Political Summit in Washington on Tuesday. Then, Sanders joins old friend, environmental activist and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben on Wednesday, right after Trump’s State of the Union speech, for a “Climate State of the Union” at George Washington University.
News and notes:
BIDEN ‘DRAFT’ EFFORT LIVE IN IOWA: Per the Des Moines Register’s Kathie Obradovich: “A ‘draft’ campaign aimed at encouraging former Vice President Joe Biden to run for president, could soon open a field office in Iowa, almost two years in advance of the 2020 Iowa caucuses. Two Illinois Quad Cities men, Collin West and Matthew Graf, filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission about three weeks ago to create the Time for Biden super PAC. ‘We realized that there needs to be a change, and to win in 2020 for the Democrats, we really need a superstar who is popular with the people and who also has good policy substance and that guy happens to be Joe Biden,’ West said.”
2020 POLL: DEM FAVORITES LEAD TRUMP: Former Vice President Joe Biden (57-40), Sen. Bernie Sanders (55-42) and Oprah Winfrey (51-42) all outpace Trump in potential 2020 face-offs, according to a new CNN poll of registered voters. More notable numbers from CNN’s Ryan Struyk: Sanders’ favorables, at 57%, are roughly on par with where they were at the end of the 2016 primary. Biden’s are up since October 2015, when he was last considering a run — to 58% from 51%. Oprah is at 64%. Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, all three are super popular: Sanders and Biden are at 82% favorable, and Winfrey is at 83%.
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