Dem pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates in­tro­duc­ing them­selves to vot­ers

The Standard Journal - - NEWS - By Elana Schor

Five Demo­cratic sen­a­tors vy­ing for their party’s nom­i­na­tion to chal­lenge Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in 2020 fanned out across the coun­try Satur­day to cam­paign and meet vot­ers.

Ka­mala Har­ris of Cal­i­for­nia spent her sec­ond straight day in the piv­otal early-vot­ing state of South Carolina, hold­ing a town hall meet­ing in Columbia, the cap­i­tal. Also vis­it­ing the state was El­iz­a­beth War­ren of Mas­sachusetts, who met with an es­ti­mated 800 vot­ers in Greenville be­fore head­ing to Ge­or­gia — an unusual early stop for a White House hope­ful but one that sig­nals Demo­cratic hopes to make in­roads in the South.

Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gil­li­brand of New York both fo­cused on New Hamp­shire. Booker made his first visit to there since join­ing the race ear­lier this month, hold­ing a ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion with more than 400 vot­ers in Portsmouth.

Amy Klobuchar of Min­nesota, mean­while, made her own un­com­mon choice for early cam­paign­ing by vis­it­ing Wis­con­sin be­fore head­ing to Iowa, home to the na­tion’s first cau­cus.

And a Demo­cratic heavy­weight who’s yet to ad­dress his 2020 plans, for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den, made his own high-pro­file ap­pear­ance at the Mu­nich Se­cu­rity Con­fer­ence.

The Demo­cratic sen­a­tors stepped up their cam­paign­ing dur­ing the long hol­i­day week­end at the start of Congress’ first re­cess this year. Their out­reach to vot­ers came in the wake of Trump’s con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sion to de­clare a na­tional emer­gency in or­der to uni­lat­er­ally re­di­rect fed­eral money for his promised wall along the U.S.Mex­ico bor­der.

Some high­lights from the trail:

CORY BOOKER

The New Jersey se­na­tor plans to spend three days in New Hamp­shire, which casts the first votes in the 2020 pri­mary, and he kicked off the swing with a free­wheel­ing “con­ver­sa­tion” that drew ques­tions on health care, the en­vi­ron­ment and for­eign re­la­tions.

Booker is one of sev­eral Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial con­tenders who back leg­is­la­tion that would tran­si­tion the United States to uni­ver­sal health in­surance cov­er­age, but he ac­knowl­edged Satur­day that com­pro­mise may be nec­es­sary to get ma­jor health care leg­is­la­tion through the Se­nate.

Booker told vot­ers in New Hamp­shire there are a “lot of path­ways” to achiev­ing uni­ver­sal health cov­er­age, not­ing that just low­er­ing Medi­care el­i­gi­bil­ity to age 55 would be “a step in the right direc­tion.” He said sup­port­ers of so-called Medi­care for All are “go­ing to have to find ways to ad­vance the ball given the Congress that we have.”

Booker brought a per­sonal touch to his first of­fi­cial visit to New Hamp­shire as a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, shar­ing his African-Amer­i­can fam­ily’s story of strug­gling to buy a home in a ma­jor­i­ty­white neigh­bor­hood in the late 1960s as he urged the crowd to “put that in­di­vis­i­ble back in this one na­tion un­der God.” The fa­mously so­cial me­dia-savvy se­na­tor stayed long af­ter the event con­cluded to snap self­ies and record videos with sup­port­ers.

KA­MALA HAR­RIS

The Cal­i­for­nia se­na­tor vis­ited a hand­ful of fe­male-owned busi­nesses in Columbia, South Carolina, on the sec­ond day of a swing through the ear­lyvot­ing state.

Har­ris walked along Lady Street and stopped in Styled by Naida, a black-owned busi­ness, and made sev­eral pur­chases, in­clud­ing a wide-brimmed teal hat. The can­di­date also met with a group of women lead­ers at a restau­rant a block away.

Her visit was or­ga­nized by Jen­nifer Cly­burn Reed, whose fa­ther is Rep. Jim Cly­burn, D-S.C., the thir­drank­ing Demo­cratic leader in the U.S. House.

A prom­i­nent Demo­cratic ac­tivist in the state, Cly­burn Reed hasn’t yet backed any of the Democrats run­ning for pres­i­dent, and she’s or­ga­nized sim­i­lar trips for other can­di­dates.

At a town hall in West Columbia, a voter told Har­ris that most Democrats are look­ing for some­one who will de­feat Trump in 2020. The woman be­came emo­tional and said she feared the world she was leav­ing be­hind for her chil­dren and grand­chil­dren, and asked Har­ris what sets her apart from other Democrats run­ning.

Har­ris said she be­lieves this mo­ment is a time “that we need fight­ers on stage who know how to fight - I do - and who have a proven

de­sire to lead.”

KIRSTEN GIL­LI­BRAND

Gil­li­brand, in her sec­ond day of cam­paign­ing in New Hamp­shire, is­sued a re­buke of what she called Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s di­vi­sive lan­guage.

The New York se­na­tor and Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date told a crowd of about 450 peo­ple Satur­day at Dart­mouth Col­lege — her alma mater — that the pres­i­dent’s worst of­fense since he was elected has been to “de­hu­man­ize peo­ple” and cre­ate a cli­mate of fear and ha­tred, es­pe­cially to­ward im­mi­grants.

Gil­li­brand said Trump wants Amer­i­cans “to be afraid of one an­other.” She in­sisted “that’s not who we are.”

Gil­li­brand, who took ques­tions from the au­di­ence, said she fa­vors a sin­gle-payer health care sys­tem mod­eled on Medi­care and would take on cli­mate change by in­cen­tiviz­ing the cre­ation of re­new­able en­ergy. She added that she was op­ti­mistic that “com­mon sense” gun laws would pass now that young vot­ers are call­ing for change.

JOE BI­DEN

The for­mer vice pres­i­dent isn’t of­fi­cially part of the 2020 pres­i­den­tial race, but he bol­stered his case for a po­ten­tial can­di­dacy by speak­ing to an in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence about the need to re­store Amer­ica’s abil­ity to claim lead­er­ship in the world.

With­out say­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s name, Bi­den said in a speech at the Mu­nich Se­cu­rity Con­fer­ence that cur­rent poli­cies do not re­flect the coun­try as he per­ceives it.

“The Amer­ica I see val­ues ba­sic hu­man de­cency, not snatch­ing chil­dren from their par­ents or turn­ing our backs on refugees at our bor­der. Amer­i­cans know that’s not right,” Bi­den said.

He said the U.S. doesn’t want to turn its back on its clos­est al­lies and cher­ishes democ­racy, the rule of law and a free press, telling the con­fer­ence that the Amer­ica he sees “stands up to the ag­gres­sion of dic­ta­tors and against strong­men who rule by co­er­cion, cor­rup­tion and vi­o­lence.”

A for­mer chair­man of the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, Bi­den is likely to lean on his in­ter­na­tional-re­la­tions cre­den­tials should he choose to join the in­creas­ingly crowded field of Democrats run­ning for their party’s pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion.

While he has yet to dis­close any timetable for de­cid­ing whether to en­ter the race, Bi­den has two pub­lic events slated for later this month, the first at the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia and the sec­ond in Delaware, his home state.

And he isn’t the only well-known politi­cian on the fence about the Demo­cratic pri­mary. Among the oth­ers are Beto O’Rourke, a for­mer Texas con­gress­man, and Sher­rod Brown, an Ohio se­na­tor.

/ AP-Charles Krupa

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., waves to the crowd dur­ing a cam­paign stop in Portsmouth, N.H., Satur­day.

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