Bernie Sanders insists he feels better than ever less than a month after heart surgery, but his return to the campaign trail this week sparked new questions about the unusually old age of the Democratic Party’s leading 2020 presidential candidates. Both Sanders, 78, and Joe Biden, 76, suggest their age isn’t a major issue, but voters, particularly older voters, aren’t so sure. Gordon Lundberg, a 71-year-old retired Lutheran pastor from Ames, said candidates’ health is a key issue for him because he understands how it feels to age. He’s leaning toward Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts because, even though she’s 70, “she’s the most liberal and she’s not got one foot in the grave yet.” “Bernie’s just too darn old. And so is Biden,” Lundberg said. “They look old, they sound old, they are old. They fall in the shower, and they get heart attacks!” Lundberg is not alone. Polling has suggested that a significant number of Americans believe a candidate in his or her late 70s is too old to be president. If elected, Sanders would take office having already exceeded the average U.S. life expectancy of 78.6 years, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. Biden would be just a few months away. Warren would be the oldest new president in history, eclipsing Trump, who himself eclipsed Ronald Reagan. Biden and Sanders would be older on their first day in office than Reagan, a two-term president, was on his
President Donald Trump urged the new leader of Ukraine this summer to investigate the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, a person familiar with the matter said. Democrats condemned what they saw as a clear effort to damage a political rival, now at the heart of an explosive whistleblower complaint against Trump. It was the latest revelation in an escalating controversy that has created a showdown between congressional Democrats and the Trump administration, which has refused to turn over the formal complaint by a national security official or even describe its contents. Trump defended himself Friday against the intelligence official’s complaint, angrily declaring it came from a “partisan whistleblower,” though he also said he didn’t know who had made it. The complaint was based on a series of events, one of which was a July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, according to a two people familiar with the matter. The people were not authorized to discuss the issue by name and were granted anonymity. Trump, in that call, urged Zelenskiy to probe the activities of potential Democratic rival Biden’s son Hunter, who worked for a Ukrainian gas company, according to one of the people, who was briefed on the call. Trump did not raise the issue of U.S. aid to Ukraine, indicating there was not an explicit quid pro quo, according to the person. Joe Biden reacted strongly late Friday, saying that if the reports are true, “then there is truly no bottom to President
Democrats have a Joe Biden problem. The former VP might still lead the polls, but with serious concerns raised about his memory and mental state, nominating him to face Donald Trump in 2020 is a risk the party can’t afford. Biden relayed a moving story of military heroism and his own role in honoring a US Navy captain to a rapt audience last week. The problem was, as the Washington Post reported, “almost every detail in the story appears to be incorrect.” In fact, Biden combined elements of three different events into “one story of bravery, compassion and regret that never happened.” The generous interpretation here is that Biden did not intentionally lie, but genuinely mixed up the details due to failing memory. The cynical interpretation is that he embellished in order to play up his own role in the tale to win some campaign brownie points. Whatever the case may be, there’s no good way to spin it. The Post’s report sparked a flurry of headlines and speculation about Biden’s mental state: “We Need to Talk about Joe Biden,” reads a National Review headline. “Joe Biden Needs An Intervention,” says Townhall. “Pull it together, Joe Biden,” argued an op-ed in the Post itself. Everyone knows Joe Biden has been a gaffe machine throughout his entire career, and Democrats have always considered his blunders to be part of a folksy charm. But it’s time to get real. As long as Biden leads in the polls, Trump will be laughing himself
Joe Biden entered the Democratic primary promising “from day one” to reject campaign cash from lobbyists. “I work for you — not any industry,” Joe Biden tweeted. Yet hours after his April campaign kickoff, the former vice president went to a fundraiser at the home of a lobbying executive. And in the months since, he’s done it again and again. It’s hard to quantify how much Biden has raised from the multibillion-dollar influence industry, but the roughly $200,000 he accepted from employees of major lobbying firms is far more than any of his rivals have received, according to a review of campaign finance data by The Associated Press. Though it’s a small fraction of the $21.5 million he reported raising in the second quarter of 2019, the money demonstrates a comfort with an industry that is the object of scorn of Democratic activists and some of Biden’s principal rivals. Biden’s pledge applies only to federally registered lobbyists, and most of the money tracked by the AP was from others in the influence industry. But thousands of dollars did come from federally registered lobbyists, and Biden’s campaign said it is returning such donations. His campaign accepted roughly $6,000 in contributions from at least six federally registered lobbyists, including representatives of Google, aerospace and defense giant Lockheed Martin, and pharmaceutical companies, records show. An additional $5,750 was donated by two lobbyists who had been registered shortly before making contributions to Biden’s campaign, records show. In at least two instances, donations came from
Racism in America is an institutional “white man’s problem visited on people of color,” Vice President Joe Biden said, arguing that the way to attack the issue is to defeat President Donald Trump and hold him responsible for deepening the nation’s racial divide. Taking aim at incendiary racial appeals by Trump, Biden said in an interview with a small group of reporters on Tuesday that a president’s words can “appeal to the worst damn instincts of human nature,” just as they can move markets or take a nation into war. Biden is leading his Democratic challengers for the presidential nomination in almost all polls, largely because of the support of black voters. He has made appealing to them central to his candidacy and vowed to make maximizing black and Latino turnout an “overwhelming focus” of his effort. The interview, more than an hour long, focused largely on racial issues. “White folks are the reason we have institutional racism,” Joe Biden said. “There has always been racism in America. White supremacists have always existed, they still exist.” He added later that in his administration, it would “not be tolerated.” By highlighting the nation’s racial tensions and placing blame on Trump, Biden is showing that he, too, is willing to make race a core campaign issue, but from the opposite perspective of the Republican president. Turnout and enthusiasm among black voters will be critical for the Democratic nominee, notably to try to reclaim states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. He also emphasized
The ideological divisions gripping the Democratic Party intensified on Wednesday as presidential candidates waged an acrimonious battle over health care, immigration and race that tested the strength of early front-runner Joe Biden’s candidacy. The former vice president was repeatedly forced to defend his decades-old political record against pointed attacks from his younger, diverse rivals, who charged that Biden’s eight-year relationship with President Barack Obama was not reason enough to earn the Democratic nomination. The attacks on Biden in the second presidential debate were most vivid coming from California Sen. Kamala Harris, who declared that his willingness to work with segregationists in the U.S. Senate during the 1970s could have had dramatic consequences on the surge of minority candidates in political office. And, she said, it could have prevented her and fellow presidential candidate Cory Booker, both of whom are black, from becoming senators. “Had those segregationists had their way, I would not be a member of the United States Senate, Cory Booker would not be a member of the United States Senate, and Barack Obama would not have been in a position to nominate” Biden to become vice president, she said. When pressed, Biden repeatedly leaned on his relationship with Obama. “We’re talking about things that occurred a long, long time ago,” Biden said. “Everybody’s talking about how terrible I am on these issues. Barack Obama knew who I was.” The dynamic showcased the challenges ahead for Biden and his party as Democrats seek to rebuild the young and multiracial
The second set of summer Democratic presidential debates will feature a rematch with a twist, plus the first showdown of leading progressives as the party wrestles with its philosophical identity and looks ahead to a 2020 fight against President Donald Trump. Former Vice President Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris will take center stage in Detroit on July 31, barely a month after Harris used the first debates to propel herself into the top tier with an aggressive takedown of the 76-year-old Biden’s long record on race. CNN, which is broadcasting the debates, assigned candidates randomly with a drawing Thursday night, with 20 candidates spread evenly over two nights, July 30-31. This time, Harris, the lone black woman in the field, will be joined by another top black candidate, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who also has been an outspoken critic of Biden. Booker had denounced Biden for his recollections of the “civility” of working in a Senate that included white supremacists and for his leadership on a 1994 crime bill that the New Jersey senator assailed as a mass incarceration agent in the black community. Meanwhile, Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts lead the July 30 lineup, allowing the two progressive icons to compete directly for the affections of the party’s left flank. They will be joined by several more moderate candidates who are likely to question the senators’ sweeping proposals for single-payer health insurance and tuition-free college, among other plans. Joe Biden vs.
No votes have been cast in the Democratic presidential nominating contest, but the winnowing has begun. A distinct top tier of candidates is breaking away from the pack in early polling and fundraising, building distance between themselves and the rest of the bloated field. Although the first nominating contest in Iowa is still more than six months away, tighter qualifying standards for the fall debates and cash flow problems have prompted questions about how many campaigns will still be operational next year. Five candidates have pulled away from the pack: former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, California Sen. Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Biden has consistently led early polls, with the four others jostling for position behind him. Most other candidates have struggled to even hit 2% in recent surveys. Money has also flowed disproportionally to the top five candidates. Buttigieg, who led the field in second quarter fundraising with $24.8 million, raised more than a quartet of senators — Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Michael Bennet — combined. “There’s a field of likelies, unlikelies and possibles,” said Sue Dvorsky, the former chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party. Even as the primary field cleaves into haves and have nots, big questions remain about what direction the party will take as voters weigh who best, and how best, to defeat President Donald Trump next year. The top tier includes moderates and liberals; the oldest contender in