Paul Steinhauser

The Democratic presidential contenders are uniformly calling for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian tampering in the 2016 presidential election to be released publicly – while at least one high-profile candidate wants Attorney General Bill Barr to testify on the findings.

Minutes after the news broke Friday afternoon that the long-awaited report had been submitted to Barr, the White House hopefuls quickly fired off statements calling for the Trump administration to ensure the documents go public.

TRUMP TEAM CONFIDENT AFTER MUELLER REPORT DROP

“Attorney General Barr—release the Mueller report to the American public. Now,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Massachusetts tweeted.

“As Donald Trump said, ‘Let it come out.’ I call on the Trump administration to make Special Counsel Mueller’s full report public as soon as possible. No one, including the president, is above the law,” Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont wrote on Twitter.

Sen. Kamala Harris of California called for “total transparency” – then upped the ante by calling on Barr to testify.

“The Department of Justice launched the Special Counsel investigation to get to the bottom of foreign interference in the 2016 election and any other illegal actions. A declassified report must be made public immediately and Attorney General Barr must publicly testify under oath about the investigation and its findings, and provide all underlying materials to the appropriate Congressional committees,” the former California attorney general said in a statement.

Both Harris, Warren and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey have all started petitions to pressure the administration to release the report – though the White House has deferred to Barr on next steps. Booker also is using the report drop to raise money for his campaign.

“This report should be made public immediately,” he tweeted.

MUELLER NOT RECOMMENDING MORE INDICTMENTS: SOURCE

It was a similar sentiment on Twitter from former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas.

“Release the Mueller report to the American people,” he wrote.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said, “report should be made public without any delay. The American people have a right to know its findings.”

And Sen. Amy Klobuchar tweeted “BREAKING: The Mueller report is complete. Attorney General Barr must release the full report to the public. The American people deserve to know the facts.”

Mueller was appointed nearly two years ago to investigate the election tampering and any possible collusion between Moscow and Trump’s 2016 campaign to swing the presidential election in the then-GOP nominee’s favor. Barr and his team are now reviewing the report and creating a summary document that will be sent to Congress, and possibly released.

Former San Antonio, Texas mayor and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro tweeted that the “American people deserve to know the full truth about Russia’s interference in our democracy. The Special Counsel report must be publicly released in its entirety.”

Former three-term Rep. John Delaney wrote the “patriotic action for the Attorney General is to release the entire Mueller Report to the American people. We paid for it and this moment requires transparency.”

Source: Fox News Politics

As it attempts to hold and possibly expand upon its newly won congressional majority, the House Democrats’ campaign arm is planting an early marker in hopes of preventing primary challenges against sitting incumbents.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) – in a letter sent Friday to more than 100 political firms – clearly stated that it won’t work with, or recommend to House Democratic candidates, any vendors who help to oust incumbents.

MODERATE DEMS FUME OVER OCASIO-CORTEZ INCUMBENT HIT LIST

“The core mission of the DCCC Is electing House Democrats, which includes supporting and protecting incumbents. To that end, the DCCC will not conduct business with, nor recommend to any of its targeted campaigns, any consultant that works with an opponent of a sitting Member of the House Democratic Caucus,” the committee spelled out in a memo obtained by Fox News.

It’s common practice for both the Democratic and Republican House and Senate re-election arms to protect incumbents running for re-election. But the DCCC’s memo, sent extremely early in the election cycle, is a clear signal to Democratic political firms that the millions in contracts dished out each election by the party committee’s independent-expenditure arm will be off limits to them if they work with insurgent candidates. And that could put a big dent in a primary challenger’s ability to take on an incumbent lawmaker.

The move could help moderate Democrats running for re-election in crucial swing districts, and even some controversial liberal lawmakers.

Among those behind the memo were moderate Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas and progressive firebrand Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, according to National Journal. Both lawmakers could face 2020 primary challenges.

In 2018 primaries, then-Rep. Michael Capuano of Massachusetts lost his bid for an 11th term in Congress to now-Rep. Ayanna Pressley. And socially conservative Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski nearly lost in his primary to progressive challenger Marie Newman. Both Newman and Pressley were helped in their bids by well-known political shops.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who’s become a nationally known progressive leader, defeated then-House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley running a low-budget campaign. She could face a primary challenge of her own in 2020. But she’s teaming up with a liberal group that helped her topple Crowley to now suggest a new round of primary challenges in 2020 against establishment House Democrats.

There’s a history of party committees warning political shops to stay away from primary challengers. Most recently, the House and Senate Republican re-election arms in 2014 cut off Jamestown Associates after the firm targeted GOP incumbents.

Source: Fox News Politics

She may have been a top supporter of firebrand Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, but Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is on the fence these days when it comes to a series of far-reaching and controversial proposals being embraced by her 2020 Democratic rivals.

The four-term Hawaii Democrat, national guard officer and Iraq War veteran appeared to push back both on calls to eliminate the Electoral College and scrap the Senate’s filibuster rule – two longstanding political traditions and institutions – in an interview Friday.

TULSI GABBARD JUMPS INTO 2020 WHITE HOUSE RACE

At the same time, Gabbard highlighted her support for reparations for descendants of slaves.

Asked about the Electoral College, Gabbard said “there are reforms that need to take place to make it so that our votes are being cast and counted and represented in the outcome of our elections. I think there are pro and cons to the existing Electoral College and to getting rid of it. What I would think would be important is for us to have a conversation about how we can best move forward.”

But Gabbard seemed to jab at fellow Democrats, saying, “I think it’s unfortunate that too often these calls for changes come about by the side that has lost or suffered as a result of the Electoral College.”

An increasing number of Gabbard’s rivals for the nomination have been supportive of scrapping the Electoral College and having the national popular vote determine the winner of presidential elections.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton topped then-Republican nominee Donald Trump by nearly 3 million votes in the 2016 election, but Trump won the presidency thanks to his convincing margin in the Electoral College.

2020 DEMOCRATS TAKE AIM AT THE SENATE FILIBUSTER

Gabbard also is not sold on scrapping the filibuster, the longstanding Senate tradition requiring 60 votes in the 100-member chamber to advance a bill, effectively allowing the minority party to block legislation.

“This is a conversation I think that’s important for the American people to have,” she said.

Gabbard added that it’s “important for us to look at how we solve this or make changes that are not based on partisanship. Often it is the party that is in the minority that is calling for bringing about those changes and then once they get into the majority, they say ‘no, absolutely not. We’re not going to change this.’”

At the moment, the filibuster is actually helping Senate Democrats, enabling its members to slow or stall legislation that the GOP Senate majority and Trump White House might support. The president himself has called for an end to the filibuster, only to be met with opposition from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Democrats hoping to pass a sweeping progressive agenda if they win back the White House are concerned their proposals could get bottlenecked in the Senate, where the Democrats have a shot at winning back control — but have little chance of grabbing a 60-member, filibuster-proof majority.

While Gabbard has reservations about eliminating the Electoral College and the Senate’s filibuster, she’s on board with another controversial idea being pushed by some primary rivals – financial reparations for descendants of slaves.

“I’ve actually co-sponsored a bill – HR40 in the House of Representatives – that would put together a commission that would look at the damage that has occurred because of our country’s dark history with slavery and to figure out what is the best way to bring about those reparations,” she told Fox News. “I think we need to bring about reparations, it’s really a question of what is the right way and how.”

Gabbard was interviewed during a jam-packed three-day swing through New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House.

The Granite State was Sanders country in the 2016 Democratic primary. The independent senator from neighboring Vermont crushed Hillary Clinton in the state’s primary, launching him into a marathon battle with the eventual Democratic presidential nominee.

Asked how she could compete in New Hampshire for Sanders supporters, Gabbard quickly answered that “this is about something … much bigger than just one person.”

Source: Fox News Politics

In some of his most revealing comments on why he decided against running for president, moderate former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg cited his age — but also took aim at the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

"To start a four-year job, or maybe an eight-year job, at age 79 may not be the smartest thing to do. But if I think if I thought I could win, I would have,” the 77-year-old billionaire media mogul explained.

SCHULTZ SAYS NO ROOM FOR CENTRISTS IN EITHER MAJOR PARTY

“I just couldn’t see a path to where I could get the nomination,” Bloomberg said Thursday while speaking at the Bermuda Executive Forum in New York City. “It’s just not going to happen on a national level for somebody like me starting where I am unless I was willing to change all my views and go on what CNN called ‘an apology tour.’”

While he’s poured millions of his own money into combating climate change and battling gun violence, the Democrat turned Republican turned independent who last year re-registered as a Democrat suggested that he was simply more moderate than the ever-growing field of 2020 Democratic presidential contenders, many of whom are increasingly moving to the left.

Pointing to 76-year-old former Vice President Joe Biden, who’s likely to jump into the White House race next month, Bloomberg said, "Joe Biden went out and apologized for being male, over 50, white.”

“He apologized for the one piece of legislation which is actually a pretty good anti-crime bill, which if the liberals ever read it, most of the things they like would be in that bill. They should have loved that. But they didn’t even bother to read it. You’re anti-crime, you must be anti-populist,” Bloomberg added as he took a shot at progressives.

IT’S BIDEN, SANDERS, HARRIS, AND O’ROURKE IN 2020 POLL

And he also jabbed at former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, who last week declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination and quickly raised an eye-popping $6.1 million in his first 24 hours as a candidate.

"And so everybody else, Beto, whatever his name is, he’s apologized for being born,” said Bloomberg, which brought laughter from the audience. “I mean, I don’t mean to be unkind. And a lot of people love him and say he’s a smart guy, and some day if he wins I’d certainly support him."

Bloomberg seriously considered launching a presidential bid, and earlier this year he made campaign-style swings through the early voting primary and caucus states. But he announced on March 5 that he would not run for the White House.

Source: Fox News Politics

It’s the talk of the 2020 presidential campaign.

Joe Biden’s top political advisers reportedly are debating whether the former vice president should launch a White House bid by pledging to choose a running mate.

BIDEN, SANDERS, REMAIN ON TOP IN LATEST 2020 DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY POLL

And that running mate, according to a report from Axios, could be Stacey Abrams, the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Georgia. The former minority leader in the state’s House of Representatives nearly became the nation’s first black female governor and the first Democrat to win a gubernatorial election in Georgia in two decades, but lost the election.

The new speculation comes after Biden and Abrams had a private sit-down earlier this month, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Abrams has been weighing her own political future, which could include a 2020 Senate bid, a 2022 run for governor again, or even possibly her own White House bid. Abrams is considered a quickly rising star in the party and earlier this year gave the Democratic response to Republican President Trump’s State of the Union address.

Abrams would bring diversity to the ticket, and some of Biden’s advisers – according to Axios – feel the move would add excitement to the former vice president’s campaign. And they feel that pointing to the 45-year old Abrams as a running mate could blunt concerns over the 76-year old Biden’s age.

BIDEN HINTS AGAIN AT 2020 WHITE HOUSE RUN

Sources close to Biden have told Fox News that the former vice president is likely next month to announce his campaign, which would be his third stab at trying to win the presidency. And the past two weeks, Biden’s publicly strongly hinted that he would be running.

While the former vice president has reportedly discussed naming a running mate early, it’s not known if he’s signed off on the suggestion of coming out of the gate with a pledge to name a number two on his ticket.

“It would certainly be something unique, something different. It would send a strong message,” said Mo Elleithee, the founding executive director of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service and a Fox News contributor.

But there are downsides as well. The strategy could be seen as a gimmick that the former vice president needs to stand out in a large Democratic 2020 field, and Biden could be seen as having “an air of inevitability.” And it could raise the question of whether Biden feels out of step with the current political climate, concerned about decades-old political positions the longtime senator from Delaware held that now are unpopular among Democrats.

“I don’t think it’s necessary. I don’t think he should feel it’s something he has to do . At the end of the day he’ll go out there and make his own case,” explained Elleithee, a senior spokesman for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign who later served as communications director for the Democratic National Committee.

“He may choose to name a running mate before the end of the primary season but I don’t he needs to feel compelled to do it on day one. I think that could actually detract a bit from a bigger message,” Elleithee added.

Source: Fox News Politics

Add Beto O’Rourke to a growing list of Democratic presidential candidates who are considering scrapping long-standing Senate procedure in hopes of passing a sweeping progressive agenda should they make it to the White House.

Under siege is the filibuster, the longstanding Senate tradition requiring 60 votes in the 100-member chamber to advance a bill, effectively allowing the minority party to block legislation.

WHAT IS A FILIBUSTER?

“I think that that’s something that we should seriously consider,” O’Rourke told reporters on the campaign trail in New Hampshire earlier this week.

“We have to look at some of these institutional reforms, whether it’s the Supreme Court, the Electoral College, the filibuster in the Senate, we’ve got to get democracy and our institutions working again,” explained the former three-term congressman from Texas.

On the same day that O’Rourke entertained the idea, a rival for the Democratic nomination also opened the door to the idea of dispatching with the filibuster.

“When you talk about changing the filibuster rule I understand that we are heading, right now, we are heading that way,” Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey said in an interview on "Pod Save America." “I’m going to tell you that for me that door is not closed.”

The comments mark an increasing appetite in the 2020 Democratic field for challenging longstanding political traditions and institutions — everything from the voting age to the Electoral College to the Senate filibuster. And for Booker, his comments mark a backtrack from previous statements.

Last month, Booker told NPR that he didn’t favor eliminating the filibuster. And in an interview with Politico in January – before he formally declared his candidacy – he said “we should not be doing anything to mess with the strength of the filibuster. It’s one of the distinguishing factors of this body. And I think it is good to have the power of the filibuster.”

The pro-Republican opposition research shop America Rising accused the senator of flip-flopping on the issue, saying in an email after the senator’s latest comments that “Booker has jumped on board with the latest liberal litmus test, abolishing the filibuster.”

TRUMP CALLS FOR SCRAPPING FILIBUSTER TO BUILD WALL

At the moment, the filibuster is actually helping the Democratic Party, enabling its members to slow or stall legislation that the GOP Senate majority and Trump White House might support. Trump himself has called for an end to the filibuster, only to be met with opposition from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

But McConnell lowered the threshold to confirm Supreme Court nominees to a simple majority, and other federal judges and Cabinet nominees also are no longer subject to a 60-vote threshold. The filibuster on legislation is all that remains in terms of built-in brakes in the upper chamber that could slow the majority party.

And so Democrats hoping to pass a sweeping progressive agenda if they win back the White House are concerned their proposals could get bottlenecked in the Senate, where the Democrats have a shot at winning back control — but have little chance of grabbing a 60-member, filibuster-proof majority.

“Everything stays on the table. You keep it all on the table. Don’t take anything off the table,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said when recently asked on the presidential campaign trail about scrapping the filibuster.

Candidates proposing major changes to deal with climate change also see the filibuster as a major impediment.

"I don’t believe you can be serious about saying you can defeat climate change unless you realize we need to have the filibuster go the way of history because Mitch McConnell has weaponized the filibuster," Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee told reporters on Wednesday. "You can’t be serious about having major decarbonization legislation in any near-term without removing the filibuster."

But not all of the White House contenders are on board.

“Great question…Let’s change the subject!” joked Sen. Kamala Harris of California, when asked by a voter in Iowa about her stance on the issue.

The Harris campaign tells Fox News that their candidate has “said she’s genuinely conflicted on this issue but everything is on the table.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York told "Pod Save America" in January that “I think it’s useful to bring people together, and I don’t mind that you have to get 60 votes for cloture.”

“If you’re not able to get 60 votes on something, it just means you haven’t worked hard enough, talking to enough people and trying to listen to their concerns and then coming up with a solution that they can support. And so I’m not afraid of it one way or the other,” she added.

Sen. Bernie Sanders also opposes scrapping the filibuster.

"I’m not crazy about getting rid of the filibuster. I think the problem is, people often talk about the lack of comity and the anger. The real issue is that you have in Washington a system which is dominated in Washington by wealthy campaign contributors,” he said last month in an interview with CBS News.

Source: Fox News Politics

New Yorkers apparently don’t think too much of a native daughter who’s running for the Democratic presidential nomination and a native son who’s also mulling a White House bid.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday indicated that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is the least popular among New Yorkers of all the Democrats who’ve either launched presidential campaigns or are flirting with White House runs.

DE BLASIO FIRES UP 2020 SPECULATION WITH NH VISIT

Only 24 percent of registered voters in the Empire State said they had a favorable opinion of the progressive two-term mayor, with 49 percent viewing him unfavorably.

De Blasio was also unpopular among New York City voters, at 36 percent favorable and 48 percent unfavorable. And he was slightly underwater (36-38 percent favorable/unfavorable) among Democrats statewide.

De Blasio recently made campaign-style stops in the early primary and caucus voting states of New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina, as he seriously considers a presidential bid.

“For New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who hasn’t yet decided whether he’ll run, his statewide net favorability rating is at an all-time low since taking office in 2014,” Quinnipiac polling analyst Mary Snow highlighted.

GILLIBRAND, AHEAD OF IOWA SWING, GETS CRITICIZED FOR WORKOUT VIDEO

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand – who formally declared her candidacy for president last weekend – also couldn’t break even in the poll. She stood at 29 percent favorable and 35 percent unfavorable among registered voters statewide.

“New Yorkers aren’t cutting any slack to their own elected officials,” Snow said. “As Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand makes her presidential bid official, her net favorability score is her worst ever.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden – who’s likely to launch a presidential campaign next month – had the strongest numbers among the declared or potential White House hopefuls. Biden stood at 62 percent favorable and 24 percent unfavorable.

Not too far behind Biden stood Sen. Bernie Sanders, who’s making his second straight run for the Democratic presidential nomination. The independent senator from Vermont stood at 51-38 percent favorable/unfavorable.

HARRIS RISING IN NEW 2020 POLL THAT SHOWS BIDEN AND SANDERS AT TOP

The person they’re all trying to oust from the White House, Republican President Trump, came in way underwater among New York state voters, at 28-68 percent.

The poll also indicated that freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City – the progressive firebrand  who keeps making national headlines – stood at 31 percent favorable and 38 percent unfavorable.

The Quinnipiac University Poll was conducted March 13-18, with 1,216 New York state voters questioned via telephone by live operators. The survey’s sampling error is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

Source: Fox News Politics

PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Beto O’Rourke is taking aim at embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, claiming the steadfast ally of Republican President Trump “has openly sided with racists.”

The Democratic presidential candidate and former congressman from Texas – on the campaign trail in New Hampshire – also criticized negotiators ostensibly trying to end the generations-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

BETO O’ROURKE PREDICTS HE COULD WIN TEXAS IN GENERAL ELECTION

“Right now we don’t have the best negotiating partners on either side. We have a prime minister in Israel who has openly sided with racists,” he charged.

O’Rourke has been a critic of Israel’s longtime conservative leader, who is facing a corruption scandal at home, but the comments were some of his most pointed in describing Netanyahu. O’Rourke also jabbed at Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

“On the Palestinian side, we have an ineffectual leader. Mahmoud Abbas has not been very effective in bringing his side to the table,” he lamented.

O’Rourke – who narrowly lost his 2018 bid to unseat GOP Sen. Ted Cruz – spoke to the issue Tuesday night at Keene State College. The stop was his first kicking off a jam-packed 48-hour swing through all 10 counties of New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House.

WHERE BETO O’ROURKE STANDS IN THE LATEST 2020 DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY POLLS

The candidate was asked during a question and answer session with the crowd about accepting large sums of contributions from pro-Israeli lobbyists during his 2018 Senate election in Texas.

“If you’re asking if the contributions I accept connect to the policies I support, the answer is no,” he responded.

O’Rourke once again called for a “two-state solution” between Israel and the Palestinians to achieve peace in the Middle East. “I believe in peace and dignity and full human rights for the Palestinian people and the Israeli people. The only way to achieve that … is a two-state solution,” he emphasized.

During Wednesday’s New Hampshire stops, meanwhile, O’Rourke targeted sales of assault weapons, skirted his stance on late-term abortions, called for pre-K starting for four-year-olds, and acknowledged that he has a learning curve as he runs for president.

Asked during an event at Plymouth State University about his stance on assault weapons, O’Rourke repeated this belief that such firearms should be for military use only.

He pledged that if “you own something like an AR-15 and I’m your president, keep it. Continue to use it responsibly. I don’t want to take anyone’s guns from anyone in the country.”

But he said the AR-15, “which is a variant of something that was designed for battlefield use I see no reason for it to be sold into our communities.”

BETO O’ROURKE STANCE ON LATE TERM ABORTIONS

Speaking with reporters, O’Rourke was asked by Fox News how he would have voted on a controversial GOP-sponsored Senate bill that would have required doctors to provide medical care to newborns, including those born during failed abortions. Most Senate Democrats slammed the bill – which failed to reach a 60-vote threshold to advance – as politically charged.

“I would have listened to the women that I wanted to represent in the state of Texas. I would have listened to doctors and medical providers. I would have looked at the facts and understood the truth. And then I would have voted with those women to make their own decisions about their own bodies,” O’Rourke answered. But he did not say how he would have voted on the bill, which became a political lightning rod.

The answer was similar to how O’Rourke’s fielded questions about abortion since launching his presidential campaign last week. The candidate gave a hint of his support for abortion rights by adding that “I’ve seen the effects of regressive women’s health care policies in Texas, the inability to get much needed medical care… I want to make sure at a national level we don’t make those mistakes.”

As a three-term congressman representing El Paso in the House, O’Rourke supported a bill in 2017 that would have lifted most state restrictions on abortion, including waiting periods.

Abortion has become a pressing issue in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, with fears by the party that the new conservative majority on the Supreme Court roll back abortion rights that have existed for generations, while conservatives have accused prominent Democrats of indifference to infanticide.

March 20, 2019: Beto O'Rourke speaks at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. 

March 20, 2019: Beto O’Rourke speaks at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. 

O’Rourke also repeated his push for universal pre-kindergarten, starting at the age of four.

He said he’d partially pay for the program by asking “the very wealthiest to pay a greater share of their wealth.”

And he explained that “it’s going to cause us to spend more up front but we’re going to see much greater return economically in taxes paid down the road from people who are earning far more than they would have otherwise.”

O’Rourke raised a record-breaking $80 million during last year’s Senate campaign, and he set a new record in his White House run, hauling in $6.1 million in his first 24 hours as a candidate, the most by any 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. On Wednesday, he announced that the contributions came from 128,000 individuals, with the average donation standing at $48.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who raised $5.9 million in the day after he announced his candidacy last month, had contributions from 223,000 people, with the average donation standing at $27.

While O’Rourke’s campaign cash made headlines, so did a series of missteps right out of the gate.

This past weekend O’Rourke apologized for joking at several events on Thursday and Friday that his wife Amy had been raising the couple’s three children "sometimes with my help."

Discussing the comments – which critics said spotlighted unwelcome gender stereotypes – O’Rourke promised “not only will I not say that again, but I’ll be more thoughtful going forward in the way that I talk about our marriage.”

On Wednesday, O’Rourke told the crowd that “Amy and I are raising those kiddos.”

Asked if there’s a learning curve on the presidential campaign trail, he quickly answered “Yeah. Oh yeah. I am smart enough to know that there’s so much more for me to learn. The only way for me to learn that is to show up in the communities I seek to serve, and hear things from people’s perspective.”

Fox News’ Gregg Re contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Democratic 2020 presidential hopefuls are quickly warming to the idea of allowing their own campaign workers to unionize — a move that shows the rising influence of labor-aligned activists in the party, and one that could increase campaign costs in the long run.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., campaign team announced Friday that some of their employees have unionized, touting that this makes them “the first major party presidential campaign in history to have a unionized workforce.”

FROM REPARATIONS TO GREEN NEW DEAL, LIBERAL LITMUS TESTS PUT 2020 DEMS IN RISKY TERRITORY

Most of Bernie 2020’s “bargaining unit employees” recently selected the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 to be their “exclusive bargaining representative,” the campaign said. Campaign Manager Faiz Shakir hailed the lawmaker as being “the most pro-union candidate” among the 2020 field and say they’re “honored that his campaign will be the first to have a unionized workforce.”

It’s an idea that has caught on among a wide Democratic field seemingly willing to entertain a range of proposals that would have been non-starters in past cycles. While candidates seize on calls to pack the Supreme Court, abolish the Electoral College and end the filibuster, the idea of letting their staffs unionize is tame by comparison.

While Sanders became the first candidate to actually go ahead with unionization, former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro announced in January that he will pay all campaign workers, including interns, $15 an hour or more. Officials said they would support a union as well if staff chose to organize, according to The San Antonio Current.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday night, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas – who entered the race last week — said that if campaign workers want to unionize, he would “support it all the way” as he made a laundry list of promises to potential campaign staff.

"Absolutely, if those who work on this campaign, and who comprise what I hope will be the largest grassroots effort this nation has ever seen, want to unionize, I support that all the way," he told Fox News when asked if he supports unionization.

"In the meantime, I’m going to make sure that we pay among, if not the highest wages, that everyone who works on the campaign is paid a living wage, excellent health care, child care so that everyone can work whatever their conditions are."

BETO O’ROURKE, IN NH, PREDICTS HE COULD TAKE TEXAS IN THE GENERAL ELECTION

"But if these employees also want to unionize, I absolutely support that," he added.

It remains to be seen what the outcome of such decisions could be, but big campaigns could end up with costlier wage bills, especially if overtime (a common feature on the grueling campaign trail) is also compensated with time-and-a-half, as unions may demand.

The push toward unionization is a sign of the difficult path candidates must walk, as they make calls for increases in the minimum wage, universal health care and other issues — while pitching other policies that concern labor organizations.

Take the Green New Deal — a radical overhaul of America’s economy and energy use that almost all 2020 Democrats have backed, and that the AFL-CIO recently warned could cause “immediate harm” to millions of their members.

“We will not accept proposals that could cause immediate harm to millions of our members and their families. We will not stand by and allow threats to our members’ jobs and their families’ standard of living go unanswered,” the union’s energy committee said in a letter. “We are ready to discuss these issues in a responsible way, for we all recognize that doing nothing is not an option.”

Campaigns that are not perceived as treating workers well can also see those issues distract from their core message. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., has struggled to move past accusations that she mistreats her staff, with reports that she has thrown binders at staff, torpedoed job opportunities and forced them to clean a comb she used to eat a salad.

Sanders, meanwhile, has been hit by claims that sexual harassment allegations against a staffer on his 2016 campaign were not taken seriously by his campaign managers. He has since apologized and said that "our standards and safeguard were inadequate."

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The unionization push is the latest big idea to be grasped by both lapels by candidates seeking to distinguish themselves from a broad field, and to promote their own progressive street cred.

In recent weeks, top 2020 Democrats have embraced a wealth of ideas that were once out on the fringes of the party — including the Green New Deal, reparations, packing the Supreme Court with more judges and abolishing the Electoral College.

Fox News’ Elizabeth Zwirz contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

KEENE, N.H. – Beto O’Rourke predicts that if he wins the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, he’ll take his native state of Texas in the general election.

The former congressman from El Paso also said he would “absolutely” support his campaign staff if they wanted to unionize. He also would consider lowering the federal voting age to 16, scrapping the Electoral College, increasing the number of justices on the Supreme Court, and eliminating the filibuster in the Senate.

WHERE BETO O’ROURKE STANDS IN THE LATEST 2020 POLL

Speaking with reporters after holding his first event in New Hampshire as a presidential candidate, O’Rourke said, "Yes I think we can win Texas. I think we’ve proven we know how to campaign. We’ve been to each one of those 254 counties. We’ve listened to the stories our fellow Texans have told us. We’ve incorporated it in the way in which we campaign.”

In his U.S. Senate run last year, O’Rourke raised $80 million in contributions and nearly defeated incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in the midterm elections. O’Rourke’s campaign boosted him to Democratic Party rock-star status and launched him toward his White House bid.

Winning Texas and its 38 electoral votes would be a major coup for the Democrats. The last Democrat to take the state in a presidential election was Jimmy Carter in 1976. Republican President Donald Trump won Texas in 2016 but by a smaller margin than GOP nominee Mitt Romney in 2012.

BETO O’ROURKE’S ROLL OUT: BIG BUCKS BUT SOME STUMBLES

O’Rourke arrived in New Hampshire – the state that will hold the first presidential primary, after an eight-and-a-half-hour drive in his Dodge Caravan from State College, Pa., the home of Pennsylvania State University. He spoke and took questions from a couple of hundred people who had waited at least two hours at Keene State College. The stop was O’Rourke’s first in a 48-hour swing in which he said he would visit all 10 of New Hampshire’s counties.

Asked about lowering the voting age to 16, O’Rourke said “I’m open to the idea of a younger voting age. … There’s some merit to it.”

And he said he would “seriously consider” scrapping the Senate’s filibuster — a generations-old tactic for preventing a measure from coming to a vote – as well as the Electoral College and increasing the number of justices on the high court.

“We have to look at some of these institutional reforms, whether it’s the Supreme Court, the Electoral College, the filibuster in the Senate. We’ve got to get democracy and our institutions working again,” he said.

Scrapping the Electoral College — an idea that some of O’Rourke’s Democratic rivals also support — is an unpopular idea in New Hampshire, a small state that sees plenty of traffic in the presidential general election thanks to its status as a battleground state.

O’Rourke arrived in the Granite State one day after independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont – one of the front-runners in the 2020 Democratic field – became the first presidential candidate to unionize his campaign staff.

Asked by Fox News if he would do likewise, O’Rourke said: “Absolutely. If those who work on this campaign and who comprise what I hope will be the largest grassroots effort this nation has ever seen, want to unionize, I support that all the way.”

During a question-and-answer session with the crowd, O’Rourke was asked about accepting large sums of contributions from pro-Israeli lobbyists during his 2018 Senate campaign.

“If you’re asking if the contributions I accept connect to the policies I support, the answer is no,” he responded.

O’Rourke once again called for a “two-state solution” between Israel and the Palestinians to achieve peace in the Middle East.

“I believe in peace and dignity and full human rights for the Palestinian people and the Israeli people. The only way to achieve that … is a two-state solution,” he said.

But he also took aim at embattled Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu – a close ally of Trump – as well as Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

“Right now we don’t have the best negotiating partners on either side. We have a prime minister in Israel who has openly sided with racists,” he charged. “On the Palestinian side, we have an ineffectual leader. Mahmoud Abbas has not been very effective in bringing his side to the table.”

O’Rourke was also asked about his commitment to reducing America’s consumption of fossil fuels.

“I support the Green New Deal. Yes, I understand that as close to 2030 as we possibly can, we have to have this economy and this country fully transitioned off a reliance on fossil fuels,” he said.

But he added that “I also drove here in a Dodge Caravan that burns gasoline. … We also have to acknowledge that we’re still using these fossil fuels right now, so there’s got to be a responsible transition.”

‘Collision course with everyday Americans’

The Republican National Committee took aim at O’Rourke.

"By embracing the Green New Deal, calling for an end to the Electoral College and supporting late-term abortions, Beto O’Rourke is on a collision course with everyday Americans who will reject his extremist views that offer no substance or solution," the RNC’s Mandi Merritt said.

O’Rourke declared his candidacy last Thursday, and immediately drew throngs of media and large crowds during a three-day swing through Iowa, the state that votes first in the presidential caucus.

The day before he arrived in New Hampshire, O’Rourke announced that he hauled in an eye-popping $6.1 million in his first 24 hours as a candidate, the most yet by any 2020 Democratic White House hopeful.

O’Rourke told Fox News that he would release updated campaign cash figures on Wednesday morning.

Carol Beckwith, a resident of nearby Fitzwilliam, N.H., told Fox News that "Beto-mania" is “coming our way.

"We haven’t had much exposure to it really, compared to other people," she said, adding that she remained undecided on whom she’ll vote for in next February’s primary.

"I want the best person for the job," she said.

But Russ Provost of Richmond, N.H., is already sold on O’Rourke, saying he’s already contributed to the Texan’s campaign.

“I watched him on TV a number of times," Provost said. "I liked his style. I want someone young. I want someone under 60 to take over the reins of this country. I don’t want older people running it anymore.

“If he could take Texas and just win the same states Hillary won, he wins."

Source: Fox News Politics


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