2020

As the Democratic debaters chase their base, Trump has a prime opening
Miami debates are more likely to resemble a bad morality play than an intelligent discussion of issues

When the 2020 Democratic hopefuls debate in Miami, their conundrum of connecting with the party’s anti-Trump base while not alienating middle-of-the-road voters will be on full display, Winston writes. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Hardball presidential politics, a little like Mother Nature, has an unforgiving way of winnowing a field and this go-round there is more to winnow than usual with 24 Democrats vying for their party’s nomination.

In the wild, it’s called survival of the fittest and that seems an apt description for today’s presidential primary process, regardless of party.

Perfect attendance? Not for Democratic presidential hopefuls
Members of Congress running for president have already been missing votes

Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., are among the Democratic presidential candidates who may have a schedule crunch between votes and the debates this week.  Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Any time a member of Congress runs for president, there is a tension between voting on Capitol Hill and campaigning on the trail. It’s still relatively early in the 2020 cycle, but the seven senators and four House members running are already racking up absences. 

All of the sitting lawmakers who are seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination have already missed votes, some more than others. And with the first of the party’s presidential debates taking place on Wednesday and Thursday in Miami, several of them are likely to miss more votes this week. 

Trump admits he lacks exit strategy for an Iran war
Candidate Trump harshly criticized ‘stupid wars’ in Middle East that U.S. couldn’t untangle

Peshmerga fighters are seen driving along the frontline outside the town of Altun Kubri on October 23, 2017 in Altun Kubri, Iraq. President Donald Trump long criticized George W. Bush and Barack Obama for their lack of exit strategies in the Middle East. Now, he might need one for war with Iran. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump admitted Tuesday he has no plan for how to get out of war with Iran if one breaks out, even though he campaigned on ending protracted American wars in the Middle East that he long has called “stupid.”

Hours after he responded to insults by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani by warning him of “obliteration” if a shooting conflict starts, CQ Roll Call asked Trump this during an unrelated event in the Oval Office: “Do you have an exit strategy for Iran, if war does break out?”

Poll: Democrats want an experienced politician as president, not an outsider
Seventy-three percent of Democratic voters said they would be ‘more excited’ to vote for a politically experienced candidate

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks during his 2020 campaign kickoff rally at the Eakins Oval in Philadelphia, Pa., on Saturday, May 18, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Candidates in the historically diverse field for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination have highlighted their age, gender, race and military experience as defining traits separating them from their peers. 

But Democratic voters find none of those characteristics as important as a candidate’s experience in elected office, according to a new poll from The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs at the University of Chicago.

Prosecutors want to tell jury about Rep. Duncan Hunter affairs with women he worked with, including his own aide
Hunter says his support for Trump made him target of ‘political prosecutors’

Prosecutors say in court filings that Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., pursued five intimate relationships in total. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Duncan Hunter illegally used campaign donations to finance extramarital romantic relationships with women he worked alongside, including one of his aides, federal prosecutors have alleged in a court filing.

The California Republican’s lawyers countered by accusing the prosecutors of targeting the congressman over his early support for Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy.

McConnell says no to delay on votes to accommodate Dem presidential hopefuls
Democrats had pushed for delay to give senators involved in presidential debates time to get back

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not want to delay votes on a defense policy bill so that Democratic senators can head to a series of presidential debates in Miami. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear Tuesday that Democrats are going to have to filibuster the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill if they do not want final votes this week.

The Kentucky Republican opened the Senate with criticism of Monday afternoon’s statement by Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer that defense policy bill votes, including consideration of a key amendment regarding limitations on the use of funds for war with Iran, should be delayed until after this week’s Democratic presidential debates.

U.S.-Iran confrontation escalates as Trump threatens ‘obliteration’ after Rouhani’s insult
Schumer: ‘The danger of bumbling into war is acute‘

Then-Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., conduct a news conference in the Capitol after a briefing with senators on the Iran nuclear deal in September 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Responding to Iranian officials calling his White House “mentally retarded,” President Donald Trump called their latest statement “ignorant and insulting” before warning them he is prepared to use “great and overwhelming force” against their country.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani used the same televised Tuesday address that included an insult for Trump and his staff to say new sanctions the Trump administration slapped on some of their top leaders “useless.” He sharply criticized Trump’s hawkish national security adviser, John Bolton, as “a source of belligerence and aggression” in the region. (Bolton for years has advocated a U.S. policy of seeking regime change in Tehran.)

Sinclair’s purchase of regional sports networks draws ire of Booker, Sanders and Warren
Three Democratic presidential hopefuls cite the broadcast group’s power in local TV

Three 2020 presidential candidates are asking  Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, about the acquisition of 21 regional sports networks by Sinclair. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sens. Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have gotten together to criticize the acquisition of 21 regional sports networks by Sinclair Broadcast Group, asking what the FCC and the Justice Department might be doing about it.

The sports channels, which televise major professional and college sports to regional audiences, came up for sale as a condition of the Disney acquisition of what had been Fox assets. 

For the 2020 Democratic field, ‘electability’ doesn’t mean much — for now
Candidate deemed most likely to defeat Trump today may be different in three months time

Sen. Bernie Sanders leads President Donald Trump in several polls, but not typically by as much as former Vice President Joe Biden. Does that make Sanders, or other candidates, less electable, Rothenberg asks? (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Most discussions about “electability” boil down to what path Democrats need to take to win the White House.

Do they need a presidential nominee who mobilizes the base (including nonwhites, younger voters and those on the left) or one who attracts white, suburban swing voters and maybe even a 2016 Trump voter or two?

EMILY’s List backs Sara Gideon to take on Maine Sen. Susan Collins
State house speaker is one of several women running for the Democratic nomination

Maine Sen. Susan Collins picked up a high-profile Democratic challenger, who now has the support of EMILY’s List. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

EMILY’s List is endorsing Maine state House Speaker Sara Gideon for U.S. Senate on Tuesday, the day after the Democrat announced her challenge to Republican incumbent Susan Collins

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee followed, backing Gideon about an hour later.