4 min read

Wake Up To Politics - April 25, 2019

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Thursday, April 25, 2019. 284 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 558 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

Joe Biden announces 2020 presidential bid

Former Vice President Joe Biden officially joined the 2020 presidential race this morning, launching his third campaign for the White House — but the first in which he starts as a frontrunner.

Biden announced his candidacy in a video released online, in which he harkens back to the 2017 clash between white supremacists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, and President Donald Trump's response that there were "some very fine people on both sides."

"In that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I had seen in our lifetime," Biden said in the video, adding later: "The core values of this nation, our standing in the world, our very democracy, everything that has made America America is at stake. That’s why today I’m announcing my candidacy for president of the United States."

Biden, who served as vice president under Barack Obama for eight years and as a U.S. Senator from Delaware for 36 years before that, enters the 2020 field as the early polling leader. According to the RealClearPolitics average of national Democratic primary polls, Biden stands at 29.3%, with his closest competitor, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), at 23%. No one else in the 21-candidate field receives double-digit support. Biden has also consistently led in early polls of the first two presidential primary contests, in Iowa and New Hampshire.

However, the worry plaguing the Biden campaign at its outset is that he will not be able to keep up with his Democratic primary rivals in fundraising. According to Politico, Biden himself raised the alarm about fundraising in a Wednesday conference call with top donors and supporters. "People think Iowa and New Hampshire are the first test," the former VP said. "It's not. [How much can be raised in] the first 24 hours. That's the first test."

It remains to be seen whether Biden, 76, who plans to run as an unapologetic centrist, can match the numbers posted by his more progressive opponents, like Sanders, or his younger rivals, like former Texas. Rep. Beto O'Rourke. Both raised about $6 million in the first 24 hours of announcing their presidential bids.

Underlining the fundraising challenge he faces, Biden's first event as a 2020 candidate will be a high-dollar fundraiser in Philadelphia today, which Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and six others members of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation are expected to attend.

Biden will then appear on ABC's "The View" on Friday, before kicking off his campaign in earnest on Monday with an event in Pittsburgh, followed by a swing through the early voting states.

Biden may be launching his campaign from the driver's seat, but it remains to be seen whether his old-school brand of politics can be competitive in a Democratic Party steadily moving left. Already in the weeks leading up to his announcement, Biden faced roadblocks with criticism of his unwanted touching of some women, handling of the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings in the 1990's, and past stances on anti-busing legislation, as well as other parts of his record from nearly five decades in public life.

However, the former vice president is expected to make his experience and stature centerpieces of his campaign, focusing on his electability in a campaign against President Trump. Biden is also likely to draw upon his extensive ties to the most recent Democratic president, under whom he served, as well as his popularity among the white, working-class voters Democrats lost in 2016.

Biden launched his first presidential campaign three decades ago, in 1988, and then his second one decade ago, in 2008. Both fizzled out early in the primary calendar — this time, the political world is watching him closely: will he go the distance, or will his lifelong White House ambitions go rebuffed once again?

The Rundown

Trump vs. House Democrats, continued: "House Democrats are grappling with how to respond to President Trump’s blanket resistance to cooperating with their investigations — defiance that legal experts say could upend the nation’s fundamental principle of checks and balances." (Washington Post)

--- "Democrats look to courts as White House stonewalls on subpoenas" (CNN)

--- Trump to reporters on Wednesday: "We're fighting all the subpoenas."

Trump and Libya: "President Donald Trump indicated in a phone call with Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar last week that the U.S. supported an assault on the country’s capital to depose its United Nations-backed government, according to American officials familiar with the matter."

"An earlier call from White House National Security Adviser John Bolton also left Haftar with the impression of a U.S. green light for an offensive on Tripoli by his forces, known as the Libyan National Army, according to three diplomats." (Bloomberg)

Recommended read: "Meet the Other Resistance: The Republican One" (New York Times Magazine)

Do you like Wake Up To Politics? Share it with your colleagues, friends, and family! Please forward this newsletter to them and tell them to sign up at wakeuptopolitics.com/subscribe!

White House schedule

At 12 p.m., President Trump receives his intelligence briefing. At 12:45 p.m., he has lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. At 4:30 p.m., he delivers remarks at a "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day" event.

Also today: Trump will tape an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity, according to the network. The interview will air at 9 p.m.

Congress schedule

Both chambers of Congress are on recess.

Supreme Court schedule

The Supreme Court justices have no oral arguments or conferences scheduled for today.

2020 schedules

--- Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) travels to South Carolina, touring the ReGenesis Community Development Corporation Environmental Sites and holding "Conversation with Cory" events in Spartanburg and Union.

--- Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) holds an event "discussing the importance of service" at Central Academy in Des Moines, Iowa.

--- Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) travels to Nevada, holding town halls in Reno and Carson City.

--- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) holds a rally in Fort Worth, Texas.

--- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) holds a meet and greet in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

*All times Eastern