Jennifer Rubin: Ranking the Democrats’ debate performances

“The first Democratic presidential debate of the 2020 cycle, in Miami on Wednesday, marked the informal end of the campaign ‘preseason’ and beginning of the real primary battle. In the lead-up, some critics anticipated that a format with 10 candidates and five moderators squeezed into just two hours (including commercials) would not give us much insight into any single contender. But as things played out, we learned a lot.”

Democrats prepare for first showdown as 2020 debates loom

Ten of the leading Democrats competing for their party’s presidential nomination will face off in Miami on Wednesday for the first of two primetime debates that could help to clarify an enormous and unsettled field. The back-to-back debates are the first of the 2020 contest and will give the 20 candidates who qualified for the events a national platform to offer their vision for the country.

Michelle Goldberg: Joe Biden doesn’t look so electable in person

“An ability to draw crowds isn’t everything — a tepid vote counts the same as a passionate one. Biden’s supporters are older than those of other Democrats, which gives his campaign less visible energy but a more reliable voting base. Still, as recent elections have shown, enthusiasm matters. Anyone convinced that Biden is the safe choice should go see him for themselves.”

Trump claims Joe Biden is lying about asking Obama not to endorse him

In a new interview with The Hill, President Donald Trump made an unfounded claim that former President Barack Obama was not endorsing his former vice president in the 2020 US presidential election for reasons unknown to the public. “There has to be some reason why he’s not endorsing him,” Trump claimed in an interview with The Hill. “He was the vice president. They seemed to have gotten along. And how President Obama is not endorsing him is rather a big secret.”

Trump says he’s not ready for a 2020 election loss

“It would be much better if I said, ‘Yeah.’ It would be much easier for me to say, ‘Oh, yes.’ No, I’m probably not too prepared to lose. I don’t like losing. I haven’t lost very much in my life,” Trump told “Meet the Press.” Trump also subsequently reasserted that he doesn’t “believe” in the validity of “a lot” of votes cast which show he lost the popular vote in 2016 to Hillary Clinton.

Bernie: I’ll cancel entire $1.6 trillion student loan debt

Bernie Sanders wants to eliminate the entire $1.6 trillion of student debt held in the United States—and pay for it by levying a huge new tax on Wall Street that he says will raise $2 trillion. Bernie will make the proposal Monday, just two days before the Democratic presidential candidates’ first debate in Miami.

What if Trump won’t accept 2020 defeat?

The stakes for Trump in 2020 are high. If he loses, the president will lose his immunity from criminal prosecution the moment his successor is sworn into the White House. And several Democratic presidential hopefuls have suggested their Justice Department would be hard-pressed not to bring charges against Trump for obstructing justice, using the evidence in special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report. Federal prosecutors in New York have also been reviewing potential campaign finance violations.

Same old story from Donald Trump

True to form, Trump broke out the 2016 playbook for his reelection campaign rally in Florida last night. Trump’s speech was littered with anti-immigrant and anti-Democrat rhetoric, including some irrelevant shots at his 2016 rival Hillary Clinton. He repeated many of the same false or misleading claims about trade, immigration, and the Mueller Investigation that he has made as president, and threw in some dubious economic stats and wild exaggerations about his accomplishments in office.

Peter Wehner: Trump is betting that anger can still be power

“Donald Trump has been the most persistently unpopular first-term president in the postwar era. Much of the nation is exhausted and embarrassed by his presidency, pining for normalcy, eager to change the channel. The president’s own internal polls show Mr. Trump trailing the former vice president, Joe Biden, not only in many battleground states Mr. Trump won in 2016, but in traditional Republican strongholds like Georgia. But as we saw Tuesday night, during a huge, raucous rally in Orlando, Fla., Trump is viewed by his supporters almost as a demigod.”

Inside Trump Florida obsession

Donald Trump kicked off his reelection campaign Tuesday night in Orlando, Fla., an event that comes 17 months after his first campaign-style rally as president — in nearby Melbourne. Between those two events, Trump has spent more than 100 days in Florida as president, more than any state outside the Beltway, according to two independent reports.

Orlando Sentinel endorsement for president in 2020: Not Donald Trump

“Donald Trump is in Orlando to announce the kickoff of his re-election campaign. We’re here to announce our endorsement for president in 2020, or, at least, who we’re not endorsing: Donald Trump. Some readers will wonder how we could possibly eliminate a candidate so far before an election, and before knowing the identity of his opponent. Because there’s no point pretending we would ever recommend that readers vote for Trump. After 2½ years we’ve seen enough.”

George Will: How Dems can beat Trump

“Democrats must make amends with the 402 other counties that voted for Trump after voting for Obama at least once. This will require the Democrats’ progressive lions to lay down with the Democrats’ moderate lambs, a spectacle as biblical as it is inimical to progressives’ pride about their wokeness. They might, however, be encouraged to be more politically ecumenical by remembering this: In 2016, Clinton won cumulatively a million more votes than Obama did in 2012 in New York, Massachusetts and California, but won one million fewer than he received everywhere else.”

SCOTUS gives gerrymandering reform a win

The Supreme Court has ruled against the Virginia House of Delegates in a racial gerrymandering case that represents a victory for Democrats in the state. In the 5-4 ruling, the justices found that the House didn’t have the standing to appeal a lower court ruling that found that the new district maps must be used ahead of the 2020 elections. Those new maps are already in use.

Buttigieg: There’s definitely been gay presidents before

If he wins in 2020, Pete Buttigieg is pretty sure he won’t be the first gay president. He went on to say that it was statistically “almost certain” that there had been gay presidents, but he couldn’t name names. “My gaydar even doesn’t work that well in the present, let alone retroactively,” he said.

Trump’s internal poll numbers are… not ideal

The Trump campaign’s internal polling is showing President Trump trailing Biden in several swing states. In Pennsylvania, Biden leads by 16 points, Wisconsin, Biden leads by 10 points, Florida, Biden leads by seven points, and in Texas Trump leads by two points.

Trump’s campaign says it will handle foreign intel on opponents on ‘case by case’ basis

“The president’s directive, as he said, [is] a case-by-case basis,” Kayleigh McEnany, the national press secretary for the Trump re-election campaign, told reporters late Thursday. McEnany said the president’s campaign staff would follow “his lead” on the matter and do whatever he wants them to do. “The president is our leader, we follow everything he does, his directives,” she said.

Dems find religion again ahead of 2020

After years of playing down or even ceding the message of faith and values to Republicans, Democratic presidential candidates are trying to reclaim it in the 2020 election, sharing their own personal faith stories and reaching out to a slice of religious voters who they believe have been motivated and alienated by Donald Trump, who has bragged about sexual assault and paid hush money to an adult film actress. “Faith isn’t the property of one political party,” says candidate Pete Buttigieg.

Trouble in the tea leaves for MAGA

As Donald Trump and his top Democratic presidential contender, former Vice President Joe Biden, exchange barbs in Iowa, a string of polls shows the president faces an uphill climb to reelection. Trump has hit 50% disapproval in seven key states that he won in 2016. Six Democratic candidates beat Trump in head-to-head matchups in the first 2020 Quinnipiac University National Poll—Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Cory Booker.

Independent Howard Schultz all but ends his campaign

While never officially announcing a run for the presidency, billionaire Howard Schultz is leaving the campaign trail for medical reasons. The outlook for the independent candidate was bleak even before this announcement. He told staffers that he would not make a final decision until at least after Labor Day.

The Trump campaign’s huge Facebook gamble

The Trump campaign has been pumping millions of dollars into Facebook ads, outspending every Democratic candidate. This sweeping ad campaign, starting long before any Democrat’s campaign began and targeted especially at battleground states, has some Democratic campaigns worried about Trump’s head start.

Jennifer Rubin: Joe Biden previews the pummeling he plans to give Trump

“In short, it’s satisfying to attack Trump for being a blowhard, an ignoramus and a liar, but it is effective in reaching voters who know he is all those things to show how those traits contribute to rotten policies and pain for Americans. Trump’s rants denying climate change would be ‘just another rich guy sitting in his gold-plated apartment in Manhattan tweeting about how those pointy-headed scientists don’t know anything,’ Biden said. However, when his conspiratorial theories and willful ignorance result in bad policy choices, he poses a threat to Americans’ security and prosperity.”

Jennifer Rubin: Does ‘generational change’ make sense?

“In sum, the ‘new generation’ theme is appealing and works well for younger candidates trying to make youth and inexperience a virtue. However, the more intellectually honest and effective message may be: Forget nostalgia (and the old president obsessed with it). Come along and we’ll do it all differently. That’s been a key to success for most post-World War II Democratic presidents. The current crop of presidential aspirants might think about those forward-looking metaphors but, more important, think about an agenda that rejects nostalgia and the policy contortions required to recreate an idyllic past. Embrace reality (e.g., climate change, globalization) and forge ahead with solutions appropriate to our time and our challenges.”

Biden reverses stance on Hyde Amendment after blowback

Democratic presidential hopeful former Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday he no longer supports the Hyde Amendment, just one day after reaffirming his decades-long support for the ban on federal funding for abortions. “If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s ZIP code,” he said at a Democratic National Committee gala in Atlanta.

Election rules are making cybersecurity difficult

Presidential candidates are struggling to acquire tools needed to defend against cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns because of election rules that prohibit cybersecurity firms from providing assistance to campaigns. A bill introduced last month by Sen. Ron Wyden would have allowed political parties to provide greater cybersecurity assistance to candidates, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to bring any election security bills to the floor for a vote. Election security experts say time is running out.

Biden faces new plagiarism accusations

Former Vice President Joe Biden is coming under fire over fresh plagiarism allegations after his presidential campaign was forced to update its climate platform amid complaints that the team lifted lines from at least five outside sources without proper credit. Republicans reacted by accusing Biden of the same offense that famously hampered his 1988 presidential campaign.

Schiff: Russia could unleash fake videos

The Russian government is likely to try to influence the 2020 presidential election, not through the release of stolen emails and other documents but through faked videos, according to Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee. A carefully crafted, controversial fake video, known as a deepfake, would be “hugely disruptive and hugely influential,” Schiff said.

NeverTrump candidate Weld supports impeachment

Bill Weld, the former Massachusetts governor who is the lone Republican challenging Donald Trump in 2020, is calling for an impeachment inquiry. “Mr. Trump is so far out on obstruction of justice, compared to anything Richard Nixon ever did,” Weld said. “This is a man who believes that the Justice Department should be completely political and should be in the business of protecting the president’s political skirts.”

Ex-NSA hacker has a gift for 2020 candidates

Presidential candidates wishing to avoid a fate similar to Hillary Clinton’s in 2016 could be in luck, thanks to an ex-NSA hacker. Oren Falkowitz, founder of Area 1 Security, wants to gift their campaigns with a free tool designed to block hackers from gaining access to their files. Sounds great, right? Maybe not. The FEC might block him due to concerns that the donation appears “too much like a political contribution.”

21 qualified candidates, 20 spots on the debate stage

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has found itself in a bit of a corner as 21 candidates have qualified for the first debates, more than filling the 20 open spots. The DNC will be required to award spots to those candidates with the most support in the polls and those with the greatest number of donors.