Politics

Trump Kicks Off 2020, Biden’s Backlash, Warren on Prisons: This Week in the 2020 Race

We’re trying something new in our 2020 presidential campaign coverage.

Every Saturday morning, we’re publishing “This Week in the 2020 Race,” bringing you the key moments — from speeches and surprises among the candidates to new policies and polls that are influencing the campaign.

It’s a quick way to follow the presidential race and the field of 23 Democratic candidates. Trust us, we know how hard it is to keep up.

Trump officially begins his re-election campaign

There was no escalator this time around.

But when President Trump took the stage in Orlando to begin his re-election campaign on Tuesday, much of his speech felt familiar.

There was the same dark messaging: The 2020 election, he said, would be a “verdict on the un-American conduct of those who tried to undermine our great democracy, undermine you.”

There was the laundry list of Mr. Trump’s personal grievances. There were numerous exaggerations and falsehoods. And there were raucous supporters who relished the president’s remarks and at times egged him on.

“They tried to take away your dignity and your destiny,” he said. “But we will never let them do that, will we?”

Here’s our story about the speech.

And here are some takeaways from the reporters who were present.

Biden faces backlash after invoking segregationist senators

At a fund-raiser in New York on Tuesday night, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. invoked two Southern segregationist senators by name as he fondly recalled a previous era of “civility” in the Senate.

The remarks drew some of the sharpest criticism yet in the 2020 race from several of Mr. Biden’s rivals, including the two black candidates in the field. Senator Kamala Harris of California said he “doesn’t understand the history of our country and the dark history of our country.” And Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey said Mr. Biden should immediately apologize for using segregationists to make his point.

Mr. Biden’s camp insisted that he was simply trying to talk about working with people with whom you disagree. A number of prominent black leaders came to his defense.

Mr. Biden also struck back at Mr. Booker, asking rhetorically what he was supposed to apologize for, and suggesting it was Mr. Booker who should apologize.

Eventually, Mr. Biden called Mr. Booker in an effort to smooth things over. The tone between the men was conciliatory; still, the former vice president and his allies have stood by his remarks.

Mr. Biden has been telling these kinds of stories for years, but the mood of his party has changed. Here’s our analysis.

In defending his remarks, Mr. Biden omitted some history, including his opposition to busing.

Buttigieg is sidelined by a crisis in South Bend

Mayor Pete Buttigieg pulled himself off the campaign trail for several days this week after a white police officer shot and killed a black man in South Bend, Ind.

The man who was killed, Eric Logan, 54, was shot on Sunday by an officer, who court records show was previously accused of using racist language and excessive force against black people.

The shooting revived some black residents’ longstanding mistrust of the city’s police force and of Mr. Buttigieg, and it would present the mayor with a test of his leadership.

Mr. Buttigieg has said he was “extremely frustrated” to learn that the officer’s body camera was switched off at the time of the shooting. And pressed on his complicated history with the police and the African-American community in South Bend, Mr. Buttigieg has acknowledged that he had only a “theoretical” understanding of the charged issue of race and policing when he took office nearly eight years ago.

“I’ve learned about how raw these issues are,” he said Wednesday. “I’ve learned that this is a mix of not only distant historical issues, but of things happening around us every day.”

Mr. Buttigieg told reporters on Friday that he had decided to skip Representative Jim Clyburn’s fish fry in South Carolina, a high-profile campaign event, so that he could instead return to South Bend for a march following Mr. Logan’s killing.

Here’s a primer on Mr. Buttigieg’s complicated history with the police and the black community.

And here’s our latest dispatch from South Bend.

Spinning the Electoral College map

The 2020 election may still be 500 days away (not that we’re counting), but some candidates are already speculating about their potential paths to victory.

This month, CNN reported on a leaked memo to the Trump campaign from a pollster, who argued that states like New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, and even Minnesota and Oregon were potential pickup opportunities for Mr. Trump in 2020.

This week, Mr. Biden predicted that if he became the Democratic nominee, he could flip North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas and Florida in the general election.

Although South Carolina, Oregon and New Mexico seem very unlikely to flip, most of the others are plausible targets under some scenarios. Hillary Clinton won New Hampshire by only a few thousand votes in 2016; Mr. Trump won Florida by slightly more than 1 percentage point.

States like Texas and Georgia were not as tightly contested, but Mr. Trump’s ratings are low enough right now that he could find himself in some trouble even in states that have traditionally been solidly red.

Checking the polls in South Carolina

The Democratic presidential candidates descended on South Carolina this weekend for the fish fry and the state party convention. Two recent polls have given us different pictures of how the race is unfolding in the key early-voting state.

One of the polls, from CBS News and YouGov, was conducted May 31 to June 12. Here’s a look at the top five:

Biden: 45 percent

Sanders: 18 percent

Warren: 8 percent

Harris: 7 percent

Buttigieg: 6 percent

And here are the results from a Post and Courier and Change Research poll conducted June 11 to 14:

Biden: 37 percent

Warren: 17 percent

Buttigieg: 11 percent

Harris: 9 percent

Sanders: 9 percent

Warren takes aim at private prisons

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said Friday she would ban private prisons and would stop contractors from charging fees for essential services if she is elected president, as part of a plan that highlighted what she sees as attempts to exploit mass incarceration for profit.

“The government has a basic responsibility to keep the people in its care safe — not to use their punishment as an opportunity for profit,” she wrote in a Medium post. “That’s why today, I’m proposing my plan to root out once and for all the profit incentives perverting our criminal and immigration systems.”

The use of private prisons has long been contentious. A 2016 Justice Department report found that private prisons were more violent than government-run institutions for inmates and guards alike, and the Obama administration sought to phase out their use on the federal level. But early in 2017, Jeff Sessions, then the attorney general, reversed the ban.

Ms. Warren said that by ending all contracts between government agencies — such as the Bureau of Prisons, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the United States Marshals Service — and the companies that provide private detention facilities, she would be able to end the use of such prisons at the federal level.

She also said she would prohibit contractors from charging incarcerated and detained people for basic services like phone calls, bank transfers and health care.

“No one should have to pay for their own incarceration,” she said.

And in other policy news:

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota released a list of more than 100 actions she would take in her first 100 days as president if she were elected. The plan addressed issues such as voting rights, prescription drugs and antitrust enforcement.

Mr. Booker pledged to offer clemency to more than 17,000 inmates serving time for nonviolent drug-related offenses on the first day of his presidency.

Representative Eric Swalwell of California released an eight-part plan to end gun violence that includes a mandatory nationwide buyback program for assault weapons.

Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado released a wide-ranging proposal for how to “fix our broken politics.” He’s calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, a lifetime lobbying ban for members of Congress and a system of “ranked choice” voting.

Julián Castro, the former housing secretary, unveiled what he called his “People First Housing platform,” designed to fight the housing affordability crisis.

Former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas unveiled a plan that he said would create 200,000 new small businesses, with a focus on increasing federal investment in minority and women-owned businesses.

Bonus: 18 Questions for 21 Democrats

This past week The Times published an expansive video project that featured 21 of the candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for president answering the same set of 18 questions.

There were serious queries — “Do you think it’s possible for the next president to stop climate change?” And less serious ones — “Describe the last time you were embarrassed. Why?”

Many of the candidates’ answers were illuminating. And a few other news outlets had some fun with them.

From Slate: “What Is Joe Biden Hiding About What He’s Hiding From The New York Times?” (On how the former vice president is filling his time.)

From MEL: “The Strange Phenomenon of the ‘Hero Wife’” (On how five of the male candidates said their wives were their personal heroes.)

From The Cut: “Which 2020 Candidate’s Comfort Food Is the Most Haunting?” (Just read it.)

Matt Stevens is a political reporter based in New York. He previously worked for The Los Angeles Times, covering drought, water and the city’s west side. @ByMattStevens

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