The Hill's Campaign Report: Pressure builds for Democrats who missed third debate cut

Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, your weekly rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.

We’re Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley, and here’s what we’re watching this week on the campaign trail. 



With Labor Day approaching, the unofficial end of summer is on the horizon and so is the fall campaign sprint. In turn, the candidates that failed to qualify for the third Democratic presidential debate in September are facing a critical inflection point in their campaigns.

Among their biggest challenges: keeping their campaigns funded and operating without the possibility of a post-debate surge.

In interviews with The Hill this week, Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockKoch-backed group launches ad campaign to support four vulnerable GOP senators Overnight Energy: US Park Police say ‘tear gas’ statements were ‘mistake’ | Trump to reopen area off New England coast for fishing | Vulnerable Republicans embrace green issues Vulnerable Republicans embrace green issues in battle to save seats MORE and former Rep. John DelaneyJohn DelaneyThe Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says country needs to rethink what ‘policing’ means; US cases surpass 2 million with no end to pandemic in sight Minnesota AG Keith Ellison says racism is a bigger problem than police behavior; 21 states see uptick in cases amid efforts to reopen The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan says there will be consequences from fraying US-China relations; WHO walks back claims on asymptomatic spread of virus MORE (D-Md.) insisted that they are playing the long game and focusing their efforts on courting voters in Iowa, the crucial first-in-the-nation caucus state. Both said they have no plans to leave the campaign trail any time soon.


“I don’t have any pressure — financial pressure or political pressure — to drop out of the race,” Delaney, who has loaned his campaign more than $23 million since announcing his candidacy in 2017, told The Hill. “There’s nothing between now and the Iowa caucus that is going to change my opinion.”

“We still know that we’re five and a half months from the Iowa caucuses, which is the first time that actual voters get to express a preference,” Bullock said. “Actual voters are still off on summer vacation. We’ve got a long way to go.”

But Delaney, Bullock and a handful of other candidates are likely to face a tough slog through the fall, as the primary contest increasingly appears to be a three-way race between former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.) and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.). 

Several candidates already have acknowledged that their paths to victory were narrow at best and have dropped out of the race, including Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Warren, Pressley introduce bill to make it a crime for police officers to deny medical care to people in custody Senate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers MORE (D-N.Y.), who announced this week that she was ending her campaign after failing to qualify for next month’s primary debate in Houston.

Other lower-tier candidates think their best hope is for Biden’s campaign to unravel, giving them a chance to supplant him as the moderate choice for the Democratic nomination.

“I think it has become right now a three-way race with the vice president and Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. But I think most voters are looking for an alternative to the vice president,” Delaney told The Hill. “The vice president is effectively squatting on the more moderate voters in the party and I think that’s going to change.”

More on this from The Hill’s Reid Wilson and Max Greenwood: Democrats excluded from debate battle for survival



Ten Democrats running for president have qualified for the primary debate next month after the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) deadline to meet its criteria passed on Wednesday night. That is half of the 20 Democrats who took part in the two previous rounds of debates after the DNC doubled the qualifying thresholds to make the stage. It will likely mean the debate will take over only one night, on Sept. 12. Biden and Warren will be at center stage.



TROUBLE FOR TRUMP: Polls show President Trump losing women voters by huge margins, presenting his reelection campaign with a massive hurdle to overcome as he seeks a second term in office, The Hill’s Jonathan Easley reports. Perhaps most alarmingly for Trump, the president is losing support from the white women who were pivotal to his electoral success in 2016. The Trump campaign is taking the matter seriously, launching a “Women for Trump” campaign headlined by a dynamic group of female surrogates aiming to build a grass-roots army to turn out female voters for the president next November.


SHOWDOWN IN HOUSTON: Ten Democrats are slated to take the debate stage in Houston next month for a one-night event that promises a more dramatic dynamic than the previous two showdowns, The Hill’s Niall Stanage reports. Warren and Biden will take center stage during the Sept. 12 debate, marking the first time the two candidates will go head-to-head in front of a national audience. Sanders and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook McEnany says Juneteenth is a very ‘meaningful’ day to Trump MORE (D-Calif.) will be close by, raising the potential for a heated showdown among the primary field’s leading candidates. 


Check out the lineup and podium order for the third debate, per ABC News:


ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) announced on Wednesday that she was ending her presidential bid after she failed to meet the criteria to qualify for the September debates. Gillibrand said in a video announcing her decision that she could best serve by uniting Democrats to defeat Trump in 2020. The senator told The New York Times in an interview that she plans to endorse another candidate, but has not yet made that decision. She also stopped short of saying she would endorse another woman. 


Tom SteyerTom SteyerBloomberg wages war on COVID-19, but will he abandon his war on coal? Overnight Energy: 600K clean energy jobs lost during pandemic, report finds | Democrats target diseases spread by wildlife | Energy Dept. to buy 1M barrels of oil Ocasio-Cortez, Schiff team up to boost youth voter turnout MORE was hoping for a last-minute reprieve in his efforts to qualify for the Democratic debate stage in Houston. After all, he had already met the 130,000-donor threshold to qualify and needed to register 2 percent in only one more poll to make the cut. No such luck. Two polls released on Wednesday — the last day to qualify for the third debate — showed him at zero percent, ensuring that he will be shut out of the Sept. 12 event.


Democrats are taking notice of the thousands of people attending Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) campaign events and wondering if it’s representative of a bigger movement behind her campaign, reports The Hill’s Amie Parnes. Meanwhile, The New York Times reports on how Warren is quietly courting Democratic insiders.


Biden is promising to build a wall between his administration and his family’s vast personal business interests if he’s elected, The Associated Press reports.


Tech entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangGeorge Floyd protests show corporations must support racial and economic equality Andrew Yang discusses his universal basic income pilot program Andrew Yang on the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis MORE, a surprise outsider who has qualified for next month’s debate, is frustrated with CNN and other media outlets’ coverage of him, The Hill’s Rebecca Klar reports.


Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardGabbard drops defamation lawsuit against Clinton It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process 125 lawmakers urge Trump administration to support National Guard troops amid pandemic MORE (D-Hawaii), who just returned to the campaign trail after completing active-duty service, has ruled out an independent bid for the White House if she does not get the Democratic nomination, according to The Hill’s Morgan Gstalter.



Alex Castellanos: The pundit’s guide to handicapping the 2020 election.

A.B Stoddard: Can Kamala Harris make a comeback?

Peter Hamby: Clickbait and outrage over Biden’s gaffes are elevating Trump.

Susan Matthews: Why I couldn’t support Gillibrand.



Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has a plan to encourage local journalism and limit the influence of billionaires running corporate media conglomerates (Columbia Journalism Review) … Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) released a plan to increase education and employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities (The Hill) … Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) is proposing a new trade policy (Medium).



The GOP majority in the Senate is shaping up as a firewall for Republicans who are worried that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE might falter and lose the White House next year, reports The Hill’s Max Greenwood and Jordain Carney


Topping the GOP’s concerns: Democrats are feeling bullish about their chances to win a Senate seat in Georgia in the wake of GOP Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonJon Ossoff to challenge David Perdue after winning Georgia Democratic primary Candidates headed to runoffs in Georgia House race to replace Doug Collins Justice Department closing stock investigations into Loeffler, Inhofe, Feinstein MORE’s decision to retire, The Hill’s Jordain Carney writes. The Hill’s Reid Wilson has all you need to know about Isakson’s potential replacements on the GOP side.


Rep. Joe KennedyJoseph (Joe) Patrick KennedyMassachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy says Patriots ‘should sign’ Kaepernick Markey touts past praise from Kennedy: ‘He does an incredible job’ Progressive Caucus co-chair endorses Kennedy in Massachusetts Senate primary MORE III (D-Mass.) is considering a run for Senate in Massachusetts, a decision that could set up a Democratic primary against Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyEngel scrambles to fend off primary challenge from left Markey touts past praise from Kennedy: ‘He does an incredible job’ Progressive Caucus co-chair endorses Kennedy in Massachusetts Senate primary MORE, reports The Hill’s Julia Manchester.


Former Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has taken his first formal step toward a return to Congress, creating an exploratory committee to run for the San Diego–area seat now held by his GOP colleague, Rep. Duncan Hunter, who is fighting federal corruption charges, The Hill’s Scott Wong reports.



QUINNIPIAC: President Trump trails all five of the top Democratic contenders in hypothetical head-to-head matchups.


EMERSON: Former Vice President Joe Biden leads the 2020 Democratic presidential field, but support for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is growing.


OUTLIER: Monmouth University’s shocking poll this week that found a three-way tie between Biden, Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) may be an outlier, according to pollster Patrick Murray.


MEDICARE FOR ALL: Democratic presidential candidates who favor a “Medicare for All” health care system are garnering more support from voters,


MICHIGAN: Trump trails the top Democratic contenders in the Wolverine State, one of three formerly blue Midwest states that are key to his reelection strategy.



Joe and Jill Biden will attend the Hawkeye Area Labor Council Labor Day Picnic in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Monday.


Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will hold town hall events in Raymond and Dover, N.H., on Sunday afternoon. On Sunday evening, Sanders has an event in Portland, Maine, followed by a meeting with labor leaders in Portland on Monday morning. Sanders will walk in the Milford, N.H., Labor Day parade on Monday afternoon, followed by town hall events in Peterborough and Claremont.


Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro will join Service Employees International Union members at a protest at a migrant detention facility in Houston on Saturday. After that, he’ll speak at the 56th annual Islamic Society of North America convention.


Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants Black lawmakers unveil bill to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk MORE (D-N.J.) will speak at Rep. Steven HorsfordSteven Alexander HorsfordRep. Steven Horsford wins Democratic House primary in Nevada Overnight Defense: Army now willing to rename bases named after Confederates | Dems demand answers on ‘unfathomable’ nuke testing discussions | Pentagon confirms death of north African al Qaeda leader Top Democrats demand answers on Trump administration’s ‘unfathomable’ consideration of nuclear testing MORE’s (D-Nev.) Labor Day Cookout in North Las Vegas on Monday.


There are 157 days until the Iowa caucuses, 165 days until the New Hampshire primary, 176 days until the Nevada caucuses, 183 days until the South Carolina primary and 186 days until Super Tuesday.



Last month we talked about Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanMinnesota AG Keith Ellison says racism is a bigger problem than police behavior; 21 states see uptick in cases amid efforts to reopen Congress must fill the leadership void Pelosi pushes to unite party on coronavirus bill despite grumbling from left MORE’s (D-Ohio) offer to do yoga with a lucky donor as part of a fundraising effort, and a few weeks ago we talked about Andrew Yang’s jazzercise experience (btw, we’re still waiting for updates on his dance-off with Ryan). 

This week, we bring you Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) taking a *jab* at boxing. 

Sanders, known for being a pugilist on the debate stage, showed he can also take a hit at a campaign appearance in Kentucky.

See you next week! 


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