Tuesday 16 July 2019

Jennifer Rubin: 'Parade of Democrat candidates kicks off with their sights set on toppling Trump'

Donald Trump. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/PA)
Donald Trump. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/PA)

Jennifer Rubin

The parade of possible 2020 Democratic presidential candidates is under way. They now seem to come in batches.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand - once a Blue Dog congresswoman, now a progressive with a gender-focused message - announced her candidacy for president this week. If the Democrats are looking for a female senator from New York with strong ties to Wall Street and, shall we say, flexible views on policy, Gillibrand will do well.

The 'Washington Post' reports on her metamorphosis when she went from the House to the Senate: "Some of her policy positions rapidly changed. The night before her appointment was announced, she called a gay-rights group to profess her full support for same-sex marriage. As she voted for gun-control measures, her NRA rating fell to an F."

Meanwhile, Senator Amy Klobuchar told the 'Morning Joe' talk show hosts her family supported her bid but that she had not yet made a decision. She has talked about her victories in rural counties in 2018 and the need for a "heartland sensibility" for the party. She certainly sounds like a candidate these days. Unlike some candidates, Klobuchar has avoided defining herself as a pure progressive - for example, supporting expanded healthcare coverage but not signing on to Senator Bernie Sanders's single-payer idea.

At the hearing on Tuesday for William Barr's nomination for attorney general, Klobuchar was characteristically sober and methodical. She asked: "If you're confirmed, will the Justice Department jail reporters for doing their jobs?" After a painfully long pause, Barr refused to rule it out.

Klobuchar's biggest advantage might be geography. Hailing from Minnesota, she would have her best shot to break out of the pack with a strong showing in neighbouring Iowa. Can she edge out undiluted progressives? Time will tell.

Then there is perhaps the most underrated potential candidate, Senator Sherrod Brown. He, too, had news: he's launching a tour of the first four early primary states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina).

Like Klobuchar, Brown won re-election handily in 2018. He has long been a favourite of progressives, but also has a focused appeal to Rust Belt, working-class voters. He has adopted a "dignity of work" message that might provide a compelling theme for his race.

In an interview in December with 'Newsweek', Brown pitched himself as a unifying figure who could connect with all segments of the party: "I think we have several presidential candidates that talk about things partly to differentiate themselves; they want to eliminate ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] or have free college for everybody or certain kinds of healthcare programmes. I don't think that makes us divided. I think Democrats are overwhelmingly for expanding the ability of middle-class and working-class kids to go to college without student loans.

"Almost every Democrat wants to see Medicare at 55, and [most] want to reform ICE. I don't think the differences are so great or that the party is divided. It's just a cacophony of voices. When 25 people have been mentioned for president, you're going to have 25 identities and 25 voices."

Which, if any, of these candidates will connect with primary voters is anyone's guess. The possible addition of these candidates underscores a question for at least two older, male candidates who have not yet declared. With both moderates and progressives who have working-class appeal in the race, many with experience but not yet old news, is there still a felt need for Sanders and former vice-president Joe Biden? Stay tuned. (© Washington Post)

Irish Independent

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