(CNN) — On Sunday, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg — the fastest-rising Democratic candidate in the large and growing field of presidential hopefuls — officially announced his presidential campaign, exiting the lengthy exploratory portion of his 2020 bid at an event inside the once bustling Studebaker plant that, when hollowed out after the company left in 1963, was a tangible symbol of his hometown’s march toward decay.
“My name is Pete Buttigieg. They call me Mayor Pete,” Buttigieg told a cheering crowd. “I am a proud son of South Bend, Indiana. And I am running for President of the United States.”
It has been a whirlwind few weeks for Buttigieg: The mayor has crisscrossed the country looking to seize on the boost he received from a well-reviewed CNN town hall in early March, hopscotching between early nominating states and a string of fundraisers in Democratic strongholds like San Francisco, Chicago and New York. The uptick in interest among Democratic heavyweights has followed a similar uptick in polls, where Buttigieg has gone from receiving less than 1% of support to solidly standing among candidates like Sens. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker.
“What we’ve seen as we’ve explored is that we’re exploring some really beautiful territory and now it’s time to make it official and announce a decision,” Buttigieg said on Friday as he made his way back to South Bend after a whirlwind trip through California that included an appearance on “Ellen” and a top dollar fundraiser in the Bay Area.
“We’ve been talked about in the 2020 context in a pretty big way for going on a month now,” Buttigieg said. “Then again, if you want to talk about a period of time where you really learn how seriously your effort will be taken and how much momentum you can put together and the resources you can put together, a month isn’t that long at the time.”
Buttigieg announced the exploratory committee at a January news conference in Washington, DC. He told CNN in late March that while, “all of the indicators are pointing” toward an official campaign, “a launch is something you only get to do once, and we’re not going to do that until we have all of the pieces in place.”
Buttigieg will make the announcement on Sunday at Studebaker Building 84, a newly renovated mixed-use building that once housed Studebaker, an auto-manufacturing company that was headquartered in South Bend until it shuttered in 1963.
That wasn’t always the plan: Initially, Buttigieg’s nascent team has planned to basically shut down parts of South Bend’s downtown and hold an outdoor rally in the heart of the city center that has been revived under the mayor’s tenure. Rain and wind meant they had to change plans, but Buttigieg said there is a silver lining in the change.
“The rain location may be a blessing in disguise because there is such symbolic power in that building and you can see in it the past, the present and the future,” he said. “I talk so much about how we’re not looking to turn back the clock and it’s not about retrieving some impossible again. That building is kind of a living symbol of all of that.”
The building has recently been repurposed. It now anchors South Bend’s Renaissance District and houses a mix of technology companies, including South Bend Code School and an Amazon Web Services company, a symbol — Buttigieg is expected to say — of how his leadership as mayor over the last eight years helped revitalize portions of the city.
A senior aide says he will focus on two key topics: The need for generational change in the country and the argument that he is an entirely different political figure at a time when the American people are looking for something different in their politics.
Although Buttigieg is making his announcement official on Sunday, he officially dropped “exploratory” from his committee with the Federal Election Commission on Friday.
Buttigieg’s committee has been shoestring for months. According to the Buttigieg aide, the committee currently has 32 people on staff and plans to get to 45 or 50 staffers by the end of the month.
That initially small staff has meant the mayor has spent very little of the $7 million his team raised in 2019’s first fundraising quarter. According to the aide, Buttigieg’s first quarter fundraising report will show he only has a burn rate of less than 10%, a number far smaller than other candidates, like Warren, whose campaign announced earlier this month her burn rate was more than 85%.
“Pete’s a different kind of candidate and we want to build a different kind of campaign,” said Mike Schmuhl, Buttigieg’s campaign manager. “We don’t want to a top down, consultant-laden operation. We want to be more like a startup, and we want to build in a smart way and a steady way.”
The campaign has already opened a campaign headquarters in South Bend, two small suites in the Jefferson Centre building. The campaign also has plans to open a small office in Chicago, where a few aides will live and, given the relatively small size of South Bend’s airport, the candidate and campaign aides will work ahead of flights around the country.
“He made a very big impression on, I think, everyone. He is very authentic, and this is what people are craving,” she said. “That is one thing he has in common with the current president: What you see is what you get. Otherwise, they are complete opposites.”
The mayor has also not been the only Buttigieg to experience a bump in notoriety. So, too, has Chasten Buttigieg, the mayor’s husband and a teacher, who has become an omnipresent feature of political Twitter and, according to aides, is slated to do a number of solo speeches, primarily to LGBTQ and education groups.
Biden To Launch Presidential Campaign Next Week
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to join the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential race next week.
The decision answers one of the most significant outstanding questions of the early presidential primary season, which has already seen announcements from 18 high-profile Democrats. Biden, 76, would be the oldest and most experienced politician in the race.
His plans were confirmed by three people with knowledge, who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. The announcement is expected as early as Wednesday and would cap months of deliberation over his political future.
The specific launch date and location is unclear. Biden is likely to quickly make visits to early-voting states.
One person said Biden’s advisers are also considering an early event in Charlottesville, Virginia, the site of a deadly clash between white supremacists and counterprotesters in 2017. The location would be intended to draw a contrast between Biden and President Donald Trump, who initially said there were some “very fine people on both sides” of the violent confrontation.
Biden has been particularly outspoken against the rise of white supremacy in the Trump era.
One of the most recognizable names in U.S. politics, Biden served as Barack Obama’s two-term vice president after nearly four decades as a Delaware senator. His high-profile, working-class background and connection to the Obama years would help him enter the race as a front-runner, although he faces questions about his age and whether his more moderate record fits with a party that has become more liberal.
With a record in elected office that stretches half a century, Biden faces multiple challenges.
Last month he struggled to respond to claims he touched 2014 Nevada lieutenant governor nominee Lucy Flores’ shoulders and kissed the back of her head before a campaign event. A few other women have made similar claims, though none has alleged sexual misconduct.
The incident is just a taste of the harsh vetting from both parties expected for Biden, who has run for president twice before but never from such a strong political starting point.
His first White House bid in 1988 ended after a plagiarism scandal. And in recent weeks, he was repeatedly forced to explain his 1991 decision, as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, to allow Anita Hill to face questions about her allegations of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas, then a nominee for the Supreme Court.
Biden has since apologized for his role in the hearing. But in the #MeToo era, it’s another example of why critics believe he may struggle to catch on with the Democratic primary voters of 2020.
On paper, however, he may be well positioned to take on Trump in a general election.
The Republican president’s allies have privately warned that Biden might be the biggest threat to Trump’s re-election given Biden’s potential appeal among the white-working class in the Midwest, the same region that allowed Trump to win the presidency.
Weld Announces He’s Challenging Trump for 2020 Republican Nomination
Boston (AP) — William Weld, a former governor of Massachusetts who two years ago ran for vice president on the Libertarian Party ticket, on Monday became the first Republican to challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 primaries.
Weld, 73, said in announcing his candidacy that “it is time to return to the principles of Lincoln — equality, dignity and opportunity for all.” He said, “There is no greater cause on earth than to preserve what truly makes America great. I am ready to lead that fight.”
Weld has accused Trump of leaving the nation in “grave peril” and has said his “priorities are skewed toward promotion of himself rather than for the good of the country.” While Trump’s overall approval ratings have been poor for much of his presidency, he remains popular with Republican voters. The Republican National Committee in January issued a nonbinding resolution to declare the party’s undivided support for Trump.
The move by Weld makes Trump the first incumbent president since George H.W. Bush in 1992 to face a notable primary challenge.
Fiscally conservative but socially liberal, Weld is known for an unconventional, at times quirky, political style and a long history of friction with the party he now seeks to lead.
Weld endorsed Democrat Barack Obama over Republican nominee John McCain in 2008, later saying it was a mistake to do so, and has enjoyed a decadeslong friendship with the Clintons, which began early in his career when he served alongside Hillary Clinton as a lawyer for the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate proceedings.
Weld’s nomination by President Bill Clinton to be U.S. ambassador to Mexico touched off a bitter public spat with then-Sen. Jesse Helms, a conservative Republican from South Carolina who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Years earlier, Weld was among a handful of top Justice Department officials to resign in protest over alleged ethical violations by then-Attorney General Ed Meese, long a favorite of conservatives.
With little in the way of organization or outside money, and at odds with a majority of GOP voters who solidly support Trump, Weld’s longshot campaign will target disaffected Republicans and independents who share his disdain for the president and embrace libertarian values of small government, free trade and free markets, and personal freedom.
Alternately a politician, federal prosecutor, investment banker, lobbyist and even novelist — his political mystery called “Mackerel by Moonlight” was published to mixed reviews in 1998 — the Harvard-educated scion of a prominent Boston family was a lifelong Republican before bolting the GOP to run on the Libertarian Party ticket with former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson in 2016.
Johnson and Weld received about 4.5 million votes, a little more than 3 percent of the national popular vote.
Despite a pledge to libertarians that he would remain loyal to the party going forward, Weld on Jan. 17 walked into the clerk’s office of the Massachusetts town where he lives and re-registered with the GOP, adding to speculation that he would challenge Trump in the primaries.
Weld has not won a political race since being re-elected governor by a landslide in his heavily Democratic state in 1994. He was first elected to the office in 1990, defeating a conservative Democratic candidate, and quickly became one of Massachusetts’ most popular governors in recent history.
While holding the line on spending and taxes, Weld as governor embraced liberal positions at odds with national Republicans on abortion and gay rights. His low-key style and sharp wit also seemed to play well with voters as did his penchant for the unexpected: He once ended a news conference touting progress in cleaning up Boston’s polluted Charles River by diving fully clothed into the waterway.
After winning a second term, Weld’s attention appeared to drift away from the governor’s office and toward other political pursuits. He briefly entertained a run for president in 1996 before mounting an unsuccessful campaign that year to unseat Democratic Sen. John Kerry.
He resigned as governor the following year after Clinton nominated him to be ambassador to Mexico, but it was a post he would never hold. Helms dug in his heels and refused to schedule a hearing on the nomination, claiming among other things that Weld’s support for medical marijuana and needle exchange programs for drug users disqualified him from serving in Mexico because of that country’s history of drug trafficking.
Weld fired back at Helms, suggesting it was un-American for Helms to refuse to hold a public hearing on a high-profile ambassadorial nomination.
Weld left the public arena but later moved to New York, where he would make a brief, unsuccessful bid to become the first person since Sam Houston to serve as governor of two different states.
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) Announces Run In 2020 For President
WASHINGTON (Vox) — Avid followers of cable news Trump-Russia coverage are probably at least acquainted with Rep. Eric Swalwell, the California Democrat on one of the House’s leading investigatory panels.
Now Swalwell, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, is running for president.
He announced his candidacy on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert with a message about the forgotten men and women.
“I talk to teachers and truckers and nurses, and they feel as if they’re just running in place,” Swalwell said, adding, without much specificity, that he would offer “bold” leadership.
Swalwell is one of several lesser-known House Democrats eying the White House; Rep. John Delaney was the first Democrat to declare a run for the presidency, Rep. Tim Ryan announced his bid for the Democratic nomination in early April, and Rep. Seth Moulton is also considering a run. Swalwell will join a packed field of Democrats, including high-profile senators like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris; ex-lawmakers like Beto O’Rourke; and a mayor, Pete Buttigieg.
It’s well documented that Swalwell, a 38-year-old Iowa native who represents a safely Democratic San Francisco Bay Area district, has political ambitions beyond his current position. He came to Congress in 2013 by unseating a 20-term incumbent Pete Stark, who at the time was one of the most powerful California House Democrats. He did it by painting Stark as too out of touch with the district.
He’s since gotten himself on the House Democratic leadership team, as well as a spot on two high-profile committees; the House Judiciary Committee, which has been charged with investigating Trump’s immigration policy, and the intelligence committee.
But even the most generous readings of a path forward for Swalwell seem tenuous. He’s not the only Californian in the race; Harris, a much more well-known statewide office holder with a more robust fundraising structure in place, is already running. He’s not even the most well-known young guy in the race; Buttigieg has increasingly taken up that mantle. Swalwell has made several trips to Iowa, as well as Kansas, Nevada, and Texas, but still isn’t registering any support in early Iowa polls.
That said, Swalwell has told the San Francisco Chroniclethat he is aiming to “win” — he’s “not trying to sell a book or get a leadership position anywhere else,” he said.
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