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Anita Hill says she’d be open to voting for Joe Biden

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Anita Hill said she considers Joe Biden partly responsible for how she was treated during Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings in 1991 — but she’s still open to voting for him for president.

In a wide-ranging interview with NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell, Hill said she’s more interested in the former vice president’s plans for the future than his apologies for the past.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of what he could say,” Hill said. “For me it’s a matter of what we want all of our leaders to say; that is, after almost three decades now of having discovered the problem of sexual harassment, more people understanding it is a serious problem and so prevalent. I really want our leaders to stand up and say what happened in 1991 will never happen again.”

Hill said she wants leaders to “stand up and say that ‘I understand this is a serious problem, that women are not safe in the workplace, they’re not safe in our schools, they’re not safe on our streets.'” She added that she wants leaders to “use the government’s resources to eliminate the problems.”

Hill had worked for Thomas at two federal agencies, and she testified at his Supreme Court confirmation hearing that he’d sexually harassed her, which Thomas denied. She was grilled by Republicans in the Judiciary Committee, which was chaired by Biden.

The then-Delaware senator opted not to call witnesses who could have corroborated Hill’s story, creating what she called a “he said, she said” situation.

Law professor Anita Hill testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Oct. 11, 1991.AP file

Before Biden announced his bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, he called Hill to express his regret over how she was treated. She told The New York Times earlier this year that she was not satisfied by the apology, but she told Mitchell she didn’t consider Biden’s handling of the hearings “disqualifying.”

“I don’t think it has disqualified him,” Hill, a law professor, said. “He’s perfectly capable of running for president. I think we will have to make our decisions about what we want our leaders to be doing in the future around these issues of gender violence.”

Hill said she does hold Biden responsible for how the hearings were handled because “I believe every chairman of any committee really is responsible for how a hearing is conducted.”

Asked if there was any “moral equivalency” between Biden and President Donald Trump, who’s denied allegations that he sexually assaulted more than a dozen women over the years, Hill said: “Absolutely not. I never said that and never intended to say that.”

When asked if she could conceive of voting for Biden if he is the Democratic nominee in 2020, Hill said, “Of course I could.”

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in charge of the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas in 1991. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., is at right.Greg Gibson / AP file

Hill would not pick out a favorite from the current 2020 field.

“I would love to see a question about gender violence during the debates,” she said, adding that she did not appreciate chatter about female candidates being good vice-presidential picks.

“If you present this picture of them as second, then their arguments for being president are taken less seriously,” she said.

Hill also weighed in on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, saying she “absolutely” identified with Christine Blasey Ford, who accused him of sexual assault, which Kavanaugh denied.

“She was in the same situation” with “intense pressure,” Hill said.

Asked if she’d been in contact with Ford, Hill said: “I have. Not much lately, but I have.”

One person she has not been in contact with is Thomas, who accused her of smearing him. Asked if she ever heard from him, Hill said, “No,” and: “I don’t expect to. And I certainly won’t be getting in touch with him.”

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DNC names 20 candidates who will appear on stage for first Democratic debate

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The Democratic National Committee on Thursday named the 20 presidential candidates who qualified to appear on stage later this month in the first primary debate of the 2020 campaign.

They are:

  1. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado
  2. Former Vice President Joe Biden*
  3. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey*
  4. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg*
  5. Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro*
  6. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
  7. Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland
  8. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii*
  9. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York*
  10. Sen. Kamala Harris of California*
  11. Former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado
  12. Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington*
  13. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota*
  14. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas*
  15. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio
  16. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont*
  17. Rep. Eric Swalwell of California
  18. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts*
  19. Author Marianne Williamson*
  20. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang*

The DNC, which is sanctioning the debate, set two ways for candidates to qualify — fundraising and polling. To make the stage, candidates needed to have either at least 1 percent support in three qualifying polls, or provide evidence of at least 65,000 unique donors, with a minimum of 200 different donors in at least 20 states.

The candidates marked with an asterisk qualified through both polling and grassroots fundraising thresholds, the DNC said. The others qualified through polling only.

Those who did not meet the threshold for the first debate include: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock; former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel; Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam; and Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts.

Bullock told NBC News’ Chuck Todd Thursday in an interview on “Meet the Press Daily” that he was “disappointed” with the DNC’s decision but declined to say if he would challenge it.

“I certainly knew getting in at the time I did would give me fewer opportunities to be on shows with youand others, but I had a job to do,” said Bullock, who announced his bid in mid-May. “And if it ultimately ever came down to choosing between getting Medicaid reauthorized, getting 100,000 Montanans health care versus getting in earlier just to try to bump up on yet another poll, I would make that same choice time and time again.”

He added that he is an “important voice” in the field, since Montana voted overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump in 2016, and noted that there will be more opportunities to introduce himself to voters before the first primary next year, including future debates.

“I am the only one in the field that won in a Trump state and we need to win back some of the places we’ve lost,” he said.

The two-night debate, hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo, will take place on June 26 and 27 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami. The event will air live across all three networks from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m ET both nights.

Ten candidates at a time will appear on stage, but the lineup for each night has not been determined, nor has where the candidates will stand. Both nights will have the same format, NBC News previously announced. It is the first of 12 primary debates the DNC has planned.

Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie, Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow and José Diaz-Balart will moderate the debate, NBC announced Tuesday.

The debate will also stream online free on NBC News’ digital platforms, including NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com, the NBC News Mobile App and OTT apps, in addition to Telemundo’s digital platforms.

Dartunorro Clark contributed.

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Everything you need to know

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The field is set for the first Democratic presidential debate of the 2020 election, and it includes some longtime legislators, a former vice president and two political novices.

Here’s what you need to know about the first face-off of the Democratic presidential primary.

When and where is the first Democratic debate?

The debate will take place on June 26 and 27 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami.

The two-night event is hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo, and will air live across all three from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m ET both nights. The debate will also stream online free on NBC News’ digital platforms, including NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com, the NBC News Mobile App and OTT apps, in addition to Telemundo’s digital platforms.

Who are the moderators?

Savannah Guthrie, Lester Holt, Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow and José Diaz-Balart will moderate the debate, NBC announced Tuesday.

Both debate nights will have the same format. Holt, the anchor of “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” and “Dateline NBC,” will moderate the first hour with Guthrie, the co-anchor of “Today” and NBC News’ chief legal analyst, and Diaz-Balart, the anchor of “Noticias Telemundo” and “NBC Nightly News Saturday,” appearing alongside him.

Holt will also appear in the second hour, with Todd, NBC News’ political director and the moderator of “Meet the Press with Chuck Todd,” and Maddow, host of “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC, moderating.

Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., May 18, 2019.Mark Makela / Reuters file

Who qualified for the debate?

The Democratic National Committee, which is sanctioning the debate, set two ways for candidates to qualify — fundraising and polling. The fundraising component included raising money from at least 65,000 donors, with a minimum of 200 donors per state from 20 states. The polling component required candidates to poll at 1 percent or above in three different surveys recognized by the DNC.

The DNC announced the 20 candidates who made the stage on June 13. The candidates who qualified under both criteria, according to the committee, are:

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts
  • Sen. Kamala Harris of California
  • Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii
  • Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington
  • Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro
  • Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke
  • Entrepreneur Andrew Yang
  • Author Marianne Williamson

Those who qualified by polling at 1 percent or above were:

  • Rep. Eric Swalwell of California
  • Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio
  • Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado
  • Former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
  • Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland

Who did not qualify?

One of the last entrants into the race, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, hit 1 percent in two qualifying polls, but was unable to reach the mark in a third. Three other candidates, Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, Mayor Wayne Messam of Miramar, Florida, and former U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska have not hit 1 percent in any qualifying polls, an NBC News review found.

How are the candidates be divided over two nights?

The DNC tried to avoid the “kids’ table” complaints that were lodged against the Republican National Committee in the run-up to the 2016 election — where front-runners in the large field of candidates were given one forum and lower-tier candidates another.

Candidates were divided into two groups — those who polled on average at or above 2 percent through midnight on Wednesday, June 12, and those who polled on average below 2 percent through midnight on Wednesday, June 12. A random draw took place on Friday, June 14, pulling from each of the respective above groups to create two separate groupings of 10.

The first group appearing on Wednesday, June 26 is:

  • Booker
  • Warren
  • O’Rourke
  • Klobuchar
  • Delaney
  • Gabbard
  • Castro
  • Ryan
  • de Blasio
  • Inslee
Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses a rally at the Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, California on May 31, 2019.Frederic J. Brown / AFP – Getty Images file

The second group appearing on Thursday, June 27 is made up of:

  • Sanders
  • Harris
  • Biden
  • Buttigieg
  • Bennet
  • Williamson
  • Swalwell
  • Gillibrand
  • Yang
  • Hickenlooper

Where the candidates will stand on stage each night has not yet been determined.

Will the rules change for later debates?

The DNC says it will use the same criteria for the second two-night debate on July 30 and 31 in Detroit, which will be hosted by CNN.

The benchmarks will change for the third debate on Sept. 12 and potentially a second night on Sept. 13, which will be hosted by ABC and Univision. To take part in that debate, candidates will have to show they’ve received donations from 130,000 different donors, including at least 400 from 20 different states. They’ll also have to hit at least 2 percent in four different qualifying polls.

These changes are guaranteed to reduce the size of the field.

Ben Kamisar and Alex Seitz-Wald contributed.

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