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By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Carrie Dann
WASHINGTON — In back-to-back presidential announcements over the weekend, we witnessed two very different Democratic messages that highlight one of the main divides within the emerging 2020 field.
The first: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who portrayed herself as a fighter, a smasher, a reformer. Indeed, she mentioned the word “fight” or its variant 28 different times in her announcement speech, according to our count.
“I’m tired of hearing that we can’t afford to make real investments in child care, college, and Medicare for All. Can’t afford things that help create economic opportunity for families,” Warren said. “We are the wealthiest nation in the history of the world – of course we can afford these investments. But we need a government that makes different choices, choices that reflect our values.”
The second message: Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who cast herself as a bridge-builder, a healer, a uniter. In fact, the backdrop for her announcement in Minneapolis was the rebuilt I-35 bridge, which collapsed in 2007.
“Today, on an island in the middle of the mighty Mississippi, in our nation’s heartland, at a time when we must heal the heart of our democracy and renew our commitment to the common good, I stand before you … to announce my candidacy for president of the United States,” she said in the falling snow, later adding: “Let us cross the river of our divides and walk across our sturdy bridge to higher ground.”
A year from now, it will be an interesting choice for Democratic primary voters: Is the best messenger to take on Trump a fighter/smasher/reformer (a la Warren or Bernie Sanders), a bridge-builder/healer/uniter (Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Joe Biden, Beto O’Rourke), or some kind of combination of the two (Kamala Harris or Kirsten Gillibrand)?
On “Meet the Press” yesterday, liberal activist Markos Moulitsas, founder of “Daily Kos,” said he preferred the idealist over the pragmatist. “‘Yes, we can,’ is actually a very positive messages as opposed to maybe Klobuchar or Sherrod Brown saying, ‘No, we can’t’”
But also on the program yesterday was Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo. – who himself sure sounded like someone leaning towards a presidential bid – arguing that leaning in on policies like doing away with private health insurance could hurt the Democratic Party.
“Remember when President Obama said, ‘If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance.’ And then, you know, a few people in America actually lost their insurance because of the way that the plan worked. Now what Democrats are saying is, ‘If you like your insurance, we’re going to take it away from you,’ from 180 million people that get their insurance from their employer and like it, where 20 million Americans who are on Medicare advantage, and love it. That seems like a bad opening offer for me,” he said.
“I think we’d be much better off with a bill like the one I have with Tim Kaine called Medicare X, that creates a public option. It, it helps finish the work of Obamacare. And it says to America, ‘If you want to be in a public plan, you can choose to be in a public plan. If you want to keep your insurance, you can keep your insurance.’”
What say you, Democratic primary voters?
Re-upping our 2020 list
Who’s in, who’s out, and who we’re still waiting on? With Elizabeth Warren’s formal presidential announcement on Saturday, with Amy Klobuchar’s on Sunday, and with Michael Bennet sounding like a future one himself, here’s our updated list of who’s in, who’s out and who’s still thinking about a 2020 run:
Those who have filed paperwork or announced presidential bids(9)
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (who announced on Feb 10)
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (who formally announced on Feb 9)
- Sen. Cory Booker (who announced on February 1)
- Sen. Kamala Harris (who announced on January 21)
- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (who announced her exploratory committee on January 15)
- Former San Antonio Mayor and HUD Secretary Julian Castro (who formally announced his decision on January 12)
- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (who announced her decision to run on January 11)
- Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney (who announced his presidential bid back on July 28, 2017!!!!)
- South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (who announced his exploratory committee on January 23)
The other potential candidates we’re watching (in no particular order)
- Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
- Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas
- Former VP Joe Biden
- Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio
- Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg
- Montana Gov. Steve Bullock
- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee
- Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe
- Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu
- Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.
- Outgoing Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper
- Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.
- Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif.
Possible 2020 Dems who have declined to run (5):
- Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick
- Attorney Michael Avenatti
- Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley
- Tom Steyer
- Current Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti
Trump heads to El Paso, where residents say he’s painted an unfair and misleading picture of life on the border
At 9:00 pm ET, President Trump holds a rally in El Paso to sell his border wall. And it’s El Paso, of course, to which he referred in his State of the Union address last week:
“The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime — one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our Nation’s most dangerous cities. Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities.”
But as one of us writes, politicians and business leaders from border cities like El Paso say that Trump’s portrayal is unfair, misleading and exaggerated — hardly reflecting what it’s like living on the United States side of the border.
For example: “In El Paso — a city with a population of about 700,000 — violent crime has been cut in half since the 1990s, and the most up-to-date crime rate there was fewer than 400 incidents per 100,000 people.”
“That’s less than New York City’s rate of nearly 600 violent crimes per 100,000 residents and Washington’s rate of 1,200 violent crimes per 100,000 people.”
“The statistics also contradict Trump’s claim about El Paso’s border fencing: They show that violent crime was already on the downswing before the fencing was completed in 2009, and then it slightly increased after it was finished.”
NBC’s Jane Timm also does a fact-check on Trump’s claims about El Paso.
By the way, guess who’s holding a counter-programming event in El Paso tonight? Beto O’Rourke.
Are we really headed for another government shutdown?
Speaking of Trump’s desire for a border wall, the possibility of ANOTHER government shutdown exists – but this time, the stalemate isn’t over Trump’s wall.
The Washington Post: “The nation faces the real possibility of another government shutdown at the end of this week after bipartisan talks aimed at averting that outcome broke down in a dispute over immigration enforcement, lawmakers and aides said Sunday.”
A senior Democratic aide tells NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell: “Talks have broken down because Senate Republicans are refusing to compromise on limits to the Trump administration’s cruel immigration policies. A deal that includes new physical barriers must all include limits on the number of ICE detention beds. If Senate Republicans won’t compromise with us on both, we can’t reach a deal.”
WaPo poll: Virginians split about whether Northam should resign
Over the weekend, a Washington Post-Schar School poll found 47 percent of Virginia residents want embattled Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam to resign, while 47 percent want him to stay.
“Northam counts higher support among black residents — who say he should remain in office by a margin of 58 percent to 37 percent — than among whites, who are more evenly divided.”
Where did the negative narratives wind up in the Warren, Klobuchar announcements?
Returning to the Warren and Klobuchar 2020 announcements over the weekend, here’s where news organizations first referred to each candidate’s negative narrative — Native American controversy for Warren, staff controversy for Klobuchar:
NYT: 14th paragraph
WaPo: first paragraph
Politico: put it in headline
NYT: 8th paragraph
WaPo: 17th paragraph
Politico: 8th paragraph
RIP, Walter Jones
“Rep. Walter Jones Jr., a 13-term Republican from eastern North Carolina whose about-face on the Iraq War came to define his congressional service, died Sunday on his 76th birthday, his congressional office confirmed,” per NBC News.
Why Democrats are sure Adam Schiff is the perfect person to take on Trump
WASHINGTON — No one understands the political perils of impeaching a president quite like Rep. Adam Schiff.
In 2000, he won a House seat centered in the north Los Angeles suburbs of Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena by defeating Republican incumbent James Rogan, a colorful and camera-loving former prosecutor who had become nationally prominent as a House manager of President Bill Clinton’s impeachment.
While Schiff concentrated on district-specific issues, Rogan’s high profile in going after Clinton made it easier to portray him as neglectful of his constituents’ priorities, and it turned the contest into such a touchstone that donors from across the country poured record sums into the candidates’ coffers. As a result, Schiff was able to subtly take advantage of voters’ distaste for the Clinton impeachment without the risk inherent in making it the focus of his campaign.
“Rogan never really was able to escape any of that,” said Bill Carrick, a consultant who was tapped by national Democrats to guide soft-money spending in western states that year. “He was sort of trapped in that impeachment thing. And Adam ran a good campaign.”
Nearly two decades later, it is Schiff, now the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who is a central player in the impeachment inquiry — and the target of a ceaseless stream of invective from President Donald Trump that includes both schoolyard nicknames and outlandish allegations that the congressman is guilty of treason.
The Clinton-era lessons of overreach and political backlash — not just in his district but across the country — informed Schiff’s reluctance to move forward with a formal impeachment inquiry. That was until the revelation last month that Trump had asked his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
But Schiff’s go-slow approach to the Trump impeachment earlier this year reflects a native caution — also evident in his decision to forgo a long-contemplated 2016 Senate run — that reassures Democrats they have found a steady hand even as Republicans are demonizing him for the process he’s run and the allegations he’s made against the president.
“I watched what the impeachment was doing to the country and felt very strongly that…it was a terrible abuse of that power,” Schiff said in an interview with NBC News on Sunday, speaking of the Republican-led House’s votes against Clinton in 1998. “The circumstances today are quite radically different. The president’s actions today threaten our national security and betray his oath of office.”
Schiff’s style — so measured in tone that his partisan edges can be missed as easily as his dry humor — provides the kind of contrast fellow Democrats hope make the 59-year-old father of two as tough a match for Trump as he was for Rogan.
“He’s a methodical, boring guy, but that’s what you need,” said one House colleague who spoke on the condition of anonymity to give a candid assessment of Schiff without fear of harming their relationship.
Since Democrats took control of the House in January, Schiff, a former assistant U.S. attorney, has reflected the approach of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a fellow California Democrat who raised money for his first campaign, installed him as chairman of the Intelligence Committee — a panel on which she once sat as the top Democrat — and shifted the lead on impeachment from Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., to Schiff as soon as the Ukraine scandal hit.
Before Ukraine, Schiff, who led the successful removal of a federal judge through the impeachment process about a decade ago, admonished fellow Democrats and the party’s activist base that it would be a mistake to hit the gas on impeachment without evidence that would persuade most of the public that removal was merited — again, a lesson from the Clinton experience.
“I was reluctant to go down the road of impeachment prior to these new allegations coming to the surface not just because the Republicans were likely to vote in lockstep with the president,” he said. “I wanted to make sure if we went down this road we would at least be able to show the American people why it was warranted.”
Schiff, like Pelosi, is careful to frame the question in terms of the institutional and constitutional implications. “The impeachment inquiry is not only necessary but vital,” he said.
Schiff added that Trump’s decision to ask Ukraine’s president to investigate a political opponent, and to do so right after former special counsel Robert Mueller testified to Congress about his Russia probe, “says to me that this president feels that he is above the law and there is no accountability, and that is a very dangerous position for the country to be in.”
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., a member of the Intelligence Committee, praised Schiff for keeping a focus on Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. And, he said, Schiff has “been purposeful in the way he leads” on the impeachment inquiry, “seeing the bigger picture” and ignoring the vagaries of “day-to-day breaking news drama” that can distract from it.
“He will be regarded as a generational leader when our national security and nothing less than the republic was on the line,” Swalwell told NBC news.
The other side of the equation is that if a House impeachment is viewed by the public as baseless and partisan, it could cost House Democrats the majority they won in the 2018 midterm elections. With public polls showing a majority of Americans now in favor of the inquiry and an increasing share of them supportive of removing Trump from office, the calculus of which party benefits is shifting.
On a personal level, leading the charge against Trump could be the key to the job many Democrats think Schiff wants next: a Senate seat. It’s hard for a House member in California to raise enough money or get the kind of name-recognition necessary to run successfully statewide — the state has 53 congressional districts — but his role in impeachment has given Schiff a platform that is unavailable to most of his colleagues.
“Schiff has become part celebrity and part political powerhouse — holding the keys to unlock the vindication box that Democrats and everyday Americans have been salivating for,” said Dave Jacobson, a Democratic strategist in Southern California. “Given that California is a bastion of deep-blue progressivism, there is only an upside to this impeachment effort for Schiff.”
Schiff passed on the 2016 Senate race, when Kamala Harris won the seat left open by retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer, and the other seat is held by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who won re-election in 2018. If Harris doesn’t win the presidency, the next chance for Schiff to run for the Senate might not arise until 2024.
The perception of Schiff that emerged in interviews with Democratic lawmakers, House and Senate aides, and strategists — sharp-minded, steady-handed and calm under pressure — couldn’t be more at odds with the assessment of Schiff by Trump, his allies in the conservative media and the Republicans who match up against Schiff in the House on a regular basis.
The nine-member GOP contingent on the House Intelligence Committee demanded that Schiff resign his post in March after Mueller’s report concluded there was not sufficient evidence to charge the president or anyone in his orbit for conspiring with Russia to interfere in the election.
In 2017, Schiff said on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press Daily” that there would be “more than circumstantial evidence” showing collusion between Trump’s camp and Moscow, and he had repeatedly suggested that he was aware of nonpublic information detrimental to the president’s defense.
Since taking the reins of the impeachment investigation, Schiff has moved most of the proceedings behind closed doors — to the relief of many Democrats and the great consternation of Republican colleagues and the White House. Last week, White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote a scathing letter to House leaders in which he said the administration would not participate in the impeachment inquiry if Pelosi and the chairmen of House committees did not alter their process.
After Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, defied the White House’s decree and testified Friday in a secure room in the Capitol, GOP lawmakers criticized Schiff for not letting them ask questions in public.
“Not one single thing said in there was classified, not one single thing said in either their transcribed interview last week or the deposition this week is something that the American people should not be able to see and hear,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. “And the real question is, why the secrecy? Why is Adam Schiff — why is Adam Schiff — we’re talking about the impeachment of the president of the United States, why the secrecy?”
Schiff said he is most concerned with conducting the inquiry in a way that doesn’t allow the president or witnesses to alter their stories to fit the facts.
“I have no doubt that the president and those around him would like to be able to tailor their stories to the witness testimony,” he said.
Some Democrats privately acknowledge that he had gone too far in the past in pointing to evidence of collusion between Trump’s team and Russia, and Schiff provided new fodder for his adversaries at the outset of the Ukraine scandal when he read at an Intelligence Committee hearing a mock summary of the White House’s partial transcript of the president’s July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
“I hear what you want. I have a favor I want from you, though, and I’m gonna say this only seven times, so you better listen good,” Schiff said, attempting to deliver a caricature of the conversation. “I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand? Lots of it.”
A furious Trump claimed Schiff was trying to pass that off as the real phone call, demanded that he resign and suggested that the lawmaker might be detained on charges of treason — a crime that involves waging war against the United States or abetting its enemies, and which is punishable by death.
The other issue Trump and his allies have repeatedly raised — and one that goes to Schiff’s credibility with the broader public — is his insistence that he did not have contact with the whistleblower before the person filed a complaint that brought the Ukraine affair to light.
In a Sept. 17 interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Schiff said, “We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower.”
His staff later acknowledged that the whistleblower, who remains anonymous, had contacted an Intelligence Committee aide before filing the complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community, a revelation that led the Washington Post’s fact-checker to give Schiff a full “four Pinocchios” for his original statement.
On CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Schiff said that he should have been “much more clear” about contact with the whistleblower. What he meant to indicate, he said, was that the committee had not had a chance to discuss the complaint with the whistleblower once it was filed.
Fox News’ Sean Hannity called Schiff “a proven liar” after that, demanded that he resign and said there should be an investigation into his contact with the whistleblower.
Trump responded by accusing both Schiff and Pelosi of committing “high crimes and misdemeanors, and even treason” — two of the offenses for which administration officials may be impeached and removed from office under the Constitution. Members of the House are not subject to impeachment.
Be that as it may, impeaching Schiff’s character — and trying to goad him by using his last name in place of an expletive for excrement and giving him nicknames like “shifty Schiff” and “Liddle Adam Schiff” — is a top priority for Trump and his loyalists on Capitol Hill.
Carrick said Schiff is demonstrating now, as he did in 2000, that it’s hard to get under his skin or distract him from the job in front of him.
“His demeanor is definitely a strong advantage,” Carrick said. “We see how frustrating he is to the Republicans.”
For his part, Schiff said being demonized comes with the territory — and he characterized it as evidence that the facts are on his side.
“I do my very best to tune out all the noise, and a lot of the noise obviously comes from the president,” he said, adding of his Republican colleagues, “They will attack anyone because they can’t defend the president’s conduct.”
Trump administration asks states for citizenship info despite Supreme Court ruling
The U.S. Census Bureau is asking states for drivers’ license records that typically include citizenship data and has made a new request for information on recipients of government assistance after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked plans to include a citizenship question in its 2020 population count.
The two approaches, documented by The Associated Press, alarm civil rights activists. They caution that inaccuracies in state motor vehicle records make them a poor choice for tracking citizenship, if that is the bureau’s goal, and they see the requests as an extension of earlier efforts that could chill Latino participation in the 2020 Census.
After the U.S. Supreme Court nixed the plan by President Donald Trump’s administration to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, the president signed an executive order in July requiring the U.S. Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, to compile citizenship information through state and federal administrative records. Specifically, it ordered the department to increase efforts “to obtain State administrative records concerning citizenship.”
The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators told The AP that most, if not all, states recently received requests for information including citizenship status, race, birthdates and addresses. The association has advised members to consult their privacy officers when deciding how to respond.
“Each state is making their own determination how to respond,” association spokeswoman Claire Jeffrey said in an email.
In Illinois, Secretary of State Jesse White denied the request.
“We, as a general rule, are not comfortable with giving out our data, certainly not in such a huge amount. That was the overriding concern,” said spokesman Dave Drucker.
Other states are weighing what to do. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has received the request but hasn’t responded, spokeswoman Beth Frady said.
The request has alarmed Latino advocacy groups. Motor vehicle agency records are notoriously inaccurate and “bad at determining when someone is not a citizen,” said Andrea Senteno, a lawyer for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is challenging Trump’s executive order.
“The Census Bureau usually plans for these types of big changes in their operations many, many years in advance, but they don’t have enough time right now to actually plan and provide clear information to the public about how they are going to use these administrative records,” Senteno said. “That is because they’re flying by the seat of their pants right now.”
The bureau is also trying to gather other state records on individual recipients of public programs. A new request published last month in the Federal Register said the records would be used for the 2020 Census and other research, and they are needed to “improve efficiency and accuracy in our data collections, and to improve measures of the population and economy.”
While the request doesn’t explicitly ask for citizenship information, some demographers who work with the bureau on state-level data say the timing makes them suspect the request is responsive to the president’s executive order.
“The timing of it, and noticing in the executive order, it’s well-stated that this is going to be a push directing the Census Bureau to work on gathering these state inputs, it would lead me to believe that the two are probably connected,” said Susan Strate, senior manager of Population Estimates Program at the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute.
States already share records on food assistance and other programs to help the bureau track traditionally undercounted populations and pinpoint vacant houses. The states’ administrative records could cover a host of topics, including citizenship, said John Thompson, a former Census Bureau director in the Obama administration.
“Here’s the confusing thing about it,” Thompson said. “They’ve already been reaching out to states. They’ve got a number of ongoing programs where they reach out to states for various data.”
States typically don’t do a good job of tracking citizenship information, said Kenneth Prewitt, a former Census Bureau director in the Clinton administration.
“People move, divorce, buy homes, pay state taxes, and these behaviors are not tied to any citizenship records,” Prewitt said.
In a statement, the Census Bureau said it started requesting state administrative records in 2016 to help with the 2020 Census and ongoing surveys. The records include birthdates, addresses, race, Hispanic origin and citizenship status. The bureau didn’t answer why it was requesting drivers’ license information or why it had made the new request last month for state administrative records when it already receives records from states.
The bureau said the records it receives are stripped of identifiable information and used for statistical purposes only.
“Responses to all Census Bureau surveys and administrative records obtained by the Census Bureau are safe, secure and protected by law,” its statement said.
When it comes to the citizenship question, there has been a tension between Trump appointees pushing the president’s agenda and career Census Bureau workers who said adding citizenship to the 2020 questionnaire would have reduced participation and made for a less accurate count.
The department is now casting a wide net for administrative records, and bureau officials have said they will decide by the end of March on a methodology for tracking citizenship.
The 2020 Census will determine how many congressional seats each state gets and the allocation of hundreds of billions of dollars of federal funding, as well as the drawing of state legislative districts. The apportionment of U.S. congressional seats is based on states’ overall populations, but Trump’s executive order has raised the possibility that just the citizen population could be used for electoral maps.
Several civil rights organizations challenged Trump’s executive order in federal court in Maryland last month, claiming the order is “motivated by a racially discriminatory scheme to reduce Latino political representation” and gives an advantage to white voters at the expense of Latino voters.
What you need to know
The Democratic presidential primary debate on Tuesday will feature Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ return to the campaign trail after a health scare and one fresh face.
The field of candidates expected to take the stage in Westerville, Ohio, is the largest to date, with a dozen qualifying under the rules set by the Democratic National Committee. The matchup includes billionaire activist Tom Steyer, who will be making his first appearance on a debate stage. It also features the return of Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who did not qualify for the September debate. After threatening to boycott Tuesday’s debate, she reversed course Monday, saying she would attend after all.
Sanders, meanwhile, will take the stage two weeks to the day after he suffered a heart attackwhile campaigning in Nevada.
Here’s everything you need to know about the fourth debate.
When and where is the Democratic debate?
The debate is being held at Otterbein University in Westerville, a suburb of Columbus. It’s scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday and is being co-hosted by CNN and The New York Times.
It will be moderated by CNN anchors Anderson Cooper and Erin Burnett and Times national editor Marc Lacey.
Who made the stage?
The 12 candidates who qualified by having both 130,000 individual donors and reaching at least 2 percent in four qualifying polls, in addition to Gabbard, Sanders and Steyer, are former Vice President Joe Biden; New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker; Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana; former Housing Secretary Julián Castro; California Sen. Kamala Harris; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar; former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren; and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.
Who’s standing where?
As with the previous debates, stage position has been determined by polling averages, so front-runners Biden and Warren will be center stage. The overall order from right to left is Gabbard, Steyer, Booker, Harris, Sanders, Biden, Warren, Buttigieg, Yang, O’Rourke, Klobuchar and Castro.
There was some question over whether Gabbard would say aloha — or aloha.
She tweeted out a statement last week saying she was considering boycotting the debate because the DNC and “the corporate media” were “rigging the election” by using polling as qualifying criteria.
Gabbard did not qualify for the September debate because of polling, and so far has not hit the polling benchmarks for the next debate in November. In her tweet, she said the “so-called debates” are “not debates at all, but rather commercialized reality television meant to entertain rather than to inform or enlighten.”
But Monday, she appeared to have a change of heart:
How can I watch the debate?
When is Round 5?
The fifth debate is scheduled for Nov. 20 in Georgia, and will be hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post.
To qualify for that stage, candidates have to meet fundraising and polling criteria laid out by the Democratic National Committee, and those benchmarks are higher than the previous debates. They call for candidates to hit at least 3 percent in four qualifying state or national polls, or 5 percent in two qualifying state polls one week before the debate. The fundraising threshold requires candidates to have received contributions from 165,000 unique donors, including 600 unique donors in 20 states.
An unofficial survey by NBC News shows eight candidates appear to have qualified to date — Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Harris, Sanders, Steyer, Warren and Yang.
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