Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat and a sharp critic of big banks and unregulated capitalism, entered the 2020 race for president on Monday, becoming the first major candidate in what is likely to be a long and crowded primary marked by ideological and generational divisions in a Democratic Party determined to beat President Trump.
Ms. Warren quickly made plans to campaign this weekend in Iowa, which holds the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses in February 2020. The senator, who has not traveled to Iowa recently, announced Tuesday that she would visit several of the state’s major cities: Des Moines, Council Bluffs, Storm Lake and Sioux City.
The competition for the Democratic nomination is poised to be the most wide open since perhaps 1992: The party has no single leader, no obvious front-runner for 2020, and no broadly unifying ideology as it moves away from a quarter-century of dominance by the Clintons and Barack Obama.
After a midterm election in which many women, liberals, minorities and young Democrats won, the presidential primaries and caucuses next year are likely to be fought over not only who is the right policy match for the party, but also which mix of identities should be reflected in the next nominee. The range of candidates will also force Democratic voters to consider which electoral approach is best suited to defeat Mr. Trump, balancing questions of ideological purity with how to appeal to a wide range of demographic groups like white rural voters, suburban women, college students, and black and Latino Democrats in the South and the Sun Belt.
Ms. Warren, 69, is among the best-known Democrats seeking to take on Mr. Trump, whom she has denounced in the past as “a thin-skinned racist bully” and a “wannabe tyrant.” Mr. Trump, who has already announced his re-election campaign, frequently mocks her as “Pocahontas” because of her claims to Native American ancestry, a slur Native American groups have denounced as a racist epithet.
While Ms. Warren’s stinging attacks on Mr. Trump and Wall Street have helped make her a favorite of grass-roots liberals, she also faces challenges as a presidential candidate: controversy over a DNA test to prove her Native American heritage, skepticism from the party establishment and a lack of experience in a national race.
The editorial board of The Boston Globe, her hometown newspaper, recently urged her not to run for president, saying she had become “a divisive figure.” And some in her party believe she missed her best chance to run in 2016, when liberal activists urged her to challenge Hillary Clinton.
Two potential top-tier candidates who have run before, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Bernie Sanders, are eyeing 2020 and are expected to disclose their plans this winter. Yet both men carry political baggage and would be in their late 70s on Election Day 2020, and many Democrats say they want a fresh face as their next nominee.
On Monday, Ms. Warren called Mr. Sanders — a fellow Senate liberal who is also popular with grass-roots activists — as a courtesy and had a brief, matter-of-fact conversation, according to a Democrat briefed on the call.
More than three dozen Democratic senators, governors, mayors and business leaders are also weighing bids — most of whom have not sought the White House before. The race is expected to draw several women and nonwhite contenders, making for the most diverse field in history. Several Senate colleagues of Ms. Warren’s are likely to enter the race soon: Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. A mix of liberal and more moderate politicians are also considering a run, including Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York City mayor, who has said he is prepared to spend well over $100 million of his own money on the race.
Getting a jump on the competition, Ms. Warren plans to head not just to Iowa but other early voting states in the coming weeks. According to a person familiar with Ms. Warren’s thinking, the timing of her announcement had been decided weeks in advance.
In an email to supporters on Monday — 13 months before votes will be cast in Iowa — Ms. Warren said she was forming an exploratory committee, which allows her to raise money and fill staff positions before a formal start of her presidential bid.
On Monday afternoon outside her home in Cambridge, Mass., flanked by her husband, Bruce H. Mann, a professor at Harvard Law School, and their golden retriever, Bailey, Ms. Warren leaned into her stinging criticisms of wealthy financial interests as she ripped Mr. Trump and branded herself as a champion of the middle class.
“The problem we’ve got right now in Washington is that it works great for those who’ve got money to buy influence, and I’m fighting against that,” Ms. Warren said. “And you bet it’s going to make a lot of people unhappy. But at the end of the day, I don’t go to Washington to work for them.”
In her remarks before a pack of cameras, Ms. Warren shrugged at a question about how she had handled the release of her DNA test, reiterating that she had “put it all out there” and people could see the information for themselves.
She also took a revealing warning shot at the emerging field of presidential hopefuls. “I don’t think we ought to be running campaigns that are funded by billionaires, whether it goes through super PACs or their own money that they’re spending,” she said. “Democrats are the party of the people.”
Among grass-roots activists eager to highlight their message of a rigged economic system, there was particular excitement that a video released by Ms. Warren on Monday focused on issues like income inequality and corporate greed. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee said that “Elizabeth Warren meets the moment,” and Waleed Shahid, a spokesman for the leftist group Justice Democrats, said Ms. Warren’s “message of multiracial populism is exactly the right way to take on Trump’s divide-and-conquer agenda.”
In an interview set to air on Fox News on Monday night, Mr. Trump addressed Ms. Warren’s entrance into the race.
“She did very badly in proving that she was of Indian heritage,” Mr. Trump said, according to a partial transcript. “That didn’t work out too well. So, we’ll see how she does. I wish her well, I hope she does well, I’d love to run against her.”
A longtime bankruptcy law professor at Harvard who never held public office before 2013, Ms. Warren became the first woman elected to the Senate from Massachusetts after defeating a self-styled moderate Republican incumbent, Scott Brown, with a populist message based on advocacy for strict Wall Street regulation.
Ms. Warren has both assets and possible drawbacks in a White House run. Strategists for several other likely Democratic candidates say private polling found Ms. Warren’s political brand — as a warrior against powerful corporate interests — to be exceptionally strong with Democratic primary voters. Her signature initiative in recent months has been a sweeping bill to crack down on government corruption, effectively adapting her longtime focus on private-sector greed for the public-sector scandals of the Trump era.
But Ms. Warren has also become a favorite target of conservatives, who have sought to label her as an out-of-touch liberal from academia. In 2012, the political director for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said Ms. Warren represented a “threat to free enterprise,” and this year two Democratic senators — facing difficult re-election races in states Mr. Trump won in 2016 — took the unusual step of distancing themselves from Ms. Warren, their own colleague.
Sue Dvorsky, a former chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party, said in an interview Monday that it had been a mistake for Ms. Warren to spend so much time sparring in personal terms with Mr. Trump and called that a losing path for her or any other presidential candidate.
But Ms. Dvorsky also said Ms. Warren’s announcement video — particularly her focus on “how the middle class is being destroyed” — would resonate in Iowa.
“She has always done well in Iowa,” said Ms. Dvorsky, who recalled hosting Ms. Warren when she campaigned there for Democrats in the 2014 midterm elections. “She had people eating out of her hand, in tears, because her story is extremely powerful and she is a powerful teller of it.”
A Quinnipiac University poll in mid-December underscored Ms. Warren’s strengths as a primary candidate, finding her better known, and better liked, by Democrats than
any other candidate who had not run for president before. Three in five Democrats had a favorable opinion of her, compared with just 12 percent who viewed her unfavorably, a ratio outdone only by Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders.
To the extent that Democratic primary voters are inclined to cast their ballots tactically — in favor of a candidate who appears likeliest to beat Mr. Trump — Ms. Warren may have some serious convincing to do. She is regarded with anxiety by much of the Democratic political establishment, including some Senate colleagues who complain that she has pursued an inflexible agenda on matters like bank regulation at the cost of party unity.
During her Senate years, Ms. Warren has demonstrated the most influence as a member of the Banking Committee, aggressively questioning leaders of the financial industry about excesses and abuses, seeking accountability for the Great Recession and challenging the Obama and Trump administrations to take tougher lines on regulations and trade policy. In 2015, Ms. Warren sank the nomination of Antonio Weiss, the Wall Street banker selected by the Obama administration to serve as the third-ranking official at the Treasury Department, taking on her party on the grounds that Mr. Weiss, the former head of investment banking for Lazard, was too closely connected to the financial services industry to serve in public office.
The map of states with early nominating contests appears, at least on the surface, to be an inviting one for Ms. Warren: The race begins in Iowa, where Farm Belt populism long defined Democratic politics, before moving to her political backyard of New Hampshire. During the midterm elections, she got a rousing reception in Nevada, an early state that suffered grievously in the 2008 financial crisis, and where rhetoric lashing Wall Street and major mortgage lenders tends to resonate.
Ms. Warren’s prospects may also depend, in part, on which Democrats decide to run. Like other white liberals in a historically diverse field, Ms. Warren may have to work harder to win over black primary voters. African-American Democrats have played a decisive role in settling the last two open contests for the party’s nomination, and Ms. Warren is expected to be competing against her party’s only two black senators, Ms. Harris and Mr. Booker.
And several other fiery economic populists could join the Democratic field, including Mr. Sanders and Senators Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, potentially splintering the voters most energized by Ms. Warren’s core themes. Advisors to other top-tier candidates, who were granted anonymity because their campaigns are yet to be announced, said that while they were surprised that Ms. Warren had announced her candidacy before the new year, it would have no influence on their decisions.
But the same poll pointed to Ms. Warren’s likely challenges. Voters at large were far more divided in their views of her: Only about 30 percent viewed her favorably, with 37 percent holding an unfavorable view and the rest undecided.
Cuomo: Legalizing pot will bring in $300 million in tax revenue
Adult recreational use of marijuana will be legalized under a plan advanced today by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo along with the creation of three new taxes – eventually passed on to consumers – that will total $300 million annually.
The Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act will regulate marijuana from cultivation to retail sales “for the purposes of fostering and promoting temperance in their consumption” and “to promote social equality,’’ according to Cuomo’s budget plan unveiled this afternoon.
Not all the details of the program were immediately released, such as law enforcement strategies to deal with people who drive while high, or precisely how many retail operations will be located in the state.
The plan calls for the creation of an Office of Cannabis Management.
Cuomo had been steadfastly opposed to marijuana legalization, calling it only a couple of years ago a dangerous “gateway” drug. But, as he has moved to the left on an assortment of issues, Cuomo relaxed his views after a state study panel he appointed last year said there were now more benefits than risks to legalizing recreational use of marijuana.
Pot sales would be legal under Cuomo’s plan to adults 21 years and older. The plan also calls for automatically sealing marijuana-related arrest records. Counties and large cities would be able to refuse to participate with the marijuana sales program within their borders.
Initial budget documents released by the administration also do not make clear if residents, as in other states, will be permitted to grow their own marijuana.
The Cuomo budget proposes to impose on pot cultivators a $1 per dry weight gram on cannabis flower and 25 cents per dry weight gram of the cannabis trim. Sales by wholesalers to retailers would face another tax of 20 percent of the invoice price. A third tax is an additional 2 percent sales tax on the wholesaler that would be distributed to counties that host retail establishments.
A part of the financial plan, however, suggests a slow ramping up of the program: It envisions no revenues coming in during the upcoming fiscal year that starts April 1 and only $83 million the following year.
Anthony Scaramucci will be on ‘Celebrity Big Brother,’ following Omarosa’s lead
Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci will be on this season of “Celebrity Big Brother” on CBS, the second straight year that the reality show has featured a prominent member of Donald Trump’s White House.
The CBS announcement comes a year after Omarosa Manigault-Newman, the “Apprentice” alum and former White House aide, appeared on the show and held forth about her time in the Trump administration. She told her housemates that the situation at the White House was “going to not be OK,” said she was “haunted” by Trump’s tweets every day, and compared her departure to being freed from a plantation.
Scaramucci, the financier-turned-Trump whisperer, was infamously the White House’s communications director for a whirlwind 11 days in July 2017. “The Mooch” was ousted after giving an aggressively vulgar interview to The New Yorker about fellow officials Reince Priebus and Steven Bannon.
“I sometimes use colorful language,” he tweeted at the time. “I will refrain in this arena but not give up the passionate fight for Donald Trump’s agenda.”
At one point last season, Omarosa gave a shoutout to Scaramucci while on the show, and he returned the favor in a February 2018 tweet.
“Always liked Omarosa always will,” he wrote.
Scaramucci has continued to be a consistent presence on cable news since then, coming on to talk about the President. He recently published the book, “Trump: The Blue-Collar President.”
“Celebrity Big Brother” follows a group of modestly recognizable figures living together in a house filled with cameras and microphones picking up their every move. Someone is voted out of the house each week, and the last remaining guest wins a grand prize.
Scaramucci will be joined in the house by actor Jonathan Bennett, singer Tamar Braxton, singer Kandi Burruss, comedian Tom Green, Olympian Lolo Jones, OJ Simpson trial figure Kato Kaelin, actor Joey Lawrence, Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, “Momager” Dina Lohan, wrestler Natalie Eva Marie, and former NFL running back Ricky Williams.
Julie Chen Moonves will return as host of the show. The two-night premiere event of the show starts on Monday, January 21, and Tuesday, January 22.
When is the 2019 State of the Union address? Everything to know about Trump’s second speech to Congress
President Trump is getting ready to step up to the podium for the second time in late January to deliver his annual State of the Union address — this time, to a Democratic majority House of Representatives.
Newly-sworn-in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., extended an invite to the president just hours after lawmakers formally joined the new Congress, proposing a Jan. 29 date for the annual event which is held in the House Chamber. Trump publicly agreed to deliver the address on that date days later.
In a letter, Pelosi explained that the Constitution established the three “co-equal branches of government, to be a check and balance on each other” and called for the president to “from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union.”
Here’s what you need to know about this year’s event.
What will Trump discuss?
Similarly to 2018, Republican and Democratic lawmakers are yet again at an impasse over Trump’s proposed border security.
The government was partially shuttered — with about one-quarter of government employees affected — ahead of Christmas because Congress couldn’t strike a deal in regards to funding for Trump’s border wall. Trump, in particular, is requesting a package that contains $5.7 billion to help build the structure along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Immigration was also a hot button issue last year.
The government shut down for three days in late January 2018 over disagreements over the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era program, which offers protection for immigrants — also known as “Dreamers” — who came into the U.S. illegally as minors. They eventually reached a compromise to briefly reopen the government.
During his 2018 address, Trump called on both parties to put politics aside and “get the job done,” a theme he may echo this year as Democrats control the House while Republicans maintain their grip over the Senate.
“Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve,” the president said.
Days later, on Feb. 9, 2018, the government once again shuttered, though that shutdown only last nine hours. Congress eventually came up with a two-year budget agreement that included an increase in military spending, an extension for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and additional funds for disaster relief, among other issues.
It’s a deal “neither side loves, but both sides can be proud of,” Senate Minority Leader Schumer, D-N.Y., said at the time.
How long will Trump’s speech last?
There’s no telling how long Trump’s speech will last but if it’s anything like last year’s, expect it to run long.
In 2018, Trump spoke for a record 1 hour, 20 minutes — the third-longest SOTU speech in U.S. history. Former President Bill Clinton had him beat with a roughly 1-hour, 28-minute speech and 1-hour, 24-minute speech in 2000 and 1995, respectively, according to the University of California, Santa Barbara’s American Presidency Project.
Who will attend Trump’s SOTU?
An official list has yet to be released from the White House, though Trump’s Cabinet, the heads of 15 executive departments, including the attorney general, members of Congress and a variety of guests — chosen by lawmakers — are invited to attend. The nine sitting Supreme Court justices, including newcomer Brett Kavanaugh, will also be asked to view the event in person.
Members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and senior uniformed leaders in the Defense Department who help advise the president and his staff on military matters will be invited, too.
Trump will also likely handpick around 15 guests to join first lady Melania Trump in the gallery. It’s a tradition that was started by former President Ronald Reagan in 1982.
“Some of these individual stories are heroic. Some are patriotic. Others are tragic,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders explained in 2018. “But all of them represent the unbreakable American spirit and will inspire our nation to continue growing stronger, prouder and more prosperous.”
A Marine Corps. veteran, a cop, a welder and the parents of MS-13 victims were among those tapped by the president to attend last year’s event.
Who’s going to be the “designated survivor”?
The “designated survivor,” a precaution taken to assure continuity of the presidency, probably won’t be revealed until hours before the big event.
Last year, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue was tasked with the role.
Ahead of the speech, the designated survivor will be taken to a secure and undisclosed location outside of Washington, D.C., where he or she is expected to stay with Secret Service agents until the conclusion of the event. When Trump and his Cabinet members safely exit the packed House chamber, the chosen official will be allowed to return home.
It’s not unusual for a lesser-known Cabinet member to be selected, as the president may point out higher-profile officials as he mentions specific tasks and initiatives in his speech.
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