Bloomberg, Gillibrand Meet Granite Staters

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (D-NY) speaks at Saint Anselm on Tuesday. (Photo from Bloomberg’s Flickr account)

The 2020 presidential election is in full swing. This week was a busy one for prospective candidates. On Tuesday, Michael Bloomberg (D-NY), traveled to the hilltop for a Bookmark Series event, hosted by the New Hampshire Institute of Politics in conjunction with the New England Council. Bloomberg spoke about his 2017 book Climate of Hope and outlined his thoughts on global climate change.

After first meeting with Saint Anselm students and taking a photo, Bloomberg addressed a packed auditorium. The former New York City mayor admitted he is actively considering a presidential campaign. He told WMUR that he expects his decision to be made by the end of February.

In his remarks Tuesday, Bloomberg eschewed the glowing rhetoric of Kamala Harris’ Oakland announcement and instead spent his time proving his knowledge of climate change. During the question and answer portion, the potential candidate also spoke to a need to greater fund the arts.

His tour of New Hampshire continued beyond Saint Anselm. He went to Nashua, Dover, and Concord before heading home to New York.

There was a multitude of Saint Anselm students in the audience on Tuesday. One of them, Jackson Lawler-Sidell ’22, is a Republican voter who seemed to appreciate what Bloomberg had to say, specifically mentioning how Bloomberg addressed the future of the coal industry. “With the recent surge in the elimination of coal plants, it’s reassuring to see that someone is looking out for the families involved in the coal industry,” he said.

Lawler-Sidell continued, “Switching from coal to other cleaner energy solutions is something that needs to happen if we want to save our planet, but there needs to be a system in place to provide new jobs for families in the coal industry.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) addresses an audience of nearly 150 people at Stark Brewing Company on Friday. (Photo by Nick Fulchino ’19)

Another New Yorker, Kirsten Gillibrand, was in Manchester on Friday at Stark Brewing Company. After grabbing a beer, Gillibrand addressed a standing-room-only crowd. In her remarks, Gillibrand spoke of her desire to fight for America’s children. She took on President Trump directly, on issues ranging from immigration to divisive rhetoric. She promised voters she was up to the task of taking on Trump and leading the nation, “I promise you I have never backed down from a fight. It does not matter who I am fighting against it is who I am fighting for.”

During the question and answer segment, Gillibrand touted her record of legislative accomplishment. She cited her history of working with conservative Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) on legislation addressing sexual assault. As president, Gillibrand said she would work hard to bring the nation together.

She also addressed her desire to fight for criminal justice reform, pointing to the racism inherent in the current system. Specifically, she mentioned the discrepancies in sentencing for marijuana possession. She said that in New York, African-Americans are more likely to go to jail and face longer sentences than their white counterparts. As part of her plan, Gillibrand will work to decriminalize marijuana and end cash bail. Her promises on criminal justice reform drew loud applause from the room of Democrats.

Among her other proposals, Gillibrand called for publicly-funded elections, a repeal of the Hyde Amendment, and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. The senator is still in the exploratory phase of her campaign but intends to roll out more policy as she prepares to formally enter the race.

Saint Anselm student Emily Burns ’22 came away from the event impressed with the senator. “As a New Yorker, it was super exciting to be able to see and meet my senator, but also to be able to hear in person her stances on various issues that are important to me,” she said. Burns continued, “I’m excited to see how her presidential run goes, and I’m excited to support her along the way!”

Kirsten Gillibrand, 2020 Hopeful, Coming to Manchester

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) campaigning in Iowa. (Photo by Nati Harnik, AP)

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who made national headlines when she called on fellow senator Al Franken (D-MN) to resign after he was accused of sexual misconduct, will be in New Hampshire this weekend. Gillibrand is campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination after filing an exploratory committee with the Federal Election Commission.

First appointed to the Senate in 2009, after Hillary Clinton’s resignation, Gillibrand has represented the Empire State for ten years. She was instrumental in repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which prohibited gay and lesbian servicemembers from serving openly in the Armed Forces. She has also gained notoriety for taking on top military leaders over the issue of military sexual assault and harassment. Her legislation to reform the military justice system was unsuccessful, but she was able to get the support of Republican lawmakers like Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY).

Gillibrand has received criticism from the left for previously having more conservative stances when she was a congresswoman from rural New York from 2007-2009. Gillibrand has since apologized for some of her previous beliefs and has said she was wrong.

The New Hampshire Young Democrats are hosting a Pints & Politics event with the presidential hopeful at Stark Brewing Co. on Friday night. After her stop in Manchester, the candidate will head to campaign stops along the Seacoast and in the North Country for the rest of the weekend. You can register for the Pints & Politics event here.

A Year Out, 2020 Campaign Takes Shape

The first votes of the 2020 Presidential Election are going to be cast a little over a year from now, on February 3, in Iowa. New Hampshire will vote about a week later, and then the party really starts. A number of states have taken steps to front-load the primary calendar, giving their state, and its delegates, more sway in selecting the nominee. In 2020, it is possible that the Democratic nominee could surpass the delegate threshold by the end of March. The 2016 nominee, Hillary Clinton, did not do so until June 6.

There are currently four declared major candidates for President running as members of the Democratic Party.

The first to announce, in July of 2017, was former Maryland Congressman John K. Delaney. Delaney, a former business owner, has very low name recognition but, as he said at an event in the Dana Center last year, his hope is that running for so long will give him the opportunity to meet as many voters as possible in as intimate venues as possible in order to push up his name recognition. Congressman Delaney’s platform is broadly centrist, promoting a jobs training program, a shift to clean energy, and a reform to America’s public education program.

Hawaii Congresswoman and former Army National Guard medic Tulsi Gabbard was the second Democrat to throw her hat into the ring. She first rose to prominence in the national dialogue in 2016, when she resigned as a Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee in support of Senator Bernie Sanders’ upstart presidential campaign.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders wave to supporters during a campaign event in Miami. (Pedro Portal/El Nuevo Herald/TNS via Getty Images)

Congresswoman Gabbard, in her fourth term as a member of Congress, is having trouble getting her campaign off the ground as she is dogged by several controversies from her past. In 2017, she took part in a Congressional fact-finding mission to the warzone in Syria and met with Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad, who has been accused of using chemical weapons against his own people and has a long and bloody track record of suppressing dissent in the country. Congresswoman Gabbard has said that she supported al-Assad’s rule and opposed U.S.-led “regime-change.” She has a mixed record on social issues such as abortion and has drawn ire over her archaic positions on same-sex marriage. She once led the campaign in Hawaii for a “Traditional Marriage” constitutional amendment.

Julián Castro, a former Mayor and Housing and Urban Development Secretary, become the third major candidate to announce he was running for President. Secretary Castro has a record as a strong progressive, being an early supporter of same-sex marriage and promoting a Medicare-for-All proposal. At a recent visit to the Hilltop, he put an emphasis on pre-K education and his immigration story. Secretary Castro’s largest base of support comes from the shifting demographics of the United States, as he represents a younger, more progressive, and more inclusive picture of the future.

The only other major Presidential to declare that they are running is California Senator Kamala Harris. A first-term Senator, Harris is the child of immigrants and spent much of her early years in Quebec, where her mother moved after divorcing her father. Senator Harris has made a fast rise through the California political ranks, serving as San Francisco’s District Attorney and California’s Attorney General before being elected to the Senate in 2016. She is the first Senator from Jamaican or Indian heritage and has staked herself out as a progressive voice in Washington, leading the opposition to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, pushing for passage of the DREAM Act, and authoring criminal justice reform legislation.

While only four candidates have formally announced their Democratic campaigns for President, a number have launched Exploratory Committees, a coy political tool enabling someone to look into running for President while fundraising a significant amount of money without having to follow the normal FEC disclosure rules.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks during a campaign rally for Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in front of Alumni Hall in 2016. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, an outspoken Progressive, was the first to do so, followed by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Senator Gillibrand reached national prominence in 2017, after being appointed to the Senate when Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State in 2009, for her stiff opposition to many Trump Administration nominees as well as leading the campaign to oust Senator Al Franken of Minnesota as his sexual misconduct scandal became public.

Pete Buttigieg, the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has made history as the first openly gay person to form an exploratory bid for a major party’s nomination. Before jumping into the presidential race, he conducted an unsuccessful long-shot bid for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 2017.

It is likely that several more candidates will join the Democratic field before the end of 2019. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has floated the idea of a self-funded campaign and some expect him to use his event at Saint Anselm College’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics next week to launch his campaign.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has announced he is running for President on the sole issues of addressing climate change but has yet to file with the FEC. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is expected to launch his second campaign for the Presidency sometime next week.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Colorado Senator Michael Bennett, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke have all been speculated to be interested in running in 2020, although none have formed exploratory committees or launched campaigns.

Fmr. Ohio Governor John Kasich visiting NHIOP in 2017. He is rumored to be considering a 2020 presidential campaign. (Photo from Saint Anselm College)

As for the Republican side, it is unlikely that a serious, viable challenge to President Trump will emerge. Former Ohio Governor John Kasich and Former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake have been frequently talked about as a potential “Anyone But Trump” candidate, but President Trump’s support among Republicans is very strong, nearly 90%. At the Republican National Committee’s annual winter meetings, held this weekend in New Mexico, the party passed a resolution declaring their support for President Trump’s reelection, essentially giving a stiff finger to any potential challengers.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a popular Governor in a blue state, has recently been floated as a potential candidate, with reports indicating he is in talks to headline a Politics & Eggs at Saint Anselm College in the coming weeks and is planning a trip to Iowa with Never Trump leader Bill Kristol. It is not obvious what potential base of support Governor Hogan has other than the Never Trumpers.

Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, who most recently was the Libertarian Party’s Vice Presidential nominee in 2016, has also held talks with potential staff about a Republican campaign in 2020. Governor Weld has not held office since the Saint Anselm College Class of 2019 was born, leaving the corner office on Beacon Hill in 1997. He will be headlining a Politics & Eggs event in February at the Bedford Village Inn.

Howard Schultz resigned his position as CEO of Starbucks last year to look into running for President. In an interview that will air on Sunday night’s 60 Minutes, Schultz says that he is close to announcing an independent and self-funded campaign for President as the anti-Trump. This has worried many Democrats, including former Senior Advisor to President Obama Dan Pfeifer, who said “[Schultz] will pose an existential threat to a Democrat in what will likely be 2020 race decided by a few votes in a handful of states.”

Early on in the 2020 media cycle, there was a lot of talk of a potential “Unity Party” bid, reminiscent of when Republican President Abraham Lincoln chose Democratic Senator Andrew Johnson as his running mate to unite the country in 1864 during the throes of the Civil War, with Republican Governor Kasich and Democratic Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. This talk has, largely, died down since the fall, when Governor Hickenlooper told reporters in Colorado that Kasich “didn’t even send me a text” when Governor Kasich formed a new PAC to look into running for President.

Regardless of how big or how crazy the 2020 primary fields are, or even the general election, the Hilltop with surely be at the center of it all.