Senator Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday released an attack ad aimed Mike Bloomberg that her campaign said would run on the billionaire’s own cable television network in the New York City media market. “Now some people have figured out it’d be a lot cheaper to spend a few hundred mil just trying to buy the presidency than paying that wealth tax,” the ad shows Warren saying with cuts to video clips of Bloomberg, a former New York mayor.
The line has found a consistent place in Warren’s stump speech over the past week as Warren has used Bloomberg’s largely self-funded presidential run as an example of the unfair role money plays in politics.
Warren has embraced attacks from billionaires, even selling a “billionaire tears” mug in her online store after investor Leon Cooperman, who also appears in the ad, teared up talking about Warren in a CNBC interview in November. But CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak says her attacks on Bloomberg stand out because Warren has generally avoided direct contact when she has gone after fellow Democrats this race.
Bloomberg joined the race less than two weeks ago, but Warren has already focused more direct attacks on Bloomberg than any other candidate in the field. As her poll numbers have slipped, however, Warren has shown in recent weeks a new willingness to contrast herself with other candidates, such as South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Warren is slated to appear on Bloomberg TV’s Daybreak later this evening.
Senator Amy Klobuchar is quickly ramping up her ground game in Iowa with less than two months to go until the first-in-the-nation caucuses. CBS News campaign reporters Musadiq Bidar and Adam Brewster say Klobuchar announced the hiring of Norm Sterzenbach as a caucus adviser, one of the most significant hires of a staffer from a now-defunct campaign. Sterzenbach previously served Beto O’Rourke’s Iowa State Director and is a veteran Iowa political operative with deep knowledge of the caucuses.
In a statement, Sterzenbach said he is thrilled to be joining Klobuchar’s campaign. “Amy Klobuchar has built an impressive grassroots campaign equipped to turn out Iowans of all backgrounds from across the state,” Sterzenbach said. “She knows what it takes to win in the Heartland and beat Donald Trump.” Klobuchar now has more than 60 staffers on the ground in Iowa and after opening five new offices recently, she has 15 field offices across the state. A campaign source says an increase in staff and offices will continue.
Vice President Mike Pence spent Wednesday on a three stop bus tour through Michigan, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson. Pence met with Michigan faith leaders at Valley Family Church in Portage, then made a stop at Hope College in Holland to hold a round table with Michigan community leaders before giving remarks at a “Keep America Great” rally in Holland.
Michigan is one of the states that clinched Mr. Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016, but less than a percentage point of the votes separated the two candidates, making the state a focus point for the campaign in 2020.
California Senator Kamala Harris came to South Carolina on Wednesday for her sixteenth visit since launching her now-suspended campaign. But on this occasion there wasn’t a press release to announce her arrival or news outlet cameras crowded onto a press riser. Instead, early backer and outspoken surrogate JA Moore told CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell that it was a “joyous” reunion with Harris and her South Carolina team that felt more like an ‘I’ll see ya soon’ than a farewell.
“The word isn’t sadness, it’s just untapped potential. However you express that emotion is I think, how people felt,” said Moore, a state representative, when describing the sentiment of the visit. “I think everybody that was in that room today wholeheartedly believed that Kamala Harris was the only—and continues to be the only person—that could defeat Donald Trump and move the country forward.”
Harris, who had visited the first-in-the-South primary state more than any other Democratic presidential candidate, had hoped that South Carolina would be a lynchpin of sorts for her campaign. From her early days on the trail, CBS News reported that South Carolina was the first early presidential primary state that she stumped through, just days after announcing her presidential bid. By July, Harris’ South Carolina operation had the most paid staffers on the ground of any candidate, and a CBS News Battleground tracker from the same month had her tied for 3rd place among likely Democratic primary voters in the state.
But by November, Harris had dropped to 5th and was polling at 5% with Democrats in the state. During Harris’ first visit to the state, CBS News reported that she told attendees at an event hosted by her sorority — Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. — that her campaign’s success would, in part, be successful if it “energizes and empowers people to actually participate and see themselves in the process.”
Moore said Harris’ departure from the field will be a loss of representation for the entire party. “I think we lost the representation of the heart and soul of the Democratic Party…Kamala Harris was the true representation of the majority of the people—especially here in South Carolina—that will be voting on February 29th,” said Moore. “She’s a black woman…black women have been the foundation of the Democratic Party for generations now, so that’s going to be a huge void.”
Nevada’s powerful Culinary Union has announced it will question Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden next week in Las Vegas. The labor group says these town halls will be their last such events with White House hopefuls before the new year.
CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin says then-candidate Kamala Harris was the first to answer questions from the UNITE HERE local’s membership, which counts as one of Nevada’s most hotly-coveted endorsements. Her praise of the labor group’s health fund – and her pledge to “not take that away” – earned cheers last month. “What can you do to ensure that we can keep that insurance? Because I like our insurance. Insurance should be a right not a privilege. So I like mine, but everybody else should have insurance,” Culinary Union member Mario Sandoval, a food server at a Las Vegas casino, had asked Harris.
CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary filing period has closed and the party confirms that Kamala Harris — who suspended her campaign Tuesday — will not be on the state’s presidential primary ballot in February, per her team’s request.
The other person missing from the list of 14 Democratic contenders who will be on the state’s ballot is billionaire Mike Bloomberg. When Mitchell spoke with voters last week about Bloomberg’s run, one mentioned that he should still visit the state even though he doesn’t intend on actively campaigning here.
South Carolina Democratic Party chair Trav Robertson says that while the party is “obviously” disappointed by Bloomberg’s decision not to file, there are 14 other candidates that did and have spent extensive time in the state.
“There’s a potential Bloomberg would’ve brought moderate Republicans into the South Carolina Democratic primary but I’m not going to begrudge a candidate or campaign for making a strategic decision,” said Robertson. “He’s trying to win a primary and he has strategy and I’m not going to criticize his strategy.”
According to a press release from the SCDP, the state party’s executive council will vote to certify the state ballot on Friday and the certified candidates will be submitted to the South Carolina Elections Commission. South Carolina’s Democratic primary will take place in 87 days.
IN THE SENATE
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp officially announced financial executive Kelly Loeffler as his pick to fill Senator Johnny Isakson’s seat after he steps down at the end of the year. Kemp praised Loeffler as a strong conservative who “like Ivanka Trump” is a savvy businesswoman and “like Donald Trump” is a political outsider, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson.
Kemp has faced criticism from allies of Mr. Trump for not choosing Congressman Doug Collins of Georgia, who has been a vocal defender of the president, especially on Wednesday during the first impeachment hearings before the House Judiciary Committee.
Loeffler, who joined Kemp at a press conference Wednesday morning, vowed to support the conservative agenda. “I haven’t spent my life trying to get to Washington. But here’s what folks are gonna find out about me: I’m a lifelong conservative. Pro-Second Amendment. Pro-military. Pro-wall. And pro-Trump,” Loeffler said. “I make no apologies for my conservative values, and will proudly support President Trump’s conservative judges.”
IN THE HOUSE
Washington Democrat Denny Heck announced Wednesday that this term would be his last. The fourth-term Congressman said in his initial announcement, via Medium post, the “countless hours” spent on the impeachment inquiry and investigating Russian election interference “rendered my soul weary.”
“I will never understand how some of my colleagues, in many ways good people, could ignore or deny the President’s unrelenting attack on a free press, his vicious character assassination of anyone who disagreed with him, and his demonstrably very distant relationship with the truth,” he wrote.
The Washington Democrat was first elected in 2012, and is the sixth House Democrat so far to announce they’d retire in 2020. Four others have either resigned or are running for higher office. By comparison, more than 20 House Republicans are retiring, running for another office or have resigned.
Political analysts are not expecting his western Washington district to be competitive next year. It has been represented by a Democrat since it was created after the 2010 U.S. Census, and the Cook Political Report says it remains “Solidly Democratic.”
Meanwhile, California Assemblywoman Christy Smith is racking up Democratic endorsements ahead of her race for Katie Hill’s old seat in California’s 25th Congressional District. CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro reports that Representative Adam Schiff announced his support for Smith this morning. California Governor Gavin Newsom and Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein also recently endorsed Smith.
Three other Democrats and six Republicans have filed to run for the seat, including former district Representative Steve Knight and ex-Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos. Hill resigned from Congress last month after admitting to having a romantic relationship with an aide.
In Florida, Republican Candidate George Buck was removed from the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” list after his campaign sent a November fundraising email suggesting Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar should be hanged. The Tampa Bay Times reported this week that Buck’s campaign sent out an email baselessly accusing Omar of working for Qatar and adding “We should hang these traitors where they stand.”
Similarly, in Omar’s own district, Republican challenger Danielle Stella got her Twitter account suspended for saying Omar should be tried for treason and potentially hanged for working for Qatar, an unfounded allegation.
Stella is not on the NRCC’s “Young Guns” list of 2020 candidates. Buck is running to unseat Democrat Charlie Crist in the state’s 13th Congressional District.