August 23, 2019

Michael Bennet Rips Into Democrats 2020 Rules: Campaign Update
(Bloomberg) -- Struggling Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bennet says the party’s being unfair to candidates who aren’t celebrities, billionaires or veterans of the campaign trail.Bennet, a U.S. senator from Colorado, is seeking to gain traction in the crowded but rapidly shrinking field. He lit into rules for the 2020 presidential primary while speaking at the Democratic National Committee’s summer meeting in San Francisco.“The DNC process is stifling debate at a time when we need it most. We’re rewarding celebrity candidates with millions of Twitter followers, billionaires who buy their way onto the debate stage, and candidates who have been running for president for years,” he said.Bennet, 54, said he won’t be on the stage for the third debate, arguing that the rules encourage candidates to spend heavily on platforms like Facebook to qualify for debates. Candidates must have 130,000 donors and register at least 2% in four qualifying polls to earn a spot on the debate stage. So they are under tremendous pressure to get a lot of small donors and must spend heavily on social media ads to meet the qualifications.“If we wanted to be the party that excluded people, we’d be Republicans,” he said. “These rules have created exactly the wrong outcomes and they will not help us beat Donald Trump.”Bennet hasn’t qualified under the fundraising and polling requirements for the September debates.Progressives Cry Foul Over Party Favoritism (12:13 P.M.)Democratic leaders want to winnow down the crowded field of presidential contenders and get some of them to run for state or congressional seats.But there are still those stinging from 2016, when the Democratic National Committee seemed to favor establishment candidate Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.Case in point: former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who dropped out of the presidential field and announced Thursday he would instead run for Senate.The problem? There are already 11 candidates in the primary race, and they have been unwilling to clear the field for Hickenlooper, who earlier this year said, “I’m not cut out to be a senator.”So when the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee came out in support of Hickenlooper Friday, the progressive wing cried foul.“This is a moment of decision,” tweeted Andrew Romanoff, former Colorado House speaker and one of the candidates. “Do we want DC to dictate our choice and buy this election before any ballots are even cast — or do we believe voters still matter?”The move could have repercussions back up to the national race, further dividing moderates and the party’s left flank. David Sirota, Sanders’s top speechwriter who lives in Denver and is married to a state representative, accused the DSCC of trying to block a contested primary “to create a coronation for the candidate who opposes a Green New Deal and Medicare for All.”The Democratic nominee will face incumbent Republican Senator Cory Gardner. -- Gregory KorteBannon Aims to Embolden Trump With Huawei Film (5:30 A.M.)Donald Trump’s re-election could hinge on the outcome of his trade war with China. As markets wobble and central bankers gather in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to consider the fallout, a familiar combatant is about to lob a bomb designed to fire up the president and intensify his focus on China.Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon, never one for subtlety, has produced a new film called “Claws of the Red Dragon” attacking Huawei Technologies Co., the Chinese telecommunications giant Trump has forbidden U.S. companies from doing business with over concerns about its ties to the Chinese government.Bannon’s goal is to steel Trump’s resolve to confront China — a resolve that seemed to weaken when markets plunged in early August and the administration granted Huawei a 90-day reprieve. Bannon hopes “Claws of the Red Dragon” is sufficiently alarmist that Trump puts off worries about a recession and presses ahead with tariffs.“The central issue in the 2020 presidential campaign is going to be the economic war with China: manufacturing jobs, currency, capital markets and technology,” Bannon said in an interview. “Huawei is a key part of that, and this film will highlight why it must be shut down.Unlike Bannon’s earlier films — high-intensity right-wing documentaries — “Claws of the Red Dragon” is a moody action-drama with professional actors “inspired by the 2018 arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer and daughter of the founder of Huawei Technologies,” according to a press release.The movie follows fictional Chinese-Canadian journalist Jane Li, whose reporting exposes her to what Bannon and the filmmakers allege to be Huawei’s countless perfidies, including ties to the Chinese Communist Party and the country’s military.Meng remains under house arrest in Canada as her lawyers fight attempts by the U.S. to extradite her in a sanctions case. Both she and the company deny wrongdoing. After her arrest, China detained two Canadian citizens, who are still in custody.While anyone can watch the official trailer, Bannon’s project appears aimed mainly at an audience of one.“One of my objectives is to get a screening for President Trump at the White House,” he said.The film will first appear on Canadian television in mid-September. It was released by New Tang Dynasty Television. Bannon is working to arrange U.S. distribution.Coming Up:The Democratic National Committee meets until Saturday in San Francisco. Most of the top presidential candidates -- except Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg -- will speak to members on Friday.\--With assistance from Joshua Green and Gregory Korte.To contact the reporter on this story: Sahil Kapur in San Francisco at skapur39@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, Steve GeimannFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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