January 02, 2020

Biden Says Trump Must Explain Baghdad Killing: Campaign Update
(Bloomberg) -- Former Vice President Joe Biden warned that President Donald Trump “just tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox” by ordering the killing of a powerful Iranian general in Baghdad.“No American will mourn Qassem Soleimani’s passing. He deserved to be brought to justice for his crimes against American troops and thousands of innocents throughout the region,” Biden said in a statement. But he added that Trump “owes the American people an explanation of the strategy and plan to keep safe our troops and embassy personnel, our people and our interests, both here at home and abroad, and our partners throughout the region and beyond.”Biden, who has made his foreign policy experience in the Senate and the Obama administration the centerpiece of his presidential campaign, said “I’m not privy to the intelligence and much remains unknown, but Iran will surely respond. We could be on the brink of a major conflict across the Middle East.”In the hours after the attack in Baghdad, Republicans in Congress largely praised the president, while some of their Democratic counterparts said there could be consequences.On Twitter, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, another Democratic presidential candidate, called the killing “reckless” and a move that “increases the likelihood of more deaths and new Middle East conflict.”Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a rival of Warren and Biden, said in a statement that “Trump promised to end endless wars, but this action puts us on the path to another one.”Marianne Williamson Lays Off Her Campaign Staff (4 p.m.)Author Marianne Williamson has laid off her entire presidential campaign staff, according to her campaign manager Patricia Ewing.Ewing, who was dismissed along with the rest of the team, said Williamson is “still figuring out what she’s going to do” at this time.Williamson, a spiritual guru who ran on a message of promoting peace, has lagged in the polls since she entered the race and is currently polling in last place at 0.2% in the Real Clear Politics average. -- Emma KineryBiden Improves Fundraising, But Lags Key Rivals (2:28 p.m.)Joe Biden had his strongest fundraising quarter yet during the final three months of 2019 but still took in less than at least of his two key opponents.The former vice president’s campaign raised $22.7 million in the fourth quarter, he announced in a web video Thursday. That puts his haul behind Bernie Sanders’s $34.5 million and Pete Buttigieg’s $24.7 million. Elizabeth Warren hasn’t reported her fourth-quarter total.Biden’s campaign said it doubled online fundraising from the third to fourth quarters. The average online contribution was $23 and the overall average contribution was $41 during the quarter.Biden raised $21.5 million during the second quarter and $15.2 million in the third. The drop between quarters was a wake-up call for some Biden backers, who pushed more aggressively to raise money during 2019’s final three months.In October, Biden’s worries about his campaign resources led him to reverse his previous opposition to the creation of a super-PAC supporting his candidacy as a group of allies and former aides launched Unite the Nation. The group had spent $2.2 million on advertising in Iowa as of Dec. 30, according to a memo from its staff. -- Jennifer EpsteinMichael Bloomberg to Skip Nevada Caucuses (2:02 p.m.)The Nevada State Democratic Party says Michael Bloomberg will not appear on the preference cards for the state’s Feb. 22 caucuses, in keeping with his plans to skip the early nominating contests.The former New York mayor wasn’t among 13 candidates, including Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, who met a Jan. 1 filing deadline to appear on the preference card, the party said Thursday. The Nevada contest follows the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3 and the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 11.Bloomberg, who announced his candidacy on Nov. 24, has said he joined the race too late to compete effectively in the February caucuses and primaries. Instead, he’s focusing on California, Texas, North Carolina and other states voting March 3 on so-called Super Tuesday and in contests later in March, when more than 60% of the pledged delegates needed for the party’s nomination are awarded.Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News. -- Mark NiquetteWarren Would End Delays for Disability Benefits (11:03 a.m.)Warren proposes to eliminate waiting periods to make it easier for disabled people to access benefits under Social Security Disability Insurance and Medicare.Current law imposes delays before obtaining benefits of up to five months for Social Security and 12 months for Medicare. In a proposal released Thursday, she says that she’d get rid of them.Warren’s plan also calls for phasing out — rather than immediately halting — Social Security disability benefits once the beneficiary returns to work, reducing them by $1 for every $2 earned above an inflation-indexed threshold of $2,110. Her plan would additionally expand the program’s maximum Supplemental Security Income benefit to the federal poverty level.Her plan includes various other measures including protecting disabled people in prison by requiring jails to build accommodations.According to a campaign official, Warren sought advice from various disability advocates, including former Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat who was an original sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act. -- Sahil KapurYang Raised $16.5 Million in Fourth Quarter (8:57 a.m.)Democrat Andrew Yang raised $16.5 million in the final three months of 2019, his best-showing so-far but well-behind Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, according to figures released by his campaign.The entrepreneur has received in total more than 1 million contributions from 400,000 donors, the campaign said. The average was $30. Yang’s fourth-quarter haul is $6.5 million more than the $10 million he raised in the third quarter, according to data from his campaign.Yang’s total is less than half the $34.5 million Sanders’ campaign reported and short of the $24.7 million that South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Buttigieg’s campaign touted for the same period.Yang’s campaign chief Nick Ryan said the total shows the candidate continues to “exceed expectations, whether it’s in terms of grassroots fund raising, making the debates, early state polling, or the ability to draw big crowds.” -- Kathleen MillerBiden Is First to Win Iowa Congress Endorsement (8:25 a.m.)Biden has secured the first endorsement from a member of Iowa’s congressional delegation, gaining the support Thursday of Abby Finkenauer.The first-term congresswoman represents Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, which voted for Donald Trump in 2016 after going for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. The district covers northeastern Iowa, the area where Biden is concentrating his time during a five-day state trip that begins Thursday. Finkenauer will join Biden for several of his Iowa stops, his campaign said.“Joe Biden’s character, record, and commitment to rebuilding the backbone of the country — the middle class — is what Iowa and this country needs,” Finkenauer said in announcing her support of Biden.The congresswoman’s ties to Biden date back more than a decade. In 2007 and 2008, she was volunteer coordinator for Biden’s unsuccessful presidential bid, which ended after the Iowa caucus. And she has a personal connection to another campaign — she’s engaged to Elizabeth Warren’s Iowa political director, Daniel Wasta.Finkenauer, 31, is the first of Iowa’s three House Democrats to endorse a presidential candidate and just the second member of Congress from one of four early-decision states to make an announcement. Nevada Representative Dina Titus is also backing Biden. -- Jennifer EpsteinTrump Gets $46 Million in Fourth Quarter (7:55 a.m.)Trump’s campaign said it had raised $46 million in the last three months of 2019, saying that it was the candidate’s best fund-raising quarter in the 2020 election cycle.Trump’s campaign ended the year with $102.7 million in cash on hand, it said. Trump raised $143 million in 2019 and the campaign said it banked $83.4 million. It began the year with $19.3 million cash on hand.In recent months, the president’s campaign has sought to use the House impeachment investigation as part of its fundraising effort, urging potential donors to give as a way to rebuke Democrats. -- Mario ParkerSanders Raised $34.5 Million in Quarter (6 a.m.)Sanders’s presidential campaign raised $34.5 million in the fourth quarter, it said in a statement, likely giving him the largest war chest of any Democratic nominee entering the party’s first nominating contests in February.The campaign said on Thursday that since February, it had raised more than $96 million from more than 5 million individual donations. The average contribution was $18 and almost none of Sanders’s donors had reached the $2,800 federal contribution limit, meaning they could donate again.“Bernie Sanders is closing the year with the most donations of any candidate in history at this point in a presidential campaign,” his campaign manager Faiz Shakir said in the statement. “He is proving each and every day that working class Americans are ready and willing to fully fund a campaign that stands up for them and takes on the biggest corporations and the wealthy.”Sanders had raised about $73.7 million through the quarter that ended Sept. 30, the most among Democratic candidates, and had about $33.7 million on hand, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. His campaign did not say in its statement on Thursday how much Sanders had on hand.On Wednesday, Sanders said in an email to supporters that his campaign had more donors than Trump’s, and predicted that he would raise more than $1 billion if he’s the Democratic nominee to challenge the president’s re-election this year.Sanders trails only South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg in polls of Iowa Democratic voters, according to a RealClearPolitics average, and narrowly leads in New Hampshire. Iowa will hold the nation’s first caucuses on Feb. 3, while New Hampshire will follow on Feb. 11.Buttigieg announced Wednesday that he raised about $24.7 million in the fourth quarter. -- Laura Litvan and Bill AllisonCOMING UP:Five Democratic candidates -- Biden, Buttigieg, Sanders, Warren and Senator Amy Klobuchar -- have qualified for the next debate, on Jan. 14 in Iowa.Trump is scheduled to hold a campaign rally in Milwaukee on the same night as the debate, as well as a rally in Toledo on Jan. 9.The first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses will be held Feb. 3.(Michael Bloomberg is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)\--With assistance from Mark Niquette, Laura Litvan, Bill Allison, Mario Parker, Kathleen Miller, Sahil Kapur, Jennifer Epstein and Emma Kinery.To contact the reporter on this story: John Harney in Washington at jharney2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, Steve Geimann, John HarneyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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