The Hill’s Morning Report – 2020 Dems grapple with race, gender and privilege

The Hill’s Morning Report – 2020 Dems grapple with race, gender and privilege

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Monday! Our newsletter gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Co-creators are Jonathan Easley and Alexis Simendinger (CLICK HERE to subscribe!). On Twitter, you can find us at @joneasley and @asimendinger.


The 2020 Democratic presidential primary will be a minefield of identity politics, as candidates grapple with questions about their own race, gender and privilege during the first “Me Too” era presidential election.

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke learned this the hard way over the weekend after launching his long-anticipated bid for the White House.

The Texas Democrat stumbled into several controversies and faced backlash from the left for remarks about his wife and for claims that some viewed as stemming from white privilege.

> O’Rourke joked that his wife Amy had raised their children “sometimes with my help.” The remark was criticized for reinforcing gender stereotypes and O’Rourke quickly issued an apology, saying he’d be more thoughtful going forward in the way that I talk about our marriage.”

O’Rourke was also criticized for his presidential launch video, in which his wife sat next to him on the couch but did not speak.

The New York Times: In Beto’s announcement, wife’s silence stands out.

> In an interview with Vanity Fair, O’Rourke said he was “born” to run for president. Some liberals viewed those remarks as insulting and condescending, coming from a straight, white man.

O’Rourke later acknowledged in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he’s gotten ahead politically and professionally because of his race and gender.

“As a white man … I’ve clearly had advantages over the course of my life.” — O’Rourke

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharO’Rourke says he won’t use ‘f-word’ on campaign trail Officials dismiss criticism that Trump rhetoric to blame for New Zealand attack Trump reignites criticism of McCain months after senator’s death MORE (D-Minn.), who is also running for the nomination, responded:

“I wasn’t born to run for office, just because growing up in the ’70s, in the middle of the country, I don’t think many people thought a girl could be president. I wasn’t born to run. But I am running.” — Klobuchar on “Meet the Press”

Reuters: Can a moderate white man win the 2020 Dem primary in 2020?

The Associated Press: Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenO’Rourke faces pressure from left on ‘Medicare for all’ O’Rourke says he won’t use ‘f-word’ on campaign trail O’Rourke not planning, but not ruling out big fundraisers MORE (D-Mass.) embraces underdog role, “This is the race I want to run.”

> Some liberals have questioned why O’Rourke, who lost a challenge to Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzO’Rourke faces pressure from left on ‘Medicare for all’ O’Rourke not planning, but not ruling out big fundraisers O’Rourke: Being a white male not a disadvantage in 2020 Dem field MORE (R-Texas) last year, has been welcomed into the presidential race with the buzz and expectations of a front-runner. Fellow red-state Democrats who also fell just short, Stacey Abrams in Georgia and Andrew Gillum in Florida, both of whom are African-American, have not received the same level of national attention as O’Rourke.

With Democrats putting forth their largest and most diverse field of presidential contenders ever, some are asking whether the party can — or should — nominate a straight, white man for president.

O’Rourke on Sunday said he’d likely pick a woman for the vice presidential slot if he gets the nomination, but that will do little to stem criticism from those who believe a woman or person of color should be at the top of the ticket.

It’s an early conundrum for Democrats, as three of their top contenders — O’Rourke, Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersO’Rourke faces pressure from left on ‘Medicare for all’ O’Rourke says he won’t use ‘f-word’ on campaign trail O’Rourke not planning, but not ruling out big fundraisers MORE (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden — are white men.

Sanders faced this question during an interview this morning with NPR’s Rachel Martin:

Martin: “There are a lot of people in the Democratic Party right now who are anxious to see someone who quite frankly is not an older white man as their nominee. They are clamoring for a more diverse candidate. They think that … is the person who can most authentically reflect their priorities.”

Sanders: “We intend to be putting together a strong coalition of blacks and whites and Latinos Native Americans, Asian-Americans. We’re going to focus on creating a government and an economy that works for all and not just the 1 percent. And I think that’s the formulation that can win the nomination and win the presidency.”

The New York Times: O’Rourke is 46. Sanders is 77. Does age matter for Dems?

The Associated Press: Dems mull best strategy to beat Trump.

The Democratic field is getting more diverse by the day.

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandNew York Rep. Maloney endorses Gillibrand for president Actress Connie Britton endorses former roommate Gillibrand for president Trump singles out local union boss over GM’s decision to shutter Ohio plant MORE (D-N.Y.) made her candidacy official over the weekend, making the case that a “brave” woman is the best person to put up against President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoint Chiefs chairman denies report that US is planning to keep 1K troops in Syria Kansas Department of Transportation calls Trump ‘delusional communist’ on Twitter Trump has privately voiced skepticism about driverless cars: report MORE in 2020. Gillibrand will give her launch speech on Sunday in front of Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York.

The Associated Press: Gillibrand asks, “Will brave win?”

Another potential dark horse: South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is married and gay. Buttigieg is moving closer to a run, and his candidacy has been praised in Washington, with the military veteran and Rhodes scholar impressing insiders with his smarts and down-to-earth style.

The Washington Post: Buttigieg finds a voice in crowded Democratic primary.


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Friday’s shooting of 50 people at two mosques in New Zealand by a lone gunman who live streamed the carnage and left behind an anti-Muslim, white nationalist-style manifesto sparked debate about what governments, tech companies, religious leaders and elected officials can do to avert future tragedy (Reuters).

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the event as a terrorist attack, and said the country’s coalition government this week will unveil proposed reforms to gun laws (The Washington Post).

On Sunday, commentators of all political stripes weighed in on whether Trump should deliver a national address denouncing white nationalism and anti-Muslim bigotry and address head-on the hazards of hate and indoctrination spread on the internet.

Acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyChris Wallace presses Mulvaney: Why doesn’t Trump give a speech denouncing ‘anti-Muslim bigotry’? Officials dismiss criticism that Trump rhetoric to blame for New Zealand attack Kaine says Trump is ‘using language that emboldens’ white nationalists MORE, during a “Fox News Sunday” interview with Chris Wallace, attempted to downplay perceptions that the New Zealand shooter admired Trump based on the president’s past rhetoric. Mulvaney said the president’s public comments and tweet about the events in New Zealand rejected the shooter’s actions.

“You’ve seen the president stand up for religious liberties, individual liberties. The president is not a white supremacist,” Mulvaney said. “I’m not sure how many times we have to say that.”

On Friday, Trump said white nationalism is not on the rise, adding that adherents are small in number (ABC News).

But his tweets on Friday and during the weekend focused on his own brand of animus, including renewed put-downs of former GOP presidential nominee and Arizona senator John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCNN anchor hits Trump: He didn’t go to Vietnam ‘until he was in his 70s’ with ‘Secret Service protection’ Trump reignites criticism of McCain months after senator’s death Graham defends McCain amid Trump attacks: ‘Nothing about his service will ever be changed’ MORE, who died in 2018. McCain voted to block the president’s effort to repeal Obamacare after years of fiery clashes with Trump on everything from foreign policy and health care, to military strategy and the president’s temperament. McCain’s rebukes still sting (The Hill).

Trump also tweeted on Sunday his desire to see Jeanine Pirro, the Fox News host and former prosecutor, back on the air after the network publicly condemned (and then bumped Pirro’s show) after she suggested freshman Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarOmar fires back at Trump: ‘You can’t #MuslimBan us from Congress’ GOP lawmaker defends Chelsea Clinton after confrontation over New Zealand attacks Trump criticizes trio of Fox News anchors: ‘They should be working’ at CNN MORE (R-Minn.) did not support the U.S. Constitution because she is Muslim and wears a hijab (The Washington Post). The president, who also defended embattled commentator Tucker Carlson, lamented that Fox News was too politically correct: “Be strong & prosper, be weak & die!”

The Hill: Trump offered U.S. assistance to New Zealand following the shootings.

The Associated Press: Houses of worship, once sanctuaries, struggle with security issues.

The Hill: Fears rise among U.S. Muslims.

YouTube, Facebook and Twitter scrambled to remove footage of the New Zealand mass shooting this week, underscoring big tech’s struggles to purge and contain extremist content amid unfolding crises (The Hill).

“I think the president is using language that emboldens them. He’s not creating them. They’re out there,” Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOfficials dismiss criticism that Trump rhetoric to blame for New Zealand attack Kaine says Trump is ‘using language that emboldens’ white nationalists Mulvaney: Military projects impacted by wall funding haven’t been decided yet MORE (D-Va.) said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, speaking of white nationalists who incite and use violence.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with murder in New Zealand on Saturday and likely faces additional charges early next month.


CONGRESS & POLITICS: Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D’Alesandro PelosiMulvaney: Military projects impacted by wall funding haven’t been decided yet Left-wing Dems in minority with new approach to spending Julian Castro hints at brother Joaquin’s Senate run MORE (D-Calif.) has scheduled a March 26 vote to try to override Trump’s veto of a measure revoking his national emergency declaration. That’s likely to fail, so Democrats are eyeing other strategies to keep Trump from building a border wall with money earmarked for other projects (The Hill).

Trump’s first presidential veto is also resonating on the right after 12 Senate Republicans joined Democrats in rebuking the president. The wave of defections has raised questions about whether Trump’s grip on the party is slipping (The Hill).

Jordain Carney writes that Senate Republicans are digging in for a long fight over reining in the president’s emergency powers (The Hill).

The president and his reelection campaign are relishing the fight and using it to raise money. The campaign sent five fundraising texts to supporters over the weekend looking to raise money off the presidential veto.

In a separate email, the Trump campaign dismissed opponents as “border deniers” and fundraised off the 59 senators — including the 12 Republicans — who voted to revoke the emergency declaration.

“Liberals in the Senate chose politics. I chose you. 59 senators voted to put illegal immigrants and political games over your safety. Disgraceful.” — Trump campaign mailer

Vice President Pence will travel to South Carolina later this month to help Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCNN anchor hits Trump: He didn’t go to Vietnam ‘until he was in his 70s’ with ‘Secret Service protection’ Trump reignites criticism of McCain months after senator’s death Graham defends McCain amid Trump attacks: ‘Nothing about his service will ever be changed’ MORE kick off his reelection bid. Graham has been among Trump’s most consistent allies on Capitol Hill (The Associated Press).

More from Congress … Left-wing Dems in minority with new approach to spending (The Hill) … Dems shift strategy for securing gun violence research funds (The Hill) … Lawmakers contemplate raising their own pay (The Hill).

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Iowa’s GOP-backed elections bill is voter suppression 2.0, by The Des Moines Register editorial board.

It isn’t complicated: Trump encourages violence, by David Leonhardt, columnist, The New York Times. “The president’s continued encouragement of violence — and of white nationalism — is part of the reason that white-nationalist violence is increasing.”


The House meets today at noon for a pro forma session.

The Senate convenes on Tuesday at 9: 30 a.m. for a pro forma session.

The president receives a briefing on the annual Economic Report at 11: 30 a.m.. Trump will have lunch with Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceButtigieg says campaign gained enough donors to be on debate stage Harris slams Pence for saying he won’t have meetings alone with women Pence hosts openly gay Irish prime minister and his partner for breakfast MORE. The president attends a Greek Independence Day celebration at 5: 45 p.m.

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenHispanic Dems ask for multi-agency meeting on family separations 12 Republican senators defy Trump on emergency declaration  The Hill’s Morning Report – Boeing crisis a test for Trump administration MORE will speak at 10 a.m. about the state of U.S. homeland security at George Washington University’s Jack Morton Auditorium, in conjunction with the Auburn University McCrary Institute for Cyber and Critical Infrastructure Security.

First lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpTrump attends church on St. Patrick’s Day Trump faces growing Senate GOP backlash on emergency declaration The Hill’s 12: 30 Report: O’Rourke jumps into 2020 fray MORE leads a discussion at 10 a.m. at the White House about youth programs with representatives of federal agencies that are members of the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs, created by former President George W. Bush and incorporated into the first lady’s “Be Best” initiative.


France: “Act XVIII” of so-called yellow-vest protests in Paris resulted in France’s emblematic Champs-Élysées boulevard being left in a pile of broken glass and flames on Saturday. Violence has evolved over many months into a legitimate tool for some of protesters (France 24).

Boeing: Flight data recorder preliminary information from Boeing Flight 302 in Ethiopia shows “clear similarities” with a deadly disaster in Indonesia in October involving the same kind of aircraft (The Associated Press and The New York Times). … Airlines fear long groundings of Boeing 737 Max 8 jets following the crash on March 10 that killed all 157 on board (Reuters). … In-depth: How Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration experienced flawed analysis and failed oversight of the suspect flight control system in the 737 Max 8 (The Seattle Times).

Housing and Urban Development: Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonBen Carson says he will step down after Trump’s first term ends Puerto Rico governor, White House clash over meeting Puerto Rico governor says Trump won’t meet to discuss hurricane relief MORE maintains a shortened weekly schedule in Washington on Fridays and frequently travels to Florida where he has a home, according to the secretary’s schedules, obtained by NBC News.

State developments: Kentucky’s only abortion clinic resumed seeing patients on Saturday after a federal judge on Friday night temporarily blocked the state’s newly adopted “fetal heartbeat” abortion law (Louisville Courier Journal). … GOP-led states are moving to restrict access to ballot measures (The Hill). … Six men with connections to protests about Michael Brown’s shooting death 4-½ years ago during an altercation with police in Ferguson, Mo., have died from various causes, sparking online curiosity — rebuffed by police — that something sinister is at play. No arrests have been made in two homicides. Two other deaths were ruled suicides (The Associated Press).


And finally … The 2019 Iditarod race was won on Wednesday, but mushers continued late on Sunday to complete the nearly 1,000-mile course, 13 days after 52 mushers and their dog teams began (Iditarod standings).

This year’s race to Nome offered up more than enough drama. Pete Kaiser was the victor and the competition’s first champion of native Alaskan Yup’ik descent, crossing the finish line to celebrations after 9 ½ days (Anchorage Daily News). Video is HERE.

NPR: Kaiser spoke about his first Iditarod victory.

For his endurance performance and that of his skilled dog team, Kaiser won a new truck and a check for $51,000.

By Friday, the 11th day of the race, four-time Iditarod champion Lance Mackey was a sentimental favorite as he finished 27th in an endurance test of his own.

Mackey is a cancer survivor and the side effects from treatment have had an impact on his abilities (

“I’m just doing my own thing. … I don’t care what the run times are. I don’t care who’s resting, I’m running mine. I’m racing my own race,” Mackey said.

Another contender who had hoped to do well, Nicolas Petit, withdrew 200 miles from the finish line when two of his dogs quarreled over taking a bathroom break, and Petit yelled at them. After that, his dogs refused to budge, he said (The Chicago Tribune).

Musher Ritchie Beattie finished the race Thursday but was scratched from the competition under the rules on Saturday when his dog Oshi, who finished with him, died on Saturday after being airlifted to a veterinary facility in Anchorage. The diagnosis was aspiration pneumonia (


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