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March 14, 2019

Beto O'Rourke, the Democratic former congressman from El Paso, officially announced his candidacy for his party's 2020 presidential nomination on Thursday morning, throwing his hat into a crowded ring full of prominent Democrats. He had told local El Paso TV station KTSM he was entering the race in a text message Wednesday night and teased the decision in a new Vanity Fair profile.

O'Rourke rose to national prominence last year during his run to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a race he narrowly lost. He has few big legislative accomplishments to his name and no signature proposal, but his success with raising money through small donations, ability to win over voters at town halls around Texas, and familiarity with the U.S.-Mexico border make him a potentially formidable contender.

"I want to be president because I feel that we can bring this country together," O'Rourke told the El Paso Times. "We can unify around our ambitions, our aspirations, the big things that we know we are capable of when all of us have the opportunity to contribute. ... I just want to serve this country so badly to the highest of my ability, and I believe that is serving as president of the United States." Peter Weber

March 13, 2019

Beto O'Rourke, the former congressman from El Paso, is expected to formally announce on Thursday that he is running for president in 2020, KTSM reports.

O'Rourke shared the news with KTSM, a television station in El Paso, via text on Wednesday afternoon. The Democrat rose to national prominence last year during his run for Senate against Republican Ted Cruz, a race he narrowly lost.

In an interview with Vanity Fair published Wednesday, O'Rourke said it was pretty clear that he did want to run, and he'd "be good at it." While it's "important to defeat Trump," he told the magazine, "that's not exciting to me. What's exciting to me is for the United States to lead the world, in making sure that the generations that follow us can live here."

When asked if he is a progressive, O'Rourke was careful in his answer. "I leave that to other people," he said. "I'm not into the labels. My sense in traveling Texas for the past two years, my sense is that people really aren't into them, either." Read the entire Vanity Fair interview to learn about O'Rourke's relationship with his late father, a DUI arrest, his family's opinion on a presidential run, and more. Catherine Garcia

March 2, 2019

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) officially launched his presidential campaign in his hometown of Brooklyn on Saturday.

"Thank you all for being part of a political revolution which is going to transform America," he told a crowd of supporters. "No, no, no, it is not Bernie, it is you. It is us together," Sanders continued as the crowd began chanting his name.

"And I want to thank you for being part of a campaign which is not only going to win the Democratic nomination, which is not only going to defeat Donald Trump — who is the most dangerous president in modern American history — but with your help we are going to transform this country and finally create an economy and a government which works for all of us, not just the 1 percent."

Sanders announced his candidacy for the 2020 Democratic primary in February and is scheduled to make his next campaign stop in Chicago on Sunday, where he is expected to discuss how his upbringing and education shaped his political views. Other major Democratic candidates include Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Kamala Harris (Calif.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.).

Watch the livestream of Sanders' launch rally below. Bonnie Kristian

February 28, 2019

Every presidential candidate in 2020 will need to campaign hard in toss-up states like Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania ... and Texas?

A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday showed that Texas is surprisingly competitive for Democratic candidates eyeing the White House. President Trump is essentially tied in hypothetical matchups with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former Vice President Joe Biden, and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas). O'Rourke and Biden have not announced bids for the presidency.

The University of Virginia's Center for Politics says that Texas, along with Georgia and North Carolina, "may be becoming less reliably Republican." The analysis says Texas "leans Republican" — as do notorious swing states like Iowa and North Carolina — and lists it among states that might be the best targets for Democrats looking to win over historically red regions of the country.

But O'Rourke is also neck-in-neck with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a conspicuous detail considering the Democrat on Wednesday announced that he had ruled out a Senate run. Quinnipiac's poll showed that Texas voters are split on O'Rourke — 44 percent have a favorable opinion of him, while 40 percent have a negative opinion.

Quinnipiac polled 1,222 Texas voters, reaching them by phone between Feb. 20-25. The margin of error is 3.4 percentage points. Summer Meza

February 25, 2019

The 2020 election is still more than a year and a half away, but President Trump's re-election campaign has been raking in record-setting sums for months. Trump is also spending a lot of that money already, dropping $23 million in the last quarter of 2018 alone.

Many of those expenditures were focused on Republican candidates on the ballot in 2018, with about $8 million going to online and TV advertising and $1.5 million spent on Trump's beloved campaign rallies. The president's campaign also owes the U.S. Treasury about $1 million for travel expenses, and it's spending hundreds of thousands on legal services and campaign consultants. "Make America Great Again" hats are a significant cost too, running the campaign $289,000 in the final three months of last year.

Most of Trump's campaign funding comes from small contributions, but major donors matter too — and they're reportedly getting nervous there's no strategy behind all this spending.

A recent meeting with more than 100 big contributors and Trump's campaign manager, Brad Parscale, left the donors unsatisfied Trump has a viable plan for re-election, Politico reported Monday. "There's a lot of anxiety," one such donor, who is also a friend of the president, told Politico. "There isn't a lot of confidence ... among the donor group, the broader Republican group important to the reelection."

"Donors are asking for the plan and they have no plan," said an independent adviser with ties to the campaign. "There's not a strategy." And even if there is a strategy, another donor mused, there is no guarantee Trump can stick to it: "The problem is the president can't and won't stay on message, push an issue in any kind of sustained way, stay out of trouble for more than five minutes." Bonnie Kristian

February 14, 2019

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz will gladly walk away from the 2020 presidential race if Democrats nominate a centrist, he told The Washington Post on Thursday.

Schultz said he plans on spending the next few months exploring a campaign, and told the Post that internal polling suggests should he run as an independent, he's competitive in a three-way race with President Trump and a liberal Democrat, like Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) or Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). "I would reassess the situation if the numbers change as a result of a centrist Democrat winning the nomination," Schultz said.

One reason he would run as an independent is because he believes Democrats will likely nominate someone considered to be "far-left," and he's critical of moves like expanding Medicare to replace private insurance and increasing taxes for the ultra-wealthy. Schultz has been accused of trying to spoil the 2020 race, handing Trump a re-election, but he disagrees, saying last week at Purdue University that "no one wants Donald Trump fired more" than he does. Catherine Garcia

February 13, 2019

Potential 2020 independent presidential candidate Howard Schultz spoke at a CNN town hall in Houston on Tuesday night, and he went big on criticizing the Democratic and Republican parties — the "far left" and "far right," as he repeatedly called them — but largely declined to detail how he would do things better. He didn't say if he would drop out of the race if his participation would help re-elect President Trump, but he pledged not to run if that "math doesn't tally up." On "the issue of being a spoiler, how can you spoil a system that is already broken?" he asked.

Schultz called the New Green Deal well-intentioned but "not realistic" and "immoral" because of its price tag, backed ObamaCare but said it needs to be "fixed," and said that while "I don't know what the number is ... what I'm suggesting is that I should be paying higher taxes and I think people across the country are willing to pay higher taxes." And Schultz discussed race.

The April 2018 racial profiling incident at a Starbucks in Philadelphia was "a terrible moment for the company," Schultz said, but "we realized that we had a problem, and it's a problem that I think exists widely in this country. And it's something that I would characterize as unconscious bias, that many of us have based on our own life experience." The ongoing race-sensitivity training Starbucks requires for all employees "is deeply a courageous act, because we're doing something that we realize we fell short on, and we're admitting the fact that we have to get better at this," he said. "As somebody who grew up in a very diverse background as a young boy in the projects," Schultz added, "I didn't see color as a young boy and I honestly don't see color now."

Really? Green. Everyone who enters Starbucks sees green, and Schultz more than others.

February 10, 2019

Speaking to voters Sunday in Iowa, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said by 2020, President Trump might not be on the ballot — because he'll be behind bars.

Warren is one of several Democrats running for president, and during an event at the Veterans Memorial Building in Cedar Rapids, she said next year, "Donald Trump may not even be president. In fact, he may not even be a free person." Speaking to reporters later, Warren asked, "How many investigations are there now? It's no longer just the [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller investigation. They're everywhere and these are serious investigations, so we'll see what happens."

She also said Trump is "not the only problem we've got. Donald Trump is the symptom of a badly broken system. So, our job as we start rolling into the next election is not just to respond on a daily basis. It's to talk about what we understand is broken in this country, talk abut what needs to be done to change it, and talk about how we're going to do that, because that is not only how we win, it's how we make the change we need to make." Catherine Garcia

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