2020 Daily Trail Markers: What to look for at tonight's debate

As we wait for the first round of the second presidential debates to get underway, here’s a reminder of what to look for from each candidate on the stage tonight. 


Via CBS News Campaign Reporter Tim PerryMontana Gov. Steve Bullock, the only candidate who didn’t qualify for the last debate but did for this one, will use Detroit as a way to introduce himself to Democratic voters. As the only Democratic candidate to win a statewide election in a state won by President Trump in 2016, Bullock is hoping that he can capitalize on his appeal to moderates and rural voters.

Our Q: Will the Detroit debate give Bullock the name I.D. he needs to jumpstart his campaign?


Via CBS News Campaign Reporter Jack TurmanSince the last debate, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has expanded his staff and released more policy proposals. In Iowa recently, Buttigieg said that he wasn’t going to be aggressive in the debate “for its own sake.” He added, “Of course I’m going to vigorously defend what I believe in and when there are contrasts to be drawn, we’re going to draw them.”

Buttigieg is sharing the debate stage with Beto O’Rourke. Both have said that their relative youth is an asset, and that the Democratic Party embrace new leaders to succeed.

Our Q: How will Buttigieg and O’Rourke distinguish themselves in making the generational change argument?


Via CBS News Campaign Reporter Adam BrewsterFormer Maryland Rep. John Delaney will be on the debate stage Tuesday night with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The senators are two of the leading proponents for Medicare for All as a fully government run program that would eliminate private insurance, an idea Delaney has frequently criticized on the trail. 

“I think they need to defend how they’re actually going to beat Donald Trump if they’re actually going to tell half the country that they’re going to lose their private health insurance,” Delaney said in Iowa on Wednesday. He also signaled he may question their plans to eliminate student debt by asking “what are you going to say to someone who just paid off their student loans?”

Delaney went on to add that some candidates are “running on basically massive upheaval of the entire U.S. economy” that he says is “driven by deep distrust for the private economy.”

Looking ahead, Delaney has yet to qualify for the September debate stage. When asked about how candidates move forward if they aren’t on that stage, Delaney said “they may not have to be on the third (stage), but they have to be on the fourth (stage).” He said not qualifying creates “more headwinds” for candidates. 

Our Q: Will Delaney have a moment at this debate that can be a springboard toward getting on one of those fall stages?


Via CBS News Campaign Reporter Stephanie Ramirez: The former Colorado governor will get to face the candidate he’s been criticizing the most in recent months: Bernie Sanders.

Hickenlooper is a frequent critic of Medicare for All and the Vermont senator’s brand of “democratic socialism,” and warns that if Democrats move too far left that Donald Trump will get reelected. Hickenlooper pitches himself as a more “middle-of-the-road” candidate, but has struggled to separate himself from some of the other more moderate candidates, particularly Joe Biden.

Hickenlooper is celebrating a recent Fox News poll that shows him at 2% support. It’s a big win for him, but a small increase in this crowded 2020 field. Hickenlooper has struggled to break-out of the crowd, endured a campaign shake-up and repeated calls to run for the U.S. Senate instead.

Our Q: Will Hickenlooper have a break-out moment from this second debate that could help boost support?


Via CBS News Campaign Reporter Bo Erickson: Look for Sen. Amy Klobuchar to contrast herself with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who will be a few podiums away from her on Tuesday. Klobuchar’s message is that she’s been an effective senator who will know how to get things done in the White House. “Me? Well, I have big bold plans, yes. But I’ve also given myself and our Congress and our nation deadlines,” as she said in a July speech centered on what her first 100 days in office would look like. 

Klobuchar has recently laid out how she would pay for her housing plan that addresses rural home shortages, and her new senior citizen plan, which aspires to end Alzheimer’s. But will ask for similar details from her rivals? If candidates are light on specifics, will Klobuchar say they’re “all foam, no beer!” as she does for some of Mr. Trump’s promises? 

The senator has met the polling threshold for the September debates but not yet the required 135,000 unique donors.

Our Q: Will Klobuchar’s emphasis on not “over promising” start to appeal to Democratic primary voters as the primaries move closer — or will they look elsewhere? 


Via CBS News Campaign Reporter Tim Perry: Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s campaign is hoping to bounce back from what was widely perceived as a lackluster debate performance in Miami. Since the last debate, O’Rourke has seen a slip in polls and fundraising. A campaign official tells CBS News that O’Rourke is hoping to “connect with voters like he does on the ground,” and says that during the last round of debates he did not come across as himself. 

Aides say O’Rourke’s goal heading into Detroit is to convey a clear sense of who he is to voters.

Our Q: Can O’Rourke reclaim the momentum and excitement that he had when he entered the race?


Via CBS News Campaign Reporter Bo Erickson: After prep sessions this week that included watching “game tape” of the last debate, Rep. Tim Ryan plans to drive the 3.5 hours from his Ohio district to the Motor City to address one of his key issues: manufacturing jobs. 

While Ryan’s polling support is just above zero, as this week’s CBS News latest Battleground Tracker indicated, he has been for months engaged in debate with his fellow Democrats, the Trump Administration and General Motors over the company’s decision to shutter a factory in his district and eliminate roughly 1800 jobs. 

Ryan says it’s an example of how he says the middle class has been “getting screwed” for the last 40 years, and if there’s any place for a pitch like that, it’s probably Detroit.

Our Q: With more than two dozen options to choose from, will Democratic voters find Ryan compelling enough this week to get behind? 


Via CBS News Campaign Reporter Cara Korte: Sen. Bernie Sanders did not have “a moment” in the first debate last month. That might be a good thing, seeing as the night’s biggest moment was the contentious debate between Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Sanders stayed out of the cross hairs, but it demonstrates how different this election is for him, as he no longer is sharing the spotlight with just one other opponent. 

This week’s debate will be even more challenging as he stands right beside his fellow progressive Elizabeth Warren, forcing Sanders to try to own his ideological turf.

Our Q: At some point, the two need to clearly differentiate themselves for waffling voters. Will Tuesday be the night or could both candidates hesitate to look like the aggressor?


Via CBS News Campaign Reporter Zak Hudak: The Massachusetts senator has been living by the “slow and steady wins the race” mantra, never seeing a major surge, but finally now polling ahead of everyone except Joe Biden. In the last debate round, the former law school professor must have felt as if she were back in a classroom. She presented her ideas and then watched a group of lesser-known candidates debate their own while dodging every opportunity to criticize hers.  

Warren often refers to her candidacy and goals as a “fight” at campaign stops. But periodic volleys with Mr. Trump aside, Warren has shown a striking ability to stay out of the fray. Bernie Sanders, with whom she will share the stage Tuesday, has absorbed many of the attacks on policies that Warren also champions. When Sen. Michael Bennett takes shots at plans for college debt forgiveness and eliminating private health insurance, he calls them “Bernie’s plan.” That could be because Sanders introduced specific bills for those things, but Warren has called for equally progressive measures. Either way, it illustrates the extent to which Sanders has become the face of the progressive wing of the Democratic party.

Now, Warren and Sanders will share a stage, with her leading him in several polls. If the past is any indication, the two are likely to avoid criticizing one another.

Our Q: Will Warren have to defend her progressive agenda in the same way Sanders has?


Via CBS News Associate Producer Sarah Ewall-Wice: “I just want to be myself,” said author and activist Marianne Williamson in an interview with MSNBC over the weekend when asked about her strategy heading into the debate.  Williamson will be positioned on the far left side of the stage during the debate, which is also where she was positioned during the first debates in June. However, not being center stage didn’t hurt her during the first go-round. 

According to Google, Williamson was the most searched candidate as the debate closed. So what can we expect to hear from her? On Sunday, Williamson’s campaign announced if elected president, she plans to create a Department of Children and Youth which would “work interdepartmentally with all of the different government entities that affect children’s lives.” When asked how the Department would be different than the Education Department in a Face the Nation interview, Williamson said there needs to be more than just education funding; there needs to be wraparound services.

Our Q: Can Williamson convince the audience that she can put her ideas into action without the political experience that other candidates have in this crowded field?


DOWN SOUTH: During a neighborhood cookout co-sponsored by South Carolina Teamsters, voters said they’ll be watching the presidential debates to see which candidates will make labor unions a top priority while also focusing on healthcare, education, and infrastructure. 

The Teamsters Union calls itself North America’s strongest and most diverse labor union. Compromised of workers from a variety of occupations, Teamsters boasts 900 affiliates throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. CBS News Campaign Reporter LaCrai Mitchell says members of the union came from different parts of the state to participate in today’s event. 

Sabrina Isom is a business agent and political organizer for Teamsters Local 509 in West Columbia. She’s had a chance to speak with Sens. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren during their visits to Columbia. She says that her and fellow co-workers will be watching the debates this week to see which candidate will boldly speak out for labor unions. 

“I want to see some teeth—some action,” said Isom. “If they can stand out and say ‘I will support labor 100% and that’s my key mission as president,’ then we’ll look at them.” Evelena Moultrie, a South Carolina teamster and local school bus driver in Hollywood, echoed Isom’s sentiment and added that healthcare has to be a top priority too. 

“Come December I’ll be 65, I will be applying for my Medicare card,” said Moultrie. “The Medicare now runs 80-20…what about the people that don’t have a job, what about the people that are retiring and can’t afford that 20%?” Moultrie has heard former Vice President Joe Biden speak twice and has attended one of Sen. Kamala Harris’ events during their swings through the Palmetto state. While she is still undecided, she maintained that whoever gets her vote will have to be in favor of universal healthcare. “We need universal health because this is the richest country but yet they will not provide universal health,” said Moultrie. “We need something better.”


BY THE NUMBERS: The Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic National Committee met in Washington, DC on Tuesday to go over 23 states’ plans for sending delegates to the 2020 Democratic National Convention. CBS News Associate Producer Ellee Watson & CBS News Political Unit Intern Julia Cherner report that four states will receive additional delegates for holding their primaries after April if their delegate plans reach full compliance. The committee determined Tuesday that the plans for Louisiana, Rhode Island, New York, and Pennsylvania reach conditional compliance. Once the state parties address some technical questions about the plans, they will be in full compliance and will receive extra delegates. At the time of this writing, the committee has only reviewed 14 of the 23 plans. 


DCCC shake up: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had a big shakeup of top staffers Monday night, as six senior staff members resigned — including executive director Allison Jaslow. The resignations came amid concerns from minority lawmakers about the organization’s diversity. 

Politico first reported last week that Reps. Vicente Gonzalez and Filemon Velam were pushing for Jaslow’s exit and to be replaced by a “qualified person of color.” DCCC chairwoman Rep. Cheri Bustos called Jaslow’s resignation a “sobering day” and said in a statement, “I recognize that, at times, I have fallen short in leading these talented individuals… I hear your concerns, and we can and must do better.” 

The DCCC has since appointed a special council to search for a new executive director. In a June interview with CBS News Political Correspondent Ed O’Keefe, Bustos portrayed the DCCC as having “the most diverse staff that you’ve ever seen in this building.” A DCCC aide also confirmed to CBS News Political Unit Broadcast Associate Aaron Navarro that five other members resigned yesterday: communications director Jared Smith, communications aide Melissa Miller, political director Molly Ritner, deputy executive director Nick Pancrazio and diversity director Van Ornelas. 

The aide also said recommendations for immediate restructuring came from other DCCC seniors staffers, all of whom supported Jaslow’s interim replacement, Jacqueline Newman. Other organizations/PACs are taking the opportunity to criticize the Democratic campaign arm. The progressive Justice Democrats PAC called the news “embarrassing” and criticized the DCCC’s role in Democratic primaries. In the past two days, the National Republican Congressional Committee has sent out multiple press releases highlighting the DCCC’s upheaval and aimed to tie Reps. Joe Cunningham and Jared Golden to Bustos by bringing up their votes for her as House Speaker.

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