2020 Daily Trail Markers: Biden draws fire as focus turns to South Carolina

Former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg are dealing with complicated matters of race ahead of the most important campaign weekend so far this cycle in South Carolina, an early primary state with the largest bloc of black voters in the early weeks of the 2020 primary calendar. Both are set to appear at Rep. Jim Clyburn’s “World Famous Fish Fry” and meet with voters of color at other events. But incidents in the last few days could complicate those appearances.

On Tuesday night, Biden highlighted his past work relationship with the late senators Herman Talmadge of Georgia and James Eastland of Mississippi, two noted segregationists, during a New York City fundraiser. 

The Democratic front-runner referenced Eastland while arguing for more civility in Washington. “I know the new, new left tells me that I’m — this is old-fashioned,” Biden said, according to the pool report. “Well guess what? If we can’t reach a consensus in our system, what happens? It encourages and demands the abuse of power by a president. That’s what it does. You have to be able to reach consensus under our system — our constitutional system of separation of powers.”

Biden has made this point before — that despite differences with Republicans and some members of his own party over issues as profound as civil rights, he still found ways to work with them in a cooperative or bipartisan fashion. 

But several of his 2020 Democratic primary competitors jumped on his remarks on Wednesday, including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Rep. John Delaney and Sens. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Booker said Biden’s “relationships with proud segregationists are not the model for how we make America a safer and more inclusive place for black people, and for everyone.” He added later, “I’m disappointed that he hasn’t issued an immediate apology for the pain his words are dredging up for many Americans. He should.” 

Harris said the former vice president’s statement “concerns me deeply. If those men had their way I would not be in the United States Senate and on this elevator right now.”

Meanwhile, CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman reports that Buttigieg held a press conference with community leaders in Indiana on Wednesday to discuss the aftermath of a shooting of a black man by a white police officer in South Bend on Sunday. 

Buttigieg said the city is aiming for justice and transparency in the ongoing investigation. Moving forward, Buttigieg said the city wants fairness and equality. Buttigieg acknowledged, “We can do that working together. It won’t be easy. It’s not supposed to be easy, but we can do something here that will make a tremendous difference.”

Election 2020 Buttigieg
Mayor Pete Buttigieg addresses newly sworn police officers during a ceremony Wednesday, June 19, 2019, at the South Bend Police Department.

Sara Burnett / AP

Over the past several days, Buttigieg has been speaking with leaders in the faith community, elected officials, local activists and other community leaders, according to the mayor’s office.

Buttigieg sat down with CBS affiliate WSBT-TV and was asked to comment on if the relationship between the police department and the African American community is “beyond repair.” Buttigieg responded. “We just can’t accept that. We live in the same community. The police department and the African American community are part of the same family.”


SEN. CORY BOOKER: Booker appeared before a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Wednesday that discussed a bill that would create a commission to study proposals for reparations to the descendants of slaves. In his testimony, Turman says Booker noted the urgency of this moment and said, “This bill, which I am now leading on the Senate side, is the beginning on an important process not just to examine and study this history that has not been addressed, the silence that persists, but also to find practical ideas to address the enduring justices in our nation.” 

SEC. JULIAN CASTRO: The former HUD secretary released the third and final part of his “People First Housing Plan” on Wednesday, per CBS News campaign reporter Tim Perry. Part three focuses on increasing homeownership by establishing a National Housing Stabilization Fund for people experiencing housing insecurity and means to make credit more accessible. The plan also calls for holding Wall Street more accountable through various measures, including strengthening and rebuilding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.


UP NORTH: Amidst an expanding ground game effort in the Granite State, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s New Hampshire team will open four field offices in Portsmouth, Nashua, Keene, and Manchester this week, says CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga

“Opening field offices will help us to build upon the organizing we’ve been doing for months in communities all across the state,” New Hampshire state director Liz Wester said in a statement to CBS News. “Whether we are hosting policy discussions, coffee hours, or going door-to-door — we’re excited to expand our grassroots organization here in New Hampshire and bring more Granite Staters into this fight with us.”

DOWN SOUTH: The South Carolina Democratic primary is months away, but that won’t stop the flow of at least 22 presidential hopefuls from packing into the Palmetto State this weekend. CBSN political reporter Caitlin Huey-BurnsCBS News campaign associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice and CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell talked to the state’s Democratic Party chairman, Trave Robertson, who gave them a preview of what to expect.  

“This is — what we would, could consider in South Carolina — the first real introduction of the presidential candidates to the core constituency of the Democratic Party,” says Robertson. “The individuals who take time to go to their precinct meetings, go to their county conventions, and then go to their state conventions … [it will be the people] who consider themselves the activists of the Democratic Party.” 

2020 candidates commemorate Juneteeth, head to South Carolina

OUT WEST: In interviews published by The New York Times today, nearly every candidate declared their unequivocal opposition to the death penalty, in step with a party that has turned against the once widely-accepted sentence. At first glance this might appear to be a boon for candidates in California, where the governor was applauded this year for his moratorium on all executions. But CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin reports that polling this week in the Golden State suggests a narrow majority of California Democrats still support capital punishment for serious crimes. 

Across the border, Nevada’s governor has walked back his own opposition to the death penalty, conceding that some cases (like that of mass shooter Stephen Paddock) could warrant the sentence. And this year, an attempt in the Nevada legislature to eliminate the death penalty flopped.


#WCW: The Winning for Women (WFW) Action Fund on Wednesday launched its 20 in 20 initiative, focused on electing 20 Republican women to the House in 2020. WFW is hosting a launch party Wednesday night in Washington, where GOP leaders like Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Liz Cheney, Rep. Elise Stefanik and Rep. Susan Brooks are slated to speak. 

WFW communications director Olivia Perez-Cubas told CBS News Political Unit associate producer Ellee Watson that she expects more than 100 people at the event, including other female members of the House as well as GOP operatives and staff.  

The WFW Action Fund was created following the 2018 midterms when Rep. Carol Miller was the only non-incumbent Republican woman to win an election to the House. The total number of GOP women in the House is 13, significantly lower than the Democrats’ 89. North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District is the first race the group is participating in and will serve as a test case for 2020 races. The group has already spent $500,000 to support Dr. Joan Perry, who faces Dr. Greg Murphy in the district’s Republican primary on July 9. Early voting for that race started on Wednesday.

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