Amash’s possible bid raises concerns about November implications

Welcome Summer

Melissa Holzberg and Liz Brown-Kaiser

11d ago / 2: 36 PM UTC

WASHINGTON — When Independent Michigan Rep. Justin Amash announced on Tuesday that he’s seeking the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination, he joined a list of third-party candidates who aimed to provide a choice to voters outside of the two major parties. Amash, a frequent critic of President Trump, left the Republican Party in 2019 and supported Trump’s impeachment. 

Although no third-party candidate has gone on to win the presidency, these candidates can impact elections and have been accused of spoiling the election for one of the two major party nominees.

In an interview on MSNBC on Wednesday, Amash said it’s a “factual issue” to assume his candidacy affects how Americans would have voted come November if he weren’t in the race.

“We don’t know who people will vote for. It’s impossible to say whether more people will vote for Biden or Trump if I’m in the race or not in the race. So I think there’s a big, factual issue there,” Amash said. 

But electoral history tells a different story. Take Ralph Nader in the 2000 election. 

Nader’s Green Party run in 2000 is largely seen as one of the major reasons former Vice President Al Gore lost the general election. While the close 2000 election was ultimately decided by the Supreme Court, Florida’s valuable electoral votes could have been carried by Gore had Nader’s name not been on the ballot.

According to the Federal Elections Commission, Bush carried 2,912,790 votes in Florida and Gore carried just slightly less with 2,912,253  — only a 537 vote difference. Nader held the significant balance of 97,488 votes. 

Bush’s win, perhaps with help from a more liberal third-party candidate, followed another Bush’s loss helped by Texas billionaire Ross Perot in 1992. Perot’s Independent run for the White House focused on utilizing cable TV — he announced his bid on the Larry King Live show — and used infomercials to sell his message. He ended up with about 19 percent of the vote in 1992 — and then-Governor of Arkansas Bill Clinton won the election against President George H.W. Bush by just six points. 

Like Gore supporters in 2000, Democrats last election argued that Green Party candidate Jill Stein detracted votes from their nominee, resulting in Republican victories in key states. Stein received more votes than Trump’s margin of victory over 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. 

According to the Michigan Department of State, Stein garnered over 50,000 votes in Michigan  while Trump won just about 10,000 more votes than Clinton in the state. Official results from the Wisconsin Elections Commission show Trump beat out Clinton by just 23,000 votes — Stein received over 31,000 votes. And in Pennsylvania, where Clinton fell nearly 45,000 votes short of her Republican rival, Stein carried 49,941 votes per the Pennsylvania Department of State

It’s plausible that had the majority of Stein’s votes gone to Clinton, she would have carried those three once-Democratic strongholds. 

Perhaps unlike third-party spoilers in the past, Amash’s run has an opportunity to take votes from both parties’ nominees. On some issues, Amash may be able to run to the right of the president and pick up conservative votes. 

In his GOP-leaning district in Kent County (Grand Rapids), Amash could also keep Trump below 45% there — which would make it harder for him to win Michigan statewide.

Gary Johnson got 4.6% in Kent County in 2016. Amash — given his name ID there — could get more than that. https://t.co/kQz2ovnmU3

— Mark Murray (@mmurraypolitics) April 29, 2020

And in places like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, he may be able to hinder moderates and Independents from coalescing around Biden.

Mike Memoli and Marianna Sotomayor

12d ago / 11: 29 AM UTC

Biden campaign announces vice presidential search committee

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden has named a former Senate colleague, a trusted longtime aide, and two political allies to head up his vice presidential search committee, his campaign announced Thursday. 

Former Sen. Chris Dodd, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Delaware Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester and Cynthia Hogan, a former counsel to Biden in the Senate and the White House, will lead the effort meant to advise Biden as he makes what is likely his most consequential political decision. The campaign says the four will “conduct conversations across the party” to inform the selection.

The inclusion of Garcetti, who is part Mexican, and Rochester, Delaware’s first black congresswoman, provides the kind of racial diversity on the panel that Democrats hope Biden will also consider as he rounds out the ticket.

Democratic presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden addresses a crowd at a town hall event at Clinton College in Rock Hill, South Carolina on Aug. 29, 2019.Sean Rayford / Getty Images file

Biden announced during his final primary debate against Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in March that he would choose a woman as his running mate, considerably narrowing the field of possible choices. But he’s under some pressure from key Democrats to go further and select a woman of color in a bid to potentially energize the party’s base in the fall.

Separately, Biden campaign general counsel Dana Remus, former White House counsel Bob Bauer and former Obama administration Homeland Security Adviser Lisa Monaco will oversee the rigorous background vetting process for all potential selections.

“Selecting a vice presidential candidate is one of the most important decisions in a presidential campaign and no one knows this more than Joe Biden,” campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in a statement making the announcement. “These four co-chairs reflect the strength and diversity of our party, and will provide tremendous insight and expertise to what will be a rigorous selection and vetting process.  We are grateful for their service to the campaign and for their leadership.”

Biden advisers have suggested that Thursday’s announcement will be the most they will say publicly about the process until the day the former vice president introduces the woman he hopes will be the next one. 

But Biden himself has talked often about the characteristics he is looking for most in a potential White House partner, including someone who is largely aligned with him ideologically, who could take on significant policy assignments, and with whom he enjoys significant trust. He’s also said that, as someone who would assume the presidency at 78 years old, he needs a vice presidential candidate that the country could accept as experienced enough to serve in the Oval Office themselves.

Biden has personally spoken with former President Barack Obama and some of the officials who helped guide his 2008 VP search committee — which, of course, ended with Biden on the ticket. That committee included Obama’s future attorney general, Eric Holder, and Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late president.

Biden told donors at a virtual fundraiser Wednesday that he hoped to have the vetting process completed in July. He’s previously said his campaign is discussing whether to announce his choice well before the Democratic National Convention in August. Obama announced his choice of Biden the weekend before the 2008 convention in late August; Hillary Clinton also announced her choice of Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine just before the 2016 Democratic convention in July.

Ben Kamisar

12d ago / 4: 23 PM UTC

Top Senate campaign groups announce biggest early investment in North Carolina, Arizona, Iowa

WASHINGTON — Senate campaign committees and top super PACs are making their biggest investments on the airwaves in North Carolina, Arizona and Iowa, three states where Republican incumbents are looking to fend off Democratic attempts to win back the Senate in November. 

Now that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has released the breakdown of its initial round of television and digital investments, all four top committees in the battle for the Senate have sketched out early buy information — the DSCC, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Senate Leadership Fund (the Republican super PAC) and Senate Majority PAC (the Democratic super PAC). 

North Carolina is far and away the top target of that initial investment — $66.4 million between the four groups, $37.3 million from the blue team and $29.1 from the red team. There, Republican Sen. Thom Tillis will face off against Democrat Cal Cunningham (with the Democrat leading by 5 points in a March NBC/WSJ poll, just inside the margin of error). 

That comes as North Carolina has seen the most television and radio spending already so far — $20.6 million, according to Advertising Analytics, with Maine a close second at $20.5 million. 

Sen. Thom Tillis speaks during a rally for President Donald Trump in Charlotte, N.C. on March 2, 2020.Al Drago / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Then comes Arizona and Iowa in the second tier of spending, with $37 million and $35.6 million respectively between the four groups. The Democratic effort has the spending edge of these investments in both states — Democrats have booked $22.1 million in Arizona and $20.4 million in Iowa, with Republicans booking $14.9 million in Arizona and $15.2 million in Iowa. 

Arizona Republican Sen. Martha McSally is expected to face off against Democrat Mark Kelly in that state, while a handful of Democrats are facing off to win the right to run against Republican Sen. Joni Ernst (with Democrat Theresa Greenfield the best-funded of those options). 

Then there’s Maine and Colorado bunched closely together — two states where those Republican groups are booking more initial advertising. Republicans are booking $12.3 million of the $21.9 million in initial reservations in Maine, and $11.9 million of the $17.1 million in Colorado. 

In those states, Democrats are looking to dethrone Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner. 

In Montana, home to the clash between GOP Sen. Steve Daines and Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, Democrats are booking $5.2 million compared to Republicans’ $2.8 million. 

Then there are two states where only those Republican groups have decided to make initial investments in — SLF is putting $10.8 million into Kentucky, defending Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, while the NRSC is spending $2.7 million in Michigan, where it hopes to knock off Democratic Sen. Gary Peters. 

The initial spending plans are just one piece of the puzzle — these groups are all expected to dump more money into the map; there are other outside groups either already running ads or that will in the coming months; and the candidates themselves will hit the airwaves depending on how much money they are able to raise. 

But now that the four big groups have released their initial plans, we can see where they believe their early money may go the furthest. 

Monica Alba

13d ago / 7: 27 PM UTC

Trump campaign touts virtual engagement as coronavirus turns campaign digital

WASHINGTON — Since starting nightly online broadcasts one month ago, President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign says the virtual events have attracted nearly 300 million views across its social media platforms.

The large number could be an indication of voter interest while the re-elect effort continues to convert its traditional operation into a fully digital one with the coronavirus pandemic dramatically transforming the presidential race.

Last week alone, the Trump campaign told NBC it had more than 66 million views for their series of online discussions, which often feature top surrogates and staffers on a variety of topics, from veterans issues to women empowerment.

In the month of April so far, they’ve been watched more than 298 million times. 

“Team Trump’s unique, 7-nights-a-week online broadcasts are successful with dynamic guests, timely topics, and are a great way to stay involved in our 100% virtual campaign to re-elect President Trump,” deputy communications director Erin Perrine told NBC News in a statement. 

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office on April 28, 2020.Evan Vucci / AP

Many of April’s cyber panels were slated to take place right after the president wrapped up his daily coronavirus press conferences. Perrine argued that the double-feature aspect is attractive to many Trump supporters who are craving more voter interaction directly from the president and the campaign.

 “Just like President Trump, these broadcasts are bold and hold back no punches on the fake news or Democrat attempts to spread lies about the president. They highlight the strong and growing enthusiasm for President Trump’s America First success,” she said. 

Though they stream on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and the main campaign website as well, Facebook attracts the most eyeballs, according to a senior campaign official.

The president, who is eager to get back on the campaign trail before November, has yet to participate in one of these livestreams.

And as millions of Americans have been confined to their homes, the Trump team and Republican National Committee say they’ve seen a surge of volunteers. More than 300,000 new people have raised their hands virtually since March 13 the day the campaign went all-virtual.

Since then, Trump Victory – the joint effort between the campaign and RNC – has made 20 million voter contacts, per this official. On particular target dates, Trump supporters have made as many as 4 million calls in one day to Americans nationwide, urging them to visit the CDC’s website and follow social distancing guidelines, while also touting the president’s accomplishments and pushing online voter registration.

Last week’s release of the new Trump 2020 mobile app has also allowed supporters across the country sign up for “Trump Talk,” which allows them to make recruiting calls from the comfort of their own homes.

The Trump and Biden campaigns haven’t held large in-person events since early March. Since then, former Vice President Joe Biden has been appearing from a studio in his Delaware home. 

In that time, the Biden campaign says more than 63 million people have engaged with their online content, including livestreams, speeches, press briefings and interviews. The apparent Democratic nominee has done 42 virtual events and appearances since entering self-isolation. 

Last Saturday, the Biden team hosted a “SOUL of the Nation” digital rally, which it says attracted 340,000 live views across their platforms.

The Trump campaign notes that while Biden and his digital operation use the three-time presidential hopeful’s Twitter account to reach supporters for their live programming, so far, the president hasn’t promoted his team’s online broadcasts with his more than 78 million followers. 

Mike Memoli and Monica Alba

13d ago / 7: 27 PM UTC

Hillary Clinton endorses Biden during women’s virtual town hall

WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton, the first woman to win a major party’s presidential nomination, first teased her endorsement of Joe Biden for president Tuesday in a tweet where she revealed herself as the apparent Democratic nominee’s special guest at a virtual town hall on the impact of the coronavirus on women.

Then she made it official during the event Tuesday afternoon, saying she was “thrilled” to be a part of Biden’s campaign.

“I am thrilled to be part of your campaign. To not only endorse you but to help highlight a lot of the issues that are at stake during in this presidential election,” Clinton said. 

The endorsement comes as Biden’s campaign has worked over the past month to project the party as fully — and to many, surprisingly — unified heading into the general election fight against President Donald Trump. Former vice president and 2000 Democratic nominee Al Gore endorsed Biden last week at an Earth Day event; President Barack Obama and former 2020 rivals Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren backed Biden the week before.

Biden retweeted Clinton’s announcement and commented, “I’m with her.” 

Biden and Clinton’s relationship spans decades. As a senior Democrat on key committees in the 1990s, Biden worked closely with President Bill Clinton’s administration on legislative priorities including the 1994 crime bill and both of his Supreme Court nominations. 

In 2001, Clinton joined Biden in the Senate, where they remained through 2008 as they faced off in that year’s Democratic presidential primary before both joining Barack Obama’s administration in 2009, him as vice president and her as secretary of State.

Biden and Clinton appeared on a potential collision course again in the 2016 campaign. Just after Obama’s reelection in 2012, Biden raised eyebrows at a key Iowa Democratic party function the following summer by praising John Kerry, Clinton’s successor at State, as “one of the best secretaries of State” in history.

Clinton met with Biden in early 2015 as she was set to formally declare her candidacy, as Biden’s own deliberations were on hold as his son battled brain cancer. Biden ultimately passed on the race that fall, and threw his support behind Clinton the following year, joining her in their shared hometown of Scranton.

Biden went on to hold dozens of campaign events for Clinton in the fall. After many Democrats were stunned at her loss to Trump, Biden said in an interview shortly after that he was not because the party had lost sight of the type of working class voters that had long been their base of support.

Biden often praised Clinton as he ran in the 2020 primaries, saying often she would have made a great president. But he often noted how close the final margin was against Trump in key battlegrounds, places he felt he could win back if the party was fully united.

“I’m confident we will win those states, not because I’m better than Hillary, but because the time is different,”  he said at one party fundraiser last fall.

Brad Parscale, President Trump’s campaign manager, issued a statement on the endorsement Tuesday.

“There is no greater concentration of Democrat establishment than Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton together,” it reads. “Both of them carry the baggage of decades in the Washington swamp and both of them schemed to keep the Democrat nomination from Bernie Sanders. President Trump beat her once and now he’ll beat her chosen candidate.”

Marianna Sotomayor contributed

Ben Kamisar

13d ago / 4: 10 PM UTC

New ad blasts Kobach as GOP Senate primary heats up in Kansas

WASHINGTON — A new ad attacking Kansas Republican Kris Kobach hit the airwaves Tuesday as the state’s GOP Senate primary continues to heat up. 

The new spot from the Keep Kansas Great PAC focuses on Kobach’s 2018 loss as the Republican gubernatorial candidate, arguing “Kris Kobach will lose again, and the liberal radicals will be back in charge.”  

And it tries to hit Kobach with guilt-by-association by attacking the conservative Club for Growth, which is running ads attacking Kobach’s top Republican rival, U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall. 

That attack revisits the Club’s 2016 decision to run ads against President Trump, a move that sparked a feud with the future president. In 2015 comments repeated in the ad, Trump called the group backing Kobach “a fraud” and “crooked.” 

But the Club has emerged during the Trump administration as an ally of Trump’s — Club for Growth President David McIntosh told “Meet the Press” last August that the group’s attacks came during the heat of the GOP presidential primary, when it was supporting Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and that it is happy with how Trump has governed as a “free-market conservative.” 

The heated spot is just the latest example of the contentious nature of the GOP primary as the party gears up to likely face the well-funded Democratic state Sen. Barbara Bollier, the Democratic front-runner. 

Last week, the Kansas City Star broke the news that the state Republican Party asked two other candidates — state Sen. President Susan Wagle and former Johnson County Commissioner Dave Lindstrom — to drop out.

Kansas Republican chair Mike Kuckelman said in a radio interview on KMCO that he made the “difficult decision” because he felt he “had to act” to keep the seat in Republican hands and that neither candidate had a path to victory. 

“We’ve learned from other elections that having names on the ballot that can’t win the race, they can affect the outcome of it,” he said. 

Kobach responded to the news by blasting “party elites” for trying to put their thumb on the scale. 

Grassroots Republicans should be outraged. Our next Senator will be chosen by the people of Kansas — not the party elites. The Chairman’s attempted intervention into the GOP primary is inappropriate. And his reasoning is questionable at best. #KSSEN 1/ https://t.co/GmihWcNvGJ

— Kris W. Kobach (@KrisKobach1787) April 24, 2020

And after Kobach wrote a letter asking Marshall to repudiate the state party’s move, Marshall responded with a letter of his own that warned that “We’ve seen the consequences of a Democrat administration at the state level when we nominated a person who can’t win (2018),” a clear reference to Kobach’s failed 2018 gubernatorial bid. 

As of now, the primary isn’t scheduled until August.

Josh Lederman and Maura Barrett

14d ago / 7: 19 PM UTC

Bloomberg to pay laid-off staffers’ health care through November amid lawsuits, public pressure

Mike Bloomberg is agreeing to pay for health care through November for the more than 2,000 campaign staffers he laid off after suspending his presidential bid as he faces public pressure and multiple lawsuits over allegations he let go of workers he’d promised to keep employed through the 2020 election.

The human resources department for Bloomberg’s now-defunct campaign notified former staffers of the decision in an email Monday that was obtained by NBC News. The email says it’s a “difficult and stressful time” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Democratic presidential candidate, former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg speaks during a rally held at the Bricktown Events Center on Feb. 27, 2020 in Oklahoma City.Joe Raedle / Getty Images

“Given these extraordinary circumstances, the campaign will cover the cost of COBRA through November, 2020. This is aimed at supporting those who have not already secured replacement healthcare coverage,” the email reads.

The former staffers were set to lose their health care at the end of April, about a month after they got their last paychecks.

Asked to comment, a Bloomberg campaign spokesperson said the insurance costs would be covered for former staffers “who haven’t secured other coverage.”

There are multiple lawsuits pending against Bloomberg’s campaign by old staffers alleging the campaign fraudulently promised jobs through November, then laid everyone off after he dropped out of the race in March. One lawsuit that has more than 100 plaintiffs is seeking certification as a class action for allegations under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The lead attorney on that case, Sally Abrahamson, called the health care decision “a great development.”

“We think this is likely the result of the work of our over 100 brave clients who came forward and spoke up about what was happening. Our case still moves forward to recover promised wages and unpaid overtime,” Abrahamson said.

Bloomberg abruptly abandoned his promise to form a super PAC to absorb his presidential campaign and help elect the ultimate Democratic nominee, letting go of his staff of more than 2,400 people at the start of the coronavirus crisis. Laid-off staff were invited to enter a competitive hiring process for a job at the DNC, which received an $18 million transfer from Bloomberg in lieu of his own effort.

Gary Grumbach

14d ago / 6: 41 PM UTC

Sanders’ bid to collect delegates takes blow as New York cancels its Democratic presidential primary

The New York State Board of Elections is removing Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders’ name from its June presidential primary ballot in a decision that effectively cancels the contest over protests from Sanders, whose campaign argued it should be able to stay on the ballot and accumulate delegates despite his recent decision to drop out and endorse former Vice President Joe Biden. 

While Sanders suspended his campaign on April 8, Sanders’ campaign lawyers sent a letter, obtained by NBC News, to the state board this past weekend asking the party to keep his name on the state’s primary ballot. 

In the letter, the Sanders legal team’s argued that the move only amounted to a “limited suspension of his presidential campaign” because he “intended to remain on the ballot in upcoming primaries, gather delegates, and attend the Democratic National Convention, with an eye to influencing the party’s platform.” 

The campaign’s lawyers had been specifically concerned about a new provision of New York’s election law, enacted five days after Sanders dropped out, which gives the state election board the power to omit a candidate who has dropped out of a race from the ballot. 

The Sanders campaign, through its legal team, requested that the state board either decide the law doesn’t apply to Sanders because he dropped out before the measure was signed into law, or exercise its discretion to keep Sanders on the primary ballot in the interest of what the Sanders camp calls “party unification.”

“Senator Sanders has collaborated with state parties, the national party and the Biden campaign, to strengthen the Democrats by aligning the party’s progressive and moderate wings,” said attorney Malcolm Seymour, who works for the New York City-based firm Foster Garvey and represents the Sanders campaign. 

“His removal from the ballot would hamper those efforts, to the detriment of the party in the general election.”

But ultimately, the state board disagreed and canceled the presidential primary. But other down ballot primaries will still go on as scheduled.  

Senior Sanders advisor Jeff Weaver blasted the decision in a statement as “an outrage,” adding that the state should be stripped of its convention delegates if “this is not remedied.” 

Sen. Bernie Sanders arrives for a campaign rally in Chicago on March 7, 2020.Scott Olson / Getty Images

It’s the latest example of the Sanders campaign pressing to allow the senator to continue to accumulate ballots despite dropping out. 

In California, campaign co-chair Rep. Ro Khanna is urging the governor and Democratic leaders to let Sanders keep delegates he earned during his win on Super Tuesday.

“Stripping him of his delegates is an affront to the primary process and the policies he is fighting for,” Khanna wrote in a tweet

At issue is a party rule that could cost Sanders a portion of his delegates. Candidates earn pledged delegates in a handful of ways, including those allocated based on primary results in a certain congressional district or based on the statewide results. 

But party rules say any presidential candidate who drops out before delegates are selected at a statewide convention loses those statewide delegates (they can keep the delegates allocated to them based on congressional district results).

That could frustrate Sanders’ attempt to accumulate enough delegates to have sway at the convention, since convention rules give him more power if he wins 25 percent of the delegates.

What Khanna is arguing is that, despite Sanders’ decision to drop out, he should still be able to retain the delegates he won in California’s March primary. 

Ben Kamisar contributed

Mike Memoli

14d ago / 1: 17 PM UTC

Pelosi becomes highest ranking elected Democrat to endorse Biden

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Monday became the highest ranking elected Democrat to endorse Joe Biden‘s presidential bid, calling him “a leader who is the personification of hope and courage, values, authenticity, and integrity.“

“He will be an extraordinary president. He knows how to get the job done,” she says in a new video.

Pelosi talks about her work as speaker with the former vice president and apparent nominee on a number of issues, including his work overseeing implementation of the Recover Act. She says he was a “partner in progress” when the House worked to pass the ACA, and “has been with us every step of the day” to protect the health law against Trump administration.

.@JoeBiden has fought for our health care, for our families & for our children’s future.

To his work, Joe brings values & integrity. He is a voice of reason & resilience who will fight #ForThePeople. Today, I am proud to endorse him for President of the United States. -NP pic.twitter.com/Qdc9vTgWHP

— Nancy Pelosi (@TeamPelosi) April 27, 2020

Biden thanked Pelosi for her support in a tweet of his own.

I’m incredibly honored by @SpeakerPelosi‘s endorsement and grateful for her historic leadership in Congress.

Together, we helped pass Obamacare and together we can not only bring this country back from the brink from this current crisis, but transform it. https://t.co/nJG599w7lU

— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) April 27, 2020

Ben Kamisar

15d ago / 4: 14 PM UTC

Stacey Abrams: Biden choosing a woman VP of color would promote ‘trust’ with black community

WASHINGTON — Former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, a possible running-mate pick for former Vice President Joe Biden, pitched herself on “Meet the Press” as a truth-teller that can help Biden “lift up marginalized communities.” 

When asked why she’s been so open about her interest in serving as Biden’s vice president — Abrams and a handful of other potential picks have made their interest clear, a departure from the typical demurring from politicians in previous cycles — the Georgian said that she wanted to be honest. 

“He’s made it clear that he wants someone that he is compatible with, someone with the skills and the capacity to help him lead and help us recover from four years of the incompetence and chaos,” she said. 

“I am the daughter of two ministers, I was raised to tell the truth. And so when I am asked a question I answer it as directly and honestly as I can. And as a young black girl growing up in Mississippi, I learned that if I didn’t speak up for myself, no one else would.”

Biden has pledged to pick a woman as his running mate.

Abrams added that picking a running mate who is a woman of color would be helpful to Biden as he seeks to mobilize the coalition that elected President Obama and Biden in 2008 and 2012. And she pointed to representation as especially acute considering the effect coronavirus has had on minority Americans. 

“A President Biden will do what he has always done, which is respect and value communities of color. I think he understands that black communities and people of color are vital to the success of the Democratic Party, and I think he’s going to pick the right person” Abrams said. 

“I, of course, think that a woman of color can bring certain attributes. We have to lift up marginalized communities, communities that do not trust that they will be served because they’ve been the hardest hit by this pandemic. In the state of Georgia alone, while we’re only 32 percent of the population, African Americans comprise 54 percent of the deaths.”

“And so, yes, having a woman of color on the ticket will help promote not only diversity, but trust. But I trust Joe Biden to pick the person he thinks is the right running mate for him.

Alex Seitz-Wald and Mike Memoli

17d ago / 5: 44 PM UTC

Biden campaign signs joint fundraising agreement with DNC

WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign has signed a joint fundraising agreement with the Democratic National Committee. The agreement will allow the apparent nominee to exert more influence over the party’s fundraising, which has lagged President Donald Trump in building a war chest for the fall campaign, the party confirmed to NBC News.

The agreement will dramatically raise the maximum donors can contribute to $360,600 per person, and that number will go up as state parties join the “Biden Victory Fund.” The vast majority of that money will go to the party, which has struggled with fundraising for years, since federal law caps donations to campaigns at $5,600.

The DNC will also replace its current CEO, Seema Nanda, with Mary Beth Cahill — a veteran Democratic operative who ran John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign and has been serving as a senior adviser to DNC Chair Tom Perez, as first reported by The New York Times.

“Mary Beth will bring her decades of experience and strategy to ensure that Joe Biden becomes the President of the United States and Democrats win at every level,” Perez said in a statement. 

Cahill, in a statement, said the joint fundraising agreement will help “ensure that we put Joe Biden in the best position possible to beat Donald Trump.”

Joe Biden addresses a crowd during a campaign event at Wofford University Feb. 28, 2020 in Spartanburg, S.C.Sean Rayford / Getty Images file

Presidential nominees typically take over the party apparatus after the primary process in preparation for the general election. Even though Biden hasn’t amassed the amount of delegates yet to be the official nominee, he’s been able to move more quickly in this process because every other major candidate in the 2020 Democratic race has dropped out and endorsed him.

Biden recently assigned his former campaign manager, Greg Schultz, to coordinate between the campaign, the DNC, and state parties. John Morgan, a top Biden donor who has worked extensively with Schultz, said Biden told him Schultz’s role working with the DNC would be especially critical. 

“That’s a place that the biggest checks can go, and that’s the place that Michael Bloomberg’s money has already gone and continue to go to,” Morgan said, referring to an $18 million donation the former New York City mayor made to the DNC. “I just think it shows the trust that Joe Biden has in Greg.”

Biden and the DNC are starting far behind Trump and the Republican National Committee’s war chest — the affiliated fundraising committees for the president ended March with $244 million in the bank, while the DNC and Biden had only about $57 million (when the DNC’s $5 million in debt is subtracted).

And the coronavirus crisis has complicated fundraising since in-person events are not possible.

“It’s really hard to raise money without that photograph line. People want to meet him in person, they want to get that picture, they want to be with other people who are like them,” Morgan said. “I just think that makes the DNC position so much more important for money. You can get bigger checks from wealthier people.”

But Morgan said donors are more likely to open their wallets as it becomes clearer Biden is likely to be the party’s nominee and possibly the country’s next president.

“The inevitability of Joe Biden’s candidacy will translate into money from everywhere,” he added.

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Jessica Thompson

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