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Democratic 2020 hopefuls to swarm San Francisco, while Biden stays away



Democratic 2020 hopefuls to swarm San Francisco, while Biden stays away

(Reuters) – Fourteen Democratic presidential hopefuls seeking money and support in California, the most liberal and populous U.S. state, will descend on San Francisco this weekend for a state party convention – with front-runner Joe Biden notably absent.

FILE PHOTO: Twenty four 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are seen in a combination from file photos (L-R top row): U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand, Michael Bennet and former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel. (L-R middle row): Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, U.S. Representatives Tulsi Gabbard, John Delaney, Eric Swalwell, Tim Ryan, Seth Moulton, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. (L-R bottom row): Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Former Gov. John Hickenlooper, Gov. Jay Inslee, Andrew Yang, Marianne Williamson, Mayor Wayne Messam, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. REUTERS/Files/File Photo

Appearances by U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and other candidates highlight California’s growing importance in the Democratic nominating process. Its 500 delegates are up for grabs three months earlier than in prior years, which could set the tone for the rest of the 2020 race.

Biden, a moderate, will instead attend an event in Ohio, avoiding what may become a raucous convention dominated by the party’s progressive wing. Still, some political experts and party members said Biden risks sending the signal that he is taking California for granted.

San Francisco Democratic Party Chairman David Campos, who supports Sanders, called Biden’s plan “a mistake.”

“He has been expecting some sort of coronation,” Campos said. “But there are no coronations in California.”

Biden’s campaign declined to say why the candidate opted not to attend, and California party officials say they do not know either. Biden is scheduled to speak Saturday night at a Columbus, Ohio, dinner held by the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group.

“In the coming weeks, Vice President Biden is looking forward to returning to California to meet with voters, learn firsthand about their concerns, and ultimately, compete strongly in the state,” Biden spokesman Jamal Brown said in an email to Reuters.

Senior Biden campaign aides will attend the San Francisco convention, Brown said.

Biden is one of 24 Democrats seeking the party’s nomination to run against Republican President Donald Trump in 2020. The former vice president under President Barack Obama has led polls nationally and in California since announcing his candidacy in April.

But experts say the field in California remains wide open. Sanders does not have the state locked up despite his progressive bona fides, nor does Harris, who has won statewide elections in California for attorney general and senator. Her Oakland presidential campaign launch drew 20,000 people.

Sanders, Harris and the dozen other candidates attending the convention will speak in brief appearances on Saturday and Sunday to about 5,000 delegates, guests and journalists gathered in San Francisco. Most of the contenders also plan to address a nearby event by the progressive group

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Representative Adam Schiff and Governor Gavin Newsom also are expected to attend.


Despite the short speaking slots and the crowd of candidates, attending the convention will be worthwhile for most of the hopefuls, said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. The poll in April showed Biden leading in California with support from 26% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning respondents, followed by Sanders with 18% and Harris with 17%.

“Any candidate right now is chasing Joe Biden,” Malloy said. “And chasing money. And California is the best place to chase the money.”

For Biden, however, the calculation may be different.

Skipping the convention allows him to sidestep potential uncomfortable questions from progressives, said Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles.

Biden will miss an opportunity to reach out to the party’s left flank but also avoids the risk of saying something that conservatives can use against him later, Sonenshein said.

“It’s a very energetic convention with a lot of people with their own opinions,” Sonenshein said. “What you say to make them happy may come back to haunt you later.”

The move also keeps Biden from appearing to be just one in a crowded field jostling for attention, said political analyst Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a retired professor of public policy at the University of Southern California.

Had she been working for Biden, Bebitch Jeffe said, she would have advised him not to attend.

“He doesn’t have to be part of this beauty contest,” she said.

Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; additional reporting by Tim Reid; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and David Gregorio


Trump rips New York Times over Kavanaugh piece, calls for resignation of anyone involved in ‘SMEAR story’




Trump rips New York Times over Kavanaugh piece, calls for resignation of anyone involved in 'SMEAR story'

President Trump blasted The New York Times over its supposed bombshell report on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, calling on “everybody” involved in the “smear” to resign.

“I call for the Resignation of everybody at The New York Times involved in the Kavanaugh SMEAR story, and while you’re at it, the Russian Witch Hunt Hoax, which is just as phony!” Trump tweeted Monday evening.

“They’ve taken the Old Grey Lady and broken her down, destroyed her virtue and ruined her reputation… She can never recover, and will never return to Greatness, under current Management. The Times is DEAD, long live The New York Times!”


Late Sunday, The New York Times walked back an explosive report about a resurfaced allegation of sexual assault by Kavanaugh from his college days. The piece by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, adapted from their forthcoming book, alleged there was corroboration of an incident in which Kavanaugh, as a college student at Yale, exposed himself to a female classmate at a party.

However, The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway — who reviewed an advance copy of the book – flagged an omission and the paper eventually revised the controversial story after being lampooned on social media over the gaffe.

The update included the significant detail that several friends of the alleged victim said she did not recall the purported sexual assault. The newspaper also stated for the first time that the alleged victim refused to be interviewed, and has made no other comment about the episode.


Trump was asked about whether anyone from The Times should be “fired” over the controversy. He called it a “fair” question but didn’t directly give an answer.

“I think The New York Times made another terrible mistake,” Trump said. “It’s a shame that a thing like that could happen… They used to have a thing called fact-checking. They don’t have fact-checking anymore.”

Fox News’ Brian Flood and Gregg Re contributed to this report.

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With New Mexico rally, Trump seeks to flip state won by Clinton in 2016




With New Mexico rally, Trump seeks to flip state won by Clinton in 2016

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump will hold one of his signature rallies on Monday night in New Mexico, a longtime Democratic stronghold his campaign has added to the list of states it hopes to win in the November 2020 election.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

The last time New Mexico supported a Republican in a presidential race was 2004. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton beat Trump there by 8 percentage points three years ago.

Trump’s campaign sees an opening in the state with Latinos, who it believes will swing his way despite tough immigration policies, including a crackdown on migrants from Central America and a push to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Democrats have criticized those efforts. But a Trump campaign aide said the Republican president could win over Latinos who came to the United States legally and believe others should, too.

“Big crowd expected in New Mexico tonight, where we will WIN. Your Border Wall is getting stronger each and every day — see you in a few hours!” Trump tweeted ahead of his trip.

The campaign also views Trump’s support for the fossil fuel industry as a plus in the state, which is rich in oil and natural gas, said the campaign aide, who declined to be named. Trump is likely to discuss energy on Monday night.

Trump won the White House in 2016 with electoral votes from traditional Republican-leaning states and some surprise Democratic-leaning ones.

The Trump campaign says it wants New Mexico’s five electoral votes to augment the 306 electoral votes the president received in his first election, not create a separate path for victory. A candidate must get 270 electoral votes nationally to win.

Democrats, who did well in New Mexico during the 2018 mid-term elections, are skeptical.

“Last cycle, Democrats crushed Republicans in New Mexico because voters are fed up with President Trump’s toxic healthcare agenda and broken promises,” said David Bergstein, a communications director for the Democratic National Committee focused on battleground states.

“We take nothing for granted, but this GOP strategy looks like they’re concerned about a realistic pathway to 270 electoral votes,” he added.

Trump won electoral-vote-rich swing states such as Ohio and Florida in 2016, while also picking up Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania from Democrats.

The campaign says it is eyeing more pickups in 2020, including Colorado, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Nevada.

Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Tom Brown

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California adds Iowa to ‘travel ban’ over refusal to fund gender transitions




California adds Iowa to 'travel ban' over refusal to fund gender transitions

California announced Monday that it has added Iowa to the list of states on its ever-expanding “travel ban” list because of that state’s new prohibition against funding gender-transition surgeries under Medicaid.

The announcement by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra means that as of Oct. 4, California will no longer offer taxpayer-funded trips to Iowa for any public employee or student at a state-run university.

Becerra’s authority came from a 2016 California law signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown that bars state-funded travel to other states that undercut LGBT rights. The list already included Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma and Mississippi.


Conservatives have called the law ineffective, inconveniencing, possibly unconstitutional and hypocritical. The state’s sports teams have turned to private funding to get around the restrictions, according to The Los Angeles Times.

A homeless woman smokes as she waits for city crews to clean the area near Los Angeles City Hall Monday, July 1, 2019. California is overrun with homeless individuals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

A homeless woman smokes as she waits for city crews to clean the area near Los Angeles City Hall Monday, July 1, 2019. California is overrun with homeless individuals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

“The Iowa Legislature has reversed course on what was settled law under the Iowa Civil Rights Act, repealing protections for those seeking gender-affirming health care,” Becerra said in a statement. “California has taken an unambiguous stand against discrimination and government actions that would enable it.”

The brouhaha began after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in March that taxpayers could be forced to pay for gender reassignment surgery. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law effectively overriding that ruling two months later.

At the federal level, the Trump administration has disputed the idea that sex-based discrimination prohibitions under law include protections for gender identity. The Health and Human Services Department, in May, angered progressive advocates with rules that both allowed doctors not to perform certain operations and stated that “gender identity” was not protected under sex discrimination law in health care.


Fox News’ Sam Dorman contributed to this report.

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