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Kamala Harris carves distinct early-state path in her 2020 White House bid

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Kamala Harris carves distinct early-state path in her 2020 White House bid

IOWA CITY, Iowa (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Kamala Harris held just one public event this week during her third trip to Iowa since joining the contest for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, a town hall at the University of Iowa where she talked about her plan to raise teacher pay.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senator Kamala Harris launches her campaign for president of the United States at a rally at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in her hometown of Oakland, California, U.S., January 27, 2019. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage/File Photo

Harris, formerly California’s top prosecutor, spent most of her two-day visit at private gatherings aimed at securing early support from specific constituencies – women, state lawmakers and educators.

Iowa hosts the first presidential nominating contest in February 2020, and Harris’ early strategy in the farming state is considerably different than the traditional barnstorm politicking by some of her Democratic competitors.

Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, for example, went to 23 events across 10 counties on his second trip to Iowa. U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey attended 14 events in 11 counties during two visits, with a third scheduled next week.

Harris’ campaign thinks its targeted approach will allow her to build momentum in Iowa, while freeing up resources to invest more heavily in the path they see as crucial to her winning the Democratic nomination: California and the U.S. South.

“Organizing looks very different right now than it will look a year or even six months from now,” said Miryam Lipper, Harris’ Iowa spokeswoman. “Right now we’re focused on introducing Kamala to Iowans and engaging with potential supporters in a smart way.”

Harris’ tactics carry some risk. Iowa voters play an outsized role in picking U.S. presidents, and many have come to expect frequent face time with White House hopefuls.

Harris aides say it is early in the race, and there could come a point when she crisscrosses Iowa’s 99 counties.

However, Iowa likely will award just 41 of about 3,800 delegates available to win the Democratic nomination. While the campaign aims to do well there, aides say they do not think a first-place finish is as critical for Harris as it might be for other candidates needing a break-out moment.

Early opinion polls show Harris in the top tier of more than 18 Democrats who have announced campaigns or are expected to. Harris, 54, supports a middle-class tax credit, Medicare for All government health insurance, the so-called Green New Deal proposal on climate change and the legalization of marijuana.

Joshua Putnam, a professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington who specializes in political primaries, said a candidate in Harris’ position needs to meet expectations in Iowa and the subsequent New Hampshire primary to remain viable for the strategy to work.

“They likely do not need outright wins in either of the first two states, but that is not the only type of winning. One can win or lose relative to expectations as well,” Putnam said.

GRAPHIC-Who is running in 2020 – tmsnrt.rs/2Ff62ZC

‘CAMP KAMALA’

Harris’ strategy was on display this week as she courted groups with the potential to influence their friends and neighbors.

She met with Democratic state legislators on Thursday ahead of their session ending in May, when they will leave Des Moines and return to their districts. She secured her first endorsement from a party activist in Iowa before a house party hosted by members of a group that encourages women to run for office.

Harris told the women the 2016 election of President Donald Trump, the likely Republican candidate in 2020, was an “inflection point” in U.S. history. 

“This is a moment in time that is requiring each of us as individuals and collectively to look in the mirror and ask a question … who are we?” Harris said at the gathering. “And part of the answer to that question is we are better than this. So this is a moment in time then that we must fight for the best of who we are.”

Next week, Harris’ campaign is hosting “Camp Kamala” to educate college students about Iowa’s complex caucus process and her candidacy before they fan out across the state and the rest of the country for their summer break.

While she is not ceding Iowa by any stretch, Harris’ delegate strategy begins in earnest in Nevada and South Carolina, which hold the third and fourth nominating contests.

Harris aides say they expect to do well in Nevada and believe it is important to have a strong showing or win in South Carolina, the first contest with a sizeable percentage of black voters. Harris, the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, would make history as the first black woman to gain the nomination.

Her performance on so-called “Super Tuesday” in early March, when at least a dozen states will award about 40 percent of the delegates, will be critical, her campaign acknowledged.

The southern states of Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia hold their nominating contests on Super Tuesday, as do delegate-rich Texas and California. Harris has already visited Texas, which will award more than 260 delegates, and California, where she has won statewide races three times, will award at least 475.

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) arrives to speak at the North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) 2019 legislative conference in Washington, U.S., April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Her campaign aims to invest as heavily in these states as they can, aides said.

Jean Hessburg, the Iowa activist who endorsed Harris this week, said caucus goers understand “this is a marathon and not a sprint.” Candidates making dozens of stops across the state risk spreading themselves too thin, she added.

“By doing these targeted events, the idea would be it’s more memorable,” said Hessburg, who leads the Women’s Caucus for the Iowa Democratic Party.

Reporting by Amanda Becker; additional reporting by Joseph Ax and Timothy Reid; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Grant McCool

Politics

Trump sues to block subpoena for financial information

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Trump sues to block subpoena for financial information

U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One as they travel to Florida for Easter weekend, at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, U.S., April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Al Drago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday sued to block a subpoena issued by the Democratic chairman of the U.S. House Oversight Committee that sought information about his and his businesses’ finances.

“Chairman Cummings’ subpoena is invalid and unenforceable because it has no legitimate legislative purpose,” lawyers for Trump and the Trump Organization said in court filing.

Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Tim Ahmann

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Trump administration announces new Iran crackdown targeting oil revenue

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Trump administration announces new Iran crackdown targeting oil revenue

The Trump administration on Monday targeted Iran’s energy sector by announcing the U.S. would no longer exempt any countries from sanctions for importing Iranian oil.

“This decision is intended to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue,” the White House said in a statement.

TRUMP DESIGNATES IRGC A TERROR ORGANIZATION

The decision means sanctions waivers for five nations, including China and India and U.S. treaty allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey, won’t be renewed when they expire on May 2.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in formally announcing the move, described it as part of the “pressure campaign” to choke off funding to the regime and incentivize Iran to act like a “normal country.”

“It’s the regime’s number one source of cash,” Pompeo said of oil revenue. “We will no longer grant any exemption [to sanctions for importing Iranian oil] … We’re going to zero across the board.”

According to a State Department official, the decision to end waivers for countries importing Iranian oil was made by Trump and Pompeo.

The crackdown on Tehran’s oil revenue comes as the administration toughens its already strict penalties on Iran. The administration earlier this month labeled Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a “foreign terrorist organization,” in Washington’s first such designation for an entire foreign government entity.

The oil-sanction waivers had been in place since November, when the administration re-imposed sanctions on Iran after Trump withdrew the U.S. from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. They were granted in part to give those countries time to eliminate their purchases of Iranian oil but also to ease any impact on global energy markets with the abrupt removal of Iran’s production.

IRAN HITS BACK AT IRGC DESIGNATION

U.S. officials now say they do not expect any significant reduction in the supply of oil given production increases by other countries, including the U.S. itself and Saudi Arabia.

The White House on Monday assured that the U.S. and other top oil producers “have agreed to take timely action to assure that global demand is met as all Iranian oil is removed from the market.”

The White House said: “The Trump Administration and our allies are determined to sustain and expand the maximum economic pressure campaign against Iran to end the regime’s destabilizing activity threatening the United States, our partners and allies, and security in the Middle East.”

Fox News’ Rich Edson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Elizabeth Warren proposes canceling billions in student loan debt

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Elizabeth Warren proposes canceling billions in student loan debt

FILE PHOTO: Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks to supporters in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S. March 17, 2019. REUTERS/Karen Pulfer Focht/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the 2020 presidential election, wants to cancel billions of dollars in student loan debt and make college cheaper for students going forward.

Warren, in a post on the website Medium, proposed canceling $50,000 in student loan debt for anyone with annual household income under $100,000, which her campaign said would amount to 42 million Americans. It would also cancel some debt for those with household incomes between $100,000 and $250,000.

Warren, who has long advocated in Congress for providing debt relief to students, called student loan debt a “crisis.” She said canceling debt for millions of people would help close the nation’s racial and wealth gap, and also proposed making all two-year and four-year public colleges free.

“The first step in addressing this crisis is to deal head-on with the outstanding debt that is weighing down millions of families and should never have been required in the first place,” Warren wrote.

Warren is competing in a crowded field of more than 20 Democrats vying for their party’s 2020 nomination and has sought to distinguish herself by offering numerous, expansive policy proposals.

Anticipating Republican criticism that her proposal would be too expensive, Warren said her debt cancellation plan and universal free college could be paid for through an “Ultra-Millionaire Tax,” which would impose a 2 percent annual tax on families with $50 million or more in wealth.

Education has been a topic on the campaign trail for some of Warren’s rivals as well.

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, another contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, released a plan last month that would use $315 billion in federal money over 10 years to give the average teacher a $13,500 raise, or about a 23 percent salary increase.

Reporting By Yasmeen Abutaleb; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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