2020 Presidential Election

Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke gave a staunch defense of his gun control plan during Thursday's Democratic presidential primary debate, saying that as president, he would prioritize mandatory buybacks of assault-style weapons.

Quoting the candidate's past comment about selling back AR-15s and AK-47s, moderator David Muir asked O'Rourke: "Are you proposing taking away their guns? And how would this work?"

O'Rourke answered, "Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47."

Here's more of what he said:

The fate of the filibuster — a 60-vote threshold for most legislation in the U.S. Senate — is again an issue of controversy among Democratic presidential candidates.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said the supermajority requirement is preventing Congress from passing popular bills — such as a background check bill.

Once again, health care took up a large chunk of a Democratic primary debate. Once again, there were fights over costs, coverage and whether the party is growing too extreme.

But this time, all of the front-runners were onstage together, providing the first opportunity for all of them to take direct aim at each other and their vastly differing health care plans. It made for some heated exchanges, putting "Medicare for All" supporters on defense. But it also showed clearly that some candidates are cautious not to criticize others' proposals too harshly.

Heading into Thursday's Democratic presidential debate, the third this campaign season, we had five political questions.

Here are those questions and how they got answered:

More than 16 years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, former Vice President Joe Biden is still struggling to explain his vote for the war and when his feelings about intervention evolved.

On Thursday night, during the third Democratic debate, which took place in Houston, Biden said he "never should have voted to give [President] Bush the authority to go in and do what he said he was going to do."

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September's Democratic presidential debate has been narrowed to one night only, as more candidates have called it quits altogether.

There are now less than five months to go before the first votes are cast in the Democratic presidential nominating contest. So the spotlight is going to be even hotter on the 10 candidates who made the cut for Thursday's debate in Houston. (Follow NPR's live analysis here.)

Donald Trump's immigration stances — family separation, a ban on immigrants from several majority-Muslim nations, the cancellation of the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program, to name a few — have given Democrats much to criticize as the 2020 presidential election approaches.

It means that the Democratic candidates are pretty uniform in coming out hard against the president on immigration. However, they differ on the particulars of what policies they would like to put into place instead and, in many cases, have not articulated what they would do specifically.

Democrats running for president next year have worked hard to differentiate themselves from President Trump on issues such as immigration, tax cuts and health care. When it comes to trade, that hasn't been so easy.

Trump, after all, came to office as a fierce critic of U.S. trade policy, arguing that previous administrations had been duped into signing free trade agreements that had cost Americans millions of manufacturing jobs.

The current tally of 20 Democratic presidential hopefuls is enough to set a record in any previous primary season. But even with the giant number of candidates, the reality is that the winnowing has already begun.

The field is shrinking — slowly — but what's different this time compared to past campaigns is what's driving candidates to pack it in.

Here's what it's not — voters.

Many heads got scratched this week when President Trump doubled down on his erroneous claim that Alabama had been in the path of Hurricane Dorian.

Apparently relying on a map that warned of high winds, or another showing hypothetical paths for the storm, the president over the weekend insisted Alabama was "in the crosshairs." At midweek, sitting in the Oval Office, he held up a map on which someone using a marking pen had ballooned the area of actual hurricane threat to include Alabama.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is the latest Democratic presidential candidate to drop out of the 2020 race.

She announced her exit Wednesday afternoon in a video posted on Twitter.

"It's important to know when it's not your time and to know how you can best serve your community and country," Gillibrand said. "I believe I can best serve by helping to unite us to beat Donald Trump in 2020."

Gillibrand thanked her volunteers and supporters in the video, saying "I'm so proud of this campaign and everything we've achieved."

The Sept. 12 Democratic debate stage is set with just 10 candidates, ensuring there will be a one-night event in which the front-runners will finally come face to face.

Back in April, things looked a little different in the Democratic presidential primary.

Elizabeth Warren's first-quarter fundraising was disappointing; she was eschewing big-money fundraisers, and her campaign was spending a lot — 87 cents of every dollar it was taking in on 160 or so staffers in early states.

The massive Democratic presidential field could begin its inevitable reduction this week with only half of the current candidates set to make the cut for next month's debate.

The controversial decision will please many party stalwarts who worry that the often dizzying number of Democrats seeking the nomination could endanger their chances of defeating President Trump.

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper dropped his bid for president Thursday.

"Today, I'm ending my campaign for president. But I will never stop believing that America can only move forward when we work together," Hickenlooper tweeted.

He had been urged to run for Senate in Colorado, challenging Sen. Cory Gardner. In a video attached to his tweet, he said he would give that "serious thought" but made no announcement.

Stacey Abrams is not running for president, and says she will instead focus on extending voter protection programs throughout the country.

The Georgia Democrat, whose race for governor drew national attention, says she aims to enfranchise voters across 20 states with an initiative called Fair Fight 2020.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang is the ninth Democrat to qualify for September's next presidential primary debates.

Yang crossed the threshold on Thursday after a Monmouth poll in Iowa put him at 2% support. He had previously hit the donor requirements of 130,000 unique donors from 20 different states. His campaign had said he qualified outright based on an earlier poll, but the Democratic National Committee said it wouldn't count that poll.

Buttigieg ramps up outreach to Democratic superdelegates

Aug 6, 2019
Wade Vandervort / Las Vegas Sun/Via AP

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Pete Buttigieg is ramping up his outreach to Democratic Party superdelegates with a phone call to them outlining the scope of his 2020 presidential campaign.

The outreach suggests Buttigieg's campaign is looking beyond the early primary states to the possibility of a convention fight for the nomination. Superdelegates, who include Democratic National Committee members, elected officials and other party dignitaries, have historically held an outsized influence over the nominating process.

Wednesday's Democratic presidential primary debate in Detroit was interrupted twice by protesters in the audience who were trying to draw attention to immigration and policing issues.

The first happened only minutes into the debate, which was broadcast live on CNN. During New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker's opening statement, a few audience members began yelling, "Fire Pantaleo."

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Cory Booker went head-to-head over their records on criminal justice on the second night of the Democratic presidential primary debate in Detroit.

This was a fight that had been brewing for a while. The New Jersey senator spent the past few weeks repeatedly criticizing Biden for his role, when he was a Delaware senator, in crafting the landmark 1994 crime law that many criminal justice reform activists identify as one of the major contributors to the swelling of the U.S. prison population.

Updated at 1:13 a.m. ET

Wednesday night, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand blasted Joe Biden for a 1980s position on the child care tax credit and a comment he wrote about the "deterioration of the family."

Here's what Gillibrand said:

Updated at 1 p.m. ET

The second night of the Democratic debates in Detroit did not stray from its predicted script: It was open season on front-runner Joe Biden right from the start.

But it was also something of a free-for-all, with every candidate for himself or herself. And the intensity and outcome of the exchanges may have come as a surprise to some of the people onstage.

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It's Night 2 of the Democratic debate in Detroit, airing on CNN beginning at 8 p.m. ET. The second set of 10 candidates is making their case as to why they should be the next president of the United States.

At the Democratic debate tonight, one particular aspect of Bernie Sanders' "Medicare for All" plan got special scrutiny.

After a back-and-forth over how to pay for the plan, CNN moderator Jake Tapper pointedly asked Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has sponsored Sanders' plan: "Would you raise taxes on the middle class to pay for Medicare for All — offset, obviously, by the elimination of insurance premiums — yes or no?"

"Costs will go up for billionaires and go up for corporations," Warren said. "For middle-class families, costs — total costs — will go down."

Tuesday night's Democratic presidential debate in Detroit was widely expected to pit the two leading progressives in the field against each other. Instead, Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts had each other's backs in fending off the other eight aspirants onstage.

They gave as good as they got, and emerged at least as strong as either was going in. That was particularly good news for Sanders, who had been perceived as ceding ground to Warren in recent months.

The first leg of the second round of Democratic presidential debates is over, and now it's on to Night 2.

Center stage features former Vice President Joe Biden, who has a lot on the line. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey has been promising attacks on Biden's racial justice record, and Biden is promising to not be as "polite" as he was in the last debate. Night 1 also drew a bold line between moderates and progressives onstage.

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Democratic presidential primary voters face at least two big questions. One is who they think can win in 2020. Another is what each candidate would do if elected.

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