Bernie Sanders at his campaign rally Saturday in Venice, Calif.

Bernie Sanders at his campaign rally Saturday in Venice, Calif. Credit: EPA/Christian Monterrosa

The last progressive standing?

With Elizabeth Warren's recent slide, Bernie Sanders' chances of going the distance in the battle for the Democrats' 2020 presidential nomination are being taken more seriously, Politico writes.

In part, it's because Warren has taken the heaviest flak for her progressive agenda, while self-described socialist Sanders has stayed slightly under the radar. Sanders is in second place in national polls, 9 points behind Joe Biden, according to the most recent RealClearPolitics average.

"If you really think about it, Bernie hasn’t been hit a lot with anything,” said Michael Ceraso, a 2016 Sanders campaign veteran and more recently, a former New Hampshire director for Pete Buttigieg. "It’s not like he’s getting hit by other campaigns.”

But that will come when the field narrows — and if he's still a part of it. A critical question for Democrats desperate to defeat President Donald Trump is electability. 

“That conversation has never worked well for anyone,” said Dan Pfeiffer, who was an adviser to former President Barack Obama. But Faiz Shakir, Sanders’ campaign manager, said he welcomes it. "I’d love to be able to argue why he stands a better chance to beat Donald Trump than Joe Biden," Shakir said.

The biggest losers

Ten Democratic 2020 candidates didn't last until the end of 2019. Some could still have a bright future, become part of a presidential administration if a Democrat wins or use their moment of semi-fame to help land a cable gig. But others left the race looking the worse for wear, Politico writes.

Topping that list was former Rep. Beto O'Rourke. His declaration that "Man, I’m just born to be in it” seemed to some a statement of entitlement. His quirky moves like livestreaming his dental work didn't sell. It looks like he's out of the running in his home state of Texas because of hard-line positions he took near the end on guns (“Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15.") and pledging to revoke the tax-exempt status of religious institutions that oppose same-sex marriage.

Right behind O'Rourke was New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who long fancied himself a national leader of the progressive movement, convincing hardly anyone to follow him. He has come back to his full-time job even less popular with New Yorkers than when he started his four months of barnstorming to noncrowds in primary states.

Mitch gets icy blast from Alaska

It doesn't count as a movement or even a single defection, but Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she's not happy with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's pledge of "total coordination" with the Trump White House in setting up a Senate impeachment trial.

"In fairness, when I heard that I was disturbed," Murkowski told Anchorage television station KTUU. "We have to take that step back from being hand in glove with the defense." She also criticized the way Democrats conducted the impeachment process in the House, describing it as rushed and incomplete. 

Impeachment as learning experience

CNN reports that as they await a resolution of the partisan impasse on trial rules, some senators are hitting the books to bone up on the impeachment process and history.

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah has read over The Federalist Papers in an effort to get a sense of how the Founding Fathers viewed impeachment.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, said the best book he's read so far is "The Breach," an account by journalist Peter Baker of former President Bill Clinton's impeachment and trial. Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas just finished reading "The Impeachers," a newly released book on the impeachment and trial of former President Andrew Johnson.

For quicker reading, Trump was back on Twitter Thursday, lashing out at Democrats and House Speaker "Crazy Nancy" Pelosi. He complained the "bogus impeachment scam" made it more difficult for him to deal with foreign leaders.

What else is happening:

  • CNN reporter Kate Bennett, author of new book "Free, Melania," said chatter that depicts the first lady as akin to a hostage is not true. "She does whatever she wants … She’s literally probably the most free modern first lady that we’ve seen" and still living the life of "a wealthy, stay-at-home mom," Bennett told New York magazine.
  • A showing of the 1992 holiday film "Home Alone 2" by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. edited out a cameo featuring Trump. His fans cried "censorship"; a retweet by Donald Trump Jr. blamed "Trump Derangement Syndrome." The CBC said the seven seconds of Trump were among eight minutes cut to make more time for commercials and the trims were made in 2014, before Trump ran for president.
  • The slump in business afflicting many Trump hotels and resort properties doesn't extend to his office towers, which appear to be doing well, according to a New York Times analysis of records.
  • Hard-line trade adviser Peter Navarro has long gotten Trump to see things his way on China. But he lost out two weeks ago go as Trump, with the 2020 election getting closer, decided to make an initial deal with Beijing, The New York Times reported.
  • Trump tweeted an appeal for Russia, Syria and Iran to avoid "killing thousands of innocent civilians" in Syria's Idlib province, where the last rebel-held stronghold is under an air and ground assault.