Behind a bump for Bloomberg
With Joe Biden facing another rough night Tuesday in New Hampshire after getting trounced last week in Iowa, he at least has been able to take comfort in strong support from black voters for when the primary campaign moves into more racially diverse states.
Can he still?
A nationwide Quinnipiac poll on Monday showed a steep decline in Biden's African American support — from 49% to 27% — in just two weeks. Rising fast — from 7% to a second-place 22% in the same period — was Michael Bloomberg. Bernie Sanders was third at 19%; Elizabeth Warren, fourth at 8%; and Pete Buttigieg, fifth at 4%.
The numbers suggest Bloomberg is fast gaining strength among voters with whom Iowa winner Buttigieg, Biden's top challenger among the moderates, has mostly met frustration.
Both Bloomberg and Buttigieg are former mayors who had occasional political clashes with their cities' black communities. Biden has been the most favored candidate among black voters for many months despite criticisms of his work during a long Senate career, which included a 1990s crime bill blamed for mass incarceration and his defense of relationships with segregationist senators in earlier years. Biden had going for him his service as vice president to Barack Obama and the perception of electability.
But billionaire Bloomberg, who began his campaign with an apology for the police stop-and-frisk practices he championed while running New York City, has spent $350 million so far to make the case that he has the record and the enormous personal resources to run the strongest race against President Donald Trump. In head-to-head matchups, Quinnipiac found Bloomberg had the biggest margin of victory over Trump: 9 points.
Among voters overall, the Quinnipiac poll showed Sanders has pushed Biden out of first place, 25% to 17%. Bloomberg ran third with 15%, followed by Warren, 14%; Buttigieg, 10%; Amy Klobuchar, 4%; and Andrew Yang, 2%. No other candidate reached at least 2%. Another new survey, the Reuters/Ipsos poll, showed the same Sanders-Biden-Bloomberg ranking.
On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, a Boston Globe/WBZ/Suffolk University tracking poll found Sanders out in front of Buttigieg by 27% to 19%. Klobuchar, credited with a strong performance in last Friday's debate, was third at 14%, followed by Biden and Warren, with 12% each.
A CNN/University of New Hampshire tracking poll showed Sanders up 7 points over Buttigieg, but Klobuchar was fifth, behind Biden and Warren.
“If we win here tomorrow, I think we’ve got a path to victory for the Democratic nomination,” Sanders declared Monday. At the very least, it would fortify his standing above Warren as the top standard-bearer on the left.
Warren forecast a comeback but didn't predict victory. “Look, I’ve been counted down and out for much of my life,” she said.
Duke-ing it out
Biden thought he was borrowing a line from a John Wayne movie when he called a New Hampshire voter "a lying, dog-faced pony soldier." The Guardian reports the quote hasn't been found, though there's a similar characterization in a 1952 Western — sans Wayne — about a soldier who "speaks with a tongue of the snake that rattles."
Biden made the remark to a 21-year-old woman who said she had attended a caucus like those in Iowa. The audience laughed and the woman giggled, so there were no apparent hard feelings.
Klobuchar had a mocking take on heated exchanges between Biden and Buttigieg. “They should go have a pushup contest somewhere,” she told CBS News.
Voice in his head
Trump trolled the Democrats by holding his own rally in New Hampshire on Monday night, telling a crowd: "I hear a lot of Republicans tomorrow will vote for the weakest candidate possible of the Democrats." Actually, the state allows independents to vote in either party's primary.
He was still angry at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's behavior during his State of the Union speech last week, which culminated with her ripping in half a printed copy of the address.
"I had somebody behind me who was mumbling terribly. Mumbling. Mumbling. Waa-waa-ohh-haa. She was mumbling. Very distracting," Trump said.
The crowd responded: "Lock her up!"
Justice looks at the Rudy dossier
Attorney General William Barr acknowledged Monday that the Justice Department is evaluating material that Rudy Giuliani has gathered from Ukrainian sources claiming to have damaging information about Biden and his family.
Barr said he established an “intake process in the field” so that the department and intelligence agencies could scrutinize information they were given by Trump's personal lawyer. Barr also tried to suggest Giuliani was being treated no differently than any tipster.
That Giuliani has a direct pipeline providing information on a Trump political rival raised fears among some legal analysts that federal law enforcement was being used to do campaign work for the president, The Washington Post reported.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler wrote Barr that "any official relationship between Mr. Giuliani and the Department raises serious questions about conflicts of interest — both for the Department, generally, and for you, specifically."
Barr said the Giuliani file was being treated cautiously. "We have to be very careful with respect to any information coming from the Ukraine," he said. "There are a lot of agendas in the Ukraine, a lot of cross currents. And we can’t take anything we received from Ukraine at face value.”
Hard time for Roger Stone?
Federal prosecutors have asked a federal judge to sentence longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone to 7 to 9 years in prison for lying to Congress and witness tampering during the Russia investigation, according to a new court filing.
Stone, now scheduled to be sentenced next week, was convicted in November of a seven-count indictment. He was the sixth Trump aide or adviser to be convicted of charges brought as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
“Stone’s actions were not a one-off mistake in judgment. Nor were his false statements made in the heat of the moment. They were nowhere close to that,” prosecutors wrote in the court papers.
What else is happening:
- New York State sued the Trump administration Monday for suspending its residents' eligibility for the Trusted Traveler programs, which allow preapproved citizens to get through airport security faster, reports Newsday's Michael Gormley. "We are fighting back and will be using every tool available to us to do so," said Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
- In a settlement with civil liberties and refugee advocates, the Trump administration agreed to speed up the cases of some former interpreters for the U.S. military in Iraq and hundreds of other refugees. Their efforts to move to the United States have been in limbo since Trump announced his travel bans three years ago.
- Amazon wants a court to help it get testimony from Trump for its suit over the Pentagon's award of a multibillion-dollar cloud computing contract to Microsoft. Amazon has accused Trump of tilting the decision against the company because of animus toward its CEO, Jeff Bezos, who owns The Washington Post.
- Trump won 39 of 40 delegates in Iowa's Republican caucus last week. Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, the last other man standing in the GOP nominating contest, gets one.
- Billionaire investor Tom Barrack — a close-enough pal to Trump that he ran the 2017 inauguration committee — hasn't gotten the Trump 2020 message about minimizing "Mini Mike" Bloomberg. “I like Mike Bloomberg, I know him, I think he would be an amazing president, he was an amazing mayor,” Barrack told CNBC.