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2020 Daily Trail Markers: 29 out of 31 Dems representing districts won by Trump to vote "yes" to impeach

Moderates weigh vote on impeachment

On the eve of the impeachment vote, all but two of the 31 House Democrats who represent districts Mr. Trump won in 2016 have said they will vote "yes" on both impeachment articles this Wednesday. Their reasoning varies, but many kept the focus on Mr. Trump's actions in Ukraine.  

"The fact that the president made a political request to a foreign leader of a troubled country with the intention for it to impact an American rival is beyond disappointing. In fact, it is unconstitutional," New York Representative Anthony Brindisi wrote in a Syracuse.com op-ed.  

House Republicans have made clear that these 31 Democrats in Trump districts are on their target list, specifically the 13 districts that Mr. Trump won by 6 points or higher. Michigan Representative Elissa Slotkin is in a district Trump won by about 7 points, and on Sunday she said she'd vote for the articles. As far as political risks go, Slotkin told CBS News' chief congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes on Tuesday that if her decision was a "political calculation" then she wouldn't have voted for either the inquiry or articles. 

"This is not something that you can do based on polls and based on what a political consultant tells you to do. And I feel firmly in that, and the voters will have a chance to decide next year. And the biggest honor of my life- to represent this district, but I am not going to compromise my integrity to do it," she said. 

Throughout the third fiscal quarter, almost all Trump-district Democrats had a complete fundraising advantage, report CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro and political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice. Slotkin has more than $1.7 million in the bank, though all her GOP challengers filed past the FEC reporting deadline.

Jared Golden of Maine, who is from a district Trump won by 10 points, revealed in a Facebook post he will vote "Yes" on the abuse of power article and "No" on the charge that Trump was obstructing the probe. He said the "political decision" to speed up impeachment proceedings has resulted the failure of subpoenas to key witnesses, such as John Bolton, Rick Perry and Mick Mulvaney. 

"While I do not dispute that the White House has been provocative in its defiance and sweeping in its claims of executive privilege, I also believe there are legitimate and unresolved constitutional questions about the limits of executive privilege, and that before pursuing impeachment for this charge, the House has an obligation to exhaust all other available options."

There are only two confirmed "no" votes — from Congressmen Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who is reportedly switching over to the Republican party. Despite the emergence of two Democratic challengers, the latest being progressive Ashley Bennet, Van Drew told CBS News Capitol Hill producer Kimberly Brown that he "hasn't announced any final decision." 

When asked how his constituents would respond to a party change, he said the "majority of them" will vote "for people because of their individuality and because of how hard they work." Van Drew added, "If they disagree with what I've done, then they will vote me out and that's something I would very willingly accept." 

Glouchester County GOP Chair Jacci Vigilante told the New Jersey Globe if Van Drew switches, he has to prove "he is with us on more than just the issue of impeachment…. A 100% rating from Planned Parenthood and voting with Nancy Pelosi over 90% of the time is a lot to overcome." Van Drew recently got some Twitter support from President Trump, who said he was "very popular in our great and very united Republican party." Trump also handed out endorsements for other House Republicans Tuesday afternoon, including Kay Granger of Texas and Markwayne Mullin of Oklahama.

CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster also says both Iowa freshmen representatives who flipped congressional districts in 2018 announced they will be supporting impeachment. 

"When I took the oath of office, I swore to protect the Constitution and our Democracy," Representative Cindy Axne said in a statement. "It's clear the President abused his power by using $400 million in taxpayer money for his own personal, political gain and obstructed justice by ordering his administration to refuse to testify or provide subpoenaed documents." 

Axne won her 2018 race by 2 points in a district that President Trump won by 3 points in 2016. "Voters won't forget the cowardice Cindy Axne displayed when she chose to put Nancy Pelosi's sham impeachment inquiry over the will of her constituents. Axne's premonition about losing her seat is about to become a reality," Republican National Committee spokesperson Preya Samsundar said in a statement.  

"I will be supporting both articles of impeachment and honor my duty to defend our constitution and democracy from abuse of power at the highest level," Representative Abby Finkenauer said in a statement. "This decision is not, and never was about politics, and this shouldn't be about political parties or elections." 

Finkenauer, the second youngest woman elected to Congress, won by 5 points in 2018 after President Trump won her district by 3 points in 2016. "Abby Finkenauer chose Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats' unhinged caucus over her constituents," Samsundar said in a statement "Finkenauer has sealed her fate as a one-term congresswoman."

FROM THE CANDIDATES

MICHAEL BENNET

This morning, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet's presidential campaign announced a $700,000 fundraising push by January 16, aimed at launching a new ad series introducing the candidate to New Hampshire voters. The campaign hopes to air the first ad — titled "Opposite of Trump" — on television and digital platforms throughout the state. CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga says Bennet recently vowed to hold 50 town halls in New Hampshire in the final 10 weeks run up before the primary. 

In a campaign memo to supporters, campaign manager Daniel Barash doubled down on the "New Hampshire Investment Strategy," writing, "As other candidates have left the race or stumbled in the last few weeks, Michael has doubled down and gained momentum. Now is our moment. We have planted our flag in New Hampshire, but we need your help right now to have the resources to compete there." Bennet returns to New Hampshire on Friday and Saturday to chip away at his pledge to the Granite State.

JOE BIDEN

As he promised in September, Joe Biden today released a summary of his medical records from a physical examination. Overall, the team of doctors concluded Biden is "a healthy, vigorous, 77-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency, to include those as Chief Executive, Head of State and Commander in Chief." 

Biden is currently treated for A-fib (irregular heartbeats) which is currently asymptomatic, excess fat in his blood called hyperlipidemia and seasonal allergies. An interesting observation from the campaign trail is Biden's regular clearing of his throat CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson notes, which his doctors in the report attributed to his "gastroesophageal reflux." 

CBS News contributor Dr. David Agus reviewed the report's findings: "Vice President Biden's physician has released an assessment of his present health with no red flags.  VP Biden appears to be a healthy 77 year old with several manageable medical conditions that shouldn't affect his performance." 

The team of doctors, led by his former White House physician, also noted Biden's health lifestyle including working out "at least five days per week" and avoiding tobacco products and alcohol.  CBS News has inquired with the Biden campaign about two areas not reflected in the report: history of coronary artery disease and whether or not cognitive abilities were tested. 

BERNIE SANDERS

Bernie Sanders' team announced this week a fourth co-chair for Sanders' Nevada campaign: Laurie Thom, currently the chairman of the Yerington Paiute Tribe in Northern Nevada, joins Zaffar Iqbal, Tick Segerblom, and Amy Vilela as top supporters of the Vermont senator in the state. Thom, who also backed Sanders in 2016, led his wife on a tour earlier this month of a notorious local environmental clean-up. She says only a few campaigns, including Julián Castro, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren, had reached out. 

"He's been fighting the environmental injustices across the country, speaking up for the minorities," Thom tells CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin. "And instead of being just consulted with, that we actually have some form of consent. There's a difference between consultation and consent. And I believe that's what Bernie Sanders is going to be able to do for the tribes across the nation," she added.

ANDREW YANG

With the Iowa caucuses just seven weeks away, Andrew Yang is working hard reach new voters in the Hawkeye State, CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster and political unit associate producer Ben Mitchell report. Yang recently wrapped up a five-day bus tour of Iowa where he held several events aimed at small business owners, women and families, including a discussion about families and autism. 

In the November CBS News Battleground Tracker poll, Yang was the top choice for just 1% of registered Iowa Democrats, although 10% said they were considering supporting him. Yang has just completed his 23rd visit to Iowa, although his campaign has largely focused on New Hampshire, a state that's historically friendly to underdog candidates, as his major breakout opportunity. "I think we need to outperform expectations," Yang told CBS News, saying that most people still don't believe he will get "any meaningful number of delegates." 

He did say that a top five finish in Iowa "would surprise a lot people." Despite being the only person of color to take the stage on Thursday, he did not criticize the primary process in the way former Housing Secretary Julián Castro has. Castro, a Mexican American, has repeatedly complained that the first two states to hold primary contests, Iowa and New Hampshire, are overwhelmingly white. 

The Democratic Party as a whole, meanwhile, is increasingly diverse and dependent on Hispanic and African American voters. Instead of knocking the process, Yang repeatedly tells voters in Iowa and New Hampshire that they have the "power" to turn his longshot presidential bid into a reality. He regularly refers to both states as "magical" places.

"We should be open to people suggesting improvements, but one of the things that I'd suggest is that it's not enough to say, 'Hey, I don't like what's currently going on.' You have to have concrete suggestions as to what could work better and what that could look like," Yang told CBS News. 

He also doesn't believe that the Democratic National Committee should be faulted for the fact that he's the only minority candidate qualified for this week's debate. 

"I think the DNC did the best they could with a very difficult task which is set up objective criteria that would raise the bar over time," he said, noting that Harris had qualified before suspending her presidential campaign earlier this month.

UP FOR DEBATE

GAME ON

After plans of a California union's picket line threatened to derail this week's debate at Loyola Marymount University, UNITE HERE Local 11 is thanking the Democratic National Committee and its chair, former Obama Labor Secretary Tom Perez, for helping "bring the situation to a positive resolution." With a tentative agreement in hand between the labor group and Sodexo, a food service contractor on campus, CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin says the stage is again set for Thursday's debate in a state where only three candidates – Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Joe Biden – have consistently cleared 15 percent in recent polls of the mammoth Super Tuesday contest.

STATE-BY-STATE

IOWA

Three Democratic candidates rolled out new ads in Iowa today centered around President Trump. Joe Biden's campaign launched a new cable ad airing in Iowa and the other early states, featuring a speech Biden gave in Burlington, Iowa back in August denouncing the president. 

"If Donald Trump is re-elected he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation," Biden says in the ad, which is part of a $6 million buy in the early states. 

Pete Buttigeig's ad features a message of taking on Mr. Trump by focusing on issues. 

"The more we're talking about him, the less we're talking about you. On the issues, people are with us. That's exactly why he needs us talking about him," Buttigieg says in the ad

Amy Klobuchar's newest television advertisement highlights her record of legislative achievements and ability to win in the Midwest and opens with a clear message to Democrats. 

"If we don't stop Donald Trump this time, shame on us," Klobuchar says in the ad. 

CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster says many Iowa statewide elected officials do a 99-county tour of the state every year to spend time talking to constituents and hearing their concerns. It's something Republican Senator Chuck Grassley has done for years, and Republican Senator Joni Ersnt wrapped up her fifth tour earlier this year. 

Some presidential campaigns talk about making the tour, but not everyone manages to do it. Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney has already visited all 99 counties once. Senator Amy Klobuchar is trying to complete the tour and has a jam-packed weekend, where she plans to stop in 27 counties, which will put her just a few shy of visiting all 99. 

"I do think that going to all 99 counties is a positive thing to do," said Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand, a Democrat who just completed his 99-county tour on Tuesday. Sand acknowledged that it's more complicated for presidential candidates to visit all 99 counties and that doing so doesn't guarantee that someone will caucus for you. What is important, he said, is for Democrats to show they care about spending time in rural America. 

"People do want to see that rural areas aren't forgotten and Democrats in states like Iowa, that is a purple state, want to see that every corner of that state gets attention from presidential candidates," Sand said.

Buttigieg's campaign announced two new endorsements today from Iowa state legislators. "It's time for a new generation of leadership in Washington," State Representative Brian Meyer said in a statement. "Being from the Midwest, he deeply understands the challenges facing our communities in Iowa, and his ability to communicate his vision to people of all backgrounds makes him the strongest candidate to defeat Donald Trump in November." 

Buttigieg was also endorsed by State Senator Tony Bisignano, a longtime Biden supporter. "I'm looking at someone that I think could energize the party," Bisignano told CBS News. He added that he believes Biden is "well qualified," but said he believes Buttigieg is the right candidate to "energize the younger voters."

Biden also unveiled endorsements from 25 Iowa leaders today, including three current mayors, two former state legislators, a former Iowa Democratic Party chair and a current state senator. 

"We live in divisive times and a dangerous world. America needs a new President, one who can heal the divisions at home, repair the trust and cooperation of our allies abroad, and regain respect for America and America's values from friend and foe alike," Iowa State Senator Herman Quirmbach said in a statement. "We need a man of Joe Biden's character, a man of true warmth and compassion, a man who will restore dignity to the Office of President of the United States." 

NEVADA

Pete Buttigieg's campaign today says it'll be up on the air in Nevada with its first statewide television ad buy, as well as new radio and digital ads voiced by the South Bend mayor in Spanish. Buttigieg is joined today by Joe Biden, who has also bought time on local cable across the early states with a second spot of his own. CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin notes only a handful of the other Democratic presidential candidates, including Bernie Sanders and Tom Steyer (who is also advertising on billboards in the state), have also purchased television or radio ads in Nevada so far.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Congress omnibus federal spending bill grants substance abuse treatment providers nationwide greater flexibility in spending federal grant dollars. That's good news for New Hampshire – a state grappling with increased methamphetamine and cocaine use, according to the New Hampshire Office of the Medical Examiner. 

The bipartisan bill funding the federal government through next September permits providers to redirect state opioid response grants to patients hooked on other drugs. Previously, those dollars could only be funneled to clients addicted to opioids such as heroin, fentanyl or oxycotin. 

"The substance use disorder epidemic we're facing today isn't the same one we were fighting a few years ago, so as this crisis evolves so should our response," U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen said in a statement released to CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga. "By empowering treatment providers with the ability to use these federal grants for a broader range of substance misuse, we can help ensure more Granite Staters get the help they desperately need. It's so heartbreaking to see the devastation to families and communities from this crisis and we need to make sure treatment providers have the tools they need to save lives." 

ON THE ISSUES

ELECTION SECURITY

The House of Representatives approved a spending deal that would provide $425 million for election security grants, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson. If the deal passes the Senate and is signed by the president, the funding would be the biggest step Congress has taken since the 2016 election to address election security concerns like paper ballots and cybersecurity support for local election officials.

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