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2020 Daily Trail Markers: Attention turns to Miami for first Democratic debate

Dems prep for first debate

As the first group of Democratic presidential hopefuls hits the debate stage Wednesday night in Miami, the masthead that lives at the top of YouTube tonight belongs to President Trump. What does that mean? CBS News Political Unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice says that every American who heads to YouTube, including those who go there to stream the debate online, will be hit with his counterprogramming. According to Bully Pulpit Interactive, it's one of the highest impact digital ad spaces possible, costing between $500,000 and $1 million. The agency also says the move will allow Mr. Trump to reach more than twice as many Americans as the Democratic debate will, if not more.


GOV. STEVE BULLOCK: CBS News campaign reporters Musadiq Bidar and Adam Brewster say that this morning, the Montana governor received another big endorsement in Iowa, this time from former Story County Democrats' Chair Jan Bauer. Bauer is a longtime activist in the state who said she's endorsing Bullock partly because of his work fighting dark money in Montana politics. At an event with staff and volunteers, Bauer and Bullock made phone calls ahead of a town hall. When asked about missing tonight's debate, Bullock told reporters that if he can't be on the debate stage, there's no place he would rather be than Iowa. He said his successes in Montana has come from talking to people, and that's what he plans to do while the debates are happening. He will be flying to New Hampshire tonight and says he will be watching the debate from the plane.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS: Harris and Rep. Katie Porter introduced a bill a bill on Wednesday that seeks to take on the "big banks" by giving state attorneys general subpoena powers over federally chartered banks. CBS News campaign reporter Stephanie Ramirez says the bill is an attempt to change a 2009 ruling where "a divided Supreme Court ruled for the first time that state AGs are preempted from using their visitorial powers to conduct oversight of federally-chartered banks, finding these powers reside exclusively with the OCC," according to Harris. 

GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER: The former Colorado governor reiterated his argument that "socialism is not the answer" during a MSNBC pre-debate interview on Wednesday. Hickenlooper says he is the one candidate who has done what other candidates are proposing — increasing access to health care and enacting gun legislation. Ramirez notes that he called the recent photo of a migrant father and his daughter who drowned in the waters of the Rio Grande "horrific." Hickenlooper said the president continues to show no sign of emotion and empathy. He also said the world looks at us as "callous."

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR: Tonight at the debate in Miami, one of Klobuchar's three guests will be Iowa resident Fran Parr. Bidar and Brewster say in April, as parts of Iowa were hit with historic flooding, Parr's home was under nine feet of water. Klobuchar was the first presidential candidate to visit Parr's house in Pacific Junction as part of her tour of flooded areas in southwest Iowa in the spring. 


DOWN SOUTH: Ahead of the first debate, the South Carolina state parties didn't hold official press calls, but there's no doubt that both sides will be tuned in. The South Carolina Democratic Party did not want to give an official statement but when CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell asked which debate topics will be important for South Carolinians, a spokesperson shared that health care is going to be a big issue for people in South Carolina, as it will be for Americans all across the country. The spokesperson added that there are a lot of uninsured South Carolina residents because they can't afford coverage. 

On the Republican side, South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick says he doesn't expect to see a lot of differentiation between the Democratic candidates on the debate stage this week. A longtime Republican political strategist, McKissick notes that right now they're all trying to race to the left to win the primary. "The only way any of them can get noticed in such a crowded field is by being even more socialistic than the other ... That's their strategy," says McKissick. "The result is going to be it's going to give us 8 to 10 months' worth of good video and audio and press blips that we can sit on that shows just how radical and contrary to the opinions of the majority of the folks in this country, they actually are."

IN THE MIDDLE: This morning, Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann held a press call to talk about tonight's debate. He said it is going to be a competition of "who will make Karl Marx more proud," and repeatedly mentioned Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Kaufmann said Democrats are taking their directive from AOC, claiming that the Green New Deal would destroy Iowa and Iowa farmers. When asked by CBS News what the solution is to combating climate issues that wouldn't destroy Iowans, he said America needs to go after the biggest polluters in the world and singled out China and India. 

He said Democrats are not talking about bringing in other countries and as a result their plans for climate change are fatally flawed. Bidar and Brewster followed up by asking what the U.S. can do to bring China and India and other countries to the table. Kaufmann said it is not America's job to tell other countries what to do about their future. Kaufmann also said there are plenty of areas for Republicans and Democrats to work together on immigration, trade policy and infrastructure but added that because of electoral politics, that will be difficult to accomplish.


VENEZUELAN VOTE: Liz Alarcon, a Venezuelan American in Miami, told CBS News Political Unit associate producer Ellee Watson that her community will be closely watching to see if any of the candidates over the next two nights mention Venezuela. "Because the crisis is ongoing and every day there is a new update, it's important that candidates are immersed and informed on what's happening there and helping transition to a new government," Alarcon said. 

Alarcon, who is the director of the digital organization Project Pulso that motivates the LatinX community to participate in the electoral process, told CBS News the candidates recognize that the Venezuelan community's votes are "up for grabs." She said that so far, former Vice President Joe Biden and Julián Castro have made a concerted effort to reach out to the community, and she expects more candidates will do so while in Miami.


IN THE SENATE: Jaime Harrison, who is challenging South Carolina Republican incumbent Sen. Lindsey Graham for his seat, announced in a tweet today that he's been endorsed by prominent Georgia Rep. John Lewis. "There are political endorsements and then there are endorsements from icons," tweeted Harrison. "[Lewis is] a national treasure, and I'm honored to have his support!"  

Mitchell says this endorsement comes as Graham's team announces he's garnered the support of all of the state's Republican congressional delegation. "I'm honored to have my Republican colleagues endorse my campaign for re-election to the United States Senate," said Graham in a press release. "The South Carolina congressional delegation hits above its weight and is a force to be reckoned with." 

Last week Graham received the endorsements of all eight of South Carolina's statewide elected constitutional officers. According to spokesperson Scott Farmer, this is the first time ever that the senator has gained the support of all the Republican congressional members and state constitutional officers in one day. "This is an unprecedented support of show and strength to have year this type of support so far out from the primary and general elections," said Farmer. "We're taking nothing for granted and we're running like we're behind."