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2020 Daily Trail Markers: Bloomberg sits down for his first interview since entering the race

Bloomberg says Trump should be impeached

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg said he thinks President Trump should be impeached, despite his prior reservations. The former New York City mayor sat down with "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King in Colorado on Thursday for his first TV interview since joining the race for the Democratic nomination.

"Do you think Trump should be impeached?" King asked.
 
"I think it's a very serious thing but it-- and I was before opposed to it but after looking at all of the evidence, I think yes. Sad, but yes," Bloomberg said.
 
"What is the biggest thing that troubles you about him?" King asked.

"He does not seem to understand that he is an elected official whose job it is to work for the public rather than for himself," Bloomberg said.

FROM THE CANDIDATES

JOE BIDEN

Joe Biden called a man a "damn liar" during a heated exchange at a campaign event in New Hampton, Iowa, on Thursday. CBS News Digital reporter Audrey McNamara says the remark came after the man brought up the conspiracy theory that Biden secured a position on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company, for his son, so that his son could sell access to the president. 

The man, who only identified himself as a retired farmer, first criticized Biden over his age, then moved onto Hunter Biden's work in Ukraine. The man began by saying that President Trump has "no backbone" for withholding military aid from Ukraine. He then added, "but you on the other hand," referencing Biden, "sent your son over there to get a job and work for a gas company — and he had no experience with gas or nothing — in order to get access to the president." Biden silently paced the aisle until the man said, "So you're selling access to the president just like he was." 

Biden then interrupted: "You're a damn liar man, that's not true. And no one has ever said that, no one has proved that." The man replied, "I've seen it on the TV." Now, only feet away from the man, Biden said, "I know you do, and by the way, I'm not sedentary."

"Look, the reason I'm running is because I've been around a long time and I know more than most people know, and I can get things done, and that's why I'm running," Biden said, appearing to be referencing the original comment about his age. "And if you want to check my shape, let's do pushups, let's do whatever you want to do, let's take an IQ test." 

Biden added, "No one has said my son has done anything wrong." The man then claimed he never said Biden did anything wrong, to which the candidate countered, "you said I set up my son to work in an oil company. Isn't that what you said? Get your words straight, jack." The man then claimed to have heard the Ukraine conspiracy theory on MSNBC. "You did not hear that on MSNBC," Biden replied.

The next, and final, part of the exchange is disputed. Video appears to catch Biden call the man "fat," but his campaign has claimed he said "fact."  

"To be clear: Any assertion VP Biden said a word about the gentleman's appearance is making this something it is not. In the latter part of the exchange, the VP began to say 'Look, facts' then said 'here's the deal.' If you've been to a Biden event, you've heard this before," Biden's senior advisor Symone D. Sanders tweeted after the event. The exchange ends after the man once again says that Biden has "no more backbone than Trump," and is met with boos from the crowd. Biden then turns away from the man and asks the audience for more questions.

Separately former Secretary of State John Kerry endorsed Biden on Thursday, reports CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson. In a statement released by the Biden campaign, Kerry said, "I've never before seen the world more in need of someone who on day one can begin the incredibly hard work of putting back together the world Donald Trump has smashed apart." 

While the high-profile endorsement could help showcase the argument for Biden's electability, CBS News Digital politics reporter Grace Segers says it could also further cement Biden's status among progressive voters as an establishment candidate who represents a vision of the Democratic Party that is no longer relevant. Kerry will join Biden for his "No Malarkey" bus tour in Iowa on Friday, and will travel with Biden to New Hampshire on Sunday. Kerry won the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary in 2004. Kerry's endorsement was first reported by the Washington Post's Dan Balz.

The endorsement comes after Mr. Trump's trip to the NATO Summit where there were a few confrontational moments between the president and the leaders as well as some behind-the-back comments, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was caught on camera laughing and saying, "I saw his team's jaws drop." Trudeau clarified later that his comment referred to the president's decision to host the next G7 summit at Camp David. Biden's team used the footage in an ad released as soon as Mr. Trump touched down at the White House Wednesday. The ad uses the footage to claim, "The World is Laughing at President Trump." 

Biden, since the start of his campaign, has championed his foreign policy experience as a reason he would should be the next president, and a Kerry endorsement is another move by the campaign to try and fortify that vision.

The former VP has another new endorser out West: Richard Bryan, former Nevada governor and a "good friend" of the former vice president, who worked for "more than a decade" with Biden in the Senate. Though spotted at a Biden fundraiser as early as May, CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin says the well-liked ex-governor is now the second to publicly back Biden after former Nevada Governor Bob Miller. 

CORY BOOKER

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, looking for a jolt of momentum with one week to go before the deadline to make the December debate stage, told a crowd in Des Moines today he's the best candidate to build the diverse coalition Democrats need to win in 2020 and expressed concerns about diversity in the Democratic field after Senator Kamala Harris dropped out this week. 

"The stronger the coalition, the more great the victory," Booker said. "The more inclusive the coalition, the greater the victory. The more energy and the enthusiasm we have from our core, the more we win." Speaking to reporters after the event, Booker said he's "the best person in this race to revive what some people call the Obama coalition," but added that he's talking about building "a bolder, broader coalition." 

In his speech CBS News campaign reporters Musadiq Bidar and Adam Brewster say Booker focused on his usual messages of love and unity and told the crowd it's about not only winning the election, but uniting the country. He said Democrats need leaders who are "authentically connected to the struggle of people" to repair divisions within the country.

Booker began his remarks talking about Harris ending her presidential campaign this week. He told reporters he's "very frustrated" by this moment after telling the crowd it's a major problem that Harris, as a black woman, was unable to continue at least until Iowa when the Democratic party is "empowered by black women voters."

"What message is that sending that we heralded the most diverse field in our history and now we're seeing people like her, dropping out of this campaign?" Booker said. "Not because Iowa voters had the voice, voters did not determine her destiny. But I'll tell you this, voters will determine the outcome of this campaign and black women voters in particular will have a very large impact on our ability to win." He added, "It is a problem that we now have an overall campaign for the 2020 presidency, that has more billionaires in it than black people." 

Booker wouldn't blame the Democratic National Committee's debate rules for candidates struggling to continue their campaigns, saying he doesn't like to "argue with the refs." But he said it's problematic that Democrats frequently speak out against billionaires "shaping the rules to benefit them" and having debate qualifications where wealthy candidates have found it "very easy to land on the stage."

Booker has hit the donor threshold to make the December debate, but still needs either four national or state polls at 4% or two state polls at 6% by next Thursday. "I'm here to ask for your support," Booker told the crowd. "Let me be more blunt. I'm asking you when your caller ID is showing that some pollsters calling you, pick up the phone and answer, please choose me." Booker said that his campaign is successful as some candidates polling higher because of the support he sees on the ground and the strength of his organization in Iowa and believes voters should decide who succeeds. 

In an interview with the Associated Press, Booker's campaign manager Addisu Demissie suggested that Booker would be in the race until the February 3 caucuses regardless of whether he made the December debate. Booker told reporters Thursday that debate performances have been important, leading to more endorsements and fundraising bumps, but said he would not offer "doom and gloom" predictions if he wasn't on the stage in two weeks. "Every time we have seen a challenge, like you did I think two months ago when we called out for help, people answer the call," Booker said.

PETE BUTTIGIEG

CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman says South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg received three endorsements from former President Barack Obama administration officials Thursday morning. 

Reggie Love, who was a former special assistant to President Obama, said in a statement he is supporting Buttigieg because he believes the millennial mayor can "galvanize a new electoral body that is a more accurate representation of what America actually is." Linda Douglass, the former communications director for the White House Office of Health Reform, said in a statement she is excited about Buttigieg's presidential run because of his message on generational change, adding he "represents that generation's unique understanding of what the future may hold." Austan Goolsbee, who was Obama's chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, added that one of the reasons he is supporting Buttigieg is the voter enthusiasm he has seen for Buttigieg in Iowa. 

"It has been awhile since I have seen the kind of excitement on the ground in Iowa that Mayor Pete has generated," Goolsbee said in a statement. "And the last time worked out pretty well."

JULIAN CASTRO

Julián Castro's campaign says more than two hundred students attended his remarks Thursday at Stanford University, his alma mater, where he outlined his foreign policy vision. CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin says Castro is expected to cap his week campaigning in the state this evening with a fundraiser at Manny's, a popular standby for local and national Democrats looking to court leaders in the Bay Area. 

But Castro faces an uphill climb in the Super Tuesday contest if he hopes to score even one of the state's nearly 500 delegates. Polling released Thursday shows Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in a virtual tie to lead the pack among likely California voters, with only Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, and Kamala Harris also clearing 3 percent.

DEVAL PATRICK

Deval Patrick has officially announced his first hire in Nevada: Matt DeFalco, recently state director for Seth Moulton's since-suspended campaign, will helm the former Massachusetts governor's bid in the "first in the West" caucus. DeFalco, who has held leadership positions with the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada and the state Democratic party's veterans and military families caucus, will also serve as Patrick's national veterans outreach director, according to CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin. 

MONEY MATTERS

ON THE $$$

Two candidates are seeing fundraising bumps after Kamala Harris exited the Democratic presidential race, amid criticism the next primary debate could feature a group of all white candidates despite the party's once historically diverse field. On Wednesday, Cory Booker's campaign had its biggest online fundraising day to-date. Nearly half, about 11,000, of the donors were giving to Booker's campaign for the first time. The average donation was $26. 

At the same time, former HUD secretary Julián Castro's campaign announced it saw its biggest fundraising day of the fourth quarter after Harris suspended her campaign. The average donation was $20. CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice reports Both Booker and Castro this week sent out fundraising emails pointing out that after Harris' exit, not a single candidate of color is currently qualified for the Democratic presidential debate on December 19th. 

"If we lose this diversity, we risk not having someone in this race who will speak to the issues and experiences that are too often ignored," Castro's email read. 

"We are the party of diversity. We are the party of inclusion. Let's start acting like it," Booker wrote to supporters, calling the lack of diversity a shame. Booker reached the debate donor threshold but not polling. His appeals have been focused on raising funds to help get out his message. Castro has also met the donor threshold but still needs the qualified polling. Candidates have until December 12th to qualify for the debate.

CONGRESSIONAL COVERAGE

IN THE HOUSE

GOP Representative Tom Graves of Georgia said in a statement he's ready for a "new season in life" and will not seek reelection in 2020, adding to the considerably fast pace of House Republicans announcing their retirements in an election off-year. 

"The time has come for me to pass the baton. Now it's my turn to cheer, support and sacrifice for those who have done the same for me over the last two decades. With Julie near retirement and my kids now suddenly adults, I have decided not to seek reelection in 2020, and instead, join my family in their new and unique journeys," he announced Thursday. The congressman was first elected to the northern Georgia district in 2010 and has won by wide margins ever since.  

With Graves' announcement, 24 House Republicans are now leaving the House next year. A majority of that, 18 members, are "pure" retirements while others are running for higher office or have resigned. CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro says the pace of Republicans heading towards the exits is noticeably more than the past two election off-years. At this point in 2017, 13 Republicans announced they wouldn't run for another term, and in 2015 there were 11 who announced their retirements by December 5. A comparable election cycle is 2014, where 25 Republicans overall either retired or ran for a higher office.

FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE…

ON THE DOWNLOAD

CBS News campaign reporters Musadiq Bidar and Adam Brewster joined the Iowa Starting Line podcast on Wednesday to discuss Kamala Harris ending her presidential race, Joe Biden's Iowa bus tour and other Iowa Caucus news.  

And on this week's episode of "Where Did You Get This Number?", CBS News' director of elections and surveys Anthony Salvanto takes listeners into the heart of South Carolina, exploring how 2020 candidates are rolling out their campaigns in this crucial primary state, specifically concerning moderates, African Americans, and women. All that and more with CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell.

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