As President Trump heads to historically black Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, Friday, state-based outlets report that Democratic candidates felt "blindsided," and current Benedict students have shared "mixed reviews" about the president's participation in the criminal justice forum. The weekend-long event — co-hosted by Benedict and the 20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center — will focus on the next steps that should be taken to improve criminal justice reform after the passage of The First Step Act last year. CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell spoke with a dozen HBCU students and alumni across four southern states who also expressed varying sentiments to news of the president's visit.
Some are calling the move "disrespectful" and "political," while others feel the visit should be expected considering Trump's approval ratings among African-American voters. Others argue that it's still a "significant" event whenever a sitting U.S. president visits an HBCU campus. Still others say the forum is an opportunity to "browbeat" the president with concerns and requests on criminal justice and federal funding for HBCUs.
With the backdrop of an HBCU that has played a key role in the fight for civil rights and the overall empowerment of African-American students, many will be watching to see how the critical issue of criminal justice is handled. One Benedict alumni who is a pastor in Florida says classmates are concerned because they don't know what the president might say or how students will respond.
National Urban League president Marc Morial tells CBS News that even though the president signed bipartisan legislation to reform criminal justice, he's hoping this isn't "just a political photo op at an African-American college."
"I'm not going to take [bipartisan criminal justice legislation] away from him, but it doesn't balance out against many of the policies — particularly the judicial appointments, the lack of diversity in the Cabinet and of the White House staff — that deeply concern us," says Morial. "While we always celebrate when a president goes to a historically black college, it doesn't take away from the damage that many of his policies are causing."
David Sheppard, Senior VP General Counsel and COS for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, says that the Trump administration has been responsive to concerns raised by TMCF and other organizations that represent the interests of HBCUs and minority-serving institutions. Sheppard cites the HBCU Capital Finance Program as an example of legislation that has positively impacted some HBCUs.
"There have been some positive things that have happened during the Trump administration, relative to engagement with HBCUs," says Sheppard. "The fact that the president's willing to come to one of our campuses to talk about an important issue in America today I think is significant, and hopefully it's an opportunity for it to be an open forum on that issue or other issues that impact our schools."
Marc Morial is married to CBS This Morning: Saturday co-host Michelle Miller.
FROM THE CANDIDATES
Joe Biden's supporters are making money moves, reports CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson. Since President Trump's re-election campaign directed millions of dollars aimed at disrupting Biden's rise to the Democratic nomination, the former vice president returned middling fundraising numbers, compared to his primary rivals and now apparently is reversing course on taking outside help from super PACs, which are private and independent fundraising arms aiming to benefit specific candidates or causes.
On Thursday, Biden's campaign announced in a statement that "as president" he would "push to remove private money from our federal elections" and "advocate for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and end the era of unbridled spending by Super PACs." The key words here are "as president," since these are principles Biden has been pushing even before he launched his third presidential bid. Last year in an interview with PBS, he even took credit for convincing Bernie Sanders' to speak out against super PACs in the 2016 Democratic primary contest.
What to watch for: A group of wealthy and well-connected Biden backers were already mulling starting a super PAC to boost their top choice. Is this their greenlight?
The super PAC as of now is "not fully baked" but "moving in that direction," according to a supporter involved.
Former Biden '08 communications director Larry Rasky, who has been organizing a potential super PAC, sent a statement saying, "We intend to fight back against the lies and distortions we're seeing now from Trump, his allies, the Russians, and the Republican Party. While other candidates have groups supporting their efforts, no other Democrat has to fight this two-front war. We know Joe Biden is the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump – and so does Donald Trump. That is why our friend Joe Biden is the target and why we will have his back."
Ahead of his New Hampshire campaign visit, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg released a plan on Thursday focused on promoting women's equality and empowerment across socio-economic, political and health care sectors, according to CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman.
"Progress for women has come despite systemic sexism and racism, and persistent gender bias," Buttigieg said. "And now, with women's rights under assault, we can't wait any longer to ensure women have the power they deserve." The plan notes that under a Buttigieg presidency, he would nominate a Cabinet that is at least 50 percent women.
Buttigieg's judicial appointments would also be at least 50 percent women. He also backs a Smithsonian Women's History Museum on the National Mall and putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. Tubman was supposed to be featured on the bill in 2020, but the Trump administrationthat plan would be delayed.
Buttigieg also calls for a $15 minimum wage and increased accountability in regards to gender pay transparency for large companies. The plan includes a $10 billion investment to combat and end workplace sexual harassment and discrimination against women by doubling funding for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, empowering workers to file complaints and passing legislation to enforce companies to stop hiding sexual harassment and discrimination by removing non-disclosure clauses that covers workplace harassment.
Also during his New Hampshire campaign and in the wake of Mark Zuckerberg's Congressional testimony, Mayor Buttigieg told CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga he believes Facebook's ad policy is "a mistake." Following a campaign stop in Nashua, New Hampshire, the South Bend mayor said, "They have a responsibility to pull false advertising. And yes, they also have a responsibility to intervene when there is advertising that will contribute to voter suppression."
Asked if he would support the breakup of big tech, Buttigieg remarked, "Yes I believe that the breakup of big companies is a remedy that should be on the table." He added, "The FTC and other federal bodies should be empowered to protect consumers and protect individuals. And when there are anti-competitive practices, there's has to be a range of remedies from fines all the way through to reversing these mergers in some cases."
CBS News was first to obtain a copy of Beto O'Rourke's plan to work towards ending the Deadly Opioid Epidemic and Address Substance Use Disorders. O'Rourke told CBS News campaign reporter Tim Perry, "We're going to make sure that anyone with a substance use disorder gets the help that they need, are not treated as a problem for the criminal justice system, but an opportunity for the public health system in this country." The plan lays out four goals: ending the stigma around substance use disorder, supporting the access to healthcare and various forms of treatment, targeting the supply chain which would include putting pressure on China to stem the flow of fentanyl into the U.S. and Ensure that those in recovery have economic stability and opportunity.
At 4:20 p.m. Bernie Sanders' campaign released a marijuana legalization policy. Besides the legalization of pot via executive order in the first 100 days of his administration, the plan is tailored to appeal to African-American communities with ideas like a $10 billion USDA grant program to start urban and rural "growing operations." This program is one of four multi-billion dollar grant initiatives to help underserved or neglected communities benefit from the marijuana industry. Sanders would pay for those programs with a tax on the legal marijuana sales.
One senior adviser told CBS News campaign reporter Cara Korte that the effort to legalize marijuana is a direct attempt to solve a corrupt, racist, criminal justice system. The plan will also expunge the criminal records of marijuana offenders and implement clemency reform by creating an independent clemency board outside the Justice Department and instead in the White House. It would eliminate barriers to public benefits for people who have interacted with the criminal justice system. And the plan would eliminate drug testing requirements from future benefits and ensure people cannot be removed from public housing for marijuana use.
The campaign would also take revenue from the tax to invest money into communities hit hardest by the war on drugs. Finally, in line with Sanders' lifelong pursuit of breaking up large corporations, the plan aims to get ahead of what it has coined "Big Marijuana." The plan states that just as Big Tobacco intentionally deceived consumers and marketed towards children, the marijuana industry if left unchecked could do the same.
The Sanders plan would incentivize marijuana businesses to be structured like nonprofits and prohibit marketing to young people. It would also ban tobacco/cigarette corporations from participating in the marijuana industry.
One of Elizabeth Warren's New Hampshire campaign offices suffered a break-in on Wednesday evening. In a statement to CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak, Warren's New Hampshire communications director Andrew Taverrite said, "Last night, the Manchester office for Warren was broken into along with other offices in the same building. Upon discovering the break-in this morning, campaign staff took immediate action and filed a report with the police. We have no reason to believe this was targeted to the campaign or is anything further than a regular break in, and we are working with authorities."
The Manchester Police Department says the case is under investigation. CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga notes Warren's Manchester office is located on the first floor of a large office complex in the downtown area. The office opened on June 23 of this year and is one of nine field offices for the Massachusetts senator in New Hampshire. Crime and public safety remains a defining issue of Manchester's current mayoral race. FBI data from 2018 illustrates that while violent crimes in Manchester occur at a higher rate compared to midsize cities, property crimes are less common.
At a meet-and-greet in Concord, New Hampshire yesterday, Andrew Yang announced to supporters: "If this does not come out of New Hampshire, it dies." CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga says Yang later elaborated to reporters that "if New Hampshire doesn't get behind the campaign, the odds of us making it the whole way to the White House go down a lot." The entrepreneur and presidential candidate has spent more time in the Granite State than any other contender still competing on the presidential debate stage.
The California Democratic Party says six candidates – Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Kamala Harris, Beto O'Rourke, Bernie Sanders, and Andrew Yang – are confirmed to speak at their endorsing convention next month. Not on the list is Joe Biden, who plans to be out West that same weekend but has skipped two other California cattle calls this year. "Vice President Biden knows that the voices of Nevadans and Californians are crucial in the Democratic primary, which is why he will work harder than anyone else to earn their vote and ensure we defeat Donald Trump next November," a campaign spokesperson told CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin in a statement.
Twelve Democratic presidential candidates will be participating in a forum with the NAACP Des Moines Branch, CBS News affiliate KCCI, and The Des Moines Register on November 2 at Drake University in Des Moines.
CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster says candidates who have committed to taking part in the forum include Michael Bennet, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, John Delaney, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O'Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Joe Sestak, Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang.
"Economic Sustainability is a Game Changer element of our national strategic plan and we look forward to hearing from these presidential candidates about their specific plans to develop wealth in the African American community and eliminate the many disparate gaps communities of color face in America's economic landscape," Kameron Middlebrooks, president of the Des Moines branch of the NAACP, said in a news release. The event comes one day after the Iowa Democratic Party's Liberty and Justice Dinner, formerly known as the Jefferson-Jackson dinner, which has often marked a turning point in caucus cycle.
Elizabeth Warren has joined Julián Castro in his outcry over a proposed ordinance by the Democratic mayor of Las Vegas. The city insists the measure will help authorities connect homeless Nevadans to needed services. Warren in a statement decried the proposal for seeking to "criminalize homelessness," saying it "caters to the interests of business groups rather than our families and our communities."
Also this week, CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin says Kamala Harris is out with two new backers in northern Nevada: Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe leader Alan Mandell and North Tahoe Democrats Chair Coralin Glerum. The news comes a day after Bernie Sanders announced eleven new supporters of his own in the state.
LIFE AFTER 2020
RYAN FOR CONGRESS
Ohio laws allowed Representative Tim Ryan to run for president and Congress at the same time. Now that he is out of the presidential race, his office confirms Ryan will turn to his re-election campaign for Congress, where he was able to raise more than $42,000 in Q3 according to FEC reports.
His presidential campaign raised more than $425,000 in the same period, leaving him with $158,348.92 cash on hand. FEC deputy press officer Christian Hilland told CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro that Ryan can now transfer primary funds from his presidential to his congressional campaign.
Before this happens, any outstanding debts must be paid off first. "TIM RYAN FOR AMERICA" has $28,225.21 in debts and obligations for various consulting and media services. Since his election in 2002, Ryan has won re-election on Ohio's 13th Congressional district easily, often by over 20 points.
UP FOR DEBATE
AND THEN THERE WERE 9
Senator Amy Klobuchar on Thursday qualified for the November Democratic presidential debate thanks to a new Quinnipiac poll that put her at 3% nationally. Her campaign previously announced it had met the 165,000 unique donor threshold, according to CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice.
"Since Amy's stand-out performance in the October debate we've raised more than $2 million and seen a surge in interest and engagement across the country. Today we're proud to announce Senator Klobuchar qualified for the November debate after receiving three more qualifying polls in four days," said Klobuchar's campaign manager Justin Buoen in a statement.
The Minnesota Senator joins Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren, and Andrew Yang, who have all previously qualified, according to CBS News' count. Several other candidates have already met the donor threshold but still need to reach 3% polling in four qualified national or state polls or 5% polling in two qualified state polls to participate. Candidates have until November 13th to make the cut. The fifth debate will be moderated by an all-women panel from the Washington Post and MSNBC and will take place November 20 in Georgia.