Senator Elizabeth Warren is for the first time being treated as a front-runner in the Democratic primary. Seven of her 11 opponents on the debate stage last night directly criticized her, focusing largely on what rival campaigns have said are her greatest weaknesses: her lack of clarity on the nuts and bolts of Medicare for All and the difficulty of accomplishing her plans. CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak says the exchanges showed that Warren has vulnerabilities to her political right and left, but they also often left former Vice President Joe Biden far in the background throughout much of the debate. Warren took the hardest hits of her campaign so far, but the policies she champions, Medicare for All and her signature wealth tax, dominated portions of the three-hour debate.
FROM THE CANDIDATES
Speaking to reporters on Thursday in Ohio, Joe Biden calmly fielded questions about last night's debate and tried to draw a clear contrast between himself and Warren. Biden said for a person known for her plans, Warren had none for the most important issue in this election – health care.
Then, when asked whether he was concerned about the fact that Warren's campaign has more cash on hand, Biden appeared to take a swipe at the Massachusetts senator saying, "We did not start off by dropping ten million dollars from a Senate campaign, wherever that money was raised from into a race," a hint at the use of Warren's Senate coffers in the current race. (Biden helped raise funds for her last Senate campaign). Biden added, "We are doing fine. Our fundraising is building, we've raised a lot of money online. And we've raised money offline as well, so we feel confident we are going to be ready."
CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson pressed the former vice president on whether he had any regrets about not approaching his son, Hunter, after learning through press reports about his Ukrainian job to which Biden said, "No, I don't." Biden then pivoted to the topic of President Trump's tax returns, saying, "Mr. President, release your tax returns or shut up." Biden noted that even President Nixon had released his tax returns. Biden has rarely talked about tax returns on the campaign trail in the past, but now this seems to be his go-to topic when asked questions about his son's foreign jobs.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg's campaign raised over $1 million from thousands of donors in the past 24 hours since Tuesday's debate, according to senior campaign adviser Lis Smith. In a separate tweet, Smith said the campaign has now over 600,000 unique donors. CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman notes Buttigieg's campaign said that the campaign had over 580,000 unique donors at the end of the third quarter, which ended on September 30.
ON THE MONEY
As Democratic presidential candidates head into the final quarter of the year, the majority of them have been spending more money than they were taking in. A look at the third quarter Federal Election Commission filings by CBS News Political Unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice found only Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete Buttigieg raised more funds than they spent during the months of July through September.
At the same time, only those three Democratic candidates, along with Senator Kamala Harris, finished the quarter with more than $10 million cash on hand. According to the filings, Sanders had $33.7 million, Buttigieg had $23.4 million, Warren had $18.7 million and Harris had $10.5 million. Despite his frontrunner status, former Vice President Joe Biden had less than $9 million cash on hand and a burn rate of 110% at the end of September. That's less than $3 million more cash on hand than Andrew Yang had. Julian Castro, John Delaney, Tim Ryan and Wayne Messam had less than $1 million on hand as of September 30.
BALLOT BOX MEASURES
CAST YOUR VOTE
Ahead of the 2020 presidential election, a group of election law experts and presidential campaign veterans are launching the "Voter Protection Corps," an initiative designed to combat voter suppression. The team of election-law attorneys, political strategists, technology experts and former campaign aides plans to develop a state-by-state playbook aimed at increasing voter protections particularly among students, communities of color, low income and disabled populations.
"Election integrity is more than essential to our democracy — it is a core American value," U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood (Illinois-14) and Voter Protection Corps Advisory Board member said in a statement to CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga. "I am proud to support the efforts of Voter Protection Corps to advance reforms that restore trust in our process and ensure that each and every American can fully participate in our democracy."
The Voter Protection Corps will be headed up by Quentin Palfrey, 2018 Democratic nominee for Massachusetts lieutenant governor and Ohio voter protection director for the 2008 Obama campaign. Melanie Gleason and Gretchen Bennet will serve as Voter Protection Corps' chief of staff & advocacy director and Voter Protection director, respectively. The Advisory Board is comprised of U.S. lawmakers and government officials past and present, including: U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger, Aneesh Chopra, State Representative Caroline Simmons, Charles Baker III, U.S. Representative Jim McGovern, U.S. Representative Josh Gottheimer, U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood, Michael Steed, U.S. Representative Mikie Sherrill, and U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva.