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2020 Daily Trail Markers: Elizabeth Warren seeks to deescalate feud with Bernie Sanders

Warren, Sanders clash ahead of debate

Elizabeth Warren's campaign has been telling high-level allies today that the Massachusetts senator wants to deescalate her feud with Sanders over whether he he had told her that a woman couldn't win the presidency, CBS News political correspondent Ed O'Keefe and campaign reporter Zak Hudak confirm. Buzzfeed first reported that Warren's campaign is urging supporters not to accuse Sanders of sexism and wants to move on. Instead, Warren would prefer to refocus on resuming their progressive arguments against the moderates in the race at the debate tonight. 

The request to deescalate the feud with Sanders comes after a remarkable 48 hours that began with a Politico report exposing a script Sanders staffers have been instructing volunteers to use when discussing Warren's chances. The memo reportedly claims that she would be unable to expand the base of the Democratic Party. Sanders denied he'd authorized the memo. Remarkably, Warren — who has spent more than a year refusing to attack her like-minded liberal friend from Vermont — engaged and criticized Sanders for allowing his campaign to steer into such attacks. 

On Monday afternoon, CNN reported that in December 2018, Sanders told Warren he didn't think a woman could be elected president. Warren's team was initially radio silent about the reports, but last night Warren herself issued a statement saying, "I thought a woman could win; he disagreed." Warren might now want her allies to back off, but she will still face questions about the feud during the debate. How she responds could either pour accelerant on a simmering blaze or expose Warren as flat-footed.

The incident reminded some of us at Team CBS Tuesday of a similar moment during the 2012 Republican presidential campaign. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty spent the days before a critical debate channeling plans to attack rival Mitt Romney. When the opportunity presented itself on the debate stage, Pawlenty demurred. He faced a barrage of criticism for the move, his fundraising dried up, and he sputtered out of the race within weeks.

FROM THE CANDIDATES

AMY KLOBUCHAR

Senator Amy Klobuchar's presidential campaign is staying on message and trumpeting what they call "Klomentum" in Iowa as her polling has inched up the past few months. Despite a series of well-received debate performances, CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson says the Minnesota senator remains mired in the single digits with just weeks to go before the caucuses, positioned in fifth place in the two latest polls. And yet Klobuchar retains an air of measured hopefulness about her chances, as her campaign seems to be doing everything right. She's visited all 99 counties in the state and hoping in the last few weeks she can convert voters at a higher rate. This may be difficult as she faces an impending and uncertain Senate impeachment trial that will keep her away from Iowa for significant time.

BERNIE SANDERS

Nevada's largest teachers union has endorsed Bernie Sanders, following a straw poll last week showing him leading among its membership of some 19,000 Southern Nevada educators. The Sanders campaign shares ties with the Clark County Education Association, including personal endorsements from some of the union's leadership and a former staffer who now serves as political director for the campaign. 

"Caucuses are coming up and we want to make sure our members are participating and to be a part of this national effort," Vikki Courtney, president of the labor group, tells CBS News. "We invited all candidates come and meet with us, our board, and speak to our members," she said later. The Nevada State Education Association, the other major teachers union in Nevada, tells CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin it has yet to decide whether it will also endorse before Caucus Day.

PRESIDENT TRUMP

President Trump is holding a "Keep America Great" campaign rally in Milwaukee, Wisconsin just an hour ahead of the Democratic Debate in Des Moines, Iowa. CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson notes that the president spent a chunk of time during his first rally of the year in Ohio last week talking about the candidates who will be on stage in Iowa and has dedicated tweets this week to criticizing Mike Bloomberg, who won't be on the stage. While the Democrats gear up for the Iowa caucuses, Mr. Trump is rallying supporters in a state he won by only eight-tenths of a percentage point. Watch the rally here.

STATE-BY-STATE

CALIFORNIA

With just 20 days until early voting kicks off in California's presidential primary, some campaigns are racing to build up resources on the ground in Super Tuesday's largest delegate prize. CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin, citing Michael Bloomberg's campaign, says his staff has swelled to more than 100 in the state, including Kamala Harris' former state director and a vice chair of the state Democratic party. 

And Bernie Sanders, who is in effectively a three-way tie with Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren in a recent California poll, is now up to 16 offices across the Golden State. 

MONEY MATTERS

ON A BUDGET

The progressive organization Priorities USA is expanding its budget heading towards the Democratic National Convention this summer in an effort to set a narrative before the general election season gets underway. CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice says the group initially announced a $100 million budget last year but is now upping it to $150 million. 

Additionally, it's reserving $70 million in TV and digital ads in the battleground states of Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all of which were states President Trump won in 2016.  

"While most of our party is focused on choosing our nominee, Donald Trump will be spending unprecedented amounts of money in battleground states in an effort to define the election before our nominee has a chance to defend themselves. We will not let this go unanswered," said Priorities USA Chairman Guy Cecil in a statement. "Priorities USA has been outspending Trump online in key states for the last six months, and we will now be expanding our efforts to TV to make sure voters are hearing about how Donald Trump isn't working for them." 

In 2016, Priorities USA didn't start running TV ads until May. Now its Wisconsin ads are slated to start in February with Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania ads going up in March. This comes as Mr. Trump and Republicans are sitting on a record-breaking war chest of nearly $200 million cash on hand at the end of 2019.

CONGRESSIONAL COVERAGE

IN THE SENATE

CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson reports that Congressman Joe Kennedy's Senate campaign announced 17 endorsements from prominent House Democrats, including Congressmen John Lewis and Joaquin Castro. 

Kennedy announced a challenge to Democratic incumbent Ed Markey in September and raised $2.4 million in the first full fundraising quarter since the launch of his campaign. Markey, who served in the House for nearly four decades before becoming a senator in 2012, has received the endorsement of presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren along with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and over 100 local Massachusetts leaders.  

IN THE HOUSE

One of Kennedy's Senate campaign endorsers, Joyce Beatty of Ohio, is facing her own competitive primary. Morgan Harper is challenging Beatty in Ohio's third Congressional district and outraised Beatty by over $80,000 in the third quarter. Beatty has not released her latest numbers, but Harper had an even better fourth quarter with over $551,000 raised. 

Meanwhile, CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro says that House Democrats in Trump-won districts are continuing to release strong fourth quarter fundraising numbers. Syracuse.com reports that New York's Anthony Brindisi, who is from a district that Trump won by 16 points in 2016, raised $905,000 in the latest quarter. 

Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey brought in more than $757,000 and has a $2.6 million war chest heading into 2020. Trump narrowly won her district by one point. 

Staying in New Jersey, Joshua Roesch, a former campaign manager to the newest House Republican Jeff Van Drew, has joined Democrat Amy Kennedy's campaign. Kennedy is looking to challenge Van Drew for the state's 2nd Congressional District seat, which was held by a Republican from 1995 to 2019. In a Tweet, Roesch said Van Drew "turned his back on South Jersey families" and touted Kennedy's work as a public school teacher, a mental health advocate and a "mom of 5 that will never stop fighting for SJ."

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