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2020 Daily Trail Markers: Fundraising hauls and Democrats' debate hangover in Nevada

President Trump's campaign announced Thursday that the Republican National Committee and their joint committees have raised $60.5 million in the month of January. Together, they ended January with more than $200 million cash on hand. "Every dollar brought in fuels our revolutionary ground operation to reach voters and volunteers, and win again in November," Brad Parscale, Trump 2020 campaign manager, said in a statement.

While the majority of Democratic presidential candidates have not announced their January fundraising numbers, CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice says Elizabeth Warren's campaign announced it has already raised $17 million in the month of February, her best fundraising month to date. She's one of several candidates benefiting from debates. After the Las Vegas debate, her team said it raised $2.8 million, their fundraising day to date, which came at a critical fundraising time. Amy Klobuchar also recently announced she raised $12 million in just over a week after the New Hampshire debate earlier this month.

FROM THE CANDIDATES

JOE BIDEN

The Biden campaign on Thursday morning released a short video on Twitter that used an interview with Bernie Sanders from the afternoon of the Sandy Hook shooting. Sanders apparently tells a radio caller in the video "I don't know if you hold a gun manufacturer responsible for what obviously a deranged person does..." This is an issue Biden has been campaigning on in Nevada because of his record on passing gun legislation like the Brady background check bill and the assault weapons ban in the 1990s.  At his events he frequently criticized Sanders' senate vote on guns—especially the vote to shield gun manufacturers from law suits—but this criticism has mostly stayed in broad swipes, referencing Sanders as an "opponent" or "other Democrats running for the nomination."

Looking to up the ante, the Biden campaign followed the online video of Sanders with remarks today alongside representatives of Moms Demand Action, a pro-gun control group. Biden specifically named Sanders when referencing the lack of lawsuits. Pressed by CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson directly after about why he thought it was fair to connect mass shootings to Sanders' record, Biden replied "you make that judgment." Biden then admitted that he recognizes some of Sanders positions on guns have evolved while in office. "I do think he's changed his views and I'm happy for that," Biden said. Later on, Biden told reporters of his big takeaway from Wednesday's debate: "I don't think the mayor of New York is in the right party." Biden said that like what has been done with his record, the vetting of Bloomberg's record will continue to unfold . 

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG

At an organizing event in Salt Lake City, Utah, Michael Bloomberg made his first public comments on Wednesday's debate. Though he did not speak about his own performance, which has received mix reviews, Bloomberg made a shift from his normal campaign stump by signaling out a fellow Democrat by name and saying that the party is running the risk of nominating someone like Sanders. "I worry that we may be on the way to nominating someone who cannot win in November," Bloomberg said to the crowd of more than 400.  "If we choose a candidate who appeals to a small base – like Senator Sanders – it will be a fatal error." Bloomberg said Thursday, as he frequently says on the campaign trail, that he will support the eventual nominee. Campaign Manager Kevin Sheekey warned in a memo on Wednesday that Sanders is currently on an unstoppable path to obtaining a large share of delegates if the field does not dwindle before Super Tuesday. Sheekey tweeted on Tuesday that the "oppo" research on Sanders was "disqualifying."  CBS News Campaign Reporter Tim Perry spoke to Howard Wolfson, a senior adviser on the campaign, and asked why Bloomberg did not reveal the contents of the damaging information during last night's debate. "Well, we have more campaign to go." Wolfson said.

PETE BUTTIGIEG

Pete Buttigieg's campaign released a memo Thursday morning discussing the state of the presidential race. CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman says the memo is trying to make the case that Buttigieg is the "strongest alternative to defeat Bernie Sanders." After Wednesday's debate, a campaign aide told CBS News they wanted to prioritize Buttigieg's contrast with Sanders. And that was evident in the debate, with Buttigieg criticizing Sanders for being a "polarizing" politician, while also mentioning Sanders cannot explain how to pay for his Medicare for All health care plan. The memo also directed criticism toward Bloomberg, who participated in his first debate since entering the presidential race. The memo said Bloomberg's debate performance was the "worst debate performance in the history of presidential debates." In the days leading up to the debate, Buttigieg accused Bloomberg of trying to buy the Democratic nomination.

AMY KLOBUCHAR

Fresh off her Las Vegas debate performance Wednesday night, Amy Klobuchar's campaign is setting its sights on Super Tuesday. On Thursday morning, they announced the launch of a seven-figure ad buy in the Super Tuesday states of Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia. The campaign also confirmed it now has staff in all 14 Super Tuesday states. This comes after Klobuchar went head to head with several candidates at the Las Vegas debate ahead of the caucuses in the state Saturday. In one heated exchange with Buttigieg over immigration, Klobuchar fired back, "I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete." Afterward, she defended the remark. "I think what his attack on me was petty," she told CBS News correspondent Nikole Killion in the spin room after the debate. "That's when it all started. I wasn't attacking him. I was just trying to make a policy argument."

Klobuchar will be blitzing Nevada on Friday with campaign stops in Las Vegas, Elko and Reno. Nevada is a much more diverse than the first two contests, and recent polling shows Klobuchar trailing when it comes to support from people of color. When asked how critical winning Nevada is to her campaign, CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice reports Klobuchar said they have a good organization in the Silver State and are out there, but did not weigh in on what results could mean for her campaign directly.

BERNIE SANDERS

The Sanders campaign raised $2.7 million from nearly 150,000 donations on Wednesday, making it his best debate fundraising haul of the entire campaign. In the January 14 debate, which CBS News campaign reporter Cara Korte says was the best fundraising haul after a debate so far, the campaign raised $1.7 million from over 100,000 donations. What sparked the giving spirit on Wednesday? Perhaps Bloomberg's presence on stage? Perhaps Sanders supporters see the light at the end of the tunnel with Super Tuesday nearing? It could more a combination of those things and more. What is clear: Sanders is not losing steam.

ELIZABETH WARREN

Bolstered by a fierce debate performance, Warren's campaign is showing new signs of strength following its darkest month yet. But with her newfound attention and donations, CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak says Warren is again facing the scrutiny of a serious contender, particularly as her positions and strategies have evolved over the past few weeks. News broke Wednesday ahead of the debate that Warren, who is running on a platform of getting money out of politics, was being supported by a super PAC. She had noted in the New Hampshire debate only two weeks ago that only she and Klobuchar were neither billionaires nor getting super PAC aid. Asked by reporters on Thursday about the super PAC, Warren said, "if all the candidates want to get rid of super PACs, count me in, I'll lead the charge. But that's how it has to be. It can't be the case that a bunch of people keep them and only one or two don't." But when Biden's campaign opened the door to super PAC help in October, Warren tweeted "it's disappointing that any Democratic candidate would reverse course and endorse the use of unlimited contributions against the wealthy to run against fellow Democrats."

Warren's widely-lauded debate performance in Nevada also represented a shift in her style. Although Warren set her sights on Bloomberg, she took swings at all the other candidate on the stage. A week and a half ago, when other candidates were attacking each other, Warren told CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak that "being smart means not going into a race against Donald Trump with us firing in all directions." Asked Thursday about the development, she told Hudak that "I was very careful about what I had to say that I thought was important. Mayor Bloomberg thinks he can buy this election." As for waging attacks on the other candidates, Warren continued to say that on it's important to "talk about everybody's healthcare plan, and all I tried to do was describe what those plans actually say on the websites of the candidates."

But returning to scrutiny is a good sign for Warren, whose traveling press corps had shrunken in recent weeks, and it's coupled with donations pouring in. Additionally, she has recently doubled down on a message that she's Democrats' best chance to beat Mr. Trump, and the Nevada debate reinforced that pitch. At a soul food restaurant in North Last Vegas on Thursday, a woman told Warren "you did a good job last night." Warren replied, "Thank you. Well, that's what I'm going to do to Donald Trump."

STATE-BY-STATE

CALIFORNIA

A new Monmouth poll of California shows Sanders leading the pack with 24% support. Sanders is followed by Biden at 17% and Bloomberg at 13%. Warren was the only other candidate to register double-digit support, with 10%. Buttigieg comes in at 9% while no other candidate registers above 5%.  CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar says early voting in California began on February 3, the same day as the Iowa Caucuses. According to Monmouth, more than 6 in 10 Californians will cast their ballot early. There are roughly 20 million registered voters in California and according to Political Data Inc., a bipartisan data group, more than 10 million early ballots were mailed to California voters. As of Thursday, nearly 1.5 million ballots have already been returned. According to a Monmouth poll, among those who have already voted or intend to vote prior to Super Tuesday, the race is close.  Sanders has 20% support, Biden has 19%, Bloomberg has 14%, Warren has 11% and Buttigieg has 11%. With the California primary less than two weeks away, voters are starting to make up their minds. Just under half of likely voters are open to supporting a different candidate than their current choice, but only 10% say there is a high possibility this will happen.  The poll was conducted February 16 to 19 with a +/- 4.9% margin of error.

IOWA

Sanders' and Buttigieg's campaigns on Wednesday night filed recount requests with the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP). CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster says it came a day after the IDP returned recanvassing results that showed Buttigieg leading Sanders by only 0.08 statewide delegate equivalents. The two campaigns combined requested recounts in 63 precincts. The party has until tomorrow evening to respond to those requests. In order to be approved, the campaigns have to show that changing the results could change national delegate allocation. At this point, Buttigieg still leads Sanders in projected national delegates 14 to 12. If granted, a recount would involve counting presidential preference cards from those precincts to recalculate caucus results.

 

NEVADA

The Nevada State Democratic Party is downplaying the chance of delayed results in the wake of last minute changes to the caucus process, following DNC Chairman Tom Perez first floating the possibility Wednesday in an interview with the Associated Press. "I think we've been saying this for a long time, our intention and priority right now is getting this right. Accuracy is our number one priority," state party spokeswoman Molly Forgey told CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin on Wednesday night. "But it's our intention to get results out on the day of the caucus."

 

CONGRESSIONAL COVERAGE

IN THE HOUSE

The National Republican Congressional Committee has made clear their path to the majority is through the 30 Trump districts that Democrats flipped in 2018. On Wednesday, they announced their latest step in establishing what this slate of candidates will look like with their "Contender" candidates as part of their 2020 "Young Guns" program. CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro says a total of 35 candidates made the slate for the NRCC, chosen due to benchmarks on fundraising and campaign operations.  Candidates include Wesley Hunt, who is challenging Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher in Texas' 7th district, and Claudia Tenney who is challenging Congressman Anthony Brindisi in New York's 22nd district. The NRCC also doubled up in some of the more competitive Republican primaries, putting both Carl DeMaio and Darrell Issa on the list in the California 50th district race, Claire Chase and Yvette Herrell in the New Mexico 2nd district race, and Ted Gradel and Jim Oberweis in the Illinois 14th district race. "These hardworking candidates have proven their ability to run strong, competitive campaign operations," House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a statement. 

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