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2020 Daily Trail Markers: How Biden got ready for fight night

Democrats ready to debate in Houston

As we wait for the third presidential debate to get underway in Houston, look here for a reminder of what to expect from each of the democratic candidates tonight.


JOE BIDEN: At a background briefing ahead of the debate tonight, Biden campaign senior officials said the former VP has a "target on his back" and is prepared to fend off attacks on President Obama and his legacy, reports CBS News Campaign Reporter Bo Erickson.

These officials said the country needs "more than just plans—we need action, we need progress."

The senior officials said we can expect to hear Biden to forcefully talk about his healthcare plan of embracing a public option and how it doesn't cost as much Medicare for All. The officials also said they expect foreign policy to be rousing debate discussion, too.

One senior Biden campaign official also said we may "hear him reject the premise that [his] ideas are incremental." The official said there is a "false dichotomy" narrative that there are "liberal revolutionaries" and those who want incremental change on multiple issues.

The campaign also continued to pushback on criticism that his verbal slip ups are cause for concern. When asked about a recent article which quoted anonymous Biden officials complaining that younger reporters are focusing too much on his gaffes, one senior Biden campaign official replied that Biden is "young at heart."

KAMALA HARRIS: Close allies of the California senator say the location of tonight's third presidential debate may give the 2020 candidate a unique edge over her opponents. The event is scheduled to take place at a historically black university – Texas Southern University – and of the 20 contenders vying for the Democratic nomination, Harris is the only candidate who graduated from an HBCU. 

Harris is also a member of the nation's oldest black Greek-lettered sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha. Ahead of tonight's debate, CBS News Campaign Reporters LaCrai Mitchell & Stephanie Ramirez explored how Harris' HBCU experience shaped her and what her affiliations to HBCUs and black Greek-lettered sororities and fraternities could mean for her presidential run. 

TOM STEYER: On Thursday morning, the House Judiciary Committee took a step toward the possible impeachment of President Trump despite internal party divisions on the future of the inquiry. This afternoon in Iowa City, Iowa, Tom Steyer, the founder of Need to Impeach and 2020 Presidential Candidate said "the House Judiciary Committee has the right to do this regardless of what the House democratic leadership says." 

Steyer called President Trump a "criminal" and the "the most corrupt" president in American history. He added that "instead of trying to figure out how it is going to work out, why don't we stand up for the values of America, for the American constitution, for the American people, isn't that what is important?"

In addition, Steyer told reporters in Iowa Thursday afternoon that he will probably watch highlights of the third Democratic primary debate in Houston. Steyer has qualified for the 4th debate next month but is facing criticism from fellow Democrats competing for the nomination because of the money he's spent on advertisements. 

Last month in a fundraising email, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro said "I'm fighting for a spot against billionaires like Tom Steyer -- who just spent $10 million of his own money to fast-track his way onto that stage." On Monday, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said in a press release that the debate rules "have allowed a billionaire to bankroll his way onto the debate stage, while Governors and Senators with decades of public service experience have been forced out of the race." 

According to Advertising Analytics, Steyer has spent nearly $12 million in broadcast and digital ads across the country. He's spent more than $3 million in Iowa alone. Responding to the criticism, Steyer told CBS News Campaign Reporter Musadiq Bidar, "I've been here for about eight weeks, there are people who have been here two years." Steyer added that "the question is do you have a message that reverberates and resonates with Democratic voters and from what I can tell, mine actually does."


OUT WEST: Three campaigns confirm to CBS News Campaign Reporter Alex Tin that they'll be bringing a Nevadan to Thursday's debate in Houston: Cory Booker (who's taking Nevada Young Democrats President Lynnette Hull), Kamala Harris (state Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui), and Julián Castro (DNC Committeewoman Allison Stephens). Other prominent Nevadans have attended past debates, from state Attorney General Aaron Ford (at Cory Booker's invitation) to state Sen. Yvanna Cancela (at Joe Biden's invitation).

IOWA: Kamala Harris' campaign announced endorsements from 100 "Blue Wave Women" across Iowa. This is a group of women who became engaged in politics after the 2016 election and helped elect a record number of women lawmakers into office in Iowa in 2018, as well as Reps. Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne, reports CBS News Campaign Reporter Adam Brewster. 

This is part the Harris campaign's strategy to engage grassroots support and find volunteers willing to put in significant work to help Harris in Iowa. "It meant so much for me to have that support amongst women when I was running, but what's most important is that they did not stop. So many of them started during my race, that was their thing, their introduction to this space called politics where they figured out where their niche was in politics," said Harris' Iowa Campaign Chair Deidre DeJear, who ran for Iowa secretary of state in 2018, in an interview with Iowa Starting Line. 

"It's important that we are allowing people to sit at the table, and we're allowing them by inviting them to the process. That's so critical."


CAROLINA GREEN: Sen. Thom Tillis' reelection campaign announced on Thursday a $2.2 million ad campaign beginning next week on cable television, broadcast television, and radio across North Carolina for the 2020 election. The ad campaign is starting so early in part because Tillis is facing a primary challenge from Raleigh Businessman Garland Tucker. Tillis' 2014 race was the most expensive Senate race in history until the race between Beto O'Rourke and Senator Ted Cruz. If the spending in North Carolina's ninth district is any indicator of how expensive it will be to campaign in North Carolina, then the 2020 campaign for Tillis' seat could set records again, according to CBS News Political Unit Associate Producer Ellee Watson.  

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