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2020 Daily Trail Markers: McConnell says it's still "way too early" to announce how he'll handle impeachment

New impeachment inquiry revelations

As the U.S. House progressed through its third day of public testimonies in the impeachment inquiry, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters, "It's way too early to scope out or announce how we might handle impeachment when it gets to the Senate," reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson.

When the trial starts, the six senators running for the Democratic presidential nomination — Michael Bennet, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren — will have to be present in D.C instead of campaigning in Iowa or New Hampshire.

McConnell said sarcastically, "I'm sure they're going to be excited to be here in their chairs not being able to say anything during the pendency of this trial." On the length of a trial, he said he hopes it's "not too lengthy a process."

Democrats press DNC and Comcast before debate

Two days before the fifth Democratic primary debate, hosted by MSNBC, four Democratic presidential hopefuls called on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to demand Comcast, MSNBC's parent company, commit to conducting an independent investigation into the company's "toxic culture" that allowed the sexual harassment and abuse of staffers, CBSNews.com's Melissa Quinn reports. 

Senators Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren sent a letter to DNC Chairman Tom Perez on Tuesday ramping up the pressure on the party to reiterate its support for victims of sexual misconduct.

"We, the undersigned candidates, are very concerned about the message it would send to sexual assault survivors if our next debate is sponsored by MSNBC without clear commitments from Comcast, the parent company of NBC and MSNBC, to conduct an independent investigation into the toxic culture that enabled abusers and silenced survivors," the 2020 hopefuls wrote. None of the candidates have threatened to withdraw from the debate.

Read more here.

FROM THE CANDIDATES

ELIZABETH WARREN

Elizabeth Warren on Monday morning said President Trump "has cozied up to white nationalists," and she was specific, naming White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, reports CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak. Warren made the accusation in a plan she released to fight back against white nationalist violence. Among the policies she said she would enact were moving hate crime referrals to the FBI as well as directing federal prosecutors to seek tougher penalties for hate crimes and consistently designate them as domestic terrorism. 

The plan also includes a pledge to invest in early intervention to tighten background checks to keep white nationalists out of the military and to create an interagency task force to fight white nationalist crime.

BERNIE SANDERS

Bernie Sanders' campaign today is touting its latest endorsement in California, in the wake of a Golden State visit that won Sanders loud praise from the state party's Progressive Caucus and a ringing endorsement vote from the California Young Democrats, reports CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin. But polling released Tuesday shows Sanders trails Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren among the three top-polling candidates in the Super Tuesday contest. And despite the scant campaign stops in California, an overwhelming majority of Democratic primary likely voters say they are following the race "very" or "fairly closely."

JULIAN CASTRO

Julián Castro was warmly received at a town hall with Democrats from across rural Nevada yesterday, capping a West Coast swing that netted the former Obama housing chief a handful of new endorsements. Led by the Yerington Paiute Tribe yesterday, Castro also toured a shuttered copper mine notorious among Nevadans for the pollution it left behind, reports Tin

Castro was applauded at the town hall for his criticism of New Hampshire and Iowa as insufficiently diverse to be the party's first two nominating contests — compared to states like Nevada. He also thanked former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who agrees with Castro and said Sunday, "I don't think it matters what happens in Iowa or New Hampshire because those states are not representative of the country anymore."

ANDREW YANG

A super PAC supporting Andrew Yang has spent tens of thousands of dollars on Facebook ads in the last month, CBS News political unit associate producer Ben Mitchell reports. Since October 19, MATH PAC has spent just over $65,000 on ads promoting Yang's candidacy, with an emphasis on Yang's Freedom Dividend proposal and his success as a businessman. It appears to be the most robust digital expenditure by a candidate-aligned Super PAC in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary so far. 

According to Facebook data, Unite The Country, a Super PAC set up to support former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign, has yet to launch any Facebook ads. Yang has repeatedly told reporters he is not affiliated with the group, he does not know who the donors are, and their efforts have "zero influence" on his campaign or his agenda. 

STATE BY STATE

IOWA

A trio of candidates have unveiled their newest ads in Iowa, as candidates flood the airwaves in the Hawkeye State with 76 days left until the caucuses, reports CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster. Joe Biden's newest ad focuses efforts to expand the Violence Against Women Act. It features a woman at a town hall who became homeless because of domestic violence talking about how she learned of Biden's efforts in fighting for a bill to provide transitional housing. 

"Joe Biden became my hero that day because he didn't even know me and he was fighting for me and my son," the woman says. The ad comes after Biden on Monday rolled out a plan to build on the Violence Against Women Act.

Montana Governor Steve Bullock's newest Iowa ad focuses on his promise to empower prosecutors to investigate president Trump if Bullock is elected. 

"I won't promise to lock up my opponent," Bullock says. "But as the only Democrat running who won a state Trump won, I will promise this: after I beat Trump, I'll empower prosecutors to follow the evidence all the way to the top." 

Finally, former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, who has spent the most on television ads in Iowa, has a new ad calling for term limits. 

"I'm about to say two words that will make Washington insiders very uncomfortable: Term Limits," Steyer says in the ad. "You and I both know we need term limits. That Congress shouldn't be a lifetime appointment. But members of Congress –– and the corporations who've bought our democracy –– hate term limits."

NEVADA

After an hours-long cattle call with Nevada Democrats Sunday night, four candidates — Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Julián Castro, and Cory Booker — spoke Monday to a "Black Community Summit" in southern Nevada, reports CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin

On Tuesday, the political arm of a progressive group in Nevada called out Pete Buttigieg for failing to deliver a surrogate listed on the agenda — national engagement director Hasoni Pratts — to the event. But the event's organizer is taking blame for the no-show, apologizing for "dropping the ball" for a miscommunication despite the Buttigieg campaign's interest in participating in the summit. 

GROUND GAME

DNC INVESTMENTS

The DNC announced on Tuesday it is making a six-figure investment in voter protection hires in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The hires were first reported by ABC News. In addition to the staff in states, the DNC has built a national voter resource hub, voter assistance hotline, and is filing voter protection litigation in states. 

Watson reports that the committee won a case on Friday in Florida against a law that says GOP candidates must be listed on the ballot first. 

Ahead of the fifth Democratic debate, the DNC is hosting several events in Atlanta including voter protection events. On Tuesday, the DNC Civic Engagement and Voter Protection team joined Stacey Abrams for a roundtable on breaking down voter suppression, and DNC chair Tom Perez will headline a Civic Engagement and Voter Protection Summit on Wednesday.  

GUBERNATORIAL FOCUS

After wins in Louisiana and Kentucky, the Democrat Governors Association is feeling optimistic about their kitchen-table, local messaging approach heading into 2020. CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro reports that a DGA memo says their 2019 approach of straying from the national stage and sticking to state issues like healthcare, education and jobs gives a blueprint to national Democrats "for beating the Trump machine and winning back red-state voters." 

Since Donald Trump's election in 2016, the DGA has flipped nine states (New Jersey, Alaska, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Louisiana) from red to blue. This year's races in Mississippi, Louisiana and Kentucky all saw heavy involvement from President Trump through rallies before election days, Tweets and fundraising efforts, though the DGA memo noted that the effort fell short. 

"In 2019, we proved that Trump was no silver bullet for Republicans running, even in the reddest of states. We went toe-to-toe with Trump, his rallies, and his political operation and won – twice," the memo states.

The memo also says the DGA will be investing $1 million in North Carolina this week ahead of Governor Roy Cooper's re-election effort in 2020. The 2019 approach from Democrats to focus on state issues like Medicaid expansion and education will be prevalent in North Carolina, where Cooper and state republicans are at an impasse in expanding Medicaid due to a budget standoff. 

"People in both Kentucky and Louisiana are electing and re-electing Democratic governors because they are committed to expanding Medicaid and increasing funding for public education. Governor Roy Cooper has fought every day in his administration to help make sure North Carolinians are healthier and better educated," Cooper campaign spokeswoman Liz Doherty told Navarro.

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