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2020 Daily Trail Markers: Voters say they may skip Mueller's testimony to Congress

CBS News poll: Health care key issue in 2020

As former special counsel Robert Mueller prepares to testify before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees Wednesday, CBS News Campaign Reporter LaCrai Mitchell asked a dozen South Carolina voters if they'd be watching as Mueller reviews the findings of his investigation. More than half admitted that they did not have intentions to tune in. Of the group that did say they would be paying attention to his testimony, all agreed that the findings of the Mueller report are important and should be discussed during the 2020 campaign.

Sonseeahray Nelson-Gathers, a music minster in Charleston, said she hopes that Mueller's testimony will bring about action.

"The fact that so many things were verified but nothing was done, Congress is almost like a dog without teeth," said Nelson-Gathers. "Can't chew on a bone without teeth."


FORMER VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Biden officially laid out his vision for criminal justice reform on Tuesday, which includes some efforts to counteract legislation he supported decades ago. CBS News Campaign Reporter Bo Erickson highlights a few priorities: eliminating the mandatory minimum for drug offenses, the federal death penalty, and also the delineation between crack and cocaine punishments. Twenty billion would be available for localities to focus on crime reduction with an additional $1 billion to address how juveniles are handled in the justice system; notably the new plan also delves into why Biden is one of the few Democratic presidential contenders to favor federal cannabis decriminalization over legalization. A senior campaign official explained that Biden believes "we need more research to study the positive and negative impacts of cannabis use." 

Watch for Biden to speak on the issues this week, including at the NAACP convention in Detroit, Michigan, where Mayor Mike Duggan endorsed Biden yesterday ahead of next week's second Democratic debate.  

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Field organizers from Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign reached a payment agreement with campaign management late Monday. The union representing staffers, The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400, ratified by vote a $42,000 annual salary and a 50-hour work week. The campaign also provides field staffers with 100-percent healthcare coverage. What seemed like a pox on the campaign known for fighting for workers' rights and a $15 federal minimum wage may have been overblown, says Jonathan Williams, the Communications Director for the UFCW Local 400. 

Williams told CBS News Campaign Reporter Cara Korte that the unflattering report misrepresented the negotiations. "This was an amicable process. Both parties acted in good faith. Everything was running smoothly." Last week, Sanders told the Des Moines register he was disappointed the process was leaked to the press. Williams agreed: "It was unfortunate because we were in the middle of a process. A snapshot of it in the press really doesn't paint a complete picture," he said. "We don't know why someone would do something like that." 


UP NORTH: The Republican National Committee is building out its 2020 Trump Victory organization, deploying its first field team with 5 full-time staffers in New Hampshire. The campaign has trained over 1,200 volunteer fellows in the Granite State alone since 2016, hosting regular training and recruitment sessions across the state. President Trump lost the state of New Hampshire by less than 3,000 votes – a  0.4% margin and the second closest percentage behind Michigan. 

In 2018, the New Hampshire state Senate, House of Representatives and Executive Council flipped from Republican to Democrat. This week, CBS News Campaign Reporter Nicole Sganga attended the Rockingham County-Trump Victory Kickoff, part of the Trump Victory Team's second National Week of Training and geared at informing fellows of the RNC's data operation and field strategy. Over a dozen attendees participated in the training, complete with a slide show presentation and Q & A session. "He communicates to citizens on his own terms," Windham resident and Trump Victory fellow Anne-Marie O'Neil told CBS News of President Trump. "There's no ands, ifs or buts. If you don't like it, delete it. If you like it, move on. He does a great job on social media of keeping us informed." 

Nationwide, the RNC has stationed political staff in 16 states, unveiling its first round of staff hires in May, and deploying political teams in Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Virginia. Since then, political hires have been made in key swing states Arizona, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, Georgia, Florida, Pennsylvania, Maine and Michigan. The RNC has also hired communications staff in South Carolina, Iowa, New Hampshire and Colorado. The Trump Victory organization has trained 31,000 volunteer fellows nationwide, with a goal of doubling that number by election day, and aims to recruit a grand total of 2 million volunteers.

DOWN SOUTH: South Carolina's "dangerous drinking water" has resurfaced in headlines with the release of Sen. Kamala Harris' "Water Justice Act." As previously reported in CBS News' 2020 Daily Trail Markers, Harris' bill would invest $250 billion into upgrading the nation's water infrastructure. Fifty billion of that would go toward water testing in schools and communities that have contaminated water. According to the campaign, Harris has repeatedly referenced the water infrastructure crisis while campaigning in the state. 

Harris, however, isn't the only 2020 candidate that has made 'water justice' a key platform point of the presidential campaign, according to CBS News Campaign Reporter LaCrai Mitchell. Earlier this year, Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced the Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability (WATER) Act of 2019, which creates a WATER Trust Fund that dedicates $35 billion for water infrastructure improvements across the country. During a visit to Denmark, South Carolina earlier this year, Sanders met with residents who have tainted water in their communities. 

Sanders' South Carolina Communications director, Michael Wukela, says that Sanders made a vow to solve the water crisis in this area and across the country. "After hearing their story, Senator Sanders committed to creating the Pauline Brown project that would be focused on solving the Denmark water crisis and issues like it across America once and for all." According to reporting done by The State in a series titled "Tainted Water," small water systems serving 163,000 people have broken safe drinking-water laws multiple times since 1990. This includes water systems serving 83,000 South Carolinians that have had multiple violations in the past decade.

OUT WEST: First teased by the candidate himself at a virtual town hall with the Rural Nevada Democratic Caucus on Sunday, Beto O'Rourke's campaign is out with its first announced hires in the Silver State: State Director Marina Negroponte, Early States Director Abe Rakov, Organizing Director Sean Hoey, Political Director Cameron Miller, and Regional Organizing Director Aman Afsah. CBS News Campaign Reporter Alex Tin notes that at least eight more candidates - Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Julián Castro, Kamala Harris, Seth Moulton, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Marianne Williamson - had paid staff in Nevada last quarter. And though the campaign has yet to publicly announce any of its hires, Pete Buttigieg too has begun adding staff in Nevada after the South Bend mayor's mammoth fundraising haul last quarter.


TARGETING KEY STATES: The Democratic super PAC Priorities USA launched a digital ad campaign Tuesday morning called "Let's Be Honest," says CBS News Political Unit Intern Julia Cherner. The campaign's mission is to "hold Donald Trump accountable" on economic issues affecting working class voters. The ads have started running in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Florida. The ad campaign is split into three sections: ads highlighting individual stories like this one, promoting news articles about how the economy is working for regular Americans, and search-based ads targeting Google search results for economic issues. 

The super PAC will spend $350,000-$400,000 per week for the "foreseeable future," according to the PAC's Chairman Guy Cecil. In a separate call with reporters including CBS News Political Unit Associate Producer Ellee Watson, the Super PAC detailed recent findings in Florida. In an analysis conducted through focus groups and an online survey, the PAC found that 16 percent of likely voters in the state start out undecided or move on messaging. To win over persuadable voters, the PAC is hiring on the ground to engage with voters on issues, especially economic ones like healthcare, college affordability, and housing.


VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: During his visit to Iowa, Mike Pence declared that Congress needs to pass the USMCA -- Mr. Trump's North American trade deal -- this year, calling it "a win for American workers." Pence made reference to the parade of 2020 Democrats crisscrossing Iowa, saying Iowans need tell them that Iowa needs the USMCA passed since 50% of Iowa's exports go to Canada and Mexico. "Tell them it's time to get it done this year," Pence told the crowd, adding that he knows Iowans are "not bashful." CBS News Campaign Reporter Adam Brewster says the Democrats who have weighed in on the USMCA have said the deal needs revisions. Trade has mostly come up on the trail in Iowa in the context of the trade war with China, which Democrats unanimously criticize.


MISSISSIPPI GOVERNOR: Two out of the three Republican candidates for Mississippi governor debating tonight on WJTV in Jackson, MS could face questions on the "Billy Graham rule," or the refusal to be alone with a woman who is not their wife. State representative Robert Foster was the first to get national attention for using this rule to prohibit a female reporter from covering him without a male colleague present, followed by former state Chief Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller Jr. who told "Mississippi Today" he also follows the rule. 

A source with the Republican Governors Association downplayed the controversy to CBS News Political Unit Broadcast Associate Aaron Navarro and pointed to Foster's consistent single digit polling as a reason why it has not gotten much local attention. Still, they said even though State Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves is a front-runner, they expect a competitive Republican primary in two weeks. If none of the candidates gets above 50 percent of the ballots, a runoff with the top two will happen August 9 followed by the general election (likely against Democratic frontrunner Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood) on November 5.

NEW HAMPSHIRE SENATE: In New Hampshire state politics, CBS News Campaign Reporter Nicole Sganga says former New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O'Brien, a self-described "Trump before Trump," launched his campaign for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday. The former lawmaker joins Republican contenders Gen. Donald Bolduc and businessman Bryant "Corky" Messner in the race to compete against Democratic incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. Yesterday, New Hampshire State Representative Fred Doucette, 2016 state co-chair for President Donald Trump, endorsed Bolduc. 

TEXAS DOLLARS: In the 24 hours since she announced her campaign via Twitter, Democratic House candidate Wendy Davis said she raised over $250,000 with 80% of the donations from Texans. This puts her at just under 40% of the $664.7K that Republican incumbent Chip Roy, whom Davis is running to replace, raised since January. Davis certainly has name recognition in Texas politics, due to her 11-hour filibuster to slow down an anti-abortion bill and her 20-point loss in the 2014 governor race. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has Roy's 21st congressional district included in their six targeted Texas races for 2020 and Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Manny Garcia told CBS News Political Unit Broadcast Associate Aaron Navarro that Davis helped "build the groundwork" to make Texas a battleground state and that they're excited she's in the race. 

Meanwhile, Texas Republicans are rehashing Davis' 2014 gubernatorial loss. Republican Party of Texas Chairman James Dickey said he's confident "Texans will once again overwhelmingly reject their extremist far left policies on abortion and immigration." So far, none of the Democratic challengers in the six districts have fully outraised their opponent, but in the 22nd congressional district, Democratic challenger Sri Preston Kulkarni did collect $43,000 more than Rep. Pete Olson in the second quarter of the year.

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