New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker kicked things off
Friday with a commencement address at South Carolina State University. “Life is not about the degrees you get, but it’s about the service you give,” he told the graduates. Then came New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, speaking to the grads at New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire; “I’m here today to ask you one question: How are you going to be brave?” she said.
There will be more of these speeches. (President Donald Trump will deliver the commencement at the Air Force Academy May 30.) And, especially for 2020 candidates, a commencement address in an early state allows a politician a chance to draw positive local news headlines and maybe even win over a convert or two.
3. Can Trump stop talking Russia?: The message coming from congressional Republicans couldn’t be clearer — it’s time to move on from the Mueller investigation and the last two years of talk of Russia influencing the 2016 election. “Case closed,” declared Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) from the Senate floor five days ago.
He forgot to tell President Trump. Judging by his Twitter feed, the President remains obsessed with the Russia investigation, Mueller and everything surrounding the probe. Trump tweeted Sunday morning:
“Think of it. I became President of the United States in one of the most hard fought and consequential elections in the history of our great nation. From long before I ever took office, I was under a sick & unlawful investigation concerning what has become known as the Russian Hoax. My campaign was being seriously spied upon by intel agencies and the Democrats. This never happened before in American history, and it all turned out to be a total scam, a Witch Hunt, that yielded No Collusion, No Obstruction. This must never be allowed to happen again!”
The more Trump talks (and talks) about Russia, the less he is talking about the economy. And the way he wins in 2020 is by talking about the economy. Period.
2. Chasing Biden: The dynamic of the race is, for now, set — Biden will run in front until someone or something knocks him out. He will do as little engaging with his rivals as possible so as to preserve the idea that he is on a different plane in the contest than they are. They will try to drag him down — first as solo acts and then, if history holds, as a pack.
So far, only Sen. Bernie Sanders has been willing to poke and prod
— albeit gently — at Biden’s weak spots. Sanders has drawn contrasts between his voting record and Biden’s on things like the authorization of military force in Iraq and NAFTA.
There will be more — especially if Biden maintains his clear edge. NAFTA looks like a major weak spot
for Biden as the party has changed drastically since the 1990s when global free trade was all the rage. Look for the first debate late next month to be the time for the Biden pile-on to begin (if it hasn’t already).
1. Constitutional crisis (or nah?): The $25,000 question in the Democratic race is how to describe the White House’s stonewalling tactics toward Congress on, well, everything. From Trump’s tax returns to potential witnesses being called to testify about the Russia probe, the White House is simply resisting on all fronts.
On Sunday, California Sen. Kamala Harris told CNN’s Jake Tapper
that “I think it is fair to say that we are looking at a crisis, not only of confidence, but potentially a constitutional crisis.” That’s similar to what Sanders said earlier in the week
. And it echoes comments made by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (N.Y.).
Who else in the 2020 field will go there? Biden is obviously the prime mover in this debate (as in all debate in the race right now per #3.)
“If, in fact, they [Trump and associates] blocked the investigation, [Congress] have no alternative, but to go to the only other constitutional resort they have is impeachment,” Biden said in an interview with ABC last week.