More than half of the Democratic field crowded into San Francisco this past weekend for the California Democratic Convention, where they tried to stand out in the crowded primary as the clock ticks away for the candidates to hit the threshold to make the debate stage.
And with less than a week for candidates to hit the threshold to make the debate stage, the Democratic National Committee announced a rule change which affects one candidate: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. Bullock had made the debate stage based on polling, however, the DNC announced on Thursday that two ABC News/Washington Post polls -- one of which qualified Bullock for the first debates -- would no longer be eligible polls. As of Thursday afternoon, 20 candidates had met thresholds via polling and/or fundraising to make the first debate stage in Miami at the end of June.
In the wake of the mass shooting in Virginia Beach last week, the issue of gun violence was brought to the fore and former Vice President Joe Biden set himself apart from the rest of the crowd when he said he supported the Hyde amendment, which blocks federal funding of abortions. Then he reversed the position on Thursday night.
Here's the weekly candidate roundup:
May 31-June 6, 2019
Michael Bennet (D)
Bennet met the polling criteria to participate in the first Democratic debate scheduled to take place later this month in Miami. He garnered 1% in a national CNN poll on Tuesday, which is the third qualifying poll he has reached one percent in.
In the aftermath of the deadly mass shooting in Virginia Beach, Bennet told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" Sunday that, "I think the president can make a difference. The House of Representatives have passed background checks to close the internet loophole. This person bought the guns lawfully as we know. Every single fact pattern will be different. We should pass those background checks. 90% of Americans support it."
The Colorado senator spent the weekend campaigning in South Carolina while many of his fellow 2020 rivals were at the California Democratic Convention.
Joe Biden (D)
Biden broke from the other 2020 candidate when his campaign announced on Wednesday that the former vice president supports the Hyde Amendment, but he would be open to repeal[ing]" the amendment.
The Hyde Amendment was first passed in 1976, three years after the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade. It encoded abortion as a protected right, stipulating that federal funding could not be used to pay for abortions. A few years later, Congress made an exemption for cases in which there was a threat to the patient's life. An exemption for cases of rape or incest was added in the early 1990s. The law largely affects patients who are on Medicaid, meaning low-income patients have to pay for an abortion out-of-pocket. Many of the candidates took the opportunity to highlight their difference from Biden and call for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment.
Thursday evening, however, Biden reversed his stance.
"I can't justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and their ability to exercise their constitutionally protected right. If I believe healthcare is a right as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone's zip code," Biden said at the DNC "IWillVote" Gala in Atlanta.
Biden also released his $5 trillion climate plan which calls for net zero emission of carbon pollution in the U.S. by 2050. Biden called for $1.7 trillion in federal spending over 10 years; the rest of the spending would come from the private sector.
Cory Booker (D)
The New Jersey senator unveiled a plan to tackle affordable housing that would offer a tax credit to people who spend more than 30% of their income on rent. According to researchers at Columbia University, the refundable renters' credit would benefit more than 57 million people -- including 17 million children -- and lift 9.4 million Americans out of poverty.
Booker's housing plan also includes measures to expand access to legal counsel for tenants facing eviction, reform restrictive zoning laws, build more affordable housing units and combat homelessness through funding grants.
At the California Democratic Convention over the weekend, Booker also addressed the issue of gun violence.
"We are seeing the normalization of mass murder in our country," Booker said. "It is time that we come together and stand together and take the fight to the NRA and the corporate gun lobby like we have never seen before. We can lead that fight and we can win."
Steve Bullock (D)
On Wednesday, Bullock announced the first official policy of his presidential campaign, designed to keep foreign money out of U.S. elections. His "Check the Box" proposal would require all 501(c)(4) groups that aren't required to disclose any of their donors and Super PACs to "check a box" saying that they are not taking money from foreign actors. Lying "will carry the penalty of perjury," according to Bullock's policy.
In a Des Moines Register op-ed, the Montana governor wrote, "Trump's dark money loophole is telling these secretive groups that they don't even have to disclose the source of their funding to the IRS. It opens the door not only to significantly more spending by corporations and wealthy donors, but also to potential spending by foreign entities."
Pete Buttigieg (D)
During a MSNBC Town Hall on Monday, Buttigieg said he "would not have applied that pressure" for Sen. Al Franken to have resigned in 2017 over sexual harassment allegations, without first learning more about the claims.
"I think it was his decision to make" to resign, the South Bend, Indiana, mayor said. "But I think the way that we basically held him to a higher standard than the GOP does their people has been used against us."
At the California Democratic Convention, Buttigieg leaned into his position as a Washington outsider and said the country needs "something completely different."
"Why not a middle-class millennial mayor with a track record in the industrial Midwest? Why not a mayor at a time when we need Washington to look more like our best run cities and towns, not the other way around? And why not someone who represents a new generation of leadership?" the 37-year-old mayor said.
Julian Castro (D)
The former Housing and Urban Development secretary unveiled a sweeping police reform plan Monday, aiming to prevent officer-involved shootings, increase transparency and end "police militarization."
"Even though we have some great police officers out there, and I know that because I served as mayor of San Antonio, this is not a case of just a few bad apples," Castro said on CNN. "The system is broken."
Included in the proposal are restrictions on the use of deadly force, the increased adoption of technology such as body cameras, and end to stop-and-frisk tactics and expanded bias training.
Bill de Blasio (D)
De Blasio earned his first endorsement since launching his presidential campaign. The New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council announced their support on Wednesday and even said they would campaign for the New York City mayor in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
John Delaney (D)
Delaney criticized the DNC guidelines which include a 65,000 donor threshold as one criteria to qualify for the presidential debates. He argued that the criteria leaves voters excluded from the process.
"I don't think we should have a donor standard, I absolutely don't think the Democratic Party should be about money. Fifty percent of the American people can't afford basic necessities, I'm running for those people," he said on MSNBC.
On health care, the former congressman from Maryland was aggressively booed at the California Democratic Convention for denouncing Medicare for all as "bad policy." His proposed health care plan would keep private insurance as an option.
After Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., slammed Delaney's health care plan over Twitter urging the candidate to "sashay away," Delaney responded by asking her to a debate, but Ocasio-Cortez declined.
"I think that's too bad because I think health care is the most important issue facing the American people and she obviously has an issue with my plan, based on that she tweeted that thing at me, and I would have loved to debate it because I think these things should be a battle of ideas," Delaney said in a phone interview with ABC News.
Tulsi Gabbard (D)
The Hawaii congresswoman reacted to the House passing the "DREAM and Promise Act" which would protect young undocumented immigrants and immigrants with temporary status who were once covered by the Obama-era DACA program. She said on Fox News, "The hyper-partisanship around this issue has gotten in the way of delivering a real solution. This legislation and finding a solution for these Dreamers is something that has had bipartisan support."
Gabbard also took time to congratulate Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he was sworn in for his second term in office.
Kirsten Gillibrand (D)
Gillibrand released her plan to legalize marijuana which called for expunging all non-violent marijuana convictions. Gillibrand said that under her plan, tax revenue from recreational marijuana would be put "towards programs that help repair the damage done by the War on Drugs."
The New York senator also participated in a town hall on Fox News, where she took the opportunity to attack the network for its coverage of the late-term abortion issue. Gillibrand was asked about her position on "late-term abortion" and she began her response by reiterating her stand that "when it comes to women's reproductive freedom, it should be a woman's decision." She then pivoted and resumed her attack on Fox News because the network uses "a false narrative" on the issue.
Gillibrand was cut off by moderator, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, who said, "Senator, I just want to say we've brought you here for an hour."
Wallace continued, "We have treated you very fairly. I understand that, maybe, to make your credentials with the Democrats who are not appearing on Fox News, you want to attack us. I’m not sure it’s frankly very polite when we’ve invited you to be here."
Gillibrand said that she would "do it in a polite way," but, she was interrupted by Wallace again who said "instead of talking about Fox News, why don’t you answer Susan’s question?" referring to the question asked by the member of the audience.
Instead, she continued her attack on the network for their use of infanticide, calling it "illegal" and "not a fact." She added, "I believe all of us have a responsibility to talk about the facts."
Kamala Harris (D)
Harris was rushed off the stage Saturday while speaking at the MoveOn #BigIdeas forum in San Francisco after an activist rushed the stage and grabbed the microphone out of her hand. Harris returned to the stage, about a minute later, to chants of "Ka-ma-la" from the audience.
An animal activist group claimed responsibility for the man rushing the stage. He was identified by the group as Aidan Cook. The group's spokesperson, Matt Johnson, told ABC News that Cook was not detained or arrested; he was simply kicked out.
John Hickenlooper (D)
The former Colorado governor struggles to gain traction in the crowded primary field. He faced a disruptive crowd at the California Democratic Convention when he said, "If we want to beat Donald Trump and achieve big progressive goals, socialism is not the answer."
The crowd of Democratic activists responded to his message with a chorus of boos and a massive display of waving "Bernie" signs.
Hickenlooper responded to the boos by saying, "You know, if we are not careful we are going to help re-elect the worst president in American history."
Jay Inslee (D)
The Washington governor has been pushing hard for the DNC to host one of its presidential primary debates dedicated to the topic of climate change. DNC spokeswoman, Xochitl Hinojosa, responded in a statement saying, "the DNC will not be holding entire debates on a single issue area because we want to make sure voters have the ability to hear from candidates on dozens of issues of importance to American voters."
Inslee called the DNC's decision to not host a climate debate "deeply disappointing."
"The DNC is silencing the voices of Democratic activists, many of our progressive partner organizations, and nearly half of the Democratic presidential field, who want to debate the existential crisis of our time. Democratic voters say that climate change is their top issue; the Democratic National Committee must listen to the grassroots of the party," Inslee's campaign said in a press release.
Amy Klobuchar (D)
Klobuchar secured her first Iowa endorsement of the campaign from Iowa State Rep. Ruth Ann Gaines. Gaines said she's endorsing Klobuchar because the senator's "commitment to addressing and prioritizing mental health is very personal" to her.
Seth Moulton (D)
Moulton said in a CNN town hall that if elected, he would seek to change current Department of Justice guidelines which prevents a sitting president from being indicted. The comment came after former special counsel Robert Mueller had said that a "longstanding" department policy prevents a sitting president from being charged with a federal crime.
Beto O'Rourke (D)
O'Rourke released his voting rights plan which called called for term limits for members of Congress and for Supreme Court justices. O'Rourke is calling for members of the House and Senate to be capped at serving for no more than 12 years and for Justices to be capped at one 18-year term. O'Rourke said that after a Justice completes their term, they would be permitted to serve on the federal courts of appeals.
The former Texas congressman's plan also includes measures to increase voter participation. He plans to increase voter participation by making Election Day a federal holiday and allowing automatic and same-day voter registration.
Tim Ryan (D)
Ryan flipped his position on impeachment, this week, saying he believes Congress has to begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. The Ohio congressman made his announcement on a CNN town hall, saying that Mueller's statement last week made him support impeachment.
Bernie Sanders (D)
Sanders spoke at Walmart's annual shareholders' meeting on Wednesday, directly criticizing the company for paying its employees low wages and lobbying for a resolution that would've given hourly workers representation on the company's board of directors.
As many Democratic candidates spoke out on abortion rights this week, comments by Sanders in 1972 -- prior to the Roe v. Wade decision -- resurfaced via Newsweek. He told a Vermont newspaper at the time that it struck him as "incredible" that the male-dominated state legislature, and politicians in general, "think that they have the right to tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her body."
This weekend, Sanders visits Iowa to speak at the Capital City Pride Candidate Forum in Des Moines, he will march with McDonald's workers who are seeking higher wages and attend the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame Celebration in Cedar Rapids, among several other events.
Eric Swalwell (D)
Swalwell talked about his assault weapon ban and buyback on ABC's "The View." He said that he's the only candidate calling to "ban and buy back every single assault weapon in America."
The California congressman also left the door open to drop out of the presidential race and run for re-election for his House seat. Swalwell said he is open to running for a fifth term in Congress, but said he wouldn't make that decision until December.
Elizabeth Warren (D)
Warren announced on Thursday that her campaign staff has unionized.
"My campaign has submitted their support to join IBEW 2320," Warren tweeted. Her campaign joins a growing number of others that are showing support for unions and unionizing themselves. The Sanders and Castro campaigns have also unionized and the Swalwell campaign had previously said they were unionizing.
Andrew Yang (D)
During LGBTQ Pride Month, Yang tied his signature universal basic income proposal to the community, noting in a BuzzFeed interview that he's heard from many people who say they've been kicked out of housing and fired from jobs over their sexual orientation. He said it is his plan to give all American adults $1,000 per month, which could help them "adjust if they're economically singled out."
Yang will be among the speakers at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame Celebration in Cedar Rapids on Sunday.