Finance, front-runners and foreign policy: Here's the weekly roundup of the 2020 field

The Democratic field continues to trail Joe Biden.

May 24, 2019, 6:00 AM

At long last, it would appear that the Democratic presidential field is set -- at least for now. But as the 23 Democrats attempt to differentiate themselves on issues like health care, climate change, education and whether President Donald Trump should be impeached, they nearly all have one thing in common: their position looking up to the current front-runner, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Biden continues to perform relatively strongly in recent polls, while the second-tier of candidates grows increasingly jumbled. While Sen. Bernie Sanders has occupied the second spot for much of the cycle, improving performances by Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg seem to indicate that voters are plenty willing to hear out those newer to the national political conversation.

Michael Bennet (D)

The Colorado senator released his plan to combat climate change Monday, which sets a 2050 goal for the U.S. to reach net-zero emissions, calls for the expansion of zero-emission energy options for American households and businesses, and -- among other initiatives -- includes a pledge to host a global climate summit in the first 100 days of a Bennet presidency.

Next Thursday, Bennet will take part in a CNN town hall in Atlanta.

Joe Biden (D)

At a campaign rollout rally in Philadelphia last weekend, Biden defended his bipartisan outlook on governance, pitching his experience of working across-the-aisle and arguing that it isn't too late to unite Americans across the political spectrum.

Biden brought in over $2 million through a pair of fundraising events in Miami and Orlando this week, showing a willingness to engage with big money donors from which much of the Democratic field has shied away.

The former vice president's campaign took part in a back-and-forth with North Korea after an opinion piece was posted on the website of KCNA -- the North Korean news agency -- said Biden was "misbehaving" and criticized him as someone "who likes to stick his nose into other people's business and is a poor excuse for a politician."

Biden's campaign responded saying "it's no surprise North Korea would prefer that Donald Trump remain in the White House."

Cory Booker (D)

The New Jersey senator issued a plan to "protect reproductive rights" Wednesday in which he pledged to create a "White House Office of Reproductive Freedom" if he is elected. It would coordinate the advancement of "abortion rights and access to reproductive health care" across his potential administration.

Booker was scheduled to take part in an MSNBC town hall in Iowa Thursday, but it was rescheduled so he could remain in Washington for Senate votes. He'll still travel throughout the Hawkeye State this weekend, with 11 stops across four days, extending into Monday.

Steve Bullock (D)

Bullock's first week as a presidential candidate included an NPR interview, during which he played up his ability to win over voters in his red home state of Montana.

"I'm probably the only one in the race that actually won in a Trump state. I mean, I got reelected in 2016. Donald Trump took Montana by 20 points. I won by four. Twenty-five to 30% of my voters voted for Donald Trump," Bullock said, while pointing to his ability to work with Republicans to expand Medicaid, invest in education and pass campaign finance legislation.

After spending three days in Iowa last week, the Montana governor returns to the state next Tuesday for four events.

PHOTO: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Democratic presidential candidate, officially announces his campaign for president, May 14, 2019, at Helena High School in Helena, Mont.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Democratic presidential candidate, officially announces his campaign for president, May 14, 2019, at Helena High School in Helena, Mont.
Thom Bridge/Independent Record via AP

Pete Buttigieg (D)

Buttigieg garnered a number of headlines for his performance in a Fox News town hall last weekend, renewing the debate over whether it is beneficial for Democratic candidates to appear on the news network often criticized for its conservative bent.

During his appearance, which was criticized by Trump on Twitter, the South Bend, Indiana mayor took aim at a pair of the network's right-wing commentators, arguing that Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham were "not always there in good faith," pointing specifically to their views on the ongoing immigration reform debate.

After stops in Florida, New York and Washington, D.C. this week, Buttigieg will campaign over the weekend in New Hampshire, with events in Londonderry, Exeter and Keene on Friday and Saturday.

Julian Castro (D)

As the Democratic field railed against the abortion restrictions passed by legislatures in numerous states, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary promised to appoint a cabinet comprised solely of pro-choice people, saying that the issue transcends any one executive branch department.

In an MSNBC interview, he also criticized current HUD Secretary Ben Carson for mistaking the housing abbreviation R.E.O., for Oreo cookies during a Tuesday hearing.

"This is a classic case of 'it would be funny if it weren't so sad,'" he said.

Castro appeared on "Late Night with Seth Meyers" Thursday morning where he responded to criticism that either he or former Rep. Beto O'Rourke could make a greater political impact by challenging Republican Texas Sen. John Cornyn next year.

"I think Beto would be a great Senate candidate," he joked.

Bill de Blasio (D)

Quinnipiac University's latest poll showed dire results for de Blasio's candidacy, with a net approval rating of minus-37 among Democrats and an overall net approval rating nearly twice as bad as Trump's.

De Blasio made his first campaign stop in Iowa last Friday where he toured an ethanol plant with former Governor of Iowa, Tom Vilsack. He did not shy away from bashing Trump during the visit and said, "Time and again, when there's an opportunity to help the biofuels industry grow and to create jobs in places like rural Iowa, the Trump administration has favored big petroleum companies and that has to end."

John Delaney (D)

The former Maryland congressman rolled out a climate action plan with a $4 trillion proposal on Thursday. The central aspect of his plan is a fee on carbon emissions which he says will reduce them by 90% by 2050.

"We have to act on climate and we have to act now," Delaney said in a statement. "We need a real plan to hit our goals and we have to listen to actual scientists. This is a real plan that all Americans can support. It is full of new ideas and massive investments in innovation that will both deal with climate change and create jobs in the heartland and all across our country."

Delaney, however, is not among the slate of Democratic contenders backing the Green New Deal to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources.

Tulsi Gabbard (D)

Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran, continued to push her campaign's focus on foreign policy. In an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week," she said Trump is "leading us down this dangerous path towards a war in Iran."

She further cautioned that a war in Iran "would actually undermine our national security, cost us countless American lives, cost civilian lives across the region, exacerbate the refugee crisis in Europe and it would actually make us less safe by strengthening terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda."

"As president, I will end these counter-productive and wasteful regime change wars, work to end this new Cold War and nuclear arms race, recognizing how wasteful and costly these are," she said.

PHOTO: Presidential hopeful U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, addresses an audience during a meet and greet, Feb. 17, 2019, in North Hampton, N.H.
Presidential hopeful U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, addresses an audience during a meet and greet, Feb. 17, 2019, in North Hampton, N.H.
Steven Senne/AP

Kirsten Gillibrand (D)

Gillibrand unveiled a plan on Wednesday termed the "Family Bill of Rights" to invest heavily in maternal and child health, paid family leave and universal pre-kindergarten. This proposal is part of Gillibrand's focus on women, children and families. She is also working to position herself as the most outspoken proponent of abortion rights within the Democratic field.

On Tuesday, she spoke at a rally with other Democrats to protest the new abortion restrictions that states such as Alabama and Georgia have passed. She said in a later interview with NPR, "I think President Trump and these very extreme Republican legislators around the country, they are taking this country in a direction that it does not want to go." She added, "I believe that if President Trump wants a war with America's women, it's a war he will have and it is one he will lose."

Kamala Harris (D)

The California senator rolled out a bill to address racial discrepancies in maternal health care Wednesday, calling for investment in training to reduce bias among health professionals and the early identification of high-risk pregnancies.

On "The Late Show" Wednesday night, Harris accused Trump of holding the nation's infrastructure "hostage," after the president abruptly ended a White House meeting on the issue with Democratic leaders earlier in the day in response to the party's efforts to continue investigations into him.

John Hickenlooper (D)

The former Colorado governor pushed back against calls for candidates like him to run for the Senate instead of the presidency, telling ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos that he'd be a "difficult candidate as a senator."

"I've spent my whole life putting teams together both as an entrepreneur in the private sector, but also as a mayor and as a governor. And by building those teams, we've been able to bring people together and do the big progressive things that people said couldn't be done," Hickenlooper said Sunday on "This Week."

"That's the only way we're going to ... be able to bring some common sense to Washington," he added.

Jay Inslee (D)

The Washington governor's push for a 2020 debate focused on climate change continued to pick up steam this week, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren adding her voice to the proposal.

"Yes! We need to do everything we can to save our planet," Warren tweeted, joining Inslee, other candidates and climate groups asking for a debate focused entirely on the issues of global warming.

"We have barely a decade to defeat climate change. And whether we shrink to this challenge, or rise to it, is the central question of our time -- and it deserves a full DNC debate," Inslee wrote back in April.

Amy Klobuchar (D)

Klobuchar, who's attempted to position herself as a moderating voice in the crowded Democratic field, joined protesters on the steps of the Supreme Court this week following a wave of anti-abortion bills making their way through states like Alabama and others.

"I think one of the things I've seen in my state is that there are people that hold their own individual beliefs. … But they don't believe that that means you put those beliefs on other people. And that is exactly what this president is done," the Minnesota senator said.

PHOTO: Amy Klobuchar speaks with ABC News' Mary Alice Parks in Washington, DC.
Amy Klobuchar speaks with ABC News' Mary Alice Parks in Washington, DC.
ABC News

Seth Moulton (D)

Moulton, an Iraq War veteran, announced a plan this week to encourage young Americans to serve their country.

Speaking on ABC's "This Week," the Massachusetts representative called the proposal "the kind of forward-looking policy that I think we need to meet the challenges of a changing world, to address climate change, to bring broadband to rural communities and to say to America we need a common mission."

"If you invest in America then America will invest in you." Moulton told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos.

Beto O'Rourke (D)

The failed 2018 Senate candidate continued his campaign reboot this week following a number of recent polls. He appeared on CNN for a town hall, where he called for impeachment proceedings against Trump to begin.

"We should begin impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. Not something that I take lightly," the former Texas congressman said.

"If we do nothing because we are afraid of the polls, or the politics or the repercussions in the next election, then we will have set a precedent for this country then in fact, some people, because of the position of power, and public trust that they hold are above the law," he added.

Tim Ryan (D)

Ryan, who was once anti-abortion but flipped his stance a few years ago, called for bipartisan solutions to address women's reproductive rights this week.

"I met women for the first time in my life that had an abortion," Ryan said at a protest on the Supreme Court steps on Tuesday. "I met women who had to deal with very difficult, complicated circumstances in their pregnancies. And over time, because of the courage of the women who came into my office and who wanted to help craft legislation, I changed my position. And I came to realize that it is stories of the women, it is the courage of these women, especially in the last couple of weeks, who have stood up bravely and told their stories and told your stories."

Bernie Sanders (D)

The Vermont senator rolled out a comprehensive education plan last weekend that would halt federal funding for charter school expansion, set a teacher pay floor at $60,000 and provide universal free lunches, among other investments.

At a South Carolina event announcing the plan, Sanders drew a connection between education reform and social injustice, noting that changes to public education in recent decades have disproportionately affected African-Americans and increased school segregation.

In a CNN interview on Wednesday, Sanders expressed his strongest support yet for an impeachment inquiry, saying that if Trump "continues to not understand the Constitution of the United States" and blocks further subpoenas of staffers and former aides, "it may well be time for an impeachment inquiry to begin."

Eric Swalwell (D)

The California representative joined seven other 2020 Democratic hopefuls on the steps of the Supreme Court Tuesday, along with protesters voicing their support to counter anti-abortion bills sweeping across state legislatures.

Swalwell also appeared on former President Barack Obama staffers' podcast "Pod Save America," arguing that Democrats shouldn't dismiss Trump voters and spoke about his parents supporting the president.

PHOTO: PPresidential hopeful, Rep. Eric Swalwell, speaks during a Law Day event on Friday, May 3, 2019 in Dubuque, Iowa.
Presidential hopeful, Rep. Eric Swalwell, speaks during a Law Day event on Friday, May 3, 2019 in Dubuque, Iowa.
Dave Kettering/Telegraph Herald via AP

Elizabeth Warren (D)

The surging Massachusetts senator continued her marathon of policy introductions which have defined her campaign so far. This time she offered up a platform aimed at protecting women's reproductive rights, on the heels of a wave of new state laws that dramatically restrict abortion.

Warren's plan would "block states from interfering in the ability of a health care provider to provide medical care, including abortion services," according to her policy rollout.

The senator also had a viral moment over the week when she responded to a Twitter user who asked the "I-have-a-plan-for-that" candidate for help with relationship advice. "DM me and let's figure this out," Warren replied.

The senator apparently went on to call a number of Twitter users asking for advice.

"Guess who's crying and shaking and just talked to Elizabeth Warren on the phone?!?!?" one user tweeted.

Bill Weld (R)

Still the sole Republican challenging Trump in the Republican primary, Weld revved up his attacks on the president.

"I celebrate that America has always been a melting pot," Weld said at the speaking event. "It seems he would prefer an Aryan nation."

Speaking to ABC News after the event, Weld said his comments were more the result of where the president is headed.

"It's not just that I'm feeling more like going on the attack, it's also that the president is moving to a deeper level of irresponsibility," Weld told ABC News.

Marianne Williamson (D)

The spiritual-adviser and best-selling author made her case for the presidency on ABC News' "The Briefing Room," arguing that she's not just running to "elevate a conversation."

"It's important that I absolutely be prepared to win and that I make the effort to win," Williamson told ABC News Senior Washington Reporter Devin Dwyer. "I'm not here just to elevate a conversation. We need to elevate this country"

Andrew Yang (D)

Yang was the subject of an extensive Politico Magazine profile on Monday, that examined his candidacy and ability -- thus far -- to gain a relatively substantial following through non-traditional media interviews, while pushing his signature universal basic income plan while cautioning about the economic dangers of automation.

His historic candidacy -- Yang is one of the first Asian-American presidential candidates in U.S. history -- was further examined in a New York Times story that noted his unabashed embrace of his identity to stand out in the crowded presidential field.