Independents, interviews, inequality: Here's the weekly roundup on the potential 2020 field

Howard Schultz was widely criticized, while several others decided not to run.

February 1, 2019, 6:00 AM

Howard Schultz's testing of the presidential waters perhaps attracted the greatest number of 2020 headlines this week, but the decisions of a number of potential candidates not to run marked a departure from trend thus far in 2019.

Former Sen. Jeff Flake, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, former West Virginia state Sen. Richard Ojeda and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton --via a surrogate -- have all either declared that they would not launch campaigns or would drop out of the race this week.

Still, it only slightly narrows the field of potential challengers.

ABC News and FiveThirtyEight are keeping tabs on the field as it develops.

Here's the weekly candidate roundup.

Jan. 28-31, 2019

Joe Biden (D)

Biden doesn't have "any particular timetable" for a campaign announcement, he told CNN Tuesday.

"I don't think there's any hurry, but there's a bigger hurry to decide just personally," he said.

One day earlier, the former vice president said at a Florida event he was nearing a decision.

"I'm a lot closer than I was before Christmas, and we'll make the decision soon," he said, according to CNN.

Michael Bloomberg (D)

Bloomberg stoked speculation about a possible presidential campaign with a visit to New Hampshire on Tuesday. He drew particular notice during the trip for his disagreement with some of the proposals voiced by potential Democratic rivals.

The billionaire and former New York City mayor labeled Sen. Elizabeth Warren's proposed tax on the ultra-rich, "probably unconstitutional," claimed that the United States could "never afford" the Medicare-for-all plan floated Monday by Sen. Kamala Harris, and described the idea of free college -- frequently touted by Sen. Bernie Sanders -- as "totally impractical."

Last Friday, in remarks to a Democratic business group in Northern Virginia, Bloomberg said he was still undecided about a run, but noted that he doesn't "like walking away from challenges." He further lobbied on behalf of governors and mayors in reference to the Democratic nomination, arguing that they "can do the work, have training [and] have experience in delivering services rather than just going to rallies and delivering speeches."

The Atlantic reported Thursday that aides to Bloomberg believe he won't run if Joe Biden enters the race, and that his backup plan involves developing a data operation to defeat President Donald Trump.

Cory Booker (D)

Booker and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., are jockeying over the support of the Congressional Black Caucus, according to separate reports by Politico and The Hill this week. Politico noted that a number of CBC members have received calls from the two senators, but most were withholding endorsements until the field is set, despite what The Hill described as excitement over Harris' rollout.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey senator was finalizing a number of staff hires in Iowa, the Des Moines Register reported Monday.

Sherrod Brown (D)

Brown launched his "Dignity of Work" tour in Ohio Wednesday before continuing on to Iowa, where he will remain through Saturday. At his first stop south of Cleveland, the senator accused the president of using "phony populism to divide Americans and to demonize immigrants" and "distract from the fact that he's used the White House to enrich billionaires like himself."

Pete Buttigieg (D)

The 37-year-old Buttigieg talked up his youth as a strength in an interview on "The View" Thursday, claiming that it offered him a perspective on certain issues that his fellow candidates lacked.

"We're the generation that grew up with school shootings as the norm," he said. "We're the generation that's going to pay the bill for some of these tax policies right now and we're the ones that are going to be living through the impacts of climate change that are accelerating as we speak."

PHOTO: Mayor of South Bend, Indiana and and democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg visits ABC's "The View" on Jan. 31, 2019.
Mayor of South Bend, Indiana and and democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg visits ABC's "The View" on Jan. 31, 2019.
Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC

Julian Castro (D)

Castro was highly critical of Howard Schultz in response to the disclosure that the former Starbucks CEO was considering an independent campaign, arguing that it would provide the president with his "'best hope of getting re-elected."

"I would suggest to Mr. Schultz to truly think about the negative impact that that might make," he said.

Castro described his own qualifications in an interview with The Dallas Morning News Monday while fundraising in Texas.

"From the standpoint of having gotten things done, the vision I have for this country and the life experience that I have, I'm confident that that's going to resonate with the American people," he told the newspaper.

Hillary Clinton (D)

After CNN reported that Clinton was telling those close to her that she was not ruling out a 2020 presidential run, her former campaign chairman John Podesta refuted the notion in an interview with the network Tuesday.

"She would have been a great president. But she said she's not running for president and I think this is media catnip," Podesta said, adding, "I take her at her word. She's not running for president, we have a lot of great candidates out there right now."

John Delaney (D)

The former Maryland congressman received the endorsement of three Iowa Democratic county chairpersons this week, with one touting Delaney's "message of honesty and integrity in an effort to restore civility to not only the White House but the overall political discourse of our nation.”

Delaney also opened two more offices in Iowa Wednesday, in Cedar Rapids and Sioux City, according to the Sioux City Journal. These are his fifth and sixth offices in the state.

Tulsi Gabbard (D)

A Politico report Tuesday claimed Gabbard's campaign was in "disarray," citing the forthcoming departures of her campaign manager and a consulting firm following her kick-off event in Honolulu Saturday.

Eric Garcetti (D)

Garcetti announced Tuesday that he will not run for the Democratic presidential nomination, choosing instead to focus on his current role as mayor of Los Angeles.

"This is where I want to be, and this is a place where we have so much exciting work to finish," Garcetti said at a Los Angeles City Hall press conference, adding that it "was not an easy decision given the extraordinary times that we live in."

PHOTO: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks during a news conference, Jan. 29, 2019, in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks during a news conference, Jan. 29, 2019, in Los Angeles.
Jae C. Hong/AP

Jeff Flake (R)

Flake will not challenge President Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, he said in an interview on "CBS This Morning" Tuesday, explaining that he feels that "there really isn't a path right now."

The former Arizona senator, who is now a CBS News contributor, discussed the difficulty that any opposition to Trump will face, explaining that "the RNC and the president's campaign are now melded" and "they're trying to do everything they can to squelch any opposition." He added, however, that he would still like to see another Republican run.

Kirsten Gillibrand (D)

Gillibrand visits New Hampshire this weekend, including stops in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Durham for events including a meeting with a Young Democrats group, a visit to a coffee shop owned by a woman and a meeting with University of New Hampshire College Democrats.

The Des Moines Register reported Monday that Gillibrand hired an Iowa state director and communications director.

Kamala Harris (D)

Harris officially launched her presidential campaign with a rally in Oakland, California on Sunday, telling her audience that "these are not ordinary times, and this is not an ordinary election." The California senator focused most of her remarks on the idea that Trump's tenure in the White House has inflicted damage upon both the United States and the world.

"Under this administration, America's position in the world has never been weaker," Harris said. "When democratic values are under attack around the globe, when authoritarianism is on the march, when nuclear proliferation is on the rise, when we have foreign powers infecting the White House like malware."

Harris made headlines during a CNN town hall when she endorsed Medicare for all while simultaneously saying of private health insurance, "let's eliminate all of that." The proposal faced swift backlash from Republicans and potential rivals Howard Schultz and Michael Bloomberg.

John Hickenlooper (D)

The former Colorado governor visited Iowa last weekend, days after telling CNN that he "probably would take the bet that [he] would run for President." At a brewery in Des Moines, Hickenlooper touted his pragmatic and bipartisan leadership in Colorado, saying Democrats "need somebody that can demonstrate a continuous, consistent track record of delivering results, of bringing people together, of getting them to lay down their weapons and actually create solutions to the problems."

Eric Holder (D)

Holder's decision about a presidential run will come "mid to end of February," according to sources cited by American Urban Radio Networks' April Ryan, who further reported that the former attorney general will deliver a "major speech" in Iowa sometime this month.

PHOTO: Former Attorney General Eric Holder addresses the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner in Washington, D.C., Sept. 15, 2018.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder addresses the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner in Washington, D.C., Sept. 15, 2018.
Cliff Owen/AP, FILE

Jay Inslee (D)

Inslee, the governor of Howard Schultz's adopted home state of Washington, issued a warning to the former Starbucks CEO as he mulls an independent presidential campaign: "Do not help Donald Trump. That's inexcusable."

Terry McAuliffe (D)

The former Virginia governor was critical this week of some of the proposals, such as tuition-free college, offered by his fellow Democrats, arguing that the party needed "actionable, practical ideas."

"We can’t get into this election season with everybody trying to out-promise one another," said McAuliffe, who disclosed last week that he would reach a decision about a presidential run by the end of March. "The voters will be very discouraged, because at the end of the day, there’s no reality and some of these things never happened."

Seth Moulton (D)

Moulton will visit New Hampshire Saturday to meet with the Bedford Democratic Committee, the group confirmed to ABC News.

Richard Ojeda (D)

Ojeda suspended his presidential run last Friday, conceding that his campaign "does not have the ability to compete" and that he did not want to "accept money from people who are struggling." Though his candidacy was considered a long-shot, Ojeda's decision was a surprise because it came only two weeks after he resigned his West Virginia state Senate seat to focus on his presidential campaign.

Beto O’Rourke (D)

A "draft Beto" party in Concord, New Hampshire drew notice Wednesday as supporters of the former Texas congressman drank "Beto beer" and read from his Medium blog posts.

Next Tuesday, O'Rourke will be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in New York City as part of her "SuperSoul Conversations."

Bernie Sanders (D)

The Vermont senator introduced a bill Thursday that would broaden the number of people subject to the federal estate tax, returning it to a decade-old threshold that taxed inheritances over $3.5 million dollars. In a news release, Sanders said the bill would only affect the richest 0.2 percent of Americans and disclosed a 77 percent tax rate for estates over $1 billion.

"At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, when the three richest Americans own more wealth than 160 million Americans, it is literally beyond belief that the Republican leadership wants to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the top 0.2 percent," Sanders said in the release, referring to an effort led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to repeal the estate tax.

PHOTO: Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, Jan. 30, 2019.
Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, Jan. 30, 2019.
Pete Marovich/EPA via Shutterstock

Howard Schultz (D)

Schultz, the former Starbucks CEO, revealed on CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday that he is considering an independent campaign for president, a disclosure that was met with widespread criticism by Democrats who argued that such a move would split the vote and provide a path to reelection for Trump.

During a press tour this week, Schultz argued that several proposals the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, including marginal tax rates upwards of 60 percent for the richest Americans, were equally untenable.

Schultz's announcement created a rare moment of unity between Democrats and Trump, who commented on the potential presidential bid on Twitter, writing, "Howard Schultz doesn’t have the “guts” to run for President! Watched him on @60Minutes last night and I agree with him that he is not the 'smartest person.' Besides, America already has that! I only hope that Starbucks is still paying me their rent in Trump Tower!"

After a visit to San Francisco Friday, Schultz's ongoing book tour will bring him to the additional liberal strongholds of Chicago and Boston next week. He faced heckles at a New York stop Monday.

Eric Swalwell (D)

The California congressman, who visited New Hampshire Thursday, told CNN that he is "close to making a decision" about a presidential campaign. Swalwell said that his family, including his two children under the age of 2, were a consideration that could potentially dissuade him from the idea, but that he doesn't "feel the rush to get in right now."

"I think there's still learning and infrastructure you have to stand up," he said."

Elizabeth Warren (D)

Late last week, Warren introduced legislation she's calling the "Ultra-millionaire tax" that would impose a 2 percent tax on every dollar of net worth above $50 million and a 3 percent tax above $1 billion, which would affect approximately 75,000 households, according to a news release.

The plan was criticized by two potential presidential rivals, Michael Bloomberg and Howard Schultz, both billionaires themselves who would be affected by the tax.

Andrew Yang (D)

Yang is in the midst of a four-day trip through Iowa. After stops at Simpson and Central Colleges Thursday, Yang will visit Jefferson, Carrol and Denison, Iowa Friday and attend a breakfast in Johnston, Iowa Saturday, according to his campaign's Facebook page.

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