The Note: 2020 candidates define themselves in contrast to Biden

Will the real, non-Joe-Biden candidate please stand up?

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Will the real, non-Joe-Biden candidate please stand up?

"I am someone who's running from the heartland," Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said on CNN.

Even less subtle are South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, all of whom have used the same phrase when talking about their candidacies: "new generation of leadership."

The dynamic of the moment has the candidates contrasting themselves, at least gently, with the former vice president. Biden spent his weekend campaigning in critical South Carolina, where he touted his work on race relations from back when "Barack and I worked together."

"I'm not saying the others aren't qualified," Biden told the Charleston Post and Courier. "I'm just saying, I've been there."

Biden is, of course, running on his experience, including his years as Barack Obama's vice president. But recent political history suggests that experience can also be a vulnerability.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

When it comes to policy prescriptions and political ideology, there is significant overlap between Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sanders.

It's why they are often talked about as natural competitors in the crowded Democratic primary race, with both trying to run in a progressive, populist lane.

At some point, they'll likely need to go head-to-head to challenge each other and create some distance. Still, Sanders clearly thinks it's not yet time for that.

In his sit-down interview with ABC News in Des Moines, Iowa, Sanders made a point of complimenting Warren.

"Last time around, you said that you were the only candidate in the race willing to take on the billionaire class. Is that true now?" Karl asked the senator.

"Well, I think Elizabeth Warren is a very good senator. My views are different than Elizabeth's on this or that issue, but she's certainly a progressive candidate," Sanders replied. He added that he would let the voters decide who they prefer.

If Sanders were, in theory, to back his Senate colleague and encourage his powerful, active and financially generous base to get on board with her, the alliance could be enough to send her sailing to the top. Still, with Sanders' popularity and relative large base of support -- he's the one consistently polling in the top two -- no one is expecting that any time soon.

It was noteworthy in the interview, which aired on "This Week," that Sanders disagreed with Warren on one proposal. Warren has said she supports eliminating the two-thirds threshold in the Senate for moving policy bills, but Sanders told Karl this weekend that he does not favor eliminating the filibuster.

The TIP with John Verhovek

It should be a surprise to no one that Buttigieg and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, are in a natural and fierce competition for Democratic voters who are looking for an aspirational candidate who reflects their desire for a 180-degree turn from Trump-style politics.

But this weekend, there was a show of unity between the two presidential candidates. On Twitter, the 46-year-old Texan came to the defense of the 37-year-old mayor from Indiana after Buttigieg faced homophobic hecklers at an event in Dallas. He wrote, "Texans don't stand for this kind of homophobia and hatred."

Recent polling shows Buttigieg surpassing O'Rourke and clearly establishing himself in the upper echelon of candidates, but both want to be the candidate who stays above the partisan fray. With nine months until the first votes are cast, it remains premature to say which of them will ultimately have the winning strategy.

ONE MORE THING There's a national push for voters to elect the U.S. vice president separately from the president. Vice.run is collecting signatures and pledges from across the country to create a separate independent ballot line for the vice president. https://abcn.ws/2LoavxY

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Monday morning’s episode features ABC News Chief Global Affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz, who examines the current state of U.S.-North Korea relations following this weekend’s short-range projectile tests. And ABC News' Adam Kelsey checks in from Iowa to tell us how the 2020 presidential candidates are differentiating themselves on the campaign trail. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Donald Trump presents the Commander-in-Chief's trophy to the U.S. Military Academy football team. The president also will present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to professional golfer Tiger Woods.
  • The House Judiciary Committee's deadline for Attorney General William Barr to produce the full, unredacted report from special counsel Robert Mueller to the panel is 9 a.m.
  • Michael Cohen, former personal attorney to President Donald Trump, reports to the Federal Correctional Institution in Otisville, New York, to start a three-year sentence for tax evasion, lying to Congress and campaign finance crimes.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive it every weekday.