The Note: 2020 candidates embrace constitutional rewrites

PHOTO: Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks at a campaign rally at the Stone Cliff Winery on March 1, 2019, in Dubuque, Iowa.PlayScott Olson/Getty Images
WATCH Trump continues attacks on John McCain during Ohio event

The TAKE with Rick Klein

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Remember when President Donald Trump was the candidate who wanted to blow things up? Or when Medicare for all or the Green New Deal counted as bold policy prescriptions?

The Democrats running for president are debating and endorsing a staggering array of proposals that would rewrite aspects of the Constitution and longstanding rules and traditions of lawmaking.

Now on the 2020 agenda: abolishing the Electoral College; expanding the size of the Supreme Court and changing the ways justices are selected; eliminating the Senate filibuster; and letting 16- and 17-year-olds vote.

Many of these proposals would right wrongs perceived, mainly by Democrats, who are frustrated by losing the last presidential election. It wasn't that long ago that Sen. Ted Cruz was pushing for Supreme Court justices to face voters periodically, back when liberal dominance of the court was a conservative fear.

PHOTO: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Sen. Ed Markey speak during a press conference to announce Green New Deal legislation to promote clean energy programs outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Feb. 7, 2019. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images, FILE
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Sen. Ed Markey speak during a press conference to announce Green New Deal legislation to promote clean energy programs outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Feb. 7, 2019.

None of the above items are close to reality. Democrats may find -- as with the Green New Deal -- Republicans up to and including Trump more apt to bring them up than the candidates themselves.

But the early messaging from 2020 land is clear: Go big or go home.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

The question burned through Washington on Wednesday: Why the renewed interest in the late Sen. John McCain?

Over the last few days, the president has repeatedly criticized the war hero, who who died last year, leaving the former Arizona senator's family scratching their heads and calling the president "obsessed." Republican senators also felt the need to come to their former colleague's defense.

PHOTO: Sen. Lindsey Graham, right, leans in for a private remark to Sen. John McCain during the start of a rally at the Crown Center in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Oct. 28, 2008. MCT via Getty Images, FILE
Sen. Lindsey Graham, right, leans in for a private remark to Sen. John McCain during the start of a rally at the Crown Center in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Oct. 28, 2008.

Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., one of McCain's close, personal friends, said the president's comments likely hurt Trump more than McCain's legacy.

The comments may also reveal a weakness: Trump struggles without a clear boogeyman.

During the president's rally in Ohio on Wednesday, everything seemed to be McCain's fault. No answer on health care? Blame McCain. Problems with veterans? McCain. The Middle East? McCain.

Not only did the riffs seem to fall flat, with this trope, the president runs the risk of reminding people of all the policies and issues for which this administration hasn't found solutions.

The TIP with John Verhovek

The Democrats vying to unseat Trump have only just begun to lay out their vision for the progressive change that they want to bring to the country, but all 17 of them know that none of their visions will become reality if their party does not retain control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2020.

PHOTO: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, poses with all House Democratic women members of the 116th Congress on the East Front Capitol Plaza on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 4, 2019, as the 116th Congress begins. Andrew Harnik/AP
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, poses with all House Democratic women members of the 116th Congress on the East Front Capitol Plaza on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 4, 2019, as the 116th Congress begins.

The party got some good news on that front this week, when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced it had raised $11.6 million in February, outpacing the National Republican Congressional Committee, which raised just under $7 million.

That's also good news for the 31 Democratic incumbents up for re-election in districts won by Trump in 2016, whose victories in 2020 ultimately will decide whether or not any of the major ideas the party's presidential candidates are pitching on the campaign trail could become a reality.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast.

Thursday morning's episode features ABC News White House correspondent Karen Travers and ABC News Foreign correspondent James Longman to discuss President Donald Trump's claim that the final battle against the Islamic State in Syria in nearly completed. Then, ABC News' Stephanie Ebbs breaks down EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler's comments about water-quality issues. And, ABC News Deputy Political Director MaryAlice Parks discusses some of the transformative policies proposed by 2020 candidates. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" Podcast.

ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein will review proposals from 2020 hopefuls, such as eliminating the Electoral College and adding justices to the Supreme Court. Karl also shares the latest from Trump on whether special counsel Robert Mueller's report should be made public. http://apple.co/2vje5Oc

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • The president will participate in a conversation at the Business Roundtable Q1 quarterly meeting. In the afternoon, he will sign an executive order aimed at "improving free inquiry, transparency and accountability on campus."
  • Presidential candidate and former U.S. Rep Beto O'Rourke continues his visit to New Hampshire with three meet and greets in Portsmouth, Manchester and Laconia.
  • Presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, will return to New Hampshire to host a meet and greet with Jaffrey Democrats at Jaffrey Public Library at 5:45 p.m.
  • Presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., will make her first trip to Nevada as a declared presidential candidate and tour the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Immigration clinic at 2:15 p.m. PST. She will then meet with Nevada caucus-goers, local Democratic leaders and deliver remarks at Atomic Liquor at 6:15 p.m.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.