The Note: Bernie 2.0 puts 2020 field on notice

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders addresses a rally during a campaign stop in Concord, N.H, March 10, 2019.PlaySteven Senne/Steven Senne/AP
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He lacks discernible skateboarding skills, doesn't speak seven languages and is a year older than former Vice President Joe Biden.

But Sen. Bernie Sanders has become a major presence in his second run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

His $18 million fundraising haul and $28 million campaign war chest serves as a reminder that a man who changed the mechanics of the campaign money game last cycle remains a formidable presence. His donation average of $20 in the first quarter means he has an army of committed donors who can give again and again.

Numbers like these matter now more than ever. Democrats have made the number of contributors a criteria for qualifying for debates, and candidates who are swearing off big-dollar donors and PAC support make small-dollar donors outsized in importance.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders addresses a rally during a campaign stop in Concord, N.H, March 10, 2019. Steven Senne/Steven Senne/AP
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders addresses a rally during a campaign stop in Concord, N.H, March 10, 2019.

Rivals have suggested that Sanders can't recapture the magic of 2016, after getting 43 percent of the total primary vote when there was virtually no other alternative to Hillary Clinton.

But consider what holding even half of that vote share into the primary season would mean in a race with 20-plus candidates. It's a crowded field, but it's hard to bet against Bernie as things move along.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Democrats might not agree on the ins and outs of health care policy moving forward, but they're having a debate while Republicans punt.

Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump each said they would delay a Republican push on the topic until after the 2020 elections.

On Capitol Hill, McConnell told reporters the president "would be developing a plan that he would take to the American people during the 2020 campaign."

PHOTO: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate floor, Jan. 31, 2019, in Washington, DC. Win McNamee/Getty Images
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate floor, Jan. 31, 2019, in Washington, DC.

Meanwhile, two top Democratic senators introduced a bill on Tuesday that they say would expand on the Affordable Care Act. It would offer a public health insurance option -- run through existing Medicare framework -- to individuals looking to purchasing health insurance on marketplace exchanges.

Some progressive activists described the new bill from Sens. Michael Bennett, D-Colo., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., as only as a "half measure," while they keep pushing for hearings and movement on Medicare-for-all legislation.

The TIP with Rachel Scott

In the New Hampshire Republican Party, you're either enthusiastic about the prospect of re-electing Trump or you're actively working against it. As Lara Trump, adviser to the president's reelection campaign, spoke at a fundraiser held by the New Hampshire Republican party on Tuesday night, some prominent state Republicans stayed home.

Representing what some in the party call a "minority opinion" are two former GOP state chairs -- including one who's advising potential Republican primary challenger and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld. The other former chair believes Trump shouldn't be the only Republican in the race.

PHOTO: Former Governor Bill Weld campaigns in Concord, New Hampshire, March 26, 2019. Cj Gunther/EPA via Rex
Former Governor Bill Weld campaigns in Concord, New Hampshire, March 26, 2019.

"I acknowledge that's a minority view in the party, but that doesn't mean we have to accept a re-nomination of this president for another term," said Fergus Cullen, former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party.

Cullen, a self-identified 'Never Trumper' hosted Weld and 60 voters at his home over the weekend. While 68 percent of likely Republican voters said in a February poll by the University of New Hampshire that they'd vote for Trump, Cullen is holding out hope: "Be careful with a guy that's got nothing to lose," he said.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Wednesday morning's episode features ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce, who explains why President Donald Trump is holding back a Republican health care plan until after the 2020 election. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz tells us why Puerto Rico desperately needs disaster relief funding. And ABC News Chief Global Affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz explains why the arrest of a Chinese woman at Mar-a-Lago has some law enforcement officials concerned. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. On Wednesday afternoon's episode, ABC News White House Chief Correspondent Jon Karl and Political Director Rick Klein interview former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara. He talks about his new book "Doing Justice," being fired by President Donald Trump, and the fallout from the Mueller report. https://apple.co/21V9721

ABC News' "The Investigation" podcast. In this episode, ABC News' Senior National Correspondent Terry Moran and Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce break down the looming battle between House Democrats and the Justice Department over the release of the Mueller report. As the House Judiciary Committee lays the groundwork to issue subpoenas, Attorney General William Barr has insisted he wants to make the report accessible to the public, after making "the redactions that are required." Our team analyzes the powers at play that will determine when -- and how much -- of the special counsel's work is released and what it could mean for the Trump administration. https://apple.co/2GjL25N

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Donald Trump meets with senior military leaders for a briefing at the White House. Later, they all have dinner at 7:35 p.m.
  • Vice President Mike Pence joins a joint session of Congress with the secretary general of NATO at 11 a.m. At 1:30 p.m., Pence will deliver remarks. At 6 p.m., Pence will join Trump for a military briefing, followed by dinner.
  • The House Judiciary Committee meets to vote on authorizing the issuance of subpoenas related to the Mueller report at 9 a.m. on Capitol Hill.
  • Three 2020 presidential candidates, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, entrepreneur Andrew Yang and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, speak at the National Action Network Convention in New York City beginning at 10 a.m.
  • 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and House Majority Whip James Clyburn, R-S.C., hold a press conference at 2 p.m. to reintroduce An Act Targeting Resources to Communities in Need -- legislation that targets federal funding to high-poverty areas.
  • O'Rourke returns to Iowa for a four-day swing through the state with nearly two dozen community-level events in Iowa. This is his second trip to Iowa since announcing his candidacy for president only 18 days ago.
  • South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks at Northeastern University on the importance of millennial participation and representation in national politics at 4 p.m.
  • Castro delivers remarks at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at 6:30 p.m. in Washington.

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