The Note: Center sees new life in Democratic 2020 race

Trump is thinking more of Biden, Buttigieg than their more progressive rivals

May 21, 2019, 5:59 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Don't sleep on the center just yet.

Early action on the left aside, some of the more interesting policy and personality contrasts inside the Democratic primary are happening closer to the middle -- in territory former Vice President Joe Biden doesn't necessarily have to himself.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate, former U.S. Vice President  Joe Biden speaks during a campaign kickoff rally, May 18, 2019 in Philadelphia.
Democratic presidential candidate, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign kickoff rally, May 18, 2019 in Philadelphia.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg's Fox News town hall underscores his potential appeal to the middle of the country. Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is taking on "some Democrats" -- though without naming anyone, so far -- for backing away from trade deals and "having the United States withdraw from global engagement."

PHOTO: President Donald Trump walks toward the Oval Office after returning back to the White House from a trip to New York, May 17, 2019.
President Donald Trump walks toward the Oval Office after returning back to the White House from a trip to New York, May 17, 2019.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The late entry of Montana Gov. Steve Bullock into the presidential field adds a deep-red-state governor to the mix, with a promise of bipartisan problem solving. And that, of course, is also central to Biden's campaign message.

President Donald Trump, of course, would love to run against socialism, "abortion on demand" and the Green New Deal.

But it's telling that he's thinking a lot more about Biden and Buttigieg these days than many of their rivals who are pushing more progressive agendas.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Women's health and Democratic advocacy groups are planning protests at courthouses around the country on Tuesday in response the series of far-reaching anti-abortion bills that have passed in a handful of states in the last few weeks. Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill are expected to join the so-called “Stop the Bans" rally in front of the Supreme Court.

PHOTO: People walk to the Alabama State Capitol during the March for Reproductive Freedom against the state's new abortion law, the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, in Montgomery, Alabama, May 19, 2019.
People walk to the Alabama State Capitol during the March for Reproductive Freedom against the state's new abortion law, the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, in Montgomery, Alabama, May 19, 2019.
Michael Spooneybarger/Reuters

With the debate over abortion access reverberating in the national news and presidential primary, it is worth noting how many Americans, when polled, seem to find common ground on the issue.

According to the latest public opinion data from the Pew Research Center, a majority of Americans think abortion should be legal, but only about 25% think the procedure should be legal in all cases. And while 22% think it should illegal in most cases, that number drops to 15% who think it should be illegal in all instances.

While Hispanic respondents tend to support abortion less frequently, there's virtually no difference between white and black adults in the Pew polling, nor much of a difference when it comes to respondents' age.

PHOTO: Abortion-rights activists protest outside of the U.S. Supreme Court, during the March for Life in Washington, Jan. 18, 2019.
Abortion-rights activists protest outside of the U.S. Supreme Court, during the March for Life in Washington, Jan. 18, 2019.
Jose Luis Magana/AP, FILE

According to the Gallup polling, when a woman’s life is endangered, 83% think abortion should be legal in the first trimester and 75% in the third. When the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest, 77% think this should be legal in the first trimester and 52% in the third.

Of course, the big caveat is that these are nationwide surveys, and the new laws have been passed in relatively small- and medium-sized states.

The TIP with Justin Gomez

Struggling to gain support from black voters, Buttigieg picked up a notable endorsement from Sean Shaw, Florida’s first black attorney general nominee.

"It's time for a new generation of leadership," Shaw said in a tweet, adding that the Indiana mayor's "bold and progressive vision" is what the country needs.

Shaw was the first black candidate in Florida history to become a major party nominee in 2018. Buttigieg has been struggling to win over the key demographic and it was evident at campaign stops where black supporters could be counted on one hand.

PHOTO: Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during a town hall with Fox News Channel, May 18, 2019, in Claremont, New Hampshire.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during a town hall with Fox News Channel, May 18, 2019, in Claremont, New Hampshire.
Sarah Rice/Getty Images

The mayor acknowledged his problem during Sunday's Fox News town hall saying, "When you're not somebody that people feel like they've known for a long time, nor yourself a person of color, you got to work extra hard to get to know folks."

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" podcast.Tuesday morning’s episode features ABC News Political Director Rick Klein and ABC News' Katherine Faulders breaking down the ruling from a federal judge in favor of House Democrats in their efforts to obtain Trump's financial records. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

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