The Note: Democrats’ knives out for Biden in big 2020 week

Presidential candidates target former Vice President Joe Biden.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

The contours of the Democratic race are coming into view — complete with tiers and one tempting target at the head of the polling pack.

A family obligation kept former Vice President Joe Biden from joining most of his rivals in Iowa over the weekend. And Democratic Party family dynamics have kept most of those rivals from attacking Biden by name — at least so far.

But Biden’s vulnerabilities are already clear to his fellow Democrats. With the field learning who’s in and who’s out of the first debate later this week, there’s an urgency to taking on Biden over what his presence in the race represents.

Take Beto O’Rourke on Biden’s flip on the anti-abortion Hyde Amendment: “I've always known what I've thought on this issue,” the former congressman told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday. “I have consistently been there.”

Then there’s Sen. Bernie Sanders, decrying the concept of “middle ground” in his remarks at the Iowa Hall of Fame Dinner: “There are some well-intentioned Democrats and candidates who believe that the best way forward is a "middle ground" strategy that antagonizes no one, that stands up to nobody and that changes nothing.

“In my view, that approach is not just bad public policy, but it is a failed political strategy that I fear could end up with the reelection of Donald Trump. The American people want change, real change, and we have got to provide that change.”

Biden will have his chance to respond on Tuesday, when he heads to Iowa for two days of campaigning. But he may choose to look beyond his opponents, especially with President Donald Trump also in Iowa on Tuesday.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

President Trump cheered, Democrats jeered, and congressional Republicans exhaled... for now.

From the White House’s perspective it was a victory. Mexico promised again late last week to send its national guard to its own southern border to help manage people fleeing from Central America.

Under the threat of severe trade consequences, maybe the country will in fact make some of these changes discussed. They are, for example, continuing to look into avenues for processing U.S.-bound asylum seekers in their country as well, if U.S. courts allow.

As a result, the president says he will not apply the tariffs he had threatened against Mexico.

For Democrats, the possibility of tariffs was a crisis of the president’s making and an irresponsible way to deal with the actual human crisis at the border.

It’s likely many Republicans on Capitol Hill rolled their eyes over the weekend. They were united in a dislike and disinterest in possible tariffs and actively debated taking steps to curb the president’s power in this space, should he have decided to move forward.

The president claimed a win, but he was the only one in the game. Mexicans know their national guard is new and not yet fully formed or operational.

The TIP with Adam Kelsey and Lissette Rodriguez

The gloves came off in the Democratic presidential race on Sunday, and it wasn't just the absentee 2020 candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, who faced the brunt of the criticism. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has sat in second behind Biden, but ahead of much of the rest of the field, in nearly every poll conducted in 2019, was targeted by a pair of candidates at the back of the pack.

First, there was former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

"I'm not sure what he's accomplished, I mean what’s his track record?" Hickenlooper asked reporters shortly after his remarks at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame event, before touting the infrastructure built under his watch as Denver mayor. “Bernie Sanders hasn’t pulled something like that off."

Then there was Hickenlooper's former chief of staff, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, who used the "L-word" about the Vermont senator's Medicare-for-all pitch to voters.

"It is lying to them on an issue that is so important to them,” he said, later walking the comment back to say Sanders' advanced timelines for his policies were "misleading."

Though progressives and their boisterous supporters won the day at a similar event in San Francisco last week, if Cedar Rapids is any indication, some of the moderates who faced the California boos are ready to take on the face of the party's leftward shift.

THE PLAYLIST ABC News’ “Start Here” Podcast Monday morning’s episode features ABC News White House correspondent Tara Palmeri, who tells us what’s actually in the deal between the U.S. and Mexico over tariffs. Then, we head to Iowa where ABC News’ Stephanie Ramos and Adam Kelsey recap the biggest gathering of 2020 candidates so far in Iowa.


  • ABC’s “The View” co-host Sunny Hostin sits down with Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., in a one-on-one interview as part of ABC News’ pride month speaker series at 12:15 p.m. The interview will be streamed live on The View’s Facebook page.
  • Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke participates in a town hall in Clinton, Iowa, and holds a fundraiser reception in Chicago.
  • Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper tours the Five Rivers Carpenters JATC in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
  • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock hosts a meet-and-greet event in Jefferson, Iowa.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., speaks at "Politics and Eggs,” a forum for presidential candidates and political leaders, in Manchester, New Hampshire.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., tours the Dyersville Ethanol Facility in Dyersville, Iowa.
  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., hosts a meet-and-greet event in Dubuque, Iowa.
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    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.