The Note: Democrats test out the politics of 'nice'

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker speaks during the Machinists Union Legislative Conference, May 7, 2019, in Washington.PlayJacquelyn Martin/AP
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President Donald Trump is being Donald Trump. His rivals are not.

Trump is defying Congress, threatening political enemies and doling out derogatory nicknames for 2020 contenders. His personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, is openly talking about asking foreign governments to help do political damage to the Democratic frontrunner.

The Democratic presidential candidates, meanwhile, are mostly playing nice -- with each other and even with Trump.

An early primary skirmish between Sen. Cory Booker and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke on gun policy fizzled when O’Rourke took back his initial critique.

On the Trump front, former Vice President Joe Biden’s camp has been mostly silent about the now-canceled Giuliani trip to Ukraine.

Booker summed up the current thinking of the field when he was asked by ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl if his "nice guy" approach is right for this moment.

"You can’t campaign wrong and think you’re going to govern right," Booker said on ABC’s "This Week" over the weekend. "We will not succeed by showing the worst of who we are."

Democrats will sharpen their elbows over time. But none of the more than 20 candidates are trying to beat Trump by being like him.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Sen. Elizabeth’s Warren’s idea for the federal government to break up some of the country’s largest technology companies received a major boost this week when one of Facebook’s co-founders, Chris Hughes, wrote that when it comes to the social media giant, he agreed.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks to a crowd during a campaign stop at Fat Hill Brewing, May 4, 2019, in Mason City, Iowa. Stephen Maturen/Getty Images
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks to a crowd during a campaign stop at Fat Hill Brewing, May 4, 2019, in Mason City, Iowa.

But Booker balked at the thought of the federal government picking which companies should be dismantled for having grown too big and powerful.

"I don't think that a president should be running around, pointing at companies and … breaking them up without any kind of process here," he said in his interview on "This Week" Sunday. "That sounds more like a Donald Trump thing to say, ‘I'm going to break up you guys.’... We need to create systems and processes that work."

He argued antitrust laws should be enforced and strengthened instead.

Sen. Kamala Harris, who represents California and Silicon Valley, described Facebook as a "utility that has gone unregulated," during an interview Sunday on CNN. But she stopped short of advocating for anti-monopoly action by the government.

"I think we have to seriously take a look at that [breaking up Facebook], yes," she said.

While Warren might not be leading in the polls, this is an example of her driving debate in the Democratic Party.

The TIP with Briana Stewart

Ahead of Biden’s campaign launch, Stacey Abrams shut down rumors that she would be his running mate, saying on ABC’s "The View," in March that, "you don’t run for second place."

PHOTO: Stacey Abrams speaks on The View, March 27, 2018, in New York City. Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC
Stacey Abrams speaks on "The View," March 27, 2018, in New York City.

But Abrams is still part of the 2020 chatter. On Saturday, at a house party in Bedford, New Hampshire, O’Rourke was asked if he’d commit to choosing a female running mate. The former Texas congressman gave a broad answer, but eventually brought up Georgia’s 2018 Democratic candidate for governor as "somebody who comes to mind."

"I’d be ahead of myself to start talking about a potential running mate and I don’t want to presume that anyone would want to accompany me on the ticket if I were the nominee," O’Rourke told ABC News after the party.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas Congressman Beto ORourke listens to a speaker during a roundtable discussion on climate change, May 6, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. Charlie Neibergall/AP
Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke listens to a speaker during a roundtable discussion on climate change, May 6, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa.

"However, I mentioned Stacey Abrams in there because I think she is one the most gifted leaders in public life in the United States of America today. …She’s a hero of mine and I want to support her with whatever she does. I think we can look forward to her playing a greater role in public life in America."


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Monday morning’s episode features ABC News’ Kyra Phillips on the escalating battle between House Democrats and the White House. Then, ABC News’ Matthew Mosk breaks down Rudy Giuliani’s canceled trip to Ukraine and why the president’s personal attorney wanted to encourage an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden’s son.


  • President Donald Trump signs an executive order on the economic empowerment of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders at 12:15 p.m. and then he has lunch with Vice President Mike Pence and participates in a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Hungary at 12:30 p.m and 2:05 p.m., respectively. In the evening, President Donald Trump participates in the White House Iftar at 8:30 p.m.
  • Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., appears on ABC’s "The View" at 11 a.m.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden begins traveling across New Hampshire to meet with voters and community leaders.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., joins Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., on the last stop of the Green New Deal Tour at Howard University in Washington at 7 p.m.
  • Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, travels to New York City for a fundraiser.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks at the American Federation of Teachers Votes town hall in Philadelphia at 4:30 p.m.
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