The Note: Early 2020 exits showcase Democrats’ uncertainties

The just-right candidates are proving to be just wrong for the moment.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

The just-right candidates are proving to be just wrong for the moment.

The governors who cast themselves as across-the-aisle dealmakers are gone. So is one of the stars of the midterm cycle who was seen as a source of blue inspiration from a deep-red state.

Now Sen. Kamala Harris joins them in making an early exit from the 2020 contest. She’s the second female senator to fizzle. Hype and diversity are among the surprise casualties with two months left before Iowa.

Yet, for all the big-name busts, Democrats appear to be no closer to uniting around what they want in a candidate. Even the dividing lines -- generational, ideological, racial, geographical -- remain in doubt.

High-profile exits have created some new space in the race. But it’s not at all clear who will fill it -- or how.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

One of the big red flags for her candidacy, was the way Harris' team never seemed confident in her ability to win her home state.

While, she enjoyed several endorsements, many of the high-profile ones alluded her. With the last debate of the year set in Los Angeles later this month, there is about to be more serious and public conversation among Democrats about who might really be in position to win the hundreds of delegates up for grabs there.

And it is possible that Democrats gave self-funders a huge gift by moving the state up so early this year.

Campaigns for Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are boasting about big teams out West, but will that ground game matter?

For years the state was seen as just too big to win over in a traditional way. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the other hand can buy ads there now, when so many other candidates can’t -- or at least wanted to wait to see how they did in the first few states.

The TIP with Adam Kelsey

One of the immediate effects of Harris' decision to suspend her campaign is its impact on the December debate stage, which, as of Wednesday morning, now features just six candidates -- all of whom are white.

Though Sen. Cory Booker, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Andrew Yang have all reached the donor threshold necessary to qualify, that group is still waiting on four, one and one qualifying polls of at least 4%, respectively, to prevent a racially homogeneous matchup. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and former Gov. Deval Patrick are in even more dire straits, having reached neither the poll numbers nor the donors. Castro sent a fundraising email to this point on Tuesday decrying the prospect of "not having someone in this race who will speak to the issues and experiences that are too often ignored."

Booker, who called Harris' exit "a damn shame" in an MSNBC interview on Tuesday after noting that the Democrats initially had the most diverse field ever, inherits the designation of the top-polling African American candidate. But he has shared his campaign's money struggles and has admitted that missing out on the debate stage could present more financial issues given that some of his strongest fundraising days this year have followed well-received debate performances.

That said, it may be premature to begin writing another candidate obituary. At last month's debate in Atlanta, Booker staffers assured ABC News that whether they punched a ticket to Los Angeles or not, the New Jersey senator would be seeing his campaign through to the Iowa caucuses. He also said on Tuesday that he'll be "doubling-down" his efforts to "excite and ignite" the coalition of voters who delivered victory to former President Barack Obama. On Thursday, he kicks off a four-day, 11-county tour of the Hawkeye State.


The investigation into President Donald Trump enters a historic next phase on Wednesday as the House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on the constitutional grounds for drafting articles of impeachment. Check here for live updates during the hearing.


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Wednesday morning’s episode features ABC News Senior National correspondent Terry Moran, who tells us what comes next in the impeachment inquiry now that the House Intelligence Committee’s Ukraine report has been released. Then, ABC News’ Zohreen Shah and FiveThirtyEight Editor-in-Chief Nate Silver team up to explain why Sen. Kamala Harris suspended her presidential campaign.

ABC News’ "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. ABC News Political Director Rick Klein talks about impeachment and President Donald Trump’s trip to the NATO summit with ABC News’ Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl, who is in London with the president.


  • President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are in London for a NATO summit. Trump has a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at 7:30 a.m. (EST), participates in a working lunch with NATO 2%-ers at 8:15 a.m. (EST), meets with the prime minister of Denmark at 9 a.m. (EST), then meets with Italy’s prime minister at 9:45 a.m. (EST) and participates in a press conference at 10:30 a.m. (EST). The president and first lady Melania Trump travel back to the United States later in the day.
  • The House Judiciary Committee holds its first hearing in the Ukraine impeachment inquiry. The panel will hear testimony from constitutional scholars: Noah Feldman of Harvard, Pamela Karlan of Stanford, Michael Gerhardt of the North Carolina School of Law and Jonathan Turkey of the George Washington University Law School.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Iowa on the fifth day of his eight-day, 18 county "No Malarkey" bus tour. He has an event at Iowa State University in Ames at 10:45 a.m. (CST). He then heads to Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls at 1:45 p.m. Afterwards, he travels to Waverly Area Veterans Post in Waverly at 4:45 p.m. He ends his day at the Columbus Club in Charles City at 7 p.m. (CST).
  • South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg participates in a Community Leaders Meeting at the Redmont Hotel in Birmingham, Alabama, at 9:30 a.m.
  • Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick will deliver remarks to the AME Church’s General Board in Atlanta at 11 a.m.
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