The Note: Joe Biden jousts with 'new left' as he preps 2020 run

The battle over how Democrats define progressivism, electability is everywhere.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Attention centered on a verbal slip after former Vice President Joe Biden mixed up his tenses to suggest that he's already running for president.

But something else Biden said to a friendly, hometown crowd in Delaware over the weekend spoke more to his present state of mind and the state of the Democratic primary field.

"I'm told I get criticized by the new left," Biden said. "I have the most progressive record for anybody running."

The battle over how Democrats define progressivism and electability is everywhere. It's ideological, attitudinal and generational. Biden, while fit at age 76, won't be doing much campaigning from countertops, flatbeds and 5K race courses, a la new 2020 entry Beto O'Rourke.

Biden isn't the "new" anything at this stage of his political career. But he's not ceding the "left" to anyone, even as the early race centers on questions of race, gender, justice and identity that makes decades-old positions look particularly old.

"Making big and bold progressive promises on the campaign trail is one thing," Sen. Chris Coons, a Biden booster who holds his old Senate seat in Delaware, said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday. "Having a real record of actually delivering on those things is quite another."

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Less than a year out, political pundits and candidates could convincingly make either of two opposing arguments.

With more than a dozen candidates competing for attention, the early-voting primary states will matter more than ever before, or perhaps, they will matter less.

Lesser-known candidates could gain momentum if they rocket to star status with a big night in Iowa. On the other hand, with so many names to be debated, it's hard to imagine any one candidate will run away with a significant number of delegates -- and there aren't that many delegates there to begin with.

Bigger states, even those in the deep-red South, could actually do more to change a candidate's trajectory. In 2016, Hillary Clinton had a wall of support in the south that Sen. Bernie Sanders could not crack. It's likely no coincidence that Sen. Elizabeth Warren is already spending three days this week trekking through the region while Congress is out of session.

Likewise, the largest state in the union, California, will have a much bigger say this cycle, with primary voting beginning right after the Iowa caucuses. That's worth noting as Sanders plans to campaign there already this week, and Sen. Kamala Harris will try to make the most of her home-state advantage.

The TIP with John Verhovek

Beto O'Rourke is hitting the road again at a pace his fellow Democrats, many of whom have demanding day jobs as elected officials, will find hard to replicate.

After an aggressive initial campaign swing through Iowa and Wisconsin, O'Rourke will visit Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire in the coming days. Trips to South Carolina and Nevada are also in the works before a rally in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, on March 30.

The former Texas congressman was met with near-universal enthusiasm on his first trip as a presidential candidate, but one benchmark that will show whether his campaign is as viable as he says it is remains unclear. In Milwaukee on Sunday, O'Rourke said he will release his initial fundraising numbers "soon," and on Saturday in Dubuque, Iowa, he refused to rule out having high-dollar fundraisers like his rival Warren has already announced.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Monday morning's episode features John Cohen, a former acting undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security and ABC News contributor, who says we are seeing more white supremacists, like the New Zealand terror attack suspect, who say they feel embraced by the words of public officials like President Donald Trump. Then, ABC News' Lana Zak breaks down Trump's tweets over the weekend, which were critical of the late Sen. John McCain and his handling of the Steele dossier. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Trump receives a briefing on the Economic Report of the President at 11:30 a.m. and attends a Greek Independence Day Celebration at 5:45 p.m.
  • Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., visits Cleveland and Greenville, Mississippi, ahead of a CNN Town Hall at Jackson State University at 8 p.m. Central.
  • Billionaire investor and Democratic activist Tom Steyer will visit South Carolina to host an impeachment luncheon and a town hall in Columbia. He's making a case to begin impeachment proceedings immediately and encouraging activists to push the issue with presidential candidates.
  • Presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will attend a meet-and-greet with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in Clawson, Michigan, at 5:30 p.m. She will also participate in an MSNBC town hall in Auburn Hills, Michigan, that will air at 8 p.m.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.