The TAKE with Rick Klein
The 2020 field swells to 20 today. But the wider race could wind up narrowing the choices facing Democratic primary voters.
Former Vice President Joe Biden gets in as a front-runner with unique characteristics and unusual challenges. He'll face immediate questions about money, messaging, age, identity and ideology -- and will be held to a leading candidate's high standards, without any polling cushion to speak of.
His presence could bring order to a potentially chaotic race. Or it could wind up adding to the Democratic Party's chaos.
"We've entered a new phase of this campaign," former Clinton White House press secretary Joe Lockhart said on the "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. "If he's a strong front-runner, that will dictate the rest of the race. Then it will be a fight between 19, 20 people to figure out who's the alternative."
Biden faces numerous obstacles, up to and including his own history in politics. But the race from here looks different -- whether or not Biden winds up being the answer to Democrats' questions.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
Hillary Clinton on Wednesday called on Congress not to vote on impeachment -- at least not yet. The former Democratic presidential nominee, first lady and secretary of state suggested her party continue to investigate and publicly flush out the findings in the Mueller report. Citing history books and her intimate experience with two impeachments, Clinton said the Watergate hearings in Congress "added to the factual record and, crucially, helped the public understand the facts in a way that no dense legal report could."
Who should be called to testify? Clinton named former White House counsel Don McGahn, among other key witnesses. However, just hours before Clinton's op-ed was published in The Washington Post, President Donald Trump called the House Judiciary Committee's subpoena for McGahn's testimony "ridiculous." He added that all of it, the whole fight for documents and testimony from White House officials, was "enough."
Voters might agree. Many may think digging deeper into accusations of obstruction of justice and the president's finances is gratuitous. They also may want guarantees that the country's elections are free and safe from foreign influence this go-around.
Clinton also wrote that the country needs "clear-eyed patriotism, not reflexive partisanship." It's advice that hardly anyone in Washington seems to be heeding these days.
The TIP with John Verhovek
While Democrats continue to debate the level of ideological purity required to become the party's presidential nominee, another quarrel in the early stages of the crowded primary continues over from where campaigns get their money.
Former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke -- whose 2018 Senate campaign against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz grounded itself in its intense grassroots support -- will hold the first big-money fundraiser of his presidential bid next month in New York City. It's a decision that could open him up to criticism from others in the race like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who's sworn off those types of events, but O'Rourke is defending the decision.
"I want people to be able to participate in whatever way they can -- if it's giving five, 10 bucks, if it's giving more than that. I'm looking for support in any way that I can find it from my fellow Americans," he told reporters Wednesday in Houston, outside the "She the People" forum.
ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Thursday morning's episode features President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who said of the brewing battle over congressional subpoenas: "He should fight them tooth and nail because they are not in good faith." Then, ABC News Chief Global Affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz tells us why North Korea's Kim Jong Un is in Russia meeting with President Vladimir Putin. And ABC News' Stephanie Ebbs and Janet Weinstein tell us about their trip to Flint, Michigan, five years after the water crisis began. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. Former White House press secretary Joe Lockhart, who worked in the Clinton administration, is no stranger to impeachment proceedings. He shares with ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and ABC News Political Director Rick Klein what he thinks is the best way forward for Democrats ahead of 2020. https://apple.co/2v6tkuR
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive it every weekday.