The Note: Paths open for Biden as campaign turns to foreign policy

The shift toward foreign policy winds the campaign through a Biden wheelhouse.

January 10, 2020, 6:03 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

He's right where he's always been, and right where he wants to be.

Former Vice President Joe Biden comes into a three-week stretch to Iowa with more paths to the nomination than his rivals. That's not a bad place to be in the context of a four- or five-way race where a sixth candidate appears to have just made the next debate and a bunch of others still hope to crash the party.

The new FiveThirtyEight primary forecast model tells part of the story of Biden's strength. He has a two in five chance of winning Iowa, a three in 10 chance of taking New Hampshire and a two in five chance of winning an outright majority of pledged delegates -- enough to capture the nomination on a first ballot, according to FiveThirtyEight's formula.

But perhaps most critically, Biden could afford to lose both Iowa and New Hampshire and still be in a strong place to compete in states that come later.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks with Jack Maiers, 4, and his sister Olive, 2, right, of Bettendorf, Iowa, as he arrives for lunch at Ross' Restaurant, Jan. 6, 2020, in Bettendorf, Iowa.
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks with Jack Maiers, 4, and his sister Olive, 2, right, of Bettendorf, Iowa, as he arrives for lunch at Ross' Restaurant, Jan. 6, 2020, in Bettendorf, Iowa.
Andrew Harnik/AP

Name a non-billionaire candidate who could say the same.

The start of an impeachment trial could put Biden's name in the headlines for the wrong kinds of reasons again.

For now, though, the turn toward foreign policy and national security winds the campaign through a Biden wheelhouse. It leaves Biden in as strong a place as he's been, over a tumultuous year.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

At the eleventh hour, it seems a sixth candidate has qualified for the next Democratic presidential debate scheduled for Tuesday in Iowa. Two new Fox polls may be outliers, but they will likely count for Tom Steyer's purposes.

According to the Fox polls, 12% of Democratic caucus-goers in the crucial early state of Nevada said that they preferred Steyer, a businessman and activist. He was at 15% in South Carolina.

That's an astonishing jump from where Steyer was in these polls last fall. By comparison, in November, Steyer was only registering at 5% in Fox's Nevada poll.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential hopeful Tom Steyer arrives in the spin room after the sixth Democratic primary debate at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Dec. 19, 2019.
Democratic presidential hopeful Tom Steyer arrives in the spin room after the sixth Democratic primary debate at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Dec. 19, 2019.
Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

There has been considerably less polling done in these two early states compared to Iowa and New Hampshire, and Steyer has spent heavily on TV compared to most of his rivals.

According to estimates from Kantar/CMAG, an ad analytics firm, Steyer has spent $1.8 million in Reno, Nevada, on ads that have aired to date, and $6.1 million in Las Vegas. Together that is more than Sen. Bernie Sanders has spent nationwide.

The TIP with Sasha Pezenik

Perhaps not many 77-year-olds get homework, but former Mayor Mike Bloomberg is doing his: He's boning up on his Spanish. His campaign released their first ad en español on Thursday, emphasizing the stakes for Latino voters this election cycle and how vital beating Trump will be.

"Soy Mike Bloomberg, y apruebo este mensaje," he says to the camera before touting his record of accomplishments as a businessman and mayor of New York City, a major multilingual hub with a significant Latino population. The ad aims to boost his support with what will be a key voting bloc -- especially in delegate-rich spots where he's staking his entire campaign, such as Texas. It comes as he's already been blitzing the national airwaves, spending a total $167.6 million on TV ads so far, according to CMAG.

Bloomberg's Spanish has been an easy target for taunting in the past; his New York accent shines through when he speaks the language. The Twitter account "El Bloombito" pokes fun at him with poor-on-purpose Spanglish and went viral after some of his hurricane announcements -- "Broadway is closedo. Stay insidero. No singo in the raino," one reads -- now, it's been revived with his bid for the White House.

On the campaign trail, Bloomberg continues to work on his Spanish. Though he prefers paperbacks, he'll make an exception for Spanish language books which he reads on his Kindle, so that he can look up words he doesn't know. Moreover -- roasting aside -- Bloomberg has also gotten credit for trying to reach Latinos, especially in times of emergency. And the way he's pitching himself now against Trump -- he might say this certainly is one.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at the Bounce Innovation Hub, Jan. 8, 2020, in Akron, Ohio.
Democratic presidential candidate and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at the Bounce Innovation Hub, Jan. 8, 2020, in Akron, Ohio.
Tony Dejak/AP

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Friday morning's episode features ABC News Senior Transportation correspondent David Kerley, who says officials are more convinced that the airliner that crashed in Iran earlier in the week was actually shot down by mistake. Then, FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver joins the show to discuss the site's Democratic primary forecast. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

FiveThirtyEight's "The Primaries Project" Podcast. By casting a ballot in a primary or caucus, voters in the U.S. have the chance to decide who will vie to lead the free world. But that wasn't always the case. In this episode, FiveThirtyEight examines how a disastrous 1968 Democratic National Convention paved the way for our modern system of primaries and caucuses in this new podcast and video series. https://apple.co/2uzRq46

ONE MORE THING

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg told ABC News this week he will not take any steps to release women who have signed confidentiality agreements with his company to speak publicly about past allegations that the former New York City mayor fostered a hostile work environment for some female employees.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS WEEKEND

  • President Trump meets Friday with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
  • Campaigning in Iowa through the weekend: Former Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., campaigns in Iowa on Friday. On Saturday, she attends two morning events in Nevada before heading back to Iowa in the afternoon, where she'll campaign through Sunday.
  • Andrew Yang campaigns in New Hampshire through the weekend.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., campaigns in New Hampshire on Friday. She then campaigns in Iowa on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick campaigns in New Hampshire on Friday. He then campaigns in South Carolina on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Sparks, Nevada, on Friday and in Las Vegas on Saturday.
  • Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., campaigns in South Carolina on Friday and Saturday. He then heads to New Hampshire on Sunday for more campaign events.
  • Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg campaigns in Los Angeles on Friday, Las Vegas on Saturday and Des Moines, Iowa, on Sunday.
  • Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg campaigns in Atlanta and Knoxville, Tennessee, on Friday. He then campaigns in Texas on Saturday.
  • Marianne Williamson campaigns in New Hampshire on Sunday.
  • Sunday on ABC's "This Week": ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos speaks exclusively with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back Monday for the latest.

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