Joe Biden back in New Hampshire as Dems already eye 2020

Joe Biden’s return to this early primary state of New Hampshire already has Democrats buzzing: Does he have one more race left in him?

The former vice president is slated to speak at the famous McIntyre-Shaheen dinner Sunday night, in a state that the 74-year-old has come to know well through two unsuccessful presidential campaigns of his own and two more as a running mate.

Biden has hardly shied away from the public spotlight since leaving office over three months ago, after having spent eight years as Obama’s deputy and 36 years as a US senator from Delaware prior to that. And he’s done little in the last 100 days to persuade his supporters that he has completely shut the door to a 2020 presidential run.

“I think I could’ve won,” Biden said last month. “Do I regret not being president? Yes.”

In a visit to his old stomping grounds on Capitol Hill in December, Biden was happy to oblige inquiring reporters.

“Yeah, I am. I’m going to run in 2020,” Biden said when CNN jokingly asked if he planned to run for office again. Pressed on what office he would run for, he responded: “For president. What the hell, man.”

Biden concluded in the lead-up to the 2016 election that he would not run for president for a third time. It was a decision shaped by a devastating personal loss. His son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden — whom Biden has referred to as “his soul” — died in 2015 from brain cancer.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would go on to win the Democratic Party’s nomination. But to the great shock of the political world, she was defeated by Donald Trump on Election Day.

With Trump’s approval rating at a historic low for a new president and the first months of his presidency mired in controversies, Democrats are determined to take back the White House in 2020. If there is a desire for a bench filled with younger up-and-comers, Biden’s name somehow continues to make the rounds.

Biden’s longtime friend and adviser Ted Kaufman said it would be a while before Biden feels the need to make any kind of decision about 2020.

“That’s a long way off. It’ll be a long time before he’ll have to think about that. And a lot will depend on where he is, where the country is, where the party is,” Kaufman, who was appointed to Biden’s Senate seat after his resigned to become vice president, told CNN. “Who knows where this presidency’s going to be after 100 days? It’s pretty daunting to predict where we’ll be 100 days from now, let alone a year from now.”

In February, Biden and his wife, Jill, launched the Biden Foundation, which focuses on a range of issues including cancer research. He is splitting his time between the nation’s capital, Delaware and Pennsylvania, working with separate institutes bearing his name at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Delaware,

“He’s really been frankly just as busy as he was when he was in the White House,” Kaufman said. “He’s a happy warrior.”

One Biden adviser cautioned that his appearance in New Hampshire on Sunday was entirely about his promise to stay involved with the Democratic Party rather than his own political future.

“He said when he left office he was committed to continuing to party build, staying involved in the Democratic party, and this is that,” the adviser said.

But some of Biden’s most ardent political supporters are holding out hope.

Steve Schale, a veteran Democratic strategist based in Florida who was a part of the Draft Biden 2016 effort, believes to this day that Biden could have won if he had jumped into the 2016 race.

“I can make a really compelling argument for why I think after four years of Donald Trump, a guy like Joe Biden will be exactly what the country wants,” Schale said. “If he wants to do it in a couple of years — sign me up!”

Follow this story

Trump leaves door open for military action against North Korea

President Donald Trump would not rule out the use of military force against North Korea in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Saturday, just hours after Pyongyang launched a missile test in defiance of international pressure. Trump downplayed t…

Follow this story

Trump rallies supporters in Pennsylvania on night of correspondents’ dinner

President Donald Trump spent his 100th day in office not at the annual black-tie dinner that some say launched his bid for the White House, but with some of the people who sent him there.

Amid increasingly hostile relations between Trump and the media, Trump announced in February that he would not attend the White House correspondents’ dinner Saturday night — making him the first President since Ronald Reagan to miss the event (although Reagan, who was hospitalized after an assassination attempt at the Washington Hilton — the same hotel serving as the venue for Saturday’s dinner — gave remarks by phone).

Instead, Trump held a campaign-style rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, one of the states he wasn’t expected to win in November, with the aim of reminding some of his most ardent supporters that he has kept his campaign promises.

Minutes into Trump’s Harrisburg speech, he told the crowd just how much he preferred spending the evening with supporters than the Washington media.

“A large group of Hollywood actors and Washington media are consoling each other in a hotel ballroom in our nation’s capital right now,” he said. “They are gathered together for the White House correspondents’ dinner without the President.

“And I could not possibly be more thrilled than to be more than 100 miles away from the Washington swamp spending my evening with all of you and with a much, much larger crowd and much better people,” Trump added.

Trump’s absence from the dinner became a topic of conversation early in the event when White House Correspondents’ Association President Jeff Mason received a standing ovation after professing that the press is not the enemy of the American people — a reference to an attack line Trump delivered early in his presidency. 

“Tonight looks a little different, but the values that underpin this dinner have not changed. In fact I think they’ve been reinforced,” he said. “We are here to celebrate the press — not the presidency.”

“Freedom of the press is a building block of our democracy,” Mason added. “Undermining that by seeking to delegitimize journalists is dangerous to a healthy republic.”

And comedian Hasan Mihnaj, a correspondent on the Daily Show, a satirical news show, reinforce that idea when it was his turn at the mic.

“This event is about celebrating the First Amendment and free speech,” he told the sold-out crowd. “Free speech is the foundation of an open and liberal democracy from college campuses to the White House.”

“Only in America can a first generation Indian American Muslim kid get on this stage and make fun of the President,” he added.

Although Trump skipped the chance to mingle and joke with the media, which he has routinely lambasted as “fake news,” the days leading up to his 100th in office, a traditional milestone for measuring an administration’s early achievements, have perhaps seen him give the highest number of sit-down interviews to media outlets since he entered office.

Tension between the President and news organizations has been a hallmark of his early administration.

Several news organizations withdrew from the White House correspondents’ dinner in protest of Trump’s treatment of the media before Trump decided he would not attend. Vanity Fair and Bloomberg, which usually co-host an exclusive, star-studded after-party, have canceled that gala, while The New Yorker canceled its pre-party, which would have happened Friday.

The dinner attracted national attention for attracting A-list celebrities, but the original purpose has been to raise money for journalism scholarships. With Trump and many celebrities skipping this year’s event, many media companies — including CNN — decided that instead of inviting celebrities as guests this year, journalism students would be their guests instead.

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who were Washington Post reporters when they famously broke the Watergate story that brought down President Richard Nixon, offered a critical reflection on the state of the mainstream media in 2017, but also emphasized its key role in American democracy.

“Our reporting needs to get both fact and tones right,” Woodward said. “(T)he effort today to get the best obtainable version of the truth is largely made in good faith.”

Speaking to the absent Trump, he said, “Mr. President, the media is not fake news. Let’s take that off the table as we proceed. …

“Whatever the climate, whether the media is revered or reviled, we should and must persist, and I believe we will,” he said. “Any relaxation by the press will be extremely costly to democracy.”

The last time Trump attended the dinner was in 2011, when he was a New York real estate mogul and reality-TV star who had just jumped into politics by getting involved in the “birther” movement, calling for President Barack Obama to release his birth certificate. Trump ended up being the butt of the jokes that night from comedian Seth Meyers and Obama himself.

Trump’s rally Saturday took place in a state that no Republican had won in a general election since George H. W. Bush in 1988. Trump reminded those who sent him to the White House that he has indeed kept his campaign-trail promises, despite evidence to the contrary.

Hours before the dinner, Trump tweeted that the “FAKE media” failed to trumpet his accomplishments. But Trump enters his 100th day without having passed any major legislation and with the lowest approval rating of any president during this time period.

Still, a recent poll by ABC News and The Washington Post showed him retaining support among his base, with 96% of people who said they voted for him saying they would do so again. Trump, who already announced his plan to run for re-election, has raised tens of millions of dollars before he marked his 100th day in the White House.

Follow this story

Trump signs two executive orders on trade

President Donald Trump signed two executive orders on trade before his rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on Saturday night.

One of the orders directs a review of all existing trade agreements and the second establishes an Office of Trade and Manufacturing.

“We believe in ‘Made in the USA,’ and it’s coming back faster and faster,” Trump said. “We’ve taken unprecedented steps to bring back American wealth, American jobs and American dreams.”

The President was greeted with cheers and chants of “USA! USA!” as his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, mingled with factory workers.

Trump then handed the pen to one of his top trade advisers, Peter Navarro, who will head the new trade office in addition to leading the newly formed White House National Trade Council.

In his first 100 days in office, Trump signed more executive orders than any president has since Harry Truman more than 70 years ago.

However, unlike many of his recent predecessors, Trump has been criticized for not scoring any major legislative victories.

Trump marked his 100th day in office with the rally, which fell on the same evening as the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, an event the President pointedly decided to skip as his relations with the media grew tense early in his administration.

Follow this story