POLITICO Playbook: Welcome To Debate Week

By ANNA PALMER, JAKE SHERMAN and DANIEL LIPPMAN 

Updated

2019-06-24T08:18-0400

Presented by

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A sign outside the Knight Concert Hall at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County announces the upcoming democratic presidential debates on June 26 and 27. | Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo

DRIVING THE DAY

PALACE INTRIGUE -- “Exclusive: Leaked Trump vetting docs,” by Axios’ Jonathan Swan, Juliet Bartz, Alayna Treene and Orion Rummler: “Nearly 100 internal Trump transition vetting documents leaked to ‘Axios on HBO’ identify a host of ‘red flags’ about officials who went on to get some of the most powerful jobs in the U.S. government.

“Why it matters: The massive trove, and the story behind it, sheds light on the slap-dash way President Trump filled his cabinet and administration, and foreshadowed future scandals that beset his government. Some highlights: Scott Pruitt, who ultimately lost his job as EPA Administrator because of serial ethical abuses and clubbiness with lobbyists, had a section in his vetting form titled ‘allegations of coziness with big energy companies.’

“Tom Price, who ultimately resigned as Health and Human Services Secretary after Trump lost confidence in him in part for stories about his use of chartered flights, had sections in his dossier flagging ‘criticisms of management ability’ and ‘Dysfunction And Division Has Haunted Price's Leadership Of The House Budget Committee.’

“Mick Mulvaney, who became Trump’s Budget Director and is now his acting chief of staff, has a striking assortment of ‘red flags,’ including his assessment that Trump ‘is not a very good person.’” Axios

MONEY WATCH -- ALEX ISENSTADT: “GOP to launch new fundraising site as Dems crush the online money game”: “Republicans are set to launch a long-awaited, much-delayed online fundraising platform on Monday, a move aimed at closing Democrats’ massive small-donor money advantage ahead of the 2020 election.

“WinRed is being billed as the GOP’s answer to the Democratic Party’s ActBlue, which has already amassed over $174 million this year. The new tool is intended to reshape the GOP’s fundraising apparatus by creating a centralized, one-stop shop for online Republican giving, which the party has lacked to this point.

“The launch caps months of behind-the-scenes discussions involving top Republicans. President Donald Trump and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner were involved, as were GOP congressional leaders and mega-donor Sheldon Adelson. The end product, Republican leaders hope, will fill a gaping void in the party’s machinery.” POLITICO

-- MOST SMART REPUBLICANS are skeptical of this effort, not because they don’t believe in the platform, but because they do not believe a small-dollar donor culture exists in their party.

NEW: POLITICO ISSUES TRACKER -- POLITICO is launching its 2020 Issues Tracker, your interactive guide to the issues shaping the Democratic presidential primary, explained by the top-notch policy reporters in POLITICO’s newsroom.

>POLITICO Issues Tracker

-- DAVID SIDERS: “‘Get down to the real business’: Debates kick off clash of ideas”: “For months, the Democratic primary has been defined by top-tier contenders who broadly agree on most Democratic policy priorities — and by an electorate less interested in what those candidates believe than whether he or she can defeat President Donald Trump. ‘The bottom line is first and most importantly, who in this race can beat Trump, and policy, in poll after poll, has taken a back seat to that,’ said Doug Herman, a Democratic strategist.

“But that approach is starting to evolve as 20 of the 23 Democratic candidates head into their first debate this week. Policy disputes are rearing up in fits and starts — a feud over taxes and Medicare for All, bursts of attention surrounding immigration, big tech and the voting rights of felons. In recent weeks, Democrats have released a barrage of proposals on issues ranging from climate change and immigration to housing and electoral reforms.” POLITICO

-- SIDERS’ 3 ISSUES TO WATCH: Medicare for All, climate change and taxes and income inequality.

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ALEX THOMPSON and

THEO MEYER: “Meet Elizabeth Warren’s team of nerds”: “Behind Elizabeth Warren’s trust-busting, Wall Street-bashing, tax-the-wealthy platform is a brain trust that extends well beyond the Beltway thinkers who often rubber stamp campaign proposals.

Instead, the former Harvard professor and her tight team of policy advisers have waded deeper into the world of academia than is usual in presidential campaigns, according to interviews with more than a dozen people her campaign has consulted and a review of the scholarship underlying her plans.

“Leafing through Warren’s plans posted on Medium, voters will find links to obscure academic literature from places like the Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics, the Upjohn Institute, the Journal of Applied Business and Economics, and the American Journal of Sociology.” POLITICO

Good Monday morning. THE LATEST IN IRAN -- “Iranians say their ‘bones breaking’ under U.S. sanctions,” by AP’s Nasser Karimi and Mohammad Nasiri in Tehran

A ZINGER ON POMPEO FROM WAPO’S CAROL MORELLO: “Although [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo sounded optimistic about resuming negotiations with North Korea, which has an arsenal of nuclear weapons, his rhetoric remained downbeat and abrasive toward Iran, which does not yet have any nuclear arms.” WaPo

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THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION -- “Agriculture Department buries studies showing dangers of climate change, ” by Helena Bottemiller Evich

WHAT DEMOCRATS ARE BANKING ON -- “Democratic group’s poll shows Trump vulnerable with his base on health care,” by Scott Bland: “The Democratic research group American Bridge is preparing a $50 million campaign to win over a slice of President Donald Trump’s base, and new polling has convinced the organization that Trump is vulnerable on pocketbook issues, especially health care, among white working-class voters.” POLITICO

2020 WATCH -- NYT’S ALEX BURNS: “Stand-Ins, Push-Ups and Long Drives: How the 2020 Field Is Preparing for the Debates”: “The debates on Wednesday and Thursday nights, and another two at the end of July, may represent the first, best — and for some, the only — opportunity to stand out from an enormous throng of competitors and build national momentum in the Democratic primary.

“If these debates are designed to let candidates showcase themselves to a national audience, for some they could end up serving less as a moment of introduction than as a farewell, as they separate the Democrats capable of exciting the imaginations of primary voters from those who lack that gift. More than half of the candidates debating this week risk being blocked from debates starting in September unless they can significantly lift their polling and fund-raising numbers before then.

“Across the country, in spare hotel conference rooms and bustling campaign offices, many of the 20 Democrats who will debate Wednesday and Thursday have spent long hours holding their own debate simulations and rapid-fire policy drills. In each debate, the candidates could have as little as six or seven minutes of speaking time to put all that practice to work.” NYT

-- TOUGH NIGHT FOR MAYOR PETE … AP in

SOUTH BEND:

“Mayor Buttigieg criticized at emotional town hall about shooting”

-- CONSIDER THIS: Former Rep. Joe Sestak, who has little national profile and appears to have laid no groundwork for the presidential bid he announced Sunday, came closer to defeating Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey (Sestak lost by about 80,000 votes) than Beto O’Rourke did to ousting Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas (O’Rourke lost by more than 200,000 votes). But Sestak then ran again in 2016, losing the Democratic primary to Katie McGinty, who went on to lose narrowly to Toomey in the general election.

-- THE POLICY PRIMARY: “Sanders to propose canceling entire $1.6 trillion in U.S. student loan debt, escalating Democratic policy battle,” by WaPo’s Jeff Stein

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TRUMP’S MONDAY -- President Donald Trump will participate in a photo with the 2019 Presidential Scholars in the East Room at 11 a.m. He will have lunch with VP Mike Pence at 12:45 p.m. in the private dining room. Trump will sign an executive order on health care at 3 p.m. in the Grand Foyer.

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PLAYBOOK READS

PHOTO DU JOUR: Protesters stage a rally in Seoul, South Korea, on Monday, June 24, with a sign that reads "We oppose Trump's visit," ahead of President Donald Trump's planned visit on Saturday and Sunday. | Ahn Young-joon/AP Photo

BOLTON WARNS IRAN … NYT’S DAVID HALBFINGER in

Jerusalem:

“President Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, warned Tehran on Sunday not to ‘mistake U.S. prudence and discretion for weakness,’ saying that military action against Iran remained very much an option even though the United States last week called off one military strike. … ‘No one has granted them a hunting license in the Middle East,’ Mr. Bolton said on Sunday at an appearance in Jerusalem alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.”

-- WELP… FOR JARED: “Neither he nor Mr. Bolton mentioned the ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan unveiled by the White House on Saturday aimed at improving the lot of the Palestinians and their Arab neighbors, in the first public unveiling of the Trump administration’s long-delayed proposal to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” NYT

-- WSJ: “U.S. Plans New Iran Sanctions as Europe Tries to Defuse Tensions”

FOR YOUR RADAR -- “Opposition win in Istanbul a blow to Turkey’s Erdogan,” by AP’s Zeynep Bilginsoy and Derek Gatopoulos: “The opposition candidate for mayor of Istanbul celebrated a landmark win Sunday in a closely watched repeat election that ended weeks of political tension and broke the long hold President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party had on leading Turkey’s largest city. …

“The governing party’s candidate, former Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, conceded moments after returns showed him trailing well behind Imamoglu, 54% to 45%. Imamoglu increased his lead from a March mayoral election by hundreds of thousands of votes.

“Erdogan congratulated Imamoglu in a tweet. Analysts noted the president, who is grappling with an economic downturn and several international crises, could limit the mayor’s power or undermine Imamoglu’s authority in other ways.” AP

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BEYOND THE BELTWAY -- “Fairfax ‘thinking very seriously’ about run for governor, says scandal has raised his public profile,” by the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Mel Leonor: “Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax said Thursday that he is ‘very hopeful about the future’ and ‘thinking very seriously’ about a gubernatorial run in 2021.

“Fairfax, who faces sexual assault allegations by two women, said the scandal has raised his public profile for good.

“‘Many people a year ago would not have recognized me, now they really do,’ Fairfax said. ‘People come up to me at gas stations, they say, ‘Hey, we recognize you. We love you. We know what they are saying about you is false.’”

-- “Illinois bans private immigration detention centers,” by CNN’s Jamie Ehrlich: “Illinois Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker signed a bill on Friday that bans private immigration detention centers in the state, making it the first in the nation to forbid the practice.”

WHAT DEMOCRATS ARE READING: “Time’s Up on presidential debates designed for the last century,” by Eva Longoria, Ana Navarro and Hilary Rosen in WaPo

DANIEL’S POSTCARD FROM ASPEN IDEAS --

Former Speaker

PAUL RYAN was interviewed Sunday night at the Hotel Jerome by Judy Woodruff. One thing that keeps him up at night: “What I worry about is our system of self-determination, liberty and freedom, constitutional government, going to be able to persist against a country of 1.4 billion people run by one guy or seven people at best that is leaner and meaner and can make quicker decisions. Is democracy going to be able to survive in the tests that it will have in these illiberal dictatorships?

“That to me is a far more important question in the 21stcentury. Not the populist politics of the moment but democracy itself. We determine our own lives through our elected representatives in our government. Can that system succeed in the future or not? That to me is the bigger challenge for us, and it’s not just America, it’s all of the Western world, it’s the democracies of the world.”

LAUREN COLLINS in

THE NEW YORKER: “Can Emmanuel Macron Stem the Populist Tide?: France’s young President is now Europe’s most forceful progressive. But violence at home and the success of right-wing parties throughout the Continent threaten his ambitions.”

MEDIAWATCH -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection is screening journalists, at least according to this first-person account by Seth Harp in The Intercept.

-- Fox News’

Tucker Carlson will interview President Trump in Osaka, Japan, on the sidelines of the G-20, according to the network, with the full interview to air July 1.

-- DAILY BEAST’S SAM STEIN and MAX TANI:

“Biden’s Media Strategy: Duck The Press Unless You’re Under Duress,” with a spicy quote from David Axelrod: “It is not a tenable strategy. … His message is that he’s the guy who can beat Donald Trump and he is viewed as the least risky choice. Over time, if the only interactions he has is around these screwups and gaffes, then he is going to start losing that message.”

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What’s REALLY Happening on Capitol Hill? Get in the game by reading the Huddle, POLITICO's fun and essential play-by-play guide to Congress. Melanie Zanona pulls back the curtain and takes you inside the backrooms on Capitol Hill to keep you apprised of the latest news and nuggets from the upper and lower chambers. Sign up today.

PLAYBOOKERS

SPOTTED: Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) flying from Charlotte to DCA on Sunday night. … Ben Carson walking through the B Terminal on Sunday at DCA. ... Stephen Moore entering the Trump Hotel. ... Per Massachusetts Playbook’s Stephanie Murray: “A ‘Pete-town’ flag flying outside the Provincetown home of prominent Democratic donor Bryan Rafanelli and his partner Mark Walsh. Buttigieg will hold a series of fundraiser with Rafanelli on Cape Cod around the Fourth of July holiday.”

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BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Matt Continetti, editor-in-chief of The Washington Free Beacon, is 38.

What he’s been reading recently: “The best nonfiction book I’ve read recently is George Will’s ‘The Conservative Sensibility.’ It is a remarkable summation of Will’s political thought after a half-century in Washington. It’s the sort of book that, when read by a young person in high school or college, might change his life. I hope it does.”

Playbook Plus Q&A

BIRTHDAYS: Ralph Reed is 58 … Roger Fisk, principal at New Day Strategy, is 52 ... former N.Y. Gov. George Pataki is 74 … Ed Traz … Texas Tribune’s Morgan Smith (hubby tip: Travis Considine) … Nelson Peltz is 77 ... Robert Reich is 73 … Jonathan Yuan, an MPP candidate at Harvard Kennedy School ... Chris Weideman ... Quentin Cantu ... POLITICO’s Carlos Ochoa ... Zach Seward, chief product officer and executive editor of Quartz … Anna Massoglia ... Kirsten Hughes ... WSJ’s Jennifer Maloney ... Mike Gula (h/t Zack Roday) ... Jesse Stinebring of Civis Analytics … Mike Fullerton is 49 ... Richard Robbins, CEO of NYC’s Upper West Strategies, is 5-0 … Madison Fox Porter (h/t Cody Sanders) …

… Omnika Thompson, EP of “MSNBC Live with Katy Tur” … Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Mich.) is 36 … European Commissioner Corina Crețu is 52 ... POLITICO Europe’s Alistair Walker … Jennifer Millerwise Dyck (h/t Tim Burger) … Heather Hurlburt of the New America Foundation ... Greg Scruggs ... Kate Yglesias Houghton (h/t Kelley McCormick) ... Stephanie Craig ... Amelia Makin ... Brett Rosner ... Ben Tomchik ... Neal Becton ... CKI’s Gretchen Reiter … Edelman’s Kevin Goldman and Ryan Colaianni ... Melinda Arons (h/t Adrienne Elrod) ... Joanna Reagan ... Katherine Marie Kulik ... Thomas Doane Perry III ... Allie Bradford ... Abel Acuña ... Job Serebrov ... Joe Bogosian ... Roger Roscoe ... Tyler Somes is 3-0 ... Kelda Roys is 4-0 (h/t Teresa Vilmain)

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of Playbook misidentified Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.).

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