Kerry: Democrat debate was something of a food fight

Former Secretary of State John Kerry at a campaign office for Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, in Rock Hill, S.C., Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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UPDATED 6:25 PM PT — Thursday, February 20, 2020

Former Secretary of State John Kerry has slammed the fiery Democrat primary debate as “something of a food fight.” On Thursday, Kerry criticized candidates’ theatrics, but praised former Vice President Joe Biden for seemingly rising above the fray.

He accused the top Democrat contenders of fighting among themselves rather than addressing issues and policies.

“I thought the debate overall was something of a food fight among a lot of candidates,” stated Kerry. “I think Joe Biden managed to stay above that fray.”

According to Kerry, Biden has the potential to win battleground states in the general election due to his policies. In a jab at candidates’ progressive ideas, he noted the former vice president also didn’t propose anything that would be impossible to achieve.

“He didn’t put things on the table that are not possible to achieve,” said Kerry. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense to be talking about a healthcare plan that’s going to kick 150 million Americans off of their health insurance, that doesn’t even have the support of half the Democratic caucus.”

From left, Democratic presidential candidates, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Kerry’s remarks came after he endorsed the former vice president back in December. He has campaigned for Biden ever since.

MORE NEWS: Democrats Take Aim At Bloomberg, Sanders During Las Vegas Debate

Original Article

Democrats expected to slam Bloomberg in debate

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg gives his thumbs-up after speaking during a campaign event at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond, Va., Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. (James H. Wallace/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

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UPDATED 89:10 AM PT — Wednesday, February 19, 2020

A Democrat presidential candidate will be stepping into the debate ring for the first time in more than a decade. On Tuesday, Mike Bloomberg qualified for Wednesday’s Democrat debate in Las Vegas. However, the former New York City mayor is expected to face serious heat from his fellow candidates.

Bloomberg’s Democrat opponents have a number of debates under their belt and a person working on his campaign recently said their team is concerned with the billionaire’s lack of experience in that arena. His campaign said it’s expecting to receive a lot of negative attention from other candidates.

For instance, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Miss.) took to social media Tuesday to blast Bloomberg for being an “egomaniac billionaire,” who allegedly bought his way into the debate.

However, Bloomberg’s senior campaign adviser suggested this is not the case. In a recent interview, Timothy O’Brien promised the former New York City mayor would release his tax returns and sell his company if he’s elected.

“There will be no confusion about any of his financial holdings, blurring the line between public service and personal profiteering,” he stated. “We will be 180 degrees where Donald Trump is on these issues.”

Meanwhile, Bloomberg’s biggest rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), could potentially benefit from his late entrance in the debate. According to Business Insider, candidates are expected to shift their attention off Sanders and onto Bloomberg.

Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks to hundreds of people on the campus of the University on Nevada, Reno, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, before leading several dozen on a two-block march to the student union to cast their ballot on the final day of early voting ahead of Saturday’s presidential caucuses. (AP Photo/Scott Sonner)

Bloomberg will not be on the ballots for Nevada’s caucuses, which are set to be held this Saturday. He will prepare for Wednesday’s debate for now, which will be a crucial battle ahead of Super Tuesday on March 3rd.

RELATED: President Trump says Bloomberg is a mass of dead energy

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Andrew Yang on being only candidate of color on Dem debate stage: ‘Honor and disappointment’

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Andrew Yang calls out Democrats for impeachment hysteria

2020 Trump senior legal advisor Jenna Ellis reacts.

Businessman and 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang lamented the fact that he was the only person of color on the Democratic debate stage Thursday night.

"It's both an honor and a disappointment to be the lone candidate of color on the stage tonight," Yang said during the debate.

Thursday's debate occurred just weeks after Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., dropped out of the 2020 race — leaving a top tier of just white candidates.

"I miss Kamala, I miss Cory, though I think Cory will be back," Yang said, referring to Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. Booker remained in the race but was unable to qualify for Thursday's debate.

HARRIS' 2020 EXIT LEAVES POTENTIALLY ALL-WHITE DEBATE, CAUSING CONSTERNATION AMONG DEMS

Yang went on to suggest that he was the only candidate of color on stage because minorities lacked disposable income.

"You know what you need to donate to political campaigns? Disposable income," he said to applause.

"The way we fix it this is we take Martin Luther King's message of a guaranteed minimum income, a freedom dividend of $1,000 a month for all Americans — I'd guarantee if we had a freedom dividend … I would not be the only candidate of color on this stage tonight," he said.

Yang wasn't the only one to note that the 2020 field was overwhelmingly white for a party that claims to champion diversity.

DNC UNDER FIRE FOR TIGHTENING DEBATE CRITERIA AGAIN, DESPITE BOOKER APPEAL

Aimee Allison, a leading progressive activist, lamented Harris' departure from the race, noting that it left only white candidates to participate in the debate.

"It's a sad state of affairs to have six white candidates on stage, many of whom don't necessarily speak with black women, who are the powerhouse voters — and we're at this moment where we went from the most diverse set of candidates in the history — certainly in my lifetime — to an all-white stage," Allison told MSNBC's Ali Velshi.

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Yang's comments came amid a Los Angeles Times report claiming that progressive leaders viewed Mayor Pete Buttigieg as a symbol of white privilege.

“There is frustration that Pete is the living and breathing embodiment of white male privilege," Rebecca Katz, who leads a progressive consulting firm, told the paper.

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Warren, 70, replies she’d be ‘youngest woman’ president when debate talk turns to age

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Pundits say Warren slipping

Medicare plan finally draws spotlight.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., seemed to turn a potentially troublesome fact to her advantage during Thursday night's Democratic primary debate in Los Angeles, when the conversation turned to the ages of the candidates.

“Senator Warren, you would be the oldest president ever inaugurated," moderator Tim Alberta of Politico magazine noted. "I’d like you to weigh in as well."

“I’d also be the youngest woman ever inaugurated,” Warren answered, drawing applause from the audience at Loyola Marymount University.

DEM DEBATE ERUPTS AS CANDIDATES SPAR OVER DONORS; YANG SLAMS TRUMP 'OBSESSION'

The age topic has been a touchy one for several of the 2020 Democrats, with septuagenarians Bernie Sanders (78), Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg (both 77) and Warren (70) competing for the party's nomination against younger rivals Tom Steyer (62), Amy Klobuchar (59), Cory Booker (50), Andrew Yang (44), Tulsi Gabbard (38) and Pete Buttigieg (37).

Of the younger group, only Buttigieg has managed to rank among the top-tier contenders, meaning that President Trump (73) could very likely face a fellow septuagenarian in the general election next November.

During her response, Warren also said she has posed for more than 100,000 selfies on the campaign trail so far – asserting it proves she has been connecting with average Americans. The comment appeared to be a subtle dig at rivals Biden and Buttigieg, who reportedly charge hefty sums to pose for photos.

Warren also addressed recent comments made by former President Obama, who said women were “indisputably better” leaders than men. Warren said she thought Obama was speaking about power in America.

Democratic presidential candidates spar, face impeachment questions on debate stageVideo

"I believe he’s talking about women and people of color and trans people and people whose voices just so often get shoved out,” Warren said. “For me, the best way to understand that is to look how people are running their campaigns in 2020.”

“I made the decisions, when I decided to run, not to do business as usual, and now I’m crowding in on 100,000 selfies. That’s 100,000 hugs and handshakes and stories. Stories from people who are struggling with student loan debt. Stories from people who can’t pay their medical bills. Stories from people who can’t find child care.

Democratic presidential candidates weigh in on Trump impeachment ahead of debateVideo

“Most of the people on this stage run a traditional campaign. And that means going back and forth from coast to coast to rich people and people who can put up 5,000 bucks or more in order to have a picture taken, in order to have a conversation. And in order maybe to be considered an ambassador … ”

Warren has repeatedly called out Biden and Buttigieg for accepting money from super PACs and billionaires, while her own campaign, as well as that of fellow progressive Sanders, claims to be grass-roots funded.

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In the most pointed exchange, Warren zeroed in on Buttigieg's recent private meeting with wealthy donors inside a California “wine cave."

Buttigieg, whose recent surge has been attributed in part to his fundraising success, said Democrats shouldn’t go against Trump with “with one hand tied behind our back." Trump’s reelection campaign has reportedly accumulated hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Cory Booker to run his first TV ad during Thursday’s Democratic debate

closeCory Booker unhappy with DNC debate rules; Joe Biden spars with caucus goerVideo

Cory Booker unhappy with DNC debate rules; Joe Biden spars with caucus goer

Democrats swarm Iowa as caucus looms; Peter Doocy reports from Des Moines.

He didn’t make the stage, but many TV viewers watching Thursday night’s Democratic presidential primary debate will likely – and briefly – still see Sen. Cory Booker.

The senator from New Jersey will run the first television commercial of his Democratic campaign during the debate, which will be broadcast nationally on PBS and simulcast on cable TV by CNN.

DEBATE IS ON – DEAL REACHED IN LABOR DISPUTE THAT THREATENED TO SIDELINE THURSDAY'S SHOWDOWN

Booker’s campaign announced early Thursday that their ad is specifically targeting viewers tuning into the debate and will be seen in 22 TV markets across the country, including the four early primary and caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, as well as in New York City, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles.

In the 30-second spot titled ‘Together,’ Booker jokes “how long are these things? 30 seconds? Are you sure we can afford this?”

The candidate – who has struggled with fundraising and is hovering in the low single digits in most polling – then spotlights that “you're only gonna see this ad once because I'm not a billionaire. I won't be on tonight's debate stage, but that's okay because I'm going to win this election anyway.”

“This election isn't about who can spend the most, or who slings the most mud. It's about the people. It's about all of us, standing together, fighting together. Not just to beat Donald Trump, but to bring about the transformative change we need,” he adds.

Only 7 of the roughly 15 remaining Democratic White House hopefuls qualified for Thursday’s sixth round debate. They are former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, billionaire environmental and progressive advocate Tom Steyer, and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

Booker reached the individual donor qualifying criteria set by the Democratic National Committee, but was far short of reaching the polling threshold. Thursday’s debate is the first for which he’s failed to qualify.

HE DIDN'T QUALIFY FOR THE DEBATE, BUT BOOKER SAYS HIS 'PATH FORWARD IS CLEAR'

On Saturday, Booker spearheaded a letter to the DNC asking the national party committee to "consider alternative debate qualification standards" for four nomination debates scheduled in January and February in the early voting sates.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who besides Booker is the other remaining black candidate in the nomination race, also failed to qualify for the debate. A third black candidate – Sen. Kamala Harris of California – qualified for the debate but ended her White House bid earlier this month. Former Housing Secy. Julian Castro, the only Latino candidate in the field, also failed to qualify. Yang – who’s Asian-American – is the only non-white candidate to qualify.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey campaigns in Portsmouth, NH in February 2019

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey campaigns in Portsmouth, NH in February 2019

Booker – in his letter – argued that the higher thresholds have “unnecessarily and artificially narrowed what started as the strongest and most diverse Democratic field in history.”

The letter, which was co-signed by all seven candidates who will appear in the debate, appeared to receive a frosty reception by the DNC, which has yet to reveal the qualifying thresholds for the January and February primary showdowns.

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While Booker's commercial runs on TV, the candidate will be in Iowa Thursday night, kicking off a five day swing through the state that leads off the presidential nominating calendar.

Original Article

Impeachment debate kicks off with GOP objections on floor, Capitol protests

closeTom Cole: Dems spun creative narrative 'without factual evidence'Video

Tom Cole: Dems spun creative narrative 'without factual evidence'

Tom Cole, House Rules Committee, says its stunning the majority wants to move forward with impeachment given how flawed the process has been

Debate on historic articles of impeachment against President Trump got off to a slow start Wednesday with Republicans unleashing delay tactics from the onset, only to be overruled by majority Democrats.

Shortly after the House gaveled in at 9 a.m., one GOP member forced a vote on whether to adjourn — requiring lawmakers to head to the floor before the debate even started.

“I just moved for the House to adjourn so that we can stop wasting America's time on impeachment,” tweeted Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz. “Republicans stand united against this radical, vindictive, partisan sham by the Democrats.”

WITH TRUMP IMPEACHMENT VOTE IMMINENT, PRESIDENT TRAVELING TO BATTLE CREEK, MICH., TO RALLY THE FAITHFUL

The ill-fated motion kicked off what is expected to be a long day in the deeply divided House, where Democrats believe it’s their solemn duty to impeach the president to preserve the democracy and the integrity of elections. Meanwhile, Republicans have dismissed the impeachment as an illegitimate way to undo the results of the 2016 election.

There were fireworks outside the Capitol, too. Several hundred people protested in the chilly December cold in favor of impeachment and removing Trump from office, following more than 600 anti-Trump rallies across the country Tuesday evening.

The House rules call for six hours of debate before taking two votes on the articles of impeachment. The first article alleges abuse of power over Trump pressuring Ukraine to launch investigations into Democrats that could benefit his re-election campaign. The second alleges obstruction of Congress over Trump preventing the House from interviewing witnesses and obtaining documents for the impeachment investigation.

The GOP objections are likely to push the timetable back further. Immediately after Biggs’ motion to adjourn was defeated, Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy offered another privileged resolution to condemn the way Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler handled the impeachment hearings.

HOUSE TO VOTE ON ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT AGAINST PRESIDENT TRUMP: LIVE UPDATES

That motion set off another round of voting. GOP Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., then stood up raising a “point of order” alleging the Democrats have violated the rights of the minority. The effort was dismissed by the presiding speaker Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo.

More than an hour later, House Democrats finally moved forward on debating the rules of the impeachment.

"The evidence is as clear as it is overwhelming," said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. "If a president undermining our national security and using the federal government for his own selfish personal gain is not impeachable conduct then…I don't know what is."

But GOP Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., shot back.

"If we're really being honest, Democrats have been searching for a reason to impeach President Trump since the day he was elected," Cole said.

Despite the prolonged floor drama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has the votes to make Trump the third president ever impeached. President Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were impeached in the House, but acquitted in the Senate. President Richard Nixon resigned before impeachment.

In the hours leading up to impeachment day, most of the Democrats in the 31 districts Trump won in 2016 came out in support of impeachment, giving Pelosi the 216 votes necessary.

Trump, emboldened by his unanimous support from GOP members, sent Pelosi a letter on the eve of his impeachment calling it “an illegal, partisan attempted coup.”

“History will judge you harshly as you proceed with this impeachment charade,” wrote Trump.

Trump, who insists his call with the Ukraine president was “perfect,” heads to battleground Michigan for a campaign rally Wednesday night.

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Schiff, who has been the target of Trump’s anger, stood by how he handled the impeachment process. Asked if he had any regrets as he headed to the House floor, the California Democrat responded: “No. Not at all. This was tragically made necessary by the president’s misconduct, by the abuse of his office.

“And I think there very well may be members who have regrets after this day when they’re asked in the future why they did nothing to stand up to the unethical president who is destroying our national security.”

Fox News’ Chad Pergram, Sarah Tobianski and Jason Smith contributed to this report.

Original Article

Debate is on? Tentative deal reached in union dispute that threatened 2020 showdown

closeOnly 7 candidates have qualified for next Democratic debateVideo

Only 7 candidates have qualified for next Democratic debate

Who stands the best chance? Democratic strategist Malia Fisher and GOP strategist Lauren Claffey debate.

A tentative agreement has been struck in a labor dispute between food service workers and their employer at Loyola Marymount University that threatened to derail Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate.

The food services company Sodexo negotiated late into Monday evening with their employees at Loyola Marymount University to secure a tentative contract agreement. A formal vote is expected to take place on Tuesday.

TRUMP LEAVES DOOR OPEN TO BYPASSING COMMISSION ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES SHOWDOWNS

Unite Here Local 11 – the labor union representing the workers – said last Friday that they would picket the debate at the Los Angeles-area school if no agreement was reached with Sodexo. All seven Democratic presidential candidates who qualified for the debate said they wouldn’t cross a picket line to take the stage, which threw the debate into limbo.

The three-year tentative agreement includes a 25 percent increase in salary, a 50 percent drop in health care costs, and increases in workers’ job security. All sides are expected to release more details at a Tuesday afternoon news conference in Los Angeles.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez – who served as labor secretary under then-President Barack Obama – worked through the weekend and Monday to help secure an agreement.

“Every worker deserves fair wages and benefits. That’s why I was proud to help bring all stakeholders to the table, including UNITE HERE Local 11, Sodexo, and Loyola Marymount University, to reach a deal that meets their needs and supports workers," Perez said in a statement.

"I commend Sodexo and UNITE HERE for coming together in good faith to forge an agreement that is a win-win for everyone, and I appreciate the constructive engagement of LMU leadership which was indispensable to the resolution of this negotiation."

The DNC said it's notified the campaigns of the agreement.

The DNC had already once before moved the debate location to Loyola Marymount University from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) due to a separate labor dispute at that school.

Original Article

Trump leaves door open to bypassing presidential debate commission in 2020

closePresident Trump's job approval ticks up amid impeachment inquiryVideo

President Trump's job approval ticks up amid impeachment inquiry

Are congressional Democrats wasting their time after weeks of testimony fails to sway voters? Reaction from NYC GOP Councilman Joe Borelli and Democratic political analyst Anthony Tall join the debate.

President Trump said Monday he looks “very much forward” to debating his eventual Democratic challenger in 2020 but suggested he may bypass debates sponsored by the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates – which has organized presidential general election debates for more than 30 years.

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Trump argued in a series of tweets that as president, the general election "debates are up to me" and "there are many options, including doing them directly & avoiding the nasty politics of this very biased Commission."

He added, "I will make a decision at an appropriate time."

Still, he tweeted: “I look very much forward to debating whoever the lucky person is who stumbles across the finish line in the little watched Do Nothing Democrat Debates.”

The first two rounds of Democratic nomination debates scored healthy ratings, but the numbers have declined this autumn.

Trump also tweeted that, “My record is so good on the Economy and all else, including debating, that perhaps I would consider more than 3 debates.”

Three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate have been held every four years dating back to the 2000 election.

The president’s tweets appear to be in response to a report from the New York Times last week that Trump was talking with aides about skipping out on the debates because of his mistrust of the commission.

“The problem is that the so-called Commission on Presidential Debates is stacked with Trump Haters & Never Trumpers. 3 years ago they were forced to publicly apologize for modulating my microphone in the first debate against Crooked Hillary,” Trump tweeted on Monday.

Trump was referring to a problem with his microphone during his face-off in the September 2016 debate against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. In the spin room following the showdown and in an interview with Fox News, Trump complained to reporters that his mic was “defective” and questioned whether the malfunction was “on purpose.”

Following the debate, the commission issued a short statement saying, “Regarding the first debate, there were issues regarding Donald Trump’s audio that affected the sound level in the debate hall.”

Monday’s tweet was at least the second time this year he’s referenced the three-year old debate incident and blamed the commission. Such attacks are popular with Trump’s base.

Fox News reached out to the commission but they declined to comment on the president’s tweets.

In October, the commission announced the dates and locations for the four 2020 debates.

The presidential debates will be held on Sept. 29 at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, on Oct. 15 at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Oct. 22 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. The sole vice presidential showdown will be held on Oct. 7 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Original Article

Democratic debate in jeopardy amid labor disputes as candidates express frustration over’artificially narrowed’ field

closeDemocratic presidential candidates threaten to boycott Los Angeles debateVideo

Democratic presidential candidates threaten to boycott Los Angeles debate

With workers at the university hosting the debate on strike, every major candidate vows not to cross the picket line; Ellison Barber reports.

Controversy continues to roil this week’s upcoming Democratic presidential primary debate in Los Angeles amid an ongoing labor dispute, anger over the tightening qualification standards and discontent with Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.

The debate, which was originally slated to be held at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), was moved to Loyola Marymount University after AFSCME Local 3299 – the union representing more than 25,000 University of California service and patient technical care workers – and the state school forced UCLA to inform the Democrats and its media partners to abandon plans to host the debate at the Luskin School of Public Affairs.

But another labor dispute at Loyola Marymount University is now once again threatening the December 19 debate and the top Democratic primary candidates are threatening to boycott the event if they have to cross a picket line to get to the stage.

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A labor union called UNITE HERE Local 11 says it will picket outside the event, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders responded by tweeting they wouldn’t participate if that meant crossing it. Former Vice President Joe Biden, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind.; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, environmental activist Tom Steyer and businessman Andrew Yang followed suit.

“The DNC should find a solution that lives up to our party's commitment to fight for working people. I will not cross the union's picket line even if it means missing the debate,” Warren tweeted.

Only 7 candidates have qualified for next Democratic debateVideo

Sanders tweeted, “I will not be crossing their picket line,” while Biden tweeted: “We’ve got to stand together with @UNITEHERE11 for affordable health care and fair wages. A job is about more than just a paycheck. It's about dignity.” The other candidates used Twitter to post similar sentiments.

UNITE HERE Local 11 says it represents 150 cooks, dishwashers, cashiers and servers working on the Loyola Marymount campus. It says it has been in negotiations with a food service company since March for a collective bargaining agreement without reaching a resolution, and “workers and students began picketing on campus in November to voice their concern for a fair agreement. The company abruptly canceled scheduled contract negotiations last week.”

Loyola Marymount said that it is not a party to the contract negotiations but that it had contacted the food services company involved, Sodexo, and encouraged it “to resolve the issues raised by Local 11."

HOLDING BACK NO MORE, WARREN SLAMS TOP RIVALS BIDEN AND BUTTIGIEG

“Earlier today, LMU asked Sodexo to meet with Local 11 next week to advance negotiations and solutions. LMU is not an agent nor a joint employer of Sodexo, nor of the Sodexo employees assigned to our campus," the university said in a statement. “LMU is proud to host the DNC presidential debate and is committed to ensuring that the university is a rewarding place to learn, live, and work."

DNC Communications Director Xochitl Hinojosa said both the DNC and the university found out about the issue earlier Friday, but expressed support for the union and the candidates' boycott, stating that “Tom Perez would absolutely not cross a picket line and would never expect our candidates to, either.”

Cory Booker unhappy with DNC debate rules; Joe Biden spars with caucus goerVideo

“We are working with all stakeholders to find an acceptable resolution that meets their needs and is consistent with our values and will enable us to proceed as scheduled with next week’s debate,” she said in a statement.

Perez, meanwhile, received a tersely worded letter from a number of Democratic candidates, asking him to relax the qualifications for January’s debate in South Carolina.

WARREN SLIPS AS BUTTIGIEG, BIDEN, AND SANDERS BATTLE FOR TOP SPOT IN NH: POLL

“The escalating thresholds over the past few months have unnecessarily and artificially narrowed what started as the strongest and most diverse Democratic field in history before voters have had a chance to be heard.” The letter, which was signed by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, along with Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Steyer, Warren, Yang and former Housing and Urban Development Sec. Julian Castro, stated.

The letter continued: “As a result, candidates who have proven both their viability and their commitment to the Democratic Party are being prematurely cut out of the nominating contest before many voters have even tuned in — much less made their decision about whom to support.”

Kamala Harris out of the 2020 presidential primary runningVideo

Given the continually escalating qualifications for the debates – and issues with fundraising – the Democratic field has already seen household names like Sen. Kamala Harris of California and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas abandon their presidential bids.

“[W]hile we know this was an unintended consequence of the DNC’s actions, many of the candidates excluded due to these thresholds are the ones who have helped make this year’s primary field historically diverse,” the letter stated.

The controversies surrounding the debates and concerns over the party producing a viable candidate who can defeat President Trump in next year’s general election have cast doubts on Perez’s leadership of the party.

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In a lengthy interview with the New York Times that was published on Saturday, Perez said that the qualifications for next month’s debate were not going to change – despite the pleas from Booker – and said if voters are upset over the lack of diversity on the debate stage they should voice it when asked.

Tom Perez: More Americans think Trump needs to be impeached than notVideo

“I’m not doing the polling,” Perez said. “I’m a huge fan of Cory Booker. I think the world of him. I worked with him dating back to when he was mayor. And if voters are disappointed that he hasn’t qualified, then when they answer the phone, they need to express their preference for Cory Booker.”

Perez also confirmed that he will not be seeking another term at DNC chairman.

Fox News’ Lee Ross and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Democratic debate once again in peril as candidates threaten to boycott over union dispute

closePundits say Warren slippingVideo

Pundits say Warren slipping

Medicare plan finally draws spotlight.

Next week's Democratic debate is now in jeopardy after all seven candidates slated to participate said they will refuse to take the stage over a labor strike at the proposed venue — chaos that comes after the location was already moved once.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, former Vice President Joe Biden, environmentalist Tom Steyer, South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar all announced in rapid succession Friday afternoon their plans to sit out the Thursday debate at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) if the college's food service workers are picketing.

TRUMP SLAMS PELOSI, SAYS DEMS USING IMPEACHMENT FOR ‘POLITICAL GAIN’ AFTER JUDICIARY VOTE

"I stand with them," Warren tweeted Friday. "The DNC [Democratic National Committee] should find a solution that lives up to our party's commitment to fight for working people. I will not cross the union's picket line even if it means missing the debate."

Sanders immediately followed with his own tweet in support of the workers of Unite Here Local 11, a labor union representing the hospitality and food service workers at the university.

A Sanders campaign spokesperson told Fox News that if the labor dispute isn't resolved and there isn't an alternative venue, Sanders will skip the Los Angeles debate, which will be co-hosted by PBS NewsHour and Politico.

"He's not going to cross the picket line. Simple as that," the campaign spokesperson said.

The Democratic National Committee did not immediately have a comment.

The debate was initially scheduled to be held at the University of California, Los Angeles, but the DNC canceled the location on Nov. 6 over ongoing labor disputes between the university and AFSCME Local 3299. LMU was picked as the alternative site.

Local 11 announced Friday it would protest the debate's second site because contract negotiations have stalled between the union and Sodexo, which runs food operations for students and employees at LMU's campus. About 150 dishwashers, cashiers, cooks and servers are affected by the union dispute.

“We had hoped that workers would have a contract with wages and affordable health insurance before the debate next week. Instead, workers will be picketing when the candidates come to campus,” Susan Minato, the co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11, said in a statement.

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A union rep told Fox News the foodservice employees had been working without a contract for several weeks and had already held several pickets in an attempt to force school leaders to provide them with better wages, benefits and working conditions.

The employees were planning to work as normal on debate day, but didn't rule out the possibility of work stoppage, the union spokesperson said.

A source familiar with the matter said the DNC and LMU were not made aware of the issue until after the union sent a letter to the candidates Friday about their picket. Officials at the DNC were looking into the matter on Friday.

A Sodexo spokesperson told Fox News they are searching for a solution.

"Sodexo is 100 percent committed to reaching an agreement, and any statement that we have left the bargaining table is not accurate," the spokesperson said. "We have been negotiating in good faith with the Unite Here Local 11 since December of last year with a goal to reach a new collective bargaining agreement that is equitable for everyone, including our employees, and we still intend to achieve such an agreement.”

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It's unclear whether the DNC could move the debate location again in such short notice with the avalanche of candidates threatening to bow out.

"We must live our values and there is nothing more core to the Democratic Party than the fight for the working people," Yang tweeted.

"We’ve got to stand together with @UniteHere11 for affordable health care and fair wages," Biden said. "A job is about more than just a paycheck. It's about dignity."

Steyer tweeted: "I support @UNITEHERE11. If their dispute with @sodexoUSA is not resolved before the debate, I will not cross the picket line. I trust the DNC will find a solution ahead of the debate, and I stand with @LoyolaMarymount workers in their fight for fair wages and benefits."

"I stand in solidarity with the workers of @UNITEHERE11 at Loyola Marymount University and I will not cross their picket line," Buttigieg said.

"As I said at my event with labor leaders here in Miami, I will not cross the picket line and I will stand with @UniteHere11 to fight for the dignity of work," Klobuchar tweeted.

LMU released a statement Friday distancing the university from the Sodexo-union dispute and encouraging the two sides to talk in advance of the debate.

“LMU is not a party to the negotiations between Sodexo and Unite Here Local 11,” the statement said. “The university has encouraged and continues to encourage Sodexo to resolve issues raised by Local 11. Earlier today, LMU asked Sodexo to meet with Local 11 next week to advance negotiations and solutions.”

The university added: “LMU is not an agent nor a joint employer of Sodexo, nor of the Sodexo employees assigned to our campus. LMU is proud to host the DNC Presidential Debate and is committed to ensuring that the university is a rewarding place to learn, live, and work.”

Fox News' Andrew Craft and Lee Ross contributed to this report.

Original Article

Democrats announce packed debate schedule in early voting states

closeOnly 7 candidates have qualified for next Democratic debateVideo

Only 7 candidates have qualified for next Democratic debate

Who stands the best chance? Democratic strategist Malia Fisher and GOP strategist Lauren Claffey debate.

The Democratic National Committee announced on Thursday that it plans to sponsor four more presidential nomination debates in January and February in the first four states to vote in the primary and caucus calendar.

The first of the early voting state debates will take place on Jan. 14 at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. CNN and the Des Moines Register will serve as media partners. Iowa’s Feb. 3 caucuses kick off the nominating calendar.

THE LATEST FROM FOX NEWS ON THE 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN

The next debate will be held Feb. 7 at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., with ABC News, local TV station WMUR, and Apple News as media partners. New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary will be held on Feb. 11.

Twelve days later, the DNC will hold a debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, in partnership with NBC News, MSNBC, and the Nevada Independent. The Feb. 19 debate will be held three days before the state’s presidential caucuses.

The final early voting state debate will be held on Feb. 25, in Charleston, S.C., four days before the state’s primary. CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute are partnering with the DNC for the debate.

The DNC acknowledged that the timing of the Iowa debate could be in flux.

With a likely Senate trial in the impeachment of President Trump to be held in January – with the chamber possibly in session six days a week during the duration of the trial — the five Democratic senators running for the White House could be sidelined.

DNC spokesperson Xochitl Hinojosa tweeted that “if a conflict with an impeachment trial is unavoidable, the DNC will evaluate its options and work with all the candidates to accommodate them."

In its announcement, the DNC did not spell out how candidates could qualify for the upcoming debates. Candidates needed to hit 4 percent in at least four polls recognized by the DNC, or 6 percent in at least two polls conducted in early voting states, and receive contributions from at least 200,000 individual donors to make the stage at next week’s sixth round debate, which is being held in Los Angeles.

BOOKER SAYS HE WON'T MAKE DEBATE STAGE NEXT WEEK BUT VOWS TO CARRY ON

Only seven candidates in the field of roughly 15 remaining Democratic presidential candidates qualified for next week’s showdown.

They are former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, billionaire environmental and progressive advocate and organizer Tom Steyer, and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang. Sen. Kamala Harris of California had qualified for the debate, but she dropped out of the presidential race last week.

Original Article

Trump administration’s new food stamp policy stirs debate over work requirements

closeHow the Trump administration's new food stamp restrictions may affect certain statesVideo

How the Trump administration's new food stamp restrictions may affect certain states

The Trump administration last week proposed a new rule implementing work requirements for those in the Supplemental Nutrition Program, or SNAP. Conservative columnist and author Tom Basile argues policies like these are why President Trump was elected while Coalition on Human Needs Executive Director Deborah Weinstein counters that the latest announcement is just another addition to the Trump administration's unrelenting attack on low-income people in need of food assistance.

The Trump administration's proposal to tighten work requirements for food stamp recipients has ignited a debate over benefits for low-income people and cuts to government spending.

Last week, the administration proposed a new rule targeting the Supplemental Nutrition Program, known as SNAP, which feeds more than 36 million people. The plan will limit states from exempting work-eligible adults from having to maintain steady employment in order to receive benefits.

WHITE HOUSE TIGHTENS FOOD STAMP REQUIREMENTS, POTENTIALLY AFFECTING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE

Hundreds of thousands of people who rely on the program could be adversely impacted, critics of the proposal say.

In an interview with Fox News, Coalition on Human Needs Executive Director Deborah Weinstein argued that the latest announcement is just another example of the Trump administration’s attacks on low-income people in need of assistance. Weinstein said President Trump’s food stamp proposal “will take the poorest of the poor and deny assistance to nearly 700,000 of them, and that means there'll be more hunger, and less access to food."

Conservative columnist and author Tom Basile, however, argued that policies like these are why Trump was elected, saying it will not only encourage self-sufficiency, but it will save taxpayers dollars. The Agriculture Department has claimed it could save $5.5 billion over five years.

“This is what the president was elected to do. To reform the federal bureaucracy, to cut taxes, to help create an environment where people can get jobs, not just have these programs, and not just have a handout.”

— Tom Basile

“This is what the president was elected to do,” said Basile. “To reform the federal bureaucracy, to cut taxes, to help create an environment where people can get jobs, not just have these programs, and not just have a handout.”

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue last week argued the move would encourage self-sufficiency and employment.

"Government can be a powerful force for good, but government dependency has never been the American dream. We need to encourage people by giving them a helping hand but not allowing it to become an indefinitely giving hand,” Perdue said.

Weinstein argued that calling the food stamps a “handout” is a mischaracterization and that they provide a modicum of stability in the lives of America’s very poor.

“The food assistance America’s poor get, which is very modest, around $160 a month, helps them stabilize their lives just a little bit,” Weinstein said. “It makes work more possible, and by cutting that away from them, work will be even harder.”

Trump administration set to tighten work requirements for food stampsVideo

Both Weinstein and Basile offered words of advice to the Trump administration. Basile advised highlighting fiscal responsibility, the low unemployment rate, and job openings across the country.

“For the Trump administration to say that we want to try to responsibly bring down the number of people who are on food stamp programs, if they are able-bodied adults, is not only the responsible thing, but will save taxpayers billions of dollars,” said Basile. “It will contribute to the ultimate goal of greater stability and economic prosperity.”

Weinstein, however, argued that the SNAP is a basic aid that helps secure people’s lives.

“That ought to remain the underpinning for moving people to more stable employment in a strong economy,” said Weinstein. “It should be especially a time when we offer training and support to people. So if there are jobs they can take, they can connect to them.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Andrew Yang qualifies for next debate after release of new poll

closeYang: Our message is reaching the American people beyond the debatesVideo

Yang: Our message is reaching the American people beyond the debates

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang reacts to his debate performance on 'Fox News @ Night.'

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang stands at 4 percent in a new national poll released Tuesday by Quinnipiac University — which means the first-time candidate and tech-entrepreneur has qualified to take the stage at next week’s sixth Democratic presidential primary debate.

Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden leads with 29 percent support in the poll, with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont at 21 percent. Biden jumped 5 percentage points and Sanders climbed 4 points from Quinnipiac’s previous national poll in the Democratic nomination race, which was released late last month.

YANG DIPLOMATICALLY RESPONDS TO AOC'S 'FREEDOM DIVIDEND' CRITICISM

Prior to the release of the new survey, Yang’s campaign had said it remained one poll shy of reaching the thresholds to make the stage at the Dec. 19 showdown.

Candidates must reach at least 4 percent in four surveys recognized as qualifying polls by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), or 6 percent in two polls in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. Yang has already reached the other qualifying criteria — receiving contributions from at least 200,000 individual donors.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii still remains one poll shy of qualifying for the debate. She grabbed the support of 2 percent in the new Quinnipiac University survey among Democrats and independents who lean toward the Democratic Party.

On Monday, Gabbard announced that she wouldn’t attend the debate even if she qualifies. The candidate said instead, she’ll meet with voters in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Candidates have until the end of Thursday to reach the polling and donor thresholds. The Democratic National Committee will wait unit after the deadline to officially announce which White House hopefuls have qualified for the debate.

By qualifying, Yang, an Asian-American, becomes the first non-Caucasian candidate to make the debate stage.

BUTTIGIEG SUPPORT DROPS IN NEW QUINNIPIAC POLL

Sen. Kamala Harris — one of three black candidates running for the Democratic nomination — had qualified, but the California senator last week ended her bid for the White House. The lack of a non-white candidate on the debate stage from a field that, at its zenith, was arguably the most racially diverse in history raised concerns with some voters.

Yang — once the longest of long-shots who has seen his campaign surge to middle tier status thanks in part to his promise of a $1,000-per-month Freedom Dividend payment to all adults — has qualified for all of the Democratic primary debates.

Meanwhile, Sen. Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts stands at 15 percent in the new poll, basically unchanged from last month. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg plunged from 16 percent support in last month’s poll to 9 percent.

“This is the first time Biden has had a double-digit lead since August, and Sanders' best number since June. While Warren's numbers seem to have stabilized, Buttigieg's numbers have dipped," Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy said.

BLOOMBERG'S MASSIVE AD BLITZ SO FAR NOT BUYING THE LOVE OF PRIMARY VOTERS

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg grabbed 5 percent support in the Quinnipiac survey. The multi-billionaire business and media mogul, who declared his candidacy two and a half weeks ago, also stood at 5 percent in a Monmouth University national poll that was also released on Tuesday.

Besides Yang and Gabbard, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota stood at 3 percent. No other candidate in the still-large field of Democratic White House hopefuls topped 1 percent.

The poll also indicates that Biden, Sanders, Warren, Bloomberg and Buttigieg each with upper to middle single-digit advantages over President Trump in hypothetical 2020 general election matchups.

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The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted from Wednesday to Monday, with 1,533 registered voters nationwide questioned by live telephone operators. The survey includes 665 Democratic voters and independent voters who lean Democratic, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

Original Article