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

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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.

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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.

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Facing impeachment, Trump tops Democratic challengers in 2020 matchups: poll

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President Trump dismisses impeachment push as Chuck Schumer seeks White House witnesses

Trump calls the impeachment process the greatest con job in the history of American politics; chief White House correspondent John Roberts reports.

He’s all but certain to be impeached this week by the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, but a new poll indicates that President Trump now tops the leading Democratic presidential candidates in potential 2020 general election showdowns.

The Republican incumbent edges former Vice President Joe Biden by 3 percentage points, holds a 5 point advantage over Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and tops Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts by 8 points, in a USA Today/Suffolk University survey released Monday.

FOX NEWS POLL: TRUMP JOB APPROVAL TICKS UP

In hypothetical November 2020 matchups, the poll shows Trump beating South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg by 10 points and multibillionaire business and media mogul and former New City Mayor Mike Bloomberg by 9 points.

The president trailed the leading Democratic White House hopefuls in hypothetical general election showdowns in most national polling during the summer and early autumn – in many cases by double digits — but he’s made up ground in more recent surveys.

A CNN poll released last week indicated the president edging Biden by 1 point and holding 7-point leads over Sanders, Warren and Buttigieg. But Biden topped Trump by 7 points in a Fox News Poll released Sunday. The survey also indicated Sanders topping the president by 6-points and Bloomberg ahead by 5-points. Warren and Buttigieg each edged Trump by a single point.

While such numbers are helpful in taking the political temperature of the moment, hypothetical matchups taken nearly a year before the election – and well before the Democrats choose their 2020 standard-bearer – are hardly considered a reliable barometer of the eventual general election outcome.

LATEST 2020 ELECTION POLL FROM FOX NEWS

Suffolk University Political Research Center director David Paleologos noted that in the new poll’s matchups, the president “won among male voters but every Democratic contender carried a majority or plurality of female voters against him.”

And he added that Trump “bested the Democratic hopefuls among age groups 35 and older, but he lost to each of them among voters 18 to 34 years old.”

The USA Today/Suffolk University poll was conducted Dec. 10-14, with 1,000 registered voters nationwide questioned by live telephone operators. The survey’s sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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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.

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Fox News Poll: Biden still leads Democratic race as Warren drops

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One-term plan? Biden denies talking to aides about re-election

Former Vice President Joe Biden denies planning for one-term presidency; Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy reports.

Former Vice President Joe Biden remains Democratic primary voters’ preferred presidential candidate, as a Fox News Poll released Sunday shows more think he is capable of beating President Trump than feel that way about any of his main competitors — and he performs best in potential 2020 matchups. In addition, Biden has the largest number of Democrats, as well as voters overall, saying his positions on the issues are “about right.”

Seventy-seven percent of Democratic primary voters think Biden can beat Trump in next year’s presidential election, up from 68 percent in October. Smaller majorities say the same about Bernie Sanders (60 percent), Elizabeth Warren (59 percent), and Mike Bloomberg (55 percent). Forty-eight percent think Pete Buttigieg can win — an 18-point jump from 30 percent in October.

More Democratic primary voters think Biden’s “about right” on issues (64 percent) than Buttigieg (56 percent), Warren (53 percent), Sanders (49 percent), and Bloomberg (47 percent). Seventy-eight percent of Republicans say Trump’s positions are “about right.”

CLICK HERE TO READ THE POLL RESULTS

Running down the Democratic race: Biden leads with 30 percent, followed by Sanders at 20 percent. Warren returns to third with 13 percent, down from a high of 22 percent in October.

Next, it’s Buttigieg (7 percent), Bloomberg and Amy Klobuchar (5 percent each), Tulsi Gabbard and Andrew Yang (3 percent apiece), and Cory Booker (2 percent). The remaining candidates garner 1 percent or less.

Biden’s lead comes mostly from voters ages 45 and over (up by 26 points), moderates/conservatives (+20), and non-whites (+13). Sanders wins among voters under 35 (+19) and white men (+1).

But don’t place any bets just yet. Nearly half of those currently backing a candidate, 49 percent, say they could change their mind.

"Biden's support has been the consistent feature of this race," says Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts the Fox News Poll with Democrat Chris Anderson. "It's time for consultants and pundits to seriously consider the possibility his backers aren’t simply being strategic and may be more committed than we heretofore suspected."

Sanders and Warren have experienced fairly significant swings in support, while Biden’s numbers have barely budged since March, staying between 29-35 percent. At the same time, his current 10-point edge over Sanders is down from a 19-point lead in June.

Democratic primary voters divide when choosing between a candidate who will “restore the political system” to the way it was before Trump (48 percent) and one who will “fundamentally change how the political system works” (45 percent).

Those wanting to restore the system go for Biden (39 percent) over Sanders (14 percent) and Warren (11 percent). Those wanting big changes put Sanders (26 percent) and Biden (23 percent) on top, while Warren trails (14 percent).

Fewer Democratic primary voters are satisfied with their field of candidates now (63 percent) than were in late October (69 percent). Since then, Bloomberg and Deval Patrick joined the race, while Steve Bullock, Kamala Harris and Joe Sestak dropped out.

Since late October, support for Warren is down across the board, with the notable declines among those with a college degree (-13 points), those ages 45+ (-12), and women (-11 points).

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“The most likely explanation for Warren’s drop is some primary voters souring on 'Medicare-for-all',” says Anderson. “The issue could be a real drag for the Democratic nominee in the general election. The more it’s debated, the more voters who care most about beating Trump seem to realize her push for 'Medicare -for-all' is bad politics at this moment in time.”

Currently, 54 percent of Democratic primary voters favor moving to a government-run system in lieu of private health insurance, down from a high of 65 percent in October. Large numbers like the idea of allowing every American to buy into Medicare if they want (78 percent) and making minor changes to Obamacare (67 percent).

Among all voters, majorities favor "Medicare-for-all" who want it (66 percent) and Obamacare (53 percent). Over half (53 percent) oppose an entirely government-run health care system. In addition, 68 percent favor Warren’s proposed 2 percent “wealth tax,” including 83 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of Republicans.

About 4 voters in 10 think Biden’s (42 percent), Buttigieg’s (37 percent), and Trump’s (39 percent) positions on the issues are “about right,” while over half think Sanders’ (56 percent) and Warren’s positions (52 percent) are “too liberal.”

In hypothetical head-to-heads, Biden tops Trump by 48-41 percent and has the only lead outside the poll’s margin of sampling error.

However, Biden’s 7-point lead is his narrowest since March; this is the first time he’s been below 50 percent since July, and Trump’s 41 percent support is a record high for him in a ballot test against the former vice president.

Sanders is preferred over Trump by six points (49-43) and Bloomberg is ahead by five (45-40). Warren (46-45) and Buttigieg (43-42) are each up by one point.

Biden’s advantage over Trump is driven largely by double-digit leads among women (+15 points) and non-whites (+36). Whites with a college degree go for Biden by 6 points, while whites without a degree back Trump by 12. Rural whites prefer Trump over Biden by 18 points, while suburban women favor Biden by 21.

The electorate is paying attention: 58 percent of voters are extremely interested in the presidential election, including 64 percent of Democrats and 55 percent of Republicans. At this point in the election cycle four years ago, far fewer, 32 percent of voters, said they were extremely interested (November 2015).

Conducted December 8-11, 2019, under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company (R), this Fox News Poll includes interviews with 1,000 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide who spoke with live interviewers on both landlines and cellphones. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for all registered voters and 4.5 points for Democratic primary voters (453).

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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.

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