The official impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump will gavel into session on Tuesday, for better or for worse. And that means that several of the current candidates hoping to replace him will need to be sitting attentively in their seats, including Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, and that other guy. This pretty much leaves the field free for Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg to dash around Iowa and New Hampshire trying to score some last minute points.
So what are these virtually imprisoned senators supposed to do about it? Well, they will be scrounging for endorsements from both inside and outside the world of politics. If they’re lucky, some high-profile names will back them up and perhaps even draw some crowds on the campaign trail in their absence. (The Hill)
Warren’s endorsements include Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), brother of Julián Castro who backed Warren after dropping out of the presidential race this month; Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), a member of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) leadership team; several female freshman lawmakers; and Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), a former Progressive Caucus co-chairman who now heads the Natural Resources Committee…
But Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who helped found the Progressive Caucus in 1991, has landed endorsements from nearly all of the current CPC leadership team. This week, Co-Chairman Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) threw his support behind Sanders, declaring the senator’s “authenticity, honesty, and movement for equality is the antidote our nation needs now.” Meanwhile, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), CPC’s first vice chairman, has been serving as co-chairman of Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign and his top surrogate on Capitol Hill.
Three members of “the squad” — the four freshman women of color — also are on Team Bernie: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who is the chief whip or vote-counter for the CPC.
With no offense intended to the endorsers, Warren’s stand-ins don’t exactly sound like a group that’s likely to bring people out in droves. You won’t be able to hear the candidate tonight, but if you come out, you’ll get to meet… Raúl Grijalva of the Natural Resources Committee?
Some of Bernie’s high-profile backers don’t sound much more exciting. The exception there, of course, is AOC and a couple of her fellow “squad” members. They seem to get the young kids excited, so I suppose he might make a splash by sending them in his stead.
Sending out another group of lesser-known politicians to headline your campaign events seems like a missed opportunity to me. That’s particularly true if their star power is significantly less than your own. If Sanders, Warren and Klobuchar really want to make a splash in the early voting states while they hang around DC doing their jobs, wouldn’t it be smarter to call in some favors from their celebrity friends? Taking a look at the LA Times’ guide to celebrity presidential endorsements, it seems like they could do better.
Elizabeth Warren has Amy Schumer, Bette Midler, Rob Reiner and Barbra Streisand in her corner. I’m sure any one of them could fill quite a few seats and even pry loose some additional donations. (Okay… you might want to make sure Schumer is relatively sober and doesn’t start taking her clothes off in the middle of the speech.)
Bernie Sanders has Danny DeVito, Susan Sarandon and Rhea Perlman (along with several other people I’d not heard of) backing him. I suppose their stars have dimmed a bit over the years from their peak, but I bet they would draw more of a crowd than Mark Pocan. Klobuchar has… well, the one that I’ve heard of is Jane Fonda. Hanoi Jane may be a bit long in the tooth these days, but she’s still keeping her hand in the political game with things like her recent Fire Drill Fridays in Washington. I realize she’s busy filming the next season of her Netflix show, but maybe she would take time out if she was asked nicely.
In any event, I’m sure they don’t need any advice from me and everything will work out just fine. (/sarc) But just as a reminder, at least one of these candidates won’t be spending all of their time in Washington. As we discussed previously, Bernie Sanders plans to be burning the candle at both ends, attending the trial during the afternoon and then taking private jets to the early voting states to do evening appearances. And this is the oldest candidate in the field, as well as being the one that recently had a heart attack. Hoo boy.