2020 Daily Trail Markers: Trump-Bloomberg Twitter feud heats up

February 13th, 2020
2020 Daily Trail Markers: Trump-Bloomberg Twitter feud heats up
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As the battle for the White House continues to heat up, President Trump and Michael Bloomberg escalated their feud on Thursday, taking to Twitter to trade insults, according to CBS News campaign reporter Tim Perry and CBSNews.com writer Melissa Quinn. The latest battle between the two New Yorkers began Thursday morning when Mr. Trump fired off a pair of tweets mocking Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, for his height and equating him to Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor he went up against in the Republican presidential primary in 2016.

“Mini Mike Bloomberg is a LOSER who has money but can’t debate and has zero presence, you will see. He reminds me of a tiny version of Jeb ‘Low Energy’ Bush, but Jeb has more political skill and has treated the Black community much better than Mini!” the president tweeted. “Mini Mike is a 5’4″ mass of dead energy who does not want to be on the debate stage with these professional politicians. No boxes please. He hates Crazy Bernie and will, with enough money, possibly stop him. Bernie’s people will go nuts!” Mr. Trump said in a second tweet, which included an altered photo of Bloomberg in an oversized suit and tie.

The president’s insults prompted a fiery response from Bloomberg’s Twitter account suggesting New Yorkers make fun of the president behind closed doors and scoff at his claims of being a self-made man. “.@realDonaldTrump – we know many of the same people in NY. Behind your back they laugh at you & call you a carnival barking clown. They know you inherited a fortune & squandered it with stupid deals and incompetence. I have the record & the resources to defeat you. And I will,” the tweet composed by campaign staff read.

Bloomberg himself addressed the president’s attacks during an event in Greensboro, North Carolina, during which he said Mr. Trump is “afraid” of him, as evidenced by his Twitter activity. “The president attacked me again this morning on Twitter,” he told supporters. “Thank you very much Donald. He sees our polls and I think it’s fair to say he’s scared because he knows I have the record and the resources to defeat him.” Bloomberg added, “Donald, where I come from, we measure your height from your neck up.”

While the president frequently attacks his Democratic opponents — he calls Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas” and Bernie Sanders “crazy” — he has ramped up his tweets maligning Bloomberg. The president claimed the former mayor is a “terrible debater and speaker” in a tweet last month and called his advertising blitz a “vanity project for him to get into the game.” Bloomberg fired back, saying Trump is “the expert on vanity projects.”

The two also shelled out millions on dueling ads during the Super Bowl. While Mr. Trump has Bloomberg beat on height — the president stands at 6 feet 2 inches compared to Bloomberg’s 5 feet 7 inches — the former mayor is worth more. Forbes estimates Bloomberg is worth $61.8 billion as of Thursday, while the president’s net worth is $3.1 billion.

FROM THE CANDIDATES

TOM STEYER

As 2020 Democratic presidential candidates vie for the support of South Carolina voters ahead of the state’s primary two weeks away, Greenwood County Councilwoman Edith Childs told CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell she’ll be supporting Tom Steyer because she trusts that he cares about the interests of her constituents and others. 

“Tom has a feeling for people,” said Childs. “And when you have a feeling for people, you know that people are in distress and you want to do something to make a difference in their lives.” Childs who is also known for her knowledge on environmental injustice in her community, told Mitchell that some residents in her district live close to what used to be a landfill and that of all the candidates, she feels Steyer is the best to take on this environmental challenge. 

Childs, who was an ardent supporter of President Barack Obama said she won’t be supporting his former vice president, Joe Biden, in part because she felt he didn’t defend Mr. Obama enough on past debate stages as it pertained to issues like healthcare. “He should have been more behind some of the things that President Obama had already taken care of.”

STATE-BY-STATE

NEVADA

The Culinary Workers Union announced Thursday it does not plan to endorse a presidential candidate ahead of Nevada’s caucuses on February 22, reports CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin

“We are not going to endorse a candidate, a political candidate,” Culinary Union chief Geoconda Arguello Kline said at a news conference announcing the decision. “We respect every political candidate right now.”

Arguello Kline did, however, single out one candidate for praise, former Vice President Joe Biden.

“We know Vice President Biden for many years,” she said. “We know he has been our friend.”

She repeatedly sidestepped questions about whether the union’s member leadership had voted on whether to endorse a candidate.

The decision not to endorse had been telegraphed for weeks by the union. It’s nonetheless likely to come as a blow to Biden, whose campaign shares close ties with the union.

The Culinary Union has often touted its endorsement in 2008 of Barack Obama, who actually fell short of scoring the majority of votes in the state. In 2016, the labor group mostly sat out the race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.   

NEW HAMPSHIRE

The candidates have already moved on to the next states to vote in the Democratic presidential primary says CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga, but here are some facts and figures and takeaways about the voters and the candidates from both public data and the CBS News’ Elections and Surveys unit:

Secretary of State Bill Gardner has posted official presidential primary returns here.  Democrats flooded Tuesday night’s Democratic primary, with over 298,000 votes counted as of Wednesday night. The number exceeds the 254,780 ballots cast in 2016 and the 288,672 ballots cast in 2008 — the previous Granite State record for Democrats. 

But a word of caution on characterizing turnout this year as “record-breaking.” In New Hampshire, undeclared (independent) voters may cast a ballot in either primary. Given the virtually uncontested Republican primary this year, a greater share of undeclared voters were free to weigh in on the Democratic side. According to CBS News exit polls, 43% of participants in this year’s New Hampshire presidential primary were undeclared voters compared to 40% in 2016.

New Hampshire’s largest city – the urban ground zero of New Hampshire’s opioid epidemic – voted for Bernie Sanders (30%), who was trailed by Pete Buttigieg (21%) and Amy Klobuchar (17%). Sanders had his strongest performance in Wards 4, 5 and 7, representing Manchester’s more diverse, lower-income, inner-city neighborhoods. Manchester’s more affluent, northern end backed Buttigieg and Klobuchar in larger numbers. Joe Biden’s fourth place finish in Manchester (9.7%) while greater than his statewide vote share (8.4%) was a blow to his campaign. 

Sanders came out ahead in New Hampshire’s capital, populated by establishment Democrats and never-Trumpers. The Vermont senator earned just under 27% of the vote, followed by Buttigieg and Klobuchar (tied at 22%). Klobuchar’s second-place finish in Concord is a testament to the large number of state lawmaker endorsements she received in the run-up to the primary. Sanders had a near sweep of college towns – winning by large margins in Keene (Keene State University), Durham (University of New Hampshire) and Plymouth (Plymouth State). 

Buttigieg, however, won in Hanover (Dartmouth) with 26% of the vote. The Warren campaign deployed sizeable resources to campuses across the state, in addition to Sanders’ operation. Claremont is the quintessential blue-collar, post-industrial Obama-Trump town with abandoned mills lining the Sugar River. This is where the lowest household income rates are statewide, at just over $46,000. While Barack Obama had sizable wins here in 2008 and 2012, Mr. Trump’s campaign rocked the city in 2016. Although Buttigieg put sizeable resources into the city, opening up an office downtown, Sanders scored the most votes (33%), with Buttigieg in second (25%). In 2020, Laconia became a regular stomping ground for Democrats when the heavily Republican city chose a Democratic mayor in 2019. His endorsement went to Klobuchar, but the city went to Buttigieg (25%), followed closely by Sanders (24%) and Klobuchar (21%).

Buttigieg walked away with the majority of purple and red Boston suburbs in New Hampshire’s Southern tier. The former South Bend mayor won by healthy margins in Republican Salem, Windham and Londonderry. These upper-class neighborhoods are saturated with the kind of voter that might just switch parties for the right candidate. Bedford, an equally affluent Republican town just south of Manchester, went to Klobuchar by a slim margin. Windham and Bedford represent two of just three towns that chose Hillary Clinton in 2016. And while ideologically right leaning, Warren’s disappointing performance in these communities so close to her native Massachusetts reinforced her disappointing performance. 

Klobuchar was out-competed in terms of staff and visits here in New Hampshire. The Minnesota Senator had just 30 full-time staff members one week before the primary. Compare that to Sanders (150+), Buttigieg (71), Senator Elizabeth Warren (65+), Biden (55) and Andrew Yang (50). She visited New Hampshire fewer times than any other candidate in the month of January – attending just one event in state. Yet the Minnesota senator earned the endorsement of 3 out of 4 Democratic leaders in the New Hampshire legislature, multiple state senators and mayors across the state. She made frequent visits to nursing homes across the state and was the first candidate to roll out a policy plan for senior citizens, notable in America’s fastest aging state. 

“If you feel like you need to pick between childcare for your kids and long term care for your parents, I know you,” Klobuchar told voters in the final days of her campaign. Nearly two-thirds of voters in New Hampshire are above the age of 45. Over two-thirds of those ultimately choosing Klobuchar decided in February, underlining the importance of the New Hampshire debate stage for fickle Granite Staters who were still making up their minds. While it’s likely the Senator won votes away from Biden, anecdotally, dozens of voters I spoke with in New Hampshire wanted to elect a female candidate. After Gillibrand and Harris dropped out of the race, voters I spoke with again said it was “either Amy or Liz,” and “I’ll decide in the ballot box.”

While Klobuchar’s third place finish proved New Hampshire results can still surprise, candidates who committed months to campaigning in state – Michael Bennet, Deval Patrick, Tulsi Gabbard and Andrew Yang – failed to break out, and all but Gabbard ended their campaigns. While Yang’s New Hampshire polling earned him a consistent spot on the DNC debate stage, their relentless retail politicking here did not pay off. While New Hampshire voters pride themselves in being “independent thinkers,” it is clear Iowa gave Buttigieg a bump. As the former South Bend mayor declared victory, he also picked up in the polls, with voters citing his caucus success as proof of his “electability.” In other words, if voters ultimately want to pick a winner, they’ll likely pick someone who wins. One hundred thirty of New Hampshire’s 238 townships voted for Sanders. Not a single one chose Biden or Warren.

Sanders performed better among men than women. He won the support of men by 31% to 23% over Buttigieg. Women were more divided in their vote with Buttigieg (25%), slightly ahead of Klobuchar (23%) and Sanders (23%).  Sanders’ support was 8 points lower among women than among men. 

Klobuchar did well among white women with a college degree, winning 30% of their support, besting the field. Elizabeth Warren mustered just 14% of this group. Sanders was the top vote-getter among those with lower-incomes, while Buttigieg did well with those with higher incomes. Sanders got 40% of those earning under $50,000 a year, beating Buttigieg (16%) by double-digits with this group. Biden received 10% support from this group. 

Among New Hampshire Democrats with incomes of $100,000 or more, Buttigieg (34%) led the field, followed by Klobuchar (21%), and Sanders (18%). As he did in 2016, Sanders won the support of young voters – those ages 18 to 29. He won 51% of that group – one of his strongest demographic groups. Klobuchar did best among seniors getting 31% of their support, followed by Buttigieg (24%). Sanders came in at a distant third with 15%. Buttigieg’s share of the vote was fairly consistent across age groups, but he had a bit more support among older voters.

TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES

APP-REHENSIVE

The Nevada State Democratic Party outlined new details of its revised tabulation and reporting process for its upcoming caucuses on February 22, according to Tin. Early voting kicks off for Democrats in the state on Saturday. “In choosing the best path forward our guiding principles have been security, efficiency, and simplicity,” state party executive director Alana Mounce wrote in the memo. To replace software scrapped after the technological snafus that delayed the reporting of results in the Iowa caucuses, volunteer precinct chairs will be provided with iPads pre-loaded with a “caucus calculator” to assist them in tabulating results from both caucus-goers in the room and from the early voting. 

First described as a “tool,” the existence of which CBS News first reported on Friday, the state party says the “caucus calculator” will be “accessed through a secure Google web form.” Data from the early vote will be accessible through both the iPads and a paper copy. Volunteers will report the outcome of their precincts “through a secure hotline” to the state party, which will be later verified by one more additional source.

The state party says it consulted with the Democratic National Committee, Department of Homeland Security, independent experts, and Google in order to develop their process. Many of the new “caucus calculator” features mirror the “caucus reporter app” developed by Shadow for the Nevada and Iowa State Democratic Parties.  The Shadow-produced app’s primary functions had been to assist precinct chairs in calculating which candidates had met sufficient support to be considered viable for the precinct, award delegates, and report results and issues to the state party from the site, according to documents obtained by CBS News. As in the current process, precinct chairs also had the option to forego the technological assistance and calculate results by hand.

The state party says it continues to conduct trial runs of the calculator and backups with its more than 3,000 volunteers, who will man caucuses across some 252 locations in the state. What’s not clear at this point is whether there will be a verification system to check reported data, as there was in Iowa. Multiple sources familiar with the matter have told CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster that the “coding error” which led to some of delays in reporting results occurred in the process of transferring data to a quality control system. Sources have said that there were not major issues with this during test runs. Shadow CEO Gerard Niemira told VICE News that results from Shadow’s database were supposed to be checked in a “quality control check environment.” But there was a data-formatting error that caused results not to be accepted as they were moved to the verification system.

“In the process of doing that, we had some faulty code that took the data and put it into a format that made it fail the checks,” Niemira said. “That was throwing up flags, which took time to resolve.”

GOVERNOR’S MANSION

The National Democratic Training Committee focused on training Democrats to run for office and campaign, received endorsements from nine current Democratic governors on Thursday reports CBS News Political Unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro.  These include current Democratic Governors’ Association chair Phil Murphy of New Jersey, former DGA chair Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, who gave one of the Democratic responses for this year’s State of the Union. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, Roy Cooper of North Carolina, Michele Lujan Grisham on Minnesota, Jay Inslee of Washington, Laura Kelly of Kansas, Janet Mills of Maine are the others governors backing the committee. The organization provides free training through interactive online courses and live trainings, and are looking to spend $10 million on their trainings this year, with a goal of 130 live-trainings across every state.   

The “NDTC was crucial in helping North Carolina Democrats compete for every single seat in the General Assembly in 2018,” Governor Cooper said in a statement. “With redistricting on the horizon, every seat must be protected and no seat unchallenged. NDTC plays a vital role in ensuring North Carolina Democrats running for office have the tools and resources they need to be successful.”

“If you want to be a doctor, you go to medical school. If you want to run for office or work on campaigns, you go to NDTC,” Inslee, a former presidential candidate, added. Inslee and Cooper are both running for re-election this year. NDTC founder Kelly Dietrich says there needs to be a focus for down-ballot Democrats in 2020, and that they are “asking candidates up and down the ballot to trust us and use our resources – having the governor of their state endorse us gives that a real boost.”

Meanwhile at the top of the ballot, DGA Chair Murphy told Navarro at the National Governors Association conference earlier this month that while it’s still “too early to tell” who the Democratic nominee is, he would “lay across the tracks to get them elected president over President Trump.” There are 11 governors races in total for 2020, with three Democrat seats Murphy and the DGA are focusing on keeping.

“Worrying a lot about who’s at the top of the ticket, or gaming that out, it’s A.) too early to tell and B.) it honestly isn’t that productive,” he said. “We spend our time focused on that which we can control… And our gameplan will be with that focus and we’ll let the chips fall where they may for the presidential.”