Don’t Be Too Hard on Politicians Who Change Their Mind

American vice president Joe Biden gives a speech on board the USS Freedom in Singapore, July 27, 2013
American vice president Joe Biden gives a speech on board the USS Freedom in Singapore, July 27, 2013 (USN/Karolina A. Oseguera)

Don’t be too hard on Joe Biden for changing his mind on federal funding for abortion.

The former American vice president, who is the top candidate for his Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, has a reasonable argument to make. He previously opposed federal funding for abortion except in cases of rape, incest and where the mother’s life was in the danger. “But circumstances have changed,” he told supporters on Thursday.

Republicans have been working overtime to restrict access to abortion in the states they control. The most egregious example is Alabama, which recently outlawed abortion after five or six weeks of pregnancy. Few women even realize they’re pregnant at that stage. Georgia, where Biden spoke, could see a similar law come into effect next year.

“I can’t justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need,” Biden said. Read more

Too Many Democrats Are Running for Vice President

The White House in Washington DC is seen from a helicopter, January 15, 2015
The White House in Washington DC is seen from a helicopter, January 15, 2015 (White House/Pete Souza)

Steve Bullock is the latest Democrat to put his personal ambitions before the interest of his party.

The governor of Montana is wildly popular at home. Donald Trump won Montana with 56 percent of the votes against 36 percent for Hillary Clinton in 2016. In 2020, the state’s first-term Republican senator, Steve Daines, is up for reelection. If Democrats want to beat Daines, and stand a better chance of winning a majority in the Senate — the odds are currently against them — Bullock should be running for that seat, not for president. Read more

Joe Biden Is a Stronger Candidate Than You Might Think

Former American vice president Joe Biden campaigns in Iowa City, Iowa, May 1
Former American vice president Joe Biden campaigns in Iowa City, Iowa, May 1 (Biden for President)

Joe Biden might look out of sync with today’s Democratic Party. 76 years old, Biden is a Third Way-style liberal who used to be “tough on crime”, voted for the Iraq War and now faces his own #MeToo accusations.

Yet he is the frontrunner for the party’s presidential nomination.

RealClearPolitics has Biden’s support at 39 percent, 23 points ahead of the runner-up, Bernie Sanders.

We’re still almost a year away from the first primaries. Polls are not usually predictive at this point in the contest and say more about name recognition. But Biden is also ahead in the endorsement primary, as measured by FiveThirtyEight. The former vice president has already convinced eighty prominent Democrats to support him against 55 for California senator Kamala Harris. (Who I think is actually the second strongest candidate at this point. Read Frank Bruni’s column about her in The New York Times.)

What explains Biden’s popularity? Read more

Why It’s Fair Not to Treat Sanders Like the Democratic Frontrunner

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders takes part in a protest in Washington DC, November 17, 2016
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders takes part in a protest in Washington DC, November 17, 2016 (Lorie Shaull)

NBC’s political team asks if it is fair to treat Bernie Sanders as an insurgent rather than the legitimate frontrunner in the Democratic presidential primary, given his high name recognition and the fact that he has raised more money than the other candidates.

I think so. Read more

Updates from the Democratic Primary

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders gives a speech in Des Moines, Iowa, January 9, 2016
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders gives a speech in Des Moines, Iowa, January 9, 2016 (Gage Skidmore)
  • Joe Biden — who still hasn’t officially declared his candidacy — is fending off accusations that he has been too affectionate toward women in the past.
  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana is having a moment in the sun. He is a progressive who can appeal to the center, but the last time a mayor was nominated for the presidency by a major party was in 1812.
  • Bernie Sanders is moving up in the polls (although, keep in mind, those are more about name recognition than support at this point) and raised the most money by far ($18 million) in the first three months of 2019. Read more

Updates from the Democratic Primary

Former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke gives a speech in Austin, November 4, 2018
Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke gives a speech in Austin, November 4, 2018 (Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla)
  • Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke is running for president.
  • Ohio senator Sherrod Brown has decided against seeking the Democratic nomination.
  • Former vice president Joe Biden — who still hasn’t declared yet — is ahead in the polls, but that is more about name recognition than anything else at this point. Only geeks like us are paying attention. Most voters don’t start to think about the election until a few months before the Iowa caucuses.
  • Democrats have chosen Milwaukee, Wisconsin to host their 2020 convention. Read more

Updates from the Democratic Primary

American vice president Joe Biden gives a speech on board the USS Freedom in Singapore, July 27, 2013
American vice president Joe Biden gives a speech on board the USS Freedom in Singapore, July 27, 2013 (USN/Karolina A. Oseguera)
  • Former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper and incumbent Washington governor Jay Inslee are running. The former is relatively moderate, the latter more left-wing and focused on climate change.
  • Joe Biden has hired the head of the influential Latino Victory Fund in what Politico describes as “the latest sign he’s running.”
  • Kamala Harris is elbowing out rivals as she courts wealthy Democratic donors in California.
  • Cory Booker, Harris and Amy Klobuchar are ahead in the “endorsement primary” as measured by FiveThirtyEight.
  • Michael Bloomberg and Hillary Clinton have decided against seeking the nomination. The former warned Democrats not to allow the primary process to “drag the party to an extreme” that could help reelect Donald Trump. Read more