Presidential candidates are eyeing big Super Tuesday prizes

Image: Bernie Sanders
Sen. Bernie Sanders approaches a podium during a campaign stop in Concord, New Hampshire on March 10, 2019. Copyright Steven Senne AP file
By Chuck Todd and Mark Murray and Carrie Dann with NBC News Politics
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First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.


WASHINGTON — Today and this weekend, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris are hitting the campaign trail — but they won't be in Iowa OR New Hampshire.

Instead, they're stumping in California and Texas, respectively — two delegate-rich Super Tuesday states. (By the way, Harris' visit to the Lone Star State is her first campaign trip since Beto O'Rourke's presidential announcement last week.)

One theory of the 2020 race for the Democratic nomination is that the delegate chase in the Super Tuesday states — California (Harris' home state), Texas (O'Rourke's), Massachusetts (Elizabeth Warren's), Minnesota (Amy Klobuchar's) and Vermont (Sanders') — will go a long way in determining the eventual winner.

The logic: If you can rack up delegates in YOUR state as well as the COMPETITION'S home states under the Democrats' proportional allocation system, you're going to be in good shape.

The other theory of the 2020 Dem race is that Iowa and New Hampshire are only more important than ever. How viable will Harris be on Super Tuesday if she can't finish in the Top 2 or Top 3 in Iowa?

Are Bernie Sanders' dreams for the Dem nomination dashed if he finishes worse in Iowa than he did in 2016 (a very close second to Hillary Clinton)?

Will O'Rourke, Warren or Klobuchar be players in their own states on Super Tuesday if they don't deliver in Iowa or New Hampshire?

Yes, Super Tuesday matters; it always does.

But you could also argue that Iowa matters more than ever in this already-crowded field.

2020 Vision: A Tale of Two Lanes

Yes, it's very early in the 2020 Democratic race. But we see two clear lanes emerging.

Lane No. 1: The Mainstream Lane — Biden (if he runs), Beto, Harris, Klobuchar, Buttigieg, Booker and Gillibrand. You can also throw in Jay Inslee, John Hickenlooper and even Julian Castro.

These are Democrats who, ideologically and temperamentally, aren't all that different from Barack Obama (or where Obama would be if he were running in 2020).

Lane No. 2: The Left Lane — Bernie and Warren.

These are the Dems who are running to the left of Obama (or where Obama would be in 2020).

And what stands out here is that Lane No. 1 is a lot more crowded than Lane No. 2.

On the campaign trail today

Kamala Harris stumps in Texas… Beto O'Rourke is in South Carolina… Bernie Sanders hits San Diego, Calif…. Tulsi Gabbard remains in New Hampshire… And John Hickenlooper also is in the Granite State.

On the campaign trail Saturday: Harris holds a rally in Houston… O'Rourke stays in South Carolina, where Pete Buttigieg and Cory Booker also make swings… Bernie Sanders heads to Los Angeles… And Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Gabbard and Hickenlooper campaign in New Hampshire.

On the campaign trail Sunday: O'Rourke heads to Nevada…While Harris goes to Atlanta, Ga… Kirsten Gillibrand delivers her campaign kickoff speech outside of Trump International in New York… Bernie Sanders holds a rally in San Francisco… And Warren, Gabbard and Hickenlooper are in New Hampshire.


Talk about foreign interference in an election, part 2

Yesterday we wrote how unprecedented an active role the Trump White House is playing in another country's election - with Israeli Prime Minister's Netanyahu's visit to the White House next week ahead of his April 9 election.

Well, here's another favor Trump is doing for Netanyahu: The president yesterday announced on Twitter that the U.S. is recognizing Israel's sovereignty of the Golan Heights.

Netanyahu told reporters, per NBC's Andrea Mitchell: "President Trump has just made history. I called him. I thanked him on behalf of the people of Israel. He did it again!...The message that President Trump has given the world is that America stands by Israel."

Remember when conservatives cried foul when former Obama campaign STAFFERS worked for the opposition against Netanyahu in 2015?

Yet compare that with the Trump White House actively inviting Netanyahu (and presumably not his opponent Benny Gantz) and announcing a policy change less than three weeks before the election…


As for the policy change, the United States recognizing Israel's sovereign claim to the disputed Golan Heights has serious repercussions.

As former Middle East peace negotiator Martin Indyk told the New York Times: "Putin will use this as a pretext to justify Russia's annexation of Crimea," he said. "The Israeli right will use it as a pretext for Israel's annexation of the West Bank. It is a truly gratuitous move by Trump."

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 59 percent

Fifty-nine percent.

That's the share of Republicans who AGREE with this statement, per a new Pew Research Center survey: "Having a majority of the population made up of blacks, Asians, Hispanics and other racial minorities by the year 2050 will WEAKEN American customs and values."

Just 13 percent of Republicans (and Republican-leaning independents) say the coming demographic milestone — which Census demographers have predicted — will STRENGTHEN the country.


The negative view of a majority-minority country isn't limited to Republicans. About one-in-five Democrats agree that a white minority in the U.S. will weaken the country's cultural fabric.

But, big picture: Don't forget the ways that Trump has said the quiet thing out loud here. He's referred to immigration at the southern border as an "invasion"; he's supported a ban on Muslims entering the United States during his campaign; and he's reportedly used slurs to describe immigration from Haiti and some African countries.

The Lid: Pick a number, any number

Don't miss the pod from yesterday, when we looked at some conspicuous cherry-picking of polls by one 2020 candidate.

ICYMI: This week's overlooked stories

Trump vs. the late John McCain! Trump vs. George Conway! Beto's money haul! Waiting for the Mueller report! Those were the stories that dominated the week. But don't miss these other stories that would have received much more attention in any other political era:

  1. Judge blocks Wisconsin GOP lame-duck law limiting Dem governor
  2. Florida GOP moves to limit felon voting rights by forcing them to pay back fines and fees before they can vote
  3. Elijah Cummings wants answers on Jared Kushner's use of WhatsApp for official business

Other news that's out there today…


Here's James Comey with an op-ed on the Mueller report

Several 2020 Democrats say they'll boycott AIPAC after MoveOn called for candidates to skip the conference.

Steve King is at it again — this time comparing disaster victims in New Orleans and the Midwest.

EU leaders are giving Britain a little bit of a break on Brexit — for a few weeks.

And other stories you shouldn't miss…


Trump agenda: Watch out, here comes Joe

Joe Lieberman is taking on Trump over his McCain comments.

The U.S. says the door is "wide open" to more talks with North Korea.

Mississippi has signed a "heartbeat" bill into law, banning abortions after only about six weeks of pregnancy.

The New York Times traces the origins of "Jexodus."

Dem agenda: Accent-uate the negative?

A recent Fox News segment went after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for… her accent.


Jimmy Carter is now the oldest living American president.

POLITICO offers a profile of Pramila Jayapal and her role mentoring new freshmen.

2020: Biden's bundlers

Obama donors are gearing up to propel Biden.

Cory Booker has the first endorsement from a South Carolina state lawmaker.

Nearly six in 10 Republicans say a majority-minority in the United States by 2050 would "weaken American customs and values."


And speaking to SiriusXM's Julie Mason, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean said he thought Joe Biden making Stacey Abrams his VP pick was a good idea.

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