Here's what we're about to learn about the 2020 Dems' dash for cash

Image: Beto O'Rourke
Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke is introduced at a campaign stop at a home in Las Vegas on March 23, 2019. Copyright Chase Stevens
Copyright Chase Stevens
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 — This Sunday, March 31, brings an end to the first fundraising quarter for the 2020 presidential race.

Between then and April 15 — the deadline for the campaigns to turn their fundraising reports to the Federal Election Commission — we're going to find out the state of the Dem money race.

Here's what we already know:

  • Beto O'Rourke ($6.1 million), Bernie Sanders ($5.9 million) and Kamala Harris ($1.5 million) announced having raised the most during their first 24 hours as candidates.
  • Sanders said on Wednesday that he's already received 713,839 contributions, and assuming each is for $27 (his average contribution), he's raised approximately $19 million so far.

Here's what we don't know:

  • Does O'Rourke (who launched his campaign on March 14) come close to Harris (who launched on January 21) for the entire quarter?
  • Given his buzz in elite circles, how much will Pete Buttigieg have raised? (He opened his account on January 23.)
  • Given her buzz in policy circles, how much will Elizabeth Warren have raised? (She opened her account on Dec. 31.)
  • What about Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar (who reported raising $1 million in her first 48 hours)?
  • How much of John Delaney's personal money has he spent?

And don't forget about the money that many of these candidates can transfer from their pre-existing Senate/House accounts - Warren $12.5 million, Gillibrand $10.5 million, Sanders $8.8 million, Klobuchar $4.4 million and Booker $4.1 million.

Breaking Bad (Behavior)

We still don't know what's in the 300-page-plus Mueller report, but we already know one conclusion: bad/unethical/sketchy behavior doesn't equal illegal behavior.

And it raises the question whether this greenlights similar behavior and actions from future candidates and campaigns.

Will future candidates ask and encourage foreign governments to hack into their opponent's emails? ("If you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.")

Will they seize on hacked or stolen emails? ("Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks.")

Will their advisers - inside the campaign or outside the campaign - work with groups to see if/when those emails might be released? ("After the July 22, 2016 release of stolen DNC emails by Organization 1, a senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact STONE about any additional releases and what other damaging information Organization 1 had regarding the Clinton Campaign.")

And will they take meetings with representatives from foreign governments promising dirt on their opponent? ("If it's what you say, I love it.)

Now every 2020 Dem campaign has pledged NOT to knowingly use stolen material in their campaigns. But what about after 2020, especially if Trump wins re-election?

Are the days of a presidential campaign calling the FBI when they receive stolen debate documents over?

Victory lap — but no exoneration

Meanwhile, campaigning in Michigan last night, Trump was taking his victory lap after Attorney General Barr's four-page summary of Mueller's report said there was no conspiracy/collusion with the Russian government.

"The special counsel completed its report and found no collusion and no obstruction. ...Total exoneration. Complete vindication," Trump said.

Except Mueller didn't exonerate the president when it comes to obstruction of justice.

"[W]hile this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."

What Trump is forgetting on health care

Trump has forgotten something very important as he's promised to move forward on health care, and as he's claimed the GOP will be the party of health care.


Republicans no longer control the House of Representatives, and any health care bill would have to clear the House --- probably first.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hasn't forgotten that fact.

"I look forward to seeing what the president is proposing and what he can work out with the speaker," McConnell told Politico.

He added, "I am focusing on stopping the 'Democrats' Medicare for none' scheme."

Bottom line: Health care legislation - or more specifically, GOP-led health care - isn't passing Congress in 2019-2020.


Tweet of the day

2020 Vision: Beto's big Texas kickoff

On Saturday, Beto O'Rourke holds his kickoff rallies in Texas - starting in El Paso, then hitting Houston and then Austin.

And O'Rourke says there will be more than 1,000 watch parties across the country.

On the 2020 campaign trail today: Elizabeth Warren campaigns in Iowa… Seth Moulton hits the Hawkeye State, too… And John Delaney is in New Hampshire.

On the campaign trail Saturday: Besides O'Rourke kickoff in the Lone Star State, Warren, Delaney, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro and Tim Ryan are all in Iowa for the Open Markets/HuffPost candidate forum… And Tulsi Gabbard hits Los Angeles.

On the campaign trail Sunday: Delaney remains in Iowa.


Data Download: The number of the day is … 56 percent

Fifty-six percent.

That's the share of Americans who say the president of the United States has done "too little" to distance himself from white nationalists, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center.

Just 29 percent said Trump has done the "right amount" to distance himself from those groups, while seven percent said he has done "too much."

As you might expect, there's a yawning partisan gap. More than eight-in-10 Democrats — but just 26 percent of Republicans — believe Trump has done too little.

What's perhaps more surprising is that these numbers are virtually unchanged from December 2016, before Trump took office. That means before Charlottesville, the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and the mosque attacks in New Zealand.


The Lid: You can't always get what you want

Don't miss the pod from yesterday, when we looked at how the narrative about what Democratic voters want isn't always matching up to the data.

ICYMI: News clips you shouldn't miss

Trump has reversed course on Special Olympics funding after days of Betsy DeVos's defense of proposed cuts.

Kim Jong Un didn't hold back with flattery for the president before last month's summit in Vietnam.

Trump's top pick for the No. 3 position at DOJ is withdrawing over years-old ties to an abortion rights organization.

Brexit was supposed to happen today. Instead, everyone's just confused.


Other news you shouldn't miss…

Trump agenda: Puerto Rico's governor fires back

Puerto Rico's governor is talking very tough about the Trump administration.

POLITICO finds that CMS administration Seema Verma has been spending millions to GOP consultants.

The Washington Post tries to answer the question: How did Trump avoid an interview with the special counsel?

2020: Looks like Bennet is getting close to yes

Michael Bennet looks like he's leaning toward a run.


POLITICO's latest Hickenlooper headline: "John Hickenlooper Is Running for President As Himself. Uh-Oh."

Pete Buttigieg is making inroads with progressives in the Bay Area.

Cory Booker is kicking off a big campaign tour on April 13.

Trump's 2020 team is targeting Virginia for the presidential race.

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