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If it's Biden v. Bernie, buckle up

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Former Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Sen. Bernie Sanders
Former Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Sen. Bernie Sanders -
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WASHINGTON — They're both white men in their mid-to-late 70s. And they're both current/former creatures of the U.S. Senate.

But Joe Biden versus Bernie Sanders — the two 2020 candidates who lead in almost every Democratic poll — represents one heck of an ideological contrast, if the race ultimately comes down to these two men.

So in addition to the not-so-subtle shot that the Sanders campaign took at Biden's high-roller fundraiser last night, the two candidates disagree on:

  • health care (Sanders is for a single-payer system; Biden likely will work to protect/strengthen Obamacare);
  • trade (Sanders opposed the TPP trade agreement; Biden backed it as Barack Obama's VP);
  • and their vision for 2020 (Sanders is once again calling for a political revolution; Biden is running on a political restoration project).

Of course, a full-out Biden-versus-Bernie ideological fight — if it comes to that — could create an opening for the other 2020 Dems, whose messages are in between a revolution and a restoration.

And last night, Elizabeth Warren took a swipe at Biden's entry when she was asked about his record on Wall Street and bankruptcy, per MSNBC's Shirley Zilberstein.

"At a time when the biggest financial institutions in this country were trying to put the squeeze on millions of hard-working families who were in bankruptcy because of medical problems, job losses, divorce and death in the family, there was nobody to stand up for them," she said.

"I got in that fight because they just didn't have anyone. And Joe Biden was on the side of the credit card companies."

Ouch.

But also remember that both Biden and Sanders mutually benefit from contrasts with one another.

Biden needs the foil of Sanders to show that his version of democratic socialism goes too far, while Sanders needs the foil of Biden to demonstrate that Obamaism-Bidenism doesn't go far enough.

So don't be surprised if this Biden-versus-Bernie debate becomes a staple of the fall before next year's first contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Trump addresses a struggling NRA

When President Trump addresses the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Indianapolis at 11:35 am ET, he'll speak to an organization that's been incredibly weakened over the past year.

"[T]he group is grappling with infighting, bleeding money and facing a series of investigations into its operating practices, including allegations that covert Russian agents seeking to influence the 2016 election courted its officials and funneled money through the group," the AP writes.

More: "Indeed, as Trump is speaking Friday, Maria Butina, the admitted Russian agent, is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court in Washington."

Besides its financial and Russian troubles, the NRA also got drubbed in last year's midterms - a reminder that the NRA's political fate is tied directly to the Republican Party.

It wasn't that way 20 years ago…

2020 Vision: Who endorsed Biden and who didn't

On his first day as a presidential candidate, Biden picked up some key (but not surprising) endorsements:

  • Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del.
  • Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.
  • Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala.
  • Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del.
  • Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Pa.
  • Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa.
  • Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-N.Y.

But here's an endorsement Biden didn't get — Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., who backed Pete Buttigieg earlier this week.

Why is Beyer notable here?

"Beyer endorsed Obama in early 2007 and volunteered on his campaign, knocking on doors for weeks in Iowa ahead of the state caucuses," the Washington Post writes.

Also: "Beyer served two terms as Virginia's lieutenant governor in the 1990s, was a major fundraiser for Obama and served as U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein from 2009 to 2013."

On the campaign trail

Today: Joe Biden appears on The View… Elizabeth Warren stumps in Iowa… Kirsten Gillibrand hits New Hampshire… Cory Booker campaigns in South Carolina… And Beto O'Rourke and Julian Castro both swing through Nevada.

Saturday: President Trump holds a rally in Green Bay, Wis… O'Rourke, Castro, Warren, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and John Hickenlooper attend an SEIU forum in Las Vegas… O'Rourke later heads to California… And Gillibrand remains in New Hampshire, while Booker stays in South Carolina.

Sunday: O'Rourke holds a town hall in San Francisco.

Data Download: The number of the day is … 28 years

Twenty-eight years.

That's the time that passed between the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings — for which Joe Biden served as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — and his reported repentant phone call a few weeks ago to Anita Hill, who accused Thomas of sexual harassment.

But, as the New York Times reports, the call didn't go as he hoped.

Hill told the Times: "I cannot be satisfied by simply saying, 'I'm sorry for what happened to you' … I will be satisfied when I know there is real change and real accountability and real purpose."

She also didn't call Biden's phone call an apology, and — although she doesn't see Biden's conduct during the hearings as totally disqualifying — she said she can't support him until he further addresses his treatment of her and of corroborating witnesses who were never called to testify in the confirmation fight.

The Lid: Oh, that Joe

Don't miss the pod from yesterday, when we looked at the various ways Joe Biden's candidacy could play out.

Tweet of the day

ICYMI: This week's overlooked stories

Biden gets in! The subpoena war! More fallout from the Mueller report! Those were the stories that dominated the week.

But don't miss these other ones, per NBC's Kyle Stewart, which would have received more attention in any other political era.

  1. North Korea issued $2 million bill for comatose Otto Warmbier's care.
  2. Watchdogs open 2nd ethics probe of top Interior officials.
  3. Latino vote surged in 2018, new data shows.
  4. Putin meets with Kim in hopes he can help resolve nuclear standoff.

And don't miss these stories today….

The Washington Post has details on how Trump enlisted Corey Lewandowski to try to curtail the Mueller probe.

Rod Rosenstein is hitting back at the Mueller report's critics.

POLITICO looks at how Mick Mulvaney is trying to boost White House morale.

Joe Biden has hired Symone Sanders.

In other news out there…

Trump agenda: Hack this

The Trump campaign won't rule out using hacked material in 2020.

The Trump administration has six months to identify migrant children who have been separated from their families, according to a judge's new ruling.

Trump is meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan on trade.

2020: Betting on fear of Trump

Biden is betting big on fear of Trump, NBC's Jonathan Allen writes.

And is Trump worried about Biden?

Biden's first swing is focused on Iowa and South Carolina.

Elizabeth Warren is blasting a new big bank merger.

The AP reports on Cory Booker's plan to boost the EPA.