Trump, Biden battle for the spotlight in Iowa

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden
President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden Copyright Getty Images; Reuters
Copyright Getty Images; Reuters
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 — Just when Joe Biden was looking more and more vulnerable, President Trump and his team elevate him.

First by this New York Times story highlighting how Biden has gotten into Trump's head, and how the president trails Biden in their internal polling - which is reflected in the public polling, too.

Second by Trump's travel to Iowa Tuesday on the same day that Biden will be there, giving both men a split-screen day.

All more than 200 days before next year's Iowa caucuses.

"You know, Donald Trump and I are both in Iowa today. It wasn't planned that way, but I hope Trump's presence here will be a clarifying event," Biden is expected to say in Davenport at 7:00 pm ET, according to advanced remarks his campaign released this morning, per NBC's Garrett Haake.

Also from Biden: "America's farmers have been crushed by his tariff war with China. No one knows that better than Iowa."

And: "How many sleepless nights do you think Trump has had over what he's doing to America's farmers? Here's the answer: Just as many as he had when he stiffed the construction workers and electricians and plumbers who built his hotels and casinos. Zero."

Trump, meanwhile, delivers remarks on renewable energy from Council Bluffs at 4:20 p.m. ET, and then speaks at the Iowa GOP's annual dinner in West Des Moines at 7:30 p.m. ET.

If you're Biden, this split-screen day in Iowa is an absolute gift.

It makes it seem like the general election is already here.

And it diminishes the rest of the Dem field.

But the challenge for Biden: When you're provided this kind of gift, you have to deliver.

Iowa's watching.

Tweet of the day

What Iowa Democrats want, Part 2

On Monday, we got more non-horserace numbers from that Des Moines Register/CNN poll of Iowa Dem caucus-goers.

The percentage of in-person likely caucus-goers saying these policy positions are must-haves:

  • A woman's right to an abortion: 79 percent.
  • Recognition that climate change is the greatest threat to humanity: 75 percent.
  • Restoring the ban on assault-style weapons: 57 percent.
  • Medicare for All - shifting to an entirely government-run health system: 49 percent.
  • Broadly expanding student debt forgiveness: 42 percent.
  • The Green New Deal: 32 percent.
  • Free tuition at four-year colleges: 23 percent.
  • Restoring voting rights to all felons, regardless of whether they've completed their sentence: 23 percent.
  • Breaking up big tech companies: 21 percent.

And on whether these candidate qualities are an advantage:

  • Having years of experience in Washington: 52 percent.
  • Coming from a place that mostly elects Democrat: 28 percent.
  • Being white: 25 percent.
  • Being a woman: 23 percent.
  • Being gay: 4 percent.
  • Being over the age of 70: 1 percent.

Justice Department will hand over Mueller evidence to House Democrats

One explanation why Democrats are conflicted/divided/triggered over the impeachment question is that their oversight of Trump - now that they're in the House majority - has yet to produce any real results.

In fact, the last several weeks have been dominated by defied subpoenas, witness no-shows and a refusal to hand over Trump's tax returns.


But yesterday, House Democrats DID appear to get something they're after.

"House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., announced Monday that he had reached an agreement with the Department of Justice over obtaining underlying evidence from the Mueller report related to possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump," NBC's Rebecca Shabad writes.

"Nadler announced the deal in a statement, saying that the DOJ 'has agreed to begin complying with our committee's subpoena by opening Robert Mueller's most important files to us.'"

"The announcement came just hours before the committee holds the first in a series of hearings on the Mueller report and a day before the House is set to vote on a civil contempt resolution seeking to enforce committee subpoenas."

"Nadler said in his statement that the House would hold off on the 'criminal contempt process' for now."


2020 Vision: Pete's big speech

Pete Buttigieg today gives what his campaign bills as a major foreign policy/national security speech at Indiana University in Bloomington, per NBC's Josh Lederman.

Buttigieg's argument is rooted in the notion that for too long, Democrats have ceded national security to Republicans, Lederman says. The candidate wants to wind down U.S. wars, including pulling troops from Afghanistan, and elevate "climate disruption" as a national security issue rather than domestic policy.

What's Buttigieg's goal? To shine a spotlight on his service as an Afghanistan War veteran and intelligence officer, offering a contrast with Trump.

Buttigieg has accused the president of faking a disability to dodge the Vietnam War draft. Lederman also expects Buttigieg to blame Trump for increasing tensions with Iran and flubbing the increasing threat posed by China.

On the campaign trail today: Joe Biden stumps in Iowa, hitting Ottumwa, Mount Pleasant and Davenport… Steve Bullock also remains in the Hawkeye State… Pete Buttigieg delivers a foreign-policy/national-security speech in Bloomington, Ind… And Tim Ryan does Politics & Eggs in Manchester, N.H.


Data Download: The number of the day is … 62 percent

Sixty-two percent.

That's the share of Americans who say that they have become more supportive of transgender rights than they were five years ago, according to a new survey from PRRI.

Just a quarter — 25 percent — say they've become more opposed.

The survey also found that 55 percent of Americans say that there are only two genders, while 40 percent say there are a range of possible gender identities.

Among Republicans, almost three quarters — 73 percent — say gender is strictly binary, while 52 percent of Democrats say gender is more fluid.


The Lid: Nothin' but a number?

Don't miss the pod from yesterday, when we looked inside the numbers at that new Iowa poll from over the weekend — including what Iowa Democrats say about candidates' ages.

ICYMI: News clips you shouldn't miss

Mike Penceis defendingthe Trump administration's decision to bar pride flags at U.S. embassies.

Was John Dean's testimony on the Hill a bust for Democrats?

The Washington Post reportson the migrant crackdown that Mexican negotiators promised to get him to back down from the tariff threat.

Justin Amashis leavingthe House Freedom Caucus.


Lawmakers in New York are pushing a new effortto decriminalize sex work.

And Bernie Sanders tells NBC Nightly News that his one big idea is Medicare for All.

Trump agenda: Origin story

NBC's Mike Memoli reportson new details about the DOJ probe of the origins of the Russia investigation.

POLITICO takes a lookat the lack of diversity at the Treasury Department.

Democrats are backpedaling on a bill that would have raised congressional salaries.


2020: Gillibrand hits 65,000 donors

The Gillibrand campaign says it hit 65,000 donors.

Here's how Trump has zeroed in on Biden as a target.

Iowa Dems want more urgency from Joe Biden's campaign.

The New York Times looks atthe rising influence of Arizona for 2020.

Who's more unpopular in New York: Trump or Bill de Blasio?


Fun fact from the NYT:"It is the first time in more than a century that all but one state legislature is dominated by a single party."

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