Furious Democratshope to pound Starbucks chairman emeritus Howard Schultz into early departure from his exploration of an independent 2020 bid.
These Democratswant to prevent the coffee king from siphoning anti-Trump votes, and perhaps unintentionally helping re-elect President Trump.
Alexi McCammond and I are hearing threats of boycotts and social isolation, attacks on Starbucks, and emotional, insistent lobbying of his advisers.
One of Washington'sbest-wired party operatives told me: "I've talked to six dozen Democrats, and the overwhelming sentiment is that he will be pushed out by this incredible wave of disgust and disdain rolling his way."
"The flaw in Schultz's logic is that we're living in this massively abnormal moment," the operative continued. "When you're on the head of a pin, even 500 votes in the wrong place can be existential."
"The bottom line is: Nobody thinks this is sustainable."
Bill Burton, a former campaign and White House aide to President Barack Obama, is enduring the skepticism of friends to serve as a message and communications adviser to Schultz.
"The good news is that presidential elections are not decided on Twitter," Burton said.
"His decision on whether or not to run won't be decided there, either."
"The level of certainty by the pundits about how this'll play out reminds me of the certainty that President Obama couldn't win or President Trump couldn't win."
But for many powerful Dems, this is personal. They view Schultz's dabbling as a dangerous gamble, indulgence and diversion. They told Alexi:
Jim Messina, Obama's 2012 campaign manager: "He can't win, and he could seriously damage our ability to beat Donald Trump. He should either run as a Democrat, or spend his time and money doing something that won't ruin the world."
Philippe Reines,confidant of Hillary Clinton: "Howard Schultz is a jackass. ... He's arrogant and wealthy — and those people tend to not see the world as it is."
What's next: Schultz appears in Phoenix today on the tour for his new book, "From the Ground Up," then continues on to Seattle and other major cities.
The rising Democratic enthusiasm for big government liberalism is forcing a trio of leading 2020 contenders to rethink jumping in, several sources tell Jim VandeHei and me.
Michael Bloomberg and former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, each of whom were virtual locks to run, are having serious second thoughts after watching Democrats embrace "Medicare for All," big tax increases and the Green New Deal.
Joe Biden, who still wants to run, is being advised to delay any plans to see how this lurch to the left plays out. If Biden runs, look for Bloomberg and McAuliffe to bow out, the sources tell us.
The Democratic attacks on Howard Schultz, after he said he was considering an independent bid, reflect the current party's limited appetite for moderation.
In "Schultz Derangement Syndrome," conservative N.Y. Times columnist Bret Stephens wrote: "[T]he neuralgic reaction to his bid says something about the ideological drift of the Democratic Party."
Iowa polling by a prominent 2020 hopeful found that the Democratic electorate has moved sharply left.
For instance, the polling found that "socialism" had a net positive rating, while "capitalism" had a net negative rating.
Bloomberg is going ahead with expensive preparations for a campaign: He directed his staff to prepare a launch plan for him, after he received an encouraging response from a business audience in Northern Virginia 10 days ago.
Kevin Sheekey, his close adviser, was spotted in Washington yesterday on a recruitment mission for campaign talent.
If Bloomberg ran, he would argue that no candidate in the race has done more to save the environment and support gun control.
Be smart: The decision on whether to enter the crowded 2020 field is becoming a math problem. Just one moderate candidate could have an advantage, with a bunch of progressives splitting the liberal vote. But multiple moderates could be splitting too small a slice.
Schultz is the Democratic equivalent to when the Republicans started promoting Michael Steele endlessly after Obama got elected ("We have one too!").
Thing is, Schultz seems more along the lines of "Let's maintain the status quo" than anything really meaningful in the way of moving forward. That, and he seems clueless about anything resembling a policy.
Dems divide over Israel Rep. Ilhan Omar arrives for the State of the Union address. (Carolyn Kaster/AP) "Provocative comments from Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota have thrust the Democrats into an uncomfortable debate over Israel," AP's Laurie Kellman writes: "Increasingly, the rift appears as much generational as ideological, with newly elected Democrats showing less deference to the party line." "Omar became the flash point after she suggested ... Israel's supporters are pushing U.S. lawmakers to take a pledge of 'allegiance to a foreign country.'" Why it matters: "It's at least the third time she has forced older, pro-Israel Democrats who run the House into awkward territory over U.S.-Israeli policy." Republicans have stoked the furor. President Trump called Omar's remarks "a dark day for Israel," and posted a photo of himself in Jerusalem. What's next: "[P]ro-Israel Democrats led by Speaker Pelosi are expected to offer a resolution condemning anti-Semitism." The text will be updated to include anti-Muslim bias. An outpouring of support for Omar prompted leaders to broaden the measure.
Screenshot via MSNBC
Sen. Kamala Harris of California, 54, stared down Joe Biden, 76, in a raw exchange on race and personal history that defined last night's Democratic presidential debate, Axios' Alexi McCammond reports from Miami. (See the video.)
Why it matters: Harris took control of the night by not waiting for the NBC moderators to bring up segregation. She addressed Biden directly, repeatedly going over her time.
She positioned herself as a product of history, but future-oriented and raring to change things in a way that Biden isn't.
A big question is who voters can picture onstage with President Trump. Harris was tough but also showed emotion, per Axios' Alayna Treene.
In the most electric moment of this week's back-to-back debates, Harris told Biden:
I do not believe you are a racist ... But I also believe, and it's personal ... t was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country. And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing.
And, you know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bussed to school every day. And that little girl was me.
Biden fumbled his response, not pausing to acknowledge her life experience, and tapping out before he was cut off:
It's a mischaracterization of my position across the board. I did not praise racists. The fact is that, in terms of busing, the busing, I never — you would have been able to go to school the same exact way because it was a local decision made by your city council. ...
I supported the ERA from the very beginning. I'm the guy that extended the Voting Rights Act for 25 years. ... I've also argued very strongly that we, in fact, deal with the notion of denying people access to the ballot box. I agree that everybody, once they, in fact — anyway, my time is up. I'm sorry.
How it's playing ... Stephen Colbert on a special live edition of CBS' "The Late Show": "I believe in global warming, because Kamala Harris was on fire."
Joy Reid on MSNBC's postgame: "She destabilized him on the race question."
Top takeaways from this week's opening debates of 2020, from Axios' Alexi McCammond in Miami, managing editor David Nather, Alayna Treene and me:
They're not united on everything: If one of the more progressive Dems won, they'd still have plenty of moderates telling them to get real and stop trying to offer free college to everyone or abolish private health insurance.
Sen. Bernie Sanders seemed like a sidelight: Nearly everyone else could name the first issue they'd push as president but he couldn't, or wouldn't, choose. (Biden, seeming to misunderstand the question, said: "[T]he first thing I would do is make sure that we defeat Donald Trump, period.")
Pete Buttigieg had a moment of blunt honesty when asked why the diversity of the South Bend policy force hadn't improved during his two terms as mayor: "Because I couldn't get it done. ... I am determined to bring about a day when a white person driving a vehicle and a black person driving a vehicle, when they see a police officer approaching, feels the exact same thing."
I like Pete Buttigieg the most out of the candidates so far. He seems smart, articulate and unflappable. I think he would run circles around Trump in debates. I have always liked Joe Biden and hope he can recover, but last night it seemed he was stumbling.
Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders were all inspiring, but I am concerned they may be too far left to capture the swing voters.
I get the argument that an inspiring far left candidate could energize the base which could be more important than catering to the swing voters, but I'd much prefer a candidate that can energize the Democratic base and capture the swing voters, given the horrendous alternative.
“We refuse to sit idly by as racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia are wielded by the president and any elected official complicit in the poisoning of our democracy,” they wrote. “We call on local, state and congressional officials, as well as presidential candidates to articulate their policies and strategies for moving us forward as a strong democracy, through a racial-equity lens that prioritizes people over profit.”
The State Department completed its internal investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of private email and found violations by 38 people, some of whom may face disciplinary action, AP reports.
The investigation, launched more than three years ago, determined that those 38 people were "culpable" in 91 cases of sending classified information that ended up in Clinton's personal email.
The letter said investigators had found "no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information."
The investigation covered 33,000 emails. The department said it found 588 violations involving information then or now deemed to be classified, but could not assign fault in 497 cases.