Our weekly roundup of the news, notes and chatter about the prospects for the next Democratic presidential race:
Now that the Oprah Winfrey for president idea has had a few days to breathe, we're getting a look at how she'd fare against President Donald Trump: An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll out Friday morning has her up, 50% to Trump's 39%.
Ex-Vice President Joe Biden says Americans 'better' than Trump's 'shithole' remark
Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris both joined the Senate Judiciary Committee
That's no surprise. Winfrey performs well with college-educated white voters and young voters - groups that have abandoned Trump in droves and would be likely to support almost any opponent right now. The Atlantic's Ron Brownstein smartly points out that Trump's approval rating is, for now, a better barometer.
What is surprising is just how seriously many Democrats take the idea of a Winfrey candidacy. Many believe it's not crazy, and she could win. Jerry Crawford, a longtime veteran of Iowa presidential politics who was the Midwest co-chair of Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign, recalled watching in amazement as Winfrey electrified Iowa crowds campaigning for Barack Obama in late 2007. "If she actually got into this race, it's pretty hard to see how she wouldn't be one of three at the end of the day coming out of Iowa," Crawford said.
The alternative view is that, while the reaction to Winfrey's Golden Globes speech Sunday night was understandable, Democrats need someone with a deep grasp of policy to unwind the Trump years.
"We are so starved for competence and inspiration that the undeniable brilliance of that speech just swept people up," said former Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman Sue Dvorsky. "And I get the argument that (Trump) broke open the door for the inexperienced but well known, but I'm in the camp that we go back to someone who knows what the hell they're doing."
News and notes:
BIDEN'S 'SHITHOLE' RESPONSE: Former Vice President Joe Biden criticized President Donald Trump's remark about "shithole countries," tweeting: "It's not how a president should speak. It's not how a president should behave. Most of all, it's not what a president should believe. We're better than this."
This week Biden - a potential 2020 candidate himself - praised another possible contender, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, in an interview at a Los Angeles Times event this week. "Eric Garcetti is smart as hell. He is strategic, and Eric Garcetti understands what the future looks a little bit like," he said.
Biden also praised Oprah Winfrey, calling her an "incredibly bright, decent, appealing person" but saying she'd need to develop some foreign policy experience if she wants to be president. "I'd be happy to be on either one of their tickets," Biden joked about Garcetti and Winfrey. "I'm a good vice president."
What about Biden himself? "There will be a Biden president, and the name is likely to be Finnegan Biden," he said, referring to one of his granddaughters.
BERNIE GOES DIRECT TO THE GRASSROOTS: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is holding a town hall focused on his "Medicare for all" plan. It's happening January 23, for 90 minutes beginning at 7 p.m., and will be live streamed on NowThis, ATTN:, and The Young Turks' social media channels.
The medium here is, for one night at least, at least as important as the message. The Young Turks in particular have backed Sanders from early on in his 2016 bid, so this is a chance to chat with a friendly crowd and keep his base engaged and focused on Sanders' favorite issue, and one of the most popular with progressives. The Capitol Visitor Center's Congressional Auditorium in Washington will host the event.
CORY AND KAMALA GET NEW GIGS: California Sen. Kamala Harris and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker will be joining the Senate Judiciary Committee, making them - per a Washington Post report - the first African-American members to sit on the panel in the 21st century. The positions will further elevate another the already high-profile pair, giving them an even bigger stage and new responsibilities vetting judicial nominees and Justice Department appointments. And, if Democrats' worst nightmare comes true and a Supreme Court seat comes open, Booker and Harris will have the opportunity to cross-examine a Trump nominee on the national stage. Harris posted this picture of the pair on Instagram.
- Another note on Harris: She's growing a reputation as a leading voice on Capitol Hill for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programs. She "has been a complete game-changer for advocates who work on this," Alida Garcia, coalitions and policy direct at Fwd.us, told McClatchy's Emily Cadei. The Washington Post's Jeff Stein succinctly captured on Twitter why this could be a powerful issue for a 2020 Harris campaign.
FIGHTIN' WORDS FROM THE MACKER: Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who will be off the clock when Gov.-elect Ralph Northam gets sworn in Saturday, is making the most of his last few days in office. On Thursday night he told MSNBC's Chris Matthews that, if he just so happened to find himself in a debate with Trump and the President invaded his personal space, well, "You'd have to pick him up off the floor." (And yes, that means what it sounds like.)
McAuliffe was also on Jonathan Capehart's podcast, where he touted Virginia's drop to 3.6% unemployment. Asked by Capehart about his future, the Macker sounded like a candidate: "I don't want people talking about 2020 for anybody," he said, "because I am petrified about 2018."
DE BLASIO VS. THE OIL GIANTS: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is taking aim at the fossil fuel industry. New York this week became the largest American city to sue the world's largest oil companies, reports CNNMoney's Matt Egan. ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips are in the crosshairs as part of lawsuit demanding the companies foot the bill for protecting the city from the effects of climate change. There also plans now for the city to divest itself from fossil fuel reserve owners in the next five years. "It's time for Big Oil to take responsibility for the devastation they have wrought," de Blasio said during a news conference, adding: "We are going to lead the fight against climate change as if our lives depended on it - because they do."
SPENDING HIS WAY INTO DEMOCRATIC HEARTS? Billionaire megadonor Tom Steyer, who'd flirted with a Senate run in California, says he isn't running 2018. Instead, he's pledged to spend $30 million as part of an effort to retake the House from Republicans. Steyer will pump the money into his NextGen America group's youth program, which is aimed at organizing and turning out millennial voters. He also bought a copy of "Fire and Fury" for every member of Congress. He's also "doubling" his national advertising campaign to get Trump impeached, which has so far cost him $20 million, but helped build a massive email list.
ANOTHER BILLIONAIRE FLIRTS WITH A FUTURE RUN: Billionaire Mike Bloomberg was asked by MSNBC on Thursday whether he could consider a 2020 bid. Bloomberg said no, sort of - grabbing hold of the word "could" to deflect the question. "I suppose I could. You have to be 35 years old. I am older than that. You have be a citizen. I am a citizen. Have to be born in America. I was," he said. "But I have no plans to run for president."
Before you go:
Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy is up for re-election this year and begins with a war chest of $7 million. He raised $10.4 million in 2017, including $1.5 million in the year's final quarter, according to his latest campaign finance filing. ... Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander is headlining a January 24 fundraiser for Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown in Cleveland. Tickets range from $25 for students to $125. ... Former President Barack Obama talked to David Letterman about Malia Obama's college move-in day and more.