BBC: Obama tips his hand

Analysis box by Anthony Zurcher, North America reporter

Obama has studiously avoided weighing in on the large field of Democratic candidates vying for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination. Behind closed doors on Friday, however, he tipped his hand a bit.

Sanders is preaching political revolution. Warren is urging “big systemic change”. The former president clearly had those two frontrunners in mind when he suggested such aggressive talk risks alienating the kind of middle-of-the-road voters necessary to defeat Donald Trump next year.

This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Obama, despite being labelled a radical socialist by his conservative critics, governed as a pragmatic moderate. That created a fair amount of consternation of among progressives in his party, who thought he was one of their own when elected. Some view his presidency as a missed opportunity to enact fundamental structural reforms in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis.

This time around, they’re throwing their support behind Warren and Sanders and won’t appreciate being indirectly lectured by the former president.

The moderate-progressive division within the Democratic Party is very real, and it has the potential for combustion. Obama may not be picking a favourite candidate, but it looks like he’s picking sides.


Others not involved in the race for the nomination were more blunt.

In a tweet, Peter Daou, a former aide to Hillary Clinton, wrote: “Saying ‘Americans are moderate than these wild leftists’ is basically conceding that the far-right propaganda machine has prevailed.”

Presentational white spaceIn a later tweet, Mr Daou included the hashtag #TooFarLeft, which was widely used by other social media users who disagreed with Mr Obama.

The Democratic race is still in flux as the first of the state-by-state votes that will decide which of the contenders challenges Mr Trump for the White House looms in Iowa in February.

Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, topped the latest poll of likely Democratic voters in Iowa.

Some Democrats are concerned that Mr Biden, a moderate who was vice-president to Mr Obama, will struggle to beat Mr Trump, prompting a flurry of latecomers to join the race.

Former US President Barack Obama speaks to guests at the Obama Foundation SummitBarack Obama said most “ordinary Americans” didn’t want to completely tear down the system

In recent days Deval Patrick, the two-time former governor of Massachusetts, entered the field amid speculation that former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg may follow suit.

But Democratic hopes of electoral success in 2020 were boosted on Saturday after Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards secured a second term as Louisiana governor.

US election 2020: Democrats respond to Obama’s warning

Bernie Sanders: “When I talk about raising the minimum wage to a living wage, I’m not tearing down the system. We’re fighting for justice.”

Elizabeth Warren (L), Bernie Sanders (C) and Julian Castro (R) are all contending for the Democratic presidential nomination

Elizabeth Warren (L), Bernie Sanders (C) and Julián Castro (R) are all contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination

Democratic presidential candidates have given their reaction to a warning by former President Barack Obama against moving too far left in politics.

Mr Obama’s rare intervention into the Democratic race was a talking point at campaign events on Saturday.

Some Democrats called for unity, while others defended their policy agenda.

Nearly 20 candidates remain in the running and there is much debate over the best approach to taking on President Trump next year.

Speaking at a fundraising forum in Washington, the former president – considered a moderate – cautioned candidates against pursuing polices that were not “rooted in reality”.

Mr Obama, who was in office from 2009 to 2017, said “ordinary Americans” didn’t want to “completely tear down the system”.

“This is still a country that is less revolutionary than it is interested in improvement,” Mr Obama said to an audience of wealthy donors on Friday.

Watch former US President Barack Obama talk about “woke” culture

The remarks represented Mr Obama’s most pointed intervention yet in a crowded race featuring 18 candidates.

Former vice-president Joe Biden and senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are leading the pack, but Mr Obama is yet to publicly back a candidate.

How did candidates respond to Mr Obama?

Although none of the Democratic candidates explicitly rebuked Mr Obama’s comments, Mr Sanders mounted the strongest defence of his policy platform.

Answering questions on a forum aired by Univision, a Spanish-language TV network, he was asked whether Mr Obama was “right” to say voters didn’t want systemic change.

Mr Sanders, who describes himself as a democratic socialist and progressive, laughed and said: “Well, it depends on what you mean by tear down the system.”

Democratic presidential hopeful, Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders speaks at the California Democratic Party 2019 Senator Bernie Sanders insisted that he was “fighting for justice”, not seeking to tear down the system

“The agenda that we have is an agenda supported by the vast majority of working people,” he said. “When I talk about raising the minimum wage to a living wage, I’m not tearing down the system. We’re fighting for justice.”

Elizabeth Warren, another left-leaning frontrunner, struck a more conciliatory tone, choosing to praise Mr Obama’s trademark health care policy, the Affordable Care Act.

“I so admire what President Obama did,” Ms Warren said at a campaign event in Iowa, the New York Times reported.

“He is the one who led the way on health care and got health care coverage for tens of millions of Americans when nobody thought that was possible.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks at the Holiday Inn in Concord, New HampshireElizabeth Warren said she admired Barack Obama’s health care achievements

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker said the party ought to be focusing its energy on defeating Republican President Donald Trump, not internal political squabbles.

“Let’s stop tearing each other down, let’s stop drawing artificial lines,” he said.

Unlike Mr Obama, Julián Castro, a former mayor of San Antonio, Texas, said he was confident any Democratic candidate would beat President Trump, regardless of their political persuasion.

Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro speaks at the Liberty and Justice Celebration at the Wells Fargo ArenaJulián Castro said he was confident any Democratic candidate would beat Donald Trump

“Their vision for the future of the country is much better and will be more popular than Donald Trump’s,” Mr Castro, former housing secretary in the Obama administration, said.

Conservative Barack Obama issues warning to ‘revolutionary’ Democrats

Former US President Barack Obama speaks to guests at the Obama Foundation SummitBarack Obama said most “ordinary Americans” didn’t want to completely tear down the system

Former US President Barack Obama has issued a warning to Democratic presidential candidates, cautioning them against policies that are not “rooted in reality”.

Mr Obama said Democrats risked alienating voters if they lurched too far to the left politically.

The former president, speaking at a fundraising event, said most voters didn’t want to “tear down the system”.

Mr Obama is yet to publicly back a Democratic candidate.

The field is crowded, with 18 Democrats vying for the nomination to take on Republican President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

The frontrunners are former Vice-President Joe Biden, senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

At the event held in Washington on Friday, Mr Obama did not mention any candidate by name nor criticise any specific policy proposal.

Instead, he used the appearance to urge Democrats to “pay some attention” to voters on issues such as health care and immigration.

These voters, Mr Obama said, did not necessarily have the same views as what he called “certain left-leaning Twitter feeds” or “the activist wing of our party”.

The comments, which come less than four months before the Democratic primaries, represent one of Mr Obama’s most pointed interventions in the race so far.

They may be seen as a critique of senators Sanders and Warren – widely seen as two of the most left-wing candidates in the field.

Both candidates have called for far-reaching political and economic change, including policies that would end private health insurance and decriminalise illegal border crossings.

But Mr Obama, who occupied the White House from 2009 to 2017, said the country was “less revolutionary than it is interested in improvement”.

“Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision, we also have to be rooted in reality,” Mr Obama said at the meeting, reportedly attended by wealthy liberal donors.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden wave to their supporters after Obama gave his victory speech during an election night gathering in Grant Park on November 4, 2008Barack Obama, pictured here with Joe Biden after giving his election victory speech in 2008, is viewed as a moderate Democrat

The Democratic race is still largely up in the air even as the first of the state-by-state votes that will decide which of the contenders challenges Mr Trump for the White House looms in Iowa in February.

Some Democrats are concerned that Mr Biden, a moderate, will struggle to beat Mr Trump, prompting a flurry of latecomers to join the race.

In recent days Deval Patrick, the two-time former governor of Massachusetts, entered the field amid speculation that former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg may follow suit.

Meanwhile, political gossip about whether Hillary Clinton might enter the fray continues to set tongues wagging in Washington DC.

In an interview with the BBC, Mrs Clinton said she was “under enormous pressure” to challenge Mr Trump, who beat her in the 2016 presidential election.

Who are the 2020 US Democratic presidential candidates?

The pool of candidates vying for their party’s nomination in 2020 is among the largest and most diverse in US history.
2020 Democratic presidential candidates are seen in a combination of file photos [Files/Reuters/AFP]
2020 Democratic presidential candidates are seen in a combination of file photos

Less than two years out from the 2020 US presidential election, the pool of Democratic candidates vying for their party’s nomination is among the largest and most diverse in United Stateshistory.

With 21 candidates already in the race and a number of individuals yet to announce their campaign, the list is likely to grow as the US primary season gets closer.

Here is a look at who has thrown their name in the race so far:

Michael Bennet, 54

Michael Bennet has served as a US senator from Colorado since 2009. Bennet, a former head of the Denver school district, carved out a profile as a wonky, policy-oriented senator.

He gained internet fame this year for a harsh scolding of Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas over the government shutdown.

Bennet was close to launching a presidential campaign after that but had to pause it when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

In this file photo taken on April 10, 2019, US Senator Michael Bennet speaks during the North American Building Trades Unions Conference in Washington, DC [Zach Gibson/Getty Images/AFP]

Bennet’s office said last month that the senator was successfully treated. That cleared the way for his May 2 launch.

Joe Biden, 76

Joe Biden served as vice president under former President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017 after nearly four decades serving as a senator from Delaware.

Biden is the most experienced politician in the race, and the second oldest, after 77-year-old Bernie Sanders. This will be his third presidential run. His first White House bid in 1987 ended after a plagiarism scandal.

In a video announcement of his candidacy posted on Twitter on April 25, Biden focused on the 2017 deadly clash between white supremacists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. Biden noted US President Donald Trump‘s comments that there were some “very fine people” on both sides of the violent encounter, which left one woman dead.

“We are in the battle for the soul of this nation,” Biden said. “If we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation – who we are. And I cannot stand by and watch that happen.”

Last month, Biden struggled to respond to comments from Lucy Flores, a 2014 lieutenant governor nominee in Nevada, who said he made her uncomfortable by touching her shoulders and kissing the back of her head before a campaign event. Several other women have made similar claims.

In a video, Biden pledged to be “more mindful” of respecting “personal space”, but Flores told Fox News this week that the former senator’s jokes on the matter have been “so incredibly disrespectful”.

The incident is just a glimpse of the harsh vetting from both Democrats and Republicans expected for Biden, who has run for president twice before but never from such a strong political starting position.

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Biden Courage Awards last month in New York [Frank Franklin II/AP Photo]

In recent weeks, he was repeatedly forced to explain his 1991 decision, as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, to allow Anita Hill to face questions about her allegations of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas, then a nominee for the Supreme Court.

Biden has since apologised for his role in the hearing. But in the #MeToo era, it is another example of why critics believe he may struggle to catch on with the Democratic primary voters of 2020.

Cory Booker, 49

Cory Booker has served as a US senator from New Jersey – the first African American in the state’s history to hold the office – since 2013. He was the mayor of Newark from 2006 to 2013.

His entry into the Democratic primary was steeped in history and symbolism, befitting his status as the second black candidate in an historically diverse field. Invoking the legacy of the national movements for civil rights and for women’s suffrage, the New Jersey senator during his candidacy announcement urged a return to a “common sense of purpose”.

Cory Booker speaks to voters during a campaign stop in Manchester, New Hampshire [File: Steven Senne/AP Photo]

Booker could face difficulty winning the hearts of the progressive Democratic base due to his past financial ties to banking and pharmaceutical interests. He said he would stop taking contributions from pharmaceutical companies in 2017.

He announced his presidential bid on February 1.

Pete Buttigieg, 37

Pete Buttigieg has served as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, since 2012.

Before that, Buttigieg was a consultant for McKinsey and company.

He is the first openly gay Democratic candidate to run for president. He announced his presidential bid on January 23, 2019.

There are no policy positions on his website. He has virtually no paid presence in the states that matter most. And his campaign manager is a high-school friend with no experience in presidential politics.

Despite this, he has suddenly become one of the hottest names in the Democrats’ presidential primary season. On the campaign trail, he has frequently spoken about the struggle to legalise same-sex marriage.

Pete Buttigieg speaks during the US Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington [File: Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo]

He has also repeatedly criticised Vice President Mike Pence for his view that discredits LGBTQ rights.

“I’m not critical of his faith; I’m critical of bad policies. I don’t have a problem with religion. I’m religious, too. I have a problem with religion being used as a justification to harm people and especially in the LGBTQ community,” the Indiana Democrat said in an interview with NBC’s The Ellen DeGeneres Show this month.

Buttigieg’s moment may pass if he does not take swift action to build a national organisation capable of harnessing the energy, he will need to sustain his surge in the nine months or so before the first votes are cast.

Julian Castro, 44

Julian Castro was elected mayor of San Antonio, Texas in 2009 and served until 2014.

He served as the 16th US secretary of housing and urban development (HUD) under US President Barack Obama from 2014 until 2017.

Castro, the grandson of Mexican immigrants, was raised by a local Latina activist, and after a brief career in law, he was elected mayor of the nation’s seventh-largest city at the age of 34.

Julian Castro listens as he is introduced at a gathering of Tri-City Young Democrats in Somersworth, New Hampshire, US, on January 15, 2019 [Brian Snyder/Reuters]

It was not long after that election that Democrats nationally embraced him as a star in the making, particularly one from Texas, where a booming Hispanic population is rapidly changing the state’s demographics and improving the party’s fortunes.

He announced his presidential run on January 12, 2019.

John Delaney, 56

John Delaney served as a US congressman for Maryland’s sixth district from 2013 to 2019.

Delaney, a former banking entrepreneur, is known as politically moderate with a willingness to reach across the aisle.

He has supported a measure to raise money to build infrastructure by allowing US corporations to avoid taxes when they repatriate profits overseas if they buy bonds that would be used to build infrastructure.

John Delaney stands in a food vendors building during a visit to the Iowa State Fair [File: Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo]

He announced his presidential run in a Washington Post op-ed published on July 28, 2017.

Delaney, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, was the first to announce he will seek his party’s nomination in 2020.

He said he was entering the presidential race early because he knows he will need time to build name recognition.

Tulsi Gabbard, 38

Tusi Gabbard has served as a US congresswoman from Hawaii’s second district since 2013.

Gabbard is the first Hindu member of Congress. At the age of 21, she became the youngest to be elected to a US state legislature serving on the Hawaii House of Representatives.

She has also served in the Hawaii Army National Guard in a combat zone in Iraq and was deployed to Kuwait.

She was a fierce opponent of same-sex marriage when she served in the state legislature in her 20s. But she has since disavowed those views and professes her support for LGBTQ rights.

Critics have pounced on her efforts to block the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Hawaii and a meeting she held with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Earlier this year, she penned an op-ed responding to media reports about her alleged ties to Hindu nationalists.

Tulsi Gabbard delivers a nomination speech for Senator Bernie Sanders on the second day at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia [File: Mike Segar/Reuters]

“While the headlines covering my announcement could have celebrated this landmark first, and maybe even informed Americans about the world’s third largest religion, some have instead fomented suspicion, fear and religious bigotry about not only me but also my supporters,” she wrote.

Gabbard officially launched her presidential campaign on February 2, 2019.

Kirsten Gillibrand, 52

Kirsten Gillibrand has served as a US senator from New York since 2009. Before that, Gillibrand served in the House of Representatives from 2007 to 2009.

Gillibrand has also worked for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. She worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2000 US Senate campaign.

She has been a vocal advocate for electing more women to office and a forceful critic of the Trump administration.

Kristen Gillibrand asks a question during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC [File: Aaron P Bernstein/Reuters]

Gillibrand, who has been a forceful public advocate for victims of sexual misconduct, came under fire for how her deputy chief of staff, Anne Bradley, handled a sexual harassment claim made by a female staffer against one of Gillibrand’s male aides.

She announced her presidential run on January 15, 2019.

Kamala Harris, 54

Kamala Harris has served as a US senator from California since 2017.

Before joining the Senate, Harris was the attorney general of California. She has also served as San Francisco district attorney.

Her track record as San Francisco’s district attorney and California’s attorney general has drawn scrutiny in a Democratic Party that has shifted in recent years on criminal justice issues.

Harris is the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India.

Senator Kamala Harris speaks to the media after announcing she will run for president of the United States [Joshua Roberts/Reuters]

She supports a middle-class tax credit, Medicare for All healthcare funding reform, the Green New Deal and the legalisation of cannabis.

She launched her presidential run on January 21, 2019.

John Hickenlooper, 67

John Hickenlooper served as the governor of Colorado from 2011 to 2019.

Before that, Hickenlooper served as the mayor of Denver from 2003 to 2011.

Hickenlooper, cofounder of the Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver, has positioned himself as a centrist and an experienced officeholder with business experience.

John Hickenlooper speaks at the United States Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington, DC [File: Yuri Gripas/Reuters]

He is the only Democratic presidential candidate so far to oppose the Green New Deal plan to tackle climate change, saying it would give the government too much power in investment decisions.

He announced his presidential run on March 4, 2019.

Jay Inslee, 68

Jay Inslee has served as the governor of the state of Washington since 2013.

He has also served in both the state legislator and US House of Representatives. He was the regional director for the US Department of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton.

Jay Inslee speaks on Friday, March 1, 2019, during a campaign event at A&R Solar in Seattle [Ted S Warren/ AP Photo]

Inslee, who announced his presidential run on March 1, 2019, has made fighting climate change the central issue of his campaign.

As governor, Inslee has moved to put a moratorium on capital punishment and fully implement the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, accompanying the expansion of Medicaid health coverage for the poor.

Amy Klobuchar, 58

Amy Klobuchar served as a US senator from Minnesota since 2007, becoming her state’s first elected female senator.

Before joining the Senate, she was the Hennepin County lawyer.

Amy Klobuchar waits to speak at the Ankeny Area Democrats’ Winter Banquet on Thursday, February 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa [Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo]

Klobuchar gained national attention in 2018 when she sparred with Brett Kavanaugh during Senate hearings for his Supreme Court nomination.

She announced her presidential run on February 10, 2019.

On the campaign trail, the former prosecutor and corporate lawyer supports an alternative to traditional Medicare healthcare funding and is taking a hard stance against rising prescription drug prices.

Wayne Messam, 44

Wayne Messam has served as mayor of Miramar, Florida, since 2015.

Messam grew up in South Bay, an agricultural town of 3,500 people, adjoining Lake Okeechobee. His parents emigrated from Jamaica.

Messam believes Miramar has much that the rest of the US would like to have: environmentally friendly development, high-end manufacturing and major corporate operations.

Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam poses for a portrait in Miramar [Brynn Anderson/AP Photo]

Pundits have said he is unlikely to win due to low name recognition and funding. No sitting mayor has ever won the presidency and he has a lack of political experience.

On March 28, 2019, he announced he was running for president.

Seth Moulton, 40

Seth Moulton has served as the US representative for Massachusetts’s sixth congressional district since 2015.

Moulton first came to prominence in 2014 when he unseated long-term incumbent Representative John Tierney in a Democratic primary to represent the sixth congressional district.

Moulton announced his presidential bid on April 22, 2019.

In a YouTube video announcing his presidential candidacy, he said: “Decades of division and corruption have broken our democracy and robbed Americans of their voice.”

Seth Moulton speaks at a Merrimack County Democrats Summer Social in Bow, New Hampshire [File: Brian Snyder/Reuters]

In the video, Moulton said he wants to tackle climate change and grow the US economy by promoting green jobs as well as hi-tech and advanced manufacturing.

Moulton served in the Marines from 2001 to 2008. During his 2014 congressional bid, he became a vocal critic of the war in Iraq in which he served, saying no more troops should be deployed to the country.

He has advocated stricter gun laws, saying military-style weapons should not be owned by civilians.

Beto O’Rourke, 46

Beto O’Rourke served Texas’s 16th congressional district in the House of Representatives from 2013 to 2019.

O’Rourke gained fame last year for his record fundraising and ability to draw crowds before of his unexpectedly narrow loss in the US Senate race against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz.

His Senate bid generated a torrent of media attention and excited voters in a party desperate for fresh political faces. He lost the race by fewer than three percentage points, the tightest senate contest in the state in four decades.

O’Rourke announced a $6.1m fundraising haul for the first 24 hours of his campaign, bettering his Democratic opponents.

Beto O’Rourke speaks during a campaign stop at a cafe on April 19, 2019, in Somersworth, New Hampshire [Scott Eisen/AFP]

Since his Senate bid ended, O’Rourke has worked to keep himself in the public eye, regularly staying in touch with his supporters and sitting for an interview with Oprah Winfrey.

But with progressive policies and diversity at the forefront of the party’s nominating battle, O’Rourke will face a challenge as a wealthy white man who is more moderate on several key issues than many of his competitors.

He announced his presidential bid on March 14, 2019.

Tim Ryan, 45

Ryan has served as a US House representative from Ohio’s 13th district since 2003.

He represents a northeastern Ohio area that has reportedly lost manufacturing jobs in the past few years and shifted to Republican Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

Ryan has said Trump has turned his back on those blue-collar voters who fled to him in 2016 and failed to live up his promise to revitalise the manufacturing industry.

Tim Ryan speaks at the Heartland Forum on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa [File: Nati Harnik/AP Photo]

Ryan pledged to create jobs in new technologies and to focus on public education and access to affordable healthcare.

He first gained national attention when he unsuccessfully tried to unseat Nancy Pelosi as the House Democratic leader in 2016, arguing it was time for new leadership.

Ryan announced his presidential run on April 4, 2019.

Bernie Sanders, 77

Bernie Sanders served as a US representative for 16 years before being elected to the Senate in 2006 where he currently represents the state of Vermont.

A progressive and cofounder of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, he is the longest-serving Independent in the history of Congress.

Sanders announced his presidential run on February 19, 2019. Sanders ran an unsuccessful bid for president in 2016 after losing to Hillary Clinton.

In the 2020 race, Sanders will have to fight to stand out in a packed field of progressives touting issues he brought into the Democratic Party mainstream four years ago.

Bernie Sanders speaks as he holds one of his first campaign events in Chicago, Illinois, on March 3, 2019 [Joshua Lott/Reuters]

His proposals include free tuition at public colleges, a $15 minimum hourly wage and universal healthcare.

He benefits from strong name recognition and a robust network of small-dollar donors, helping him to raise $5.9m during his first day in the contest.

Eric Swalwell, 38

Eric Swalwell, an Iowa native, has served as a House representative from California’s 15th congressional district since 2013.

Since joining congress, Swalwell has advocated for raising the cap on the portion of salary that is subject to the Social Security payroll tax.

He has also proposed a “mobile congress” that would allow politicians to cast votes remotely from their districts.

Eric Swalwell speaks during a joint hearing of the House Committee on the Judiciary and House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform [File: Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo]

Swalwell announced his presidential bid on April 8, 2019.

He said tackling student debt and gun violence were among the reasons he jumped into the Democratic primary race.

Elizabeth Warren, 69

Elizabeth Warren has served as a US senator from Massachusetts since 2013.

Warren, known as a progressive, taught law in a number of universities and was a Harvard professor.

Warren is a leader of the party’s liberals and a fierce Wall Street critic who was instrumental in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Earlier this year, she apologised to the Cherokee Nation for taking a DNA test to prove her claims to Native American ancestry, an assertion that has prompted Trump to mockingly refer to her as “Pocahontas”.

Elizabeth Warren addresses the Rev Al Sharpton’s National Action Network during a post-midterm election at the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill [File: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP]

She announced her presidential run on February 9, 2019. She has promised to fight what she calls a rigged economic system that favours the wealthy.

She recently unveiled a student loan forgiveness proposal that would cancel up to $50,000 of debt for millions of Americans. She also supports free college tuition for students at two and four-year institutions.

Marianne Williamson, 66

Marianne Williamson is an author, entrepreneur and activist. Williamson is the founder of Project Angel Food, a volunteer food delivery programme serving home-bound people with life-changing illnesses.

She is also cofounder of the Peace Alliance, an education and advocacy organisation.

The Texas native believes her spirituality-focused campaign can heal the US.

Marianne Williamson meets with child care advocates at the Nevada State Legislature in Carson City, Nevada [Bob Strong/Reuters]

A 1992 interview on Oprah Winfrey’s show propelled her to make a name for herself as a “spiritual guide” for Hollywood and a self-help expert.

She is calling for $100bn in reparations for slavery over 10 years, gun control, education reform and equal rights for lesbian and gay communities. In 2014, she made an unsuccessful bid for a House seat in California as an independent.

She announced her presidential run on January 29, 2019.

Andrew Yang, 44

Andrew Yang is the founder of Venture for America. In 2012, the Obama administration selected him as a Champion of Change.

In 2015, he was selected as Presidential Ambassador of Global Entrepreneurship.

He filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for president in 2020 on November 6, 2017.

The entrepreneur and former tech executive is focusing his campaign on an ambitious universal income plan.

Andrew Yang arrives at a town hall meeting in Cleveland on Sunday, February 24, 2019 [Phil Long/AP Photo]

Yang wants to guarantee all American citizens between the ages of 18 and 64 a $1,000 cheque every month.

The son of immigrants from Taiwan, Yang also is pushing for Medicare for All and proposing a new form of capitalism that is “human-centred”.

Bernie Sanders to run for US president in 2020!

US Senator Bernie Sanders has announced he is running for the presidency, launching a second bid for the White House after a surprisingly strong run for the Democratic nomination in 2016.

Sanders, 77, made the announcement in a radio interview in his home state of Vermont on Tuesday.

“We began the political revolution in the 2016 campaign, and now it’s time to move that revolution forward,” the self-described Democratic socialist told Vermont Public Radio.

Sanders said he would enact many of the ideas he championed during his bid for the presidency in 2016, including universal healthcare access and the minimum hourly wage of $15, if elected to the White House this time around.

A frequent critic of current US President Donald Trump, Sanders went on to describe the Republican leader as “an embrassasment”.

“I think he is a pathological liar… I also think he is a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe, somebody who is gaining cheap political points by trying to pick on minorities, often undocumented immigrants.”

In an email to supporters early on Tuesday, Sanders pledged to build a vast grassroots movement to confront the special interests he said dominate government and politics.

“Our campaign is about transforming our country and creating a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice,” he said.

Sanders raised more than $1m within hours of launching his 2020 presidential bid.

Crowded field

Sanders had launched his 2016 candidacy against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as a long shot, but ended up capturing 23 state-nominating contests and pushing the party to the left, generating tension between its establishment and liberal wings that has not entirely abated.

Like Trump, Sanders was an outsider when the 2016 presidential primaries began, but he came close to pulling off an upset over Clinton.

This time around, Sanders has been among the leaders in opinion polls of prospective 2020 candidates, but he faces a field more heavily populated with other liberal progressives touting many of the same ideas he brought into the party mainstream.

The list of politicians seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination already includes his fellow Senators Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren.

A number of other high-profile Democrats are still considering presidential bids, including former Vice President Joe Biden and former Texas representative Beto O’Rourke.

The primaries and caucuses that determine the Democrat nominee for next year’s election will begin in February 2020 in Iowa.

Name recognition

Al Jazeera’s Shihab Rattansi, reporting from Washington, said the already crowded field was down to candidates seeking to “gain some momentum” before Sanders announced his run for office.

“Sanders enters the race now as the frontrunner,” Rattansi said.

“He has the best nationwide organisation, the best name recognition and the biggest network of donors around the country – he is the now the man to beat.”

The crowded field could make it harder for Sanders to generate the same level of fervent support as four years ago, however.

The 77-year-old is also likely to face scrutiny about his age and relevance in a party that is increasingly advancing more diverse and fresh voices, including women and minorities – groups that Sanders struggled to win over in 2016.

Some Democrats have questioned whether their champion this time around should be a septuagenarian white man.

#MeToo era scrutiny

The Vermont senator, a former member of the US House of Representatives, also faces different pressures in the #MeToo era.

In the run-up to Sanders’s 2020 announcement, persistent allegations emerged of sexual harassment of women by male staffers during his 2016 campaign. Politico and The New York Times reported several allegations of unwanted sexual advances and pay inequity.

Sanders offered an unequivocal apology over the complaints on January 10, saying: “What they [women] experienced was absolutely unacceptable and certainly not what a progressive campaign – or any campaign – should be about.”

“Every woman in this country who goes to work today or tomorrow has the right to make sure that she is working in an environment which is free of harassment, which is safe and is comfortable, and I will do my best to make that happen.”

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

Sen. Bernie Sanders Proposes Expanding Estate Tax for Wealthiest Americans

Guest bernie cln

Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders introduced legislation Thursday that would lower the threshold for paying estate tax on inheritance, which is now at $11 million after the passage of the 2017 tax bill. The measure would lower the amount to $3.5 million of assets, after which the estate tax would apply—the same level as in 2009. The change would only affect the richest 0.2 percent of Americans, and the revenue would help pay for social programs like Medicare for all.

The measure comes after other high-profile Democrats introduced their own tax proposals on the wealthiest Americans. Last week, 2020 presidential hopeful Senator Elizabeth Warren proposed her “ultra-millionaire tax” on the top 0.1 percent, while freshman congress-member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been advocating for a 70 percent top marginal tax rate.