Bloomberg Campaign Shuts Down Report He’s Considering Hillary Clinton As Running Mate

Michael Bloomberg’s campaign is downplaying a report claiming the billionaire presidential hopeful is considering former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as his vice presidential running mate.

“We are focused on the primary and the debate, not VP speculation,” Jason Schechter, the campaign’s communications director, said in a statement to Deadline Saturday evening.

The statement came in response to a tweet earlier in the day from right-wing news aggregator Matt Drudge, who floated a headline declaring in all caps, “EXCLUSIVE: BLOOMBERG CONSIDERS HILLARY RUNNING MATE.”

The tweet linked to Drudge’s widely read website and said, “Sources close to Bloomberg campaign tell DRUDGE REPORT that candidate is considering Hillary as running mate, after their polling found the Bloomberg-Clinton combination would be a formidable force…”

The story was picked up by multiple media outlets including CNBC, the New York Post, the Boston Herald and the U.K.’s Daily Mail.

Despite the media frenzy surrounding the report, some Twitter users weren’t sold that two-time presidential candidate Clinton is ready to play second fiddle. That includes author, blogger and “Start Me Up” podcaster Kimberley Johnson, who immediately called the report “bullshit.”

“PEOPLE! The RIGHT is spreading the rumor Bloomberg is considering Hillary Clinton as his running mate,” Johnson tweeted. “It is BULLSHIT. Don’t let them fool you. That’s what they’re trying to do. They are stirring shit up. Don’t fall for it. SERIOUSLY, do not fall for it.”

Others pointed out that Clinton and Bloomberg are both New York residents, but the 12th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says candidates for president and vice president on the same ticket “shall not be an inhabitant of the same state.”

“While Michael Bloomberg wanting Hillary Clinton as a VP running mate is awesome and inspired … the Constitution does not allow it, as they both reside in the same state,” tweeted businessman, University of Miami lecturer and “Strange Days Podcast” host Fernand R. Amandi.

New York Times reporter Adam Nagourney was also skeptical and tweeted, “Was this Bloomberg-Clinton ticket rumor floated out there to distract from Wash Post story on Bloomberg and women employees? Or just one of those campaign coincidences?”

Still, conservative actor and Trump supporter James Woods said he liked the idea. He tweeted a link to an article on the subject along with the caption: “Death Wish.”

By Anita Bennett [Deadline]

Deval Patrick Drops Out of Democratic Presidential Race

About three months after jumping into the 2020 Democratic primary, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is calling it quits following his low finish in New Hampshire.

Patrick, who made history becoming Massachusetts’ first black governor, said Wednesday in an email to supporters that he had decided to suspend his campaign “effective immediately.”

“I am not suspending my commitment to help – there is still work to be done,” Patrick continued in the email. “We are facing the most consequential election of our lifetime. Our democracy itself, let alone our civic commitments to equality, opportunity and fair play, are at risk.”

Patrick, a Massachusetts Democrat and a close ally of former President Barack Obama, campaigned heavily in New Hampshire due to his state’s proximity to the first-in-the-nation primary state.

“The vote in New Hampshire last night was not enough for us to create the practical wind at the campaign’s back to go on to the next round of voting,” Patrick wrote in the email. He won less than half of a percentage point of the vote in the state’s Democratic primary Tuesday.

Patrick’s exit follows Sen. Michael Bennet and Andrew Yang leaving the race Tuesday night after New Hampshire polls closed. The once historically large Democratic field is now winnowed to seven candidates. It also now includes only one candidate of color, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. 

In December 2018, Patrick initially took his name out of the running as a presidential hopeful, citing “the cruelty of our elections process.”

“I’ve been overwhelmed by advice and encouragement from people from all over the country, known and unknown. Humbled, in fact,” Patrick said in a statement posted to Facebook then. “But knowing that the cruelty of our elections process would ultimately splash back on people whom Diane and I love, but who hadn’t signed up for the journey, was more than I could ask.”

“Almost all the people I met are still undecided and I think what that means is that people aren’t satisfied with the rest of the field,” Patrick said at a CNN town hall the week before the New Hampshire primary. “I’m not surprised by that. When they hear someone who has actually delivered on an agenda that others are just talking about or that they have plans for, when they hear what it takes to deliver those progressive outcomes, we are winning support.”

When he first announced his candidacy, Patrick labeled himself as a more centrist candidate, and pointed to himself as an alternative to former Vice President Joe Biden, who he claimed was is ceding his place in polls at the time to progressives, like Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

Patrick was born on the south side of Chicago, where he grew up poor. He later earned a scholarship to Massachusetts’ Milton Academy, where he graduated from high school. He went on to attend Harvard College and later graduated from Harvard Law School. Patrick was a part of President Bill Clinton’s administration as chief of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

During the 2018 midterms, Patrick stumped for several Democratic candidates, including Texas’ Colin Allred, who won his election for a seat in the U.S. House, and Mississippi’s Mike Espy, who lost a run-off election for the U.S. Senate. In August 2018, allies of Patrick launched a political action committee entitled “Reason to Believe.”

By Rebecca Morin [USA Today]

Democrat Andrew Yang Drops Out of the 2020 Presidential Race

Presidential candidate Andrew Yang dropped out of the 2020 Democratic race after finishing well behind top-tier candidates in the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.

Yang told several reporters his plan to drop out before polls closed in New Hampshire on Tuesday. 

Later Tuesday, he addressed a crowd of his supporters. “Being your candidate has been the privilege of my life,” Yang said. “Together we will continue to do the work and move this country forward, because the Yang Gang isn’t going anywhere.”

Earlier Tuesday, Yang seemed to hint at his immediate future with a tweet in which he thanked “everyone who got us here.”

Yang began his bid for the Democratic nomination as a fringe candidate, but his signature “Freedom Dividend” policy quickly put him on the map in a crowded field. The plan offered a universal basic income of $1,000 a month to every American over the age of 18.

The entrepreneur was regularly among the top 10 Democratic candidates, according to national polls, outlasting career politicians like California Sen. Kamala Harris and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

Fundraising surged in the final quarter of 2019, with the campaign ranking in more than $16.5 million.

During his run, Yang amassed a loyal base of internet-savvy supporters known as the “Yang Gang,” and received endorsements from major celebrities, including actor and rapper Donald Glover and comedian Dave Chappelle.

But the long-shot contender with no political experience was ultimately unable to go the distance.

After a poor showing in the Iowa caucus, the first nominating contest, Yang’s campaign fired dozens of staffers including its national policy and political directors.

On the stump, Yang often presented himself as a stark contrast to President Donald Trump. He called Trump a “phony entrepreneur” and a “bad president” in a July tweet.

“Just because I come from the business world doesn’t mean I have anything else in common with the current POTUS,” he said.

More recently, Yang pointed out that Trump, who frequently blasts his opponents, hasn’t tweeted about him and offered an explanation on why: “He knows I’m better at the internet than he is,” Yang said in an MSNBC interview the day of the Iowa caucus.

Before announcing a run for president, Yang founded Manhattan Prep, a test prep company that became number one in the nation for the GMAT and was bought by Kaplan in 2009.

He later launched Venture for America, a nonprofit meant to help entrepreneurs create startups in cities like Detroit and Pittsburgh that were struggling after the 2008 recession.

By Yelena Dzhanova [CNBC]

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet Ends 2020 Democratic Presidential Campaign

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet has ended his bid for the White House after failing to catch fire in a crowded Democratic field.

Bennet got a late start in the race, not joining the already-ballooning field until May 2019. His plans to seek the Democratic nomination were delayed after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in April. However, following a successful surgery he was declared cancer-free and he continued with his plans to join the presidential fray.

But by then, front-runners had already begun to emerge and there seemed little place for Bennet, despite the fact he had won two races in Colorado, once a swing state that has trended toward Democrats in recent cycles. For a while, he was competing against former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, too; Hickenlooper ended his campaign in mid-August to run for the U.S. Senate.

Bennet was on stage for the first two Democratic debates, in June and July of 2019, but failed to qualify for any subsequent debates.

He was one of four senator-candidates whose time on the campaign trail was interrupted by the Senate impeachment trial of Trump.

Bennet pitched himself as a low-key alternative to Trump, writing: “If you elect me president, I promise you won’t have to think about me for 2 weeks at a time.”

But Bennet showed little upward momentum throughout his run, overshadowed by several of his other Senate colleagues.

With reporting by NPR deputy political editor Benjamin Swasey

By Jessica Taylor [NPR]

Republican Joe Walsh Drops Out Of Presidential Race, Says He’d Even Vote For Bernie Sanders

Joe Walsh, the former Illinois congressman and radio talk host challenging President Donald Trump for the GOP nomination, said he is dropping out of the race, suggesting that he plans to vote for a Democrat in November — even if that is Bernie Sanders.

“I would rather have a socialist in the White House than a dictator, than a king, than Donald Trump,” Walsh told CNN’s John Berman on Friday. Watch the video above.

Walsh, elected to Congress in the Tea Party wave of 2010, entered the race last summer as one of a handful of “never Trump” Republicans warning of the president’s re-election. Mark Sanford, the former South Carolina governor and congressman, briefly was in the race last year, and William Weld, the former governor of Massachusetts, is still a candidate.

“Donald Trump is a dictator. He is a king,” Walsh said on CNN. “He literally is the greatest threat to this country right now. Any Democrat would be better than Trump in the White House. That is not an easy thing for me, but that tells you how serious this moment is.”

He said that he planned to spend the next few months talking to Republicans and moderates and independents “to encourage them that your only option is a Democrat. It is not Trump. It is not the cult.”

Walsh garnered just 1.1% of the vote in the Iowa caucuses. Weld fared only slightly better, with 1.3%, enough to garner one delegate.

In a Washington Post op ed on Thursday, Walsh wrote that his candidacy has “been made even tougher by the party canceling primaries to shield the president from being challenged. And by Fox News, and the rest of Trump’s lapdog conservative media, denying me airtime. But I’ve been on TV, I’ve served in Congress, and I hosted my own talk-radio show. I don’t need the airtime. More than anything else, what’s made this challenge nearly impossible — to a degree that I didn’t fully realize when I first hit the trail — is how brainwashed so many of my fellow Republicans seem to have become. I hate to say it, but the GOP now resembles a cult.”

By Ted Johnson [Deadline]

Andrew Yang’s Campaign Lays Off 130 Staffers Across Key Early Primary States

The presidential campaign of Andrew Yang, the insurgent Democratic presidential contender, laid off 130 staffers on Wednesday and Thursday, several former staffers say, including on-the-ground canvassers and organizers who’d been working to prepare for upcoming primary elections in New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.

Several newly fired staffers tell Rolling Stone they felt blindsided by the announcement. They say they had their campaign email accounts disabled and then were notified they were fired without any warning or explanation.

“I still very much believe in Andrew’s message but the way his campaign treated staff runs completely counter to the concept of Humanity First,” says Sasha Cohen, a former Iowa field organizer for Yang who was laid off this week. “I believed in the campaign and what it stood for but to be treated this way is disheartening.”

The campaign disputed the total number of employees laid off but declined to give a different figure except to say “dozens.” Yang spokesman SY Lee said the campaign “remains at full strength in New Hampshire, where we expect to compete and outperform expectations.”

Yang campaign manager Zach Graumann said in a statement that the firings were part of the “natural evolution” of the Yang campaign after the Iowa caucuses, in which Yang finished outside of the top tier of candidates.

“As part of our original plans following the Iowa caucuses, we are winding down our Iowa operations and restructuring to compete as the New Hampshire primary approaches,” Graumann said. “These actions are a natural evolution of the campaign post-Iowa, same as other campaigns have undertaken, and Andrew Yang is going to keep fighting for the voices of the more than 400,000 supporters who have donated to the campaign and placed a stake in the future of our country.”

The firings happened four days after the Yang campaign’s unionized employees sent a request to Yang campaign chief Nick Ryan asking for increased monthly pay for all full-time employees, a month’s severance pay at the new rate, and guaranteed expense reimbursement, including for travel and mileage. A former Yang staffer in South Carolina says the pay they received averaged out to a rate of $10 per hour, which they and others felt was insultingly low for the amount of work they were doing. (A campaign spokesman said the $10-an-hour figure was inaccurate.)

At least three of the five unionized campaign staffers who put their names on an internal memo describing their requests lost their jobs in this week’s firings. Cohen, the former Iowa staffer for Yang, says multiple campaign staffers in the first four primary states engaged in work stoppages to try to get the campaign’s leadership to negotiate with the workers. But the actual negotiations never happened before the layoffs took place.

A Yang campaign spokesman says the firings had nothing to do with the negotiations between campaign leaders and the unionized staff. In a statement, spokesman SY Lee said the campaign had attempted to negotiate with the unionized employees but were “rebuffed with no reason given.”

“Our legal team received a memorandum of understanding over the weekend before the Iowa caucuses from these individuals and was not provided sufficient time to review it, even though our campaign has acted in an abundance of good faith in previous negotiations because we strongly support the right to collectively bargain,” Lee said. “However, despite our repeated attempts to negotiate with these select individuals, we were rebuffed with no reason given.”

Lee added: “After months of hard work on the ground organizing volunteers, knocking on doors, and making phone calls, our organizers deserve better. They should not be exploited for personal gain and attention by a select group of individuals with suspect motivations within their ranks.”

“Empowering unions in the 21st century” is listed as one of Yang’s policy priorities on his campaign website. If elected, the website says, Yang says he would defend the collective bargaining rights of workers, pass legislation to protection workers’ ability to organize on the job, and push for “sectoral bargaining” that would allow unionized workers in the tech industry to stay in a union when they move between jobs.

The former Yang staffer in South Carolina says they still believe in Yang’s candidacy and message but felt disappointed by how the layoffs were handled. “If a campaign is going to claim to be different and have different values, at some point you need to live them,” the former staffer says.

By Andy Kroll [Rolling Stone]