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Potential presidential candidates are collecting IOUs for 2020

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Obama shared in the credit when Democrats won the House that year. And big-name presidential endorsements from people he had helped, like Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., gave him instant credibility when he ran for president two years later.

With a potential Democratic field in 2020 wider than an Iowa cornfield, would-be slayers of President Donald Trump need to do everything they can to distinguish themselves from the pack and win friends before others get to them.

They’re wasting no time.

The 2020 pole position may belong to former Vice President Joe Biden, who has emerged as his party’s “Everywhere Man” — the rare national Democrat who can comfortably campaign in even the most conservative parts of the country.

He began building up good will when he stumped for successful candidates like Doug Jones in the Alabama Senate race and Conor Lamb in the Pennsylvania House contest, even as both candidates kept the rest of their party at arm’s length. When congressional candidates get asked who they want to campaign for them, Biden is without a doubt the most frequently cited name.

 Former Vice President Joe Biden, right, speaks at a campaign rally for Democrat Doug Jones, left, in the race to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ former Senate seat in Birmingham, Alabama, on Oct 3. Brynn Anderson / AP

“I will spend all the time any of you want me to making sure we win back the House,” Biden told House Democrats at a retreat in February after one lawmaker yelled, “Run, Joe, run!”

Biden recently told the Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC that he isn’t ruling out a presidential run in 2020.

Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who was snubbed by all but one senator and a handful of congressmen during his 2016 primary run against Clinton, is working harder than ever, both for his adoptive Democratic Party, to sweep more “Berniecrats” into office, and perhaps to wrack up some IOUs that he could collect should he decide to run again.

Sanders has basically not stopped campaigning since his presidential bid ended, first for Clinton, then on his national book tour. After that he took part in 2017 in the Democratic National Committee’s “Unity Tour,” defended the Affordable Care Act from Trump’s attempts to gut it, and followed that by fighting against the GOP tax cut plan. Now he’s stumping for midterm candidates.

Sanders has visited 30 states — including Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, three of the four early presidential nominating states — since Trump’s election. And a group that grew out of his campaign, Our Revolution, is backing even more candidates up and down the ballot.

Politics is all about favor-trading, and politicians tend to have a long memory of who endorsed them or gave a donation — and who didn’t.

“You always remember that as a candidate, especially in your first race,” Jason Altmire, a former Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania, told NBC News. “Who came in for you? Who helped? I always felt like I owed them.”

Altmire learned first hand how it works when Bill Clinton expected him to endorse Hillary in 2008.

“When I didn’t,” Altmire recalled, “they held it against me for years.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., shunned talk of national ambitions in 2016. But this year, even while tending to her re-election bid back home, Warren has taken steps that could pay off down the road if she does decide to run for the White House, as many expect.

Warren is spreading it around thick — she has donated $5,000 to the Democratic committee in all 50 states and made the maximum allowable contribution to each of her Senate colleagues who are up for re-election, plus to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

“When we change Ohio in 2018, that’s the first step to changing America in 2020,” Richard Cordray, a Democrat running for governor in next month’s primary in Ohio — a key swing state in presidential elections — said this month at a rally with Warren by his side. (Cordray is a former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which Warren has championed.)

 Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., speaks at a news conference with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on Capitol Hill on July 11. Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP file

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe handed off the reins to his hand-picked successor in November, and has since been busy helping other Democrats, especially those running for governor, with plans to address Democratic events in Louisiana and Maryland.

Meanwhile, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., another possible presidential hopeful, has been busy, traveling to New Mexico, Montana, Indiana, Ohio and Florida to help Democrats — all within one month last year.

This year, he’s waded into Democratic primaries to endorse African-American gubernatorial candidates in Maryland and Georgia, while traveling for Senate colleagues up for re-election in key swing states, including Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin.

Next door in New York, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, has been continuing her work boosting female candidates, several of whom are now in Congress. She’s helped raise or distribute $6.5 million for other women since 2011, and has been busy recruiting and mentoring candidates this year, including in recent Texas and Illinois primaries, where Gillibrand’s endorsement helped put one major contest on the map.

Nevada is Democrats’ best pickup opportunity in the Senate and also has a governor’s race — and it just so happens to come right after Iowa and New Hampshire in the presidential nominating calendar.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, the new chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, was there last week, before heading to Los Angeles to appear Friday on “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

And freshman Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who has been stepping further into the national spotlight, recently spoke in Nevada, jokingly telling a supporter not to answer a reporter’s question about 2020.

Harris, who has said that she’s focused on “immediate needs” when asked about future plans, has raised $3 million and made several trips on behalf of Senate colleagues up for re-election this year, including headlining a sold-out Michigan Democratic Party dinner in Detroit this month.

Beyond offering endorsements and doling out contributions to win friends who may be useful down the road, potential 2020 candidates know that midterm travel is crucial to building connections with local Democratic activists, said Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic strategist.

“People exploring a presidential campaign who campaign for down-ballot candidates in the midterms get a valuable introduction to the candidate’s supporters at the events or through the blast email,” said Ferguson, who worked on Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

“That entree to those supporters is as valuable, maybe more valuable, than any loyalty earned from the actual candidate running,” he added.

Harris’ fellow Californian, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, has visited Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — all key states for any Democratic White House candidate — but still says he’s focused on Democratic midterm victories, even calling his new PAC the Democratic Midterm Victory Fund to underline the point. Next month, he’s hosting a fundraiser for the South Carolina Democratic Party in L.A.

To have a shot in 2020, Garcetti needs to be build a national profile, as does Jason Kander, the former Missouri secretary of state, who has earned plaudits for his work with a voting rights group he founded.

By sheer numbers, Kander has a leg up on almost everyone else. A 36-year-old former Army captain, he has visited 39 states — including 10 trips to New Hampshire and 13 to Iowa — since Trump became president, and has participated in or headlined 156 Democratic events and taken 238 flights.

But he’ll have stiff competition from Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general who will help distribute tens of millions of dollars through Democrats’ flagship redistricting group he runs.

Holder, who told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes last week that he is “thinking about” a presidential bid in 2020, has been involved in races up and down the ballot, and plans to travel to Arizona, Minnesota, Georgia and New Hampshire soon.

Altmire, the former congressman, had some advice for those 2018 hopefuls dealing with potential presidential candidates: Know that there are strings attached.

“If you accept their help, they’re going to expect payback later on,” he said. “That’s just how it works.”

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Boris Johnson lockdown update: When is Boris Johnson next giving speech on lockdown?

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BORIS JOHNSON is facing backlash today for his absence from the coronavirus briefing delivered by Government advisers Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Chris Whitty. But when will the PM next deliver a speech about lockdown?

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EU caves: UK secures huge victory over London finances – Brussels give in after threat

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BRUSSELS has granted permission to European banks to trade trillions of pounds through the City of London until 2022 amid fears of an acrimonious split with Britain.

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Groups urge Latinos, especially youth, to sign up to be bilingual poll workers

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PHOENIX—The national Mi Familia Vota organization has long been involved in voting rights issues and other matters of civic engagement, but this year it’s added a new initiative: Recruiting bilingual poll workers.

The Phoenix-based group is joining advocacy organizations, nonprofits and even businesses across the U.S. in trying to persuade younger people to work at polling places, especially those who are bilingual.

The coronavirus has upended how elections officials recruit poll workers, who are typically older and thus more susceptible to becoming seriously ill from COVID-19.

Using digital recruitment campaigns and celebrity endorsements, various groups are selling the role as a key to democracy. Major companies such as Old Navy also have jumped in, offering employees paid time off to work the polls.

Eduardo Sainz, Mi Familia Vota’s Arizona state director, said ensuring that poll workers can communicate in Spanish is critical even in a state where most voters cast ballots by mail or by using drop boxes. Newer voters especially seem reluctant to trust their ballot to the Postal Service.

“Time after time, because of language barriers or intimidation, our community was getting turned away at the polls,” he said.

The group has appealed to its social media followers and partnered with the TV network Univision to reach its goal of recruiting 200 Spanish-speaking poll workers in Pima and Maricopa counties.

“We need to make sure that every voter gets their vote to be counted and no voter gets turned away, and that means investing and having individuals who are culturally competent and speak several languages,” Sainz said.

That will be especially important in a year that is projected to see a record turnout of eligible Latino voters — some 32 million, according to the Pew Research Center. Census data shows about 12.6 million Latinos cast votes in the 2016 general election— about 47% of those eligible to vote. In Arizona, Latinos account for nearly a quarter of registered voters.

Andria Bibiloni, a law student in Philadelphia, became a first-time poll worker during Pennsylvania’s June primary after getting an email from an advocacy group the night before. The email came in at 7:54 p.m., desperately seeking 100 poll workers because of an expected shortage. By 6:30 the next morning, Bibiloni, a Puerto Rican from New York who speaks Spanish, was at her assigned polling location.

She said she never got to use her language skills because no voters asked for a translator, but she learned how much other help voters need at the polls.

“I definitely came out of that noticing how individual people are very prone to just kind of showing up before necessarily having done their homework beforehand,” she said.

Power the Polls, a nonprofit that’s partnering with groups across the country, launched in July with a goal of recruiting 250,000 poll workers. By mid-September, 400,000 people had signed up, said Erika Soto Lamb, vice president of social impact strategy at Comedy Central/MTV and a co-founder of Power the Polls.

Soto Lamb said the group is actively working with advocacy organizations that reach bilingual and diverse populations.

“As part of that new generation, we wanted it to be more diverse,” she said. “For the people you encounter when you come to vote to look like you and be able to communicate with you, is really a new territory that hasn’t been focused on before.”

Even before the pandemic, elections officials struggled to attract poll workers, who work long hours for little pay. More than two-thirds of them are 61 years old or more, according to a congressional report. Many of them have bowed out this year, given that older people are more susceptible to becoming seriously ill from the coronavirus.

In Arizona’s Maricopa County, where a majority of the state’s population lives, officials said they need about 1,800 poll workers for the general election but declined to say how many have signed up so far. During the August primary, nearly 25% of the county’s 1,289 poll workers were bilingual; in the 2016 general, about 20% were.

In Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston and is the state’s most populous with more than 2 million registered voters, officials plan to employ 11,000 paid workers and student helpers at the polls this fall.

A spokesperson for the county clerk’s office said the county is working with the Democratic and Republican parties, doing outreach on social media and creating partnerships with local organizations and places of worship to recruit Spanish, Vietnamese and Chinese-speaking poll workers.

When early voting starts Oct. 13, three bilingual election workers will staff each of the county’s 122 voting locations. One will speak Chinese, one Spanish and one Vietnamese. The county is still sorting out Election Day coverage.

As of the first week of September, more than 10,000 people had applied to be election workers throughout the Houston area.

In Florida, where Latinos could help swing the presidential election, several organizations are actively recruiting Spanish-speaking poll workers in counties across the state. Among them is Florida For All Education Fund, which has added Haitians who speak Creole to its recruiting drive.

Harvey Soto, the fund’s democracy coordinator, said it has already recruited 300 poll workers for Miami-Dade County alone. He said he has worked polling places in Florida and Georgia, and seen how voters with limited English proficiency struggle when there is no translator.

He did not want that to be an obstacle this year.

“We decided not to sit back and be proactive and help out,” he said.

Follow NBC Latino on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.



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