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Warren takes on gender in final stretch before Iowa caucuses



DES MOINES, Iowa — Gender has loomed over the presidential candidacy of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., from the beginning. It’s in her comedic retelling of moments when she’s been told to “smile more,” called “angry” by a 2020 opponent and faced questions from voters who wonder whether she can beat President Donald Trump.

At times, she’s dealt with it all by tilting toward feminism, giving speeches focused on women throughout history who have effected change in government from the outside in. At other moments, she’s glossed over questions that have long plagued women in politics.

Now, less than a week before the Iowa caucuses — and amid an unsteady standing in the polls — she’s leaning in to the discussion.

“I just want to be clear: Women win!” she declared Sunday night to cheers in Cedar Rapids.

No one had asked about gender directly — at least not yet. Warren explained that she was speaking directly to a question that’s otherwise “hidden.”

That may have been true earlier in the campaign, when concerned but hopeful voters would ask broadly about her ability to defeat Trump. But since last month’s dust-up with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., over questions about whether the nation is ready to elect a woman as president, the questions — and now the answers — are getting more explicit.

“People ask in different ways,” Warren said when asked by NBC News about her new closing pitch Sunday night. “They ask about it. I’m glad to talk about it right up front.”

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And the new riffs directly take on the electability argument, presenting her gender as an asset against Trump.

In the past, Warren has used feminism and gender as vessels for her campaign message, delivering keynote speeches centered on women breaking barriers throughout history — rarely on the barriers Warren herself has broken.

In September, in front of a crowd of more than 20,000 in Washington Square Park in New York, Warren centered a distinctly feminist speech on the women of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, one of the deadliest industrial accidents in U.S. history. The message was evident, down to her podium: built by female woodworkers with wood from the homestead of Frances Perkins, a leader of the women’s rights and labor rights movements and a hero to Warren.

To her, skepticism from women about women candidates speaks to Democrats’ ultimate goal.

“The No. 1 thing is we want to get rid of Donald Trump,” Warren said Sunday. “And I think that’s what holds some people back. They say, ‘Wait a minute, who’s going to have the best chance?’ So it’s not who I think is going to make the best president.

“We just have to say we know what’s right and get in there and fight for it. And that is how we win,” she said.

Perhaps more than calling out the specter of 2016 — newly awakened after she said Sanders, a fellow progressive, told her in 2018 that he didn’t think a woman could beat Trump — Warren is now laying out a case using her experience winning a tough 2012 Senate race against a GOP incumbent and data from around the country in the Trump era.

“Guys, we just have to face this: Women candidates have been outperforming men candidates in competitive elections” in the post-2016 era, she said. “We took back the House, we took back statehouses around this country because women ran for office and women showed up to make those elections winnable. So I say all that just to level the playing field a little bit, right?”

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Later Sunday during drinks, Warren urged some of her Iowa organizing staff to give voters “a little data about how women are doing” to bolster her pitch for electability. Asked what message she wants organizers and volunteers to deliver as they knock on doors, Warren responded: “This woman is our best chance to win, and there’s a whole lot of reasons that that’s so.”

The nebulous question of “electability” has ruled the Democratic primary contest, and white male candidates have tended to win the assumption battle that they are best positioned to beat Trump, even though surveys show several of the top-polling Democrats doing comparably well against Trump head to head.

Meanwhile, voters — like Torina Hill of Muscatine — said they’re “ready for a woman president.”

“I’m tired of the old white guys making all of the rules,” Hill said in an interview.

Hill may be in the majority of Democratic women, but that might not be enough to help Warren build a coalition of women. Studies indicate that Democratic women are much more likely to prioritize a female candidate but also believe that their neighbors may be less accepting. They aren’t the only ones.

As Warren wrapped up one final town hall in Cedar Rapids before succumbing to the siren call of more days of impeachment hearings, a white man with graying hair walked up to the microphone to ask a question: “How do you convince white men — who aren’t as smart as me — how do you convince those white men over 50 that Elizabeth Warren’s the candidate?”

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Republican projected to beat Democrat for Texas state House, in race watched for 2020 clues



WASHINGTON — A Republican candidate for a Texas state House seat beat his Democratic rival, in a special election Tuesday which had been closely watched for a glimpse as to just how competitive the delegate-rich state might be in the presidential election, according to unofficial results.

Gary Gates, a self-funded businessman, beat Democrat Eliz Markowitz, an education specialist, for the House District 28 seat, according to unofficial results. The margin, according to those unofficial results, was 58.05% to 41.95%.

Gary Gates, the Republican candidate for Texas State Representative, speaks during an interview in Katy, Texas, on Jan. 11, 2020.John L. Mone / AP file

The Republican State Leadership Committee tweeted that “Gary Gates defeated the entire national Democratic party tonight.”

Gates, speaking to supporters at around 9 p.m. Tuesday, said “They thought this was a seat they could flip,” according to The Texas Tribune.

Tuesday’s election was a runoff to replace Rep. John Zerwas, a moderate Republican who is not running for re-election.

In the November election, Markowitz, the only Democrat in the race, won 39.1 percent of the vote. Gates received 28.4 percent, while three other Republicans split the remainder of the vote.

The legislative stakes of the runoff in House District 28, a rapidly diversifying suburb of Houston, are relatively low.

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Gates will most likely not even cast a single vote before they have to face re-election in November, as the Legislature does not meet this year. And even had Markowitz won, Texas Republicans would still have controlled the House by eight seats.

Markowitz, rallying supporters at around 8 p.m., referenced the November election, saying “we get to do this all again in 11 months, y’all!” according to the Texas Tribune.

Democrats are itching to demonstrate that Texas is a competitive state and will be up for grabs in 2020. The state has 38 votes in the Electoral College, second to only California, with 55. Many say that demographic changes in the district, part of ethnically diverse Fort Bend County, are part of a larger shift in suburbs around the state — trends that could shift electoral results in Democrats’ favor.

“Fort Bend County is representative of what is happening in Texas writ large. There are a lot of immigrants,” said Brendan Steinhauser, a Texas-based Republican strategist who ran Sen. John Cornyn’s 2014 campaign. “Republicans want to hold this and need to hold this to say: ‘Look, we can stem the tide of the blue wave that everyone is talking about.’”

House District 28 has long been considered reliably Republican, voting for President Donald Trump by 10 percentage points in 2016 and backing Republican Sen. Ted Cruz over Democratic challenger Rep. Beto O’Rourke by 3 points in the 2018 Senate race.

“The fundamentals in the district right now favor the Republicans,” said Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas, Austin.

But the greater Fort Bend area tells a different story: Hillary Clinton won the county in 2016 by almost 7 percentage points, and O’Rourke beat Cruz in 2018 by 12 points. Texas Democrats point to census data suggesting that the electorate is more diverse than ever — residents of Fort Bend County are now roughly 32 percent white, 25 percent Latino, 21 percent Asian and 20 percent African American — suggesting that the rest of the county will soon be trending blue, too.

“The question about a district like this is, how are the changes of the composition of the electorate changing what our expectations should be,” Henson said.

Democrats have poured resources into the race, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of Markowitz. Forward Majority, a Democratic super PAC focused on flipping state houses, says it alone spent $400,000 on the race, including airing an ad that resurfaces allegations from 2000 that Gates abused his children. Child Protective Services ultimately dropped the case against him.

Even Democratic presidential candidates, otherwise preoccupied with their own primary race, have chimed in.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have all endorsed Markowitz. Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro, a native of San Antonio who dropped out of the 2020 race this month, has campaigned for Markowitz in the district. And O’Rourke, fresh off his own failed presidential bid, has spent days at a time in the district, energizing the Democratic base and going door to door to urgeg people turn out for Markowitz.

Despite the Democratic hype around the contest, early voting results from last week did not look good for the party. By Monday, many were downplaying expectations, quietly throwing cold water on the idea that Tuesday’s outcome would serve as a bellwether for November.

“This isn’t easy terrain for us in the first place,” said Abhi Rahman, a spokesperson for the Texas Democratic Party. “The fact that it’s so close is a win for us already. … The fact that Republicans had to spend here already shows how diverse and changing Texas is.”

Texas Democrats gained 12 seats in the state House in 2018 and need to flip only nine seats to gain control of the chamber and take the majority. With redistricting just around the corner in 2021, control of the Texas House is paramount to both parties. Texas, because of its population growth, is expected to gain multiple U.S. House seats.

“They’re all worried about redistricting. We have to hold the House,” said Steinhauser, who said he has heard from members of Congress concerned that Democrats could take the Texas House, giving them the ability to redraw congressional districts to be more competitive.

“That’s first and foremost on their minds: Am I going to lose my seat?” Steinhauser continued. “The donors are talking about it. The state party leadership are talking about it. The county parties are talking about it. The candidates are talking about it. It’s on the front of their minds, in some ways more than congressional races.”

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Amy Klobuchar drops final Iowa ads, six days until caucus



DES MOINES, Iowa — Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., is in Washington, D.C. for the Senate impeachment trial, but her face will be on Iowa airwaves by way of two final TV ads launching Tuesday — just six days before Iowans go to their caucus sites.

“Iowa, it’s time to choose,” one of the ads, “99,” opens before pivoting to highlight Klobuchar’s endorsement from the Quad City Times along with the co-New York Times endorsement that commends her “Midwestern charisma and grit.” “99” seeks to convince viewers that she can unite the party, and “perhaps,” the country — proven by her commitment to visit all of Iowa’s 99 counties. 

The second ad, “It’s About You,” features Klobuchar hitting Trump off the bat. “We have a president who thinks everything is about him,” she says. “His tweets, his golf course, his ego.”

“But I think the job is about you,” Klobuchar adds as she ticks through common issues that come up on the campaign trail like healthcare, education, and security. “I’ll be a President who restores decency to the White House and gets things done for you.” 

Klobuchar’s ability to physically campaign in the state has hit a speed-bump due to the impeachment trial, so these ads combined with tele-town halls are possibly the only access caucus goers will get to the senator until the impeachment trial is wrapped.

At her final campaign event of six over the past weekend, Klobuchar took photos with various Iowa staffers, joking that she might not be able to come back before caucus — a nod to newly surfaced revelations from former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s book that may give Democrats more substance behind their push for witnesses at the trial. If witnesses were to be called, the trial schedule could directly interfere with the caucuses.  

Most recent Iowa-specific polls have placed Klobuchar in fifth place, but an Emerson poll released Sunday evening shows Klobuchar in third place with 13 percent, behind Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., with 30 percent and former Vice President Joe Biden with 21 percent. 

Biden leverages Trump’s attacks to win over Iowa voters

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — With the Iowa Caucus one week out, Joe Biden reminded voters in the state that they should support him because he’s taken on the most heat from President Trump.

“There’s a reason why this man is on trial. The reason he’s on trial is because he does not want to run against me,” Biden said. “I hope I’ve demonstrated I can take a punch. And if I’m the nominee, he’s going to understand what punches mean.”

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at the North Iowa Events Center on Jan. 22, 2020, in Mason City, Iowa.John Locher / AP

The former Vice President focused primarily on health care, gun reform, and climate change while speaking to the 200-person crowd at the University of Northern Iowa.

On the issue of health care, Biden reignited attacks against his progressive opponents along with Medicare for All, which he called a “catchy idea” that takes too long to implement.

“Well there’s an old expression in the long run we’ll all be dead,” he added.

Biden said that some of his rivals have failed to tell the truth about how much their plans cost because the prospect of higher taxes “scares the living devil out of people.”

“I show how I pay for everything in my campaign,” he said.

Addressing the issues he vows to reform, Biden pointed out that first “we’ve got to beat Donald Trump” to get any of that done.

Biden also touted his electability against President Trump, selling himself as the candidate most likely to beat him because of his support among minorities and across partisan lines.

Having that support, Biden argues, is key to unseating Trump and helping down-ballot Democratic candidates.

He even suggested that if a candidate cannot garner significant support from minority groups, they should not become the nominee.

“I don’t believe you can win a nomination in this party and more importantly, I don’t believe you should win the nomination in this party unless you can demonstrate … substantial support from each and every one of those communities,” he said. “That’s what is needed.”

Bloomberg takes on Sanders in his home state of Vermont

BURLINGTON, Vt. – Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg drew a contrast between himself and Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential campaign rival, during his Tuesday swing through Sanders’ home state.

“I can’t speak for the senator, I can only speak for myself,” Bloomberg told reporters when asked to address voters in the Super Tuesday state who are considering voting for their home state senator in the Democratic primary.

“I’m the kind of person that pulls teams together, I can attract the great, the best people, I can get them to work together. I’ve shown that again and again and again, that’s what this country needs. It doesn’t need one idea person, it’s a job where you have to have a manager and management is something that you develop over a long period of time. And it’s not something you just walk in and say I got a good idea I’m gonna manage, that’s just not the way the real world works.”

Presidential candidate, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg greets Jewish voters on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020 at Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center in Aventura, Fla.Andrew Uloza / AP

When pressed if he was saying that Sanders is a “one idea” person, Bloomberg pushed back, saying, “You’d have to ask Bernie what his ideas are. I’m not an expert on him any more than he is an expert on me.”

The Sanders campaign has not yet returned a request for comment about Bloomberg’s remarks. 

Back when Bloomberg announced his candidacy in November, Sanders accused Bloomberg of attempting to buy the election by sinking his own personal wealth into his bid.

“We say to Michael Bloomberg and other billionaires: Sorry, you ain’t going to buy this election,” Sanders said in Iowa at the time.

Bloomberg has spent over $218 million so far on television and radio ads, according to data from Advertising Analytics, and millions more on digital ads. While Bloomberg has until the end of the month to file his first spending report with the Federal Election Commission, he’s said he will not accept individual donations and will bankroll his campaign with his own deep pockets. 

On Monday, Bloomberg said he thinks he is the only candidate capable of beating President Trump in the election.

“I do think I’m the only candidate that can beat Trump because I think the country is, wants evolution rather than revolution,” Bloomberg said. “The country likes an awful lot of what we have, they just don’t like the style. And so they’re not looking for big change I don’t think in anything other than management, and how we conduct ourselves.”

Bloomberg, who is skipping early state contests and instead focusing on the rest of the Democratic nominating calendar states, has officially visited all of the states that hold their nominating contests on Super Tuesday. His campaign ticked off the last state with a stop in Portland, Maine Monday afternoon.

He said he was not following the news coming out of the early states, where he is not on the ballot, because his campaign strategy isn’t focusing on those states. 

He added that he decided to run because  “I didn’t like what the candidates were doing in terms of their policies. I didn’t think they made any sense, that you couldn’t fund them, you’d never get them through Congress, and I didn’t think they could beat Donald Trump.  So I decided, okay, I’m going to run.”

—Gary Grumbach contributed

Trump-aligned non-profit brings anti-impeachment message to Michigan, Pennsylvania

WASHINGTON — America First Policies, a non-profit advocacy group aligned with President Trump, is expanding its anti-impeachment advertising to the key general election swing states of Michigan and Pennsylvania, NBC has learned. 

AFP has booked more than $350,000 in television spending across the two states, data from Advertising Analytics shows. A spokeswoman with the group told NBC that in total, each state will see more than $200,000 in television spending, and when combined with a corresponding digital effort, the group plans to spend $500,000 across the two states. 

The new ads blast impeachment as a partisan and political act, calling on Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, as well as Michigan Democratic Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, to oppose removing the president. 

“For the radical left, this is really about one thing: winning the White House,” a narrator says in one ad. 

“The left’s impeachment scam, exposed. Instead of standing up for America and securing our borders, Bob Casey is standing with radicals.” 

Out of the three senators targeted by the new ads, Peters is the only one up for re-election this year (Casey and Stabenow both won a new term in 2018). The ads serve as a way to get the anti-impeachment message out into the bloodstream in states that will be pivotal to Trump’s re-election effort (both are states Trump narrowly won in 2016). 

The new ads will air starting on Tuesday, and come after the group dropped almost $400,000 on television ads targeting Sen. Doug Jones, R-Ala., on impeachment. Jones is considered one of the most vulnerable senators in 2020, having to defend his seat in a deep-red state. 

Elizabeth Warren picks up a slew of new progressive endorsements

WASHINGTON — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., gained endorsements from progressive thinkers and influencers on Monday even as she falls behind in polls to Bernie Sanders, underscoring an enduring divide within the movement in the final week before the Iowa caucuses.

The endorsements — rolled out by the pro-Warren groups Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Working Families Party, and Black Womxn — include well-known policy minds within liberal circles such as Heather McGhee of Demos, Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and Larry Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 19, 2020.Patrick Semansky / AP

The groups touted more than 75 new endorsements for Warren from current or former state and local officials, including Mayors Meghan Sahli-Wells of Culver City, California and Chris Taylor of Ann Arbor, Michigan. The list also included former congressmen Sander Levin of Michigan and Brad Miller of North Carolina.

Another notable name was Susheela Jayapal, who is the Multnomah County Commissioner in Oregon. Her sister, Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Pramila Jayapal, has endorsed Sanders for president.

“My choice has been between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. I voted for Bernie in 2016, and continue to admire and appreciate his fierce advocacy,” Susheela Jayapal said in a statement. “But 2020 is not 2016. In 2020, I’m with Warren. In 2020, more than ever, we need bold policy and advocacy — and we also need a president who can actually govern.”

Those endorsements, part of about 3,000 announced by the groups Monday, come at a critical moment for Warren who has lost ground in surveys and now trails Joe Biden and Sanders in national and early-state polls. Sanders has consolidated large swaths of the progressive community and jumped into the lead in recent polling in Iowa by the New York Times/Siena and New Hampshire by CNN and the University of New Hampshire.

One bright spot for Warren? She’s the top second-choice preference for voters in both surveys.

Moulton endorses Biden’s presidential bid

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa —Former Democratic presidential candidate and current Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential bid Monday morning, arguing he’s the right person to lead the country. 

Moulton announced his endorsement in a statement on Twitter that said he’s backing Biden given his decades of experience “serving the country, especially his eight years as vice president.” He went on to list several achievements of Biden’s career, including passing the Violence Against Women Act and the Affordable Care Act. 

The Afghanistan veteran’s statement also argued that Biden “will beat Donald Trump and unify our country after four years of the most reckless commander-in-chief in American history.” 

The endorsement is not too surprising given the personal relationship both men have. In the statement, Moulton points out that Biden “was the first person to hold a rally for me” when he launched his long-shot congressional bid in 2014. They have since become friends and Moulton considers him a mentor.

During an interview with NBC News last year, before Moulton launched his own presidential bid, Moulton said he’s “a huge fan of the vice president” and that he’s gone to Biden “multiple times” to ask for advice.   

Pete Buttigieg releases ‘closing’ Iowa ad

DES MOINES, Iowa — Pete Buttigieg is out with what his campaign is calling his “closing” TV ad in Iowa that will air statewide through caucus night, just one week from today.

In the ad, Buttigieg says that “It’s time to turn the page from a Washington experience paralyzed by the same old thinking, polarized by the same old fights, to a bold vision for the next generation.”

He addresses issues like corporate greed, “inaction” on climate change, and endless wars with photos of him campaigning across the state on screen. The former South Bend Mayor finishes off his closing ad saying that “We need to break from the old politics and unify this nation.”

The 30-second ad, “It’s Time,” is one of four ads the campaign is airing in Iowa ahead of the February 3 Caucus.

In a statement released by his campaign, Buttigieg is advertised as the “president who can rally this country around bold ideas for the next generation and achieve things that have never been done before.”

Democratic group targets vulnerable GOP senators on impeachment

WASHINGTON — Majority Forward, the not-for-profit group associated with the Democratic Senate Majority PAC, is launching a six-figure ad campaign on Monday targeting vulnerable Republican senators on impeachment. 

The two 30-second ads, which will run on digital and associated platforms like Hulu, will run in Arizona to target Sen. Martha McSally, Colorado to target Sen. Cory Gardner, Iowa to target Sen. Joni Ernst, Maine to target Sen. Susan Collins and North Carolina to target Sen. Thom Tillis.

The ads, entitled “Oath” and “Rigged”, focus on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s comments on coordinating with the White House during the impeachment trial, and the oath of impartiality that all senators took before the trial began.

The ad campaign marks the first full-throated effort by a Democratic group to run ads in support of impeachment and the trial. Prior to this, mostly only presidential candidates like philanthropist Tom Steyer and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg focused on the topic in ads

“Senate Republicans have broken their oath of impartiality and their promise to the American people by playing along with Mitch McConnell’s cover-up,” Senate Majority PAC president J.B. Poersch said in a statement. “By refusing to get the facts and demand a fair trial from the onset, Senate Republicans are putting party politics over principle. Our new ad campaign urges these vulnerable incumbents to do their jobs and demand a fair trial now.”

All five of the senators targeted are facing difficult reelection campaigns in 2020. While some of the senators, like Gardner and Collins, have chosen to take a more neutral approach when asked about calling witnesses to the trial or if the president’s conduct was appropriate, Tillis and Ernst have publicly sided with the president.

“I think it’s so ironic that [House impeachment managers] really hammered in their brief, ‘overwhelming’, I think they said that word 11 times in their brief, and yet we haven’t seen overwhelming evidence of an impeachable offense,” Ernst told NBC News on Friday. 

And Tillis shared a Twitter video last week where he called the trial a “sham”.

“They don’t have the information, it’s a sham impeachment,” Tillis said. “It’s a waste of America’s time, and people in North Carolina are getting tired of it.” 

McSally, who lost her Senate bid in 2018 and was then appointed to her seat, wouldn’t say in an interview on Fox News if she would vote for witnesses or not. Instead she said she wanted a “fair trial.” 

In the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, 66 percent of Americans said they wanted witnesses called in the Senate trial. 

Buttigieg goes on the offensive as Sanders pulls ahead in the polls

DES MOINES, Iowa — With Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., pulling ahead in the latest early state and national polls, fellow Democratic hopeful and former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg is sending a message to his supporters that Sanders must be stopped. 

The Buttigieg campaign sent an email to their followers on Saturday asking them to donate to the campaign in order to stop Sanders’ surge.

“Right now, Bernie’s campaign is out-raising and out-spending us,” the email states. “If this continues, there’s a good chance he wins the Iowa Caucuses.” 

Hours later Buttigieg’s Deputy Campaign Manager, Hari Sevugan, followed up with an email saying that if Sanders wins the nomination, Democrats will lose in 2020.

“Bernie performs the worst against Trump amongst all major candidates,” Sevugan writes citing the latest New York Times/Siena College poll. Sevugan continues, “In short, we risk nominating a candidate who cannot beat Donald Trump in November. And that’s a risk we can’t take.”

In sharp contrast to the emails sent to supporters, Buttigieg was reluctant to address Sanders by name when asked if the senator’s candidacy was too risky to defeat Trump.

“I believe that we should be very mindful that one of the worst risks we can take at a time like this is to recycle the same Washington style political warfare that brought us to this point,” Buttigieg said. “If we believe it’s important to win, and I sure do, then the best thing we could do is put forward a candidate who offers something new, something different.”

Shortly after Buttigieg made those comments, supporters received another message from the campaign this time via text. Echoing earlier emails suggesting that Sanders won’t beat Trump, the message included a graphic showing Sanders losing to Trump by 6 percentage points.

This comes as support for Sanders has ticked up and recent polling and Buttigieg aims to bolster his pitch as the candidate best positioned to beat Trump. Both Sanders and Buttigieg are campaign in Iowa this weekend, with only days until the first-in-the-nation caucus on Feb. 3.

Klobuchar on Democratic primary: ‘I should be leading the ticket’

WASHINGTON — Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar appealed to Democratic primary voters on Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” arguing that her mix of pragmatism and legislative success is what the party needs to defeat President Trump in November. 

While Klobuchar said she’s “ready to support the winner” of the Democratic Party’s nominating fight, she pointed to recent Democratic victories in purple and red states to argue that she fits the profile of a successful nominee. 

Just eight days before the pivotal Iowa caucus, she also took a swipe at Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has seen his stock improve in a handful of recent polls and has taken more incoming in recent days from his Democratic rivals. 

“I think Senator Sanders’ idea of kicking 149 million Americans off their current health insurance is wrong. That’s why I don’t think he should be leading the ticket,” she said, referring to Sanders’ push for Medicare for All, which would ultimately replace private insurance with a government-run system. 

“I think I should be leading the ticket because my ideas are much more in sync with bold ways of getting things done, taking on the pharmaceutical companies, nonprofit public option, having an education plan that actually matches our economy, and the experience of getting things done. I’m the only one in the Senate running left on that stage that has passed over 100 bills as the lead Democrat. That matters to people right now.”

Biden surrogates hope to take attention away from Sanders dispute in Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa — With a little over a week until the Iowa caucuses, surrogates for former Vice President Joe Biden want voters to focus on Biden’s electability argument, rather than his ongoing policy debate on Social Security with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. 

In an email exclusively obtained by NBC News, four Hawkeye state Biden endorsers reminded supporters and Iowa politicos to dismiss “falsehoods” spread about Biden’s Social Security record circulating in negative posts by Sanders’ campaign. They claim that the Sanders campaign is currently “spending hundreds of thousands of dollars” against Biden, a tactic also employed by President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.

“There is no surer way to reelect Donald Trump than by letting Bernie Sanders get away with these false attacks and negative tactics,” Bruce Koeppl, the former director of Iowa AARP, wrote in an email. “The attacks of Bernie Sanders, his campaign, and his supporters on Joe Biden only help one person: Donald Trump.”

The letter comes as Biden and Sanders continue to face off on Social Security, a political he-said-he-said that started last Saturday when Biden demanded an apology from Sanders and his aides for spreading supposed out-of-context videos of Biden. While Sanders did apologize to Biden earlier this week, it was specifically for a Sanders supporter and staffer saying Biden has a “corruption problem.” 

The Biden-Sanders back-and-forth has strengthened as Sanders climbs in state and national polls. For Biden supporters like Koepple, former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack, Iowa Building and Construction Trades Council president Bill Gerhard and Liveable Communities advocate Kent Sovern, it’s time for action. 

“It’s time for the caucus-goers of Iowa to tell Senator Sanders that we’re not going to put up with his malarkey – or his negative attacks,” the group said in a note to Biden supporters. 

The Biden campaign has tried to elevate Biden’s electability argument this week: They posted a Twitter video, and emphasized in a fundraising email, that Democratic infighting will only help elect Trump, and that Biden is still the most electable candidate.

The Sanders campaign responded in a similar video, continuing to highlight comments Biden made on the Senate floor about Social Security.

In an interview with NBC News affiliate WIS10, Biden said that candidates picking apart statements from “35 years” ago may be acting in “desperation.” 

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