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Democrats Are Already Looking To 2020


Former Vice President Joe Biden launched a new series on Instagram TV today.


JOE BIDEN: It's no secret that our immigration system is broken, and for years, there's been a heated debate waged about how to fix it.

SHAPIRO: And here's why this is getting attention. Even though the midterms are less than two months away, it's the latest sign that Biden and other possible Democratic presidential candidates are already thinking about the next big election. NPR's Scott Detrow has more.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: During last week's Supreme Court confirmation hearings, it was the two most junior Democrats on the Judiciary Committee who made the most headlines. New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker threatened to break confidentiality rules.


CORY BOOKER: I am going to release the email about racial profiling, and I understand that that - the penalty comes with a potential ousting from this Senate.

DETROW: And California Democrat Kamala Harris probed Judge Brett Kavanaugh about whether he had discussed Robert Mueller's investigation with anyone tied to the law firm of one of President Trump's lawyers.


KAMALA HARRIS: It's a really specific question.

BRETT KAVANAUGH: I would like to know the person you're thinking of because what if there's...

HARRIS: I think you're thinking of someone and you don't want to tell us.

DETROW: Neither has said they're running, but both lawmakers are frequently on the list when it comes to possible 2020 presidential candidates.


BOOKER: This is about the closest I'll probably ever have in my life to an I am Spartacus moment.

DETROW: But it turns out it really wasn't a Spartacus moment. The emails had already been cleared for release and didn't reveal much about Kavanaugh. And Harris' questions about a mystery meeting never really went anywhere. Despite that, Republican political strategist Alex Conant thinks both Booker and Harris helped their potential 2020 campaigns more than they hurt them.

ALEX CONANT: One way to break through is by fighting harder than anybody else. You certainly don't want to be flanked in terms of your energy and your willingness to fight on behalf of the base.

DETROW: Conant would know. He was Marco Rubio's spokesman when the Florida Republican was in the same position as Booker and Harris - a high-profile senator viewed as a likely White House contender.

CONANT: I don't think all of them have made up a final decision. But just to keep the option open, there are certain things that you have to be doing right now.

DETROW: That to-do list includes generating buzz like Booker and Harris did last week, also showing up in key states like Ohio where Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recently spoke to The City Club of Cleveland.


ERIC GARCETTI: You know, it's funny. Sometimes people ask, could a mayor ever be a president? Could a Jew ever be president? A few years ago, could an African-American ever be a president? Even more shorter than that, could a reality star ever be president from television?

DETROW: And since it's 2018, showing up on social media where Biden posted a new video today.


BIDEN: Every country needs to control their border, but that does not require ripping infants and children from the arms of their parents.

DETROW: There's one more thing on that to-do list, and it's very important. You need to deny that you're positioning yourself for a presidential run. Here's Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren after a major policy speech a couple weeks ago.


ELIZABETH WARREN: I am not running for president in 2020. I'm running for the Senate in 2018.

DETROW: Of course, all these possible candidates are talking about politics and policy, which isn't exactly how President Trump won in 2016. As they do their day jobs, one other possible candidate is taking a page from Trump even as he challenges him in court. That's Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for Stormy Daniels, who's popping up on cable network after cable network to slam the president. One key choice that every Democrat will have to make - whether they think 2016 set the new normal or whether voters will want to go back to more traditional politics. Scott Detrow, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Detrow is a White House correspondent for NPR and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.
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