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Politics As Warren rises, debate over her ability to beat Trump intensifies

05:10  05 october  2019
05:10  05 october  2019 Source:   latimes.com

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  3 big reasons why Joe Biden is no longer the definitive 2020 Democratic primary frontrunner The more voters see of Biden, the less they like him. And the more they see of his main rival, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the more they like her.Biden came into the race with a lot of advantages from his eight years of serving as the vice president to the still-beloved by Democrats former US President Barack Obama, his sky-high name recognition, and his relatively high favorability.

As Warren rises , debate over her ability to beat Trump intensifies .

And the competition between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders is intensifying . What has worked on the stump for Mr. Biden — injecting his perceived ability to beat President Trump and “Are we still debating whether the federal government should have a role over desegregating schools?”

WASHINGTON — It’s the subject of frequent barroom arguments, online debates, and even internal strategy sessions of congressional campaigns.

Elizabeth Warren et al. standing in front of a building: Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren speaks at a town hall meeting at Waterfront Park in San Diego on October 3, 2019.© K.C. Alfred/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren speaks at a town hall meeting at Waterfront Park in San Diego on October 3, 2019.

Everyone in politics — Republicans and Democrats alike — is asking the same pressing question: Just how electable is Elizabeth Warren against President Donald Trump?

As Warren rises to the top of the Democratic presidential primary, it’s a question operatives from both parties are increasingly asking with more urgency. And the answers often surprise.

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As Warren rises , debate over her ability to beat Trump intensifies . October 03, 2019 10:20 AM. Trump says McConnell assured him the Ukraine call was ‘perfect’.

Warren was the lone polling heavyweight on the stage in the first night of the Democratic debates on Wednesday. She turned in a solid performance Biden tops the rest of the field by a wide margin as the candidate potential Democratic voters see as having the best shot to beat President Donald Trump .

“The idea Elizabeth Warren is unelectable has followed her her whole career,” said Colin Reed, a veteran GOP strategist who worked against Warren when she was a first-time Senate candidate in 2012. “And she has overcome it each time.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren speaks at a town hall meeting at Waterfront Park in San Diego on October 3, 2019.© K.C. Alfred/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren speaks at a town hall meeting at Waterfront Park in San Diego on October 3, 2019.

“I don’t know if anyone views with her the same level of wariness I do,” Reed added. “But people are definitely watching her rise and taking notice.”

Reed’s view isn’t unique, even within the GOP, while some Democrats are far more skeptical.

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The ability to beat Trump is Biden’s core argument for his candidacy. But primary voters are beginning to believe that Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris could be just as formidable. Specifically, the ability to beat Donald Trump . For months, the primary beneficiary of this anxiety has been Joe Biden

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Indeed, Warren’s electability has become something of a Rorschach test for political operatives. Some see an uber-liberal senator from Massachusetts with a weak electoral track record, while others see the Democratic Party’s most talented campaigner who can tap into the country’s populist energy like few others.

That striking ambivalence within the political community, in fact, can sometimes also exist within the same operative. One Democratic strategist, for example, said he was impressed by the effectiveness of Warren’s campaign and dismissed most of the concerns about her perceived electoral weaknesses, adding that he might vote for her in the primary.

But, a moment later, the same strategist acknowledged that her support for single-payer health care scared the “s---” out of him.

“Look, she’d be the total package if not for ‘Medicare for All,’” said the Democratic strategist, who like many interviewed for this story, requested anonymity to speak candidly. “If there was a Medicare option, I think everybody would be ready to get their saddles and be ready to go.”

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  Tulsi Gabbard’s return sets stage for debate fireworks Tulsi Gabbard’s return sets stage for debate fireworksGabbard missed the September debate and will be relegated to the side of the stage on Oct. 15 because she is polling lower than most of her rivals. But Gabbard, whose worldview on key issues diverges from other Democrats, has sharply criticized other candidates in each of her debates so far, including telling Kamala Harris that people “suffered under her reign” when Harris was California’s attorney general.

And why hand Trump footage of Harris calling Warren ineffective in some debate when the winner can be pre-determined? The primary needs to poke at Warren ’s rise to a position of prominence under the very same system that she now claims is Democrats don’t have anyone that can beat Trump .

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Debates about electability aren’t new, of course, especially among Democratic voters, many of whom consider a candidate’s ability to defeat Trump a top priority. But among campaign strategists, the debate is different.

For one, none of those interviewed for this story volunteered that they thought Warren’s gender would be a hindrance to winning the White House — unlike some voters.

Concerns over Warren’s admission that she once identified as Native American, a controversy cited frequently by Trump, have also lessened. One Democratic pollster estimated that in recent focus groups he’s seen, just 1 out of every 10 participants will mention the heritage controversy — compared with about 3 in 10 earlier in the year.

Still, some anti-Trump operatives said they worried Warren’s appeal was concentrated among white liberal voters who were always going to vote for the Democratic nominee. Her ability to inspire African-American voters, for example, a group she has yet to win over in large numbers in the primary, remains unclear.

And even if the big crowds who show up to her rallies are generally a good sign for her candidacy in the primary, those voters are not necessarily the kind she’d need to win a battleground state like Pennsylvania or Wisconsin in a general election.

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“The question is, are any of those people Obama-Trump voters?” said Tim Miller, a longtime Republican operative who opposes Trump.

“There are other candidates that I think would certainly be stronger and certainly be weaker,” he continued. “And for her, I’m unclear at this point.”

Most Democrats who spoke positively of Warren were quick to add that they had a far different view of her electability at the start of the race, when they saw her as more of a Harvard professor than a charismatic campaigner. That began to change as the primary has worn on, thanks to the senator’s ability to combine her humble upbringing with detailed policy plans.

“I think a lot of Democrats — myself included, frankly — underestimated Warren’s ability to generate broad-based appeal,” said Jesse Lehrich, a Democratic strategist who worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. “They have run an incredibly disciplined and deliberate campaign, and it’s remarkable how much Warren has improved as a communicator since her first Senate race.”

That growing appreciation for her talent, Democrats say, is part of the reason her candidacy fosters such an electability debate. Other leading candidates like Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are also the subject of heated arguments over electability.

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The debate over whether Democrats should appear on Fox News for a town hall has divided the As Warren courts working-class voters in the midwest, she continues to focus heavily on the early “If we want to beat Donald Trump and achieve big progressive goals, socialism is not the answer,” former

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Republicans and Democratic operatives also wonder what Warren’s message would look like in a general election, suggesting her criticism of Trump could be tailored to appeal to a large audience of swing voters — especially if it centers on the president’s alleged corruption.

Still, others warn that if Warren reverses course in the general election and begins holding high-dollar fundraisers, the resulting political fallout will be severe. Warren is skipping the traditional fundraising circuit during the primary but has said she won’t “unilaterally disarm” against Trump in a general election.

Warren leads Trump in nearly every poll of a hypothetical matchup between the two, though her advantage is much smaller than Biden’s. Pollsters say down-ballot House and Senate campaigns have begun testing Warren’s standing in their district on their own, as they begin to assess the political climate ahead of their own election next year. (The pollsters added that congressional candidates are also testing other frontrunners like Biden.)

For many Democrats, Warren’s strengths and weaknesses as a candidate are so striking that it would be easy to take either side in an argument. Some even suggest her candidacy has opened an inter-generational split within the party over what a successful candidate looks like.

“We wouldn’t be Democrats if we didn’t live in our anxieties,” said one Democratic strategist. “I think for the older generation, who remember (Michael) Dukakis, they see Warren and worry about her policies turning off who she needs to win. For the younger generation, coming off Hillary (Clinton), they see Biden and worry about his personality not activating who he needs to win.”

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