Published On: Wed, Jan 15th, 2020

Democrats eying presidency polish their presence for primaries

By Carlo Barbieri

First of 2 parts

A field of two dozen or more Democrats of mixed attributes and attitudes – but all opposed to the actions and viewpoints of President Donald J. Trump – took to the hustings a year or more ago to declare their intentions to seek the office of US President in November 2020.

For a while, that clique captured headlines with comments made during debates, on campaign visits and in response to President Trump’s decisions.

Lately, the nation’s attention has been diverted by the run-up to the impending presidential impeachment, the recent military furor involving Iraq and Iran and the killing of Iranian terrorist Major General Waseem Soleimani.

But with presidential preference primaries starting up as early as February, the Democratic hopefuls – now narrowed to a field of 13 – have started returning to the limelight. In Florida, the primary will be held March 17.

In the meantime, candidates are honing their presentation skills as they prepare to meet voters face-to-face.

Let’s look at Democrats who generally top presidential popularity polls and analyze their demeanors. Let’s also see if they have established clear, stable campaign platforms that could sustain the business-friendly, economic boon the US is currently experiencing.

For years, Joseph R. Biden Jr., 77, former vice president under President Barack Obama and ex-senator from Delaware, has been an effective leader because of his down-to-earth personality and ability to connect with working-class voters. His habit of taking Amtrak to Washington for Senate sessions endeared him to common folks who commute.

In a nutshell, say the news media, Biden supports tax credits for students, a reduction in carbon emissions, increased infrastructure spending, support of mass transit, renewable energy subsidies, same-sex marriage and improving the Affordable Care Act rather than establishing a Medicare for All system.

He wants to rebuild the middle class, the candidate says on his own campaign website, and he wants it to impact all citizens. Toward that end, he is calling for a transformational investment in our country’s infrastructure and future: $1.3 trillion over 10 years, to equip the middle class to compete and win in the global economy and to ensure that cities, towns and rural areas all share in that growth.

Bernie Sanders, the venerable 78-year-old junior US Senator from Vermont since 2007, has also been a top drawer in candidate polls. The New Yorker-turned-Green Mountain stater said his economic plan would “give workers an ownership stake in the companies they work for, break up corrupt corporate mergers and monopolies, and finally make corporations pay their fair share.’” His appeal to voters has been high in both his presidential bids, in 2016 and 2020.

Sanders has asserted that his presidency would end the “corporate greed” that he claims is “ruining the United States.”

On domestic issues, he broadly supports labor rights, universal and single-payer healthcare, paid parental leave and tuition-free tertiary education and he strongly backs U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ Green New Deal to create jobs that address global warming.

On the stump, Sanders can be feisty as he elaborates on his stances. But his explanations normally ring true with an electorate of all ages.

Fighting for the presidency with similar verve is U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 70, who has represented the Bay State in the Upper Chamber since 2013. In November 2012, she defeated one-term Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, a Republican who took over the vacant seat of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

Her popularity is high and fairly stable. She recently released financial plans to improve education, proposing tuition-free college and student loan debt forgiveness – much as Biden and Sanders have done.  Warren’s plan lists how much it will cost ($1.25 trillion over 10 years) and how she will pay for it (a 2-cent wealth tax).

In actuality, Warren has made the wealth tax “one of the centerpieces of her presidential campaign,” said Dorothy Wickenden, executive editor of New Yorker magazine.  The plan was developed with help from economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, part of a new generation of economists whose work focuses on failures of free markets and advocates for what many see as radical social change.

Also found topping the polls lately is 59-year-old Amy Klobuchar, the senior Senator from Minnesota, who made her presidential announcement during a fierce snowstorm last winter.

Klobuchar was first elected to the Senate in 2006 and was reelected in 2012 and 2018. In 2009 and 2010, she was described as a “rising star” in the Democratic Party.

The senator’s political positions have generally been in line with modern American liberalism. She is pro-choice on abortion, supports LGBTQ rights and Obamacare and has been critical of the Iraq War.

Her campaign website says: “Amy is running to bring people together, take on the major issues facing our country and to get things done…. America needs a candidate who can beat Donald Trump and get our country back on the path to progress with an ambitious, optimistic economic agenda.”

 

Perhaps least flamboyant and quietest at the podium is Pete Buttigieg, 37. Going into the primary season, his name is often found at the top of the popularity lists among Democrats.

 

He said that “running for office is an act of hope. You don’t do it unless you think the pulleys and levers of our government can be used and, if necessary, redesigned to make the life of this nation better for us all.”

Youngest candidate in the presidential field, “Mayor Pete” says he would be a bridge to a new era of American politics.

Not only has he proven himself to be a daunting fundraiser, but Buttigieg has stressed his generational identity and focused on issues like climate change and economic opportunity.

The South Bend chief executive announced his presidential run in April 2019, becoming the first openly gay person to seek the Democratic nod.

Initially considered a long shot, he gained significant momentum in mid-2019 when he participated in several town halls, forums, and debates.   Several media outlets consider him one of four “top-tier candidates.”

Billionaire media executive and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, 77, arrived late at the presidential race, announcing last November. A former Republican who re-registered as a Democrat in October, said: “Defeating Donald Trump — and rebuilding America — is the most urgent and important fight of our lives. And I’m going all in.”

Bloomberg has disagreed with progressives on issues including bank regulation, stop-and-frisk police tactics and the #MeToo women’s movement.

The ex-mayor, on Jan. 8, released his specific economic policy proposals, offering an agenda that aims to provide “jobs and economic opportunity to the people and communities left behind by President Trump.”

Bloomberg has declined to embrace Medicare for All as a health care solution and rejected AOC’s Green New Deal to combat climate change, favoring a more pragmatic approach, says the Associated Press.

AP added that still, he has endeared himself to many of the nation’s mayors, having made large investments to help train local officials and encourage them to take action on climate, guns and immigration, among other things.

 Next week: Analysis of the other seven candidates.

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About the Author

- My name is Carlo Barbieri, an entrepreneur, civic activist and a leader of many organizations associated with Brazil. A native of Brazil myself, I am currently the CEO of Oxford Group, a firm composed of many international consulting and trading companies. I am also a founding member of the Brazilian Business Group and founding member and Past President of the Brazil Club. In addition, I serve as a Board member of the Deerfield Chamber of Commerce. I have served as a member of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Brazil Partnership. Past President of the Rotary Club – Boca Raton West for the 2014-2015 term, I have also been Vice President and Professor of 2Grow – Human Development. An Ambassador of Barry University in Brazil, I am the former President of the Black Fire Bull Steak House. I have also presided over a number of organizations such as the Brazilian Association of Trading Companies (ABECE), Brazil-China Chamber of Commerce in São Paulo, Brazil-Australia Chamber of Commerce, Brazil-Dominican Republican Chamber of Commerce; director of the Trade Center of the State of São Paulo, Brazilian Association of Freight Forwarders and Brazilian Association of Banks. I was also a local Council member for the Consulate General of Brazil in Miami, for the 2013-2017 term.

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