Feb 8, 2020

Axios AM

Happy Saturday! Today's Smart Brevity™ count: 1,125 words ... 4 minutes.

  • Breaking: A 60-year-old U.S. citizen died from the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China on Thursday — the first known American death from the illness, according to a State Department spokesperson. (Go deeper.)
1 big thing: Inside Mayor Mike's massive machine
Data: Advertising Analytics, FEC. Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Mike Bloomberg is creating a parallel, unofficial party structure in case the DNC can't make the eventual Democratic nominee competitive with President Trump, Alexi McCammond and Stef Kight write.

  • Why it matters: In just over a month, Bloomberg spent more than the top 2020 contenders, including Trump, for the whole final quarter of 2019 combined, according to FEC data.
  • He also outspent the entire RNC and DNC.

Inside the machine: With 2,100 paid staff, Bloomberg has three times as many as Trump, five times as many as Joe Biden and more than twice as many as Elizabeth Warren, according to data the campaigns provided to Axios.

  • He pays his staff more than any other 2020 Democrat, and offers housing if they have to move to New York City, according to a campaign official.
  • Bloomberg has locked down big names in Democratic politics, many of whom were crucial to Barack Obama's election.

"He’s building his own infrastructure [and investing] in the tech and data to really build his own operation," a Bloomberg campaign aide said.

  • "If you look at what happened in Iowa, it’s a good problem for us to have that we are self-reliant."

By the numbers: Since January, Bloomberg has spent more on Facebook ads than Biden, Warren, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg combined.

  • Trump is the king of Facebook ads, but Bloomberg has spent $5.7 million more than the president's campaign in the past month.
  • Stories about Bloomberg have remained in the top 5 for social media interactions for the past few weeks, according to the Axios-Newswhip 2020 Attention Tracker.

The bottom line: Bloomberg's campaign has repeatedly said he'll spend "whatever it takes" to beat Trump.

  • There’s nothing stopping Bloomberg from topping $2 billion.

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2. "Saturday Night Massacre"
Marine One touches down on the South Lawn to take President Trump to Charlotte yesterday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Nixon's purge trended on Twitter after the Friday-evening news that President Trump had fired EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was escorted out of the White House.

  • Why it matters: Both gave vivid testimony as impeachment witnesses.
  • A furious, emboldened Trump retaliated for what he considers disloyalty — even though subpoenas required them to testify.
  • Asked about Vindman earlier in the day, Trump said: "I’m not happy with him. Do you think I’m supposed to be happy with him? I'm not."

For good measure, Vindman's twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, an Army officer and Iraq war veteran assigned to the NSC, was also escorted from the White House "suddenly and with no explanation," his lawyer said.

  • Both Vindmans, whose White House tours were scheduled to last through July, were sent to other Army jobs.

Vindman's lawyer, David Pressman, said in a seven-paragraph statement:

  • "The truth has cost LTC Alexander Vindman his job, his career, and his privacy. He did what any member of our military is charged with doing every day: he followed orders, he obeyed his oath, and he served his country, even when doing so was fraught with danger and personal peril."

What's next, per the N.Y. Times: "Alexander Vindman, who had been expecting the move and had begun removing personal items, was told he would go to the Pentagon before moving to the National War College in July as ... planned."

  • "Yevgeny Vindman was more surprised and was told he would report to the office of the Army general counsel."

P.S. Trump tweets this morning:

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
3. Bernie, Pete get brunt of Dems' feistiest debate
Photo: Charles Krupa/AP

Sen. Bernie Sanders' rivals treated him as the front-runner in last night's Democratic debate in Manchester, N.H., tearing into Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, who's brimming with momentum after a top-two finish in Iowa.

  • Buttigieg's new status brought hotter fire — for being young and inexperienced and having donors who include billionaires, Margaret Talev writes from Manchester.
  • But he created a moment of leadership and grace, showing a potential beyond his years, when he defended the Bidens and called out Trump for the cruelty of trying to turn a father against a son.

Sanders adroitly parried punches, seeming unfazed by attack after attack.

  • As ABC's Jon Karl pointed out on the debate's postgame show, Sanders repeatedly pivoted to attack President Trump.

Joe Biden got the first question, and began by conceding he'll likely lose on Tuesday:

  • "It's a long race. I took a hit in Iowa and I'll probably take a hit here. ... And usually it's the neighboring senators that do well." (Sanders is from Vermont and Elizabeth Warren is from Massachusetts.)
  • "I've always viewed the first four encounters — two primaries and two caucuses — as the starting point."
  • 🥊 ABC's Terry Moran said Biden sometimes seemed to mistake decibels for eloquence.

Go deeper: Axios' 4 takeaways.

Bonus: Debate album
Photo: Elise Amendola/AP
Photo: Elise Amendola/AP
Pete Buttigieg with his husband, Chasten Buttigieg. Photo: Elise Amendola/AP

A Sanders supporter plays debate bingo while watching at Ultimate Sports Academy in Manchester, N.H.:

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
4. 📊 Polls show Buttigieg bounce

Pete Buttigieg moved into a statistical tie with Sen. Bernie Sanders (25%/24%) among likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire, in a Boston Globe/WBZ-TV/Suffolk University poll released after the debate. (Boston Globe)

  • Yikes! Sen. Elizabeth Warren was at 14% and Joe Biden was at 11%.
  • The margin of error is 4.4 points.

That continues the Buttigieg bounce in these earlier polls:

Screenshots via MSNBC
5. Election-year economy "everything Trump could hope for"
Expand chart
Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics. Chart: Axios Visuals

The big headline out of yesterday's jobs report "was that employers added 225,000 jobs in January, comfortably more than analysts had expected," writes N.Y. Times senior economics correspondent Neil Irwin (subscription).

  • "The seemingly bad news in the report — the unemployment rate ticking up to 3.6 percent from 3.5 percent — was actually driven by positive underlying trends. The share of adults either working or looking for work rose to 63.4 percent, its highest level since mid-2013."
  • "And the share of adults between ages 25 and 54 who were employed reached 80.6 percent, its highest level since mid-2001."

The bottom line: "There are plenty of structural problems in the United States economy, including inequality and a lack of mobility and opportunity for many people."

  • "But in cyclical terms, the economy is the strongest it has been in an election year ... since 2000."
6. 1 gin thing: Charles Dickens' party tips
Photo: Hollie Adams/Getty Images

This is a letter Charles Dickens (1812-1870) wrote to his butler with instructions for a dinner party that was attended by the editor of Punch magazine.

"Dickens was precise with instructions for his dinner party: no champagne and as little wine as possible for guests before the food and definitely only he and his magazine editor friend to be given gin punch during the meal," per The Guardian.

  • "Basically don't get them too trolleyed beforehand."
  • Why it matters: "Dickens made his own gin punch, he loved it and and it could be quite strong."

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