🥞 Good Sunday morning from Tuscaloosa, Ala., where a hotel that's popular with Crimson Tide alumni starts serving cocktails at 8 a.m. on game day.
1 big thing: 2020's historic signal on climate
Climate change is playing a larger — and more polarizing — role than ever before in a presidential election, Amy Harder writes as part of our big-trend coverage leading up to the election, "What Matters 2020."
- Why it matters: In the past, the topic barely registered with voters, and candidates were less polarized. Today, all Democratic candidates are treating the climate as a crisis, with detailed plans and funding sources to address it. President Trump ignores the problem and bashes those plans.
The big picture: The impacts of climate change, like persistent wildfires and severe flooding, are increasing in frequency. Ways to solve the problem, like renewable energy, are becoming more affordable, while the science increasingly says the problem is growing more dire.
- Taken together, these developments are making climate change a tangible issue for broader swaths of the population than in the past. So it’s permeating our politics in new and forceful ways.
- Democrats are looking to clamp down significantly on fossil fuels and enact ever-more aggressive and expensive plans, embodied by Green New Deal rhetoric.
Reality check: Climate change is unlikely to be the top issue for most voters in 2020.
- The complexity and longevity of the problem makes it uniquely ill-suited for politics that operates on two to six-year cycles.
2. Why Mayor Mike jumped in
The 2020 field is growing. Mike Bloomberg officially announced his campaign today, with the slogan "Rebuild America":
We cannot afford four more years of President Trump’s reckless and unethical actions. He represents an existential threat to our country and our values. ... I believe my unique set of experiences in business, government, and philanthropy will enable me to win and lead.
Why it matters: Bloomberg's late entrance reflects Democrats’ burning desire to defeat Trump.
- Bloomberg, 77, has vowed to spend at least $150 million of his fortune on various pieces of a 2020 campaign, including more than $100 million for internet ads attacking Trump, between $15 million and $20 million on a voter registration drive largely targeting minority voters, and more than $30 million on an initial round of television ads. (AP)
Bloomberg's policy strengths for the primary include his leadership on gun control and climate change. Two of his biggest challenges include building alliances with African American and women voters.
- Bloomberg said he will not accept donations and will self-fund his campaign.
What to watch: One of Bloomberg's biggest advantages — his wealth — is also his biggest obstacle. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders will likely take aim at the new billionaire candidate.
- Bloomberg hopes to use compressed Super Tuesday contests and divided sentiment about frontrunners to his advantage, since he’s unlikely to make much of a dent in early-voting states like Iowa or New Hampshire.
3. ⚡Breaking: Trump stands down on SEAL fight
The Navy has been notified that the White House will not intervene to stop a disciplinary proceeding that could cost a SEAL his position in the elite unit, AP reports this morning.
The backstory: Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer "and the admiral who leads the SEALs have threatened to resign or be fired if plans to expel a commando from the elite unit in a war crimes case are halted by President Trump," the N.Y. Times' Maggie Haberman, Helene Cooper and Dave Philipps report.
- Trump tweeted Thursday: "The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin. This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!"
- Why it matters: Gallagher is a Fox News favorite (including a "Fox & Friends" appearance this morning), and many at the Pentagon think Trump's intervention could undermine military discipline.
The Navy secretary said yesterday on the sidelines of a security forum in Canada, per AP: "I need a formal order to act ... I don't interpret [Trump's tweets] as a formal order."
- Spencer told reporters that he has not threatened to resign.
Gallagher was acquitted of a murder charge in the stabbing death of an Islamic State militant captive, but a military jury convicted him of posing with the corpse while in Iraq in 2017.
Bonus: Pic du jour
A laborer arranges tomatoes in crates today at a market in Lahore, Pakistan.
4. Article of the week
John Hendrickson, a senior editor on The Atlantic's politics team, writes that he started stuttering at age 4 and still struggles to say his own name. Hendrickson interviewed Joe Biden about the former vice president's childhood stutter, and today's verbal stumbles:
I can only speculate as to why Biden’s campaign agreed to this interview, but I assume the reasoning went something like this: If Biden disclosed to me, a person who stutters, that he himself still actively stutters, perhaps voters would cut him some slack when it comes to verbal misfires, as well as errors that seem more related to memory and cognition. But whenever I asked Biden about what appeared to be his present-day stuttering, the notably verbose candidate became clipped, or said he didn’t remember, or spun off to somewhere new. ...
Biden talks all day to audiences both small and large. In addition to periodically stuttering or blocking on certain sounds, he appears to intentionally not stutter by switching to an alternative word — a technique called "circumlocution' — which can yield mangled syntax. I’ve been following practically everything he’s said for months now, and sometimes what is quickly characterized as a memory lapse is indeed a stutter.
5. Dems' case for impeachment
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said on Sunday shows that he wants to consult his constituents before making a final judgment on impeachment, but he had a couple spoilers that signaled what we'll be hearing:
- "What if we don't impeach the president? What will that tell future presidents?" Schiff said to Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union."
- "[I]f we do nothing, it is very likely the president will do this again," Schiff told Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet the Press."
The bottom line: It's not just that House and Senate Republicans remain solidly with Trump. Their position actually hardened during the hearings, as the WashPost's Phil Rucker points out:
- "Some moderate Republican lawmakers once seen as the most likely to break with Trump ... signaled in recent days that they would probably vote against his impeachment."
- CNN headline on "State of the Union": "NO SIGN THAT ANY HOUSE REPUBLICAN WILL VOTE FOR IMPEACHMENT."
6. 1 fun thing
"Saturday Night Live" took on both the Democratic debate, with Kate McKinnon saying as Elizabeth Warren, per the N.Y. Times recap:
- "I got mom-hostin'-Thanksgiving energy. I'm a little overwhelmed because I thought 10 people were coming and now there’s 30 million. But I promise dinner will be ready if you just get out of the kitchen and stop asking questions."
... and President Trump's South Lawn seances:
- "I still told him no quid pro quo at least once. So any quid that I get after that, that's on them. ... It's just like when you meet a girl and you say, 'If you’re a cop, you gotta tell me.'"