Oct 16, 2019

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good Wednesday morning. Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,148 words ... 4 minutes.

1 big thing: Piling on Warren
Photo courtesy CNN

The rest of the field clearly thinks that Elizabeth Warren has passed Joe Biden as the Democrats' 2020 frontrunner, and the attacks rained in on her at last night's 12-pack debate outside Columbus, Ohio.

  • Even Biden piled on Warren, over Medicare for All.
  • Every conversation about whether taxes would go up under Medicare for All, and every dodge, threatened to eat away at Warren's image as a truth-teller.
  • As Axios' Alexi McCammond notes from the debate at Otterbein University, in Westerville, Ohio: What's a plan if you don't clearly articulate the specifics of what that means for Americans?
  • Warren racked up the most speaking time out of any candidate, a byproduct of the onslaught.

Other takeaways from the Axios politics team:

  • Biden is trying to use the Obama years — and one Senate accomplishment, the assault weapons ban — to pitch himself as the one who can get big things done. But he seemed to get flustered easily.
  • Biden's best moment was a fiery exchange over Medicare for All, where he was the moderate and Warren was the leftist activist. This yielded fodder to help the Trump campaign label Warren as a socialist. Republican officials tell us that's their most resonant message against her.
  • Bernie's back! After his heart attack and major surgery, he exuded his usual passion. He said he's feeling great, thanked his supporters and then moved on and didn't dwell on his health.
  • Part of the reason Pete Buttigieg, who had his most aggressive night so far, swung at everyone: More fodder for fundraising emails.
  • Cory Booker thinks his ticket to longevity in the race is to be the peacemaker.
After the debate. Photo: John Minchillo/AP

Joe Biden on Hunter Biden:

Look, my son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong. I carried out the policy of the United States government in rooting out corruption in Ukraine. And that's what we should be focusing on. ... My son's statement speaks for itself.

Go deeper: 5 takeaways, by Axios' Zach Basu.

2. Dems strafe Big Tech
Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Hostility toward Big Tech is the rare issue that unites both parties, and Dems last night pummeled lots of big targets, Axios managing editor Scott Rosenberg writes from S.F.

Moving on from her dispute with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Elizabeth Warren hit Amazon:

  • "Look, you get to be the umpire in the baseball game, or you get to have a team, but you don't get to do both at the same time."

Kamala Harris, who two weeks ago called on Twitter to suspend President Trump's account, called it a "grave injustice ... when the rules that apply to the powerless don't apply to the powerful."

  • Harris challenged Warren to endorse her demand that Twitter boot Trump, which she described as "a matter of corporate accountability."
  • Warren's response: "I don't just want to push Donald Trump off Twitter. I want to push him out of the White House."

Bernie Sanders broadened the antitrust attack to include finance, media, and agribusiness: "We need a president who has the guts to appoint an attorney general who will take on these huge monopolies, protect small business, and protect consumers by ending the price fixing that we see every day."

  • P.S. Andrew Yang gave a shoutout to Bing.
Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
3. ⚖️ Impeachment state of play: Rudy, Rudy, Rudy
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent arrives for a deposition yesterday. Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Republicans and Democrats familiar with the closed-door testimony in the House impeachment inquiry tell Axios' Alayna Treene that Rudy Giuliani and his Ukraine activity has been a unifying thread for the witnesses.

  • White House sources tell Axios that they're increasingly pulling their hair out because of him.

Our big takeaway: While Democrats say that everything they’ve heard so far has only helped them, nothing in the depositions so far appears to have moved any Republicans closer to impeachment.

  • What to watch: How much longer can the committees sustain this pace? Fatigue is appearing on both sides.

💬 Pelosi quote du jour: "We were sending that military assistance because of Ukraine needing that vis-à-vis Russia. All roads seem to lead to Putin with the president though, isn’t it so?"

  • 👀 What we're watching: House Dems began discussing the possibility of summoning acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton, per the WashPost.

🇺🇦 "Three amigos": Career State Department official George Kent testified that he was told by administration officials to "lay low" on Ukraine as "three amigos" tied to the White House took over U.S. foreign policy toward the Eastern European ally, AP reports.

  • Kent described the results of a May 23 meeting at the White House, organized by Mulvaney, where three administration officials — EU ambassador Gordon Sondland, special envoy Kurt Volker and Energy Secretary Rick Perry — declared themselves the people responsible for Ukraine policy.
Bonus: 🎥 First look ... Hollywood's 6 most powerful
Courtesy The Hollywood Reporter

The Hollywood Reporter names Walt Disney Co. chairman and CEO Bob Iger to the top of its list of the Top 100 "most powerful execs, makers and stars":

  • Why he matters: "Disney+ leads a wave of billion-dollar Netflix competitors that are transforming the entertainment industry and launching a new age of ambition (and anxiety)."
  • What's next: "Disney is a key instigator of what has exploded into an all-out war for streaming dominance. Disney+ is one of the first in a string of new services, including Apple TV+, HBO Max (from AT&T) and Peacock (Comcast), expected to roll out over the next six months."

Next on the list:

  • 2. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and chief content officer Ted Sarandos
  • 3. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke
  • 4. ViacomCBS Chair Shari Redstone
  • 5. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, promoted yesterday to additional title of Marvel Entertainment chief creative officer (Disney subsidiary)
  • 6. WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey

Keep reading.

4. 💰2020 stat du jour

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have stockpiled millions more than their rivals, including Joe Biden, AP's Brian Slodysko reports.

  • Sanders had $33.7 million in cash on hand on his third-quarter fundraising report. Warren had $25.7 million; Pete Buttigieg came next at $23.3 million.
  • Biden, next at just $8.9 million, has burned through money at a fast clip over the past three months, while posting an anemic fundraising haul.
5. 🏠 $100,000 often not enough to buy a home

"A record number of six-figure-income families rent, as student debt and meager savings cloud their financial future," the Wall Street Journal reports (subscription).

  • Between 2006 and 2017, "the number of renter households in the U.S. grew 25% while the number of homeowners was nearly flat."
6. ⚾ 1 Nats Nation
Nationals Park celebrates. Photo: Alex Brandon/AP

The Washington Nationals "beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 7-4, to complete a four-game sweep in a National League Championship Series that was one-sided from the start" to claim the franchise's first World Series berth. (WashPost)

  • It's the city's first pennant since 1933 — way back when the Washington Senators won the American League.

📺 D.C.'s not-so-split screen ... Bullfeathers, a historic watering hole on the House side of Capitol Hill, had originally intended to show both the game and the debate, but ended up just showing the game, AP's Ashraf Khalil reports.

  • Up Pennsylvania Avenue, the manager at legendary dive bar Tune Inn said there was "no way in hell" he would put the debate on his screens.
Hawk 'n' Dove options. Photo: Nick Wass/AP
Mike Allen

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