(Every Sunday night, I’ll round up the top five storylines you need to know to understand the week to come on the 2020 campaign trail. And they’re ranked — so the #1 story is the most important of the coming week. To get them delivered to your inbox every week, subscribe to The Point newsletter!)
(CNN)5. Kamala’s must-win state: The California senator is right where she wants to be in the fight for the Democratic nomination: In the front of the pack, drafting just off of the former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. But she and her team know that in order for her to eventually win the nomination, there’s one state she HAS to win: South Carolina.
The state’s considerable black population has dominated Democratic presidential primaries. And this is the place in 2008 where Barack Obama’s smashing victory over Hillary Clinton set the table for his eventual nomination.With an eye toward the importance of the state, Harris will spend this coming weekend in the Palmetto State — doing several college town halls, among other events. This will be at least her fourth trip to the state in the early days of her campaign; Harris actually stopped in South Carolina in her first days as a candidate, even before officially announcing in her hometown of Oakland.There’s very little fresh polling in South Carolina although a survey completed in the beginning of March showed Harris running in third behind Biden and Sanders. Which is fine for her. For now.4. A Biden bounceback? The former vice president has weathered several weeks of terrible press — centered on several allegations by women who say that Biden violated their personal space and made them feel uncomfortable. Biden has said he will adjust how he campaigns going forward but has not apologized for his actions — or for how they made some people feel.Read More
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He’s in desperate need of a change of narrative — and could well get it on Tuesday when he travels to South Carolina to eulogize the late Sen. Fritz Hollings (D). Biden is effectively a professional eulogizer at this point in his political career, and his performance is likely to remind Democrats why they have installed him as the frontrunner in 2020.The Hollings eulogy will likely be one of the final speeches Biden gives as an unannounced presidential candidate. He is widely expected to enter the contest officially sometime shortly after Easter, which is a week from today.3. It’s tax time for Bernie: After much hemming and hawing, Sanders is expected to make 10 years of past tax returns public on Tax Day (aka April 15, aka Monday). To date, despite running for president twice in the last four years, Sanders has released only a single year of his returns. He’s also repeatedly delayed the release of his returns even as some of his rivals — Warren, Klobuchar and Harris, most recently — have put out years and years of their own returns.Sanders has also been weirdly confrontational on the issue. Acknowledging that sales from his book made him a millionaire, Sanders told The New York Times, “I wrote a best-selling book. If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too.” A little bit tone deaf, no? On Saturday, he said much the same: “I didn’t know that it was a crime to write a good book, which turned out to be a bestseller.” Which is still a bad answer.'Mayor Pete' surges into the top 10 in our 2020 rankings2. The Buttigieg Boom continues: The South Bend mayor officially entered the presidential race on Sunday — you probably thought he was already in, right? — amid evidence that his surge from an afterthought to a top-tier candidate was continuing, Polling in Iowa and New Hampshire put Buttigieg in third place behind only Biden and Sanders — incredible when you consider where he was just a few months ago in these same polls. Which was nowhere.Buttigieg’s new status is attracting lots of supporters, yes. But it’s also drawing more scrutiny: This CNN piece looking at his record in South Bend and this New York Times article digging into what (if any) policies are behind Mayor Pete’s record are only the start. The question is how he ultimately withstands a deeper dive into his background in and out politics.1. Happy Mueller Report Week!: This is the week we will get to see the final product of the almost-two-year-long investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election by special counsel Robert Mueller. We won’t see the full 300+-page report, since Attorney General William Barr has already made clear there will be some significant number of redactions, in the interest of protecting grand jury testimony and the like. But what is redacted? And why? Then there’s what is in the report we can see. We know, from Barr’s summary of Mueller’s report that there was evidence on both sides of the question of whether Trump or his aides sought to obstruct the investigation. (Barr chose not to prosecute based on the uncertainty.) So what were the facts Mueller uncovered that pointed toward obstruction? (LOTS more good questions about the Mueller report and what’s in it — and not — here.)The fight over Mueller’s report — and what it does and should mean for Trump in 2020 — won’t end with the release of the redacted report. In truth, given the state of our politics, it might never end, period. But this week we should have our first really good look at what Mueller found — and what he did with it. Which makes this a huge week in our body politic.