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Westlake Legal Group > Democratic Party (Page 23)

Trump Has a Strong Economy to Proclaim. In Wisconsin, It Just Might Work.

COLFAX, Wis. — President Trump came to Wisconsin late last month to boast about the state’s unemployment rate, which has been at or near 3 percent for more than a year. “It’s never been this low before. Ever, ever, ever,” he said. (Fact check: true.)

It’s a message that strikes a chord with Bubba Benson, who lives paycheck to paycheck but says that is still better than where he was a few years ago after getting laid off from a shoe warehouse “when all the jobs went to Mexico.” His new job at a plastics manufacturing plant covers the bills and pays good overtime. There are even a few extra bucks in his paycheck now, which he credits to Mr. Trump’s tax cut.

“It didn’t let me go out and buy a new house,” Mr. Benson said as he leaned on the bar at the Outhouse, a watering hole on Main Street in this village of about 1,100 people. “But that wasn’t what it was for.”

As 21 candidates compete to become the Democratic Party’s nominee in 2020, Mr. Trump is running on the strongest economy of any president seeking re-election since Bill Clinton in 1996, and arguably since Richard M. Nixon in 1972. Job creation is strong and last month the unemployment rate dipped to its lowest point in half a century, 3.6 percent.

The robust financial numbers have emboldened Mr. Trump to adopt a tough stance on trade with China this week, and he imposed steep new tariffs on Friday. Mr. Trump is confident the economy can withstand retaliatory action from China, but farmers and manufacturers in this region are among those most likely to be hurt by increased tariffs on American goods.

Still, if the economy remains strong, it could be Mr. Trump’s best argument as he tries to replicate his narrow path to victory in the Electoral College in 2016, which ran straight through rural areas like Colfax in northwestern Wisconsin. Whatever faults people attribute to the president personally, even his critics say he could easily retain the loyalty of swing voters like Mr. Benson — those who see an economy that is stable, robust and meaningfully, if marginally, benefiting their lives.

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The message of a thriving economy — assuming that Mr. Trump sticks to it, as aides and allies have been urging him to do — could leave Democrats especially vulnerable when coupled with Republicans’ relentless attacks on their rivals as radicals who hold extreme positions on health care, abortion and the environment.

“Whoever our nominee turns out to be, they will end up with high negatives come the election,” said Diane Feldman, a Democratic pollster who has worked in Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest.

She believes that Wisconsin — where 22,000 votes separated Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016 — “could go either way” in next year’s election, and could favor Mr. Trump if voters see their decision as a choice between one candidate whose beliefs and motivations they do not fully trust and another whose flaws they have come to accept.

“There isn’t the anger and anxiety there was before when plants were shutting down and people were losing their pensions,” Ms. Feldman added.

For 2020 the president will also have help from a pinpoint voter-targeting operation, which the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee have built in battleground states like Wisconsin. They have collected more than 4,000 points of data on potential voters — everything from whether they have a hunting license to what kind of car they drive to their magazine subscriptions.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_154534809_55044050-b32e-404c-b9d0-dfd077155153-articleLarge Trump Has a Strong Economy to Proclaim. In Wisconsin, It Just Might Work. Voting and Voters United States Politics and Government United States Economy Unemployment Trump, Donald J Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 Presidential Election of 2016 Labor and Jobs Democratic Party

Bubba Benson says his job at a plastics manufacturing plant covers the bills and pays good overtime. There are even a few extra dollars in his paycheck, which he credits to Mr. Trump’s tax cut.CreditMary Mathis for The New York Times

“You can’t have gaps anywhere,” said Mark Jefferson, executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party. “And with the economy going so strong, people are going to be more open to President Trump than they ever have been.”

Despite the good economic numbers, Mr. Trump will be trying to achieve something no president has done in modern times: win re-election without ever reaching 50 percent in Gallup’s job approval rating by this point in his first term.

Strategists in both parties say it will be exceedingly difficult for Mr. Trump if his approval rating is much below 46 percent, which is the share of the popular vote he received in 2016. Mr. Trump hit 46 percent in Gallup’s survey this month, a high point for him.

“Unless his job approval rating goes up and stays up, he once more can win only by getting people who do not like him or approve of him to vote for him,” said Henry Olsen, a conservative scholar on voting patterns at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “But that vastly understates how hard it will be for him,” Mr. Olsen added, “because most polls show that those who dislike him strongly dislike him.”

[Check out our tracker of the 2020 Democratic candidate field.]

The economic recovery that began under Barack Obama has by some measures accelerated under Mr. Trump. The United States has added jobs for 103 consecutive months, a record, wages are rising faster than consumer prices and in July the economic expansion will become the longest on record.

Still, Mr. Trump’s strategists and their allies in outside groups recognize that to rely too heavily on a factor as unpredictable and uneven as the economy — a year and a half away from Election Day — would be foolish. So they are bolstering their efforts in Wisconsin and elsewhere with more narrowly tailored operations to turn out specific groups, like conservatives who find Mr. Trump’s agenda appealing but do not regularly vote.

Most independent economists expect growth to cool this year, and there are already signs that the rebound in manufacturing jobs that characterized Mr. Trump’s first two years in office could be fading.

Sitting on the other side of the horseshoe-shaped bar from Mr. Benson at the Outhouse was Scott Johnson, a union representative for construction workers. Mr. Johnson said he was skeptical of Mr. Trump’s handling of the economy and thought it could very likely deteriorate.

“Like I always say to people: What’s in your hand now and what’s going to be in your hand on down the line are not the same,” Mr. Johnson said.

“I keep pounding these guys’ heads that it only looks good now,” he added.

But he conceded that his pleading with his friends and co-workers has mostly fallen on deaf ears and that the prospect of a second term for Mr. Trump is something he considers very real. “Do I have a feeling he could get re-elected? Yeah, I do,” he said.

The case that the president is making about Wisconsin is a regional version of the argument Republicans hope to make nationally to the crucial bloc of voters who are uneasy with the president’s style and tone but still persuadable.

The White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, referred to this approach early this month, telling a conference hosted by the investor and so-called junk-bond pioneer Michael Milken that the economy will be a bigger driver in the election than personality.

Scott Johnson, a union representative for construction workers, said he heard praise for Mr. Trump’s handling of the economy from many of the people he works with, though he doesn’t agree with it.CreditMary Mathis for The New York Times

“You hate to sound like a cliché, but are you better off than you were four years ago?” Mr. Mulvaney said.

“I think that’s easy,” he added. “People will vote for somebody they don’t like if they think it’s good for them.”

Mr. Trump and Republicans could be benefiting from a new prism through which voters are viewing the economy. The recent growth may not be reaching the levels of the expansions under Mr. Clinton or Ronald Reagan. But political pollsters say that Americans have come to accept “good enough” as a substitute for “great.”

The belt of counties that straddle the Wisconsin border with Minnesota and Iowa and extend south along the Mississippi River could help tip the 2020 election, as they did in 2016. They are the rare places where the highly tribal nature of today’s politics is less entrenched and where a voter like Mr. Benson can hold seemingly contradictory opinions on candidates. In 2016, he said his first choice for president was Senator Bernie Sanders. He could not bring himself to vote for Mrs. Clinton — “not after what she did to Bernie” — so he voted for Mr. Trump.

But he also said he did not support Wisconsin’s most recent Republican governor, Scott Walker, who was ousted last year by a Democrat in a race that was decided by one percentage point. Mr. Walker, who aggressively sought to curb union power, “wanted to screw everybody,” Mr. Benson said, explaining the inconsistencies in his politics.

Across the region, more than three dozen counties in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa — plus another nine nearby in Illinois — voted for Mr. Obama in 2008 and 2012 before flipping to Mr. Trump in 2016. But in Wisconsin, nearly all of those counties flipped again in 2018 and voted for the Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives, including Dunn County, where Colfax is.

There are other, more recent troubling signs for Republicans among these independent-minded voters. A survey released this past week by the Voter Study Group, which includes analysts and scholars from across the ideological spectrum, reported a 19-point drop in Mr. Trump’s favorable rating with these so-called Obama-Trump voters.

Though 66 percent of them still have a favorable view of the president, the survey noted that even slight shifts among this group, which comprised 9 percent of the electorate in 2016, could make the difference in 2020.

Whether Mr. Trump is disciplined enough to stay on message about the economy is another question. Even as the most recent jobs report bolstered his case, he diverted attention from it with a controversial phone call to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and then decried a ruling that overturned the result of the Kentucky Derby, attributing it to political correctness.

Many Republicans close to the White House recall the days before last year’s midterms when instead of trumpeting the economy he peddled divisive warnings about a Central American migrant caravan.

But the president’s rhetoric on issues like immigration may do as much to rally the opposition as his own base. And if turnout is higher in 2020 than in 2016, as many expect it to be, Republicans acknowledge that they will have to do more than just hold onto Mr. Trump’s committed voters.

“Simple math: Trump has to find more,” said Matt Batzel, executive director of American Majority, a group that trains conservative activists. Its work in a Wisconsin Supreme Court race last month helped elect a conservative candidate in an unexpected win that jolted Democrats.

“Unless there’s another Hillary Clinton who doesn’t campaign here,” he added, “which doesn’t seem likely to happen.”

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Facing a Trump Stonewall, Democrats Struggle for Options to Compel Cooperation

WASHINGTON — House Democrats, infuriated by President Trump’s stonewalling, are struggling to mount a more aggressive campaign to compel him to cooperate with their investigations — a push that could include a threat to jail officials, garnish their wages and perhaps even impeach the president.

With Mr. Trump throwing up roadblocks on practically a daily basis — he moved on Wednesday to keep the unredacted version of the special counsel’s report out of lawmakers’ hands — Democrats and their leaders are feeling a new urgency to assert their power as a coequal branch of government.

Some who previously urged caution are now saying impeachment may be inevitable.

“If the facts lead us to that objective, so be it,” Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, told reporters on Wednesday. He said Democratic leaders and the chairmen of six committees are coordinating on what he hopes will be a “holistic” strategy to paint a picture for the public of “perhaps the greatest cover-up of any president in American history.”

Among the options they are considering is to bundle contempt citations for multiple Trump administration officials into one overarching package that could be referred to the Federal District Court here, in much the way Congress looked to the courts to compel President Richard M. Nixon to turn over tape recordings of his Oval Office conversations. Nixon’s refusal to do so prompted impeachment proceedings.

Democrats are studying that history with an eye toward Article 3 of the Watergate Articles of Impeachment, which accused Nixon of violating his constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws by refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas, said Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, a member of the Democratic leadership.

“I don’t think we’re there yet,” Mr. Cicilline said. “But people are mindful of that.”

The Judiciary Committee’s vote on Wednesday to recommend holding Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt of Congress effectively started a more confrontational strategy than its initial effort, which was to use a series of hearings to shine a light on the president’s misdeeds. The full House must still vote on the contempt resolution, and when that vote will take place is unclear.

But Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and a former constitutional law professor, said Democrats are energized by the confrontation.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_152623059_1f42b9a7-8208-4d01-ba16-d708b4fcc722-articleLarge Facing a Trump Stonewall, Democrats Struggle for Options to Compel Cooperation United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Pelosi, Nancy Law and Legislation impeachment House of Representatives House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Democratic Party

“We get the narrative from our leadership that we all got elected on health care and the economy and all of that,” said Representative Gerald E. Connolly, Democrat of Virginia, “but we also got elected to impose checks and balances on a president who is unchecked and unbalanced.”CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

“This has had a cathartic effect on the Democrats because we have finally been able to find a way to fight back at the obstructionism,” said Mr. Raskin, a Judiciary Committee member. “My grandfather used to say that duck hunting is a lot of fun until the ducks start firing back. We’re starting to fire back.”

But unless the courts move to enforce the contempt resolution, it will have no teeth, and court action takes time. When Barack Obama was president, House Republicans held Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress for his failure to provide documents and information related to the so-called Fast and Furious gun trafficking program. But it had little immediate effect.

When George W. Bush was president, the House voted to hold his chief of staff, Joshua B. Bolten, and the White House counsel, Harriet E. Miers, in contempt for refusing to cooperate with an investigation into the mass firings of federal prosecutors. Ms. Miers eventually agreed to testify — but by that time, Mr. Obama was president.

Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington and a chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said she would not be willing to wait that long. “This is a really dangerous and unpredecented set of actions that the president is taking,” she said.

Ms. Jayapal said Democrats’ decision on whether to begin formal impeachment hearings would become clearer after they have three more “data points”: whether they get the special counsel’s report, unredacted; whether Donald F. McGahn II, the former White House counsel, testifies (Mr. Trump is trying to block him from doing so); and whether the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, testifies.

“There’s a few more pieces that we still need to see,” she said.

The conversations, and Wednesday’s Judiciary Committee vote, reflect a sharp escalation of the tensions between Democrats and the White House since the release of the Mueller report. The report found no evidence that Mr. Trump had coordinated or conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 elections. But it did list at least 10 ways in which Mr. Trump may have obstructed the Mueller inquiry.

After the report’s release, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and other top Democrats urged caution on impeachment. Instead, they promised a series of hearings so Americans could judge the evidence that Mr. Mueller had gathered for themselves, and then decide whether the facts warranted impeachment.

Ms. Pelosi said that proceeding would have to be bipartisan.

But with Mr. Trump trying to keep Congress from gathering the facts, the mood in the caucus has shifted, many Democrats say.

“We get the narrative from our leadership that we all got elected on health care and the economy and all of that,” said Representative Gerald E. Connolly, Democrat of Virginia, “but we also got elected to impose checks and balances on a president who is unchecked and unbalanced.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats have urged caution on impeachment.CreditAl Drago for The New York Times

Representative Jackie Speier, Democrat of California, who is a close ally of Ms. Pelosi’s, added, “I think there is a growing frustration among my constituents that we need to do something.” Ms. Speier expressed a growing sentiment that Democratic voters want to see concrete actions in response to Mr. Trump’s unapologetic stonewalling.

Party leaders are exploring all of their legal and procedural options. Some, including Representative Elijah E. Cummings, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and also a close ally of Ms. Pelosi’s, threatened this week to withhold the salaries of federal employees who fail to appear before a House committee.

Mr. Cummings also said Democrats should consider “inherent contempt” — the congressional power, last used in the 1930s, to jail officials who defy subpoenas. Mr. Connolly, who leads an oversight subcommittee, agreed.

“We should be putting people in jail,” Mr. Connolly said.

With liberal Democrats — including presidential candidates like Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — calling for impeachment, House Democrats are feeling intense pressure from the left to move more aggressively.

“We can’t have mealy-mouthed language about more facts have to come in,” said Adam Green, a founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal advocacy group. “We’re past that stage. People want accountability.”

But Democratic leaders recognize that their ability to force cooperation is limited if Mr. Trump is determined to flout historical convention and cannot be shamed into compliance. They fully expect their clash with Mr. Trump to be settled by the courts — and likely by the Supreme Court.

One case is moving through the legal system already: Mr. Trump has sued Mr. Cummings and the oversight panel to quash a subpoena for 10 years of his financial records. Oral arguments are scheduled for next week.

During a closed-door meeting on Tuesday morning with Democrats, Ms. Pelosi said Mr. Trump was “self-impeaching” — a phrase later echoed by Representative Ann McLane Kuster, Democrat of New Hampshire, who said she meant that in defying Congress, Mr. Trump was making the case for his own impeachment.

“He’s taking actions that demonstrate he is not fit for office,” Ms. Kuster said. “The American people are watching that in plain sight.”

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Trump Is Pushing Democrats to the Brink. Look at Elijah Cummings.

WASHINGTON — Even after President Trump sued him last month to keep his business records secret, Representative Elijah E. Cummings kept his cool and urged Congress to move slowly on impeachment. But with Mr. Trump manning a full-scale blockade of Democrats’ access to documents and witnesses, the ordinarily careful Democrat is, like the rest of his caucus, growing impatient.

“It sounds like he’s asking us to impeach him,” Mr. Cummings, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and a top lieutenant to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said in an interview last week. Ticking off all the ways Mr. Trump is stonewalling Congress, he added, “He puts us in a position where we at least have to look at it.”

Mr. Cummings’s remarks, which have been echoed by Ms. Pelosi, represent a significant shift for top Democrats, who have been trying to maneuver carefully around the impeachment issue. But with Mr. Trump standing in the way of their investigations — on Wednesday he asserted executive privilege over the unredacted version of the special counsel’s report and on Tuesday he tried to block the former White House counsel from handing over documents — their strategy of holding impeachment-like hearings without declaring a formal impeachment process is looking like a dead end.

The frustration is showing.

Mr. Cummings called the White House effort to block multiple lines of inquiry “far worse than Watergate.” He sees a “constitutional crisis” that even the founding fathers did not envision when they created the system of checks and balances that has kept American democracy intact.

“They put up strong guardrails, saying, ‘O.K., this will keep America on course. It will not allow us to deviate from our democratic values,’” Mr. Cummings said. “But the one thing they did not anticipate was that we would have an administration that came in and threw away the guardrails.”

With Mr. Trump vowing to fight “all the subpoenas,” Democrats appear to be struggling to come up with a strategy to enforce them. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on whether to hold Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to provide Democrats an unredacted version of the report by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_152969244_30e795e6-7e17-42e0-9321-696a4b585b32-articleLarge Trump Is Pushing Democrats to the Brink. Look at Elijah Cummings. United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J impeachment House of Representatives House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Democratic Party Cummings, Elijah E

Mr. Cummings and Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio and the oversight panel’s top Republican, last month during a meeting in Washington.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

If the resolution passes, it would be the first time Democrats have moved to punish a Trump administration official for blocking a congressional inquiry. Mr. Cummings said party leaders would “look at all the tools that we have in our toolbox — even inherent contempt” — a reference to the congressional power, last used in the 1930s, to jail uncooperative witnesses.

Would he exercise that authority against Mr. Trump?

“I didn’t say that. I said we were studying,” Mr. Cummings snapped. “Don’t put words in my mouth.”

As chairman of the oversight panel, Mr. Cummings has sweeping power to investigate Mr. Trump and his administration, and just about anything else he finds compelling or of societal interest. In decades past, the panel has often operated in a bipartisan way. In 2005, for instance, it investigated the use of steroids in Major League Baseball.

Its current inquiries run mostly along partisan lines. Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the committee’s top Republican, accuses Mr. Cummings and his fellow Democrats of being “much more focused on going after the president than they are with trying to work with Republicans.”

In addition to policy matters like the high cost of prescription drugs and military suicides, Mr. Cummings is looking at whether Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, was truthful in explaining why he added a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Mr. Cummings is also examining the accusations of a whistle-blower who has told the committee that senior Trump administration officials granted security clearances to at least 25 individuals whose applications had been denied by career employees for “disqualifying issues.”

But the move that really rankled Mr. Trump was Mr. Cummings’s decision to subpoena 10 years of the president’s financial records. The president is seeking to quash the subpoena; oral arguments are scheduled for next week in Federal District Court here.

Mr. Cummings with a supporter after winning a Democratic primary race in 1996 in Maryland.CreditMaureen Keating/CQ Roll Call, via Getty Images

At 68, Mr. Cummings is in his 13th term serving as a representative for Maryland. He can often be found in the Speaker’s Lobby outside the House chamber, fielding reporters’ questions or quietly reading in the motorized wheelchair that he has been using after a series of health problems, including a knee infection that landed him in the hospital last year for several months.

A son of South Carolina sharecroppers who moved to Baltimore and later became preachers, Mr. Cummings last grabbed the national spotlight in 2015, when he took to the streets, bullhorn in hand, to plead for calm after riots erupted in his neighborhood after the funeral of Freddie Gray, a young black man who died in police custody. (Mr. Cummings had delivered a eulogy.)

He is a spiritual man, which comes through in the speeches he delivers in his booming baritone voice. When the president’s former lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, testified before his committee in February, Mr. Cummings’s closing statement brought the room to a hush. “We have got to get back to normal!” he cried.

“He tells us all that this is the fight of our lives,” said Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland. “He has a sense of destiny about this moment.”

That sense may stem from his health challenges; when he was in the hospital for two months in 2017 after complications from a heart valve replacement, Mr. Cummings was convinced, he said, that he was “living on borrowed time.” He likes to tell the story of how one day, when he was in so much pain he thought he might faint, a hospital worker turned up at his bedside, saying the Lord had sent her to deliver a message: “I’m just trying to get your attention. I’m not done with you.”

In the Capitol, Mr. Cummings tends to reserve his voice for occasions that warrant it. He is not a fixture on the Sunday talk shows and is careful never to criticize Mr. Trump in personal terms. He prides himself on his friendship with Republicans, including Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.CreditJustin T. Gellerson for The New York Times

“He is not a bomb thrower, he’s not a shrill person, he is smart as hell and he is thorough and careful,” said Norman J. Ornstein, an expert on Congress at the American Enterprise Institute.

Republicans have generally held him in high regard, though that may be changing. Jason Chaffetz, the Utah Republican who led the committee before retiring in 2017, calls Mr. Cummings “a good man with a big heart.” But he and Mr. Jordan both accused Mr. Cummings of overreaching, and of using his committee to run a partisan fishing expedition into Mr. Trump’s activities before he became president.

“I think he’s got a lot of external pressures from Speaker Pelosi and others to maybe do some things he wouldn’t naturally do himself,” Mr. Chaffetz said.

The request for financial records grew out of the hearing with Mr. Cohen, who reported to federal prison on Monday to begin serving his sentence for crimes including lying to Congress and arranging hush money payments on Mr. Trump’s behalf. Mr. Cohen called the president a “con man” and a “cheat” who had intentionally misrepresented his assets and liabilities. Republicans say Mr. Cohen perjured himself.

“Ten years of business records based on Michael Cohen’s testimony?” Mr. Jordan asked. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Mr. Cummings said the committee has every right to the records to investigate “various conflicts of interest” and whether Mr. Trump has used the presidency to advance his business interests.

“If there’s nothing,” he said, “there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

But more than that, he said, there is a principle to uphold: “One thing I do know is that this issue of being blocked, with regard to access to personnel and access to information, it is a struggle that we cannot afford to lose.”

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Joe Biden Has Support From Older Black Voters. Is It Enough?

Westlake Legal Group joe-biden-has-support-from-older-black-voters-is-it-enough Joe Biden Has Support From Older Black Voters. Is It Enough? United States Politics and Government south carolina Race and Ethnicity Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Obama, Barack Democratic Party Clyburn, James E Blacks Biden, Joseph R Jr

WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. — In most respects it was a typical first Sunday at Brookland Baptist Church. The minister delivered a raucous sermon, communion was distributed and the choir closed the service with the gospel classic “Order My Steps,” which admonishes Christians that “Satan is busy, God is real.”

But when the benediction was completed, the rush of congregants to the front pew signaled that this Sunday was unique: The honored guest was former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., and everyone wanted a photo.

“He was with President Obama and you know what that means, he has a head start in my book,” said Barbara Cain Seabrook, a 58-year-old member of Brookland Baptist. “I think he has the community at heart.”

Nearly every Democrat in South Carolina agrees that Mr. Biden is the early pacesetter in the state’s critically important primary, buoyed by his longstanding relationships with elected officials here and support from black voters, who make up almost 60 percent of the Democratic electorate.

But black leaders and strategists are divided over whether that backing will endure over the next year. One camp believes his experience and appeal to older voters will make him an electoral juggernaut among the black community, while another sees him as a paper tiger whose appeal is generational and who may be overly reliant on his ties to Mr. Obama.

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Black voters will represent a crucial segment of the primary electorate in many states, and Mr. Biden’s ability to build lasting support among them will be essential to determining the strength of his candidacy. He has emerged as the pacesetter in a crowded field in large part because of sky-high polling numbers among black voters, support he never enjoyed during two previous presidential runs.

“Obama is gone, and we’re trying to get to the future,” said Representative Jim Clyburn, the state’s most powerful Democrat and the party’s third-ranking member of the House. Mr. Clyburn, who worked closely with Mr. Biden during his years in the White House, said the former vice president has to “lay out what his vision is, and it’s yet to be seen whether it coincides with black people’s dreams and aspirations.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_154388358_b4c65c15-72d6-4a93-b691-8045c8802793-articleLarge Joe Biden Has Support From Older Black Voters. Is It Enough? United States Politics and Government south carolina Race and Ethnicity Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Obama, Barack Democratic Party Clyburn, James E Blacks Biden, Joseph R Jr

Biden supporters at a campaign event in Columbia, S.C. Black voters make up almost 60 percent of the state’s Democratic electorate.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Those more bullish on his chances cite his slew of early endorsements in South Carolina (more than 20 announced Monday, including pastors, state legislators and school board members), the association with Mr. Obama, and the hiring of Kendall Corley, a prized Democratic organizer who specializes in field operations and turned down several other campaigns to serve as Mr. Biden’s South Carolina state director.

In states like South Carolina, Mr. Biden’s advantage with black voters not only helps him amass delegates ahead of the Democratic convention, but helps counter the widespread perception that he is a candidate running on a bygone appeal to the white working class.

“He has a message that’s not just for black people, but for everyone,” said Terry Davenport, 52, who attended Mr. Biden’s rally in South Carolina over the weekend. He and several other attendees made a similar point — Mr. Biden is the person with the longest relationship with black communities but can also win white votes.

Mr. Biden “can’t assume he has the black vote,” Mr. Davenport said. “But we do know he’s better than that guy in the White House.”

Others, like, Jarrod Loadholt, a Democratic political strategist in the state, are skeptical of Mr. Biden’s ability to maintain his lead with black voters. Mr. Loadholt cites the 2007 primary, when the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton, also enjoyed robust support among black Americans in several polls. Mr. Obama overtook her in a shift that swung the primary.

Mr. Loadholt also questioned Mr. Biden’s ability to get beyond the obvious campaign stops in the state and do the hard work needed to reach more rural black voters.

“Joe Biden is only going to campaign in the South Carolina cities that have a Marriott,’’ Mr. Loadholt said. “And every person in South Carolina knows those fives cities: Columbia, Charleston, Greenville, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head. But where I’m from, where the primary is really won — your phone doesn’t work.”

“They like Barack Obama, and they know Joe Biden,” he said. “But do they like Joe Biden? He has to work for that vote.”

Some black leaders in South Carolina question whether Mr. Biden’s support among African-American voters can endure over the next year.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Mr. Biden has structured the early weeks of his campaign almost singularly around President Trump, casting himself as a racial unifier in a time of division. He stressed that over the weekend in South Carolina.

But Mr. Biden, who served for years as a Senator from Delaware before becoming vice president, has a legislative record littered with divisive stances on issues relating to black people. He was an early opponent of busing programs aimed at school desegregation, and he played an integral role in the punitive crime reduction efforts of the late 1980s and early 1990s, which helped lead to the explosion of incarceration rates among black Americans.

Mr. Biden has expressed some remorse for the crime legislation, and for his treatment of Anita Hill when she appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee during Justice Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings. But surrogates, and many voters, have repeatedly downplayed both incidents, and said they believe voters will judge him through his most recent actions in Mr. Obama’s administration.

“Everybody makes mistakes,” said Kenneth Webb, a 73-year-old black South Carolina resident who attended Mr. Biden’s rally in Columbia. “This is South Carolina. We’ve seen people like Strom Thurmond and Fritz Hollings change their views. This isn’t anything new to us.”

Through a spokesman, Mr. Biden declined a request for an interview for this article, but he told Charleston’s Post and Courier this weekend, “I think the African-American community nationwide knows who I am.’’

“I’m not saying the others aren’t qualified, I’m just saying I’ve been there,” he said.

Several of Mr. Biden’s primary opponents have also tried to make outreach to black communities in the early months of their presidential campaigns, a testament to the importance of this reliable Democratic voting bloc, and the desire among 2020 candidates to recreate Mr. Obama’s winning coalitions from 2008 and 2012.

[Who’s in? Who’s out? Keep up with the 2020 field with our candidate tracker.]

However, each of those candidates has their own struggles. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts earned rave reviews at the She The People forum on women of color, but the crowd was largely activists and political operatives, not the rank-and-file Democrats where she has yet to break through.

The race’s two black senators, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, are still relatively new to the national stage, and must contend with the perception among even some black voters that several of the white candidates are better suited to defeat Mr. Trump.

Mr. Biden has the support of many older black voters in South Carolina who cherish his ties to the Obama administration.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

“The ballgame for Biden is South Carolina,” said Antjuan Seawright, another state Democratic strategist who has forged close relationships with Mr. Biden’s team. “But I’ll tell you this: This is not 2008 and this is not 2016. The mood of our party is different. People are just motivated to win.”

Bakari Sellers, the former state legislator who has endorsed Ms. Harris, said the race is in the early stages right now, but “when school starts” in the fall, Mr. Biden will be under more intense scrutiny.

“Joe don’t have no plan for improving rural hospitals, Joe don’t have no plan for combating black maternal mortality,” said Mr. Sellers, using rhetorical flourish. “He don’t have no plan for H.B.C.U.s. He won’t have a plan for black homeownership. Joe’s plan is to run against Donald Trump.”

Research from other liberal groups also suggests that Mr. Biden’s relationship with black voters may be generational. Data For Progress, the progressive group aligned with more left-leaning candidates, conducted several focus groups about Mr. Biden’s “electability,” and tracked how different populations responded to negative statements about Mr. Biden’s past, including his positions on crime and law enforcement. Among black Americans, millennials were almost twice as likely to back away from Mr. Biden than black voters overall, which indicates his support with older black Americans is more fixed.

Mr. Biden’s candidacy is in some ways a test of which candidate has the measure of the black electorate in South Carolina and nationwide. Younger black Democrats driven by grass-roots ideology want to rally around issues like inequality and criminal justice, and they see Mr. Biden as emblematic of an old guard that has mistreated black communities.

But many state elected officials and political operatives, pointing to early polling, believe the former vice president’s ‘‘return to normalcy” message will resonate more than any rigid ideological framework.

At his rally at a community center in Hyatt Park Saturday, Mr. Biden came on stage after a performance by an all-black gospel choir and marching band. He also played a new campaign advertisement, which splices together autobiographical clips and Mr. Obama’s speech about Mr. Biden at the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony in 2017. He offered few policy details, but one attendee, Carlton Boyd, left feeling good, saying, “Trump casts a shadow of uncertainty, while Joe Biden is security.”

At Brookland Baptist on Sunday morning, Ms. Cain Seabrook, the church member, said there was nothing more Mr. Biden needed to do to earn her vote — not a policy agenda, or a campaign visit, or good performances in the Democratic debates.

She repeated her earlier points: She planned to vote for Mr. Biden because he served with Mr. Obama. And, in a bonus, she said, he seemed to clap on beat to the music.

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Joe Biden Has Support From Older Black Voters. Is It Enough?

WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. — In most respects it was a typical first Sunday at Brookland Baptist Church. The minister delivered a raucous sermon, communion was distributed and the choir closed the service with the gospel classic “Order My Steps,” which admonishes Christians that “Satan is busy, God is real.”

But when the benediction was completed, the rush of congregants to the front pew signaled that this Sunday was unique: The honored guest was former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., and everyone wanted a photo.

“He was with President Obama and you know what that means, he has a head start in my book,” said Barbara Cain Seabrook, a 58-year-old member of Brookland Baptist. “I think he has the community at heart.”

Nearly every Democrat in South Carolina agrees that Mr. Biden is the early pacesetter in the state’s critically important primary, buoyed by his longstanding relationships with elected officials here and support from black voters, who make up almost 60 percent of the Democratic electorate.

But black leaders and strategists are divided over whether that backing will endure over the next year. One camp believes his experience and appeal to older voters will make him an electoral juggernaut among the black community, while another sees him as a paper tiger whose appeal is generational and who may be overly reliant on his ties to Mr. Obama.

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Black voters will represent a crucial segment of the primary electorate in many states, and Mr. Biden’s ability to build lasting support among them will be essential to determining the strength of his candidacy. He has emerged as the pacesetter in a crowded field in large part because of sky-high polling numbers among black voters, support he never enjoyed during two previous presidential runs.

“Obama is gone, and we’re trying to get to the future,” said Representative Jim Clyburn, the state’s most powerful Democrat and the party’s third-ranking member of the House. Mr. Clyburn, who worked closely with Mr. Biden during his years in the White House, said the former vice president has to “lay out what his vision is, and it’s yet to be seen whether it coincides with black people’s dreams and aspirations.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_154388358_b4c65c15-72d6-4a93-b691-8045c8802793-articleLarge Joe Biden Has Support From Older Black Voters. Is It Enough? United States Politics and Government south carolina Race and Ethnicity Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Obama, Barack Democratic Party Clyburn, James E Blacks Biden, Joseph R Jr

Biden supporters at a campaign event in Columbia, S.C. Black voters make up almost 60 percent of the state’s Democratic electorate.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Those more bullish on his chances cite his slew of early endorsements in South Carolina (more than 20 announced Monday, including pastors, state legislators and school board members), the association with Mr. Obama, and the hiring of Kendall Corley, a prized Democratic organizer who specializes in field operations and turned down several other campaigns to serve as Mr. Biden’s South Carolina state director.

In states like South Carolina, Mr. Biden’s advantage with black voters not only helps him amass delegates ahead of the Democratic convention, but helps counter the widespread perception that he is a candidate running on a bygone appeal to the white working class.

“He has a message that’s not just for black people, but for everyone,” said Terry Davenport, 52, who attended Mr. Biden’s rally in South Carolina over the weekend. He and several other attendees made a similar point — Mr. Biden is the person with the longest relationship with black communities but can also win white votes.

Mr. Biden “can’t assume he has the black vote,” Mr. Davenport said. “But we do know he’s better than that guy in the White House.”

Others, like, Jarrod Loadholt, a Democratic political strategist in the state, are skeptical of Mr. Biden’s ability to maintain his lead with black voters. Mr. Loadholt cites the 2007 primary, when the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton, also enjoyed robust support among black Americans in several polls. Mr. Obama overtook her in a shift that swung the primary.

Mr. Loadholt also questioned Mr. Biden’s ability to get beyond the obvious campaign stops in the state and do the hard work needed to reach more rural black voters.

“Joe Biden is only going to campaign in the South Carolina cities that have a Marriott,’’ Mr. Loadholt said. “And every person in South Carolina knows those fives cities: Columbia, Charleston, Greenville, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head. But where I’m from, where the primary is really won — your phone doesn’t work.”

“They like Barack Obama, and they know Joe Biden,” he said. “But do they like Joe Biden? He has to work for that vote.”

Some black leaders in South Carolina question whether Mr. Biden’s support among African-American voters can endure over the next year.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Mr. Biden has structured the early weeks of his campaign almost singularly around President Trump, casting himself as a racial unifier in a time of division. He stressed that over the weekend in South Carolina.

But Mr. Biden, who served for years as a Senator from Delaware before becoming vice president, has a legislative record littered with divisive stances on issues relating to black people. He was an early opponent of busing programs aimed at school desegregation, and he played an integral role in the punitive crime reduction efforts of the late 1980s and early 1990s, which helped lead to the explosion of incarceration rates among black Americans.

Mr. Biden has expressed some remorse for the crime legislation, and for his treatment of Anita Hill when she appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee during Justice Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings. But surrogates, and many voters, have repeatedly downplayed both incidents, and said they believe voters will judge him through his most recent actions in Mr. Obama’s administration.

“Everybody makes mistakes,” said Kenneth Webb, a 73-year-old black South Carolina resident who attended Mr. Biden’s rally in Columbia. “This is South Carolina. We’ve seen people like Strom Thurmond and Fritz Hollings change their views. This isn’t anything new to us.”

Through a spokesman, Mr. Biden declined a request for an interview for this article, but he told Charleston’s Post and Courier this weekend, “I think the African-American community nationwide knows who I am.’’

“I’m not saying the others aren’t qualified, I’m just saying I’ve been there,” he said.

Several of Mr. Biden’s primary opponents have also tried to make outreach to black communities in the early months of their presidential campaigns, a testament to the importance of this reliable Democratic voting bloc, and the desire among 2020 candidates to recreate Mr. Obama’s winning coalitions from 2008 and 2012.

[Who’s in? Who’s out? Keep up with the 2020 field with our candidate tracker.]

However, each of those candidates has their own struggles. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts earned rave reviews at the She The People forum on women of color, but the crowd was largely activists and political operatives, not the rank-and-file Democrats where she has yet to break through.

The race’s two black senators, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, are still relatively new to the national stage, and must contend with the perception among even some black voters that several of the white candidates are better suited to defeat Mr. Trump.

Mr. Biden has the support of many older black voters in South Carolina who cherish his ties to the Obama administration.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

“The ballgame for Biden is South Carolina,” said Antjuan Seawright, another state Democratic strategist who has forged close relationships with Mr. Biden’s team. “But I’ll tell you this: This is not 2008 and this is not 2016. The mood of our party is different. People are just motivated to win.”

Bakari Sellers, the former state legislator who has endorsed Ms. Harris, said the race is in the early stages right now, but “when school starts” in the fall, Mr. Biden will be under more intense scrutiny.

“Joe don’t have no plan for improving rural hospitals, Joe don’t have no plan for combating black maternal mortality,” said Mr. Sellers, using rhetorical flourish. “He don’t have no plan for H.B.C.U.s. He won’t have a plan for black homeownership. Joe’s plan is to run against Donald Trump.”

Research from other liberal groups also suggests that Mr. Biden’s relationship with black voters may be generational. Data For Progress, the progressive group aligned with more left-leaning candidates, conducted several focus groups about Mr. Biden’s “electability,” and tracked how different populations responded to negative statements about Mr. Biden’s past, including his positions on crime and law enforcement. Among black Americans, millennials were almost twice as likely to back away from Mr. Biden than black voters overall, which indicates his support with older black Americans is more fixed.

Mr. Biden’s candidacy is in some ways a test of which candidate has the measure of the black electorate in South Carolina and nationwide. Younger black Democrats driven by grass-roots ideology want to rally around issues like inequality and criminal justice, and they see Mr. Biden as emblematic of an old guard that has mistreated black communities.

But many state elected officials and political operatives, pointing to early polling, believe the former vice president’s ‘‘return to normalcy” message will resonate more than any rigid ideological framework.

At his rally at a community center in Hyatt Park Saturday, Mr. Biden came on stage after a performance by an all-black gospel choir and marching band. He also played a new campaign advertisement, which splices together autobiographical clips and Mr. Obama’s speech about Mr. Biden at the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony in 2017. He offered few policy details, but one attendee, Carlton Boyd, left feeling good, saying, “Trump casts a shadow of uncertainty, while Joe Biden is security.”

At Brookland Baptist on Sunday morning, Ms. Cain Seabrook, the church member, said there was nothing more Mr. Biden needed to do to earn her vote — not a policy agenda, or a campaign visit, or good performances in the Democratic debates.

She repeated her earlier points: She planned to vote for Mr. Biden because he served with Mr. Obama. And, in a bonus, she said, he seemed to clap on beat to the music.

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‘Black Leadership Matters’: Why a Racial Rift Is Growing Among N.Y. Democrats

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As big-dollar political donors recently gathered at a TriBeCa wine bar to honor one of the country’s most powerful black state lawmakers, protesters converged outside.

Waving signs and chanting, shouting to be heard in the bar’s darkened interior, they demanded an end to big money in politics. They were Democratic activists — and their target was one of their own: Carl E. Heastie, the Democratic speaker of the New York State Assembly.

But they also had to shout over the sound of counterprotesters: an equally sized group of black community leaders, who had assembled to support the speaker and denounce the activists.

The progressive movement in New York has been credited with overturning politics in Albany: The Legislature is now under Democratic control for only the third time in 50 years. But the progressive push, fueled by many newly energized activists, has also alienated some of the party’s old guard of black leaders, igniting an internal battle with racial overtones.

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Black community leaders have leveled accusations of paternalism. Black lawmakers have warned of a gulf between activists’ priorities and those of their constituents. Even black activists who are part of the insurgent wing have cautioned of overreach by white progressives.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_153427644_6e47c027-3760-4b3c-897e-ceec217eaafc-articleLarge ‘Black Leadership Matters’: Why a Racial Rift Is Growing Among N.Y. Democrats Vocal-NY Race and Ethnicity New York State indivisible project Heastie, Carl E Demonstrations, Protests and Riots Democratic Party Campaign Finance Blacks

Carl E. Heastie, the first black man to hold the post of speaker of the New York State Assembly, has been accused by some Democratic activists of being slow to embrace a more progressive agenda.CreditNatalie Keyssar for The New York Times

“People talk about how black lives matter,” said Charlie King, a longtime Democratic operative and a former senior campaign adviser to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. “Well, black leadership matters. If white progressives can’t respect that, they will be made to respect that.”

Since President Trump’s election in 2016, Democrats nationwide have grappled with whether a new wave of progressive energy — fueled in large part by young people and well-off white suburban women — represents black voters, the longtime pillars of the Democratic Party.

In New York, the debate has taken on particular weight. Black Democrats now lead both houses of the State Legislature, after years of Republican opposition. In the Assembly especially, black lawmakers have risen under Mr. Heastie’s leadership, as have those with ties to the Bronx County political machine that Mr. Heastie once led.

Some of those freshly cemented power brokers are now bristling at the suggestion by newly prominent activists and elected officials that they have not been progressive enough on issues like rent regulation, new taxes on the ultrawealthy and campaign finance reform.

They call such criticisms misplaced and racially charged, and they suggest that the activists do not represent the communities they claim to speak for.

“What the driving force of this movement cares about isn’t what communities of color care about,” said State Senator Brian Benjamin, a black Democrat who represents Harlem.

The issue came to a head outside Mr. Heastie’s fund-raiser last month, when progressive activist groups like Indivisible and Rise and Resist, which formed after the 2016 presidential election, organized a protest. Black leaders arrived to counterprotest.

The dueling groups lined up on opposite sides of a sidewalk: the protesting activists, many of them white, facing the counterprotesters, all black.

The activists “don’t look like us, don’t live with us,” said the Rev. Troy DeCohen, a pastor who leads the United Black Clergy of Westchester.

“What they’re trying to do is co-opt what historically has been rooted in the black community,” he added, referring to the black community’s history of social justice activism.

The new groups draw strong support in primarily white neighborhoods in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Westchester. Several of the protesters at Mr. Heastie’s fund-raiser lived in the West Village.

Some of the candidates backed by the new groups last year, though diverse in race and gender, won significantly more votes in gentrifying areas of Brooklyn and Queens than in predominantly black or brown neighborhoods. Their rivals had accused them of siding with gentrifiers over poorer communities.

But the groups also include members from diverse demographics; local chapters dot the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. They support racial justice priorities such as criminal justice reform and more school funding.

They also work closely with unions and longer-standing activist groups that are well known for representing — and being led by — working-class people of color.

Black community leaders organized a counterprotest at Mr. Heastie’s fund-raiser; one complained that the white progressive activists “don’t look like us, don’t live with us.”CreditNatalie Keyssar for The New York Times

“I was deeply offended by the suggestion that it was only white progressives,” said Jawanza Williams, the lead organizer for VOCAL-NY, which focuses on issues like criminal justice and homelessness.

Mr. Williams, who is black and formerly homeless, helped lead the protest outside of Mr. Heastie’s fund-raiser. “It erases the struggle of black organizers who are progressive.”

The protesters at the fund-raiser emphasized that their criticism was not of the Assembly speaker as a black man, but for the role they said he played in delaying campaign finance reform.

“What struck a chord was the hypocrisy,” Livvie Mann, of the group Rise and Resist, said of Mr. Heastie. Ms. Mann, who is white, organized the protest. “Days after the budget, he does a huge fund-raiser, and it felt like a slap in the face.”

Kirsten John Foy, president of the activism group Arc of Justice and one of the organizers of the counterprotest, said he agreed with the need to get big money out of politics. But he took issue with the protesters’ tactics and their lack of diversity.

Mr. DeCohen said black members of the activist groups had been “brainwashed.” He added, “We always call them the Uncle Toms.”

Jason Walker, VOCAL-NY’s campaign director, replied that he was surprised to “see the black faith leaders take the playbook” of racial division.

“As a black millennial and a progressive, I’m looking for my leaders to set up the next generation to win,” he said.

Mr. Heastie, in brief comments to reporters as he entered the fund-raiser, brushed off the criticism. The political action committee for which he was fund-raising gave $50,000 last year to help elect more Democrats to the Senate.

“History will show that the Democratic Assembly has always been the progressive champions,” he said. “That’s what people should be looking at, on the actions that we take.”

The tension arrives at a key moment in New York history: Along with Mr. Heastie’s historic ascent to the speakership, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins this year became the first black woman to lead the State Senate. Democrats had seized control of both chambers of the Legislature on a promise to quickly enact sweeping change.

Democratic activists defended their right to criticize Mr. Heastie, and insisted that their protests were not racially motivated.CreditNatalie Keyssar for The New York Times

But the party has disagreed about what changes, when, and in what order.

The $175 billion state budget passed on April 1 included major progressive victories, including limiting cash bail and releasing money for the city’s public housing system. The black leaders said those achievements should be celebrated, and suggested that campaign finance reform was a lower-priority issue.

“I’ve never had one person in Central Harlem and East Harlem say, ‘Brian Benjamin, go to Albany and get me public financing,’” said Mr. Benjamin, the state senator, though he said he supports the idea. “They want affordable housing, money for education and criminal justice reform.”

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But proponents of public financing said getting big money out of politics would make other progressive goals possible.

Ricky Silver, a lead organizer of the group Empire State Indivisible, called public financing the “tip of the arrowhead as it relates to all progressive issues.” Studies have shown that donor diversity increases in public matching systems.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson wrote a recent opinion piece calling the policy a potential “game changer.”

White activists also defended their right to criticize Mr. Heastie.

“He, as the leader of the Assembly, represents the entire state,” said Paul Rabin, a member of the group Rise and Resist.

Still, several black leaders who were not at the protest said that while they agreed with the activist groups’ goals, the groups should be conscious of how their actions might appear to observers.

L. Joy Williams, the president of the Brooklyn N.A.A.C.P., said “optics and public perception” of the issues activists were fighting for could sidetrack their cause, rather than advance it.

Jamaal T. Bailey, a state senator who represents the Bronx and Westchester and considers Mr. Heastie his political mentor, said Democrats should focus on party unity, citing lyrics from the Jay-Z song “Family Feud.” “Nobody wins when the family feuds,” he said. “What’s better than one Democratic majority? Two.”

Even black activists who have been heavily involved with the new activist groups warned that certain voices should be careful not to drown out others.

Sherese Jackson, who until recently was the only nonwhite board member of Indivisible Nation BK, an activist group in Brooklyn formed after 2016, said the group often discusses how to increase diversity. But the discussions had yet to turn into real change.

“It is definitely a struggle as a woman of a color,” she said, “feeling 100 percent safe in a mostly white, progressive world.”

Events such as the protest against Mr. Heastie, even if well intentioned, could further deter nonwhite people from joining, she said.

“The visual alone — I could see how that could come across to people, and it could be a turnoff,” Ms. Jackson said. “This does not help the trust factor.”

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Some Look at Joe Biden’s Campaign and See Hillary Clinton’s

IOWA CITY — He doesn’t talk about shattering glass ceilings. Pantsuits aren’t really his style. And no one is talking much about his spouse.

Even so, the opening days of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s third presidential campaign are giving some Democrats flashbacks to another presidential front-runner: Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Biden’s first fund-raiser? Hosted by a Philadelphia-area donor who did the same for Mrs. Clinton four years ago. His early policies? Embraced by Democrats, including Mrs. Clinton, for years. A decades-long record in Washington? Mrs. Clinton had a similarly lengthy résumé. And a tortured, drawn-out apology as the first controversy of his campaign? Remember her private email account, former Clinton aides shudder.

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As he ramps up his presidential campaign, Mr. Biden appears to have taken some lessons from Mrs. Clinton’s defeat — but paid no heed to others. Even as he structures his campaign around an implicit critique of her general election effort, offering a full-throated appeal to working-class voters at his opening event in a Pittsburgh union hall, Mr. Biden has embraced the kind of incumbent-like, establishment campaign that left Mrs. Clinton open to a fierce primary challenge from Senator Bernie Sanders.

Like her, he touts his decades of government experience, intimate knowledge of world leaders and close relationship with former President Barack Obama.

But unlike Mrs. Clinton, who faced attacks from just one opponent, Mr. Biden is running against a historically large and diverse field of candidates, some of whom have already spent months scrutinizing parts of his long political record.

“It’s a very different moment,” said Rashad Robinson, the president of Color of Change, a progressive civil rights advocacy group that has consulted with 2020 candidates. “At the end of the day, Hillary was a historic figure, and Biden will have to explain, in a moment when there are many historic figures running, why him?”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_154205154_485b2f86-818c-4d5a-98b8-d318bf39b729-articleLarge Some Look at Joe Biden’s Campaign and See Hillary Clinton’s Voting and Voters Presidential Election of 2020 Pennsylvania Obama, Barack Democratic Party Chen, Lanhee J Biden, Joseph R Jr

On his first trip to Iowa as a candidate, Mr. Biden largely avoided the press, as Mrs. Clinton often did.CreditEric Thayer for The New York Times

Since Mrs. Clinton’s loss, Mr. Biden has criticized her campaign for failing to sufficiently address the economic concerns faced by working class voters and focusing too heavily on Donald J. Trump. Now, in his own stump speech, Mr. Biden has adopted a version of her general election rhetoric in his primary campaign, centering his effort around a moral call for returning to the values of a pre-Trump America.

“Everybody knows who Donald Trump is, but we’ve got to let him know who we are,” Mr. Biden told a crowd of voters gathered at a brewery in Iowa City. “We’ve got to start by making it clear we choose hope over fear, we choose unity over division.”

Some former Clinton aides say that after two years of Mr. Trump’s administration, voters may now find a character argument more compelling.

“Normally, in a Democratic primary, going back to the way it was is not the kind of forward-looking message that will win primaries, but this time could be different,” said Jennifer Palmieri, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign communications director. “There are people who want to put a lot of faith in the idea that Biden is like a tonic that can wash away the Trump years.”

Mr. Biden’s allies say the fervent Democratic desire to defeat Mr. Trump will prompt primary voters to overlook any issues they may have with Mr. Biden’s age or previous positions.

“Number one is who can beat Trump,” said Ted Kaufman, Mr. Biden’s former chief of staff in the Senate and appointed successor as senator after the 2008 election. “That will be the determining issue when we actually start voting.”

The Clintonian echoes began before Mr. Biden even kicked off his campaign, with his drawn-out apology to Anita Hill for how she was treated during the 1991 Senate Judiciary Committee hearings over the Supreme Court nomination of Justice Clarence Thomas. It’s an issue he’s been publicly expressing regret over since 2017.

After several interviews, Mr. Biden settled on some phrasing: “I take responsibility,” a sentence that echoed the words Mrs. Clinton landed on after months of declining to apologize for her use of a private email system while she was secretary of state.

Mrs. Clinton during her first visit to Iowa as a candidate in April 2015.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Mr. Biden’s entrance into the race prompted a fight with Mr. Trump over age and energy levels, a dust-up that recalled the president’s attacks on Mrs. Clinton’s “stamina.” A conservative news aggregator later spliced together clips from Mr. Biden’s first campaign appearance where he appeared to slur his words and posted a video on YouTube with the title “Old Man Joe.”

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A link to the video on the Drudge Report sent shivers down the spines of some Democrats, who recalled the steady drumbeat of conservative attacks on Mrs. Clinton’s health. So did calls by Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani for the Justice Department to open an investigation into the business activities of Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter, during the Obama administration.

Supporters say Mr. Biden, who frequently highlights his working class background, has a far deeper connection with voters than Mrs. Clinton, whose struggles to connect left her vulnerable to Mr. Trump’s attacks.

“He’s running the way he’s run for 40-some years and that is focusing on the middle class,” said Mr. Kaufman. “That is the way he views himself and the people he identifies with.”

His gender may also help Mr. Biden appear more relatable than Mrs. Clinton: Research has found that it is much harder for female candidates to be rated as “likable” than male candidates — and that they are disproportionately punished for traits like ambition that voters accept in male politicians.

“He’s a strong candidate in support of the little guy,” said Dan Buser, 56, a lieutenant in the Iowa City fire department. “You didn’t know what to believe there at the end with Hillary Clinton.”

Mr. Biden and his supporters haven’t exactly been shy about calling out what they see as the failings of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.

“He speaks to and connects with those workers who didn’t believe the last Democratic nominee heard about them, cared about them, and felt that their historic votes for the Democratic candidate were maybe just being taken for granted,” said Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, which endorsed Mr. Biden.

Mr. Biden was resentful of the attention Mrs. Clinton received when they ran against each other in the 2008 primary race.CreditErik S. Lesser for The New York Times

Mr. Biden and Mrs. Clinton developed a respectful relationship over their decades in Washington, though one marked by slights and awkward rivalries. Mr. Biden was resentful of the attention Mrs. Clinton received when they ran against each other in the 2008 primary race, but it was he who was eventually chosen as Mr. Obama’s running mate.

They became more friendly through weekly meetings while they both served in the Obama administration. But tensions deepened after Mr. Biden considered running against Mrs. Clinton in 2016. After her loss, he’s been fairly open with his critique that she failed to talk to middle class voters.

“What happened was that this was the first campaign that I can recall where my party did not talk about what it always stood for — and that was how to maintain a burgeoning middle class,” Mr. Biden said in March 2017.

But sandwiched amid the “folks” and “malarkey” sprinkled throughout Mr. Biden’s stump speeches, the former vice president has largely embraced the same traditional Democratic Party policies as Mrs. Clinton.

Like her, he backs a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage, would provide a public option through Medicare to expand the reach of Obamacare, and would eliminate tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and large corporations.

When asked by protesters in Des Moines about climate change, Mr. Biden referenced his work on the 2009 stimulus bill, meandering through a number of ideas to expand the use of renewable fuels.

“I’m one of the first guys that introduced the climate change bill way, way back in ’87. By the way, you are preaching to the choir,” he told a group of demonstrators wearing penguin masks.

Two days earlier, Beto O’Rourke, another candidate for the Democratic nomination, released a $5 trillion proposal to combat climate change. A few days later, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington proposed making all U.S. electricity “carbon-neutral” by 2035. At least a dozen candidates are willing to consider a carbon tax.

Mr. Biden has embraced the kind of incumbent-like, establishment campaign that left Mrs. Clinton open to a fierce primary challenge.CreditEric Thayer for The New York Times

“In a primary where there are big, bold new ideas, Joe Biden is advocating for more of the same, at least as far as Democratic Party policies,” said Lanhee Chen, who was chief policy adviser to Mitt Romney’s Republican presidential campaign in 2012 and is now at Stanford University. “We’re talking about 1990s-era economic policies.”

As his opponents begin testing arguments against Mr. Biden, rivals from both the left and the right find themselves turning to some of the same kinds of attacks they leveled against Mrs. Clinton. Just hours after Mr. Biden announced his campaign, Mr. Sanders took aim at a series of votes in Congress, including on trade — reprising criticism Mr. Sanders once leveled against Mrs. Clinton.

“When people look at my record versus Vice President Biden’s record, I helped lead the fight against Nafta. He voted for Nafta,” Mr. Sanders said in an interview with CNN.

During his first swing through Iowa as a candidate, Mr. Biden largely avoided the press, as Mrs. Clinton once did, taking only a handful of questions before a limited number of reporters.

“I’m not going to get in a debate with my colleagues here,” he said.

Liberal activists say those kinds of nonanswers are unlikely to fully satisfy Democrats, particularly minority voters who largely know Mr. Biden from his role as Mr. Obama’s vice president.

“The question will be how much will he be able to give us the story of why so many of the moments where he could have been on the right side of civil rights and social justice issues, he wasn’t,” said Mr. Robinson.

That’s part of what worries younger voters like John Cross, a teacher in Des Moines who said he liked Mr. Biden but believed it was time for a new leadership to take power.

“He and Clinton, they’re kind of both part of that generation,” said Mr. Cross, 35, who supported Mr. Sanders in 2016. “The things they are talking about now, why didn’t they do them 20 years ago?”

Even so, he’s not totally ruling out supporting Mr. Biden.

“At the end of the day, if I don’t think anyone else can win, I’m going to vote for Biden,” he said.

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The Revolt of the Democratic Elites

Westlake Legal Group 02brooksWeb-facebookJumbo The Revolt of the Democratic Elites United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Sanders, Bernard Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr

Both of our major political parties are undergoing fundamental disruption, but the disruption is coming from different directions. The Republican Party has been disrupted from the bottom. In 2016, the educated Republican elites were happy to embrace conventional Republican themes. It was the Republican base that was fed up and wanted Trump — something completely different.

The Democratic Party is facing disruption from the top. In the early stages of the current political season, Democratic rank and file seem to be embracing Biden and his traditional Democratic themes. It’s the coastal, highly educated elites who are fed up and want something transformative.

In other words, the Republican story is a story of populist radicalization; the Democratic story so far is a story of elite radicalization.

Let’s try to unpack what that means.

In 2016, the Republican establishment was happy to support candidates like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. Throughout the primary season, Republicans with college degrees consistently preferred mainstream Republican candidates. Those without college degrees were angry and supported Donald Trump by double-digit margins. This stark split along educational lines became known as the Diploma Divide. In the end the populist class defeated the educated class.

The Diploma Divide among Democrats this year isn’t as stark as the one between Republicans in 2016. Joe Biden is popular among all Democratic groups. For example, according to a recent CNN poll, he’s just as popular as Bernie Sanders among people who call themselves “very liberal.”

But, there may be a growing Democratic Diploma Divide. As Martin Longman points out in Washington Monthly, less-educated, older voters are more likely to support Biden. Bernie Sanders, with his more outsiderish, disruptive campaign, is more competitive with more educated, younger voters.

What is the difference between those two tendencies? Well, it’s not over policies. Democrats of all stripes tend to support similar policy proposals. Matthew Yglesias captured the gap correctly in a 2017 Vox essay. It’s about attitudes toward America.

People who support Sanders and other disrupters are more like to say politics is a rigged game; they are much less likely to express pride in America. They think our systems are fundamentally screwed up and require radical overhaul. They don’t want a candidate who talks like a reformer but governs as an insider — as they think Barack Obama did.

People who support Biden and the other mainstream candidates are more likely to see the Trump Era as a nightmare aberration. They have more faith in the basic systems of American life and express more pride in America. They think that the civic bargain has been broken but that it can be restored.

Which tendency is going to prevail? In 2016, most of us pundits thought the educated-class Republicans would prevail over the angry populists. That’s because we in the pundit class were more familiar with college-educated Republicans. We underestimated how hollow and intellectually spent the Republican establishment had become, and we didn’t understand the depth of populist alienation.

In 2020, if you live on the coasts, follow politics intensely and hang around college-educated people, it’s easy to think that the disruptive Democratic forces have the upper hand. If AOC shows up on your Twitter feed every 30 seconds, then you were probably surprised by the giant lead Biden has established since announcing his candidacy. Seemingly nobody on Twitter supports Biden.

If you live in these circles, it’s worth remembering that a majority of Democrats are over 50. In a recent Gallup survey, a majority of Democrats said the party would be better off moving to the center than to the left.

In short, don’t underestimate the Democratic rank and file.

The crucial voters in this primary election could turn out to be African-Americans. Right now, Biden is dominant among these voters. In a field of more than 20 candidates, 50 percent of nonwhite voters support Biden. Some of these voters like Biden’s longstanding loyalty to the party and its causes; some like his partnership with Obama; some are members of what you might call the Disillusion Caucus. They believe that given the racism and sexism endemic in American society you’ve got to nominate a white man if you want your party to win.

If these voters stay where they are, it will be hard for a disrupter to win. So far white progressives have done a poor job of wooing minority support or even marching in step with minority voters. They talk a lot about social justice but don’t support the candidates that minority voters actually support. Highly educated coastal progressives live privileged, affluent lives but define their identity as allies of the oppressed. This privileged pose involves all sorts of psychological contortions that don’t resonate with a lot of rank-and-file voters.

It will be interesting to see if any other candidates — Kamala Harris? Cory Booker? — can manage to span these two camps. Pete Buttigieg would seem to be an option, but his support so far is massively from the college-educated. Right now, Biden is in a strong position — offering progressive policies to a party that is exhausted and doesn’t want permanent revolution.

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Questioning Barr, 2020 Presidential Hopefuls Try to Hone Their Brands

WASHINGTON — Senator Amy Klobuchar advertised her bipartisan legislative efforts, just as she does on the Democratic presidential campaign trail. Senator Kamala Harris was prosecutorial and pointed, evoking memories of her treatment of Brett M. Kavanaugh at his Supreme Court confirmation hearing.

And Senator Cory Booker flubbed his lines, saying “obstruction” instead of “collusion.” Later, both he and Ms. Harris put out fund-raising emails and posts on Twitter calling for Attorney General William P. Barr to resign.

Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing offered Democrats on Capitol Hill their first chance to grill Mr. Barr about his handling of the special counsel’s report and decision not to pursue an obstruction of justice case against President Trump. And the three committee Democrats running for president — Ms. Klobuchar, Ms. Harris and Mr. Booker — were not about to let a prime branding opportunity go to waste.

Each sought to use the hearing to distinguish him- or herself from the others — a necessary task in a field so crowded that voters can barely remember some Democratic contenders’ names, and in a week when former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. declared his candidacy and instantly catapulted to the front of the Democratic pack.

Ms. Klobuchar, of Minnesota, is positioning herself as a sensible centrist who can bring the country together to defeat Mr. Trump. She wasted little time in praising two Republicans, Senators James Lankford of Oklahoma and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina (the committee’s chairman and a scourge of liberals), who have joined her in supporting legislation to prevent foreign interference in the 2020 election.

Ms. Harris, of California, is going for the progressive vote. She hammered Mr. Barr with questions, one after another, repeatedly cutting him short and showing off legal acumen honed as her state’s attorney general. She prodded him into saying that he had not examined any of the underlying evidence before deciding not to charge the president with obstruction of justice — a moment that drew praise from the national affairs editor of the left-leaning magazine Mother Jones.

Mr. Booker, of New Jersey, has struggled to stand out — and his troubles were accentuated by his performance on Wednesday. A former mayor of Newark, he was bracketed by two former prosecutors — Ms. Klobuchar and Ms. Harris — who know how to interrogate a witness.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_154244727_df09c4db-7f67-4734-88a2-74e75c10d21d-articleLarge Questioning Barr, 2020 Presidential Hopefuls Try to Hone Their Brands United States Politics and Government Senate Committee on the Judiciary Presidential Election of 2020 Klobuchar, Amy Harris, Kamala D Democratic Party Booker, Cory A Barr, William P

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, used her questioning of Mr. Barr to advertise her bipartisan credentials.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Mr. Booker sought to turn Mr. Barr’s words against him, complaining that the attorney general had effectively shilled for the president. He cited Mr. Barr’s news conference when he released the redacted report of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and repeatedly invoked the president’s favorite defense: “No collusion.” But the moment was lost when Mr. Booker misspoke, confusing the two most prominent words in the debate over Mr. Trump’s conduct.

“You used the president’s words — obstruction — over and over again,” Mr. Booker told Mr. Barr. He was into the next question by the time he caught himself: “I’m sorry — ‘collusion’ is the word I was looking for. You used the word ‘no collusion’ over and over again.”

Outside Washington, Democrats on the campaign trail were also seizing on the hearing for political gain, with several — including Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren; the former housing secretary Julián Castro; and Mr. Biden — also calling for Mr. Barr’s resignation.

“I think he’s lost the confidence of the American people,” Mr. Biden told reporters in Iowa.

Democrats, of course, were not the only ones posturing. Mr. Graham opened the hearing by brandishing a printed copy of the 448-page Mueller report, holding it in the air as dozens of camera shutters clicked. He used his remarks to once again train a spotlight on Mr. Trump’s 2016 Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, and the anti-Trump texts of the former F.B.I. agents who investigated the Trump campaign.

“What do we know?” Mr. Graham asked acidly. “We know that the person in charge of investigating hated Trump’s guts.”

Congressional committee hearings are always part substance and part political theater, and in the theatrics department, the Kavanaugh hearings produced more memorable moments.

Ms. Klobuchar emerged a clear winner then; when she disclosed her father’s battle with alcoholism, then-Judge Kavanaugh lashed out at her — and subsequently offered an apology, which elevated the senator’s national profile while she was still contemplating a White House run. Ms. Harris employed her same style of rat-a-tat questioning, but it seemed to lead to nowhere.

But none of that compared with Mr. Booker’s threat to release emails with the declaration, “This is about the closest I’ll ever come in my life to an ‘I am Spartacus’ moment.” His comments were roundly mocked by conservatives, including The Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker (“Gambling everything, he won a punch line,” she wrote) and Justice Clarence Thomas.

On Wednesday, Ms. Harris seemed to come out on top, judging by the coverage on Fox News, which gave her top billing. “Kamala Harris tears into Barr at Senate hearing, as 2020 Dems pile on AG,” the headline on its website blared.

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Harris, Booker and Klobuchar Try to Hone Their Brands in Barr Hearing

WASHINGTON — Senator Amy Klobuchar advertised her bipartisan legislative efforts, just as she does on the Democratic presidential campaign trail. Senator Kamala Harris was prosecutorial and pointed, evoking memories of her treatment of Brett M. Kavanaugh at his Supreme Court confirmation hearing.

And Senator Cory Booker flubbed his lines, saying “obstruction” instead of “collusion.” Later, both he and Ms. Harris put out fund-raising emails and posts on Twitter calling for Attorney General William P. Barr to resign.

Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing offered Democrats on Capitol Hill their first chance to grill Mr. Barr about his handling of the special counsel’s report and decision not to pursue an obstruction of justice case against President Trump. And the three committee Democrats running for president — Ms. Klobuchar, Ms. Harris and Mr. Booker — were not about to let a prime branding opportunity go to waste.

Each sought to use the hearing to distinguish him- or herself from the others — a necessary task in a field so crowded that voters can barely remember some Democratic contenders’ names, and in a week when former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. declared his candidacy and instantly catapulted to the front of the Democratic pack.

Ms. Klobuchar, of Minnesota, is positioning herself as a sensible centrist who can bring the country together to defeat Mr. Trump. She wasted little time in praising two Republicans, Senators James Lankford of Oklahoma and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina (the committee’s chairman and a scourge of liberals), who have joined her in supporting legislation to prevent foreign interference in the 2020 election.

Ms. Harris, of California, is going for the progressive vote. She hammered Mr. Barr with questions, one after another, repeatedly cutting him short and showing off legal acumen honed as her state’s attorney general. She prodded him into saying that he had not examined any of the underlying evidence before deciding not to charge the president with obstruction of justice — a moment that drew praise from the national affairs editor of the left-leaning magazine Mother Jones.

Mr. Booker, of New Jersey, has struggled to stand out — and his troubles were accentuated by his performance on Wednesday. A former mayor of Newark, he was bracketed by two former prosecutors — Ms. Klobuchar and Ms. Harris — who know how to interrogate a witness.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_154244727_df09c4db-7f67-4734-88a2-74e75c10d21d-articleLarge Harris, Booker and Klobuchar Try to Hone Their Brands in Barr Hearing United States Politics and Government Senate Committee on the Judiciary Presidential Election of 2020 Klobuchar, Amy Harris, Kamala D Democratic Party Booker, Cory A Barr, William P

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, used her questioning of Mr. Barr to advertise her bipartisan credentials.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Mr. Booker sought to turn Mr. Barr’s words against him, complaining that the attorney general had effectively shilled for the president. He cited Mr. Barr’s news conference when he released the redacted report of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and repeatedly invoked the president’s favorite defense: “No collusion.” But the moment was lost when Mr. Booker misspoke, confusing the two most prominent words in the debate over Mr. Trump’s conduct.

“You used the president’s words — obstruction — over and over again,” Mr. Booker told Mr. Barr. He was into the next question by the time he caught himself: “I’m sorry — ‘collusion’ is the word I was looking for. You used the word ‘no collusion’ over and over again.”

Outside Washington, Democrats on the campaign trail were also seizing on the hearing for political gain, with several — including Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren; the former housing secretary Julián Castro; and Mr. Biden — also calling for Mr. Barr’s resignation.

“I think he’s lost the confidence of the American people,” Mr. Biden told reporters in Iowa.

Democrats, of course, were not the only ones posturing. Mr. Graham opened the hearing by brandishing a printed copy of the 448-page Mueller report, holding it in the air as dozens of camera shutters clicked. He used his remarks to once again train a spotlight on Mr. Trump’s 2016 Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, and the anti-Trump texts of the former F.B.I. agents who investigated the Trump campaign.

“What do we know?” Mr. Graham asked acidly. “We know that the person in charge of investigating hated Trump’s guts.”

Congressional committee hearings are always part substance and part political theater, and in the theatrics department, the Kavanaugh hearings produced more memorable moments.

Ms. Klobuchar emerged a clear winner then; when she disclosed her father’s battle with alcoholism, then-Judge Kavanaugh lashed out at her — and subsequently offered an apology, which elevated the senator’s national profile while she was still contemplating a White House run. Ms. Harris employed her same style of rat-a-tat questioning, but it seemed to lead to nowhere.

But none of that compared with Mr. Booker’s threat to release emails with the declaration, “This is about the closest I’ll ever come in my life to an ‘I am Spartacus’ moment.” His comments were roundly mocked by conservatives, including The Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker (“Gambling everything, he won a punch line,” she wrote) and Justice Clarence Thomas.

On Wednesday, Ms. Harris seemed to come out on top, judging by the coverage on Fox News, which gave her top billing. “Kamala Harris tears into Barr at Senate hearing, as 2020 Dems pile on AG,” the headline on its website blared.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com