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Westlake Legal Group > Presidential Election of 2020

What Does This Country Demand of Black Women in Politics?

Westlake Legal Group merlin_165011958_da739378-20bc-42fc-948f-a0df7fc16c5e-facebookJumbo What Does This Country Demand of Black Women in Politics? Women and Girls United States Politics and Government Race and Ethnicity Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Moseley Braun, Carol Harris, Kamala D Elections, Mayors Chisholm, Shirley Breed, London Blacks

WASHINGTON — The first black woman to be elected mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, considers Senator Kamala Harris something of a political soul mate. When Ms. Harris announced her White House bid in Oakland, Calif., in January, Ms. Breed was one of the 20,000 supporters there loudly celebrating, and she endorsed the campaign from the beginning.

But in the days since Ms. Harris dropped out of the race last week, Ms. Breed has been reflecting on the moments that were less celebratory, like the questions that continually dogged Ms. Harris about whether a black woman could win.

They are questions Ms. Breed has heard herself. When she first considered making her first bid for elected office at age 37, with a run for the San Francisco board of supervisors in 2012, several people urged her to go for a lower position or move to another district, one with a larger African-American population.

The message then — and now — was clear to her: Limit your sights. There’s only so much a black woman in politics can do.

“I keep going back to a lot of people telling me there’s no way I can win in my district, they thought I could never get elected to my seat,” she said. “Why is it more natural for a white man to be electable than an African-American woman?”

Ms. Breed is far from alone in wondering what Ms. Harris’s aborted run means for the political standing of black women in Democratic politics. The California senator’s decision to exit the race before the first round of voting has sparked an emotional reckoning, as the small sorority of prominent elected black female officials, strategists and candidates find themselves grappling with how Ms. Harris fell from a top contender to near the bottom of the pack, why she failed to attract black supporters and wondering what it will take for one of them to not only run, but also win, the White House.

For the first time in their political lives, many saw their own identity reflected in Ms. Harris’s bid, in the photos of her as a young girl in braids, her membership in the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, her stories of being bused into a white school district and her drum line dance moves.

They also saw in her effort a Democratic Party establishment unwilling to fully back its candidacies, even as black women remain the party’s most loyal supporters. And they saw confirmation of how much more difficult it can be for a black woman to raise money from people who like her but just aren’t convinced she should be — or could be elected — president.

Representative Barbara Lee, who represents Oakland, said the possibility of an all-white slate of top-tier candidates — and the likelihood of an entirely white roster at this month’s presidential debate — after Ms. Harris’s exit from the race demonstrates a lack of respect for black women at the highest levels.

“The issues that will be brought up will not be brought up from a black woman’s perspective,” said Ms. Lee, who was one of Ms. Harris’ campaign co-chairs. “We’ve elected everyone to office, so why shouldn’t we be the commander in chief?”

While Ms. Harris’s bid wasn’t a historic first, her candidacy was groundbreaking for how seriously her effort was taken by the political establishment. The third black woman to run for the White House, she cast her campaign in the direct shadow of the first, opening her effort with a red-and-yellow logo that was a nod to Shirley Chisholm’s bid.

“She broke a glass ceiling for women of color,” said Representative Karen Bass, a Democrat from California and the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. “There will be more African-American women running in the next presidential race. Maybe it will even be Kamala herself.”

Supporters acknowledge that many of the problems faced by Ms. Harris’s presidential campaign were self-inflicted, having little do to with her race or gender. They list failings like strategic miscalculations that had her ignoring Iowa and New Hampshire for the first months of the race, a lack of leadership within her operation and an inability to articulate a consistent rationale for her candidacy. Her critics argue that those missteps suggested to voters that Ms. Harris was unprepared for the presidency, lending credence to arguments questioning her electability.

But her supporters note that she faced a level of scrutiny that unsuccessful white male candidates, like former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas, seemed to escape.

“There was a particular focus on her, which just speaks to the double standard that all women candidates and candidates of color face,” said Adrianne Shropshire, the executive director of BlackPAC, a super PAC focused on African-American Democrats, who is unaffiliated in the race. “That scrutinizing of missteps in the campaign isn’t applied equally.”

While record-breaking numbers of black women were elected to Congress last year, they have struggled to break into higher positions. A black woman has never served as governor, and only two have served in the Senate, Ms. Harris and Carol Moseley Braun, of Illinois.

Last year, Stacey Abrams, of Georgia, became the first black woman to win her party’s nomination for governor in United States history.

Within the limited academic research detailing the barriers black women face, there is a broad consensus that there are additional obstacles. Their efforts can become a circle of self-defeat: Political strategists, party leaders and donors doubt whether they can win majority-white areas, so they don’t support their bid. Because they don’t have early support, it creates more skepticism of their candidacy from the political establishment.

Aides who worked on Ms. Abrams’s campaign said they waged a “concurrent campaign of belief.” They needed to win voters the way any candidate would, by meeting people and putting forward appealing policies. And they needed to convince skeptics that just because a black woman had never won in a Southern state, that didn’t mean she couldn’t.

Those problems were supersized for Ms. Harris, who ran in a campaign cycle in which Democratic voters are intensely focused on their ideas of who can defeat President Trump.

“This whole electability conversation I think is super tone deaf,” said Representative Lauren Underwood, who became the first woman and first person of color to represent her majority-white Illinois district last year. “We can win, and we do all across the country.”

Ms. Harris tried to tackle that concern directly, bringing up what she called the “donkey in the room” at town hall meetings and rallies. When she addressed her race and gender, she cast her candidacy in aspirational terms, urging voters to “believe in what can be unburdened by what has been.”

She also argued that the path to winning back the Midwest could run through black voters in places like Detroit as easily as the white suburbs. Yet risk-averse older black voters worried that Ms. Harris’s race would be a difficult sell to white voters in key swing states.

Still others argue that Ms. Harris’s bid shows that the real risk is not leaning enough into identity, something future candidates will have to do to succeed.

“The advice for black women who are running is to lean into the fact that fellow black women are the most powerful Democrats, we have a unique position and strength,” said Aimee Allison, the founder of She the People, a group focused on increasing political power among women of color

Yet perhaps the most significant challenge facing black female candidates, according to strategists, is one that eventually undid Ms. Harris’s effort: money.

As her campaign dropped in the polls, aides to Ms. Harris frequently pointed to former Senator John Kerry’s primary campaign as an example of how a candidacy can rebound. During his 2003 primary effort, Mr. Kerry fell in the polls throughout the fall before rebounding to win the Iowa caucuses. At the lowest point, Mr. Kerry lent his effort $6.4 million of his family fortune to keep his campaign afloat, a financial infusion Ms. Harris was unable to supply or raise from donors.

“There’s a huge racial wealth gap, so you don’t have a level playing field,” Ms. Lee said, pointing to Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s ability to raise money from wealthy gay donors. “You look at the wealth gap and you look at the donor base and you look at who has the money and who doesn’t have the money, these are some very deep questions that we should be talking about.”

Now with clear evidence on how much this limits politicians at even the highest levels, Ms. Lee said, donors and politicians have to confront it directly.

Ms. Bass said that when she raises money for her re-election in Los Angeles, she often faces skepticism. She imagines that Ms. Harris faced similar difficulties.

“People question why I need money, but they don’t bat an eye when a white man from a very similar district” makes a similar request, Ms. Bass said. “Typically there’s just an assumption that a man needs the money. Usually if I point that out they immediately recognize the discrepancy, but that doesn’t mean I always get the check.”

Many saw clear challenges in Ms. Harris’s run, but they also remain hopeful. The third black woman to run for the White House will not be the last, they say confidently.

There are clear signs of progress in recruitment and the public discussion about diverse leadership, for example. Others see different signs of advancement.

As Ms. Moseley Braun, the second black woman to run for president, watched Ms. Harris campaign, she couldn’t help thinking how much less uncomfortable, at least physically, the whole ordeal seemed.

When Ms. Moseley Braun ran, candidates sat on stools at campaign events that were so tall that they left her legs dangling off the side, she recalled. And then there was the practice of the candidates locking hands and raising them over their heads at the end of each debate, like a human chain of rivals.

“As the only girl in the race at that time, it made my boobs look crooked on television,” recalled Ms. Braun, who is backing former Vice President Joseph R. Biden in the primary race. “It seems there has been progress.”

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For Trump, Instinct After Florida Killings Is Simple: Protect Saudis

Westlake Legal Group 07dcPrexy-facebookJumbo-v2 For Trump, Instinct After Florida Killings Is Simple: Protect Saudis Trump, Donald J Saudi Arabia Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 Mohammed bin Salman (1985- ) Khashoggi, Jamal Iran Biden, Joseph R Jr Al Qaeda

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — When a Saudi Air Force officer opened fire on his classmates at a naval base in Pensacola, Fla., on Friday, he killed three, wounded eight and exposed anew the strange dynamic between President Trump and the Saudi leadership: The president’s first instinct was to tamp down any suggestion that the Saudi government needed to be held to account.

Hours later, Mr. Trump announced on Twitter that he had received a condolence call from King Salman of Saudi Arabia, who clearly sought to ensure that the episode did not further fracture their relationship. On Saturday, leaving the White House for a trip here for a Republican fund-raiser and a speech on Israeli-American relations, Mr. Trump told reporters that “they are devastated in Saudi Arabia,” noting that “the king will be involved in taking care of families and loved ones.” He never used the word “terrorism.”

What was missing was any assurance that the Saudis would aid in the investigation, help identify the suspect’s motives, or answer the many questions about the vetting process for a coveted slot at one of the country’s premier schools for training allied officers. Or, more broadly, why the United States continues to train members of the Saudi military even as that same military faces credible accusations of repeated human rights abuses in Yemen, including the dropping of munitions that maximize civilian casualties.

“The attack is a disaster for an already deeply strained relationship,” Bruce Riedel, a scholar at the Brookings Institution and a former C.I.A. officer who has dealt with generations of Saudi leaders, said on Saturday. It “focuses attention on Americans training Saudi Air Force officers who are engaged in numerous bombings of innocents in Yemen, which is the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the world,” he said, noting that the Trump administration had long been fighting Congress as it seeks to end American support for that war.

But even stranger, said Mr. Riedel, was “the president’s parroting of the Saudi line” before learning the results of an investigation into whether the gunman acted alone, or had allegiances to Al Qaeda or terrorist groups.

For the White House, the calculus is simple: Saudi Arabia is not only critical to world oil supplies — though no longer critical to the United States’ — it is the only regional power able to counter Iran. The result, former members of the Trump administration say, has been a dismissal of any critiques that could weaken that bond.

Mr. Trump was so quick and so eager to assure the Saudis that the relationship would continue before anyone knew how to categorize the shooting that it raised questions about how the administration would have responded if the suspect had been an Iranian, or an immigrant from Mexico. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Mr. Trump often cited the killing of a young woman in California by an undocumented immigrant as a reason to crack down on immigration and build a wall along the southern border.

“Had an attack been carried out by any country on his Muslim ban, his reaction would have been very different,” said Aaron David Miller, a longtime Middle East negotiator and now a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“But when it comes to Saudi, the default position is to defend,” he said, “Driven by oil, money, weapons sales, a good deal of Saudi feting and flattery, Trump has created a virtually impenetrable zone of immunity for Saudi Arabia.”

It was hardly the first time Mr. Trump had shown such tendencies. After the brutal killing in Istanbul of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident and a legal American resident, Mr. Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo played down American intelligence findings that closely tied Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, to the matter. The findings suggested he had connections to the members of the hit team sent to Turkey — and almost certainly played a role in ordering them to bring Mr. Khashoggi back to the country by force.

Mr. Trump’s and Mr. Pompeo’s initial promises to follow the evidence wherever it led dissipated. Over the past year, Mr. Pompeo has expressed deep annoyance whenever the topic is raised. The United States was awaiting the results of a Saudi investigation, he often said, as if he expected that to offer a full accounting. And he told members of Congress that no matter the truth of what unfolded, the relationship between the kingdom and Washington was too important to be held hostage to one vicious, ill-thought-out act.

No American assessment of what the Saudi leadership knew has ever been made public.

Before the shooting on Friday, the White House was already fighting efforts in Congress to cut military aid to the Saudis, a reflection of anger over the Khashoggi murder and continuing war in Yemen. But the Pensacola attack underlined the continuing instinct to protect the relationship.

“If Trump wants to convey condolences from Saudi King Salman, fine,” Mr. Miller wrote on Twitter after the shooting. “But you don’t do it on day — Americans are killed — untethered from a message of ironclad assurances from King to provide” whatever cooperation is necessary to understand the gunman and his motives. “Otherwise Trump sounds like what he has become — a Saudi apologist.’’

After Mr. Pompeo announced that he had spoken with the Saudi foreign minister, Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud, about the shooting, Martin Indyk, a former American ambassador to Israel and longtime Middle East negotiator, tweeted: “Isn’t it interesting how quick Trump and Pompeo are to broadcast Saudi government condolences for the murder of three Americans and how slow they were to criticize the Saudi government’s murder” of Mr. Khashoggi.

Still, the bond between the countries is weakening, as the erosion of support in Congress shows. A negotiation over providing nuclear technology to the Saudis, a huge push early in the administration, has stalled. The chances that the military support will remain at current levels appear slim.

“The U.S.-Saudi relationship is on life support,” Mr. Riedel said, noting that it would be in jeopardy if a Democrat were to win the 2020 election. “Even Joe Biden is calling the Kingdom a ‘pariah’ that needs to be punished,” he said, referring to the former vice president, who had for decades supported a strong relationship with the Saudis.

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Trump Can’t Resist Campaigning for Governors. But They Can Resist Him.

Westlake Legal Group 00govs-memo1-facebookJumbo Trump Can’t Resist Campaigning for Governors. But They Can Resist Him. United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 Midterm Elections (2018) Louisiana Loeffler, Kelly L Kentucky Kemp, Brian P Governors (US) Georgia Florida Elections, Governors DeSantis, Ron Bevin, Matthew

His grip on Republican senators has held in the lead-up to a historic impeachment trial. Members of the House have faced the prospect of retiring before going against him. And he frequently boasts about his strong approval ratings among Republican voters.

Yet for a party leader who inspires fear in Washington, President Trump has been bedeviled by governor’s races time and again, even after his aggressive campaigning has helped Republican candidates win.

Unable to modulate his excitement for other people’s political battles — and, according to advisers, not understanding the distinct incentives for governors who run their own states and senators who have to work with him in Washington — Mr. Trump has plunged headfirst into contests that have done little but expose his own political vulnerabilities.

In the last month, two Republican candidates the president supported lost their off-year races for governor, puncturing his self-proclaimed role as kingmaker. But even his successes in the 2018 governor’s races have left him disappointed: The winners he championed, once in office, have defied his wishes and cast aside his allies, as recently as this past week.

“Fundamentally, unlike members of the House and the Senate, there’s no element of dependency that goes with being in Washington” for governors, said Mark Sanford, a former governor of South Carolina who recently ended his quixotic bid to challenge Mr. Trump for the Republican nomination.

“There’s a degree of political autonomy” that governors have, he added.

Mike DuHaime, a Republican strategist who advised former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, put it more bluntly: “Many members of Congress are scared of the president’s ability to take them out in a primary — governors are less so.”

The examples have piled up over the last 18 months, as some of Mr. Trump’s aides have winced at how aggressively he wanted to participate in particular campaigns despite their urging him to stay out of those races.

For those candidates who won their governor’s races, their own political needs have since overshadowed those of Mr. Trump, and they have less incentive to fear him once elected.

In Florida, Mr. Trump’s aides helped save the flailing candidacy of Ron DeSantis in the 2018 Republican primary, and then the general election. Also last year, in Georgia, Mr. Trump helped pull Brian Kemp over the finish line in both the primary and the general election. In both cases, Mr. Trump’s advisers implored him to stay out of the primaries, and he agreed to — only to surprise his aides by jumping in to support Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Kemp.

Once that happened, Mr. Trump’s aides sought to make the best of it, trying to net victories in the states with an eye toward having allies there in 2020.

But since his election, Mr. DeSantis — once a congressman who frequently jabbed at Mr. Trump’s critics during the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III — has seemed fine bucking the president.

He has steered clear of public defenses of Mr. Trump, preferring not to spend his political capital by wading into national issues. He has indicated to reporters that he will be too busy to put much time toward helping Mr. Trump in his re-election battle.

And in a move that jolted Florida politics, the president’s campaign complied with a demand by Mr. DeSantis that Mr. Trump fire his own re-election campaign’s top Florida adviser, Susie Wiles, who has been credited with helping elect not only Mr. Trump in 2016 but also Mr. DeSantis in 2018.

Mr. DeSantis, who is seen as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2024, viewed her as insufficiently loyal to him — and too close to another potential presidential candidate, former Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, whom she also helped elect, according to four people briefed on the events.

Her dismissal, in September, was agreed to by Mr. Trump and Brad Parscale, the president’s campaign manager, but the move infuriated a number of Trump advisers, who believe Ms. Wiles was an asset and who think the campaign should not have bent to a demand from a governor whom Mr. Trump assisted.

More recently, Mr. Trump was ignored by Mr. Kemp as the president pressed for an ally to fill the seat of Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia, who is retiring at the end of the year. Mr. Trump favored Representative Doug Collins, an appointment that would have given him an additional loyalist in the Senate as an impeachment trial looms in that chamber.

But Mr. Kemp on Wednesday chose Kelly Loeffler, a business executive who he believes will not turn off the suburban women whose support he needs.

Mr. Kemp took Ms. Loeffler to meet Mr. Trump at the White House at a secret gathering two weeks ago, trying to reassure him. Mr. Trump did not budge — but neither did Mr. Kemp.

Even with Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Kemp walking a careful line with the president, Mr. Trump has seemed to relish playing kingmaker after getting a taste of it in 2018. So this year, he jumped into other races that offered him little benefit in his own re-election fight next year, or in Congress.

In Kentucky and Louisiana, where the Republican nominees for governor lost this year, the races were decided by a number of local factors, including negative perceptions of the incumbent Republican in Kentucky, Matt Bevin, and the moderate style of the incumbent Democrat in Louisiana, John Bel Edwards.

Still, Mr. Trump made heavily promoted visits to the states and touted the candidates on Twitter, personalizing the races almost every time he talked about them.

A loss would be damaging, Mr. Trump told the crowd at a rally in Kentucky the night before the election. “You can’t let that happen to me!” he implored.

Some of Mr. Trump’s advisers say they see fund-raising benefits in the president’s traveling to those states, even with the losses. And they believe that even if he had stayed out of the races, political reporters would have described them as losses for Mr. Trump.

But senior Republicans acknowledge that Mr. Trump still doesn’t understand the nuances between the types of races run by governors, who have to tend to voters back home, and senators and representatives, who must survive in Washington and have a different political balancing act.

Former Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina, a Republican, said that Mr. Trump shared something in common with his predecessor, Barack Obama, in that neither one had significant coattails in off-year elections. The two men developed a “personal relationship” with voters who turned out only for their presidential elections and could not be cajoled into supporting other candidates, he said.

Some Trump advisers have questioned why his aides have not pushed back more forcefully against his desire to inject himself into contests in solid-red states like Kentucky and Louisiana where there is no electoral benefit to him in 2020.

“The curse of Donald Trump is that he can’t help himself, and he always makes it about him,” Mr. Sanford said.

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Buttigieg Struggles to Square Transparency With Nondisclosure Agreement

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_165551226_c1ecc24c-4d71-4251-989f-e5a969a392ea-articleLarge Buttigieg Struggles to Square Transparency With Nondisclosure Agreement Warren, Elizabeth United States Politics and Government Presidential Election of 2020 Nondisclosure Agreements Iowa Democratic Party Buttigieg, Pete (1982- )

Pete Buttigieg after participating in a presidential forum in Waterloo, Iowa, on Friday.Credit…Jordan Gale for The New York Times

MT. VERNON, Iowa — Pete Buttigieg rose from small-city obscurity to the top of Iowa’s presidential polls by saying yes to every interview and presenting himself as an aggressively transparent candidate poised to take on President Trump and his array of known and unknown conflicts.

Yet the South Bend, Ind., mayor now faces cascading questions he has been unable to answer about his work at McKinsey & Company, the management consulting firm that accounts for the entirety of his private-sector career. He hasn’t revealed his clients, citing a nondisclosure agreement he signed at the outset of his employment.

The three years Mr. Buttigieg spent at McKinsey represent one-fifth of his professional resume. His campaign on Friday night for the first time disclosed broad strokes beyond the most elemental details of his work, some of which he also discussed in his memoir, which was published in February.

The pressure to disclose more about his work at McKinsey comes as the 37-year-old mayor also faces increased scrutiny about his lack of appeal to African-American voters, and amid increasing calls from Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who does not hold closed-door fund-raising events, to reveal details about his campaign’s fund-raising operation — including the names of his bundlers.

“This is about the conflicts that he is creating every single day right now,” Ms. Warren told reporters Saturday in New Hampshire.

For his part, Mr. Buttigieg has called on Ms. Warren to release more than the 11 years of personal tax returns she has already disclosed. Ms. Warren released a list of more than 50 legal clients in May.

Which Democrats are leading the 2020 presidential race?

All of this comes as Mr. Buttigieg has established himself as the front-runner in Iowa, where Democrats hold the first-in-the-nation nominating caucuses Feb. 3. Democrats here are increasingly focused on selecting a candidate who will be the strongest in a general election against President Trump, who has refused to release any of his tax returns and did not divest himself from businesses that profit from his administration and campaign.

The pressure on Mr. Buttigieg to reveal more about his work at McKinsey is coming not only from his 2020 rivals like Ms. Warren, who in recent days has become far more aggressive in her attacks on him, but also from other Democratic politicians.

On Friday night in Waterloo, Iowa, Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago, who had spoken favorably of Mr. Buttigieg just weeks earlier, told Mr. Buttigieg during an onstage interview that he should reveal for whom he did work at McKinsey.

“You said you can’t talk about your work at McKinsey because of a nondisclosure agreement, and I think you said today you’ve got to honor your commitment to McKinsey,” said Ms. Lightfoot, a corporate lawyer herself. “I’m asking you, should you break that N.D.A. so you have the moral authority and the high ground against somebody like Trump, who hides behind the lack of transparency to justify everything that he’s doing?”

Mr. Buttigieg first tried to dodge the question from Ms. Lightfoot, quipping that it was his first job out of school and it was “not like I was the C.E.O.”

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He added: “I pushed as much information as I can, without breaking the promise that I made in writing. And I am asking my former employer to do the right thing, to not make me choose between claiming the moral high ground and going back on my word.”

Mr. Buttigieg told reporters later that he would not unilaterally break the nondisclosure agreement with his former employer.

“It’s important to me to keep my word, and it’s also very important to me to offer as much transparency as possible,” he said. “I’m squaring that circle the best I can by pushing out the information that we did.”

The McKinsey question has hung over Mr. Buttigieg as he has grown into a more formidable presidential candidate. In June his campaign first asked McKinsey which details of his work there could be revealed. In September he told reporters aboard his campaign bus that his McKinsey tenure wasn’t “something that I think is essential in my story,” though when he ran for office in Indiana in 2010 he used his McKinsey experience as evidence of his grasp on private-sector economics.

In recent days, as scrutiny of his work with the firm reached new heights following revelations McKinsey helped the Trump administration carry out its immigration policies, Mr. Buttigieg himself publicly requested to be released from his nondisclosure agreement.

And on Friday night the campaign released its most detailed timeline yet of his work for the firm, laying out details of the type of work he performed but not revealing the names of his clients.

While Mr. Buttigieg’s rivals spent Friday and Saturday salivating online over his McKinsey ties, there was little evidence the story had broken through yet in Iowa.

“It’s the first I heard of it and I just don’t see the importance of it right now,” said Lon Gingerich Feil, who came to see Mr. Buttigieg Saturday in Mt. Vernon. She added: “I don’t believe that anybody’s completely blameless in anything as far as politics goes.”

Mr. Buttigieg’s political allies insist that anger over his McKinsey tenure is manufactured by his political opponents and is not widely shared among early-state Democrats.

“He answers the questions about it with the fact it was a first-time job,” said Laura Hubka, the Democratic Party chairwoman in Howard County, Iowa, who has endorsed Mr. Buttigieg. “Every attack on Pete is making him look more attractive to middle-of-the-road voters.”

And the Buttigieg campaign has not shifted into crisis mode over the McKinsey story. Representative Don Beyer of Virginia, the first member of Congress to endorse Mr. Buttigieg, said the campaign had not circulated any talking points about the mayor’s McKinsey tenure.

“I think he’s got a perfectly clear explanation, which is that he signed a nondisclosure agreement and McKinsey is famously secretive,” Mr. Beyer said Saturday.

Yet Mr. Buttigieg’s handling of calls to name his McKinsey clients echoes the most politically damaging episode of his years as mayor: the city’s withholding of secret recordings of police officers that led Mr. Buttigieg to demote a black police chief.

The mayor removed the chief in 2012, he has long said, after learning that the F.B.I. was investigating the chief for violating wiretap laws. But Mr. Buttigieg declined to release the tapes, citing federal privacy laws as he fought a subpoena for the tapes from the City Council. In South Bend, reports and rumors have circulated for years that the tapes include white officers using racist language and describing illegal activity.

Mr. Buttigieg has admitted that his initial response to the crisis was overly legalistic. He failed to understand that his actions sent a broader message that reinforced black residents’ distrust of the police.

(Today, the mayor himself calls for the tapes’ release, though their fate is tied up in court, with the police officers heard on the recordings fighting disclosure.)

In the case of Mr. Buttigieg’s McKinsey clients, he may be similarly at risk of offering an overly legalistic defense of nondisclosure, while misjudging the deep suspicions that liberal voters harbor for corporate influence on politics.

Mr. Buttigieg’s appeal to many voters is his rejection of a lucrative private-sector career to enter public service; part of his good government credo has long been greater transparency in the city he runs. He first ran for municipal office in 2011 promising a breakthrough in the city’s transparency. In many ways he delivered. The city now uploads online data on police use of force and complaints against officers, vacant and abandoned properties, and many details of city spending. In 2017 the mayor and his staff celebrated fulfilling 10,000 requests under Indiana’s open records law.

Another transparency effort, a $1.5 million purchase of body cameras for police officers, ended up at the center of a political crisis for the mayor this summer. A white officer failed to activate his camera during an encounter in which he fatally shot a black man in downtown South Bend, sending the city, and Mr. Buttigieg’s campaign, into turmoil. Mr. Buttigieg suspended campaigning to face angry and anguished residents. The narrative of distrust of the police was projected on the national stage.

Mr. Buttigieg has emerged as perhaps the most polarizing figure among Democratic insiders.

He is the subject of the most open contempt among his rivals, a feeling that often extends to their supporters.

Kim Miller, a Warren backer who works for the teachers union in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, said Monday after a Warren event at the University of Iowa that Mr. Buttigieg’s resume — Harvard, McKinsey, Navy veteran, small-town mayor — was not sufficient to make him the Democratic standard-bearer.

“What qualifies him to even run? It’s pretty presumptuous,” Mr. Miller said. “It’s amazing that he’s taken off. Iowans are weird.”

Sydney Ember reported from Mt. Vernon; Reid J. Epstein reported from Washington; Trip Gabriel reported from South Bend, Ind. Jonathan Martin contributed reporting from Iowa City.

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As Candidates Jostle for Position, a Long Race May Become a Marathon

Westlake Legal Group 07dems2020-1-facebookJumbo As Candidates Jostle for Position, a Long Race May Become a Marathon Warren, Elizabeth Trump, Donald J south carolina Sanders, Bernard Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Political Advertising New Hampshire Klobuchar, Amy Iowa Harris, Kamala D Democratic Party Campaign Finance Buttigieg, Pete (1982- ) Bloomberg, Michael R Blacks Biden, Joseph R Jr

MASON CITY, Iowa — With just under two months until the Iowa caucuses, the already-volatile Democratic presidential race has grown even more unsettled, setting the stage for a marathon nominating contest between the party’s moderate and liberal factions.

Pete Buttigieg’s surge, Bernie Sanders’s revival, Elizabeth Warren’s struggles and the exit of Kamala Harris have upended the primary and, along with Joseph R. Biden’s Jr. enduring strength with nonwhite voters, increased the possibility of a split decision after the early nominating states.

That’s when Michael R. Bloomberg aims to burst into the contest — after saturating the airwaves of the Super Tuesday states with tens of millions of dollars of television ads.

With no true front-runner and three other candidates besides Mr. Bloomberg armed with war chests of over $20 million, Democrats are confronting the prospect of a drawn-out primary reminiscent of the epic Clinton-Obama contest in 2008.

“There’s a real possibility Pete wins here, Warren takes New Hampshire, Biden South Carolina and who knows about Nevada,” said Sue Dvorsky, a former Iowa Democratic chair. “Then you go into Super Tuesday with Bloomberg throwing $30 million out of his couch cushions and this is going to go for a while.”

That’s a worrisome prospect for a party already debating whether it has a candidate strong enough to defeat President Trump next November. The contenders have recently begun to attack one another more forcefully — Ms. Warren, a nonaggressor for most of the campaign, took on Mr. Buttigieg on Thursday night — and the sparring could get uglier the longer the primary continues.

A monthslong delegate battle would also feature a lengthy public airing of the party’s ideological fissures and focus more attention on contentious policies like single-payer health care while allowing Mr. Trump to unleash millions of dollars in attack ads portraying Democrats as extreme.

The candidates are already planning for a long race, hiring staff members for contests well past the initial early states. But at the moment they are also grappling with a primary that has evolved into something of a three-dimensional chess match, in which moves that may seem puzzling are taken with an eye toward a future payoff.

Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders, for example, are blocking each other from consolidating much of the left, but instead of attacking each other the two senators are training their fire on Mr. Buttigieg, the South Bend, Ind., mayor. He has taken a lead in Iowa polls yet spent much of the past week courting black voters in the South.

And Mr. Biden is concluding an eight-day bus tour across Iowa, during which he has said his goal is to win the caucuses, but his supporters privately say they would also be satisfied if Mr. Buttigieg won and denied Ms. Warren a victory.

It may seem a little confusing, but there’s a strategy behind the moves.

Mr. Sanders and Mr. Warren each covet the other’s progressive supporters but are wary about angering them by attacking each other. So Ms. Warren has begun drawing an implicit contrast by emphasizing her gender — a path more available now with Ms. Harris’s exit — and they are both targeting a shared opponent whom many of their fiercest backers disdain: Mr. Buttigieg.

The mayor has soared in heavily white Iowa, but has virtually no support among voters of color. So he started airing commercials in South Carolina spotlighting his faith and took his campaign there and into Alabama this past week — an acknowledgment that Iowans may be uneasy about him if he can’t demonstrate appeal with more diverse voters.

As for Mr. Biden, his supporters think he would effectively end the primary by winning Iowa. But they believe the next best outcome would be if Mr. Buttigieg fends off Ms. Warren there to keep her from sweeping both Iowa and New Hampshire and gaining too much momentum. They are convinced she’s far more of a threat than Mr. Buttigieg to build a multiracial coalition and breach the former vice president’s firewall in Nevada and South Carolina.

Meanwhile, no other hopeful is drawing more chatter in Iowa as a compromise choice among moderates than Senator Amy Klobuchar, who has spent more time in the state than any of the top candidates.

Taken together, the shadowboxing, bank shots and sheer uncertainty of it all reflect what a muddle this race has become. Besides the party’s unifying hunger to defeat Mr. Trump, the only clarity is the rigid divide among voters along generational, ideological and racial lines.

These fractures could ensure different outcomes in the first four nominating states — mostly white Iowa and New Hampshire and more diverse Nevada and South Carolina — going into Super Tuesday on March 3.

That’s the day on which Mr. Bloomberg is staking his candidacy, when 14 states are up for grabs. The former New York mayor, a political centrist, is skipping the early states and pouring tens of millions of his money into Super Tuesday in hopes that the field remains split by then or that one of the progressives is pulling away.

If he gains traction, that could augur a primary that may not be over by the time the party gathers in Milwaukee next summer for its convention.

Of course, it’s hardly a forgone conclusion that the Democratic contest will drag on. The front-loaded calendar means that if one candidate does rattle off early victories, he or she will be able to amass a fearsome delegate advantage.

The last time the party confronted such an uncertain primary, in 2004, John Kerry revived his campaign shortly before voting began and captured Iowa and New Hampshire, allowing him to quickly secure the nomination.

Yet no candidate today may prove capable of extinguishing the embers of the primary the way Mr. Kerry did. Four candidates — Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren, Mr. Buttigieg and Mr. Bloomberg — are well funded or enjoy reliable streams of money.

Perhaps more significantly, the divisions in the party are now wider than they were in the previous decade, with opposing ideological factions far less willing to settle.

Nowhere is the Democratic race more fluid than in Iowa, where 70 percent of caucusgoers said in a Des Moines Register-CNN poll last month that their minds were not made up.

Mr. Buttigieg emerged atop the field in the survey, but he is now under attack on multiple fronts.

Ms. Warren is assailing him for not being more transparent about his donors, Mr. Sanders is targeting him for not offering a more expansive free college proposal, and a super PAC supporting Senator Cory Booker is on the air in Iowa favorably contrasting Mr. Booker to Mr. Buttigieg.

And Iowa allies of his rivals are taking on Mr. Buttigieg even more aggressively.

“Mayor Pete is vanilla ice cream,” said Claire Celsi, an Iowa state senator supporting Ms. Warren. “He’s just somebody that people can agree on, but the problem is that we live in a way more complicated world than that.”

The former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, who is backing Mr. Biden, likened Mr. Buttigieg to a Democrat many in the party would just as soon forget.

“He reminds me of, not in terms of character, but in terms of people reacting to him, as John Edwards in 2004,” Mr. Vilsack said. “He’s something new, he’s a comer.”

Lis Smith, an adviser to Mr. Buttigieg, said the attacks were a result of voters “gravitating toward his campaign.”

“They can attack Pete all they want, he’s going to be laser focused on talking about why he’s the best person to bring this country together on Day 1 of a post-Trump presidency,” she said.

But Mr. Buttigieg’s campaign recognizes how urgently he must broaden his coalition — and prominent Democrats have nudged the campaign to focus less on the details of his plans for black voters and do more to emphasize his Christianity and military service. He is now up on television in South Carolina quoting scripture and in Iowa with a spot that features an African-American veteran recalling their service.

Mr. Biden is counting on these efforts to fall short and for Mr. Buttigieg to meet the same fate of previous Democratic hopefuls who lost because they could not expand their support beyond upscale white voters.

“There is no one else who is in a position to all of a sudden to do what Barack was able to do,” Mr. Biden told reporters this past week, suggesting that Mr. Buttigieg would not gain support with black voters by winning Iowa, as Mr. Obama did in 2008.

Ms. Warren is less inclined to discuss tactical matters, but her recent moves reflect a candidate very much concerned about the direction of the race.

She has drastically cut her stump speech, leaving more time for questions from voters, and after saying for months that she does not want to criticize her fellow Democrats she is now confronting Mr. Buttigieg over his high-dollar fund-raising.

Just as striking, she is taking more overt steps to highlight her history-making potential. After Ms. Harris dropped out, Ms. Warren sent a fund-raising email noting that “two women senators,” Ms. Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand, “have been forced out of this race while billionaires Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg have been allowed to buy their way in.”

Addressing voters in Iowa City, Ms. Warren announced to booming applause that she planned to wear a pink Planned Parenthood scarf at her presidential inauguration and in a discussion about her plans won cheers for another reference to her gender.

“I will do everything that, oh, I love saying this, a president can do all by herself,” Ms. Warren said.

What has been puzzling to her rivals, though, is what she has not done as a candidate: namely, spend more money on advertising in Iowa.

She ceded the airwaves here to rivals like Mr. Sanders and Mr. Buttigieg for all of October, and her spending in November was less than half of theirs, according to Advertising Analytics, an ad tracking firm.

Ms. Klobuchar has also not had much of an advertising footprint, but many Iowa Democrats believe she is the most likely candidate to make that late push.

Strolling into a Des Moines coffee shop recently, Connie Boesen, a city councilor, pronounced that she was leaning in Ms. Klobuchar’s direction because “she’s realistic,” a reference to the senator’s moderate politics.

For many Democrats, especially those in Northern Iowa, the Minnesota senator is a familiar figure who has more experience than Mr. Buttigieg but is not as old as Mr. Biden.

Asked who they were considering after a Biden town hall meeting this past week, three voters from outside Mason City all cited Mr. Biden and Mr. Buttigieg — but also added a third name: Ms. Klobuchar.

Sydney Ember contributed reporting from Des Moines and Reid Epstein from Washington.

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As Candidates Jostle for Position, a Long Race May Become a Marathon

Westlake Legal Group 07dems2020-1-facebookJumbo As Candidates Jostle for Position, a Long Race May Become a Marathon Warren, Elizabeth Trump, Donald J south carolina Sanders, Bernard Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Political Advertising New Hampshire Klobuchar, Amy Iowa Harris, Kamala D Democratic Party Campaign Finance Buttigieg, Pete (1982- ) Bloomberg, Michael R Blacks Biden, Joseph R Jr

MASON CITY, Iowa — With just under two months until the Iowa caucuses, the already-volatile Democratic presidential race has grown even more unsettled, setting the stage for a marathon nominating contest between the party’s moderate and liberal factions.

Pete Buttigieg’s surge, Bernie Sanders’s revival, Elizabeth Warren’s struggles and the exit of Kamala Harris have upended the primary and, along with Joseph R. Biden’s Jr. enduring strength with nonwhite voters, increased the possibility of a split decision after the early nominating states.

That’s when Michael R. Bloomberg aims to burst into the contest — after saturating the airwaves of the Super Tuesday states with tens of millions of dollars of television ads.

With no true front-runner and three other candidates besides Mr. Bloomberg armed with war chests of over $20 million, Democrats are confronting the prospect of a drawn-out primary reminiscent of the epic Clinton-Obama contest in 2008.

“There’s a real possibility Pete wins here, Warren takes New Hampshire, Biden South Carolina and who knows about Nevada,” said Sue Dvorsky, a former Iowa Democratic chair. “Then you go into Super Tuesday with Bloomberg throwing $30 million out of his couch cushions and this is going to go for a while.”

That’s a worrisome prospect for a party already debating whether it has a candidate strong enough to defeat President Trump next November. The contenders have recently begun to attack one another more forcefully — Ms. Warren, a nonaggressor for most of the campaign, took on Mr. Buttigieg on Thursday night — and the sparring could get uglier the longer the primary continues.

A monthslong delegate battle would also feature a lengthy public airing of the party’s ideological fissures and focus more attention on contentious policies like single-payer health care while allowing Mr. Trump to unleash millions of dollars in attack ads portraying Democrats as extreme.

The candidates are already planning for a long race, hiring staff members for contests well past the initial early states. But at the moment they are also grappling with a primary that has evolved into something of a three-dimensional chess match, in which moves that may seem puzzling are taken with an eye toward a future payoff.

Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders, for example, are blocking each other from consolidating much of the left, but instead of attacking each other the two senators are training their fire on Mr. Buttigieg, the South Bend, Ind., mayor. He has taken a lead in Iowa polls yet spent much of the past week courting black voters in the South.

And Mr. Biden is concluding an eight-day bus tour across Iowa, during which he has said his goal is to win the caucuses, but his supporters privately say they would also be satisfied if Mr. Buttigieg won and denied Ms. Warren a victory.

It may seem a little confusing, but there’s a strategy behind the moves.

Mr. Sanders and Mr. Warren each covet the other’s progressive supporters but are wary about angering them by attacking each other. So Ms. Warren has begun drawing an implicit contrast by emphasizing her gender — a path more available now with Ms. Harris’s exit — and they are both targeting a shared opponent whom many of their fiercest backers disdain: Mr. Buttigieg.

The mayor has soared in heavily white Iowa, but has virtually no support among voters of color. So he started airing commercials in South Carolina spotlighting his faith and took his campaign there and into Alabama this past week — an acknowledgment that Iowans may be uneasy about him if he can’t demonstrate appeal with more diverse voters.

As for Mr. Biden, his supporters think he would effectively end the primary by winning Iowa. But they believe the next best outcome would be if Mr. Buttigieg fends off Ms. Warren there to keep her from sweeping both Iowa and New Hampshire and gaining too much momentum. They are convinced she’s far more of a threat than Mr. Buttigieg to build a multiracial coalition and breach the former vice president’s firewall in Nevada and South Carolina.

Meanwhile, no other hopeful is drawing more chatter in Iowa as a compromise choice among moderates than Senator Amy Klobuchar, who has spent more time in the state than any of the top candidates.

Taken together, the shadowboxing, bank shots and sheer uncertainty of it all reflect what a muddle this race has become. Besides the party’s unifying hunger to defeat Mr. Trump, the only clarity is the rigid divide among voters along generational, ideological and racial lines.

These fractures could ensure different outcomes in the first four nominating states — mostly white Iowa and New Hampshire and more diverse Nevada and South Carolina — going into Super Tuesday on March 3.

That’s the day on which Mr. Bloomberg is staking his candidacy, when 14 states are up for grabs. The former New York mayor, a political centrist, is skipping the early states and pouring tens of millions of his money into Super Tuesday in hopes that the field remains split by then or that one of the progressives is pulling away.

If he gains traction, that could augur a primary that may not be over by the time the party gathers in Milwaukee next summer for its convention.

Of course, it’s hardly a forgone conclusion that the Democratic contest will drag on. The front-loaded calendar means that if one candidate does rattle off early victories, he or she will be able to amass a fearsome delegate advantage.

The last time the party confronted such an uncertain primary, in 2004, John Kerry revived his campaign shortly before voting began and captured Iowa and New Hampshire, allowing him to quickly secure the nomination.

Yet no candidate today may prove capable of extinguishing the embers of the primary the way Mr. Kerry did. Four candidates — Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren, Mr. Buttigieg and Mr. Bloomberg — are well funded or enjoy reliable streams of money.

Perhaps more significantly, the divisions in the party are now wider than they were in the previous decade, with opposing ideological factions far less willing to settle.

Nowhere is the Democratic race more fluid than in Iowa, where 70 percent of caucusgoers said in a Des Moines Register-CNN poll last month that their minds were not made up.

Mr. Buttigieg emerged atop the field in the survey, but he is now under attack on multiple fronts.

Ms. Warren is assailing him for not being more transparent about his donors, Mr. Sanders is targeting him for not offering a more expansive free college proposal, and a super PAC supporting Senator Cory Booker is on the air in Iowa favorably contrasting Mr. Booker to Mr. Buttigieg.

And Iowa allies of his rivals are taking on Mr. Buttigieg even more aggressively.

“Mayor Pete is vanilla ice cream,” said Claire Celsi, an Iowa state senator supporting Ms. Warren. “He’s just somebody that people can agree on, but the problem is that we live in a way more complicated world than that.”

The former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, who is backing Mr. Biden, likened Mr. Buttigieg to a Democrat many in the party would just as soon forget.

“He reminds me of, not in terms of character, but in terms of people reacting to him, as John Edwards in 2004,” Mr. Vilsack said. “He’s something new, he’s a comer.”

Lis Smith, an adviser to Mr. Buttigieg, said the attacks were a result of voters “gravitating toward his campaign.”

“They can attack Pete all they want, he’s going to be laser focused on talking about why he’s the best person to bring this country together on Day 1 of a post-Trump presidency,” she said.

But Mr. Buttigieg’s campaign recognizes how urgently he must broaden his coalition — and prominent Democrats have nudged the campaign to focus less on the details of his plans for black voters and do more to emphasize his Christianity and military service. He is now up on television in South Carolina quoting scripture and in Iowa with a spot that features an African-American veteran recalling their service.

Mr. Biden is counting on these efforts to fall short and for Mr. Buttigieg to meet the same fate of previous Democratic hopefuls who lost because they could not expand their support beyond upscale white voters.

“There is no one else who is in a position to all of a sudden to do what Barack was able to do,” Mr. Biden told reporters this past week, suggesting that Mr. Buttigieg would not gain support with black voters by winning Iowa, as Mr. Obama did in 2008.

Ms. Warren is less inclined to discuss tactical matters, but her recent moves reflect a candidate very much concerned about the direction of the race.

She has drastically cut her stump speech, leaving more time for questions from voters, and after saying for months that she does not want to criticize her fellow Democrats she is now confronting Mr. Buttigieg over his high-dollar fund-raising.

Just as striking, she is taking more overt steps to highlight her history-making potential. After Ms. Harris dropped out, Ms. Warren sent a fund-raising email noting that “two women senators,” Ms. Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand, “have been forced out of this race while billionaires Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg have been allowed to buy their way in.”

Addressing voters in Iowa City, Ms. Warren announced to booming applause that she planned to wear a pink Planned Parenthood scarf at her presidential inauguration and in a discussion about her plans won cheers for another reference to her gender.

“I will do everything that, oh, I love saying this, a president can do all by herself,” Ms. Warren said.

What has been puzzling to her rivals, though, is what she has not done as a candidate: namely, spend more money on advertising in Iowa.

She ceded the airwaves here to rivals like Mr. Sanders and Mr. Buttigieg for all of October, and her spending in November was less than half of theirs, according to Advertising Analytics, an ad tracking firm.

Ms. Klobuchar has also not had much of an advertising footprint, but many Iowa Democrats believe she is the most likely candidate to make that late push.

Strolling into a Des Moines coffee shop recently, Connie Boesen, a city councilor, pronounced that she was leaning in Ms. Klobuchar’s direction because “she’s realistic,” a reference to the senator’s moderate politics.

For many Democrats, especially those in Northern Iowa, the Minnesota senator is a familiar figure who has more experience than Mr. Buttigieg but is not as old as Mr. Biden.

Asked who they were considering after a Biden town hall meeting this past week, three voters from outside Mason City all cited Mr. Biden and Mr. Buttigieg — but also added a third name: Ms. Klobuchar.

Sydney Ember contributed reporting from Des Moines and Reid Epstein from Washington.

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

With Impeachment Unfolding Amid a Booming Economy, What Will Voters Prioritize?

Westlake Legal Group 06dc-Trump-1-facebookJumbo With Impeachment Unfolding Amid a Booming Economy, What Will Voters Prioritize? United States Politics and Government United States Economy Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Presidential Election of 2020 Polls and Public Opinion Labor and Jobs International Trade and World Market

WASHINGTON — President Trump was greeted Friday morning with news of a blockbuster jobs report, showing that employers added 266,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent, its lowest level since 1969.

The country’s economic condition, which has historically aligned with a president’s re-election chances, should be helping Mr. Trump sail into a second term. But what should be a top indicator of Mr. Trump’s performance as president came a day after Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on the House to begin drafting articles of impeachment against him.

It didn’t take long for Mr. Trump to tie the two together. “Without the horror show that is the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, the Stock Markets and Economy would be even better, if that is possible,” he wrote on Twitter. “And the Border would be closed to the evil of Drugs, Gangs and all other problems! #2020.”

Such is the Trump presidency: a leader who is presiding over a record-long economic expansion that has proved more durable than anyone predicted while defending his fitness to hold office.

With 11 months to go before the 2020 election, a polarized electorate is dividing itself by which story line it views as more pertinent — the president’s potential abuse of power, or the comfort of a steady paycheck credited to his leadership.

The Trump campaign is betting that Mr. Trump’s rote denials of pressuring the Ukrainian president to investigate his political foes will eventually sway enough voters to put the entire impeachment issue to the side.

“Trump having a perfectly acceptable phone call with the president of Ukraine doesn’t affect anybody’s daily life,” said Brad Parscale, the president’s campaign manager. “A good job with a bigger paycheck does.”

But Mr. Trump’s presidency is also testing conventional wisdom that a good economy is all voters need to keep the status quo rather than seek out change.

“Were it not for the other factors of the Trump presidency, it should be by far the most popular presidency in history, based on the economics,” said Tony Fratto, founder of Hamilton Place Strategies, a public affairs firm, and a former spokesman for the Treasury Department under President George W. Bush.

Instead of enjoying anything close to overwhelming popularity because of the economy, Mr. Trump’s national approval rating has remained low, dropping about two percentage points to 41 percent since the Ukraine story broke. One problem with Mr. Trump’s campaign message is that the economic expansion started before the president assumed office, causing many voters to take it for granted.

“At this point, voters may think this is just the normal economy,” Mr. Fratto said. “That gives them the luxury to focus on other things, like the behavior of the president.”

Another factor is also at play: While Mr. Trump routinely talks up the economy, he is far more passionate when lashing out at Democrats over the impeachment inquiry, or simply riffing about the news of the day, than when discussing the stock market and unemployment rate. His off-the-cuff comments often overshadow his dutiful recitations of gains.

At the White House on Friday, Mr. Trump noted in a monotone voice that the unemployment rate was “at the lowest rate, as I told you, in many years and in many ways I think we probably very soon say historically.”

He only seemed to come alive when discussing rolling back energy standards on light bulbs. “The new bulb is many times more expensive and I hate to say it, it doesn’t make you look as good. Of course, because being a vain person that’s very important to me,” he said, noting that it “gives you an orange look.”

Mr. Trump’s penchant for steering the conversation away from the economy is frustrating for many Republicans and business leaders, given America is powering through a record 11-year expansion. Employers have hired 2.2 million people over the past 12 months, a surprisingly robust performance at a time when unemployment is at 3.5 percent — its lowest in half a century.

Those gains have often come in spite of Mr. Trump’s policies, not because of them. And it remains an open question how long the pace of growth can continue.

The president’s globe-spanning trade war has put businesses on edge and slowed their investment. Manufacturing has dipped into outright contraction as weak global growth and geopolitical tensions weigh on exports.

Mr. Trump’s economic advisers have been keenly aware of the need to keep the economy humming as the president heads into a re-election year. “America is working and not only is America working, America is getting paid after taxes,” Larry Kudlow, a top economic adviser, said on Friday. “I don’t see any end to it right now. What I see is more strength.”

Administration officials have been exploring ways to ensure the expansion continues, including tax cuts aimed directly at the middle class. The White House has not indicated which income brackets would see a lower rate but Mr. Trump is expected to back a plan that would make permanent the individual tax cuts included in the tax package he signed in 2017. Those cuts are now slated to expire in 2025.

Mr. Trump has dangled the additional tax cuts as a reason voters should back him and Republican House candidates, warning that the economy — and retirement accounts — will tank if Democrats win the White House.

“If any of these people that I’ve been watching on this stage got elected, your 401(k)’s would be down the tubes,” Mr. Trump said in October. “You’d destroy the country.”

At rallies and speeches, he has told supporters, “you have no choice but to vote for me,” citing dire economic consequences of electing any of the Democratic candidates, whom he has tried to broadly portray as a band of extreme socialists.

So far, the economy is complying with Mr. Trump’s re-election message.

Average hourly earnings increased 3.1 percent in the year through November, a moderate but sustainable pace. Bigger paychecks have given consumers more cash to spend on everything from restaurant meals to holiday shopping, helping to power the economy.

Such a strong economic track record should help insulate Mr. Trump from attacks by Democrats claiming that they can do a better job managing the economy. So far, his rivals have floated plans that they say would spread wealth more equitably by raising taxes on corporations and the rich to finance universal health care and free college tuition.

But Democrats have found a ripe opening in impeachment to hone their attacks on Mr. Trump.

“The Constitution makes clear no one is above the law,” Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said in a recent interview with MSNBC. “I hope we hold him accountable.”

Even without the impeachment drama, it’s not clear that the economy will continue complying with Mr. Trump’s campaign messaging.

Mr. Trump said this week that trade talks with China may last past the 2020 election, rattling stock markets around the world. Additional tariffs on Chinese goods are slated to take hold Dec. 15, and it is unclear whether they will be delayed. Global growth remains fragile, and while many economists expect it to accelerate in 2020, that forecast could be upended by an escalation in the trade war.

“We’re really in terra incognita here, I think, in terms of what’s possible next year, just given all of the geopolitical factors at play,” said Ernie Tedeschi, policy economist at Evercore ISI.

Mr. Trump has jawboned the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates more aggressively, blaming the central bank for not doing enough to propel the economy. The Fed cut rates three times in 2019 as it tried to insulate the economy against trade tensions and slowing global growth, but it is unlikely that it will cut borrowing costs again without good reason.

For now, Mr. Trump is hoping his economic message wins out over impeachment, an issue campaign advisers predicted would be firmly in the rearview mirror by November.

“Stock Markets Up Record Numbers,” Mr. Trump tweeted on Friday, adding: “It’s the economy, stupid.”

Alan Rappeport contributed reporting.

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What Bloomberg Said About His 2020 Rivals in a TV Interview

Michael R. Bloomberg on Friday brushed back critiques about his wealth and bristled at the suggestion that he was using it to buy success in the 2020 presidential race, arguing that other Democrats who have complained about his entry into their party’s primary could have taken it upon themselves to earn their own personal fortunes, as he had done.

In a television interview, Mr. Bloomberg’s first since he announced his presidential campaign, the billionaire and former mayor of New York City rejected the idea that he had an unfair advantage, saying that while other candidates asked donors for money, he had made his money himself and then given most of it away.

“I turn and they’re criticizing me for it,” he said on “CBS This Morning.” “They had a chance to go out and make a lot of money. And how much of their own money do they put into their campaigns?”

“I’m doing exactly the same thing they’re doing, except that I am using my own money,” he added. “They’re using somebody else’s money and those other people expect something from them. Nobody gives you money if they don’t expect something. And I don’t want to be bought.”

The interview with Mr. Bloomberg, 77, covered a wide range of topics, including the candidate’s recent apology for having defended so called stop-and-frisk policing as mayor of New York. Asked about the timing of his about-face, Mr. Bloomberg asserted that “nobody asked me about it until I started running for president.”

Discussing his reasons for entering the race, he said he worried that if other Democrats took on President Trump in a general election, Mr. Trump would “eat ’em up.” He described one of those Democratic hopefuls, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, as “very well-spoken,” a phrase that quickly drew criticism as belittling of a black politician.

In addressing his wealth and the way he has deployed it to help him play catch-up after his late entry into the race, Mr. Bloomberg confronted the central critique of his candidacy that his Democratic rivals have deployed early on: that he is seeking to “buy” the election and the presidency. Mr. Bloomberg, who built a successful financial information and media company, spent more than $30 million on his first week of advertising as a candidate last month — far more than the entire rest of the Democratic field spent that week.

For months, progressive candidates like Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have criticized billionaires, saying the rich have not paid their fair share in taxes and proposing a tax on wealth to help pay for the wide-ranging government programs they have pledged to install if elected.

Video

transcript

Who Is Michael Bloomberg? | 2020 Presidential Candidate

The billionaire businessman and former mayor of New York is hoping he can forge a path to the Democratic nomination by positioning himself as a centrist who can take on President Trump.

A billionaire businessman, philanthropist and former mayor of New York City. “Oh, you’re welcome.” Michael Bloomberg is making a late entry … “This is the road that I’m taking.” … into the Democratic presidential race. So who is he? Bloomberg grew up outside of Boston. After college and Harvard Business School, he got into investment banking. In the 1980s, he created the Bloomberg Terminal, a financial tool for investors that would make him a billionaire. And in 2001, Bloomberg ran for mayor of New York City as a Republican. “That should make a great politician.” Then in the middle of his campaign, New York City changed forever on Sept. 11. As New York’s outgoing mayor took the national stage, he gave Bloomberg the thumbs up. “Well, I’m urging people to vote for Mike Bloomberg.” “I, Michael R. Bloomberg —” Bloomberg won. One of his priorities as mayor was tackling public health. “Sixty-four ounce. Just think about that.” “Don’t go near these things.” He also pushed for controversial stop-and-frisk policies that disproportionately affected minority communities. “Everything the New York City Police Department has done is absolutely —is legal.” But just days before entering the presidential race this year, he apologized. “I just want you to know that I realize back then, I was wrong.” In 2007, he left the G.O.P. And in 2008, during the financial crisis, he asked the City Council to extend term limits in order to let him run for a controversial third term. “Yes.” “No.” “No.” “Aye.” “Aye.” The vote passed, and he won re-election. “We’re going to make the next four years the best yet.” So what about the issues? After he left office in 2013, Bloomberg went back to running his company, which includes a news division. But he’s also focused on supporting candidates … “Let’s elect a sane, competent person.” … and causes he cares about, many of which are now key parts of his platform. Bloomberg is a vocal supporter of gun reform. “We cannot have a society where you go out in the street, and you can get blown away. We just have to say enough is enough.” He also has big plans for health care reform and fighting climate change. “Trump has done us a favor. Every time he riles against climate change, the money comes flooding in.” Overall, Bloomberg is positioning himself as a moderate in the Democratic field. “With the right candidate, we can turn areas from red to blue.” So what about his chances? They’re somewhat unknown. As a billionaire and fellow New Yorker, Bloomberg supporters feel he is uniquely positioned to take on President Trump. “I’m a New Yorker, and I know a con when I see one.” “There is nobody I’d rather run against than ‘Little Michael.’ That I can tell you.” But he has challenges ahead. He’s as not well known outside of New York City. Also, Bloomberg probably won’t participate in any of the Democratic debates, and he’s likely to skip the early primaries and caucuses. His hope: to surge on Super Tuesday and chart a path to the nomination. “I am running for president to defeat Donald Trump, and to unite and rebuild America.”

Westlake Legal Group 05bloombergguns-02-videoSixteenByNine3000 What Bloomberg Said About His 2020 Rivals in a TV Interview Presidential Election of 2020 CBS This Morning (TV Program) Bloomberg, Michael R

The billionaire businessman and former mayor of New York is hoping he can forge a path to the Democratic nomination by positioning himself as a centrist who can take on President Trump.CreditCredit…Chet Strange for The New York Times

Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders, two of the leading candidates in the race, have shunned high-dollar fund-raising events, relying instead on smaller contributions from grass-roots supporters and arguing that such a strategy prevents influence by wealthy donors.

Ms. Warren took aim at another top-tier candidate, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., on Thursday night, calling on him to open his fund-raising events to the news media. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the leader in national polling of the primary contest, has allowed journalists to attend his private fund-raisers.

In his interview, Mr. Bloomberg said he did not come from money and noted that his “father made $6,000 the best year of his life.”

“Nobody gave me a head start,” he said.

Still, the power of money in elections has been on full display in the 2020 race, as candidates have scrambled to meet donation and polling thresholds in order to qualify for the Democratic National Committee’s televised debates. Another billionaire, Tom Steyer, got into the race relatively late but has spent millions of dollars on advertising and other resources that have helped him become one of just six people in a 15-person field to qualify for this month’s debate.

The surprise departure this week of Senator Kamala Harris of California from the race has forced the Democratic Party to grapple with the possibility of having only white candidates on the stage in Los Angeles and prompted some candidates of color — like Mr. Booker and the former housing secretary Julián Castro — to sound an alarm about the diversity of the field.

Asked about Mr. Booker and the concerns he had raised, Mr. Bloomberg praised the senator’s ideas but said the current makeup of the field did not worry him.

“If you wanted to enter and run for president of the United States, you could have done that. But don’t complain to me that you’re not in the race. It was up to you,” he said. “I thought there was a lot of diversity in the group of Democratic aspirants. Entry is not a barrier.”

Mr. Bloomberg’s description of Mr. Booker as “well-spoken” ricocheted on social media and on morning radio talk shows. Asked about the comments Friday morning on “Signal Boost,” a radio program on SiriusXM, Mr. Booker said he was “taken aback.”

“It’s sort of stunning at times that we are still revisiting these tired tropes or the language we have out there that folks I don’t think understand — and the fact that they don’t understand is problematic,” Mr. Booker said, also noting that his relationship with Mr. Bloomberg dates back to when they both were mayors.

At another point, Mr. Bloomberg agreed with his interviewer, Gayle King of CBS, that his longtime companion, Diana Taylor, would be a “de facto” first lady. He said he had been living with Ms. Taylor for 19 years, which would not change if he became president.

Westlake Legal Group democratic-polls-promo-1560481207024-articleLarge-v14 What Bloomberg Said About His 2020 Rivals in a TV Interview Presidential Election of 2020 CBS This Morning (TV Program) Bloomberg, Michael R

Which Democrats Are Leading the 2020 Presidential Race?

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Mr. Bloomberg’s interview aired one day after he released a sweeping plan on gun control, putting an issue on which he has a long record at the center of his emerging candidacy. He said Friday that the National Rifle Association, whose leadership has been in turmoil, “has basically been beaten.”

Mr. Bloomberg’s gun-control plan, which calls for a national gun licensing system and stricter background checks, among a host of other measures, represents some of the most left-leaning views of a candidate who is something of an ideological moderate. Mr. Bloomberg described himself in the interview as “a social liberal, fiscal moderate, who is basically nonpartisan.”

Mr. Bloomberg, who was elected mayor first as a Republican and then as an independent, and who registered as a Democrat more recently, has given millions of dollars to groups and candidates who he believes share his goals, including Republicans.

He delivered a speech just before kicking off his campaign in which he apologized for the controversial stop-and-frisk policing tactics that he defended as mayor. Under the program, officers stopped, questioned and often searched people on the street millions of times. The vast majority of those stopped were young black and Latino men, even though they were no more likely than white people to be arrested as a result.

In the interview, Ms. King pressed him on his assertion that “nobody” had asked him about his position on the tactics until he began his presidential run. He responded by once again expressing remorse.

“I’m sorry. I apologize,” he said. “Let’s go fight the N.R.A.”

Nick Corasaniti contributed reporting.

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Bloomberg Says 2020 Rivals Criticizing His Fortune Could Have Made Their Own

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Michael R. Bloomberg on Friday brushed back critiques about his wealth and bristled at the suggestion that he was using it to buy success in the 2020 presidential race, arguing that other Democrats who have complained about his entry into their party’s primary could have taken it upon themselves to earn their own personal fortunes, as he had done.

In an interview on “CBS This Morning,” Mr. Bloomberg’s first since he announced his presidential campaign, the billionaire and former mayor of New York City rejected the idea that he had an unfair advantage, saying that while other candidates asked donors for money to help their campaigns, he had made his money himself and then given most of it away.

“I turn and they’re criticizing me for it,” he said. “They had a chance to go out and make a lot of money. And how much of their own money do they put into their campaigns?”

“I’m doing exactly the same thing they’re doing, except that I am using my own money,” he added. “They’re using somebody else’s money and those other people expect something from them. Nobody gives you money if they don’t expect something. And I don’t want to be bought.”

The interview with Mr. Bloomberg, 77, covered a wide range of topics, including the candidate’s recent apology for having defended so called stop-and-frisk policing as mayor of New York. Asked about the timing of his about-face, Mr. Bloomberg asserted that “nobody asked me about it until I started running for president.”

And discussing his reasons for entering the race, he said he worried that if other Democrats faced off against President Trump in a general election, Mr. Trump would “eat ’em up’’ — before amending his answer and saying he thought he had the best chance of winning. And asked whether his longtime companion, Diana Taylor, would be a “de facto” first lady, he said he had been living with Ms. Taylor for 19 years, which would not change if he became president.

In addressing his wealth and the way he has deployed it to help him play catch-up after his late entry into the race, Mr. Bloomberg confronted the central critique of his candidacy that his Democratic rivals have deployed early on: that he is seeking to “buy” the election and the presidency. Mr. Bloomberg, who built a successful financial information and media company, spent more than $30 million on his first week of advertising as a candidate last month — far more than the entire rest of the Democratic field spent that week.

For months, progressive candidates like Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have criticized billionaires, saying the rich have not paid their fair share in taxes and proposing a tax on wealth to help pay for the wide-ranging government programs they have pledged to install if elected.

Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders, two of the leading candidates in the race, have shunned high-dollar fund-raising events, instead fueling their campaigns through smaller contributions from grass-roots supporters and making the argument that such a strategy prevents them from being influenced by wealthy donors.

Ms. Warren took aim at another top-tier candidate, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., on Thursday night, calling on him to open his fund-raising events to the news media. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the leader in national polling of the primary contest, has allowed members of the news media to attend his private fund-raisers.

In his interview, Mr. Bloomberg said he did not come from money and noted that his “father made $6,000 the best year of his life.”

“Nobody gave me a head start,” he said.

Still, the power of money in elections has been on full display in the 2020 race, as candidates have scrambled to meeting donation and polling thresholds in order to qualify for the Democratic National Committee’s televised debates. Another billionaire, Tom Steyer, got into the race relatively late but has spent millions of dollars of his own money on advertising and other resources that have helped him become one of just six people in a 15-person field to qualify for the debate this month.

The surprise departure this week of Senator Kamala Harris of California from the race has forced the Democratic Party to grapple with the possibility of having only white candidates on the stage in Los Angeles and prompted some candidates of color — like Senator Cory Booker and the former housing secretary Julián Castro — to sound an alarm about the diversity of the field.

Asked about his own level of concern on that topic, Mr. Bloomberg said “lots of people can enter.”

“If you wanted to enter and run for president of the United States, you could have done that. But don’t complain to me that you’re not in the race. It was up to you,” he said. “I thought there was a lot of diversity in the group of Democratic aspirants. Entry is not a barrier.”

He also told his interviewer, Gayle King of CBS, that he had been drawn into the race because he had watched the other Democratic candidates in the large field and thought to himself: “Donald Trump would eat ’em up” — a comment he walked back moments later.

“Let me rephrase it,” he said. “I think that I would do the best job of competing with him and beating him.”

The interview aired one day after Mr. Bloomberg released a sweeping plan on gun control, putting an issue on which he has a long record at the center of his emerging candidacy. He said Friday that the National Rifle Association, whose leadership has been in turmoil, “has basically been beaten.”

“You don’t have to go talk to them at all,” he said.

Mr. Bloomberg’s gun-control plan, which calls for a national gun licensing system and stricter background checks, among a host of other measures, represents some of the most left-leaning views of a candidate who is something of an ideological moderate. Mr. Bloomberg described himself in the interview as “a social liberal, fiscal moderate, who is basically nonpartisan.”

Mr. Bloomberg, who was elected mayor first as a Republican and then as an independent, and who registered as a Democrat more recently, has also given millions of dollars to Republicans who he felt shared his goals.

He delivered a speech just before kicking off his campaign in which he apologized for the controversial stop-and-frisk policing tactics that he defended as mayor.

In the interview, Ms. King pressed him on his assertion that “nobody” had asked him about his position on the tactics until he began his presidential run. He responded by once again expressing remorse.

“I’m sorry. I apologize,” he said. “Let’s go fight the N.R.A.”

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When Pete Buttigieg Was One of McKinsey’s ‘Whiz Kids’

Westlake Legal Group 00pete-mckinsey-01-facebookJumbo When Pete Buttigieg Was One of McKinsey’s ‘Whiz Kids’ Presidential Election of 2020 McKinsey&Co Consultants Buttigieg, Pete (1982- )

Among the hoops that candidates for plum consulting jobs at McKinsey & Company had to jump through in late 2006 was a bit of play acting: They were given a scenario involving a hypothetical client, “a business under siege,” and told they would be meeting with its chief executive the next day. How would they structure the conversation?

One contender stood out that year: a 24-year-old Rhodes scholar named Pete Buttigieg.

“He was the only one who put all the pieces together,” recalled Jeff Helbling, a McKinsey partner at the time who was involved in recruiting. Mr. Buttigieg soon won the other candidates over to his approach.

“He was very good at taking this ambiguous thing that he literally had no background on and making sense of it,” Mr. Helbling said. “That is rare for anyone at any level.”

The preternatural poise that got Mr. Buttigieg hired at McKinsey has helped him rise from obscurity to the top tier of the 2020 Democratic primary presidential contest.

On the way there, he ticked all the boxes. Harvard. Rhodes scholar. War veteran. Elected mayor of a midsize city before age 30.

Mr. Buttigieg sells his candidacy, in large part, on his mayoralty of South Bend, Ind., and a civic revitalization there rooted in the kind of data-driven techniques espoused by McKinsey. His nearly three years at “the firm” set him apart from many of his campaign rivals, underpinning his position as a more centrist alternative to progressive front-runners like Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Yet Mr. Buttigieg’s time at the world’s most prestigious management-consulting company is one piece of his meticulously programmed biography that he mentions barely, if at all, on the campaign trail.

As Mr. Buttigieg explains it, that is not a matter of choice. For all of his efforts to run an open, accessible campaign — marked by frequent on-the-record conversations with reporters on his blue-and-yellow barnstorming bus — McKinsey is a famously secretive employer, and Mr. Buttigieg says he signed a nondisclosure agreement that keeps him from going into detail about his work there.

But as he gains ground in polls, his reticence about McKinsey is being tested, including by his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination. Senator Warren, responding last month to needling by Mr. Buttigieg that she release more than eight years of her tax returns to account for her private-sector work, retorted, “There are some candidates who want to distract from the fact that they have not released the names of their clients and have not released the names of their bundlers.”

Beyond Mr. Buttigieg’s agreement with McKinsey, this is something of an awkward moment to be associated with the consultancy, especially if you happen to be a Democratic politician in an election year shadowed by questions of corporate power and growing wealth inequality. The firm has long advocated business strategies like raising executive compensation, moving labor offshore and laying off workers to cut costs. And over the last couple of years, reporting in The New York Times and other publications has revealed episodes tarnishing McKinsey’s once-sterling reputation: its work advising Purdue Pharma on how to “turbocharge” opioid sales, its consulting for authoritarian governments in places like China and Saudi Arabia, and its role in a wide-ranging corruption scandal in South Africa. (All of these came after Mr. Buttigieg left the firm.)

Just this week, ProPublica, copublishing with The Times, revealed that McKinsey consultants had recommended in 2017 that Immigration and Customs Enforcement cut its spending on food for migrants and medical care for detainees.

After a campaign event on Wednesday in Birmingham, Ala., Mr. Buttigieg remarked on the latest revelations. “The decision to do what was reported yesterday in The Times is disgusting,” he said. “And as somebody who left the firm a decade ago, seeing what certain people in that firm have decided to do is extremely frustrating and extremely disappointing.”

The Buttigieg campaign says he has asked to be let out of his nondisclosure agreement so he can be more forthcoming about that formative time in his life. A McKinsey spokesman said Mr. Buttigieg “worked with several different clients” during his time with the firm, but “beyond that, we have no comment on specific client work.”

But interviews with six people who were involved in projects that Mr. Buttigieg worked on at McKinsey, along with gleanings from his autobiography, fill in some of the blanks.

Mr. Buttigieg was recruited by McKinsey at Oxford. The company seeks out Rhodes scholars like him, banking that their intellects will make up for their lack of M.B.A.s from traditional recruiting grounds like Harvard Business School.

Yet even during the recruitment process, Mr. Helbling recalled, Mr. Buttigieg made it known that, like many applicants, he saw the business experience on offer at McKinsey as a good job “in the near term,” in his case an asset on the way to a career in public service.

The work he did in his first year and a half at the firm — nearly a 10th of his adult life — is effectively a blank slate, though tax records give some hints. In 2007, his first year with the company, he filed tax returns in Illinois, where he worked out of the Chicago office, as well as in his home state of Indiana. But he also filed in Michigan, and in the city of Detroit, where he worked on a McKinsey project. In 2008, he filed a return in Connecticut (McKinsey has an office in Stamford). The next year, he filed in Connecticut and in California.

In early 2009 Mr. Buttigieg was spending his days, and many nights, in a glass-walled conference room in suburban Toronto. He was analyzing Canadian grocery prices, plugging the numbers into a database running on a souped-up laptop his colleagues nicknamed “Bertha.” PowerPoint slides and spreadsheets crept into his dreams.

He knew this wasn’t his calling.

“And so it may have been inevitable that one afternoon, as I set Bertha to sleep mode to go out to the hallway for a cup of coffee, I realized with overwhelming clarity the reason this could not be a career for very long: I didn’t care,” Mr. Buttigieg wrote in his autobiography, “Shortest Way Home.”

It was the only experience at McKinsey that Mr. Buttigieg wrote about in any detail. His next act at the firm didn’t merit a single complete sentence in the book. But it was a radically different, and for him far more interesting, public-spirited project: More than four years before he would be deployed as a Navy Reserve officer, he was heading to Iraq and Afghanistan.

McKinsey’s focus in Iraq during the latter part of George W. Bush’s presidency and the early years of Barack Obama’s was to help the defense department identify Iraqi state-owned enterprises that could be revived. The idea was to provide employment for men who might otherwise join the insurgency against the American-led occupation.

The McKinsey consultants on the ground in 2006 and 2007 were almost exclusively military veterans like Alan Armstrong, who flew fighters for the Navy and had an M.B.A. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Armstrong, in an interview, said that while the reasoning behind the program was sound, the ongoing insurgency and a crippled infrastructure — electricity, for example, was spotty or nonexistent — made execution very difficult.

But the program was popular among the top brass at the Pentagon. In 2006, the defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld, met with the team in Iraq and asked about the “whiz kids” from McKinsey, which struck Mr. Armstrong as an obvious parallel to the Vietnam War era, when whiz kids of an earlier generation had worked for another defense secretary: Robert S. McNamara.

“McKinsey was more than willing to play along — they were being paid extraordinary rates to keep playing,” Mr. Armstrong said.

Another former McKinsey consultant who worked in Iraq recalled a surreal moment preparing a PowerPoint presentation while on a convoy to a shuttered food-processing factory, under the watchful eye of a burly private security guard. “It felt like we were completely half-assing everything — it wasn’t particularly effective,” he said.

Other former McKinsey consultants who worked on the Iraq project, Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, have a more positive recollection of the firm’s work.

“Over all I’m very proud of it,” said one consultant, who had met Mr. Buttigieg in Washington, where most of the McKinsey consultants assigned to the project worked when not visiting Iraq. Four of the six former McKinsey employees spoke on the condition that their names not be used, citing confidentiality agreements or the press policies of their current employers.

By 2009, the security situation in Baghdad was stable enough that McKinsey allowed in some nonveterans like Mr. Buttigieg, who had studied Arabic at Harvard. He went to Iraq aware of the stark similarities between the American experiences there and in Vietnam decades earlier.

At Harvard, his senior thesis had drawn parallels between the United States’ seeking to “save” Vietnam from “godless Communism,” and the 17th-century Puritan ministers who had come to America to civilize “savage lands.” In his autobiography and in an interview that has drawn charges of out-of-touch elitism from some quarters, he reflected on that history by quoting a passage from “The Quiet American” by Graham Greene: “Innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.”

“I had protested the Iraq war,” Mr. Buttigieg said in an interview with The Times. “But I also believed that it was important to try to do my part to help have good outcomes there.” He found echoes, he said, of “the stories I had studied about well-intentioned Americans sometimes causing as many problems as they addressed.”

Mr. Buttigieg recalled spending only two nights in Baghdad, where McKinsey consultants were quartered in a building near the Tigris River, and “going to a ministry.” He never left the city during his time there, he said.

“Remember I’m like the junior guy, kind of new,” Mr. Buttigieg said. “It’s not like I was the one whose expertise was needed to sort out what was going on in the provinces.

“Eventually I knew what I was doing a little more and was more useful by the time I got to the Afghan side.”

Mr. Buttigieg spent more time in Afghanistan. While Iraq had a fairly well-educated populace, a modern road system and large oil revenues, Afghanistan was far less developed. But the mission was similar: identify small and medium-size businesses to nurture so that they could employ Afghans, providing an attractive alternative to joining the Taliban while fueling economic growth.

Citing his nondisclosure agreement, Mr. Buttigieg declined to specify in the interview what he had worked on, though he mentioned having looked at opportunities in the agricultural industry — onions, tomatoes, olive oil — as well as paint manufacturing.

“They had some things to work with,” he said, “but would have benefited from support on things like business planning, more resources on how to plug in and eventually connections to markets too.”

In the years after Mr. Buttigieg left McKinsey, that program came under criticism from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. McKinsey had been awarded $18.6 million for the project, but the Pentagon watchdog wrote in an April 2018 report that it had been able to find just one piece of related work product: a 50-page report on the economic potential of the city of Herat.

A former McKinsey consultant who worked in Afghanistan described a more extensive McKinsey presence there, involving work in the mining industry and a government transparency project, along with the Herat study.

“One of those sounds just exactly like what I was doing,” Mr. Buttigieg said. When asked which one, he said, “I can’t think of a way to answer that without getting in trouble with the N.D.A.”

Mr. Buttigieg’s work on the Afghanistan project ended in late 2009, close to the time he was commissioned as an officer in the Navy Reserve. And that October, when he was still several months from leaving McKinsey, he set in motion the next phase of his life: He registered as a candidate for office with the State of Indiana.

The next year, he lost a bid for state treasurer, after emphasizing his McKinsey experience during the campaign. (He recounted at one campaign event that after his Rhodes scholarship, “I came back and went into business, and I worked for a company where my job was to do math. I’m a card-carrying nerd.”) In 2011, at age 29, he was elected mayor of South Bend.

The full range of Mr. Buttigieg’s work at McKinsey isn’t clear, though in his autobiography he says that he worked on other projects, including “energy efficiency research” to help curb greenhouse-gas emissions for a client he didn’t name. He also found time in the summer of 2008 to travel to Somaliland, the autonomous region in the Horn of Africa. He went as a tourist, but while there talked to local officials and wrote an account of his experience for The International Herald Tribune.

Mr. Buttigieg has been asked on the presidential campaign trail about his time at McKinsey and, in several interviews this year, has sought to reconcile the company’s recent troubles with his own work there.

For Mr. Buttigieg, the solution to McKinsey’s ethical pitfalls may come in a rethinking of the rules that business abides by. Maximizing shareholder value, the North Star of modern American capitalism, has a downside when the rules of the game leave many people worse off, he said.

“The challenge is that’s not good enough at a time when we are seeing how the economy continues to become more and more unequal, and we are seeing the ways in which a lot of corporate behavior that is technically legal is also not acceptable in terms of its impact,” he said. “There has got to be a higher standard.”

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