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2020 comes to French Lick—Pence vs. Haley—Hoosier pols respond to Luck news—Week ahead
Representatives from the Bennett, Buttigieg, O'Rourke and Sanders campaigns swarmed French Lick this weekend.
FRENCH LICK, Ind.—Indiana Democrats descended on the French Lick Resort here this past weekend as part of the annual Indiana Democrat Editorial Association Convention. The storied annual confab—the 139th meeting—is among the biggest statewide Democratic gatherings.
Among them this time: Representatives from the 2020 presidential campaigns of Colorado Sen. Michael Bennett, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
They were there to make their pitch to state party insiders and circulate petitions ahead of the state’s primary next May. Candidates need a minimum of 4,500 verifiable signatures—500 across each of the state’s nine congressional districts—to qualify for the ballot by next January. (California Sen. Kamala Harris sent petitioners to Indiana last month).
The resort has a special place in Indiana political lore. In 1931, Franklin D. Roosevelt essentially launched his bid for the presidency here during the Democratic Governors’ Conference. It was also here where Buttigieg launched his political career and bid for state treasurer with a line of “Meet Pete” signs leading up to the resort’s entrance (Who the hell was Pete, attendees recall wondering; they know now). Since then, Buttigieg has been a fixture at the gathering. This year, he was courting voters in New Hamsphire. The campaign sent National Delegate Director George Hornedo. During the day, party poobahs caucus in various constituency groups and talk shop. At night, elected officials and those on the ballot rent hospitality suites at the hotel, fill bathtubs with beer and ice, and politick late into the next morning. The proceeding are off the record.
IMPORTANTVILLE TAKE: The presence of the 2020 Democratic campaigns at French Lick is a sign of which candidates are serious about prepping for what could be a long-haul nomination battle that could stretch into next Spring. And it means Indiana could still be in play by then.
Good morning, and welcome to IMPORTANTVILLE.
Days until the 2020 election: 438
Days until Iowa Caucuses: 161
Days until 2019 municipal elections: 72
WHERE’S VEEP? He heads to Anderson, South Carolina, for remarks on the USMCA and U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan’s 6th Annual Faith and Freedom BBQ.
FOR YOUR RADAR
Your weekly look ahead.
Monday: Gov. Eric Holcomb gives remarks at Indiana Women’s Prison Graduation at 10 a.m.
Tuesday: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses the American Legion at 11:50 a.m. at the Indiana Convention Center.
Wednesday: Pence addresses the American Legion at 1 p.m. at the Indiana Convention Center.
Thursday: Democratic Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Republican Jim Merritt debate at the Indy Chamber’s annual HobNob event.
THE PETE BEAT
Buttigieg appeared on Meet the Press yesterday from Freedom, N.H. Newsy bits below:
On the president’s week:
Chuck Todd: Mayor Pete Buttigieg joins me now from Freedom, NH. Mayor Buttigieg, good to see you again. And let me just dive right into that question, but ask it this way, this was a week where the president certainly had some erratic moments. As you know, many voters have that safe harbor mentality, especially during weeks like this. This strikes me as particularly challenging for any candidate not named Joe Biden, any candidate that wasn't a former vice president. How do you talk to those voters?
Mayor Pete Buttigieg: Well, I guess what I would say is this, the president is certainly a problem, a big one, but he's not the only problem. Ask yourself how a guy like this ever got within cheating distance of the Oval Office in the first place. I would argue that doesn't happen unless the country's already in a kind of crisis. And we see it in the fact that for pretty much as long as I've been alive, even when the economy has been growing, and quickly, most Americans haven't been getting ahead. One of many reasons why in places like the Industrial Midwest, where I live, back to normal is not going to be a good enough message because normal was not good enough. Of course there are huge problems with this president, especially now. We're not even debating whether the president is telling the truth or making sense. We're just debating whether it matters when he doesn’t, and it does matter, as you can see by the way he has created turmoil in global markets with his words. But even so, getting rid of the president is not enough; we need to replace this presidency with something better that actually works for Americans or somebody even more unstable could gain power and emerge in our politics in the future.
On the future of his candidacy:
Todd: Let me make the final question about the state of your campaign. You took off like a rocket ship, obviously these things ebb and flow, and I know that but if -- what do you say to your supporters who are saying 'OK, when are you going to take off like a rocket ship again?' How much patience should they have? A lot of people are starting to ask, 'OK, is this a campaign to prepare to run for president another time?'
Buttigieg: It is not. I am in it to win, and you don't do something like run for president—at least I don't—unless you are aiming to go all the way. We have exceeded every expectation from the beginning of this campaign, when we started with literally four people in a room in South Bend in January and a mailing list smaller than most congressional campaigns. Where we are now is that we have arrived in the top tier of candidates, but this is where you really see how much this is a distance run. And knowing that so much is decided in literally the last few days of the caucus and primary campaigns, we have got to make sure the stretch from now until then, that key six months or so where the unglamorous work is happening of organizers on the ground building the relationships that are going to build up this campaign—that's our focus, even as there are these day to day ups and downs.
A number of Hoosier pols responded to the surprise retirement of Indianapolis Colts Quarterback over the weekend.
“What are we going to do Indianapolis Colts fans?” Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch shared on Facebook from Lucas Oil Stadium. "Just heard Andrew Luck has decided to retire. And he is quite the Quarterback. We need BLUE! We will always have luck.”
“Andrew Luck is a class act has done great thing for the Colts and the city of Indianapolis,” Sen. Todd Young posted to Instagram. “We all wish him well in retirement and look forward to a great season this year.”
“Andrew luck should be acknowledged for what he brought to Indiana,” Buttigieg told a gaggle of reporters in Ossipee, New Hampshire, Sunday.
“I’ll never be able to look at neck beards the same way ... #ThankYouCaptainLuck,” tweeted Rep. Jim Banks.
Kevin Clark, The Ringer: “Andrew Luck Gave Up Fame, Riches, and Football Because He Is Unapologetically Himself”
Andrew Luck, by my count, can become any or all of the following things now that he’s retired: a TV analyst, a football coach or executive, a professional Settlers of Catan player, the host of a Game of Thrones book podcast, an architect, a full-time book club leader, deputy commissioner of the XFL alongside his father, or just a regular dude who travels the world with his family.
Luck can be anything he wants, except the one thing everyone expected him to be: a longtime, elite NFL quarterback. He’s fine with this—he told The Athletic’s Zak Keefer this year that if his worth as a human was tied to whether he won or lost a football game, then he would have a “shitty life”—and it should be fine with basically everyone else. In the first three years of his career, Luck was knocked down—that means hit or sacked—352 times, about 60 more times than any other player during that span. He is walking away from tens of millions of dollars and, if he played long enough, possibly a hundred million dollars more in future earnings, because his body simply can’t do this anymore. There is a lot of talk about Luck walking away from his team two weeks before the season, but he made the courageous choice: He walked away from glory, fame, and money because he was honest with himself.
Alex Isenstadt, POLITICO: “Haley-Pence rivalry heats up as GOP weighs post-Trump future”
When top Republicans convened at the St. Regis resort in Aspen, Colo. last month for an exclusive donor retreat, several attendees said there was palpable tension in the room as the gathering’s two headliners prepared to speak: Vice President Mike Pence and former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley.
The assembled group of governors, high-dollar donors, and operatives were well aware that the two have big ambitions; to some it seemed as if Pence and Haley, who spoke on back-to-back days, were vying for their attention. Some in the audience found themselves parsing and comparing the two speeches and buzzed they were getting a sneak preview of a 2024 Republican primary. Others recalled something peculiar: Neither Pence nor Haley acknowledged each other in their presentations, even though they gave shout-outs to others attending the retreat.
At a time when Republicans are starting to contemplate what their party will look like after Donald Trump leaves office, a rivalry has developed between the two politicians who cut markedly different profiles — and signs of strain are bubbling to the surface.
Pence and Haley aren't openly sniping: Publicly, both sides maintain there's nothing but mutual respect between them. But interviews with nearly two dozen top Republicans revealed that the opposing camps are closely tracking each other's moves, and remain deeply suspicious of one another.
The Pence team has recently asked senior Republicans for updates on Haley’s outreach to donors. And with Haley embarking on a national fundraising tour and promoting a new outside political group, top Pence advisers blame her for persistent rumors that she will replace him on the Trump's ticket in 2020. Tensions flared after Haley chose not to publicly repudiate a Wall Street Journal column in June urging Trump to put her on the ticket.
IMPORTANTVILLE ABOUT TOWN
Catch me on Fox 59’s IN Focus podcast talking about the economy, the gun debate, the Indianapolis race for mayor.
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