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US Presidential Elections 2020 - News & Updates

Khafee

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Four Democratic 2020 candidates court South Carolina's black voters
June 15, 2019
Amanda Becker


CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - Four of the two dozen Democrats vying for their party’s 2020 U.S. presidential nomination appeared at a Black Economic Alliance forum in Charleston, South Carolina, on Saturday, with an eye on the key role black voters will play in the early-voting state.


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FILE PHOTO: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg delivers remarks on foreign policy and national security, in Bloomington, Indiana, U.S., June 11, 2019. REUTERS/John Sommers II

South Carolina will host the fourth nominating contest next year, after Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, and it is the first state where a significant proportion of the Democratic electorate - about 60 percent - is black.

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke and U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren attended Saturday’s forum, which was organized by the Black Economic Alliance.

The candidates want to show their messages resonate with black voters in South Carolina, potentially portending success in subsequent nominating contests across the U.S. South.

They also want to prove they can generate enthusiasm among black voters for their candidacies in the November general election against President Donald Trump, the presumed Republican nominee. Democrat Hillary Clinton’s stunning loss to Trump in 2016 was in part attributed to a decline in black voter turnout for the first time in 20 years.

At the forum, O’Rourke called for increased access to capital for minority business owners and expunging the arrest records for those with marijuana convictions, which disproportionately affects communities of color. Warren discussed her recent proposal for a $7 billion fund to launch 100,000 minority-owned businesses.

Buttigieg said the percentage of government contracts going to minority-run businesses should be increased. Booker said improving economic opportunities for minorities required investments in a variety of areas, and touted his “baby bonds” plan to close the racial wealth gap.
“We need to plant lots of seeds in our democracy to create the kind of harvest we need,” Booker said.

The Black Economic Alliance was started last year ahead of the 2018 midterm congressional elections, when it endorsed 26 candidates in House of Representatives, Senate and gubernatorial races.

The alliance has pivoted to policy development and decided to host its forum early in the 2020 election cycle in order to help set the agenda, Akunna Cook, a founding director of the organization, told Reuters.

“Black voters are really hungry for candidates who will put forward concrete plans for these issues,” she said. “We wanted to make sure we were able to help mold and shape the conversation.”

In a nationwide survey of 1,003 black adults released by the alliance earlier this month, 83 percent said the wage gap between white and black Americans was a big concern, 84 percent said hiring discrimination was a big concern, and 81 percent said it was hard to achieve the American dream today.

Warren, addressing the finding on achieving the American dream, said, “Yes, I think it’s really, really tough and I think if we don’t acknowledge that head on we can’t diagnose what’s wrong,” Warren said.

The survey showed black adults were most enthusiastic about the candidacy of former Vice President Joe Biden, followed by U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris. None of the three attended Saturday’s forum but they recorded video messages for the event.

The focus of the 2020 race will remain on South Carolina next weekend when Representative Jim Clyburn hosts his annual fish fry in Columbia, the state capital. It is South Carolina’s first “cattle call,” with 22 Democratic candidates scheduled to attend. It will be followed by forums hosted by the state Democratic Party and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which are also expected to draw large fields of candidates.

Reporting by Amanda Becker; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Bill Trott

 

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2020 race brings free college back to the national stage
By COLLIN BINKLEY
16 June 2019

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks at a campaign house party, Friday, June 14, 2019, in Windham, N.H. Candidates including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have proposed plans to eliminate tuition at public colleges and universities, while former Vice President Joe Biden and others back plans for free community college. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)


After receding from the national stage, the free college movement is resurfacing as a central rallying point for Democrats as they set their sights on the White House.
At least 18 of the party’s 23 presidential contenders have come out in support of some version of free college . Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts promises free tuition at public colleges and universities. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota says it should be limited to two years of community college. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York wants to provide free tuition in exchange for public service.

The candidates are responding to what some say is a crisis in college affordability, an issue likely to draw attention in the first primary debates later this month. Year after year, colleges say they have to raise tuition to offset state funding cuts. Students have shouldered the cost by taking out loans, pushing the country’s student debt to nearly $1.6 trillion this year. Even for many in the middle class, experts say, college is increasingly moving out of reach.

Free college, a catchall term for a range of affordability plans, is increasingly seen as a solution. Nearly 20 states now promise some version of free college, from Tennessee’s free community college program to New York’s Excelsior Scholarship, which offers up to four years of free tuition at state schools for residents with family incomes below $125,000 a year.

But research on the effectiveness of state programs has been mixed. Critics say the offers are often undermined by limited funding and come with narrow eligibility rules that exclude many students.
“This is a problem that has not gone away but has gotten worse in many communities,” said Mark Huelsman, associate director of policy and research for Demos, a liberal think tank. “It’s enough of a problem that people expect some action on it, and they expect some plan for how to get there.”

Plans from Warren, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Obama housing chief Julian Castro aim to eliminate tuition at all public institutions. The candidates say that would open college to a wider group of Americans and greatly reduce the need for loans. Warren argues that college, like other levels of schooling, is “a basic public good that should be available to everyone with free tuition and zero debt at graduation.”

Others, including Klobuchar and former Vice President Joe Biden, have backed more moderate plans to provide two years of free tuition at community colleges, similar to an idea pushed by President Barack Obama in 2015.

And there are some who say students should be able to graduate without debt. To do that, several candidates want to help students with tuition as well as textbooks and living costs. Such “debt-free” plans, which aim to steer money toward students with lower incomes, are supported Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, among others.

Proposals for free college nationwide started to gain popularity among Democrats during the Obama administration and in the 2016 primary race. That discussion stalled after the election of President Donald Trump, who is seen as hostile to the idea. His administration blames colleges for the debt crisis, saying they ramp up tuition because they know students have easy access to federal loans.

Before Trump was elected, Sanders was credited with bringing the issue to the fore when he campaigned on a promise to make tuition free at public colleges. Hillary Clinton, the party’s 2016 nominee, initially criticized the idea but later adopted a similar plan. Now, early in the 2020 race, Democrats have been quick to show their support. Instead of debating whether it should be free, most are weighing which model is best and how to achieve it.

“It’s striking how much the debate has shifted over the past decade,” Huelsman said. “If you look at the 2008 election, 2012, it was not something that was necessarily a prominent part of the debate.”

For most candidates, free college is just part of the solution as they confront student debt and college access. Several also promise to help borrowers refinance loans at lower interest rates; some want to wipe away huge chunks of the nation’s student debt.

Those types of proposals are likely to be popular among the growing share of voters paying off student loans, said Douglas Harris, an economics professor at Tulane University who has studied the effectiveness of free college.

“Something like 1 in 5 voters has college debt, which is a huge percentage,” he said. “And when you have a huge number of people affected by something, then that certainly gets people’s attention.”

One of the major sticking points over free college is the price. Warren’s total education plan is estimated to cost $1.25 trillion over a decade. Sanders’ free college plan would cost $47 billion a year. Both call on the federal government to split the cost with states while also raising taxes on Wall Street or the wealthiest Americans.

Some Democrats, though, say that kind of spending is untenable. Klobuchar has rejected the idea of free college for everyone, saying the country can’t afford it. Instead she backs two years of free community college as a way to help prepare workers and fill shortages in the job market.

“When I look at the jobs that are available right now out there, we have a lot of job openings in areas that could use a one-year degree, a two-year degree, and we’re just not filling those jobs,” Klobuchar said at a March town hall in Iowa. She added that students can attend community college and then “later go on to complete their four-year degree.”

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke supports free community college for all Americans, along with debt-free college at four-year institutions for students with low and modest incomes. Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper says he would make community college free “for those who can’t afford it.”

Many free college supporters see promise in a federal plan that could bring more funding and share the cost with states. But in Congress, that kind of plan has yet to take hold.

In March, Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, reintroduced his Debt-Free College Act, which calls for a partnership with states to make sure students can afford all college costs without borrowing loans. The idea died in the previous session and has yet to be taken up in this one, but the new bill has gained wider support from Democrats.
Among those backing the plan are four 2020 candidates: Gillibrand, Harris, Warren and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey.

 

Persian Gulf

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Biden is just like Hillary - he will flip-flop on any issue if he thinks it will harm him to not do so. They have no real principles.

Bernie has been saying the exact same things since the 1960s! It's refreshing to have a principled candidate that actually believes in his policies and can't be bought by lobbyists.
 

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Battleground Florida: Both parties prepare for 2020 fight
By ZEKE MILLER
2 hours ago
17 June 2019


FILE - In this March 29, 2019 file photo, President Donald Trump speaks to reporters during a visit to Lake Okeechobee and Herbert Hoover Dike at Canal Point, Fla.
Florida was a bright spot for Republicans in an otherwise bleak 2018, seemingly immune to headwinds faced by the GOP in other historic battlegrounds from President Donald Trump’s tumultuous presidency. But ahead of the 2020 election, Democrats aren’t giving up hope on the Sunshine State, seeking to inject new peril to Trump’s path to another term in office. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)


ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump’s early strength in Florida on the night of the 2016 election was the first sign that he was about to score an upset victory. In an otherwise bleak 2018 for the GOP, the state was again a bright spot for Republicans who won the governor’s mansion and flipped a Senate seat.
But as another campaign heats up, Democrats aren’t ceding the Sunshine State.

Though the state has trended — by the narrowest of margins — toward Republicans in recent elections, both parties are mobilizing for a fierce and expensive battle in Florida. Democratic candidates, including early front-runner Joe Biden, have already visited the state to tap donors and connect with voters, and will descend on Miami later this month for their first round of debates. And Trump will return on Tuesday for his latest reelection announcement.

The attention is a recognition that, despite its expensive media markets and hyper-polarized politics, neither party can ignore Florida. For Trump, there are few ways for him to remain in the White House without keeping Florida’s 29 electoral votes. And for Democrats, a win here would validate the party’s emphasis on building diverse coalitions — not to mention all but obliterate Trump’s reelection prospects.

Florida Democrats say it’s wrong to interpret recent election results as the state slipping away.

“I don’t think we’re red. I don’t think we’re purple. I think we’re simply unorganized,” said former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor who lost by fewer than 33,000 votes.

Gillum’s race was one of several in recent years decided by a tiny sliver of the electorate, leaving the state a veritable graveyard of broken Democratic dreams.
Earlier this year, he launched Forward Florida, a political group meant to help Democrats retake the state in 2020, to keep Florida from being left by the wayside as Democrats try to sort out how the Trump-era political realignment has remade the presidential map.

While both parties seem convinced of the importance of the upper Midwest, fresh questions are being raised over whether the path to the White House must still run through other long-standing battlegrounds and whether others might be emerging. The Democratic super PAC Priorities USA revealed last month that its polling shows Ohio, an erstwhile swing state, now appears safer for Trump than deep-red Texas.

Still, Florida remains a key target for both parties, and Democrats have a lot of ground to make up.

Republicans have maintained an uninterrupted presence in the state since 2014, and have trained 3,000 local organizers it calls fellows, who can amplify, or in some cases replace, the voter registration and turnout work of its paid field staff.

“This is something that can’t be made up with a few checks by a failed gubernatorial candidate,” said RNC spokesman Rick Gorka.

Taking a page from the GOP’s playbook, progressive group For Our Future has been organizing in the state continuously since 2016, trying to keep Democratic voters engaged between elections. “When you lose within the margins continuously the way that we did, I think that’s an indicator that this state can still be won, but we need to do more work,” said Justin Myers, the organization’s CEO. “And that work comes from real on-the-ground organizing in the communities that matter.”

Trump has made more visits to Florida as president than to any other state, in part because he maintains a number of private golf clubs here. But advisers also said he has an affinity for the state’s avid Trump fans who have attended some of his most raucous rallies.

It’s for those reasons that in February 2017 he chose Florida to announce his bid for reelection earlier than any American leader and now 28 months later he’s returning to the state Tuesday to do it one more time.

Trump has boasted that as many as 100,000 people have tried to enter the 20,000-person Amway Center in Orlando, and the campaign has announced an outdoor “45 fest” for the overflow crowd.

The president has used the power of his office to pay special attention to Florida. During a campaign rally in Panama City Beach last month, Trump promised voters new disaster relief funding for the hurricane-hit portion of the state and additional funding for a bridge project if he was re-elected.

A string of both public and private polling has some in the president’s orbit acknowledging that carrying Florida will not be simple. Surveys by the Democratic group Priorities USA found that in Florida, like nationally, Trump gets high marks on the economy. But voters also believe the president cares more about the wealthy than about the average American.

AP Votecast’s survey of 2018 voters in the state found them roughly evenly divided on approval of Trump. And the Trump campaign’s own recent internal polls showed him trailing Democrats in early head-to-head matchups.

Most of the Democratic candidate focus on the state has been on its well-heeled donors or with an eye toward its delegate-rich primary in March, set for two weeks after Super Tuesday.

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, hailed the state last month as “one of the most remarkably diverse places in the country.”
“I’m making sure that we reach out not only to the many different parts of the Latino community here, to the black community, but to people of all ages and all backgrounds,” he said..

 

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Analysis: Black votes will define electability for Democrats
By ERRIN HAINES
9 minutes ago
05 September 2019

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FILE - In this July 20, 2019, file photo, former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden takes a selfie with a supporter during a campaign event at an electrical workers union hall in Las Vegas. More than traditional markers of electability like name recognition, fundraising ability or charisma, the path to the Democratic nomination runs through black voters. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

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FILE - In this July 18, 2019, file photo, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to community faith leaders after serving breakfast during a visit to Dulan's Soul Food on Crenshaw in Los Angeles. More than traditional markers of electability like name recognition, fundraising ability or charisma, the path to the Democratic nomination runs through black voters. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

For all the strategic calculations, sophisticated voter targeting and relentless talk about electability in Iowa and New Hampshire, the Democratic presidential nomination will be determined by a decidedly different group: black voters.

African Americans will watch as mostly white voters in the first two contests express preferences and winnow the field — then they will almost certainly anoint the winner.

So far, that helps explain the front-running status of former Vice President Joe Biden. He has name recognition, a relationship with America’s first black president and a decadeslong Democratic resume. Black voters have long been at the foundation of his support — his home state of Delaware, where he served as a U.S. senator for nearly four decades, is 38% black — and until another presidential candidate proves that he or she can beat him, he is likely to maintain that support.

In the 2008 campaign, Hillary Clinton held a strong lead among black voters over Barack Obama until he stunned her by winning the Iowa caucuses and proved to black voters that he was acceptable to a broad spectrum of Democrats. Those same voters returned to Clinton in 2016.

This cycle, many black voters are also making a pragmatic choice — driven as much or more by who can defeat President Donald Trump as the issues they care about — and sitting back to see which candidate white voters are comfortable with before deciding whom they will back.

At the same time, the early courtship of black voters, overt and subtle, is part of a primary within the primary that includes detailed plans on issues like criminal justice reform, reparations, maternal mortality among black women, voter suppression and systemic racism.

“As black voters and movers and drivers of national politics, our self-image and awareness of our power and influence is evolving,” said Aimee Allison, founder of the She the People network, which hosted the first presidential forum aimed specifically at female voters of color.

Trump appealed to black voters during the 2016 campaign by saying “What the hell do you have to lose?” and ended up with only 8% of the black vote. But the Republican president again is saying he will try to win over black voters, frequently citing low unemployment and his own success in signing criminal justice legislation. So far, there is no evidence to suggest that he will succeed.

But the first test of the decisiveness of black voters will come in the primaries. African Americans make up roughly 13% of the U.S. population but 24% of the Democratic primary electorate. That number is more formidable in the early primary state of South Carolina, where black voters are two-thirds of primary voters, and in other early voting states like Georgia, Alabama and Virginia.

Biden reminded black reporters in a recent roundtable that his strength is not just with working class whites, but with the black voters he’s known for more than half a century in politics.
“After all this time, they think they have a sense of what my character is and who I am, warts and all,” Biden said. “I’ll be surprised if you find any

African Americans that think I’m not in on the deal, that I’m not who I say I am ... I’ve never, ever, ever in my entire life been in circumstances where I’ve ever felt uncomfortable being in the black community.”

He acknowledged that his familiarity is no assurance of success. And he noted that black voters may ultimately prefer black candidates like Sens. Kamala Harris of California or Cory Booker of New Jersey. First, though, one of them would have to prove to black voters that they were viable alternatives.

Black voters can be decisive not only in determining the Democrats’ nominee but also the ultimate winner. While Democrats have peaked in recent cycles with white voters at around 40%, black voters have been their most loyal constituency.

But in 2016, a drop-off among black voters had consequences. Black voter turnout dropped from about 67% in 2012 to about 60%, according to government data.
“It comes down to a strategy decision that campaigns have to make: Do they believe that the way to win the White House is to win white voters, or do they believe that the way to White House is to mobilize voters of color?” said Leah Daughtry, who recently hosted a 2020 Democratic forum for black faith voters in Atlanta.

“Is there a strategy that allows you to do both? Perhaps,” Daughtry said. “But one is a sure bet. If you get us to the polls, we are most likely to vote Democrat. If you get white folks to the polls, you don’t know what they’re going to do.”

In the past, Biden would have been a prohibitive favorite, said LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter. But black voters are demanding that candidates deliver on their priorities in a way they haven’t done in recent history.

“Black folks are looking to figure out who white voters are going to align with, but I don’t think that’s the driver that it has been in the past,” she continued. “Black voters, like white voters, are increasingly frustrated with the process. No longer is it good enough to choose between the devil or the witch.”
___
EDITOR’S NOTE — Errin Haines is national writer on race and ethnicity for The Associated Press. Follow her work on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/emarvelous .

 

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As China trade war escalates, 2020 U.S. Democrats scramble over their message
September 9, 2019
James Oliphant

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The growing economic fallout from President Donald Trump’s drawn-out trade war with China would appear to be a ready-made opportunity for Democratic presidential contenders seeking to blunt his central 2020 re-election pitch: That he has made the economy great again.

So far, it has not quite worked out that way.

While most of the 20 Democratic presidential hopefuls vying to take on Trump in the November 2020 election have condemned his tit-for-tat exchange of tariffs with China for hurting farmers, consumers and businesses, they have not been of one voice on how they would handle things differently.

That has led to a scrambled and sometimes incoherent message from Trump’s rivals even as global markets gyrate, U.S. consumer prices of Chinese imports rise and farmers lose their biggest export market as a result.

“It’s a little tricky,” said Jared Bernstein, who served as the top economic adviser to Joe Biden, the Democratic front-runner, when Biden was Barack Obama’s vice president.

“The challenge is to distance yourself from what has been a pretty disastrous set of policies from the Trump administration, while signaling you are not going to be soft on China.”

The Republican president has pledged to overhaul America’s trade relationship with the world, reduce trade deficits and open up more markets to U.S. exports. His advisers insist his projection of toughness against China will energize, not alienate, his base.

But as China’s retaliatory actions hit farming and manufacturing in battleground states from Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to Michigan for a second year now, Trump’s China gambit looks increasingly risky going into 2020.

For their part, Democrats in Congress have long been critical of China and the economic and national security threat posed by the world’s second largest economy.

That has left Democratic presidential candidates struggling to articulate their own get-tough positions without looking like they are adopting Trump’s bulldozing ways.

The conflict with China has also exposed the same divisions within the party between moderates and progressives.

Moderates Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke, for example, would lift Trump’s tariffs altogether.

Progressive U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders views tariffs as a valuable weapon to bring China to heel, and fellow liberal U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren has a trade agenda that appears to be just as protectionist as that of Trump.

The issue may arise again later this week when 10 Democrats will be on stage for the third presidential debate in Houston.

‘STOLEN THUNDER’

Regardless of ideology, most Democrats seeking their party’s presidential nomination have been treading cautiously on China.

An August poll released by the Pew Research Center showed 60% of Americans had a negative view of China, up from 47% in 2018, a sign that Trump’s China-bashing is having an effect.

Indeed, Trump’s insurgent 2016 campaign was powered in part by animus toward China and pledges to confront the Asian power. Trump exposed raw feelings about globalisation and free trade held by many voters who witnessed U.S. factory jobs vanish and local economies stagnate.

In doing so, he co-opted a position long held by progressives such as Sanders and Warren that globalisation had benefited multinational corporations at the expense of U.S. workers.

“Trump stole everybody’s thunder on the issue,” Bernstein said.

Warren’s recently released trade plan is not centered on tariffs. But as president, she would not support any trade deal with a nation that did not meet a host of environmental, labor and human rights criteria, a set of standards the United States itself does not yet meet and would likely exclude developing nations.

“There is no doubt the public is ready for an anti-China message. But it has to be a smart, strategic message,” said Scott Lincicome, a trade policy expert at the CATO Institute, which supports free trade. Otherwise, he said: “They are ceding the turf to Trump.”

In that regard, it has not been easy for Democrats to establish their separate identities. “The Sanders-Warren message on trade at the Joe Voter level is indistinguishable from Trump’s,” Lincicome said.

FINE LINE

Biden is one candidate who has attempted to navigate a fine line, and he is viewed by U.S. business concerns as perhaps the best hope for a “reset” to the pre-Trump status quo.

But the former vice president has been on the defensive on the subject since early in the year, when his dismissal of China’s economic threat triggered criticism from Trump and Sanders, among others.

Biden has since vowed to marshal U.S. allies to put pressure on China to curb its anti-competitive practices, and expressed sympathy for U.S. farmers who have lost China as a customer.

But he has not said whether he would lift all of Trump’s tariffs, and his campaign would not address the question with Reuters.

A spokesman for his campaign said only that Biden would “start getting tough and smart on China without throwing backbone American industries like agriculture and manufacturing under the bus.”

The Trump campaign has long believed Biden is vulnerable on trade because of his vote in favor of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement and his support of normalized trade relations with China as a U.S. senator.

As vice president, he also championed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multi-nation Pacific Rim trade deal that was designed to rein in China by bolstering other trading partners in the region but was opposed by progressives and labor unions at home. Trump pulled the United States out of the TPP after taking office in 2017.

Biden has said he would support a renegotiated TPP, but would not rejoin it as it stands. He has also said he would not support Trump’s U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade pact that would replace NAFTA, unless changes are made to its labor and environmental provisions, among others.

Tony Fratto, a top official at the U.S. Treasury Department under Republican President George W. Bush, said Biden should take advantage of polling that shows most Americans favor free-trade agreements.

A July poll from Pew found 65% of Americans now favored free-trade pacts with other nations.

Biden could chart a course different from both Trump and Democratic liberals and appeal in the process to suburban voters who are more likely to support global trade and yearn for international stability, Fratto said.

“There are more suburban voters than union voters,” he said. “Biden has a natural opportunity.”

Reporting by James Oliphant; Editing by Soyoung Kim and Peter Cooney

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