The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Motown Showdown

What candidates have been doing to stand out before the second round of Democratic debates tonight. Plus: Behind a member of House leadership’s change of heart on impeachment

Lucas Jackson / Reuters
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What We’re Watching Today

It’s Tuesday, July 30.

(Jim Bourg / Reuters)

The second round of Democratic-primary debates begins tonight! We’ll give you a little primer on the passel of candidates who will be onstage in Detroit starting at 8 p.m. ET. But first, a bit of news:

One of the Converts: Representative Katherine Clark, a member of Democratic House leadership and an ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, announced that she’s supporting an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. Here’s why she had a change of heart.

A Fragile Honeymoon Period: President Trump and the U.K.’s incoming prime minister, Boris Johnson, have established a sort of brother-in-arms relationship by publicly lavishing praise on each other for months. Yet serious practical differences remain between them—which threaten to complicate their special relationship.


(Senator Bernie Sanders / Twitter)

Senator Bernie Sanders and rapper Cardi B are partnering ahead of the 2020 election for a campaign video in which they will discuss the minimum wage, student loan debt, and climate change, the senator said.


Tonight’s Democratic debate features Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, alongside Pete Buttigieg, John Delaney, John Hickenlooper, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Tim Ryan, and Marianne Williamson, plus a new face, Steve Bullock. Here’s what some of these candidates have been up to since they jousted on the debate stage in Miami last month.

Steve Bullock: The Montana governor didn’t make it to the debate stage last time around, but this time, he qualified. Bullock is one of the many moderate, middle-aged white men running for president, but being elected in a state that Donald Trump won by 21 points is one thing he says sets him apart.

Pete Buttigieg: The South Bend, Indiana, mayor, who seems to have taken over Beto O’Rourke’s shiny young white man star, released a new plan recently—the so-called Douglass Plan—designed to help bridge the racial wealth gap and address America’s housing crisis.

John Delaney: The Maryland businessman turned lawmaker this week proposed that the government should partner with private companies and unions to create a national service program to unite the country and “restore our sense of shared purpose.” But Conor Friedersdorf argues that the plan is tantamount to forced labor.

Beto O’Rourke: The breakout 2018 star has been making spaghetti in Michigan, pondering how he can revamp his so-far disappointing presidential bid.

Bernie Sanders: Meanwhile, as Warren builds a movement, there’s clear frustration among aides to the finger-wagging democratic socialist from Vermont, and staffers for both candidates have begun circling each other warily. Will the two old friends spar in tonight’s debate?

Elizabeth Warren: The cardigan-wearing senator from Massachusetts is the favorite candidate of the progressive-activist class, as I reported earlier this month. She’s also had excellent fundraising numbers, with her campaign raising $19.1 million in the second quarter of 2019, despite her pledge to skip high-dollar fundraising events.

President Trump: While the president won’t actually be on the debate stage, tonight’s conversation offers a chance for him to test the resonance of his recent racist rhetoric.

About us: This newsletter is a daily effort from The Atlantic’s politics writer, Elaine Godfrey, with help from Christian Paz. It’s edited by Shan Wang.

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