The future of the Democratic Party has been booking late-night TV gigs, waking up for morning drive-time radio and showing up at watering holes in rural counties to try out new material.
Before the start of a 2020 Democratic presidential campaign, at least 25 candidates — mayors, governors, entrepreneurs, members of the House and Senate — have hit the road to workshop their vision, experiment with catchphrases and test policy ideas that could keep President Trump from winning a second term.
Many deny that their actions have anything to do with a coming presidential run, but they unmistakably play off the chords of campaigns past, seeking a way to break through a political maw that has been focused more on the latest actions of the president and the coming midterm elections.
“I don’t want to speak to Democrats only,” says Sen. Cory #Booker (D-N.J.), who recently appeared on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to riff on the Founding Fathers’ vision of patriotism and love. “I’m talking to us as Americans, about how this is a moral moment.”
In front of policy conferences and campaign rallies for congressional candidates, former vice president Joe Biden has been updating his own paeans to the middle class, repeating his thematic refrain that “America is all about possibilities.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has broadened her calls for people to “fight back,” and Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) has demanded that “we must speak truth.”
“This is like taking the play to Topeka and New Haven to see what works before you even get to Broadway,” said David Axelrod, a former strategist for President Barack Obama who hosts would-be candidates for public forums at the University of Chicago. “The season hasn’t opened.”