Iran, Endorsements and a Debate Surprise: This Week in the 2020 Race

Welcome to On Politics on this Saturday morning.

It’s about to get real, dear readers. The Iowa caucuses are just over three weeks away, and the New Hampshire primary is in a month. The Democratic field — 13 candidates, still one of the largest groups ever — could soon be drastically winnowed.

Here’s a look at what happened on the trail this week.

“I stayed in the race to take advantage of every possible opportunity to share our message,” Ms. Williamson said. “With caucuses and primaries now about to begin, however, we will not be able to garner enough votes in the election to elevate our conversation any more than it is now.”

Ms. Williamson built her campaign around an eclectic mix of progressive policies and lofty pronouncements, calling for reparations and a Department of Peace. She also drew substantial criticism for calling vaccine mandates “Orwellian” and for suggesting that antidepressants are dangerous.

And Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, who himself mulled a presidential run, endorsed Mr. Biden. The endorsement may help boost Mr. Biden in delegate-rich California, a state that Mr. Sanders is counting on and where former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York is spending significant resources.

Friday was the deadline to qualify for next week’s debate, and two polls released the day before helped the billionaire former hedge fund executive Tom Steyer slide in at the last minute.

Mr. Steyer had never before exceeded 5 percent in a debate-qualifying poll, but on Thursday, Fox News released polls of voters in Nevada and South Carolina, both states where he has advertised heavily, that found him at 12 percent and 15 percent.

That means the debate stage in Iowa will include six candidates: Mr. Biden, Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren, Mr. Buttigieg, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Mr. Steyer.

The entrepreneur Andrew Yang is the only candidate who qualified for last month’s debate but not this month’s.

  • The much-anticipated Iowa Poll, from The Des Moines Register and CNN, was released Friday evening and showed Mr. Sanders in the lead in Iowa for the first time, followed closely by Ms. Warren, Mr. Buttigieg and Mr. Biden. As for Mr. Steyer? He was at just 2 percent.

On Friday, Ms. Klobuchar became the latest candidate to release a plan for people with disabilities, an area that is getting more attention than usual. Her plan would, among other things, eliminate the sub-minimum wage, which lets companies pay some people with disabilities just cents an hour; increase Social Security disability payments; and expand home- and community-based services.

For months, Democratic presidential candidates have been building on one another in this arena. Last week, Ms. Warren released a sprawling plan that touched on health care, education, employment and more, earning widespread praise from disability rights advocates.

People with disabilities make up a quarter of the country’s adult population. And more and more, they say, candidates have been listening to their concerns and asking for their help crafting policy.

  • Mr. Steyer unveiled an immigration plan that would create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, reinstate the DACA program by executive action, end Mr. Trump’s family separation policy and end the use of private detention centers.

As Lisa Lerer noted in Thursday’s On Politics newsletter, the comedian Larry David says he’s worried he’ll be stuck impersonating Mr. Sanders on “Saturday Night Live.”

“If he wins, do you know what that’s going to do to my life?” Mr. David said. “It’ll be great for the country, terrible for me.”

Mr. Sanders offered a counterargument when the pair appeared Friday morning on the “Today” show: “I’m giving you a good job for four years, and you’re complaining.”

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