Kevin Costner to endorse Pete Buttigieg: Campaign update

Emma Kinery

Kevin Costner will endorse Pete Buttigieg at a campaign event in Iowa on Sunday, according to the campaign.

Costner, the actor, producer and director known for starring roles in “Dances With Wolves” and “Field of Dreams,” will join Buttigieg at a town hall in Indianola, Iowa.

Kevin Costner, left, and wife Christine Baumgartner attend the LA premiere of "The Art of Racing in the Rain" in this, Aug. 1, 2019, file photo in Los Angeles.

The endorsement was announced a day after the actor and producer Donald Glover joined Andrew Yang’s campaign as a creative consultant.

Bloomberg Unveils Plan to Combat Opioid Crisis (12:58 p.m.)

Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks at the American Geophysical Union fall meeting Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, in San Francisco.

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is calling for addressing the scourge of opioid abuse by expanding access to treatment, setting national standards for gathering state data on use and overdoses and requiring insurers to remove obstacles to covering medications for opioid use disorder.

Bloomberg released his plan Friday in Ohio, which had the second-highest rate of drug-overdose deaths involving opioids among all U.S. states in 2017 behind only West Virginia, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“This is a deadly thing that is just going through our society,” Bloomberg told reporters after a roundtable with community leaders in Chillicothe, Ohio. “Every state, every economic level, every ethnicity, it doesn’t seem to be sparing anyone.”

Bloomberg’s campaign said it’s still developing cost estimates and offered no information on how he would pay for the proposal. It said the plan would build on the work the former New York mayor does through Bloomberg Philanthropies. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.

Bloomberg also announced an initial team of more than 200 staff in more than 20 states and pledged to keep staff in key states through the November general election – even if he doesn’t win the nomination – to help defeat President Donald Trump. – Mark Niquette

DNC Sets Higher Requirements for January Debate (12:04 p.m.)

Democratic presidential candidates participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Los Angeles.

The Democratic National Committee announced higher requirements for candidates to make the stage for the seventh Democratic debate in Iowa next month.

To qualify for the Jan. 14 debate, candidates must reach 5% in four DNC-approved national or early-state polls or 7% in two DNC-approved early-state polls and must have received donations from 225,000 individuals. Candidates have until midnight on Jan. 10 to qualify.

The qualification requirements are higher than for Thursday’s debate. Candidates needed at least 200,000 unique donors and meet one of two polling thresholds: 4% in at least four DNC-approved national or early-state polls, or 6% in two DNC-approved early-state polls.

Candidates like Cory Booker and Julian Castro, neither of whom made the stage Thursday, criticized the polling and donor thresholds for the December debate and called on the DNC to stop increasing the criteria for the seventh.

The January debate will be co-hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register at Drake University in Des Moines. – Emma Kinery

Biden, Sanders Only Ones to Beat Trump in Poll (8:08 a.m.)

Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders,  left, and Joe Biden.

Both former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders topped President Donald Trump in a new CNN national poll that found other Democratic candidates trailing the president.

The survey found 49% would vote for Biden in a head-to-head match-up with Trump, who garnered 44%. Paired against Trump, Sanders got 49%, compared to the president’s 45%.

Those numbers are a change from October, when Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Butting were also beating Trump in the hypothetical contests with Trump.

The poll released Friday finds Buttigieg and Warren each run about even with the president, though results for those two candidates are within the survey’s margin of error.

Meanwhile, the economy got its highest rating in almost 20 years, with three-quarters of those surveyed saying conditions are very or somewhat good. Those positive ratings are up across parties compared with August of this year, with 97% of Republicans rating economic conditions as good – and 75% of independents, and 62% of Democrats saying the same. – Laura Curtis

Coming Up

Biden and Sanders hold campaign events in Los Angeles on Friday. Amy Klobuchar is in Iowa.

Warren will hold a meeting with Native American tribal leaders in Oklahoma on Sunday. She will later hold a town hall at a high school in Oklahoma City.

(Michael Bloomberg is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)

With assistance from Laura Curtis and Mark Niquette.