Biden says US on ‘brink’ of new Mideast war: Campaign update
Democrat Joe Biden said Friday that President Donald Trump’s decision to kill Iran's military chief Qassem Soleimani put the U.S. “on the brink” of a new war in the Middle East.
“This morning, we could be on the brink of a new kind of conflict in the Middle East,” Biden told voters in Dubuque, Iowa. He acknowledged that the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force and the nation’s top general “was the architect behind the slaughter of countless lives in the region.” He added: “No American mourns his passing.”
But Biden, who wants voters to recognize his foreign-policy credentials as a former vice president and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he worried Trump didn’t have a plan for any next steps.
“The question is do Donald Trump and his administration have a strategy for what comes next?” he said. “Unfortunately, nothing we’ve seen from this administration” suggests it has a long-range plan, he said.
President Barack Obama, who had rejected a Pentagon plan to kill Soleimani, had “solved and put on the back burner” issues with Iran by completing the 2015 nuclear deal, Biden said. Trump has removed the U.S. from the multinational deal.
Bloomberg Sets Plan to Help Hire Veterans (noon)
Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg would expand tax credits for businesses that hire unemployed and disabled veterans and take other steps to help former military personnel get jobs under a proposal released Friday.
Bloomberg’s campaign said it couldn’t provide details about the tax credit expansion or a cost estimate because it’s still developing its tax proposals. Almost 3 million people have served in the military in the past decade and more than 1 million veterans are expected to move to civilian life in the next five years.
The former New York mayor released his veterans employment plan while opening two field offices in North Carolina, one of the delegate-rich states voting March 3 on so-called Super Tuesday. He is targeting those states while skipping the early primary contests.
The plan calls for expanding the “Returning Heroes” and “Wounded Warriors” tax credits that employers can use to reduce federal income tax liability by as much as $9,600 for each veteran hired, according to the U.S. Labor Department. The campaign said it is exploring increasing the amount of the exemption and making it available for more veterans and will determine later which is best.
Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News. – Mark Niquette
Warren Raises $21.2 Million in Quarter (9 a.m.)
Senator Elizabeth Warren raised $21.2 million in the final three months of 2019, her presidential campaign announced Friday, a sum that’s less than her three main Democratic rivals had one month before the Iowa caucuses.
The haul, with an average contribution of $23 from 900,000 donations, is less than the $24.6 million she raised in the third quarter. It comes as Warren faced a tough stretch after rising to the top tier over the summer and becoming a target of opponents like Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg.
Warren sought to lower expectations at the end of the year by telling supporters she was “a good chunk behind” her goal. A campaign aide said she raised more than $4 million in five days, including over $1.5 million on the last day, following a series of pleas.
Warren’s fourth-quarter figure is about $13 million lower than what Bernie Sanders raised. Unlike Biden and Buttigieg, the two have foregone high-dollar fundraising events as they run on populist and anti-corruption platforms.
In the final three months of 2019, Warren’s national poll numbers declined from their peak before leveling off in third place, behind Biden and Sanders but ahead of Buttigieg. The other three top contenders all outpaced their third-quarter haul. – Sahil Kapur and Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou
Klobuchar Raised $11.4 Million Last Quarter (6:55 a.m.)
Democratic 2020 hopeful Senator Amy Klobuchar’s presidential campaign raised $11.4 million in the final three months of 2019, but while it was more than double the $4.8 million she raised the prior quarter the amount lagged behind several rivals.
Klobuchar’s fourth quarter haul included contributions from 145,126 donors with an average online contribution of $32 and was her best fundraising performance of her presidential bid so far, according to her campaign. The Minnesota senator saw a “massive surge in grassroots support” in the fourth quarter due to strong debate performance, her campaign manager Justin Buoen said in a written statement.
Even so, her fourth quarter donations were overshadowed by the performance of some of her Democratic rivals – Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign said he raised $34.5 million in the final quarter of 2019, while Pete Buttigieg’s campaign reported raising $24.7 million and former Vice President Joe Biden raised $22.7 million. –Kathleen Miller
Five Democratic candidates – Biden, Buttigieg, Sanders, Warren and Senator Amy Klobuchar – have qualified for the next debate, on Jan. 14 in Iowa.
President Donald Trump is scheduled to hold a campaign rally in Milwaukee on the same night as the debate, as well as a rally in Toledo on Jan. 9.
The first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses will be held Feb. 3.
(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 Kathleen Miller, Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou, Sahil Kapur and Mark Niquette.