How Democratic presidential politics on guns has shifted

Editor’s Note: This edition of Morning Score is published weekdays at 10 a.m. POLITICO Pro Campaign subscribers hold exclusive early access to the newsletter each morning at 6 a.m. To learn more about POLITICO Pro’s comprehensive policy intelligence coverage, policy tools and services, click here.

— Don’t expect to hear much debate about guns in the 2020 Democratic primary. Just about everyone is lined up on the gun control side of an issue that used to split the party and prompt top candidates to tread lightly.

— President Donald Trump and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke headlined rallies across the street from each other in El Paso, Texas, that told two very different stories about America.

— The Iowa Democratic Party is proposing allowing absentee voting in the 2020 Democratic caucuses.

Good Tuesday morning. Email me at zmontellaro@politico.com or DM me at @ZachMontellaro.

Email the great Campaign Pro team at sbland@politico.com, dstrauss@politico.com, jarkin@politico.com, and lbarron-lopez@politico.com. Follow them on Twitter: @PoliticoScott, @DanielStrauss4, @JamesArkin and @lbarronlopez.

Days until the 2019 election: 266

Days until the 2020 election: 630

TO THE LEFT — Gun control is a good indicator of the Democratic Party’s leftward drift in recent years, and a leading advocacy group expects all the 2020 candidates to be on the same page.

In 2007 and 2008, then-candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama largely avoided talking about guns on the campaign trail, and they proceeded carefully when they did (in an April 2008 debate, ABC News’ Charlie Gibson pushed the candidates on why they didn’t emphasize their beliefs on gun control).

Obama stumbled over the issue several times in 2008: One incident arose from a 1996 questionnaire in which Obama wrote he would support state legislation to ban handguns, and the second when he said at a fundraiser that rural voters “cling to guns or religion.” In both cases, Clinton criticized Obama, sending out a mailer asking “Where does Barack Obama really stand on guns?” and calling him an “elitist” while emphasizing her own early, fond memories of hunting.

Clinton, then, epitomized the party shift when she pushed gun control in the 2016 election. In 2020, no one will talk about guns the way Clinton did in 2008. “Certainly any Democratic candidate who goes into early primary delegate-rich states like Nevada, California and Virginia, they will be talking about gun safety,” Everytown for Gun Safety President John Feinblatt told POLITICO. Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who is a founder and major funder of the group, is considering a run himself.

“I absolutely think it will be a priority part of the candidates’ platforms,” Shannon Watts, a founder of Everytown subsidiary Moms Demand Action, said. Watts said the group will “probably not” endorse in the Democratic primary, and Feinblatt said it is just too soon to know (he wouldn’t say if Bloomberg or his team asked for his support). Both said to expect another scorecard for “gun sense” candidates.

PRESIDENTIAL BIG BOARD — The president and a potential 2020 Democratic hopeful shadowboxed with each other at dueling rallies Monday night. “Trump kicked off his speech by mocking O’Rourke without uttering his name,” POLITICO’s David Siders and Anita Kumar reported from El Paso. “O’Rourke spoke at a rally that looked like a parallel universe. A mariachi band played beforehand, then O’Rourke, speaking in Spanish at times, took the stage for a lengthy takedown of the president’s proposed wall.”

California Sen. Kamala Harris, appearing…

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.