Get To Know The Candidates

Last updated on: Monday, September 16th, 2019


In Their Own Words

In our weekly newsletter we include a 2020 section featuring a podcast episode focused on an election-specific issue, which most often includes a handpicked podcast interview with one of the Presidential candidates. It's a crowded field and we want to get to know all the candidates, fast. So here's a round up of the episodes we've selected so far.


Pete Buttigieg

The South Bend, Indiana Mayor was initially given little thought as a serious contender for the Democratic nominee. But since forming an exploratory committee earlier this year, he has quickly risen to prominence as an unlikely star in the Democratic field.

His campaign reported $7.1 million in fundraising for the first quarter of 2019 and, in a recent Emerson poll of potential Iowa Democratic caucus voters, he came third, behind political stalwarts Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. In this podcast interview with The New Yorker Editor, David Remnick, Mayor Pete talks about his personal background, political philosophy, and stance on some of the issues that will drive the 2020 election.



Andrew Yang

Automation will continue to decimate the labor market, argues Presidential hopeful Andrew Yang. And as it does, the financial insecurity facing so many Americans will only get worse. So where lies the answer to this technology-driven dystopia? Yang proposes a radically different kind of economy starting with a ‘Freedom Dividend’, his rebranded version of a Universal Basic Income (UBI).

By putting $1000 per month in every adult’s hand, Yang believes he can not only create millions of new jobs and grow the consumer economy, he can also combat the income volatility holding back the many Americans he thinks remain trapped in a ‘mindset of scarcity’. Yang is the first presidential candidate to build a campaign around UBI. He likely won’t be the last.



Cory Booker

“America is at a crossroads”. According to Former Mayor of Newark and current U.S. Senator, Cory Booker, we face a descent into tribalism that is couched in fear and an us-versus-them, zero-sum style of politics. He thinks he is the person to fix this and re-inspire the “moral imagination” of the country.

In this interview with NPR, Senator Booker sets out his 2020 vision for restoring ‘civic grace’ to the country and explains the policy proposals he hopes will win him the White House. Chief among them: his new and comprehensive plan for expanding gun-control. Based on his direct experience of neighborhood shootings, he articulates the personal urgency driving this key policy proposal.



Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren has a plan. For virtually everything. The senior senator from Massachusetts and former Harvard law professor has stood out in the increasingly overcrowded Democrat primary through setting out a broad swathe of complex policy proposals designed to address a litany of problems facing the country. From tackling unaffordable housing, providing universal child-care, and expanding Medicare, to writing off student debt and eliminating college tuition fees.

She has carved out her niche on the campaign trail as the policy candidate, best known for her catalog of White Papers and off-the-cuff remark: “I have a plan for that!” But does the electorate value such substance over style? Do policy proposals even make a difference in a Presidential race? 

In this podcast interview, Senator Warren explains why she thinks her approach is what America both needs and wants, and the team at The Argument debate what really matters to voters when choosing their candidate. 




Kamala Harris

“America’s economy is not working for working people…” which is why Presidential hopeful, Kamala Harris, is proposing a $500 monthly credit for families earning less than $100,000 a year. It would, she says, be “the most significant middle-class tax cut in generations”. 

Harris is a prosecutor by training and has many firsts to her name. She was the first female district attorney, first black district attorney and first Asian-American district attorney in San Francisco and then California. She was also the second black woman to secure a seat in the U.S. Senate. If she wins the Presidency, it will be another historic first. But while she recognizes the weight of responsibility that breaking these barriers represents, it’s a distraction from the comprehensive policy agenda she hopes will win her the White House. 

In this podcast interview with Pod Save America, Kamala Harris sets out her vision for reforming the economy, addressing illegal immigration and the U.S. asylum system, introducing Medicare for All, and prosecuting the case against the policies of the President. Also discussed: the litany of recipes she’s collecting on the campaign trail.




Amy Klobuchar

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) announced in February that she was running for the 2020 Presidency in the middle of a blizzard in Minnesota, leading President Trump to brand her “Snow-woman”. She said the country needed a leader with “grit” and her demonstrable ability to withstand the elements showed she had just that.

She has since staked out her position on a spate of key policy issues, including healthcare (she supports Medicare Advantage as an alternative to Medicare); mental health (she has a $100 billion plan to combat mental health problems and substance abuse over the next decade); climate change (she stands behind the Green New Deal), criminal justice (she supported the bipartisan First Step Act for federal prison reform); and infrastructure (she has a trillion-dollar policy plan to update the country’s infrastructure, which is her “top budget priority”).

In this episode, recorded live at SXSW, Recode’s Kara Swisher sits down with Amy Klobuchar to discuss her vision for the Presidency, and where she stands on the regulation of Big Tech. As antitrust officials laid out plans earlier this week for investigating the business practices of tech giants like Facebook, this discussion feels particularly pertinent.




Beto O’Rourke

Beto O’Rourke’s star seems to have fallen as fast as first it rose. Back in November 2018 he was being praised as the Democrats’ golden boy, possessed of an Obama-esq oratory power and charm that saw him come within an inch of defeating Republican Senator, Ted Cruz, in the solidly red state of Texas.

When he launched his Presidential bid in March 2019 he had a boost of momentum and raised $6.1 million on the very first day of his campaign. But fast forward a couple of months, and his support has waned. A recent poll in Iowa showed he was backed by only 2% of those surveyed, the same result as another poll conducted last month in New Hampshire. But with a spate of new policy proposals and a bold plan for addressing climate change, can O’Rourke still make it to the White House?

In this podcast interview, ‘It’s All Political’ questions the Presidential hopeful on why he’s the right man for the job… and why The Clash offers so prescient a message for this particular moment in politics.




Bernie Sanders

Senator Bernie Sanders, 77, is the self-proclaimed socialist who is making his second bid for the Democrat Party’s presidential nomination, after running a surprisingly close primary campaign against Hilary Clinton in 2016 (note: he has not actually joined the party, but remains an independent).

His brand of socialism which is embodied, he says, in popular programs such as Social Security and Medicare, presents a pathway to “economic rights” and aims to continue the “unfinished business” of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. That his signature policy proposals, such as “Medicare for All”, have been endorsed by the majority of Democrat candidates running in 2020, is a testament to the success with which he has inspired a progressive shift within the party. But, in an overcrowded field where he is no longer the progressive alternative, and there is a thirst for younger talent, can Sanders stand out?

In this podcast interview with NPR Politics, the Presidential hopeful explains what he stands for and why he’s the right person for the job.




Michael Bennet

“If history is any guide, the people that are leading the race today are not going to be the nominee.” - Sen. Bennet

In the overcrowded field of Democrat candidates, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet is confident he can win the Presidency. Why? Because he is the only candidate in the running who has won a national race in a swing state, twice - Colorado is a purple state, split exactly a third Republican, a third Democrat and a third independent.

The former lawyer and businessman, who was also the superintendent of Denver public schools for five years, says he understands the grievances that led people to vote for Trump in 2016 and he is uniquely experienced to solve them. To this end, a key tenet of his campaign is tackling the country’s rising level of economic inequality and the “never-ending recession” he says 90% of Americans have faced for the past 40 years.

So what exactly is Senator Bennet’s plan to get to the White House? In this podcast interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher, he sets out his blueprint for winning the Presidency and transforming the U.S. economy.





JulianCastro, former mayor of San Antonio, Texas, and later Housing Secretary in the Obama administration, is fighting to be heard in an overcrowded Democratic field. A strong performance in the first primary debates certainly helped to elevate his previously overlooked campaign - his heated exchange with fellow Texan Beto O’Rourke, for his refusal to support the decriminalization of border crossings, gaveCastrothe perfect opportunity to set out his uniquely comprehensive immigration agenda. But, despite beginning to carve out a niche for himself on an issue that is dominating the news cycle, and of increasing importance to the party,Castro’s poll numbers remain stuck beneath 1% (he’s at 0.6% in the RealClearPolitics average of polls). His performance in the recent debates in Detroit did little to change that.
So canCastro, a second-generation Mexican-immigrant who describes his life as an immigrant’s ‘American Dream story,’ cut through?
In this episode, the Presidential hopeful discusses his ambitions for the White House with NPR Politics, and why he thinks he really does stand a chance of winning.




Tulsi Gabbard

Military veteran and Hawaii Congressman, Tulsi Gabbard, had her moment during the recent Democratic debates when she launched an attack on fellow presidential hopeful, Kamala Harris, on her record as a prosecutor, and emerged the most Googled candidate of the debates. Do a quick Google search for her now and speculation abounds as to the impact her takedown of Harris has had on both of their campaigns. But, despite raising her profile, the debates did little to boost her poll numbers, which are still averaging at around 1%. If she’s to make it to the debate stage in September she’ll need to register 2% in at least 3 more polls (she has crossed the 130, 000 donor mark). 

One of the youngest candidates in the field (she’s 38-years old), Gabbard has drawn criticism for refusing to condemn Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with whom she had a controversial meeting in 2017, and for her previous views on LGBTQ rights - she was once a member of the Alliance for Traditional Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage.

But where does the Hawiian congresswoman stand on some of the major policy issues defining the 2020 Presidential race, like healthcare and the environment? In this podcast, Gabbard sits down with Intercept journalist, Glen Greenwald, to discuss just that.




Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson is a self-help author and spiritual guru who wants to fix America with the power of love. According to her campaign website, the country is in the throes of a “low level emotional civil war…[that has] begun in too many ways to rip us apart”. And while her focus on the problems that afflict the nation’s “psychological fabric” may seem out of place in a Presidential campaign, her language of love a clear contrast to the jargon-infused stump speeches of her rivals, something about her spiritually-inflected messaged may be resonating. She went viral during the first Democratic debates in Miami and then became the most-Googled candidate in 49 of 50 states during the second debates. But can she make it to the debate stage in September?

In this podcast interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Presidential hopeful, Marianne Williamson, discusses her views on a spate of key issues, from vaccines to reparations to economic injustice, and explains why she’s the candidate who can beat Trump.




Tom Steyer

Tom Steyer is the self-made billionaire and former hedge fund manager from California who recently threw his hat into the 2020 Presidential race with $100 million (at least) to self-fund his campaign. That’s more than any of the other Democratic candidates have raised thus far.

Since the 2016 election, Steyer has been a vocal opponent of the Trump administration and has funneled millions of dollars into pushing for the President's impeachment. But he's not just running on an anti-Trump agenda. A long-time environmental activist, Steyer also wants to tackle the corporate greed and political corruption from which he says so many of our climate-issues emanate.

Still relatively lesser known amongst the wide field of candidates, he has surprised Democrats by fast amassing not only 130,000 donors, but also registering in three polls at above the 2% threshold. He just needs one more qualifying poll result before August 28th and he'll make it to the debate stage next month.

In this podcast interview with Political Climate, we get to know the latest Presidential hopeful and hear why he thinks he's the right person for the job.




Joe Biden

Former Vice President, Joe Biden, has been the clear frontrunner in the race to become the Democratic Presidential nominee since he first declared his candidacy in late April. Consistently polling at around 30%, with a roughly 10% lead on distant second, Bernie Sanders, Biden is easily the most recognizable face in the party’s over-crowded field, not to mention the candidate with the most extensive government service. But experience comes with age and it’s his age that may prove a problem. If elected, Biden would be 78 when he entered the White House, making him the oldest president to take office. Notoriously gaffe-prone, he’s made a number of recent mistakes on the campaign trail that some have put down to his ailing memory and declining health, raising concerns as to whether he is fit enough for office.

But Obama’s former right-hand man remains convinced that his experience, knowledge, and understanding of the role of the President makes him the candidate with the greatest probability of beating President Trump in 2020. In this episode, Biden speaks to the NPR politics team from Iowa on why voters should pick him.




Last updated on: Monday, September 16th, 2019

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