Biden Wants to Do Away With Plastic Straws: Campaign Update

(Bloomberg) -- Add one more item to Joe Biden’s platform: No more plastic straws.

At a town hall in Hudson, New Hampshire, the former vice president was asked by a child about plastic in the oceans. “I don’t think we should be using plastic straws anymore in restaurants,” he said.

Plastic-straw bans have become a target in conservative circles where they are seen as evidence of an encroaching nanny state. President Donald Trump’s campaign even sells Trump-labeled laser-engraved plastic straws on its website, noting that “liberal paper straws don’t work.”

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has called straws a distraction from bigger environmental issues, saying at a CNN town hall on climate change in September that “the fossil fuel industry” wants to “stir up a lot of controversy around your lightbulbs, around your straws, and around your cheeseburgers.”

In New Hampshire, which is holding its Democratic primary on Tuesday, the state House passed a bill to restrict restaurants from giving out plastic straws unless requested in 2019, but the Senate killed it. -- Jennifer Epstein

Buttigieg Says He’s No Obama (3:27 p.m.)

Pete Buttigieg said he’s no Barack Obama, but neither is anyone else in the race.

Asked on CNN to respond to former Vice President Joe Biden’s criticism that he’s “not a Barack Obama,” Buttigieg threw the remark back.

“Well, he’s right,” Buttigieg said. “And neither is he. Neither is any of us running for president. This isn’t 2008; this is 2020. We are in a new moment calling for a different kind of leadership.”

Biden criticized the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor on Saturday, rejecting suggestions that he had charisma similar to the popular former president’s.

Obama has not made an endorsement in the 2020 primary, though Biden, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg have featured him in ads praising them. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.

A “Saturday Night Live” sketch this weekend featured a mock-Buttigieg touting the hashtag #WhiteObama, leading it to trend on Twitter overnight.

Biden Calls Questioner ‘Dog-Faced Pony Soldier’ (2:26 p.m.)

Joe Biden called a questioner a “lying, dog-faced pony soldier” in a joking response to her question about the Iowa caucuses.

At an event in New Hampshire on Sunday, an audience member asked Biden why voters should think he can win a national election given his fourth-place finish in Iowa. Biden asked if she’d ever been to a caucus.

“You ever been to a caucus? No, you haven’t. You’re a lying, dog-faced pony soldier, you says you were but -- now you’ve got to be honest,” he said, drawing laughs from the crowd.

Biden used the phrase before, when criticizing then-Representative Kevin Cramer at a 2018 event, saying the line came from a John Wayne movie cited by his brother.

Biden went on to blame the “confusing” caucus process for his loss and argued that it does not show how a candidate might do in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania or Florida, noting that he has picked up endorsements in spite of the loss.

“The black caucus of the Michigan legislature just endorsed me in spite of all of this,” he said. “The unions have endorsed me in spite of all of this.” -- Jennifer Epstein

Perez ‘Mad as Hell’ About Iowa Caucuses (12:16 p.m.)

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said Sunday he is “mad as hell” about the handling of the Iowa caucus results.

“It’s undeniably unacceptable,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I’m frustrated. I’m mad as hell. Everybody is.”

Perez said once the election is over, the party will once again consider changes, adding that after the 2016 election the number of states running caucuses was cut in half to just seven.

He said in general the party should let state officials run elections, but he cautioned that some Republican governors might not agree to the change.

The results of the Iowa caucus were delayed for days because of “inconsistencies“ in reporting. Perez also blamed the Iowa Democratic Party for the failure of an app that was supposed to be used to transmit results from precincts. He said that the DNC asked if it had been “pressure tested,” and was repeatedly told that it had been. “With hindsight, not early enough,” he said.

Sanders Dismisses 1970s Position on Wage Caps (11:23 a.m.)

Bernie Sanders argued that some of the more radical positions he held in the 1970s aren’t fair game in this year’s Democratic presidential primary.

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” the Vermont senator was pressed about a proposal he made during his unsuccessful 1974 campaign for the U.S. Senate in Vermont under the banner of the Liberty Union Party, a self-described “radical political party.”

In that run, made when Sanders was in his early 30s, he called for a maximum cap on wages, saying “nobody should earn more than a million dollars.” That would be about $5.3 million in 2019 dollars.

Sanders noted that the remarks came long before he was elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont, in 1981 or elected to Congress in 1991.

“Did you go back to my third-grade essay when I was in PS 197?” he said. “We could go back to things I said in the ‘70s. I don’t think it’s productive.”

Sanders was being facetious, but a presidential candidate has, in fact, faced criticism over a third-grade essay. In 2008, Hillary Clinton’s campaign touted the fact that Barack Obama had written an essay in the third-grade about wanting to be president.

COMING UP

The New Hampshire primary is Feb. 11.

Democratic presidential candidates will meet for their next debate on Feb. 19 in Las Vegas.

Nevada holds its caucuses on Feb. 22, and South Carolina has a primary on Feb. 29.

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

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