Street fighters, old fogies and a porn star’s lawyer: who’ll ...

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Street fighters, old fogies and a porn star’s lawyer: who’ll take on Trump?

Democrats have their work cut out trying to beat the Donald. Here is their bewilderingly open array of possible picks

Nick Allen and Ben Riley-Smith


The Democrats may have taken back control of the House of Representatives in the US midterms, but the party still has along way to go to have any chance of wrestling back power from Donald Trump in 2020.
There will be no coronation for a Democrat champion to take on Trump. Instead, the party's nomination is wide open and the field of candidates is expected to be one of the biggest yet assembled.
It will range from septuagenarian veterans of Washington to young pretenders barely known yet on the national stage. The party will have to decide whether to go with experience, or to skip a generation and try new blood.
Many of the candidates have already begun early manoeuvres. Here are some of the leading contenders.
Joe Biden
Barack Obama’s vice-president continues to top polls when voters are asked who they want as the Democrat 2020 candidate, although that does not mean too much at this early stage.
Biden is actively considering a bid and explained in his 2017 autobiography that he would have probably challenged Hillary Clinton in 2016 but for the death of his son Beau.
Strengths would include Biden’s potential for winning back Trump voters and his track record at the top of government. Weaknesses? He is 75 – older than the president – and could be framed as too establishment.
Bernie Sanders
The senator for Vermont, who sits as an independent but votes with the Democrats, won a comfortable re-election on Tuesday night and is another name frequently mentioned in the 2020 mix.
He blindsided Clinton with an insurgent campaign from the left in 2016, which energised young voters in a surge that drew comparisons with UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, but ultimately fell short.
Sanders’s age – he would be 79 on inauguration day if he won – is a concern. But he also has a loyal and established network of activists who could be remobilised. Elizabeth Warren
The Massachusetts senator dismissively dubbed Pocahontas by Trump has made a name for herself bashing big banks and delivering impassioned speeches in the Senate.
She all but declared last month, releasing a DNA test backing up her claim to have Native American heritage between six to 10 generations ago. But the loose link was jumped on by Republicans.
Some Democrat strategists believe the 69-year-old can take a middle path of leaning left to appeal to the Democrat base while having enough experience to convince voters she has a plan for government. Kamala Harris
One of a group of younger Democrat senators who appear to have their eyes on a 2020 bid, Harris, the senator for California, is articulate and hotly tipped by some in her party.
The 54-year-old rose up through Californian legal and political circles, serving as the state’s attorney general between 2011 and 2017 before heading to Washington. Harris’s progressive stances are likely to play well with that wing of the Democratic base, which seems to be energised in the age of Trump, but others are seeking to occupy that space too. Kirsten Gillibrand
Gillibrand took over Clinton’s New York Senate seat in 2009 but publicly split with the family last year by saying Bill Clinton should have resigned over the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
Like Harris, Gillibrand, 51, has been positioning herself as a champion of progressive causes, including protecting immigrant and women’s rights.
But New York Republicans whisper that her new stance could be undermined by positions she took while fighting to keep hold of the city’s conservative 20th congressional district in the past. Cory Booker
The junior US senator from New Jersey has styled himself a “street fighter” and there is little doubt he would love to take on Trump.
Booker, a 1.9m former star college athlete, is clearly a major contender. He said recently: “I am so determined to fight and stop Donald Trump.”
Booker is 48, teetotal, vegan and engages in intermittent fasting, a fad diet. He is one of only three black US senators. Underlying all his convictions is an unshakable Baptist faith.
His academic CV is impeccable: political science at Stanford, a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford, going on to study law at Yale.
Eric Holder
Barack Obama’s attorney general for six years has not been shy about suggesting he could run.
There have been a flurry of public speeches and media appearances already, and he is an ideal candidate to take up the Obama mantle.
Holder, 67, stirred up controversy recently when he said of Republicans: “When they go low, we kick them.”
As attorney general he led a legal defence of drone strikes, and moved terrorist prosecutions to civilian courts. He has also been a high-profile advocate for voting rights.
Michael Bloomberg
The 76-year-old billionaire has flirted with a White House run several times before, but this may well be the time.
In October, Bloomberg registered as a Democrat, 17 years after he left the party to run for New York mayor as a Republican. On the eve of the midterm elections he spent $5m on a TV advert backing Democrats.
The advert featured himself saying: “We must send a signal to Republicans in Washington that they have failed to lead.”
Michael Avenatti
The California lawyer has been propelled to prominence by representing Stormy Daniels, the porn star who claims she had an affair with Donald Trump more than a decade ago.
Avenatti’s indication that he could run for the Democratic nomination was initially treated with scepticism, but he is clearly serious.
He has a long background in politics, working on campaigns and conducting  opposition research, and has been making exploratory trips to the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
Avenatti, 47, is a consummate TV performer and has argued that the Democrats need someone like him who can “fight fire with fire”.
Beto O’Rourke
Despite his defeat in his Senate race against Ted Cruz in Texas, O’Rourke is being widely talked up as a White House contender.
He has been a US congressman for six years, which is enough of a legislative record for him to run. In the Texas campaign the 46-year-old proved an ability to raise prodigious amounts of money across America.
Matt Angle, a Democrat strategist, said: “Talent and charisma translate and the notion of waiting in line is going away. There is a vacuum at the top for somebody to really step into a leadership role.”
– © Telegraph Media Group Limited

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