2020 Sunday Trail Markers: Dems head to Native American issues forum

By Katie Ross Dominick

/ CBS News

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Here's what you need to know in politics this week…

DEMS TO ATTEND FIRST NATIVE AMERICAN ISSUES FORUM

Via CBS News Campaign Reporter Zak Hudak:

This week, Native American issues are set to get attention in a presidential election like never before. Eight of the Democratic 2020 contenders are slated to appear at the Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum in Sioux City, IA, the first presidential campaign event devoted entirely to issues affecting Tribal Nations and indigenous peoples.

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren has the most to gain or lose at the event. She's been plagued with doubt about the legitimacy of her claimed Cherokee heritage since she first ran for senate in 2012. She even upset some tribal leaders before she announced her presidential run when she essentially bowed to President Trump's requests that she take a DNA test, which ended up showing she likely had a distant Cherokee ancestor.

For some six months, Warren avoided the topic. But on Friday, she released a wide-ranging, 9,000-word plan to help Tribal Nations and indigenous peoples. O.J. Semans, who co-founded one of the groups hosting the forum, said it was the most comprehensive he had seen from any candidate.

But Warren's plan did not address her DNA test, and Semans said he didn't expect her to be asked about it at the forum.

"Her controversy really doesn't reflect upon our issues," he said.

But it does reflect on the complex questions of identity that are increasingly engulfing our society. While Warren offended some in reducing Tribal identity to a DNA test, her mere association with Native Americans gave others hope that at least someone wanted to listen.

"If she's going to claim it, maybe she'll understand out issues," said Omaha Tribe of Nebraska treasurer Alan Harlan.

BETO VISITS GUN SHOW, SPARS WITH NRA

Via CBSNews.com Editor Caroline Linton: 2020 Democratic hopeful Beto O'Rourke visited a gun show in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Saturday, one day after releasing a gun control plan that included mandatory buybacks for assault weapons. O'Rourke returned to the campaign trail on Thursday after taking a 12-day hiatus following the mass shooting in which 22 people were killed in his hometown of El Paso on August 3.

"In Arkansas, I listened to gun owners and sellers — and appreciated hearing their perspectives," the Texas Democrat posted on social media. "But as the plan we released yesterday says, if I'm president, you wouldn't be able to buy weapons of war for $395. You wouldn't be able to buy them at all."

The National Rifle Association responded to O'Rourke's tweet, quoting "if I'm president" and then writing "Beto: Have you taken a look at the polls?" with the crying-while-laughing emoji. O'Rourke responded, "Yeah. I've seen them. 70% of Americans support an assault weapons ban, including most Republicans."

16-YEAR-OLD MAKES THE POLITICAL ROUNDS IN SOUTH CAROLINA

Via CBS News Campaign Reporter LaCrai Mitchell: Teenager Joey Benton has been making the rounds to see Democratic presidential candidates as they visit his home state. In addition to attending a Saturday political double-header—Sen. Amy Klobuchar's event at a brewery and Mayor Pete Buttigieg's town hall in Charleston—Benton met Sen. Cory Booker during the Black Economic Alliance Presidential Candidates forum in June. He saw Booker again last week during his gun violence and white supremacy address at Mother Emanuel AME church.

Benton — isn't a "newbie" when it comes to meeting lawmakers — says that despite not being able to vote in the next presidential election, he still has a role to play in the process.

"Even though I can't vote, I can help others be knowledgeable about their vote," said Benton. "Right now what we really need is to not be afraid… to be hopeful of what good can come, and [know] that the change can come to America but it's going to require us fighting for it."

BUTTIGIEG TEASES PLAN TO ADDRESS MENTAL HEALTH

Via CBS News Campaign Report LaCrai Mitchell: During a town hall at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg was asked about his plans to address mental health needs as traumatic events continue to take place across the country. Buttigieg told the room of more than 600 voters that he's releasing a plan soon and that he believes there are two categories of focus when taking on mental health and addiction—treatment and building a "sense of belonging."

"We have to make it a reality—not just something that is in words—that mental health is on parity with physical health in our insurance, in our policy, and in our language," Buttigieg said to a chorus of applause. "We have to build up a sense of belonging in this nation that includes all of us and to the extent that we're different…that should be something we draw on to help us relate to the people…that's the kind of politics I'm trying to build up."

Buttigieg offered that policy moves to support this issue should include addressing a provider shortage, ensuring that Medicaid regards mental health challenges on an equal basis, and treating addiction as a medical issue rather than a legal one.

DEMS TRAIN HUNDREDS IN SOUTH CAROLINA

As Democratic presidential candidates zig-zagged across the Palmetto state on Saturday, the National Democratic Training Committee (NDTC) hosted hundreds of South Carolina Democrats to train them on running for office, volunteering for campaigns, knowing other best practices for the 2020 elections. The NDTC, founded by CEO Kelly Dietrich in 2016, has hosted 44 live trainings in multiple states this year. In addition to live trainings, the committee offers interactive courses and webinars to create what Dietrich calls an "online school" to meet people where they are.

"I founded the NDTC because the Democratic party had siloed off best practices and experiences on how to run campaigns," said Dietrich. "Unless you had financial resources or a big sexy race, you had to re-invent the wheel because it wasn't anyone's job."

According to data collected by the committee, 934 NDTC trainees were candidates on ballots across the country in 2018. The same data shows that 171 of those candidates won their races in 39 states — and three of those victories included congressional wins by candidates in California, Illinois, and Kansas. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is also in South Carolina this weekend, has endorsed the NDTC citing that the committee provides the tools, training, and resources that candidates need to win.

Jen Gibson, who was a candidate for South Carolina state House in 2018 and is the vice chair of the Berkeley County Democratic Party, attended the NDTC in Columbia and said it was nice to be able to interact with other colleagues while tweaking her own field game.

"Having trainings like these that are free and open to everyone who self-identifies as a Democrat…we create a party that is diverse and inclusive and we have stakeholders from every community in our leadership making decisions, running for office, and that's how you're going to bring about real change in the state and in this country."

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL THIS WEEK

8/19 – Beto O'Rourke in OK; Dr. Jill Biden in NH; Cory Booker in AL; Steve Bullock in IA; Julian Castro in IA; John Delaney in IA; Kirsten Gillibrand in DC; Seth Moulton in NH; Bernie Sanders in IA; Elizabeth Warren in IA & MN; Marianne Williamson in IA

8/20 – O'Rourke in IA; Joe Biden in IA; Castro in IA; Delaney in IA; Gillibrand in NH; Kamala Harris in CA; Moulton in SC, Sanders in IA; Joe Sestak in IA; Andrew Yang in CA

8/21 – Bennet in IA; Beto in IA; Biden in IA; Booker in IA & CA; Bullock in IA; Pete Buttigieg in IA; Castro in IA; Bill de Blasio in IA; Delaney in IA; Tulsi Gabbard in IA; Harris in CA; Jay Inslee in IA; Amy Klobuchar in IA; Moulton in SC; Tim Ryan in IA; Sanders in IA; Sestak in IA; Warren in IA & CA; Williamson in IA; Yang in CA

8/22 – Booker in CA; Buttigieg in ME, Gillibrand in NY; Harris in CA; Sanders in CA; Yang in CA

8/23 – Bennet in CA; Biden in NH; Dr. Biden in NC; Booker in CA; Buttigieg in NH; Castro in CA; Harris in CA; Klobuchar in CA; Moulton in CA; Ryan in CA; Sanders in CA; Sestak in CA; Steyer in CA; Warren in CA; Williamson in CA; Yang in CA

8/24 – Biden in NH & NY; Dr. Biden in NC & SC; Buttigieg in NH; Harris in NC

8/25 – Dr. Biden in SC; Booker in OR; Bullock CNN Town Hall; Buttigieg in NH; Harris in NC; Moulton in NH; Warren in WA

First published on August 19, 2019 / 7:21 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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