2020 Daily Trail Markers: Inside Buttigieg's "Internet for All" initiative

By Caitlin Conant

/ CBS News

Buttigieg stays focused on Iowa in 2020 bid

FROM THE CANDIDATES

PETE BUTTIGIEG: Mayor Pete Buttigieg released a rural economic plan aimed at empowering rural America through an expansion of rural economic opportunities, an "Internet for All" initiative and an investment for rural communities to combat climate change Tuesday morning, according to CBS News Campaign Reporter Jack Turman.

Buttigieg's proposal includes expanding economic opportunity by providing $500 million in federal funds for "Regional Innovation Clusters." The plan indicates the funds will go to the development of 1,000 "clusters" that will combine job training, technology and talent in order to support rural businesses and rural entrepreneurs. Funds will also be allocated to state and local governments in order to support regional economic development strategies at the community level.

In addition, Buttigieg's plan calls for the creation of a national apprenticeship network and a local "Community Renewal" visa program that would "provide opportunities for people who want to move to America and help build our economy where they are needed most and where they will do well." Immigrants can apply for this visa to work in a rural community and when accepted, they commit to a three year residency. After the residency, the plan highlights the visa holders would be eligible for a green card.

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Buttigieg mentioned his Midwestern roots and the influence of living in South Bend had on empowering rural communities in this plan.

"I grew up and live in a mid-size, Midwestern city surrounded by farms and fields, and I've seen an overlooked community lift itself up with determination and creativity," Buttigieg said in a statement. "Just as my own hometown rose up to start a new chapter and meet the future with a fresh approach and new ideas, we can tackle this moment of urgency head on to create opportunity for rural Americans if we empower our communities rather than overlook them."

Buttigieg's "Internet for All" initiative, which the campaign says would cost $80 million, highlights expanding Internet access to rural and underserved communities through investment in private and nonprofit sectors to map which communities lack broadband access. In regional areas where private companies won't invest in broadband, the plan details an investment where the public in conjunction with community based options will discuss solutions for rural broadband.

Buttigieg's plan also outlined his support for investment in research and development in numerous agricultural areas, including soil technology and plant and animal health, to reduce carbon emissions. Buttigieg also proposed expanding some Department of Agriculture conservation programs and indicated his support for biofuels.

In a statement, former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack praised Buttigieg and his plan, saying Buttigieg "understands the importance of rural places and rural people to our country." Vilsack added, "His plan reinforces the Democratic message of care and concern for the future of rural America as being vital to the overall future of our country."

TOM STEYER: Businessman Tom Steyer is a single poll away from qualifying for the third round of Democratic presidential debates. Steyer's campaign boasted Tuesday morning that the billionaire, who declared his candidacy a little over a month ago, had reached the 130,000 individual donor threshold that a dozen of his competitors are still chasing.

Steyer, who has pledged to spend $100 million of his own money on his campaign, spent nearly $3 million on Facebook advertisements over the past month, significantly more than every other 2020 candidate, including President Trump. He's also spent multiples of his competitors on TV advertisements in the Des Moines area. "Since entering the race five weeks ago, our priority has been getting Tom's message out to the American people," Campaign Manager Heather Hargreaves said in a release.

But CBS News Campaign Reporter Zak Hudak says Steyer's also enjoying name recognition from a different message he's long been paying to push: that Mr. Trump should be impeached. Steyer's Need to Impeach PAC has gathered data on upwards of 8 million voters, who have grown accustomed to Steyer and his rhetoric through emails and mailers emblazoned with his face and his calls for impeachment.

STATELY COVERAGE

IN THE MIDDLE: Last night, the Iowa Asian & Latino Coalition endorsed Sen. Kamala Harris, giving Harris a highly-coveted boost as she wrapped up her five day bus tour in Iowa. "She has the strength and personality to take on Donald Trump," Asian & Latino Coalition Chair Prakash Kopparapu told reporters after making the announcement.

Fourteen current presidential candidates met with the political activist group, courting its endorsement. CBS News Campaign Reporter Adam Brewster says Harris met with the Asian & Latino Coalition three times: once last fall while campaigning in Iowa for local and congressional candidates, again in February and most recently on Saturday night. Kopparapu said it was a "contentious vote" among the board and it was not an unanimous decision to support Harris.

"I would say most of the members voted for her most likely because of the issues where she stands and the plans she put out," Kopparapu said, pointing to Harris' stance on health care and her record as attorney general as two issues that stood out to board members.

The group has 400 members and Kopparapu said more than 300 voted in the endorsement process. Members were able to vote for up to 4 candidates, and the top 4 candidates from that vote were considered by the board for endorsement.

The other candidates who were in that top four and considered for endorsement were former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. The board only considered endorsing candidates who met with the group. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders were among the candidates who did not hold events with the coalition.

CAPITOL COVERAGE

SENATE BOARDGAME: The National Republican Senatorial Committee rolled out three new billboards in battleground states on the 2020 Senate Map on Monday, according to CBS News Political Unit Associate Producer Ellee Watson. The new billboards in Colorado, North Carolina, and Georgia are the latest in a string of billboard announcements in August.

So far this month, the NRSC has announced at least eight new billboards. Some billboards highlight lesser known candidates in GOP-held states where there will be Democratic primaries. The billboard in Colorado targets Stephany Rose Spaulding who finished the quarter with just $25,000 on hand when there are more well-known candidates like Mike Johnston and Dan Baer who each posted over $1 million in the second quarter. Other billboards target incumbents like Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, and Alabama Sen. Doug Jones.

THE LAST HOUSE ELECTION OF THE YEAR: With the North Carolina 9th congressional district special elections in less than a month, GOP funding against Democratic candidate Dan McCready is heating up. CBS News Political Unit Broadcast Associate Aaron Navarro reports that the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Congressional Leadership Fund have spent close to $2 million in canvassing and ads opposing McCready in the past few weeks.

On Monday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out fundraising emails in response, asking for at least 20,000 grassroots donations. The emails called the race a "complete toss-up" despite McCready having a $2.7 million dollar edge against his Republican opponent, Dan Bishop. McCready's been able to benefit off of name I.D. from campaigning since the 2018 election, which was nullified due to a fraud scandal. But with this district being red since 1963 and giving Trump a 12 point win in 2016, the latest Republican ad push may continue to keep this race competitive until September 10.

First published on August 14, 2019 / 1:40 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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