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Activists Protest DNC Snub of Climate Debate: Campaign Update

Tyler Pager

(Bloomberg) -- A progressive climate group that is behind the Green New Deal held a large protest inside the hotel hosting the Democratic National Committee’s summer meeting Friday in response to the party’s rejection of a debate focused on climate change.

Lining the halls of the Hilton San Francisco Union Square hotel, protesters loudly cheered and sang as delegates and staff walked by. On Thursday, the DNC’s resolutions committee rejected a proposal to let candidates appear simultaneously in a debate on climate issues. DNC Chairman Tom Perez has also expressed opposition to any single-issue debates.

"In the coming days and months, we’ll keep fighting to make sure the DNC and Tom Perez treat the climate crisis like the emergency that it is, and give it the airtime and attention that it deserves,” Sunrise Movement spokesperson Sofie Karasek said in a statement.

Ad Buying Frenzy Paused for Some 2020 Democrats (4:15 P.M.)

Meeting the Democratic National Committee’s debate qualification rules has halted a social-media ad-buying frenzy -- for now.

Some of the leading 2020 Democratic candidates who’ve secured a slot for the third debate in Houston on Sept. 12 have scaled back their spending on social media advertising this past week. Facebook and Google advertisements have become one of the most popular tools used among candidates looking to reach the 130,000 donor threshold and push up polling numbers to win coveted debate spots.

Between Aug. 11 and Aug. 17, front-runner Joe Biden spent about $19,000 on Facebook and Google ads, down from $99,000 the week before, according to data by Acronym, a progressive nonprofit organization. Andrew Yang spent around $15,000, down from $67,000 a week earlier, and Beto O’Rourke spent $26,000, down from $80,000.

With less than a week left to meet the 130,000 donor and 2% polling threshold, other candidates have upped their spending. Billionaire businessman Tom Steyer, a late entrant to the Democratic field who’s yet to qualify, was the top spender among his rivals this month, buying more than $2 million worth of Facebook and Google advertisements just in the past two weeks, in his push to make it on stage in Houston.

President Donald Trump still remains the highest spender on social media ads, having spent a total of $16.7 million since November.

Trump Blames Dow Drop on Exiting 2020 Candidate (3:34 P.M.)

President Donald Trump made light of a plummeting stock market on Friday by blaming it on the Democratic congressman who quit the presidential race earlier in the day.

“The Dow is down 573 points perhaps on the news that Representative Seth Moulton, whoever that may be, has dropped out of the 2020 Presidential Race!” Trump tweeted.

Seconds later, Moulton responded.

“I’m glad he thinks that I have more influence over Wall Street than he does," he told reporters as he prepared to formally announce to DNC members in San Francisco his departure from the race. "He’s probably thrilled that I’m out.”

Market watchers said it was Trump’s earlier tweets -- in which he purported to order U.S. companies to leave China after Beijing’s retaliatory tariffs -- that escalated trade fears and triggered to the hard sell-off. -- Sahil Kapur and Gregory Korte

Michael Bennet Rips Into Democrats’ 2020 Rules (2:47 P.M.)

Struggling Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bennet says the party’s being unfair to candidates who aren’t celebrities, billionaires or veterans of the campaign trail.

Bennet, a U.S. senator from Colorado, is seeking to gain traction in the crowded but rapidly shrinking field. He lit into rules for the 2020 presidential primary while speaking at the Democratic National Committee’s summer meeting in San Francisco.

“The DNC process is stifling debate at a time when we need it most. We’re rewarding celebrity candidates with millions of Twitter followers, billionaires who buy their way onto the debate stage, and candidates who have been running for president for years,” he said.

Bennet, 54, said he won’t be on the stage for the third debate, arguing that the rules encourage candidates to spend heavily on platforms like Facebook to qualify for debates. Candidates must have 130,000 donors and register at least 2% in four qualifying polls to earn a spot on the debate stage. So they are under tremendous pressure to get a lot of small donors and must spend heavily on social media ads to meet the qualifications.

“If we wanted to be the party that excluded people, we’d be Republicans,” he said. “These rules have created exactly the wrong outcomes and they will not help us beat Donald Trump.”

Bennet hasn’t qualified under the fundraising and polling requirements for the September debates. -- Sahil Kapur

Progressives Cry Foul Over Party Favoritism (12:13 P.M.)

Democratic leaders want to winnow down the crowded field of presidential contenders and get some of them to run for state or congressional seats.But there are still those stinging from 2016, when the Democratic National Committee seemed to favor establishment candidate Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.

Case in point: former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who dropped out of the presidential field and announced Thursday he would instead run for Senate.

The problem? There are already 11 candidates in the primary race, and they have been unwilling to clear the field for Hickenlooper, who earlier this year said, “I’m not cut out to be a senator.”

So when the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee came out in support of Hickenlooper Friday, the progressive wing cried foul.

“This is a moment of decision,” tweeted Andrew Romanoff, former Colorado House speaker and one of the candidates. “Do we want DC to dictate our choice and buy this election before any ballots are even cast — or do we believe voters still matter?”

The move could have repercussions back up to the national race, further dividing moderates and the party’s left flank. David Sirota, Sanders’s top speechwriter who lives in Denver and is married to a state representative, accused the DSCC of trying to block a contested primary “to create a coronation for the candidate who opposes a Green New Deal and Medicare for All.”

The Democratic nominee will face incumbent Republican Senator Cory Gardner. -- Gregory Korte

Bannon Aims to Embolden Trump With Huawei Film (5:30 A.M.)

Donald Trump’s re-election could hinge on the outcome of his trade war with China. As markets wobble and central bankers gather in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to consider the fallout, a familiar combatant is about to lob a bomb designed to fire up the president and intensify his focus on China.Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon, never one for subtlety, has produced a new film called “Claws of the Red Dragon” attacking Huawei Technologies Co., the Chinese telecommunications giant Trump has forbidden U.S. companies from doing business with over concerns about its ties to the Chinese government.

Bannon’s goal is to steel Trump’s resolve to confront China — a resolve that seemed to weaken when markets plunged in early August and the administration granted Huawei a 90-day reprieve. Bannon hopes “Claws of the Red Dragon” is sufficiently alarmist that Trump puts off worries about a recession and presses ahead with tariffs.

“The central issue in the 2020 presidential campaign is going to be the economic war with China: manufacturing jobs, currency, capital markets and technology,” Bannon said in an interview. “Huawei is a key part of that, and this film will highlight why it must be shut down.

Unlike Bannon’s earlier films — high-intensity right-wing documentaries — “Claws of the Red Dragon” is a moody action-drama with professional actors “inspired by the 2018 arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer and daughter of the founder of Huawei Technologies,” according to a press release.

The movie follows fictional Chinese-Canadian journalist Jane Li, whose reporting exposes her to what Bannon and the filmmakers allege to be Huawei’s countless perfidies, including ties to the Chinese Communist Party and the country’s military.

Meng remains under house arrest in Canada as her lawyers fight attempts by the U.S. to extradite her in a sanctions case. Both she and the company deny wrongdoing. After her arrest, China detained two Canadian citizens, who are still in custody.

While anyone can watch the official trailer, Bannon’s project appears aimed mainly at an audience of one.

“One of my objectives is to get a screening for President Trump at the White House,” he said.

The film will first appear on Canadian television in mid-September. It was released by New Tang Dynasty Television. Bannon is working to arrange U.S. distribution.

Coming Up:

The Democratic National Committee meets until Saturday in San Francisco. Most of the top presidential candidates -- except Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg -- will speak to members on Friday.

--With assistance from Joshua Green, Sahil Kapur, Gregory Korte and Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tyler Pager in Washington at tpager1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, Ros Krasny, Steve Geimann

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