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Biden to skip DNC meeting in San Francisco where 13 candidates are expected

POLITICO logo POLITICO 8/19/2019 By Carla Marinucci
Joe Biden wearing a microphone: Party officials say 13 candidates have confirmed their attendance at the events, but not former Vice President Joe Biden. © John Locher/AP Photo Party officials say 13 candidates have confirmed their attendance at the events, but not former Vice President Joe Biden.

SAN FRANCISCO — Hundreds of Democratic National Committee delegates will be here next weekend for a three-day gathering that gives them a chance to meet and hear from 13 presidential contenders — though former Vice President Joe Biden, the party’s frontrunner, isn’t scheduled to be among the candidates.

Biden also bypassed the last big party meeting in San Francisco — the convention of the California Democratic Party, the nation’s largest state party, which drew more than 4,000 people in June.

Party officials say 13 candidates have confirmed their attendance at the events, which kick off Friday. Sen. Kamala Harris, the former district attorney of San Francisco and attorney general of California, will enjoy a home-field advantage with the DNC crowd. But also attending are Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Bernie Sanders of Vermont; former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro; Reps. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Tim Ryan of Ohio; businessmen Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang; as well as author Marianne Williamson and Adm. Joe Sestak.

Biden’s campaign has announced that the former vice president will be campaigning in New Hampshire next weekend. A campaign aide said that Greg Schultz, campaign manager for Biden for President, would attend the DNC events in his place.

Noticeably absent from the attendee list is another top-tier candidate, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., who has drawn big crowds in San Francisco appearances previously.

The Democratic National Committee’s summer meetings, which are also open to the public and press, are expected to draw 350 delegates over three days to San Francisco, where they will both tend to party business and meet the candidates. It’s the first such meeting of the DNC party operatives and activists this year to provide close contact with a swath of 2020 hopefuls — and possibly decide on endorsements.

“This is a great opportunity for DNC members to meet a lot of the candidates,’’ said Bob Mulholland, a committee member from California and a longtime political adviser in the party. “Some of the candidates will have private meetings that will never be publicized.’’

Mulholland joked that the wooing of delegates might mean those from “Iowa and New Hampshire will probably have their hotel rooms paid for … while someone from a June primary won’t even get their phone calls returned.”

Some candidates are using the trip to the state to do some fundraising in the nation’s political ATM, and also to schedule public events that will give them exposure in California — an early-primary state that is home to eight major media markets and will deliver a motherlode of nearly 500 delegates in the March 3 contest.

Sanders has already announced two events open to the public: a Thursday town hall in Sacramento and a Friday event in San Francisco focusing on student debt and affordable college.

Bennet will speak to the public on Friday at a Commonwealth Club forum in San Francisco, his campaign said.

The DNC said its Rules and Bylaws Committee would meet Thursday to go over state party delegate-selection plans, and DNC members will participate in one general-session meeting to discuss party business on Saturday. DNC members will also participate in caucus, council and committee meetings while in San Francisco, the party said.

Mulholland said that Biden’s absence might ruffle some feathers, but that “if someone feels left out, that’s all forgotten come post-February.”

“Whoever is coming out of (the early primaries) with the most delegates is their best friend,’’ he said. And by the time California’s primary rolls around, “people forget about the weekend they were stiffed.”

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