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Late Night Tackles 2020
July 26, 2019

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), making his second bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, got a very warm reception on Thursday's Jimmy Kimmel Live. "They still love you," Kimmel said.

Sanders said he couldn't watch former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's testimony on Wednesday, but the bottom-line "message from Mueller is that the Russians intervened in the campaign in 2016, they are still intervening, and we've got to stop that. Whatever your political view is, you want to make sure that the election in the United States is controlled by the people this country, not the Russians or anybody else." Kimmel said "that seems very obvious and it seems like something that would be embraced by both parties, but it can't even get a vote in the Senate. Republicans have stopped it twice today." Sanders agreed and said the Senate is broken and owned by greedy powerful monied interests.

Sanders and Kimmel talked about the need to boldly tackle climate change (blocked by the fossil-fuel industry), Sanders' Medicare-for-All proposal (opposed by the insurance industry), and the high price of prescription drugs (thanks to the pharmaceutical industry). They also discussed Sanders' conversational friendship with Cardi B., the pro-Sanders community on Etsy — which Sanders has never visited, he said — and how President Trump would demand a cut from all the unlicensed fan merch, some of which Kimmel showcased.

"Do you relish in the idea of debating Donald Trump?" Kimmel asked. "Not only debating him but defeating him," Sanders said. "He is trying to divide our country up based on the color of our skin or where we came from or our religion or our sexual orientation ... and it will give me great pleasure to defeat this president and create a government of compassion and of love rather than just of hatred and divisiveness."

Kimmel wondered if Sanders' 2020 slogan — "Not Me. Us." — is a nod to Trump, then joked: "Is it smart to put the words 'Not Me' in your campaign for president?" They laughed and Sanders explained his slogan and hopes for the upcoming Democratic debate. Watch below. Peter Weber

July 23, 2019

Stephen Colbert interviewed Marianne Williamson on Monday's Late Show, and he introduced her as an "activist, presidential candidate, and New York Times bestseller." Once seated, he asked her what makes her "different than the other 24 candidates who are running" for the Democratic nomination. "Well, in some of the policy positions, I think I'm very similar," Williamson said. "I'm a progressive, left-wing Democrat," though "I want to be an agent of change, I don't want to be an agent of chaos."

Williamson explained that her promotion of love wouldn't stop her from sending the U.S. military into war, but she wants a Department of Peace to make war less likely. The Pentagon has a $750 billion military budget, versus $40 billion for the State Department, which includes some "peacebuilding agencies," she said. "Our peacebuilders get less than $1 billion in the budget," and she would change that.

"Do you feel marginalized out there" during the debates? Colbert asked. "They're like, 'Oh, there's wacky Marianne Williamson, let's put her out there, out in the peace fields'?" "My placement on the podium is the least of the ways that I feel marginalized in this election," she said. "But I understand how it works, and I understand that there's a sort of political media industrial complex, and last time is was 'It has to be Bernie,' and this time it's 'Oh, it can be any of these four or five.' And I have a problem with that."

Williamson said it's silly to trust longtime politicians to save us from the political "ditch" politicians drove us into, and Colbert noted that like her, President Trump had business but no political experience. "The president's problem is not that he lacked political experience," she said. "The problem is that he lacks ethics and he seems to lack a visceral taste for democracy." Williamson ended with and expanded definition of political qualifications and fighting words for any 2020 rival who considers her a political amateur. Watch below. Peter Weber

June 28, 2019

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D), both former presidential candidates, assessed Thursday night's Democratic debate on live late-night TV. And they largely agreed on who won.

Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.) "proved she deserves to be on the stage tonight, for sure," Christie told The Late Show's Stephen Colbert. "First debates are about proving who belongs and who doesn't. ... And Harris tonight proved what I've known all along: Prosecutors know how to do that. ... They know how to ask a question, they know how to deliver a punch, they know how to do it with a smile on their face, and they know how to look righteous when they're doing it. And she did all that tonight."

Harris "laid some real punches" on frontrunner Joe Biden, Christie added, "although I thought his best moments in the debate was when he was going back and forth with her because he was a little more himself." Overall, "it was a tough night for Biden, but he has room to be able to have a tough night, so I think he's okay," he added. Christie said it's time to say goodbye to Marianne Williamson, Andrew Yang, Rep. Eric Swalwell (Calif.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), and NBC's Chuck Todd, "the most pretentious know-it-all on network news."

Dean told The Daily Show's Trevor Noah "it was a damn good debate," and "I think Kamala did great. I think, actually, Biden did pretty well defending himself." And he said it's too soon to start winnowing the field, though he did warn his fellow Democrats about "whacking Trump" in debates. "Trump will do that to himself," he said. "If we're talking about Trump three weeks before the election, we lose. Trump will remind us every day that we don't like him. We need to talk about the stuff they were talking about tonight."

Looking ahead to the 2020 general election debates, Christie said Harris and Biden would be a good match for Trump, and as for Trump, "the biggest weakness he has is, you know, swinging at every pitch." Watch below. Peter Weber

June 25, 2019

Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang's "Yang Gang" was in full force in Stephen Colbert's Late Show audience on Monday, but Colbert had Yang give his elevator pitch to everyone in America who doesn't know Andrew Yang from Adam — or many of the other two dozen Democrats running for president in 2020. "I'm running for president to solve the problems that got Donald Trump into the White House in 2016," he said, primarily job loss to automation. His primary solution is $1,000 a month for every American adult. Yang explained how his "freedom dividend," or universal basic income, works, and why he thinks America needs it in a world of artifical intelligence.

Colbert noted that Yang is in the second Democratic presidential mega-debate, on Thursday night. "What does a win look like for you?" he asked. "What do you want to get out of this debate?" Most Americans are only now paying attention to the 2020 race, Yang said. "And so a win for me is that Americans tune in, they say 'Who's the Asian man standing next to Joe Biden,' and then they look me up." They ran through some of Yang's other policy positions, including fair pay for MMA fighters, free marriage counseling, and abolishing the penny. "You realize you just lost Illinois," Colbert joked. Yang insisted his anti-circumcision tweet was just a suggestion. Watch below. Peter Weber

June 21, 2019

President Trump's speech at his re-election rally in Orlando on Tuesday night "was a rambling hash of warmed-over 2016 road kill, and the media had one consistent criticism," that he's still running like it's 2016, Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. "I know Trump dismisses any criticism from the media as 'fake news,' which is why we have our own in-house news team, 'Real News Tonight,'" always "dedicated to giving the president the exact kind of praise he wants to hear on the TV. And since our reporters, Jim Anchorton and Jill Newslady, are such huge fans of Trump, we sent these two down to Orlando, and they filed this story that the mainstream media doesn't want you to see."

Trump might not mind you watching most of their over-the-top fawning report, but not the part about his less-than-capacity crowd. "Not an empty seat in the house," Anchorton said, with several rows of empty seats visible behind him.

"Trump was on Fox News last night, being lathered with love by Sean Hannity, and among other things the president boasted about the size of the crowd at his kickoff rally," Jimmy Kimmel said at Kimmel Live. Despite Trump's claim, he added, "we searched everywhere today, found no evidence they asked anyone not to come. In fact, he tweeted multiple times to say they'd have food trucks and big-screen TVs outside the arena. So anyway, the city officials in Orlando estimated the crowd at 19,792, so he's only off by about 100,000 people."

Still, Trump appears to know what he's doing, Kimmel added. "Trump has been raking it in since he announced his intent to be re-elected, they made almost $25 million the day after his pep rally. And there's plenty of exciting new merchandise for sale." He gawked at one shirt, and you can see why below. Peter Weber

June 20, 2019

"Usually, a re-election campaign offers new ideas, new policies to move the country forward," Trevor Noah said on Wednesday's Daily Show, but President Trump's Tuesday night speech "felt like an exact replica of him running in 2016 — and when I say an exact replica, I mean exact." Here's what he means:

To be fair, Trump did test out a new slogan for 2020:

Yes, "last night Trump was in Orlando, Florida, to officially relaunch the campaign he has never stopped," Stephen Colbert said at The Late Show. "For those of you that are hoping that now that he's president, his tone would change, last night was a swift kick in the old hopey-changey." He played some highlights, interspersed with jokes and commentary. "You know, for all his bad environmental policies, Trump is very committed to recycling his garbage," he said. "Trump did make one new campaign promise, and it's a biggie" — but Joe Biden claimed it first.

"In the runup to this thing, Trump and his folks kept saying that this thing was oversold, something like 100,000 tickets — or 120,000, something like that — for only 25,000 seats in the arena," Colbert said. "That's why they said they had to have that '45 Fest' out in the parking lot, for the overflow crowd of 75,000 people who couldn't get in. That is impressive! That is also a lie."

Colbert showed Late Show footage of the "overflow crowd" outside the arena. And "it's no one — just garbage and abandoned yard furniture," he said. "But maybe that crowd went home, without any of their chairs, because they couldn't get into that sold-out arena? Again, no, because our team got their press credentials denied at the last minute — and this is true — so they just went online and got tickets and walked in ... to take any one of the many, many empty seats in the arena." He ended with the ugly opening prayer and a cameo. Watch below. Peter Weber

June 19, 2019

President Trump "officially launched his campaign tonight at a rally in Orlando," Jimmy Kimmel said on Tuesday's Kimmel Live. "Finally, Trump is out rallying again. He was up bright and early, typing and hyping at 7:30 a.m. ... Trump really wanted a big crowd for this. He was pushing it like a coworker with an improv show."

Trump promised big screens and food trucks for people who couldn't get into the arena, Kimmel noted. "He's doing more for the people at his rally in Orlando than he did for all of Puerto Rico after the hurricane. But those are his people, and it was quite the scene in Orlando. The president's Fox friends were on the ground this morning to chat it up with supporters who decided to camp out overnight." He showed that clip, which, presumably, was not clever trolling by Democrats.

"It is crazy that Florida basically gets to decide our election," Kimmel said. "It's like letting your dog decide what's for dinner every night." He ended with a hot take on Trump kicking his chief of staff out of the Oval Office for coughing.

"That's right, Trump launched his 2020 campaign with a huge rally — it was going well until Trump started kicking out every person who coughed," Jimmy Fallon joked at The Tonight Show. "But Trump drew a big crowd, he said thousands were lined up outside the arena two days before the rally. That's kind of a strange thing to brag about. On one hand, thousands of people waited two days to see you, but on the other hand, none of them have jobs."

Late Night's Seth Meyers found the entire premise ridiculous: "You're launching your 2020 re-election campaign? You've been running for re-election since your second day in office. You talk about 2020 more than a guy who just got Lasik." Watch below. Peter Weber

June 19, 2019

President Trump held a big re-election rally in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday night, and for those Trump super fans unable to get into the venue, The Late Show explained the consolation prize:

Trump's "supporters started lining up nearly two full days before the event — apparently he hasn't brought all of America's jobs back, considering this is a Tuesday," Stephen Colbert said in his monologue. Trump tweeted about the pre-rally enthusiasm, with only a touch of vainglory. "He sees himself as a rock star!" Colbert said, combing his Trump voice with a Billy Idol classic: "You know, 'It's a nice day for a white rally.'" The actual band that played to warm up Trump's "45 Fest" crowd was called The Guzzlers, and Colbert gave them a bit of free publicity.

"Trump's rally tonight has added urgency because everyone's talking about how bad his poll numbers are — even Fox News' Bret Baier," Colbert said. "Ouch. Fox News, you pledged to be there for him for better or worse. You keep this up, he's going to leave you for a younger network. ... And Trump was watching Bret," tweeting that "polls are always bad for me," "More Fake News @BretBaier," and there's "something weird going on at Fox." Colbert agreed: "Something weird going on at Fox. They've started reporting — and I hope I'm pronouncing this right — the truth?"

At The Daily Show, Trevor Noah offered some thoughtful advice to Democrats hoping to be the target of the kind of insults Trump hurled during his actual Orlando rally: Don't try to roast Trump, because that's his game and he excels at it; focus on policy, because nothing intrigues swing voters more and deflates Trump quicker. Watch below. Peter Weber

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