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The RS Politics 2020 Democratic Primary Leaderboard

Ranking a crowded field as nearly 30 contenders jockey to confront Trump

Sherrod Brown, Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders

Gary Landers/AP/REX/Shutterstock; Tony Avelar/AP/REX/Shutterstock; Andrew Harnik/AP/REX/Shutterstock

The Iowa caucus is now just a year away, and the 2020 Democratic primary race is on. Despite the buzz generated by early movers, the race is wide open: 56 percent of Democratic voters have not formed a candidate preference, and no one in the running has double-digit support, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC poll.

Kamala Harris’ energetic campaign launch keeps her atop our rankings — though her momentum is also driving public scrutiny of her record as a prosecutor. Cory Booker has plunged into the race. Amy Klobuchar braved a blizzard to make her big announcement. And with prodding from Oprah, Beto O’Rourke is showing signs he might join the race.

The 2020 field also continues to ebb and flow. Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti formally declared he will not be running. West Virginia populist Richard Ojeda has called off his short-lived bid. And billionaire Starbucks chairman emeritus Howard Schultz has ditched the Democratic Party, threatening an independent run and defending “people of means.” Joining the rankings are Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado and Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, who have both teased 2020 runs.

In this refresh of our 2020 leaderboard, Rolling Stone is introducing two categories: Signature Policy, which we hope helps surface the menu of ideas up for debate, and Signature Apology, a marker of the baggage candidates carry. (Note that not every candidate has the latter … yet.)

1) Kamala Harris
Candidate Status: Running
Everyone knew Kamala Harris — the 54-year-old senator, who battled big banks and for-profit colleges as California’s attorney general — was formidable. But with a dynamic 2020 rollout, capped by a rally in front of thousands of cheering backers on the streets of Oakland, Harris is now flaunting a bit of her star power. She’ll need it. The California senator stands astride the tectonic plates of the Democratic Party — an establishment politician who has adopted a platform responsive to the passion of the grassroots, including a Green New Deal. Harris is not shying away from her sometimes controversial record as a prosecutor. (As San Francisco’s District Attorney, she threatened to incarcerate parents whose kids skipped school.) Instead, she’s putting her service in law enforcement at the center of her narrative, right down to her campaign slogan, inspired by the words she used introducing herself in court: “Kamala Harris, for the people.” Black women are the heart of the Democratic Party, and seeing themselves reflected in the Howard University-educated Harris (born to Jamaican and Tamil Indian parents) could boost her prospects, particularly in early-voting South Carolina. Harris is also demonstrating broader appeal — surging to first place in the DailyKos straw poll of Democratic activists at 27 percent.
Previous Ranking: 1
Signature Policy: LIFT Act would pay out up to $500 a month for working-class families. Harris says this wage subsidy, which she markets as a “tax cut,” will be paid for by ending Trump’s “giveaways to big corporations and the top one percent.”
Signature Apology: Harris has accepted accountability for missteps as California’s attorney general: “The bottom line is the buck stops with me, and I take full responsibility for what my office did.”
Book: The Truths We Hold: An American Journey

2) Bernie Sanders
Candidate Status: Undeclared
Expected to launch his 2020 bid imminently, Sanders rises in our rankings as Elizabeth Warren stumbles and Beto O’Rourke wavers. Unlike 2016, Sanders will not have the left lane to himself — as many candidates have embraced his once-distinctive proposals. But Sanders presents himself as uncompromising in his pursuit of “fundamental change,” declaring “no thanks” to incremental alternatives. The 77-year-old Vermont senator will have running room as a grassroots insurgent. His prodigious network of small donors backed him with $228 million in 2016, and he’s kept his activists lively through the work of Our Revolution.
Signature Policy: Sanders’ 2016 campaign set the table for 2020. He gets full credit for mainstreaming Medicare-for-All, a $15 minimum wage, and tuition-free college. Sanders recently introduced the “For the 99.8% Act” — which would sharply increase the estate tax, including imposing a 77 percent tax on estates in excess of $1 billion, raising an estimated $315 billion over a decade.
Signature Apology: Sanders has apologized to former female staffers for a 2016 campaign marred by pay disparities and allegations of sexual harassment by male staffers. Sanders has promised to “do better” moving forward.
Previous Ranking: 6
Book: Where We Go From Here: Two Years in the Resistance

3) Sherrod Brown
Candidate Status: Undeclared
The senior senator from Ohio has launched his “Dignity of Work Tour,” with stops in Iowa and, soon, to New Hampshire. Brown has vowed to make a decision on a 2020 run “within a couple months,” but he’s already saying things like: “I will beat Trump in Ohio.” Skilled at debunking the lies Trump tells to “Trump Country,” Brown is a champion of labor and a prescient critic of the dangers of unfettered free trade. The rumpled, raspy-voiced 66 year old is plain-spoken — he calls Trump “a racist” — but Brown is positioning himself as a realist, arguing that Medicare-for-All is not “practical,” and advocating instead that 55-year-olds be allowed to buy into the program. “It’s something we might be able to get through Congress,” he’s said.
Signature Policy: The GAIN Act is a $1.4 trillion expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, a wage subsidy for the working class. The benefit would roughly double for families and soar for childless workers from $500 to $3,000 a year.
Signature Apology: In 2011, Brown regretted comparing the GOP’s public-union busting to Nazi Germany: “I should not have mentioned the hostility of tyrants like Hitler to unions,” he said. “I apologize for it.”
Previous Ranking: 3
Book (From 2006): Myths of Free Trade: Why American Trade Policy Has Failed

4) Joe Biden
Candidate Status: Undeclared
Biden continues to lead many early polls and offers an appealing narrative: a reset from the Trump catastrophe. If Democrats don’t fall in love with a new hope, they may fall in line behind the former veep. But the 76-year-old is struggling to connect to a new generation of voters. The admitted “gaffe machine” recently declared “I have no empathy” for the struggles of millennials, compared to the challenges young Boomers faced. (Biden is partly responsible for these woes, helping pass a 2005 bill making it nearly impossible to discharge student debt through bankruptcy.) In our hyper-partisan age, Biden’s nostalgia for collegial bipartisanship and fondness for Republicans and can come across as out of touch.
Signature Policy: Biden has peerless foreign policy credentials: “I’m the most qualified person in the country to be president,” he’s said.
Signature Apology: Biden used the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday this year as a platform to apologize for his role in mass incarceration, calling passage of the 1994 crime bill a “big mistake.”
Previous Ranking: 5
Book: Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose

5) Beto O’Rourke
Candidate Status: Undeclared
Beto arrested his slide in our rankings on February 5th, telling Oprah, “I have been thinking about running for president,” adding:  “I’m so excited at the prospect of being able to play that role.” Excitement defined Beto’s run for Senate, and he nearly toppled Texas mega-villain Sen. Ted Cruz. But the erstwhile Foss bassist had been in a self-declared post-election “funk,” bearing his soul on solo road-trip, described in joyless prose on Medium. Beto returned to the national spotlight on February 11, staring at a counter-rally protesting Trump’s visit to El Paso. He would enter the race with a nationwide grassroots machine that backed him with $60 million in 2018.
Signature Policy: O’Rourke, until this year a representative for El Paso, has centered on immigration reform, based on “respect and dignity.” He is
Signature Apology: Beto was arrested for drunk-driving at 26, which he’s called a “terrible mistake.”
Previous Ranking: 4
Book: Dealing Death and Drugs: The Big Business of Dope in the U.S. and Mexico

6) Elizabeth Warren
Candidate Status: Running
Warren drops in our rankings on the renewed controversy over her claim to Native American identity, which she has now abandoned. This news blunts what have otherwise been strong weeks for the Massachusetts senator. Warren made her candidacy official in a February 9th speech, calling on the working class to “fight back” against “class warfare” waged by the “rich guys.” And Schultz’s prospective independent 2020 bid, driven in part by his opposition to taxing the wealthiest, has given Warren a perfect punching bag. Unlike Sanders, a Democratic Socialist who idolizes Eugene Debs, the 69-year-old Warren is a capitalist at heart, but built a career trying to make it less cruel for working people, including by standing up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Previous Ranking: 2
Signature Policy: Warren reshuffled the inequality debate by proposing a wealth tax, imposed annually on “ultra-millionaires,” to pay for benefits for “yacht-less Americans.” Fortunes greater than $50 million would be taxed at 2 percent. Billionaires would pay 3 percent. The proposal has greater than 60 percent support and would raise $2.75 trillion over 10 years.
Signature Apology: After revealing a DNA test to much fanfare last October, claiming it validated her longstanding claims to Native American heritage, Warren has now pulled a 180, apologizing for conflating “family stories” and tribal identity. “I can’t go back,” Warren told the Washington Post. “But I am sorry for furthering confusion on tribal sovereignty and tribal citizenship and harm that resulted.” Warren’s public remarks followed a private apology to leaders of the Cherokee Nation.
Book: This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class

7) Cory Booker
Candidate Status: Running
Booker kicked off his candidacy at the beginning of Black History Month. The former super-mayor of Newark, 49, still lives there when he’s not in Washington. Booker has one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate and distinguishes himself by centering his agenda on federal marijuana decriminalization and criminal justice reform. He’s also worked, with Harris, to make lynching a hate crime. But Booker’s outward liberalism has been undercut at times by problematic connections to Wall Street and a vote that benefitted Big Pharma. The New Jersey Senator was the first Democratic 2020 contender backed by a SuperPAC.
Signature Policy: Baby bonds. Booker would target the wealth gap in America by seeding “American Opportunity Accounts” for children that would allow kids from the poorest families to enter adulthood with a nest egg of up to $46,000 — to invest in education, home ownership or retirement.
Signature Apology: It’s early yet, so The Onion’s satirical headline will have to stand in: “Cory Booker Apologizes To Wall Street Bankers For The Mean Things He’s Going To Have To Say About Them”
Previous Ranking: 10
Book: United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good

8) Kirsten Gillibrand
Candidate Status: Exploratory Committee 
Gillibrand announced her presidential bid on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in mid-January, vowing to “fight for other people’s kids as hard as I would fight for my own.” Hailing from upstate New York, Gillibrand could play well in New Hampshire. But her brand is beset by contradictions. The self-described “young mom,” 52, has evolved from a conservative Blue Dog Representative to a woke liberal Senator — yet still curries favor with Wall Street donors.
Signature Policy: Gillibrand is a champion of the #MeToo movement, calling out former president Bill Clinton and pushing for Al Franken to resign from the Senate.
Signature Apology: Gillibrand has begun her 2020 bid with frank apologies for her anti-immigrant past: “I was callous to the suffering of families who want to be with their loved ones,” she told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. “Looking back, I just really regretted that I didn’t look beyond my district.”
Previous Ranking: 7
Book: Off the Sidelines: Speak Up, Be Fearless, and Change Your World

9) Amy Klobuchar
Candidate Status: Running
The Minnesota senator launched her presidential bid in a Minneapolis blizzard on February 10th. Klobuchar’s unruffled persona stands contrast to Trump’s bluster and bravado, winning her plaudits from Very Serious People like Washington Post columnist George Will. Klobuchar, 58, will benefit from a near-home-field advantage in neighboring Iowa, which holds the first-in-the-nation caucus. But she’s headed first to another Midwestern state: “We’re starting in Wisconsin because, as you remember, there wasn’t a lot of campaigning in Wisconsin in 2016,” she said — throwing shade at the 2016 Clinton campaign. “With me, that changes.”
Signature Policy: In contrast to the sweeping promises made by 2020 rivals, Klobuchar prefers policy small ball, and has racked up a substantive record — passing laws to reduce the backlog of rape kits and to ban lead in toys. But are “tax advantaged savings accounts” for job reskilling really the key to primary voters’ hearts?
Signature Apology: Befitting her squeaky-clean tenure, the most high-profile apology of the senator’s career was made to Klobuchar, by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who badgered the senator, the daughter of an alcoholic, about her beer consumption. “I’m sorry I did that,” Kavanaugh said.
Previous Ranking: 8
Book: The Senator Next Door: A Memoir from the Heartland

10) Julián Castro
Candidate Status: Running
The former Housing and Urban Development secretary — a short-lister for Hillary’s 2016 VP — announced his 2020 candidacy in San Antonio on January 12th. The only Latino contender in the field, Castro, 44, is also one of the youngest. The Texan’s implausible personal story is resonant at a moment when immigration and borders dominate the national conversation. But Castro’s early fundraising has been lackluster, pulling in just $220,000 according to his first FEC filing.
Signature Policy: At his campaign launch, Castro promised universal pre-K, i.e. public education for four-year-olds: “As president, I’ll make pre-K for the U.S.A. happen!’
Signature Apology: In 2016, Castro apologized for dissing Trump and talking up Clinton while on the job as HUD secretary, a violation of the Hatch Act. “When an error is made — even an inadvertent one — the error should be acknowledged,” Castro said, “I made one here.”
Previous Ranking: 9
Book: An Unlikely Journey: Waking Up from My American Dream

11) John Hickenlooper
Candidate Status: Undeclared
Colorado’s former governor is testing whether a can-do centrist has any juice with today’s Democratic base, and is making a pitch based on electability: “To beat Trump,” he said recently on CNN, “you’re going to do better with someone like myself.” Hickenlooper, 66, left office this year having created 400,000 jobs over two terms, with unemployment dropping below 3 percent last year. But he is also pro-fracking, and the longtime brewer was slow to warm to Colorado’s trailblazing marijuana legalization. Agreeably goofy, Hickenlooper probably benefits from Schultz’s exit from the Democratic ranks. He’s promised a decision by March.
Signature Policy: Hickenlooper wants Democrats to be the party of small business: “We need to talk about less red tape. We need to talk about smaller government,” he’s said.
Signature Apology: In 2014, Hickenlooper apologized to local sheriffs for not consulting them before pushing a gun-control measure, but didn’t take well to being pressed further on the issue by one officer at a public forum. “How many apologies do you want? What the fuck?,” the governor said. “I apologize!”
Previous Ranking: 11
Book: The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics

12) Pete Buttigieg
Candidate Status: Exploratory Committee
The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, launched his presidential bid in late January. Buttigieg — pronounced BOOT-edge-edge — has an implausible resume: He’s a Rhodes Scholar who was elected mayor of this industrial Midwest city while still in his twenties. He’s led an economic revival over seven years in office, during which time he also served a seven-month tour with the Navy in Afghanistan. Buttigieg is openly gay and live-streamed his wedding on YouTube. No mayor ever has ever won the White House; Garcetti’s decision to clear the field leaves this lane open for Mayor Pete. (Read Rolling Stone’s extended conversation with Buttigieg here.)
Signature Policy: “The electoral college needs to go.”
Previous Ranking: 12
Book: Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future

13) Jay Inslee
Candidate Status: Undeclared
Inslee, who has been testing the 2020 waters in Nevada and New Hampshire, is all but declared as a presidential candidate. The 67-year-old Washington governor, has presided over a roaring economy that’s allowed him to invest in education and slash college tuition. This year he’s called for a “public option” in the state’s health care system and launched a Marijuana Justice Initiative, granting pardons for past misdemeanor pot offenses, in a state where cannabis is now legal.
Signature Policy: Inslee told Rolling Stone in November that it’s “absolutely imperative” that Democrats have a climate-focused candidate. His track record includes helping lead the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan group of 19 governors implementing the Paris climate accord.
Previous Ranking: 13

14) Steve Bullock
Candidate Status: Undeclared
The Montana governor with a Deadwood-worthy name could be a 2020 dark horse. Bullock has the cred of winning statewide office in a state Trump carried by 20 points — and then getting a GOP-majority legislature to agree to expand Medicaid. (Bullock just received a glowing pre-run profile in Politico.)
Signature Policy: The 52-year-old has focused on ending the influence of unlimited political contributions and dark money. “If we wanna address all the other big issues,” he said in a stump speech in Iowa, “you’re not gonna be able to do it unless you also address the way money is affecting our system.”
Signature Apology: A former Bullock aide, fired for sexual harassment, has gone on to harass again in the office of the mayor of New York City. “I should have done more to ensure future employers would learn of his behavior,” Bullock wrote in February. “I also know these realizations come too late for the two women in New York City. For that, I’m deeply sorry.”
Previous Ranking: 14

15) Eric Holder
Candidate Status: Undeclared
A formidable inside player who is close to the Obamas, Holder is expected to make a decision on a presidential bid by March. In mid-February, the 68-year-old former Attorney General delivered a campaign-style speech in Iowa, warning that “Republicans are doing everything they can to make it more difficult for our government to express and execute the will of the people — through brazen gerrymandering, discriminatory voter ID laws, active voter suppression, or the unnecessary purging of voter rolls.”
Signature Policy: Holder has led a major Democratic project to fight for fair redistricting.
Previous Ranking: 18

16) Michael Bloomberg
Candidate Status: Undeclared
The New York billionaire and former Republican-turned-independent mayor, 76, certainly has the money to mount a credible run — and has vowed he’d finance his own presidential campaign. Bloomberg is not out to soak the rich — he warns that America risks becoming Venezuela if Warren’s wealth tax is enacted — and insists, without evidence, that the U.S. can’t afford Medicare-for-All, saying it would “bankrupt us for a very long time.” An uneasy fit in today’s Democratic party, Bloomberg nonetheless released a statement, targeted at Schultz, discouraging independent runs for president.
Signature Policy: Bloomberg is the co-chair of the influential anti-gun violence nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety and has championed pro-gun-control candidates across America. He also backs a Green New Deal that is “bold and ambitious and, most importantly, achievable.”
Signature Apology: As mayor in 2011, Bloomberg apologized after a speech at the American Irish Historical Society, where he said he was used to seeing “people that are totally inebriated hanging out windows” on St. Patrick’s Day. “I certainly did not mean to offend anybody,” he said.
Previous Ranking: 16
Book: Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet  

17) Andrew Yang
Candidate Status: Running
Yang is a businessman who founded Venture for America, which seeks to revitalize struggling urban centers by training and fostering entrepreneurs in cities like Detroit and New Orleans.
Signature Policy: The 44-year-old is running on a platform of a universal basic income, to counteract the worst effects of automation in the workforce. Yang spoke at length to Rolling Stone about his “Freedom Dividend,” insisting:  “You want to universalize it so it’s seen as a true right of citizenship.”
Previous Ranking: 26

18) Eric Swalwell
Candidate Status: Undeclared
The California congressman is 38, a member of House leadership and the House Intelligence Committee, and does not cloak his ambition. He rises in our rankings thanks to a shout-out from GOP chair Ronna McDaniel, who tweeted: “Want to know why Dems will lose in 2020? Exhibit A: Candidates like Eric Swalwell. They’re so desperate to appeal to the far left that they make insane comments like ‘Trump is an agent of Russia’ that are totally extreme and indefensible.” McDaniel’s tweet also included a video of segment Swalwell making a well-reasoned two minute indictment of Trump on PBS’s Firing Line underscoring the president’s “eagerness to collude” with Russia and his “consciousness of guilt.”
Previous Ranking: 23

19) Jeff Merkley
Candidate Status: Undeclared
The progressive senator from Oregon, 62, is considering a bid and has said his family has given him the green light. But in January, he seemed to throw cold water on his own prospects, playing up the cost of mounting a credible run.
Signature Policy: Merkley had little national profile until Trump’s family-separation policy sparked national outcry last summer. A video of Merkley showing up at a Texas detention facility to demand answers went viral, and he’s continued to shine a spotlight on this human rights abuse since, including by inviting victims of family separation to the State of the Union address in February.
Previous Ranking: 19

20) Terry McAuliffe
Candidate Status: Undeclared
The former Virginia governor, 61, has given himself until the end of March to decide on a presidential bid. “I’d like to do it,” he told CNN recently — touting his ability to work with a mostly Republican legislature during his tenure as governor. McAuliffe has described his agenda in Virginia as “very progressive” — he restored voting rights to nearly 200,000 people with past felony convictions. But the former DNC chair, a prodigious fundraiser, political fixer, and best friend to the Clintons, would be an establishment voice in the race: He doesn’t believe in free college and writes that “Democrats must maintain our credibility” with voters by presenting an agenda that’s “honest and achievable.”
Previous Ranking: 20

21) John Kerry
Candidate Status: Undeclared
After an exceptional stint as secretary of state, including negotiating the Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal, Kerry’s presidential credentials rival Biden’s. But the scars of 2004, when he lost the presidency to George W. Bush, are deep. The now-75-year-old talked up a potential 2020 run in November, saying “I’m going to think about it.” After a very quiet interlude, Kerry popped up in Davos to declare Trump should “resign.
Previous Ranking: 17
Book: Every Day Is Extra

22) Michael Bennet
Candidate Status: Undeclared
The 54-year-old senator from Colorado is flirting with a presidential bid. “We’ve got a million people that are going to run, which I think is great,” he said on Meet the Press on February 10th. “Having one more voice in that conversation that’s focused on America’s future, I don’t think would hurt.” A former chief of staff to then-Denver mayor John Hickenlooper, Bennet has been lauded by “Morning” Joe Scarborough for combining “an Ivy League pedigree” with “a common touch” and for his “commitment to key centrist fiscal policies.”
Signature Policy:
Medicare X. With Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bennet is proposing legislation to create, and slowly roll out, a public option for the Obamacare state marketplaces, with the same doctor and hospital networks as Medicare, and similar reimbursement rates. (Bennet has called Medicare-for-All, which would disrupt existing health care plans for millions, “bad opening offer.”)
Previous Ranking: Not listed

23) Tim Ryan
Candidate Status: Undeclared
Ryan represents post-industrial Youngstown, Ohio, in Congress and wants Democrats to compete for the disaffected voters who turned to Trump in 2016. Ryan, 45, has pitched himself as a candidate who can win over Miller Lite dads and “yoga vote” moms. But his role in the failed putsch attempt against Nancy Pelosi speaks against his political instincts. Ryan told Fox News in February that he’s still weighing a bid: “I’m still looking at it, and I don’t have a timeframe.”
Signature Policy: Ryan centers on trade and economic policy: “As Americans we need to recognize that we’re in a very stiff competition with China,” he’s said. “I’m concerned we’ll get so far behind we may not be able to catch back up.”
Previous Ranking: 21

24) Seth Moulton
Candidate Status: Undeclared
Another leader of the failed Pelosi coup, Moulton represents a district north of Boston anchored by Salem, famous for its witch trials. Mouton, 40, is a former Marine captain who served four tours in Iraq, later receiving dual degrees in business and public policy from Harvard. Moulton told BuzzFeed News in February: “I’m thinking about running for president.” The next day he laid out a foreign policy agenda at the Brookings Institute.
Signature Policy: “Democrats should be the party of national defense,” Moulton has told Rolling Stone. “We have a commander in chief who is reckless. We need a smart, strong national security strategy…. We do that by having credible voices in the party who can speak on matters of national security because they’ve been out there on the ground themselves.”
Previous Ranking: Not listed
Book: Called to Serve: Learning to Lead in War and Peace

25) John Delaney
Candidate Status: Running
The former Maryland Congressman, 55, has been running for president since July 2017, without much to show for it. Delaney preaches a relentlessly bipartisan message of national unity — but is polling at less than 1 percent in a recent national survey. One thing that won’t slow him down is funding: Delaney is worth close to $100 million. An entrepreneur in high finance, he launched two companies that trade on the New York Stock Exchange.
Signature Policy: Delaney has promised his first 100 days in office would be dedicated to passing only bipartisan legislation
Previous Ranking: 28
Book: The Right Answer: How We Can Unify Our Divided Nation

26) Tulsi Gabbard
Candidate Status: Running
An Iraq war vet, 37, Gabbard is the first Hindu to serve in the House of Representatives. She declared her 2020 bid formally in Hawaii on February 2nd, but her candidacy has been roiled by turnover; her campaign manager recently quit.
Signature Policy: Against wars for regime change, Gabbard also holds noxious views on Syria. She visited dictator Bashar al-Assad in 2017 on a secret “fact-finding” mission and dismissed his opposition — across the board — as terrorists. Gabbard recently refused to describe Assad as an adversary. (Gabbard’s rollout has received an unsettling signal boost from Kremlin-backed English language media networks, RT and Sputnik.)
Signature Apology: Into adulthood, Gabbard espoused virulently anti-LGBTQ views. She released an apology video saying, “In my past, I said and believed things that were wrong.”
Previous Ranking: 27

27) Marianne Williamson
Candidate Status: Running
Oprah Winfrey may contend in 2020, but one of her favorite self-help gurus entered the fray in late-January, arguing that the United States is in dire need of a “moral and spiritual awakening.” Williamson, 66, has limited political experience: She finished fourth in a congressional primary in California in 2014. But she says she’s pursuing the presidency on a track record of helping transform “moral dysfunction.”
Previous Ranking: Not listed
Signature Policy: Called for $100 billion in reparations for black people, distributed over 10 years. (Scholars have estimated a fair value for reparations at between $6 and $14 trillion.)
Book(s): Many, though none explicitly about politics

Love our rankings? Disagree with a passion? Tell us what we got right — or wrong — on Twitter: @RSPolitics. This leaderboard is updated regularly.

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