SXSW festival draws 2020 Dems to Texas

Democrats running for president in 2020 flocked this weekend to Texas for the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin.

The historically tech-focused gathering has transformed into a more political event in recent years, emerging this year as a necessary stop for many presidential contenders fighting in a crowded primary field ahead of Texas’ early primary.

While some candidates such as Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook McEnany says Juneteenth is a very ‘meaningful’ day to Trump MORE (D-Calif.) are campaigning in other crucial primary states, this year’s SXSW boasts appearances from a number of Democratic presidential hopefuls including Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (Mass.) and Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Democrats demand Republican leaders examine election challenges after Georgia voting chaos Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk MORE (Minn.), former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.


Warren, who has emerged as a vocal opponent of digital giants’ power, used her appearance Saturday to reiterate her criticism of companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon, pushing the tech giants to break apart.

“You can’t be an umpire and own one of the teams that plays in the game,” she said. “My view is break those things apart, and we will have a much more competitive, robust market in America.”

“The monopolists will make fewer monopoly profits. Boo hoo.”

Klobuchar, who has been dogged by allegations by former staffers of mistreatment, addressed a report from last month that alleged she once ate a salad with her comb and ordered an aide to clean it after the staffer did not get her a fork.

“It was me sort of doing a mom thing, I didn’t have a fork so I used a comb to eat salad on a plane,” she said.

The Minnesota Democrat, who is casting herself as a centrist in a field currently dominated by progressives, said the competition fostered by a crowded primary field could help the party.

“There are a number of great candidates…and I always like to jokingly say, ‘may the best woman win.’ But, no litmus test, many of them would be good, but I think that competition is good,” she said, referring to the other candidates.

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), who is mulling a presidential bid, made a surprise appearance Saturday at the festival for the premier of a documentary detailing his insurgent Senate bid last year to unseat Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote The Hill’s Morning Report – Trump’s public standing sags after Floyd protests GOP senators introduce resolution opposing calls to defund the police MORE (R-Texas).

While O’Rourke lost by under 3 points in November, the enthusiasm around his campaign propelled him to rockstar status within the Democratic Party and fueled calls for him to weigh a shot for the White House. 

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttegieg is among other Democratic hopefuls  slated to appear at the festival Saturday. Castro, Hickenlooper and Inslee are all slated to appear Sunday.

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is weighing an independent presidential bid, as well as former Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who has remained vocal in GOP politics as a critic of President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE, appeared at the festival Saturday.

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