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The Latest: Biden repudiates Trump policies in Munich speech

February 16, 2019

The Latest on the Democratic presidential candidates (all times local):

2:25 p.m.

Joe Biden isn’t in the 2020 presidential race yet, but he’s making clear at an international gathering that he thinks President Donald Trump has undermined America’s ability to claim moral leadership.

The former vice president says the U.S. doesn’t want to turn its back on its closest allies and cherishes democracy, the rule of law and a free press.

Biden tells the Munich Security Conference that the America he sees “stands up to the aggression of dictators and against strongmen who rule by coercion, corruption and violence.”

He says his country “values basic human decency, not snatching children from their parents or turning our backs on refugees at our border. Americans know that’s not right.”

Biden has not yet said whether he’ll join the increasingly crowded field of Democrats running for their party’s nomination. He has two public events slated for later this month, the first at the University of Pennsylvania and the second in Delaware, his home state.

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1:50 p.m.

A Democratic activist in South Carolina says she thinks the “window is narrowing” for former Vice President Joe Biden to enter what’s already a crowded field of candidates in the 2020 White House race.

Biden isn’t the only well-known politician on the fence. Among the others are Beto O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman, and Sherrod Brown, an Ohio senator.

Party insider Jennifer Clyburn Reed says “there is still time left.”

But she’s also offering a colorful analogy about the state of play: “On a buffet, don’t bring out the macaroni and cheese after all the other main dishes are gone! I would really like to see my meal, all out at once, so that we can go in and dabble in all of the dishes and then see what it is that we want to make our main course.”

Her father is Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina congressman and the third-ranking Democratic leader in the U.S. House. She hasn’t yet backed any of the Democrats running for president.

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1:20 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Kamala (KAH’-mah-lah) Harris is in Columbia, South Carolina, on the second day of a swing through the early-voting state.

The California senator walked along Lady Street and visited a handful of women-owned businesses in the capital.

Harris’ first stop was Styled by Naida, a black-owned business, and she made several purchases, including a wide-brimmed teal hat. The candidate also met with a group of women leaders at a restaurant a block away.

Harris’s tour here was organized by Jennifer Clyburn Reed, whose father is Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina congressman and the third-ranking Democratic leader in the U.S. House.

Clyburn Reed hasn’t yet backed any of the Democrats running for president, and she’s organized similar trips for other candidates.

Harris plans to hold a town hall meeting later Saturday.

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12:05 p.m.

Sen. Cory Booker is among several Democratic presidential contenders who back universal health insurance coverage, but he’s acknowledging that compromise may be necessary to get major health care legislation through the Senate.

Booker told voters in New Hampshire on Saturday there are a “lot of pathways” to achieving the increasingly popular Democratic goal. He said supporters of so-called Medicare for All are “going to have to find ways to advance the ball given the Congress that we have.”

Booker was speaking at a question-and-answer session in Portsmouth, a Democratic-leaning town. He is spending three days in New Hampshire, which casts the first votes in the 2020 primary.

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10:40 a.m.

Sen. Cory Booker is kicking off his first visit to New Hampshire with a personal touch, sharing his family’s story with hundreds of voters in the Democratic-leaning town of Portsmouth.

Booker is one of five sitting Democratic senators already running in the jam-packed 2020 presidential primary, but his optimistic message of unity promises to set him apart from others in the field.

He recalled his parents’ struggle to buy a home in a majority-white neighborhood in New Jersey in 1969 and urged the crowd to “put that indivisible back in this one nation under God.”

Booker is set to make five more stops during three days in New Hampshire, which casts the first votes in the 2020 primary next year.

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8:05 a.m.

Five Democratic senators vying for their party’s nomination to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020 are fanning out across the country Saturday to campaign and meet voters.

Kamala (KAH’-mah-lah) Harris of California is spending her second straight day in the pivotal early-voting state of South Carolina. That’s where Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is starting out before heading to Georgia — an unusual stop for a presidential candidate this early in the election cycle.

Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand (KEER’-sten JIHL’-uh-brand) of New York have events planned in another critical early-voting state, New Hampshire.

Amy Klobuchar (KLOH’-buh-shar) of Minnesota is also making an uncommon choice for early campaigning by visiting Wisconsin before going to Iowa, home to the nation’s leadoff caucuses.