New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is the latest major Democrat to support single-payer health insurance.

Story highlights

Does Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand support single-payer health are? Her senior adviser says yes

Sen. Cory Booker hosted a Facebook live, proof he shines on social media

Washington CNN  — 

Our weekly roundup of the news, notes and chatter about the prospects for the next Democratic presidential race:

Add another major 2020 Democratic player to the list of supporters of single-payer health insurance: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

“Yes,” the New York senator does support single-payer, her senior adviser Glen Caplin told me.

Gillibrand first seemed to endorse the idea on the steps outside the Capitol this week, in a Facebook Live hosted by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. “Health care should be a right, it should never be a privilege. We should have Medicare for all in this country,” she said.

However, Gillibrand in the past hasn’t used the phrase “Medicare for all” as a substitute for “single-payer” the same way Bernie Sanders does. Instead, as Caplin pointed out, “since she first ran for Congress in 2006 in a red district, Kirsten has been advocating for ‘Medicare for all’ where anyone can buy into Medicare for a price they can afford” — that is, by paying a fixed percentage of their income.

That all begged the follow-up: Does Gillibrand support single-payer? Her senior adviser’s answer — “yes” — to that question is a major development for Gillibrand. It positions her with Sanders, progressive activists, and as of this week, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who told The Wall Street Journal that on health care, “now it’s time for the next step. And the next step is single-payer.” Per the Pew Research Center, 52% of Democrats support single-payer.

Democrats generally want to set aside the topic of single-payer while they are fighting President Donald Trump’s effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. But for the 2020 Democratic presidential race, embracing it increasingly seems to be the price of admission into the upper tier.

What we’re watching: Which Democratic senators will sign on as cosponsors when Sanders filed his single-payer bill? That bill is expected to drop after the Senate Republican push to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s signature domestic legislation reaches its conclusion.

News and notes:

Booker’s Facebook Live: That Cory Booker Facebook Live started with just the New Jersey senator and Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, the civil rights icon. But more and more Democrats joined them outside the Capitol, and it wound up going more than three hours. The episode was a reminder that Booker — a pioneer on political Twitter as Newark mayor — has a magnetic personality that shines through on social media in a way other 2020 prospects might struggle to match.

— Booker’s ties to Wall Street are too close for many progressives’ comfort — and sometimes, as in his refusal to join most Democrats in calling for a full repeal of Jared Kushner’s security clearance, he plays it safe. But as one Democratic operative put it: “I don’t think litmus tests are going to matter as much as energy and authenticity and Booker has both. … People find him personally compelling. You can’t beat that with a policy critique and that was proven out again on this livestream this week.”

— Booker also wrote a letter to the editor of The Washington Post rebutting Attorney General Jeff Sessions on criminal sentencing for drug users, accusing Sessions of “using the politics of fear.”

The Senate’s “no” caucus: Booker, Gillibrand and others, including Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, have said they don’t want to run for president. OK … but should we believe them? I asked some smart Democrats, and most said they really do believe Franken won’t run. As for the rest — and any other top-level Democrat — it’s particularly dangerous at this stage to be seen as fighting for yourself, rather than against Trump.

Biden the lifeguard: Former Vice President Joe Biden visited a Delaware pool Monday where years ago he was the only white lifeguard as a child. The pool is being renamed after