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Late Night Tackles 2020
June 13, 2019

"I don't know if any of you have noticed this, but some people don't like Donald Trump," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show, pointing to a new Quinnipiac poll in which Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden leads the president by 13 points. "That is a lead so big, it's ready for its bar mitzvah — and it's not just Biden," he said. All major Democrats beat Trump. "Right now, the sitting president of the United States, the commander in chief, the leader of the free worlds, is trailing the mayor of South Bend, Indiana."

"But Trump is not concerned," Colbert said, reading Trump's tweets about the "Fake News" media's "new weapon of choice," "Fake Polling," and how leaked internal poll numbers are "Fake numbers." He pulled a face: "Let me get this straight: So they suppress numbers, but first they made up the numbers, and the numbers don't even exist. Can you imagine Trump giving an alibi?" He gave it a try. "So the polls look bad for Trump, but I don't know, can I trust them?" Colbert asked, dramatically. "I've been hurt before. ... Dare I love again? Who am I kidding. I can't stay mad at you, polls — you had me at 'Trump's losing.'"

"Trump's poll numbers in key states are apparently so bad, he's told his aides to straight-up pretend they don't exist," Seth Meyers said at Late Night. "I wouldn't be surprised if they were making up new states just to cheer him up." And "today, during a meeting in the Oval Office, Trump doubled down on his lie about polling, but it was especially gross because he did it during a meeting with the president of Poland, where there's growing concern over the decline of democratic institutions," Meyer said. "The nicest thing you can say about Trump is that he always makes it obvious when he's lying." And that probably was the nicest thing he said about Trump. Watch below. Peter Weber

June 12, 2019

"Today's a big day for the 2020 election — Donald Trump and Joe Biden were both in Iowa," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show, "either because it's the first primary state or because Kevin Costner needed more old guys to walk out of the corn field." Biden hit Trump by saying, among other things: "Donald, it's not about you. It's about America." Yes, Colbert said, "Biden's right, it's not about Donald — which is why Biden, in his speech, talked about Trump only 76 times. The only person talking more about Donald Trump than Joe Biden is Donald Trump, and me."

But Biden is right that the cashiers at Target understand tariffs and economics better than Trump, Colbert said, "though to be fair, the cashiers at Target also know more about foreign policy, labor relations, and how to close an umbrella." Meanwhile, "Trump didn't even wait to get to Iowa before attacking Biden," Colbert said. He laughed at Trump calling Biden not very smart, and made a geopolitical puppetry joke about Trump calling Biden a "dummy." You can watch that below. Peter Weber

June 11, 2019

Joe Biden, the clear Democratic frontrunner, has rapidly evolved on the issue of taxpayer-funded abortion. "I haven't seen that many flips since Sea World gave their dolphins cocaine," Trevor Noah said on Monday's Daily Show. "While Joe Biden is trying to figure out his position on abortion, the rest of the Democrats are trying to figure out how to take his spot at the top of the field. Which is why this weekend, 19 Democrats descended on Iowa to make the case for why they would be a better pick than the former VP."

All 19 candidates made their pitches on Sunday, and "with only five minutes to make an impression on the world's most powerful white voters, all the Democrats took to the stage to deliver their best punch lines," Noah said, showing some jokes and grimacing. He also sampled the Democrats' walk-on music, and he was particularly unimpressed with Rep. Tim Ryan's (D-Ohio) choice.

"After a weekend of campaigning in Iowa, all we've really learned about the Democratic candidates is how bad they are at telling jokes and what their favorite songs are on Spotify — that's it," Noah said. "And unfortunately, that's what you're going to get when you have two dozen people running for president."

Still, Trump "should be less worried about the illegal immigrants and a little more worried about the huge caravan of Democrats making their way toward the White House" — and Iowa last weekend, Stephen Colbert said on The Late Show. "Little known fact: A group of Democrats that large is called a Whole Foods." Colbert also looked at the ways the 19 Democrats tried to stand out; Jon Batiste panned Mayor Pete Buttigieg's jazz piano chops, and then the whole band jumped in.

Biden skipped the event because he was attending his granddaughter's graduation. "Don't worry," Colbert deadpanned, "nothing bad ever happens when the Democratic frontrunner decides not to go to a swing state." Watch below. Peter Weber

May 17, 2019

"This morning, yet another new Democratic candidate pushed his way into the clown car," Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show, welcoming New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to the race — kind of. "You hear the hometown crowd warmly receiving that," he joked as the audience groaned. "De Blasio's announcement was met with a resounding: 'Really? Why?'" One poll found that 76 percent of New York City voters didn't want de Blasio to run, and "it's not like de Blasio's popular outside of New York City, either," Colbert said, pointing to a New Hampshire poll in which de Blasio got 0 percent support.

De Blasio's top campaign priority, at least as laid out in his launch video, is putting "working people first" — and Colbert finished his thought: "Except the working people of New York, because I'm going to spend the next two years not becoming president."

In Los Angeles, Jimmy Kimmel groaned at de Blasio's "Con Don" nickname for President Trump. "He really puts the 'blah' in de Blasio," he said on Kimmel Live. "Maybe he's running for president so he can get away from all the people who hate him in New York. I really don't know what Bill de Blasio is thinking — he has no chance of winning." He compared de Blasio's campaign to "the saddest birthday in town," with props.

But it's not just de Blasio. "At this point, announcing you're running for president is like announcing you're running a 5K," Kimmel said. "Good for you. No one cares. Don't post pictures. There are now 23 Democrats in the race, and unless one of these guys has a dragon we don't know about, I don't know how any of them come out of this alive." Watch him switch to mocking another "beloved New York City politician," Anthony Weiner, below. Peter Weber

May 14, 2019

"You've been busy this past week — you got insulted by the president of the United States," Jimmy Fallon reminded 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg on Monday's Tonight Show. Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, laughed. "Yeah, that's how you know you've made it."

"He called you Alfred E. Neuman — the president of the United States called you that," Fallon said, pulling out an illustration of the Mad magazine mascot. "What goes through your mind when that happens?" Buttigieg was ready: "You know, we talk a lot about elevating the dialogue, so I guess the fact that I inspired him to make a literary reference, maybe for the first time, is something." He went on to recount tricking Jerry Seinfeld into taking the key to South Bend and make some predictions about Game of Thrones.

Yes, "Mayor Pete was recently honored with an original Trump nickname," Stephen Colbert said at The Late Show. "Trump compared him to Alfred E. Neuman, the mascot for Mad magazine. Now, if you're too young to know the reference, magazines were these thick stacks of paper with pictures and words on them." He showed Buttigieg and Neuman side-by-side: "I see the similarity, in that they are both more qualified to be president than Donald Trump."

"When confronted with the Trump slam, Buttigieg was ready with a sick burn of his own," Colbert said, playing the clip and paraphrasing his response: "'Oh, I look like a cartoon character? Well, you're a million years old.' By the way, Pete, I got the reference — I guess it's a generational thing." That made Colbert look sad, momentarily. "But Buttigieg didn't leave it there," trotting out a Chinese proverb about the winds changing, he added. "It's a nice thought, but thanks to Trump's tariffs, saying that proverb now costs $80." Watch below. Peter Weber

May 14, 2019

"Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is continuing to gain support in the Democratic primary in — you know, I was going to make a joke about this, but I don't think it needs a joke, I think it needs to be slow-jammed," Jimmy Fallon said on Monday's Tonight Show. "That's right, I want to slow-jam the news, and I'm not the only one." Buttigieg got enthusiastic applause as he walked out on stage.

The slow-jam was mostly Buttigieg making earnest campaign introductions, Fallon rephrasing them in a low voice with double entendres, and Tariq Trotter of The Roots singing most of the good one-liners, but they shook things up a bit at times, like when Buttigieg said he went on Fox News because he wants "everyone to join this campaign, Democrats and Republicans." "Democrats and Republicans? So what you're saying is you go both ways?" Fallon asked. "No, I'm just gay," Buttigieg responded. He also hit President Trump with a gentle he's-so-old joke and then slapped another one on Fallon.

You can watch Buttigieg and Fallon tease this appearance back in April, in several different languages, below. Peter Weber

May 8, 2019

Stephen Colbert continued his look at the bumper crop of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates on Tuesday's Late Show. "Tonight's candidate started with zero name recognition and has held steady," he joked. That candidate, Andrew Yang, "has some unique policy positions. For example, he is opposed to circumcision, he is for legalizing marijuana, he supports revitalizing shuttered malls, and wants to instate a universal basic income of $1,000 a month. Which is why his campaign slogan is 'Andrew Yang 2020: Get High, Go to the Mall, Keep Your Foreskin, I'll Give You Money.' That is — he might win."

But Yang unveiled another campaign promise in a speech in Seattle last Friday, and Colbert was less enthused that the crowed about Yang's vow to become the first president to use PowerPoint in his State of the Union address. "Well, it's about damn time the leader of the free world stood in front of Congress and said, 'My fellow Americans, does anyone have an HDMI cable?'" Watch him act that out below. Peter Weber

April 30, 2019

Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show that when he plugged back in to the news after last week's vacation, he was surprised to learn that "Donald Trump is still president — did no one read the Mueller report?" But there's still an election scheduled for 2020, and former Vice President Joe Biden just entered the race.

"After months of teasing us, today Biden was in Pittsburgh to hold the first official rally of his presidential campaign," Colbert said, and as far as rallies go, "it seemed a little off: The crowd didn't chant to lock anyone up, not one journalist was threatened, and there were no unifying hats!" Biden "took a swing at our current president" in Monday's official campaign launch, but he "teed it up last week with this YouTube video" focused on Charlottesville, Colbert said, annotating the ad. "Biden did not just attack the white supremacists, he also went after their hero," Trump.

"Trump's already worried about Joe Biden," Colbert said. "And the proof of that is this ad did something none of the other Democrats have been able to do, and that's put Trump on the defensive. Because after Biden's ad talking about Charlottesville, the president had to answer for his Charlottesville response again." Trump's answer, defending Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, veered a little off-kilter. "Trump thinks you should be honored because you're a good general, no matter which side you fought on," Colbert said. "That explains why I went to Erwin Rommel Middle School — the Fightin' Desert Foxes."

Trump doubled-down on his Robert E. Lee claim on conservative radio, and "that nationwide broadcast radio fib was significant because it was the statement that pushed Trump over 10,000 false and misleading claims," Colbert said. "Whoooo! Trump has passed 10,000 lies! Man, I gotta tell you, if Trump had a dollar for ever lie he's told, he would say he had $1 billion." Watch for dropping balloons below. Peter Weber

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