16 campaigns sent 31 emails yesterday. Did the campaigns know that Wednesday was the 30th day of BTE tracking, or was the spiciness yesterday just a coincidence? Regardless, after quite a few uneventful days, Cory Booker bared his teeth and snapped at a fellow Democrat.
At a whopping 4 emails, Cory Booker was the most active campaign yesterday, though 3 of those emails were surprisingly good content-wise. Meanwhile, Joe Biden and Michael Bennet kept up the pace with 3 emails each.
4 of the 31 emails, or 12%, did not have any ask, a record for a non-holiday. Booker sent 3 of those, with John Hickenlooper sending the fourth. Both Booker and Hickenlooper spoke about Juneteenth, the official end of slavery in the U.S. when Texas slaves were finally freed two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Both candidates stressed the significance of the day, the injustice done to the slaves still reflected on their descendants, and the importance for doing better moving forward. Hickenlooper called for a formal Presidential apology, while Booker laid out some ideas for ending the racial wealth gap. “We cannot pay our ancestors back,” he said, “but we can and must pay it forward.”
Booker had 3 informative emails, though, and that was just one of them. What were the other two? Well, they require some out-of-email context.
Joe Biden has been pressing in the polls even before he announced. His numbers have been slipping, but there is a general feeling of defeat among many Democrats and a sense of “I don’t want to vote for Biden, but I’m going to have to. He’s the electable one.”
Booker says otherwise:
We hear a lot about who’s up or down in the polls, and words like “electability.”
I want everyone reading this to know that none of that matters right now. Ignore that noise.
You have a choice. You have a say. You have a vote.
And I will do everything I can to earn it.
He’s absolutely right. For the primary, ignore that noise. Vote for the candidate that inspires you in the primary regardless of what the polls are saying. Regardless of “who can beat Trump.” Your candidate can’t win if you don’t fight for them, and all of the Democratic candidates are on the same team. Pinching your nose and picking the lesser of two evils is for the general election. The primary is where you can fall in love and take risks. If you don’t want Biden, or any other specific candidate, don’t give them your primary vote! Booker’s message of “earning” your vote is the same as Pete Buttigieg’s message of “deserving” your vote. If you don’t feel like a candidate is doing enough for your interests, don’t support them.
In his last email of the day, Booker attacked Joe Biden by name. This was both a surprise from the most up-beat, positive campaign, and a surprisingly well-deserved slam.
Biden gave examples earlier this week about how he swallowed his personal convictions to work with segregationist senators when he was in the Senate. Compromise was the name of the game, even if you couldn’t stand anything they stood for. Failing to compromise was not an option. He also made light of the way these senators would refer to African American men as “boys” as a way to demean and dehumanize them by claiming that he was never called boy by these men. He was called son.
Booker, along with other prominent candidates such as Bill de Blasio, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren, along with activists, House Reps, and some of Biden’s own staff, called Biden out on his comments. Booker said Biden should apologize for his comments “praising segregationists” and joking about terms used “[t]o perpetuate white supremacy and strip black Americans of our very humanity.”
Biden refused to apologize and said “Apologize for what? Cory should apologize. He knows better. There’s not a racist bone in my body.”
Booker’s final email was in response to this:
And yet when someone crosses moral lines, there is an obligation to respond.
Earlier today, I expressed my concern with Vice President Biden’s comments about working with segregationists in the Senate.
Tonight, he told me I should know better.
As a black man in America, here’s what I know:
I know the history of the use of the word boy. How it was used to degrade and dehumanize.
I know the damage that segregationists caused and how that still affects black and brown communities like the one I go home to.
I know the people that Vice President Biden worked with would not have wanted me in the Senate.
And I know that anyone running to be president of the United States and the leader of our party shouldn’t need this lesson.
I’ve spent my entire career speaking truth to power. And I’ll never apologize for doing that, certainly not when I’m running to beat Donald Trump and bring this country together.
This is the first moment since I’ve been tracking emails where I have to say that attacking another Democrat is not a bad thing for a campaign. Unlike Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, both who threw shade on their opponents for raising big money from big donors (with Sanders calling Biden out by name and Warren using a generic “other candidates”), Booker isn’t attacking Biden on having differing views of campaigning but rather an insensitivity to polarizing issues of the current day. On the anniversary of the official end of slavery, Biden tells a black man to apologize to an old white man for asking the white man to apologize for using the suffering of black Americans as a joke to underscore his point that people who demonstrably fought against human rights weren’t “the enemy.”
Just as there is a right way and a wrong way to send a political email or take a defeat on the chin, there is a right way and a wrong way to go aggressive against fellow Democrats. By standing up against injustice and calling it out, Booker has earned himself some massive credibility in my books. He’s demonstrating he’s not only willing to say he’s for something, but to fight for it too. It’s only too bad he’s not on the debate stage with Biden.
Next to Booker’s three emails of substance, the other candidates seemed especially lackluster today. Joe Biden, Tim Ryan, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Marianne Williamson, Michael Bennet, Julian Castro, and Beto O’Rourke were all wrapping up their “donate anything, win a trip to the debates!” giveaways, though Castro was just asking for a signature and Williamson offered two tickets to the debates on June 29 (the debates are June 26 and 27).
Cory Booker was offering his $26-donation limited edition Pride pin again, Bernie Sanders has a new “Bernie beats Trump” sticker you can get with a donation, and Kamala Harris has a poster you can buy.
Julian Castro is a bit behind the times, having just realized what Trump said about welcoming foreign interference in the election last week and emailing about it to call for Trump’s impeachment.
Finally, Mike Gravel is offering a rewards program. Get people to donate to Gravel, get rewards based on how many. The tier names were truly creative: Pebble (5+ people), Rock (15+), Boulder (25+), and Gravelanche (40+). It must be nice to run for office with a name you can play with!