On Wednesday, the gloves were off! Joe Biden released a new sticker, Andrew Yang is literally selling nothing for $40, and Bernie Sanders’ average donation is slipping further.
At 5 emails each, Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris all tried to capitalize on their debate night, while Elizabeth Warren kept up the fundraising pressure. Julian Castro and Andrew Yang were also very vocal debaters at 4 emails each, with Bernie Sanders continuing to push his debate performance into 4 emails as well.
There really wasn’t much difference in the topics of discussion between Tuesday and Wednesday. Debates were still high. Bill de Blasio sent an email written by the winner of his debate attendance contest, making him the only candidate to announce the winner before the debate. Most candidates who announce winners have done so just before the next debate: i.e. winners of debate 1 contests were brought up prior to debate 2 to push those contests.
Also unexpected was the late-weighted emails, with the majority of Wednesday’s emails arriving after 7:30 PM, covering the Evening and Night categories. As the debate began, previous candidates began weighing in.
The number of jabs at fellow Democrats was high on Wednesday as candidates both lashed out at Tuesday’s performances and at what was happening on the stage on Wednesday. It’s worth noting that most of these jabs were light and many were referencing the vague “other candidates.” It may seem petty to call these out, but I feel it’s important to document how tones are shifting.
Tim Ryan began the day’s attacks with a smack at Bernie Sanders, scolding him for having his merchandise ready and waiting for his use of the line “I wrote the damn bill!”
Well, you may have noticed that some candidates released stickers and merch with their catch phrases during the debate…
Tim isn’t that guy.
He isn’t in this race to be quippy.
He’s running for president to bring peace and reason back to America.
And he knows: You don’t have to yell to be heard.Tim Ryan for America
Of course, to prove he wasn’t in it to be quippy, he released a sticker/merch with his catch phrase.
Andrew Yang’s negativity was so much more generic and vague that I actually debated whether or not to even count it as negativity:
With your help, we’re doing that – but the political establishment is making it more difficult than we expected…
Andrew is going to crush it tonight, but we cannot let the political establishment make this our last debate…
The deck is stacked against us – but Andrew and this campaign are going to continue to fight. Please consider fighting back with us in this historic campaign.Zach Graumann, Campaign Manager, Yang2020
Ultimately, I counted it as half-negativity, and showed it by marking it as negative the first time it came up and not negative the second. You see, when Steve Bullock and Jay Inslee were having problems with the DNC over debate rules, they were both heavy-handedly insulting the DNC and changing the rules and stacking the deck against them, etc., etc. Yang is clearly doing the same thing here in regards to one of his polls not counting (in accordance with the established rules), with the one difference being that instead of specifically calling out the DNC, he’s calling out “the political establishment.” From an earlier email, he made it clear that he considers this an attack from the DNC and he’s fighting back. Trying to sew discord among Democrats is simply Not Cool in this election, especially after the disaster that was 2016. The DNC did not change their rules to exclude Yang. Yang has not yet qualified per their rules.
Regardless, Yang did provide a sticker of his own. Apparently, all it took to get more stickers was for me to complain a little.
Elizabeth Warren was also throwing hands. In an email from Wednesday, she referenced a quotable line from her debate in which she completely slammed John Delaney.
I genuinely do not understand why anyone would go to all the trouble of running for president just to talk about what’s not possible and what we shouldn’t fight for.Elizabeth Warren
Though she didn’t call out anyone specifically in the email, the line alone was a reference to a specific attack on a fellow candidate and a general attack on the “moderate Democrats” who pooh-pooh her plans. Again, a very subtle negativity, but still hostile at its core.
Warren lashed out at her fellow candidates a second time on Wednesday with a jab at their fundraising.
Instead of cozying up to special interests or jetting from coast to coast to collect huge checks, Elizabeth raises money entirely from grassroots donors — other candidates can’t say the same.Team Warren
I really hate to break it to you, Team Warren, but other candidates can say the same. Bernie Sanders says it all the time, and everyone else points out how heavy they are with the grassroots. You should have added the qualifier of “most” before “other.”
Four minutes into the second debate night, John Hickenlooper dismissed all of his fellow candidates:
As of tonight, I’ve also had the opportunity to hear from 19 fellow candidates for President of the United States. And over the past two days, one thing has become very clear—I am the only candidate with proven experience reaching across the aisle and implementing progressive policies.
But this race is crowded, and the other candidates are armed with promises that offer more style than substance—which make for slick soundbites, but not for real strategies to move our country forward.John Hickenlooper
Again, it’s a generalized attack, but he’s accusing his fellow Dems of being more style than substance and not having the experience the job needs. My real issue with this email was that it came four minutes into night two and yet said he’d heard from all 19 other major candidates in the race.
Four minutes into night two, and the next ten candidates weren’t even all on stage. I feel like if this email had been sent three hours later, after the debate had concluded, it would have been less hostile and more matter-of-fact. By sending it before he actually listened to what his fellow candidates had to say, he wrote them off based on his impression of them rather than their performance.
And really, at the end of night two, Jay Inslee had done a much better job of touting his experience enacting progressive policies on the debate stage than John Hickenlooper had managed.
Jay Inslee sent out an email during the debate. While many campaigns have also done this, it’s notable that this email was signed by Inslee himself, while the other campaigns clearly sign it as from staffers. Inslee was on the stage. He didn’t send this email.
That doesn’t mean he didn’t write the email and schedule it to go out during the debate. It was just notable to mention that he hadn’t written it on the debate stage.
In this email, Inslee called out his candidates, not by name, for not doing enough to combat climate change, for being a party of talkers instead of doers.
My fellow candidates call climate change a crisis. But rhetoric is not enough, and neither are their proposals…
Some candidates are unwilling to take on the fossil fuel companies that pollute our air and water. This crisis requires a president who will put an end to that.
Some candidates offer a commitment but no plan. Voters deserve to know what you will actually do to defeat a crisis that you call an existential threat.
We cannot afford to keep burning coal. We cannot count on having tea with Mitch McConnell to pass a middle-ground solution…
We can’t leave it up to the media, Democratic Party leadership, or my fellow candidates to defeat this crisis. They’ve proven time and time again that it’s not a priority. But defeating the climate crisis is my top priority — that’s why I’m in this race.Jay Inslee
If Inslee isn’t our next President, I’d love to see him in the Cabinet. Not only does he have some strong ideas and passion for saving our planet, he’s also not a sitting Senator. We can’t afford to lose Senate seats by turning Senators into Cabinet members. We can afford to put Inslee there.
The final attack of the night was launched by Tulsi Gabbard against Kamala Harris. There was no waffling on this one: it was an attack. The very subject of the emails was “Tulsi torches Kamala on her criminal justice record.”
Did you catch Tulsi’s takedown of Kamala?
Tulsi’s not on that stage to hold her punches. Too much is at stake. She’s on that stage because of the promise of a more perfect union, for every single American.Tulsi Now
This email was sent shortly after Gabbard went after Harris for her record as Attorney General of California on the debate stage. It included a clip of the attack and an ask for a donation to Gabbard.
While many candidates were eager to capitalize on a witty one-liner or ferocious exchange from the debates, Joe Biden seemed to be fumbling a little. He released a new sticker immediately after the debate that felt entirely like it was meant to capitalize on a pivotal moment on stage, but it was one that had never happened.
My one hesitation with declaring this absolutely a failed canned line is the BFD. F stands for a heavier swear word, and while some swears were dropped on stage (several damns and one shithole, though used in a quotation), I’m not sure the word itself would have been spoken by Biden in that venue. I’m also not sure he’d abbreviate it. The most I can see him saying is “It’s a big f—ing deal!” and I’m not sure how well that would have played.
Regardless, Biden positioned himself as the champion of Obamacare on the debate stage, and the sticker is still on-brand even if it wasn’t on the stage.
Andrew Yang was also offering merchandise. After following the advice of a Redditor, Yang “broke the fourth wall” by talking about how the debates were covered and how the race was really just a reality show, which is why we had a reality star as our current President. He was again very dismissive of wearing makeup (apparently something that Yang hates, and while I can’t blame him, it does unsettle me a little in–traditionally in our culture, makeup is a woman’s thing, and men wearing makeup are less masculine. While this is ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE and also ABSOLUTELY NOT MENTIONED BY YANG, his multiple snide comments toward makeup make me wonder if he has some sort of hangup on this issue. And if you think I’m being too sensitive about this, keep in mind that if one of the female candidates appeared at an event without makeup, that is all that would be talked about, whereas I’m confident the male candidates have appeared at events without makeup.) Yang also discussed how the main source of coverage about him after the last debate was how he hadn’t been wearing a tie.
Once again, he wasn’t wearing a tie. Throughout his emails leading up to the debates, he had hinted that he would use his opening and closing statements to drop something big, something all the media outlets would be talking about tomorrow. By the time he finished, I was disappointed at how anticlimactic his statements had been (and at how he hadn’t attacked Michael Bennet like he said he would! 😉 ). However, shortly after the debate, he dropped the rest of his announcement:
Yes. Andrew Yang is selling 500 non-existent ties for $40 each. But hey, at least you get a certificate of authenticity for your money.
Honestly, there’s a little part of me that admires the cheekiness of it all, but a greater part of me is upset. In today’s meme culture, seriousness and gravity is frequently belittled and devalued. However, I argue that some things need to be serious. This is ultimately the biggest job interview in the entire country, and Yang is rocking the casual look. If he’s not going to respect the interview, why would I think he can respect the job?
And yes, again, it’s judging someone solely on appearances, what you wear doesn’t determine your capabilities of doing the job, etc. etc. Many candidates have casual looks: Pete Buttigieg and Julian Castro are frequently walking around with their sleeves rolled up, and I’ve seen photos of some of the female candidates rocking sharp outfits and sensible converse sneakers. Call me old fashioned, though, but a nationally televised debate should be the chance where you put on your very best serious look and show you are aware of the enormous responsibility you’re asking for.
Just about everyone was taking advantage of their emails hitting my inbox before midnight at the end of the month to ask me for money. Tom Steyer was very insistent that all I had to do was give him $1. He doesn’t need my money, after all. He just needs enough warm bodies to get on the September debate stage. I have to admit, while I can admire the activist work he’s done, I’m not comfortable with the thought of him running for President without the actual support of Americans.
Bernie Sanders also had some complaints to make. After many emails talking about how low his average donation was at $19, yesterday he revealed it had slipped further, to $16, and that was so not good, especially when compared to last campaign, where his average was at $27. Sanders is also prone to complaining about how his fellow candidates take big donations and he isn’t like that. He consistently asks for $1, $2.70, or $3.
Sanders can’t have it both ways. If he asks for low donations, he should be excited that he’s getting a low average donation. If he berates others for taking big donations, he should be excited he doesn’t have a high average donation amount. Unless Sanders is adding up everyone’s total donation and using that to determine average donation (and the language used doesn’t imply that), Sanders is only driving his own average donation number lower with his low asks.
Finally, Kirsten Gillibrand said, both on the debate stage and in an email, the thing we’ve all been thinking. First thing she does after becoming President is Clorox the Oval Office. I’d probably bleach the whole building.