Day 99: 8/27/19

Tuesday brought a lot of emotions. Kamala Harris was desperate, but so was Kirsten Gillibrand. Steve Bullock, Michael Bennet, and John Delaney were mad at the DNC. Tim Ryan and Andrew Yang were mad at Bernie Sanders. And Joe Biden needs me to save his advertising budget. AGAIN.

I think talkative campaigns = scared campaigns.

Kamala Harris once again was the busiest campaign, sending 5 emails to her non-donors on Tuesday. Her next closest, Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren both only sent 3 emails each.

With every email Harris sends, it feels more and more clear that her campaign is struggling badly.

9 of the Donate emails came from Kamala Harris

After the first debate, Harris had a surge in the polls and with donors. She smashed her fundraising records and was touted as a breakout candidate. In the second debate, she had a rematch with Joe Biden and was attacked by other candidates, including Tulsi Gabbard. Harris struggled more in the second debate, and her standings in the polls reflected it. She slipped in the rankings, and her fundraising emails became more frequent and less optimistic.

Though the narrative in the media is still that Harris is a frontrunner, her struggles have been perhaps mercifully overshadowed by the jockeying for number 1 between Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. That gives her a chance to send me emails like this one:

We’re tracking far behind our fundraising goal and the deadline is fast approaching. Can you add a donation to ensure we close the gap this week?

The contrast in this race is staggering when you think about it —

Donald Trump wants to…
— Nuke hurricanes 
— Give teachers guns 
— Cut taxes for the very wealthy 
— Profit off the presidency

Kamala Harris wants to…
— Combat climate change 
— Give teachers a raise
— Cut taxes for working families 
— Fight for the people

We need your help to win this thing — can you add a contribution before Saturday’s fundraising deadline? If yes, click one of these buttons: [Buttons removed for brevity]

We’re proud to be standing with the only candidate in this race who is ready to prosecute the case against four more years of Donald Trump. He is a failure of a president and a national embarrassment. We deserve better, and come November 2020, we’ll get the job done — for the people.

Team Kamala

Her emails grew progressively more curt as the day wore on…

It’s clear this race is heating up. New polls released show us as one of the frontrunners. Crowds are showing up in droves to hear Kamala’s vision for the future. More undecided voters are shifting their gaze onto our campaign.

Yet with all this momentum on our side, our fundraising numbers are deflating and we’re at risk of missing our August fundraising target.

Will you make sure that we don’t fall short and chip in a contribution before Saturday’s midnight deadline? Pitch in any amount below: [Buttons removed for brevity]

As a first-time candidate who didn’t jump into this race with giant war chest, it means we have to hit every single fundraising deadline just to keep up. And like I said, we’re about to miss this one.

Juan Rodriguez, Campaign Manager, Kamala Harris for the People

She tried adding a carrot to her message: donate and maybe go to the debates!

Yesterday, we announced our critical end-of-month grassroots fundraising goal: raise $500,000 online before midnight on Saturday.

We know it’s back to school time, that you’re probably tied up at work, or maybe you’re away on vacation. That’s why we wanted to check in and ask for your support.

Plus, if you donate right here and now, not only will it go towards helping us hit our fundraising goal but you’ll be automatically entered into our contest for next month’s debate in Houston: [Buttons removed for brevity]

We need you to step up in a massive way to power our campaign. Nothing is guaranteed in this election, but we know one thing: we can count on you.

Team Kamala

She tried writing herself.

Here’s the truth: I am writing this message to you right now because we’re running out of time to reach our August fundraising goal ahead of Saturday’s big end-of-month deadline.

We’re being outspent and outraised in this election — in a way I’m not sure we had anticipated a few months ago.

Right now, we’ve got an unstable billionaire president breaking fundraising records and we’re running against some of the biggest names in the Democratic Party — like Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren.

And the polls have shown a tighter contest than ever before. As the field continues to shrink, more and more voters are going to start making decisions on the candidate they will support in this primary. If we continue to have the resources to compete, then I know we can win this thing:

I’m asking you personally: will you rush a donation to our campaign and help us raise $500,000 online before our big deadline on Saturday? We cannot afford to fall short. [Buttons removed for brevity]

I’ve said it since day one and I’ve meant it every single time: I intend to win this election and get to work for the people.

But I cannot do it alone. I need you with me.

Kamala Harris

Finally, she just laid it out straight.

Here’s the deal:

We need to raise $500,000 online before August ends. If we fall short, we’ll have to look for places to cut back. That’s not something we can afford to do in a race this tight.

There’s never been a better time to make your first contribution to elect Kamala Harris. Can you pitch in for the first time right now? [Buttons removed for brevity]

Team Kamala

Problem is, these messages, coming with increasing frequency, aren’t a show of confidence. People aren’t investing in Harris. If she doesn’t have the money in this crowded field with many others with many millions more than her, what chance does she really have? And in an election this critical, can we, as donors, afford to throw our money at a lost cause? By constantly highlighting what Harris doesn’t have (donors) over what she does have (plans, visions, expertise), the campaign is perhaps unintentionally painting themselves as failing. They are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Low donations > desperate emails > lower donations > more desperate emails…

Harris had a taste of success at the start, which perhaps made her think this would be easier than it actually is. Kirsten Gillibrand had no such luck. Her emails have been desperate for months now, though they’ve reached a frenzied pitch.

Friend, are you waiting until this election is further along before committing to a candidate? If so, you’re not alone. I’ve heard from a lot of people who feel that way.

But here’s the truth: Giving $1 to Kirsten right now doesn’t necessarily mean you’re committing to her as your one and only candidate this cycle.

It does mean you want her on the debate stage so she can keep being a fierce voice—and often, the only voice—for crucial issues like reproductive rights, climate justice, and clean elections.

So I’m asking: Can you send a donation of any size, even $1, to become one of the donors we need before tomorrow at midnight to help secure her spot on the debate stage?

Stefanie Conahan, National Finance Director, Gillibrand 2020

Like Harris, Gillibrand is begging for scraps and not even getting those. Unlike Harris, Gillibrand doesn’t have her spot at the next debate secured. Though her emails have all been about raising the donors she needs, Gillibrand only has 1 qualifying poll out of the 4 required. Even if she got the donors she needed, she would still not make it to the next stage.

Amy Klobuchar spoke out against Steve King

It was not the women of the race being negative toward the debate rules on Tuesday, though. No, that went to the straight white men being cut.

Steve Bullock repeated an old email on his thoughts about the DNC rules and how it disadvantaged people not from DC (out of the 9 candidates I’m tracking who could be considered “DC outsiders,” 3 of them have made it onto the stage and a fourth is just one poll away).

Michael Bennet railed against the arbitrary rules of the DNC multiple times, even going so far as to send an email that could perhaps have been mistaken as an overdue notice to get me to take action.

My email and ZIP code are crossed out.

The real offender, in my opinion, came from John Delaney, who came up with this threatening email. Not that I’m overly surprised: he’s given my email to multiple PACs now that spam me with warnings.

Email crossed out.

If this were my personal email, attached to accounts that let me know when bills were due and the like, an email with FINAL NOTICE and Action Required in the subject might give me a moment of “oh shit, what did I forget to pay!?” And Delaney knows that. Bennet knows that. That’s why these emails were designed the way they were. They wanted to trick someone into clicking it open, because they weren’t getting people by being honest and forthright. However, it is a known fact that if your email tricks someone into doing something, it triggers a feeling of betrayal.

Betrayal is not the emotion you want potential voters feeling toward you.

The 12 negative-toward-Democrats emails did not come just from these 3 campaigns (and in fact, Delaney’s email wasn’t considered negative at all). Several candidates used Tuesday to lash out at each other.

All of those emails involved Bernie Sanders.

At this point, most of the candidates in the primary have shared their plans to fight climate change.

Some believe we can find “middle ground” with Republicans and fossil fuel companies on the issue. Others take steps in the right direction, but don’t go far enough.

And then there’s Bernie Sanders.

“The biggest, boldest and most ambitious plan.” — “Simply what must be done to meet the challenge” — “This is what it means to treat the climate crisis like a true emergency.”

Many have endorsed Bernie Sanders’ plan to fight climate change, but now we need you:

Sign our petition: Tell the other candidates in this race you support Bernie Sanders’ plan to fight climate change. Send a message that we need a plan that meets this crisis. They’ll hear you.

Faiz Shakir, Campaign Manager, Bernie 2020

Now, it’s not the most negative, but it’s still a scathing swipe at the other candidates for not doing enough and incentivizing his followers to go after the other candidates and tell them to be more like Sanders.

Tim Ryan would like to point out, however, that Sanders is trying to be more like Ryan.

In the last democratic debate, I warned the proposed Medicare-for-All bill would take hard-earned, collectively-bargained health insurance away from union members and working families. Some of my colleagues disagreed with me, a hashtag was born, and even some T-shirts were sold. But nothing was truly resolved.

Until this past week in Iowa, as we gathered to speak before our brothers and sisters in labor. Those same colleagues who disagreed with my warning were now promising the union members gathered to speak with us that the Medicare-for-All bill would be fixed to ensure working families wouldn’t lose their collectively-bargained health insurance.

Hopefully they give me a little credit for “writing the damn bill”.

Tim Ryan

I have to agree with Ryan on this one: at the debate, he specifically called out Sanders’ Medicare-for-All bill as taking away the health insurance union workers had bargained for, and Sanders specifically said it wouldn’t, that he knew what was in the bill, he “wrote the damn bill.”

And now Sanders is saying he was going to rewrite the bill to correct the very thing that Ryan called out as being bad about it and that Sanders himself denied.

Unfortunately for Ryan, this message isn’t going to get very far. Sanders is the much bigger name, and the debate was the much bigger event. Merch was sold declaring Sanders right and Ryan wrong… and Ryan was right all along.

While Ryan struck back at Sanders for a legitimate gripe, Andrew Yang also used Tuesday to lash out at Sanders for something even more petty.

You’d think Sanders murdered Yang’s sons from this reaction!

How is that even more petty? Shouldn’t Yang have the right to get furious over having his plans attacked by a frontrunner?

Well, yes… but that’s not exactly what Sanders did.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says there’s “no question” that automation and artificial intelligence will have a fundamental impact on working families but he doesn’t think fellow candidate Andrew Yang‘s proposal of a universal basic income is necessarily the solution.

“This is an issue that is of enormous consequences for working people,” Sanders told Hill.TV in response to the future impact of automation. “It is an issue that gotten nowhere near the kind of discussion that it needs.” 

But in response to Yang’s proposed universal basic income Sanders emphasized that “people want to work” and the desire to “be a productive member of society” is a “very deeply ingrained feeling that people have.” 

“The challenge that we face is how do we use technology to improve the lives of working people,” Sanders said. “So if you have a really terrible job, a boring job and we make your job better and we enable you to work 20 hours a week rather than 40 hours a week, it’s not a bad thing…but it means to say you still need an income to live by, we can’t cut your salaries in half.” 

Sanders went on to tout his federal jobs guarantee as a more viable alternative.
“We take a very different approach from Mr. Yang and that is I believe in a jobs guarantee,” he said. “There are an enormous amount of work that has to be done all the way from child care to health care to education to rebuilding our infrastructure to combating climate change to dealing with our growing elderly population.”

The Hill

Sanders didn’t back Yang’s proposal. That’s not the same as attacking it. Answering a pointed question from a reporter is not the same as launching an attack.

So many of the candidates feel like they’re bristling dogs, growling and snarling and just daring someone else to look at them the wrong way. No one wants to go negative first, but all of them want to defend themselves. If they are the victim of an attack, they can go full blast without looking like the bad guy. Just look at how Julian Castro responded after Trump attacked his brother.

The downside of this strategy is that the campaigns are twitchy and agitated and waiting for anything they could twist into provocation to use as an excuse. This is the actual stifling of debate, when candidates cannot respectfully disagree with each other and have a discussion over the merits of their ideas.

Fundraising and Debates are neck and neck.

And for all the tough-guy posturing and grumbling about what’s fair, the one email that floated to the surface of my “you’ve got to be kidding me” bubble came from Joe Biden.

But I’ll be honest: Keeping these ads on air won’t be easy.

We’re trying to keep our first ad up in Iowa, and run this ad online and on TV. It’s expensive.

But look, I was told if I can find $20,000 more today we can make sure this ad gets the air time it deserves. So I asked if I could send an email to our grassroots team. I’m glad they agreed!

Patrick Bonsignore, Director of Digital Advertising, Biden for President

Yes folks, you read that right.

Biden needs August ad money.


This makes the FOURTH time he’s needed me to dig deep to find him cash for his August ads. The email actually suggested I dig into my couch cushions to find some spare change.

When you’re running a campaign for President, you need to demonstrate that you can be Presidential. And yes, maybe constantly being out of money and not planning ahead are hallmarks of the current administration, but that’s not the type of President Democrats are looking for.

Come up with a fresh excuse, Biden. Tell me you need money for travel, or food for your volunteers, or new technology. Budget your ad money properly, for just one week this month. Please. Please.

I wonder if we’ll have any drop-outs tomorrow…

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