The day before the third debate or the 18th anniversary of a national tragedy? Wednesday’s emails were split between three camps of candidates: those who wanted to say a few words about 9/11, those who wanted to keep pressing the importance of their campaign, and those who remained silent.
Continuing her pressure, Kamala Harris sent out 5 emails on Wednesday, while Cory Booker sent out 3, and Beto O’Rourke and Bernie Sanders both sent out 2.
None of them referenced the events 18 years earlier.*
Everyone else who emailed only sent 1, and those seven candidates all spoke about 9/11.
*It is worth noting that the four who did not mention 9/11 in emails did reference it via Twitter. All 20 candidates I am tracking made at least one tweet in honor of 9/11.
4 candidates managed to send more emails about the debates than 7 candidates did about 9/11. (Remember, numbers in the charts include both donor and non-donor emails, so numbers are usually doubled.)
I put out a Twitter poll myself on 9/12, asking how candidates should react. The overwhelming majority of you said candidates should say something, or at least be respectfully silent. A few of you didn’t care.
Nobody answered “campaign as usual.”
Beto O’Rourke sent 2 emails asking for money. The first wanted me to show I had his back by sending a small donation. The second was happy that things were lining up just so… except his fundraising was sort of falling off, could I chip in to help boost that before the FEC filing?
Bernie Sanders had a pre-debate survey for me to take, but also concern over how he is 7,957 donations short of where he wants to be (he had a goal of 15,000 by the debate). The number of donations is just as important as the amount each donation is, he informed me.
He did not try to sell me a place on his wall.
Kamala Harris sent a whopping 5 emails asking for money. With a big gap in her fundraising numbers, she needed my help to close them before the next debate. For the first time ever, she gave me actual hard numbers:
More than halfway through her fundraising, and she’s barely more than halfway to her goal. It’s not looking good for Harris.
In addition to begging for money, she also tried attacking Trump to get me to give her some funds.
We have a president who doesn’t respect the rule of law, this country’s traditions, or the American people.
He’s stealing money from military families to pay for his border wall.
Attacking immigrant families.
Trying to take away your health care.
Cozying up to dictators.
Ignoring the global threat of climate change.
And making our country less safe and less respected on the international stage at a dangerous time for the world.
This dude’s gotta go. I’m asking you to add a contribution of any amount to our campaign today to make it happen:Kamala Harris
While none of these emails were a good look on 9/11, the absolute worst came from Cory Booker. The email subject? “Top five things that mattered this week.” He included his pre-debate survey, raising money before the deadline, and his appearances at the Climate Town Hall and the New Hampshire Democratic Party State Convention.
Booker did not mention 9/11.
While these clearly-campaigning emails filtered in throughout the day, the other 7 candidates also sent their emails. All of them kept the ubiquitous donation links out of their emails entirely. Joe Biden, Marianne Williamson, and Tulsi Gabbard left the link in their header logo to their website (and Biden’s opened a donation splash page first thing, though that was his website more than the email). Pete Buttigieg changed his header logo to link to the Medium article he wrote about 9/11 and repeated in the body of his email. Amy Klobuchar, Michael Bennet, and Tim Ryan all removed their links entirely.
I’ll be posting the full emails from these seven candidates below the total email chart. Some were more moving than others, but all of them at least gave a nod toward the reverence Americans feel toward the day.
Content warning: The following emails refer to the events of 9/11/01.
9/11/19: 10:46 AM ET
Subject: Today, we remember
My mom used to say that courage lies in every man and woman’s heart—and that one day, it will be summoned.
Eighteen years ago this morning, that courage was summoned in response to a horrific act of terrorism that filled clear blue September skies with ash, searing the soul of every American.
Courage was summoned in the hearts of our first responders who answered the call, running into the smoke, rubble, and wreckage.
It was summoned in the hearts of tens of thousands of bystanders—from downtown New York City to the Pentagon to Shanksville, Pennsylvania—who helped save the lives of thousands.
And it was summoned in the hearts of millions of Americans who stood together, united against hate.
It’s a basic American instinct to respond to crises when our help is needed—to comfort the afflicted. We have seen it again and again in our darkest hours. It’s an instinct that echoes through our history—from Pearl Harbor to Beirut; from Mogadishu to Ground Zero.
And the true legacy of September 11th is that it ultimately left our spirit mightier, the bonds that unite us thicker, and our resolve firmer.
Today, 18 years later, that legacy is ours to uphold. Every day presents us with a fresh opportunity to remember exactly who we are:
A nation of honesty. Decency. Dignity. Respect. Giving everyone a fair shot, and leaving no one behind. Giving hate no safe harbor.
Choosing hope over fear, and truth over lies. This is America.
Today, we remember. We recommit. And, as ever, we rebuild. Because courage lies deep and beats loud in the heart of every American. Don’t forget it.
May God bless America, and may God protect our troops.
9/11/19: 11:00 AM ET
Subject: On this day, 9/11
None of us will ever forget where we were on 9/11, or how we learned about the attacks on our country. Our hearts, and our innocence, were shattered on that awful day.
One of the kindest women I’ve ever known, Berry Berenson, was on a morning flight from Boston to Los Angeles. Today I think of her, and the thousands like her, who lost their lives in such a horrible way. I think of her devastated children, and all the other 9/11 family members who had to endure the harrowing experience of losing them.
September 11 is a painful anniversary. We share a collective grief on this day, but it is a grief that is significant. Every year, let’s dedicate ourselves more and more fully to creating a world in which such things no longer happen.
Is it possible to do that? I am reminded of an old rabbinical statement: “You are not obligated to complete the task, but neither are you permitted to abandon it.”
We might not achieve all we would wish to achieve in our lives, but we can move things closer to the goal. Our lives are not defined by what we achieve so much as by what we try our best to achieve. As citizens of the United States, may we try our best to “achieve a more perfect union.” As citizens of the world, may we try our best to achieve a more peaceful world.
Today, we live with a meaningful sorrow. May those who lost their lives on 9/11 live on with God in eternal peace, may those who still mourn them be comforted, and may all of us be deepened by the indelible memory, and the painful lessons, of this day in our shared history.
May we be the ones to change things.
9/11/19: 12:06 PM ET
I was a sophomore in college when the planes hit. My roommates and I sat transfixed on a futon, glued to the horror unfolding on NBC’s Today Show. Years later, I would find myself carrying an M-4 in Kabul, Afghanistan – the country that had hosted the men who had conceived and implemented unimaginable attacks against other human beings. But in that moment I just sat there, stunned.
Hundreds of miles away from my dorm room, thousands of New Yorkers from all walks of life came together to respond to the urgency of an unthinkable act and a crumbling skyline. Americans did the same in the halls of the Pentagon and in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
We all have personal stories that we share on days like today. Where was I on that September morning 18 years ago? We tell and retell where we were because that was where my generation lost its innocence after the relative peace of post-Cold War America, suddenly witnessing how a terror network – hosted by a rogue regime presiding over a failed state – could bring the most powerful country in the world to a halt.
In those early days, we set aside our differences and stepped towards somewhere kinder. America felt more decent in its mourning, more morally aware. We were reminded of the energies we can summon during moments of crisis. Around Ground Zero, we discovered something approaching common ground.
But as quickly as we found that unity, it slipped from our grasp. Common ground gave way to fear and division, to knee-jerk infringements on our freedom and a self-defeating invasion of Iraq.
Today, the urgency of our era is not captured in a single defining moment. We are faced not with great towers falling one awful morning but with seas rising over the course of decades. Threats from religious fanatics plotting in caves give way to the violence of those hidden among us willing to tear apart a mall in El Paso, a synagogue in Pittsburgh, a high school in Florida, a concert in Las Vegas, a nightclub in Orlando. The challenge of our time is to meet these cumulative dangers with the maturity, unity, and determination with which we met those first awful hours on that crisp September day 18 years ago.
We must respond with sacrifice, honoring the first responders who rushed towards the trembling towers for the sake of other lives and at risk to their own.
We must respond with the respect we showed the fallen regardless of race or religion, finding common ground in our common grief.
We must respond with service, like the thousands of service members who enlisted to protect our freedoms at home and abroad. And we must respond by keeping our promises to those who have served and to the families who have supported them. Eighteen years after those towers came down, I fear that we may one day receive news of the first U.S. casualty of the 9/11 Wars who was born after 9/11. We owe it to them and to their families to bring an end to endless war and to ensure that those who have borne the battle are properly cared for and welcomed back into their communities when they return.
Most of all, we must respond by locating once again that day’s fleeting feeling of togetherness. And if we find it, our greatest challenge – and our greatest accomplishment – will be to sustain it. Events that reshape our lives also bring out our shared humanity. If we can restore Lower Manhattan and the Pentagon, we can restore the common foundations that unite us as Americans. On this day of remembrance, there can be no more worthy tribute than that to those we have lost – at Ground Zero, on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, in the school rooms, shops, churches and synagogues that have become unspeakable killing fields here at home.
On one of its worst days, America found its best self. And on this day, it is within us to find it once more.
9/11/19: 2:03 PM ET
Subject: September 11
As we mark the 18th anniversary of 9/11 today, we remember the 2,977 innocent Americans who died. I will never forget the horror and heartbreak of that day, but I will also never forget the resilience of this country as we recommitted ourselves to the values and freedoms that the terrorists sought — and failed — to dismantle. Americans are strong, and together we can overcome any challenge.
Today is a day to honor the memory of those we lost and to recognize the incredible bravery of our first responders. Let us pay tribute to them by remaining strong, proud and dedicated to the values we share as Americans.
All my best,
9/11/19: 2:46 PM ET
Subject: Hope in darkness
18 years ago today, our nation was changed forever.
Thousands of lives were stolen from us in New York, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon, as well as those who perished in the years since because of 9/11-related illness. Today, we offer them our solemn remembrance and heartfelt respect.
Today, we also remember our nation’s resilience in the face of this horrific event.
Just as every generation has tragedy, every generation has heroes.
In that moment of immeasurable pain and darkness, there was also light that came from the first responders, the helpers, and all of those who stood strong together in the face of evil.
Those who committed these acts of terror sought to divide us and to instill hatred and fear. Our hope in the face of that darkness means they failed.
We stood together, arm in arm, lifting up our friends and neighbors and showing the world the strength and shared purpose of the American people.
Today and every day, we honor the memory of those we lost in this terrible tragedy by working to build a stronger, more hopeful future together.
United we stand,
9/11/19: 6:32 PM ET
Subject: I remember where I was
18 years ago today, the core of our country was shaken. Like many of you, I remember where I was on that fateful day. I remember feeling helpless, devastated, and angry that such a cowardly attack would be launched on thousands of innocent American lives.
Today, we remember those lives — from the men and women who perished in the Twin Towers and at the Pentagon, the courageous first responders who fought to save them, and the heroes on Flight 93. We also pay tribute to the citizens of New York, and Washington D.C., who watched in horror as the sky filled with smoke and fire — they showed the world that day what strength and resolve in times of utter chaos looks like.
Our country was tested on September 11, 2001. But we did not cower in fear. We did not retreat. We came out stronger and more determined — and more than anything, we joined together and demonstrated an impenetrable united front. We showed the world what it meant to be American.
I will never forget. We will never forget.
9/11/19: 8:29 PM ET
Subject: We will never forget
Eighteen years ago, our nation was attacked by al-Qaeda.
Thousands were killed, and today, we honor their memory. Those just getting to work that day. Children getting dropped off at daycare. The first responders who rushed into the crumbling towers. We will never forget the heroes who sacrificed their lives to save others. And we must always honor the memory of those lost on that terrible day.
After September 11, President Bush stood in the rubble of the Twin Towers and said we would never forget, we would seek out and destroy those responsible, his rallying cry:
“Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”
He declared that we would be at war with these terrorists.
Moved by this rallying cry, like thousands of other patriots, I made the decision to use my life to defend the safety, security, and freedom of the American people, to put on the uniform of our country. I was determined to defeat and destroy the evil that visited us on September 11th.
But our leaders failed us. They used the attack on 9/11 to set in motion a series of disastrous regime change wars, toppling dictators, and engaged in nation-building overseas.
We should have focused our attention and the full power of our resources on defeating al-Qaeda. But we didn’t. Instead, we have spent our precious time, money, and lives overthrowing authoritarian governments and nation-building. We toppled Iraq strongman Saddam Hussein; Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi; and are still trying to topple Syria’s Bashar al-Assad — yet none of these dictators had anything to do with the 9/11 attack or posed any threat to the United States.
These regime change wars have cost us dearly. Countless precious lives lost, families destroyed, trillions of dollars, unimaginable death, pain and suffering in the Middle East. They have created a refugee crisis, and strengthened al-Qaeda — all of which have undermined our national security.
Now, al-Qaeda and its offshoots and affiliates like ISIS, al-Shabab, HTS, and al-Nusra, are stronger and more dangerous than they were on 9/11. Their strength is not in spite of our best efforts and policies, but rather, because of the shortsighted regime change wars we have undertaken.
It’s time to stop this insanity.
Tens of thousands of my brothers and sisters who answered our nation’s call to service have lost their lives and limbs in these wars. As president, I will honor their memory and the thousands we lost on 9/11 by changing course.
As President, I will end our foolish counterproductive foreign policy of carrying out regime change wars and nation-building. I will work to end the new Cold War and arms race between the United States, Russia, and China — a Cold War which will inevitably result in nuclear annihilation. I will focus our country’s resources on keeping Americans safe and rebuilding our own nation right here at home.
Regime change wars are wars of choice.
The war against ISIS, al-Qaeda, and their affiliates is not a war of choice — it’s a war they started and will continue to wage against us. None of us want war. We all want peace. But, unfortunately, it is not possible for us to unilaterally end this war. Either we defeat them, including their ideology, or they will defeat us. But united, we can never be defeated. So, let us come together in the common spirit of love for our country and for each other, to defend our nation, our freedom, our future.
For the love of our country,