Day 123: 9/20/19

On Friday, Bill de Blasio dropped out, Joe Sestak called us to remember prisoners of war, Julian Castro made cover of a magazine, and Joe Biden apologized for all his emails.

You know it’s getting near the deadline when so many campaigns are above 2 emails a day.

Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren tied for first with 4 emails each on Friday, while Michael Bennet, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, and Marianne Williamson all only sent 3. Joe Sestak was a bit of a surprise, sending 2 emails in one day.

Bill de Blasio sent his last email as a Presidential candidate, formally notifying me that he was ending his campaign. Honestly, this surprised me. I felt like he was having so much fun not doing his job as Mayor of NYC that he would continue campaigning long beyond his time simply because it gave him an excuse to not be in New York. I guess campaigning takes money, though, and he just didn’t have it.

So many info-only asks.

Joe Sestak is a retired three-star admiral of the U.S. Navy, and as such, he leans heavily on his foreign and military experience as the reason why he is the best candidate. However, on Friday, September 20, he actually was the best candidate to give one message.

Today is National POW/MIA Recognition Day. While we should honor America’s heroes every day, on this day in particular we must take time to remember the service and sacrifice of those who were prisoners of war or are still missing in action today, along with their long-suffering families. I have had the honor of meeting former POWs, and every time I wonder if I could have done what they did. We must never forget their fortitude and strength, nor those still missing, most of whose final stories are unlikely to ever be known. Over 9,000 servicemembers are still listed as MIA from the Korean and Vietnam wars alone. 

My thoughts turn today to my fellow Naval Academy graduate, John McCain. I always felt honored when he would call as I was running for Senate to check up on me. A prisoner of war for five and a half years, he personified the best of American selflessness. His refusal to accept an offer to “jump the line” and be unconditionally released led to nearly two years of solitary confinement and other forms of torture. Upon his release and return to the United States, he wrote a harrowing first-person account of his ordeal in which he mentioned with gratitude all of the young supporters who wrote to him since his return, often sending POW bracelets bearing his name. “This outpouring,” McCain wrote, “on behalf of us who were prisoners of war is staggering, and a little embarrassing because basically we feel that we are just average American Navy, Marine and Air Force pilots who got shot down. Anybody else in our place would have performed just as well.” That humility — that deep sense of honor and duty and faith — is what makes America great.

My wife Susan was involved in efforts to search through old Soviet Union records in Ukraine looking for clues about POW/MIAs shot down by Soviet planes during the Korean War. On one occasion, after days of painstakingly combing through archives, a former Soviet General working with her team said, in exasperation: “Why do you Americans care so much?!” The answer can be found in the ideal that John McCain and so many others represented and stood far: service to country above self. We must never forget what today represents to those who lived that selfless ideal to its fullest, nor why — from Hong Kong to Ukraine — people demonstrate for freedom and justice by waving the American flag. The United States of America, to such people, is not merely a symbol, but an aspiration. And we are only so considered because of heroes like John McCain.

On this day, let us all step back from our busy lives to feel gratitude, and to reflect on and pray for all those who sacrificed their freedom — or their lives — so we can live free today.

Joe Sestak

That part that really got me the most there was the question asked to his wife. “Why do you Americans care so much?!” I think that sums up the meaning of America. These missing servicemembers are effectively nobodies. They aren’t necessarily high ranking officers or the scions of wealthy families. They are just Americans who ended up giving their freedom for their country. And America hasn’t forgotten, won’t forget. We’ll try to find them. Because just because they aren’t important doesn’t mean any last one of us isn’t important.

People matter in America. We all matter. Not for how much money or power we hold or where we come from, but because we are people. People matter, and so we should take care of one another. Build each other up. Protect each other. Because people matter.

Another service veteran spoke on a tangential topic on Friday as well. Pete Buttigieg wrote a poignant piece about writing that “just in case” letter and what the repealing of DADT meant not just to him, but to other servicemembers like him.

On the day before my deployment to Afghanistan, I wrote a letter. It was for my family in the event that I didn’t come home, a 32-year-old man’s attempt to make sense of a short but very full life. Writing it had required as much of me as the hardest day of training. What I didn’t put in the letter was that the act of writing it forced me to reflect on the possibility that I could die without ever having known what it felt like to be in love.

That was the mandated reality of many servicemembers before me.
For seventeen years, DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) forced LGBTQ soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen into the closet. The punishment for living openly was dismissal from the armed forces.

For individual servicemembers, that meant hiding who they were from the people they trusted with their lives. In some cases it meant giving a life that was less than whole.

For partners, it meant that when a promotion came up, they wouldn’t be there to celebrate a new rank being pinned on. And should the worst happen, they wouldn’t even be contacted.

We accepted this for so long that it just felt normal. Some even felt it was necessary to keep our country safe. It ultimately took the recorded responses of the more than 400,000 men and women in uniform who were interviewed for the historic report to make clear that LGBTQ service members are not burdensome to the military; they’re invaluable. And on September 20, 2011, President Obama signed the repeal.

Servicemembers and their families could finally breathe a sigh of relief. Many even sent letters of thanks like this one from Master Sergeant Bertie Wiggins. She wrote:

I’m so proud of my wife and children and for the sacrifices they made in my 11 years of service to our great country. Now, they too, can be recognized for the selfless service they have given in support of me and my calling.

Or this one by Darin from Washington:

My husband will deploy next June, but this time his pack will be a little lighter without the worry of whether or not his family will be taken care of.

Or this one from Master at Arms Michael Aycox:

Few people understand what it is like to be an outcast in…their own mind, and even fewer understand what it is like to be told “No you cannot love.” You said to the world “Yes you can, and you are not alone.”

We’ve come so far.

But the struggle is not over.

It’s not over when so many Americans can be denied work or fired for being who we are. It’s not over when transgender troops, ready to put their lives on the line for this country, have their careers threatened with ruin one tweet at a time by a commander-in-chief who, himself, pretended to be disabled when it was his turn to serve.

The politics of the past have returned, but we will not wait another seventeen years to do something about it. That’s why I’m proud to count former Pentagon senior spokesman Doug Wilson, who played a key role in the DADT repeal, and Eric Fanning, the first openly-gay Secretary of the Army, among the many LGBTQ national security professionals on my foreign policy and national security team.

Gently setting the letter to my family in a desk drawer made it clear to me: You only get to live one life. And if you return home safe from a dangerous place, you owe it to yourself to build a life that is worthy of your own good fortune. So I came out. I met and married Chasten. I became whole.

Our servicemembers deserve the chance to live a life that’s whole without losing their jobs or erasing the ones they love. As president, I will ensure we respect the humanity of those who risk everything for us. We owe it to them.

Pete Buttigieg

Less inspiring were the words of Julian Castro.

Had to be a screenshot because those colors… eesh.

That’s right, Castro is once again wailing about how everyone’s out to get him.

To be fair to Castro, he did have a more inspiring moment in an earlier email of the day: he made the cover of Hispanic Executive as one of their Top 10 Líderes.

And it’s a very good picture!

However, compare Julian Castro’s tone to Cory Booker’s tone. Booker saw the same warning in Politico and responded the same way “I might be cut, help me stay on the stage!”

Where’s the red font of terror?

One of these campaigns feels more secure than the other?

It is worth mentioning, however, as of the time of this writing, Booker has admitted his campaign is in crisis mode: if he can’t raise $1.7 million before the FEC deadline, he doesn’t feel right taking up the limited resources from the race. If you feel like Booker’s voice is worth keeping around a bit longer, help him out!

It’s also worth noting that I’m saying this for Booker but haven’t done for Bennet, Bullock, or Delaney, because the DNC debate rules have been considered to be biased by experts, but biased against candidates of color, who traditionally struggle with fundraising because fundraising largely comes from white voters. However, since all the candidates of color qualified easily for the first debates, this concern quickly faded away. I’ll allow Booker some upset over requirements biased against him… but note that he’s not upset over that. He’s simply acknowledging it’ll be tough.

Take a lesson from his book, Michael Bennet…

The DNC does not choose our Democratic nominee.

Grassroots supporters and voters like you choose our Democratic nominee.

With more than 140 days until the Iowa caucus, my campaign isn’t slowing down because of arbitrary rules cooked up in a backroom of the DNC. That’s why I’m in Iowa this weekend, talking to caucusgoers about the challenges they face and how we can move our country forward together.

Michael Bennet

…Steve Bullock…

Our next PUBLIC fundraising deadline is less than 2 weeks away. It’s our most important deadline yet.

It’s our best chance to prove support for our campaign is stronger than ever…despite the DNC’s attempts to lock out candidates like Steve.

Team Bullock

…and John Delaney.

There are a lot of candidates running to be the next President. But John’s different.

John knows that if Democrats want to defeat Trump, we can’t run on a platform that is impossible to implement.

Issues like “Medicare for All” might be a great sound bite or campaign slogan, but in reality, it will also yield catastrophic results for hospitals around the country.

Team Delaney
Debates are coming back.

Beto O’Rourke sent out a campaign summary.

I want to be honest with you about the state of the campaign before I ask you for your help. But if you’re ready to donate now, you can skip to that part.

What we’ve built here is a bit of a unicorn in modern politics — very few campaigns pull it off. A nationwide campaign funded by grassroots donors. The vast majority of our money is donated online, most of it from emails like this one!

So we’re very lucky for — and thankful to — the 226,461 donors who own a piece of this campaign. Now, I want to get into the lay of the land.

Other candidates…
Tom Steyer has already spent several million dollars of his own money. Bernie Sanders announced yesterday he has 1 million donors. Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris and Joe Biden were scheduled to attend at least 43 high-dollar fundraising events in the last couple weeks of the quarter.

Meanwhile, Beto’s visited Skid Row, Aurora, Colorado, and a weed dispensary in Oakland. Most of our time is going to meeting with people and making connections with voters. We don’t expect our fundraising total this quarter to beat every one of these folks — and we certainly can’t afford to write ourselves million-dollar checks like Tom Steyer. BUT, we have you! I’ll take hundreds of thousands of grassroots supporters over one billionaire donor any day.

Our numbers…
We saw a real surge in donations after Beto’s breakout debate performance. It was some of our best fundraising of the campaign! But, we had a slower July to make up for. Plus, in August, we stopped sending our normal fundraising emails for two weeks while we grieved with the people of El Paso.

The outlook…
I wish it weren’t the case, but one of the biggest ways presidential candidates get evaluated is by how much money they can raise. In 10 days, we will close the books for our FEC deadline, and reporters and pundits will scour the numbers.
If you post good numbers, people say good things about your campaign. If you post bad numbers, they say you’re doomed! Of course, we know we’re on the right track. If we keep pressing, we’ll have the resources we need to win.

The goal…
Here’s the big announcement. We are setting a $750,000 online goal starting today through the end of the quarter. That means every day we need to raise about $75k. With an average contribution this quarter of $22.63, we essentially need 3,315 Beto supporters to donate each day going forward.

Goal: $750,000 in 10 days

We can’t fall short in this FEC report, so we need to make a BIG push. Can you be one of the first to make a $3 donation towards our goal now?

Without a dime from PACs, lobbyists, or special interests, the only way for Beto to win this primary and defeat Donald Trump is through hundreds of thousands of people stepping up to donate. So whether you give $1 or $100, it’s not important. It’s just about everyone giving something, and being in this movement together.

The team will be reaching out with a lot of updates over the next 10 days as we reach for this goal, but I hope you’ll consider kicking us off well by contributing today.

Jen O’Malley Dillon, Campaign Manager, Beto for America

O’Rourke wasn’t the only candidate warning me about incoming emails on Friday. Steve Bullock also apologized for all the emails I was getting. John Delaney apologized too, though he is far from the worst offender. Even Joe Biden warned me about an oncoming flood.

I just want to warn you. The flood is coming.

You’re going to see a lot of emails from candidates writing in all caps saying, “THIS IS THE BIGGEST FUNDRAISING DEADLINE OF OUR CAMPAIGN.”

A few might even come from us — sorry in advance!

But here’s what all the urgency is about: Every three months, the FEC requires us to release our fundraising numbers to the public — and EVERYONE could see us fall short on our fundraising. Take a look:

Elana Firsht, Online Fundraising Director, Biden for President
What’s this? Translucency in fundraising numbers?

I can’t help but wonder if these people apologizing for how many emails I’m getting realize that they control how many emails I’m getting. If they really are sorry for the flood of emails, why are they continuing to be part of the problem instead of part of the solution?

Joe Biden also told me how Trump called a foreign power to investigate his family eight times, and Elizabeth Warren wrote a strong email calling for impeachment.

Today’s news about Trump’s latest attempt to solicit foreign interference to aid him in U.S. elections confirmed yet again he thinks he’s above the law.

And if we do nothing, he’ll be right.

A president is sitting in the Oval Office, right now, who continues to commit crimes. He continues because he knows his Department of Justice will not act — and he believes Congress won’t either.

After the Mueller report, Congress had a duty to begin impeachment. By failing to act, Congress is complicit in Trump’s latest actions. It’s time for Congress to do their constitutional duty and impeach the president.

Mitch McConnell is also complicit. The Senate must vote on the bill, already passed by the House, to help states and localities protect themselves from the foreign attacks on our elections that the president has previously welcomed.

In 1974, Democrats and Republicans united in support of impeachment not out of mutual contempt for Nixon but mutual respect for the rule of law. Congress refused to be complicit in future law-breaking by Nixon or other presidents.

I said it before, and I’ll say it again: It’s time for this Congress to start impeachment proceedings.

Elizabeth Warren

Here’s the thing: Warren is part of Congress. She is closer to the people who aren’t doing much of anything than any of us getting this email are. She probably has Nancy Pelosi’s personal number.

What pressure is she putting on Pelosi as a fellow member of Congress to impeach Trump? What pressure is Bernie Sanders putting on Pelosi? Or Amy Klobuchar? Michael Bennet? Tim Ryan? Cory Booker? Kamala Harris? All of these candidates are active, sitting members of Congress. Why aren’t they doing their job and trying to bring about change in Congress to take action on this corruption?

Why aren’t they using this opportunity to demonstrate how they can build a coalition to sway the minds of Congress to do something?

If they can’t get Pelosi to act, how will they get McConnell to?

Farewell Bill de Blasio.

8 thoughts on “Day 123: 9/20/19

  1. re: the email from joe’s campaign–

    “You’re going to see a lot of emails from candidates writing in all caps saying, “THIS IS THE BIGGEST FUNDRAISING DEADLINE OF OUR CAMPAIGN.”

    A few might even come from us — sorry in advance!”

    this part really stood out to me…. why would they be telling their recipients that they’ll be seeing a lot of emails from “candidates”? shouldn’t joe’s team at least pretend they believe their readers are backing joe exclusively?

    i for one am only backing one candidate, and if i saw something like that in a campaign email it would not inspire confidence…


    1. A lot of campaigns assume you’re backing multiple candidates, though Biden’s campaign (and Sanders’) have asked if I could sign “loyalty” pledges. However, even if you’re only backing one Presidential candidate, you may still be backing Congressional or local candidates who have the same deadline, since it’s an FEC thing.


  2. Pete is my horse & I will work for him towards that end, unless he’s run off the track or lays down before the finish line. Having said that, as an Independent voter, I will vote blue no matter who & and I will not bash the other candidates. We”re all in this together, if we want to dump 45 in 2020. I will #BeLikePete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As we all should! Vote blue no matter who!

      I may get harsh on some of these candidates, but that’s because I feel disappointed in what they see giving me. These aren’t someone else’s version of them: the words they tell me are from their own campaign, speaking with, technically, their voices!

      No matter who ends up with the Democratic nomination, I absolutely will their in behind them. But some of these people… Well, some of them don’t have my primary vote.


  3. So many things to say about this blog post!

    1- Damn, Sestak and Buttigieg! I didn’t need to cry, ok. You don’t get to write letters like this. My father is a retired military officer, my brother-in-law still serves, and I have a tremendous respect for people who decide to put their lives on line to serve their country. And both of Joe and Pete managed to write, wbout a subject closer to them that day, something that civilians sometimes overlook. They were awesome.

    2- I’m starting to worry about Castro’s heart condition. It’s always stopping! How come? Is there a doctor in the primaries?

    3- I went from mild irritation to full blown exasperation at the reading of Beto’s mail. Really? Whoever told him to forgo the fundraiser route and fold under the bullying of one of the only people capable of mobilizing a million grassroots donors did him a terrible service. Badmouthing competitors in the mail to attract donors is not a good look.

    4- Senate and Congress are definitely better experiences to become President than an executive office like, let’s say, mayor, because they get so many things done there /s.



    1. 1. Sestak had a lot of flaws as a candidate, but his military experience outshines everyone else in the field. He clearly loves his country and his service, and I want to give him credit for that whenever I can. And of course, Buttigieg can write.

      2. Castro is WAAAAY too excitable for me. I feel like his presidency would be exhausting.

      3. Badmouthing competitors ALWAYS turns me off. I’m keeping track of this…

      4. THE SENATE IS IMPORTANT. WE NEED TO FLIP THE SENATE. I really worry that all our best senators are running for President and not doing their day jobs!


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