Ballotpedia’s Weekly Presidential News Briefing: October 12-18, 2019

 Ballotpedia's Weekly Presidential News Briefing

Now, we’re bringing you the highlights from our daily briefings in a weekly format so you can stay up-to-date on the 2020 election with one weekly email.

Here’s the latest from the campaign trail.

Candidates by the Number

Notable Quotes of the Week

“Omission from November’s debate could effectively choke off a candidate’s visibility and fundraising and make it impossible for them to mount a realistic challenge. Castro, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Klobuchar and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas are all on the cut line. … There’s no better way for those candidates to engineer the big moments they need than to tangle with one of the front-runners.”

– Stephen Collinson, CNN

“Premeditated attack strategies have a mostly losing record so far. The most successful of them—Kamala Harris’ biographical repudiation of Biden’s recording on busing—lent Harris only a short-lived boost as her moment of moral righteousness soon faded to equivocation.
John Delaney earned plenty of screen time in the second debate acting as the moderate counterweight to Warren, but moderate voters already had their preferred counterweight in Biden, and they also like Elizabeth Warren more than they like John Delaney. Tulsi Gabbard, similarly, took a hatchet to Harris in the second debate, a moment that may have hurt Harris but hardly helped Gabbard. And in the third debate, Julián Castro famously ‘insinuated’ that Joe Biden was losing his mind and was rewarded with a sharp collapse in his net favorability.”

– Jim NewellSlate

“The knives finally came out for Elizabeth Warren, but she parried them across all three hours of the debate. Warren demonstrated she can handle the pressure that comes with being the front-runner, even if it wasn’t always comfortable or particularly easy. And she did take some hits: from Buttigieg on Medicare for All, Andrew Yang on workforce automation and Klobuchar on, well, nearly everything.”

– Adam CancrynPolitico

Week in Review

Williamson first 2020 presidential candidate to complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection Survey

Marianne Williamson is the first 2020 presidential candidate to complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey, answering questions about her personal beliefs, professional background, and political priorities.

Williamson describes the effect A Course in Miracles had on her life and why she thinks the United States needs “a season of moral repair.” She also discusses reparations, money in politics, and the quality Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump have in common. 

Here are some of Williamson’s responses:

What legacy would you like to leave?

“A legacy of love that transforms politics and government to benefit We the People.”

What should a 28th Amendment to the Constitution say?

“Overturn Citizens United. Limit money in politics.”

What do you support that the majority of your party opposes?

“I am the first presidential candidate to advocate for reparations, and the only one with a plan for how to do it. 

In many ways, America has continued the process of racial reconciliation begun in the 1960’s. Yet in other ways, we have actually slipped backward. Yes, there are no more colored bathrooms and separate drinking fountains. But we now have mass incarceration; racial disparity in criminal sentencing; lost voting rights; outright voter suppression; and police brutality often focused on black populations.

Tepid solutions are not enough for the times in which we live; we need huge, strategized acts of righteousness, now. Just as Germany has paid $89 Billion in reparations to Jewish organizations since WW2, the United States should pay reparations for slavery. A debt unpaid is still a debt unpaid, even if it’s 150 years later. The legacy of that injustice lives on, with racist policies infused into our systems even to this day. From employment and housing discrimination, to equal access to quality education in underserved communities, to police brutality/prejudice, to lack of fair lending practices, to lack of access to quality healthcare, to insecure voting rights, America has not yet completed the task of healing our racial divide.

For that reason, I propose a $200 billion – $500 billion plan of reparations for slavery, the money to be disbursed over a period of twenty years. An esteemed council of African-American leaders would determine the educational and economic projects to which the money would be given.”

Largest presidential primary debate in U.S. history

Twelve Democratic presidential candidates debated Tuesday night in Westerville, Ohio: Joe BidenCory BookerPete ButtigiegJulián CastroTulsi GabbardKamala HarrisAmy KlobucharBeto O’RourkeBernie SandersTom SteyerElizabeth Warren, and Andrew Yang.

Gabbard and Steyer were the only candidates in this group who did not participate in the third Democratic debate in Texas on Sept. 12. With 12 candidates on stage, it was the largest single presidential primary debate. Republicans held the previous record with 11 candidates on stage during the September 2015 debate.

The candidates discussed impeachment, healthcare, tax policy, foreign policy, gun violence, antitrust laws, fitness, abortion, and the Supreme Court. Elizabeth Warren had the most speaking time at 23 minutes. Tom Steyer spoke the least at 7.2 minutes.

For highlights from the debate for each candidate, click here.

In the 24 hours following the debate, the Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar campaigns each reported they raised more than $1 million.

Major rallies this week

Twenty thousand people attended Donald Trump’s Thursday night rally in Dallas at the American Airlines Center. Trump spoke for 87 minutes about the Democratic presidential field, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the ceasefire in Turkey.

More than 5,000 people attended Beto O’Rourke’s counter-rally Thursday in Grand Prairie, Texas. He discussed Trump, immigration, healthcare, gun policy, and veterans issues.

Bernie Sanders will hold his first campaign rally in three weeks Saturday in Queens, New York. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is expected to formally endorse him at the event.

Steyer pours $26 million into television ads

Tom Steyer has spent more than $26 million on 53,000 television ads since beginning his campaign in July, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis. That is more than six times as many ads as the rest of the Democratic field combined aired. Twenty thousand of Steyer’s ads aired in Iowa.

Want more? Find the daily details here:

Poll Spotlight

Staff Spotlight

Lis Smith has worked in campaign communications for over a decade, including in the 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns. Smith co-founded 50 State Communications in June 2016. She graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in government and anthropology in 2005.

Previous campaign work:

  • 2016 Martin O’Malley presidential campaign, deputy campaign manager
  • 2013 Bill de Blasio mayoral campaign (New York, N.Y.), chief spokeswoman
  • 2012 Barack Obama presidential campaign, director of rapid response
  • 2010 Ted Strickland (D-Ohio) gubernatorial campaign, communications director
  • 2009 Jon Corzine (D-N.J.) gubernatorial campaign, press secretary
  • 2009 Terry McAuliffe (D-Va.) gubernatorial campaign, press secretary
  • 2008 Dan Seals (D-Ill.) U.S. House campaign, communications director
  • 2007 Bruce Lunsford (D-Ky.) gubernatorial campaign, traveling press secretary
  • 2006 Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) U.S. Senate campaign, press secretary

Other experience:

  • 2013-2015: O’PAC (Martin O’Malley political action committee), senior communications advisor
  • 2013-2015: Democratic Governors Association, senior communications advisor
  • 2011-2012: Democratic Governors Association, communications director

What she says about Buttigieg: “I saw in him something that I’ve never, ever seen in someone, you know, where you sort of have that moment, this magic, and clearly he’s taken off.”

What We’re Reading

Flashback: October 15-18, 2015

  • October 15, 2015: Ben Carson and Donald Trump submitted a joint letter to CNBC saying neither would agree to attend the month’s debate if opening and closing statements were not permitted and the event ran longer than 120 minutes. 
  • October 16, 2015: Hillary Clinton outraised and outspent all other 2016 presidential candidates in the third quarter of 2015. She raised more than $29 million and spent more than $25 million. 
  • October 17, 2015: Jeb Bush released a digital ad questioning Donald Trump’s ability to be commander-in-chief. 
  • October 18, 2015: Donald Trump discussed the September 11 terrorist attacks and George W. Bush, social media, the U.S. Department of Education, and foreign policy in an interview on Fox News Sunday.


Which election featured the first presidential primary debate?