Sanders is hospitalized for heart problems and suspends campaign events for now

First up today, a breaking story that I don’t have a ton of detail on yet. Senator Bernie Sanders was hospitalized last night. Reading from a statement provided by the campaign:

“During a campaign event yesterday evening, Sen[ator] Sanders experienced some chest discomfort. Following medical evaluation and testing he was found to have a blockage in one artery and two stents were successfully inserted. Sen[ator] Sanders is conversing and in good spirits.
He will be resting up over the next few days. We are canceling his events and appearances until further notice, and we will continue to provide appropriate updates.”

That campaign event was in Nevada on Tuesday night, so presumably all of this happened overnight. The campaign has also canceled a TV ad that was supposed to run in Iowa over the coming days—that would’ve been the first Sanders ad—presumably because it was timed to coincide with a series of visits to Iowa.

It’s difficult to say right now what this means for Sanders or his campaign. For my part, I just hope the guy is okay. He does happen to be the oldest candidate remaining in the race, now that former Senator Mike Gravel has dropped out. Sanders is 78, just two years older than Biden, five years older than Trump, and eight years older than Warren.

Aside from the specific health concerns about Sanders, the big political question, obviously, is what happens on October 15th. He has a debate in just 13 days. I’m not sure whether any heart surgeon would advise a patient to go into that kind of situation so soon after having multiple stents put in. But, I’m not a doctor, I’m just a podcaster.

So, for now, my heart goes out to Senator Sanders and his family. I will keep you posted as I learn more.

Harris raises $11.6 million

Okay, and now yet more money stuff. I’m gonna keep these short and focused to each candidate and the key information we have. The big money news today is Senator Kamala Harris, who raised $11.6 million dollars in Q3. That’s basically equal to her Q2 number, which was $11.8 million dollars. That’s not an AWESOME showing, given that her number didn’t grow, but it’s also not terrible either.

She’s one of the few candidates to release cash-on-hand figures, and says she has about $10 million dollars in cash. Why does that matter? Well, it means she has plenty of money to spend on campaign ads, and whatever else needs to happen in the coming months.

Her latest strategy is to focus hard on Iowa, so expect to see a lot of spending and perhaps advertising there.

Yang raises $10 million dollars

Next up, Andrew Yang raised a shocking $10 million dollars in Q3. This, of all the Democratic financial results I’ll read today, is probably the biggest news, because of the change from Q2.

Back in Q2, Yang raised $2.8 million dollars, so he’s now more than tripled that number. It’s also notable that in his ENTIRE campaign prior to Q3, Yang had raised a total of about $5.3 million dollars, and he’s been in this for 695 days. So. Point being, to raise $10 million dollars in three months is double what he managed to do in about a year and a half. That is serious growth, and coupled with his low-but-slowly-rising polling numbers means he will be probably still be around even as the DNC ratchets up its requirements for future debates.

He also released cash-on-hand figures, saying he has about $6 million dollars available to spend. Beyond that, he also released donor figures, saying he has almost 300,000 donors so far.

Booker raises $6 million

Next up, Senator Cory Booker announced that he raised more than $6 million dollars in Q3. This comes right on the heels of a last-ditch fundraising effort in the final ten days of the quarter, where he brought in about $2 million dollars right at the end. I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad, to be honest. It certainly means he’s not dropping out, but beyond that, I’m not sure whether there’s any particularly good news hiding in these numbers.

To put the new number in context, Booker raised about $4.5 million dollars in Q2, so he IS up from there. But, if he had not gotten that last-minute boost, his overall fundraising could have declined between the two periods, which would be a really rough message for his campaign going forward.

At the moment, Booker faces a serious uphill climb. In The Economist’s polling average, he gets 1%, and is in ninth place in the Democratic field, just ahead of Senator Amy Klobuchar. So, we’ll have to see where he goes from here.

Bennet raises $2 million dollars

Colorado Senator Michael Bennet raised $2.1 million dollars in Q3. That is actually DOWN from his Q2 number, which was $2.8 million dollars. The campaign said it still has $1.8 million dollars in cash on hand. Bennet is currently not on track to appear in any future DNC debates, so it’s unclear whether he has a path to the nomination.

Bennet has been one of the most vocal critics of the DNC’s rules for the debates, as the DNC ruthlessly winnows the field, which has kept Bennet off the stage lately. Bennet’s Senate seat is safe until 2022, so he does have time to hang out in the presidential race if he chooses.

Trump and the RNC raise $125 million dollars

And while we’re talking single-digit millions and sometimes double-digit millions for the Democratic candidates, over on the Republican side, President Trump and the RNC together raised roughly $125 million dollars in Q3.

That’s a HUGE amount of money objectively, AND it’s a huge amount of money relative to previous sitting presidents. On Twitter, New York Magazine reporter Eric Levitz pointed out that this number compares favorably to the meager $70 million dollars that then-President Obama and the DNC raised in the same period in 2011. Meaning, Trump’s reelection fund is in awesome shape.

It’s frankly hard to overstate the significance of this number. It actually breaks the record for fundraising in a single quarter for a presidential candidate—incumbent or otherwise. Now, we’re not super-sure what the split is between the presidential fund and the RNC fund, but the two entities are so closely entwined, it doesn’t really matter much.

The RNC/Trump combo also announced that their total cash on hand is now more than $156 million dollars. On Twitter, former Obama advisor Dan Pfeiffer wrote:

“This should be a giant wake up call. Trump is going to have more resources to deploy earlier and more aggressively than any candidate in history.”

And, of course, that spending is already well underway. Reading from an Associated Press story by Zeke Miller:

“Last week, as House Democrats launched their impeachment effort, the Trump campaign announced it would spend $8 million [dollars] to air an ad attacking Democrats for trying to “steal” the 2020 campaign. The RNC said it would spend $2 million [dollars] attacking Democrats for their support of impeachment.”

And let me read here from a New York Magazine article by Matt Stieb:

“The RNC is also out-raising the Democratic National Committee: According to the most recent disclosure forms from the end of August, the RNC had $53.8 million [dollars] in cash on hand, compared to the DNC’s $8.2 million [dollars].”

In case you don’t have a calculator handy, the higher-ups finally sent me one, so I can do that math. That means the RNC has roughly 6.5 times the money that the DNC has.

And just one more tidbit from that same article:

“...[D]on’t forget the MAGA merch, which is big business for the president: One consultant estimates that 30 percent of campaign contributions in the midterm cycle came from supporters buying stuff like red hats and political novelty items.”

Why Mark Cuban isn’t running for president

Meanwhile, here’s a super-short item. Mark Cuban, the billionaire entrepreneur, has explained why he’s not running for president as an independent: His family won’t let him. To be perfectly frank, that’s a really good reason not to do something. You kinda need your family on board if you’re gonna go out there and do this stuff.

In an interview on the Fox Business Network, Cuban said:

“My family voted it down. ... If you can change their mind, I’m all in.”

Harris calls on Twitter to suspend Trump’s account

Yesterday, Senator Kamala Harris wrote a formal letter to Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, asking that President Trump’s Twitter account be suspended. In the letter, Harris pointed to a series of tweets that violated the Twitter Terms of Service. She also went on CNN and spoke to Anderson Cooper about this. Here’s a clip from that CNN interview. Listen in:

[CLIP-HARRIS-TWITTER-TRUMP]

In the letter, Harris goes down the list of recent tweets, and points out the specific parts of the Twitter Terms of Service that she believes they violate. The list of people targeted by Trump are the so-far-anonymous whistleblower, the person or people who provided information TO the whistleblower, plus House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff. And then she points to another tweet that mentions a, “Civil War like fracture in this Nation,” which she construed as a threat of violence.

Reading from the conclusion of the letter:

“These are blatant threats. We need a civil society, not a civil war. These tweets represent a clear intent to baselessly discredit the whistleblower and officials in our government who are following the proper channels to report allegations of presidential impropriety, all while making blatant threats that put people at risk and our democracy in danger.
In the past, Twitter has banned or suspended people who have violated its user agreement. ​InfoWars​ host Alex Jones was permanently banned from the platform in 2018 for spreading disinformation and inciting violence. Disgraced hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli and actor James Woods were both suspended from Twitter for using the platform to harass and spread hateful messages. I believe the President’s recent tweets rise to the level that Twitter should consider suspending his account. Others have had their accounts suspended for less offensive behavior. And when this kind of abuse is being spewed from the most powerful office in the United States, the stakes are too high to do nothing.
No user, regardless of their job, wealth, or stature should be exempt from abiding by Twitter’s user agreement, not even the President of the United States.”

While Twitter hasn’t formally responded yet, they did speak to Adi Robertson at The Verge. Reading from the article:

“Twitter told The Verge that it has received the letter and plans to respond to Harris’s concerns. However, it almost certainly won’t suspend Trump’s account. The platform allows politicians with a sufficient number of followers to break its rules, asserting that it’s “in the public interest” for users to see the tweets. It reserves the right to flag particularly bad tweets, but it’s never even reached that point with Trump, despite previous controversies.

In 2017, it cited “public interest” to justify letting Trump threaten war against North Korea in a tweet, although it did later delete a Trump video that included copyrighted music from a Batman film.

It’s unclear how Twitter is generally policing veiled threats of civil war. The company told BuzzFeed that it wouldn’t remove a tweet from a prominent militia group claiming that the idea of a “full-blown ‘hot’ civil war” was “increasingly on people’s tongue.” Like its competitor Facebook, the social network is struggling to moderate threatening political language on its platform without being seen as taking an ideological stance — something Harris is attempting to highlight, if not necessarily change, with her letter.”

Biden’s new gun safety plan

Today, former Vice President Joe Biden released The Biden Plan to End Our Gun Violence Epidemic. The plan begins by listing Biden’s previous action on gun safety, including helping pass the Brady bill in 1993, which created the current background check system. He also worked in 1994 with Senator Dianne Feinstein to ban assault weapon and high-capacity magazine for ten years. However, when that ten-year ban expired, it was not renewed. Well, Biden would like to fix that, among other things.

Reading from a summary in Axios by Alexi McCammond:

“Biden's plan would ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, but it would not call for a mandatory assault weapons buyback program as Beto O'Rourke has proposed.
Instead, it gives those who own such guns two choices: sell the weapons to the government or register them under the National Firearms Act.
Other policies in Biden's plan:
Mandating universal background checks for all gun sales, except for gifts between close family members.
Closing the "boyfriend," "hate crime," "fugitive from justice," and "Charleston" loopholes in the current federal background check system.
Ending the online [sale] of guns.
Incentivizing states to implement gun licensing programs of their own.
Calling on Congress to appropriate $50 million [dollars] to accelerate research on causes and prevention of gun violence at the CDC and NIH. [and]
Prohibiting the use of federal funds to arm or train educators to use guns in schools.”

The plan is about twelve pages long, and is genuinely comprehensive. This one bit jumped out at me, though, and I want to read it to you:

“Federal law prevents hunters from hunting migratory game birds with more than three shells in their shotgun. That means our federal law does more to protect ducks than children. It’s wrong. Joe Biden will enact legislation to once again ban assault weapons. This time, the bans will be designed based on lessons learned from the 1994 bans. For example, the ban on assault weapons will be designed to prevent manufacturers from circumventing the law by making minor changes that don’t limit the weapon’s lethality. While working to pass this legislation, Biden will also use his executive authority to ban the importation of assault weapons.”

All of this comes ahead of a major event today in Las Vegas. It’s a presidential forum hosted by both Giffords and March For Our Lives, and comes one day after the second anniversary of the Route 91 mass-shooting. I hope to have highlights from that event tomorrow.