On Today's Show

Klobuchar reaches the polling threshold for September’s debates, Delaney denies report that his staffers asked him to drop out, Booker’s plan to close immigration detention centers using only executive orders, Bennet posts a nice nature video, and Warren reflects on 8 years of the CFPB.


Show Transcript

Note: This is the speaking script for the show, so the audio as delivered will differ very slightly from the below. This script also does not include audio clips from third-party sources, or advertisements, which may appear at various points in the show.

Klobuchar reaches the polling threshold for September’s debates

In a tweet on Sunday, Senator Amy Klobuchar announced that she has met the polling threshold to participate in the September debates and beyond. Her fourth and final qualifying result came from a CBS News poll of Iowa caucus-goers. Klobuchar has about 100,000 donors, so she still needs 30,000-ish more, but that’s very doable in the time remaining.

The same poll was also good news for several other candidates in the lower tier who are working to pick up good polling results as soon as possible. Klobuchar got 4 percent in the poll, which is double what she needed for it to count toward her September qualification.

So here’s who else is happy about that poll:

First, Senator Cory Booker, who got 3 percent. Now, he already had SIX qualifying results anyway, but it’s nice to have more, because the DNC takes into account additional poll results for things like tie-breakers, and most media outlets use polling averages to determine where you stand on stage.

Second, Julián Castro, got a 2 percent result, right on target to qualify. He now has two polls out of the four he needs for September.

And third, here’s a headline, former hedge fund manager and activist Tom Steyer came in hot with 2 percent. This is the first time Steyer has reached 2 percent in a qualifying poll, though we’ve seen him at 1 percent several times already. If Steyer keeps this up, and he runs fast on the fundraising, he might be the first candidate who did NOT appear in the first two debates but DOES appear in later ones. It’s a lot of work, but it’s technically possible, and he’s got the cash to run a lot of ads and potentially bring in the donor base he’ll need.

There are a few candidates who are still pushing hard for better poll numbers but have already met the donor threshold. For example, Yang only has one poll that counts toward the four he needs. Gabbard is in the same boat. But they both have passed the fundraising threshold already, which is the opposite of where Booker, Castro, and Klobuchar are right now. There’s a link in the show notes to a Google Sheet that tracks all these polls, as well as the fundraising totals, so you can keep track of where the candidates are on all of this stuff. Important note on that: there are TWO tabs there, one that covers the first two debates, and then one that covers September and beyond.

Keep in mind that in order to reach the stage in September, candidates must get 2 percent in at least four polls approved by the DNC. AND they need to get 130,000 donors. There is no such thing as qualifying “just based on polling” or “just based on donors” for the future DNC debates.

Delaney denies report that his staffers asked him to drop out

Here’s a story that broke on Friday after I recorded the show. At Politico, Alexi McCammond reported that back on July 9th, John Delaney’s senior staffers held a meeting with Delaney and encouraged him to drop out of the race in August.

Now, as we’ve discussed before, Delaney has been in this thing for a long time. By my count, he’s currently on his 725th day. But he’s had fundraising problems for YEARS now. At one point he offered to donate his own money to charity for each new donor he got.

So far this hasn’t been a problem, because he has enough wealth to self-fund his campaign. He made it into both the June and July DNC debates via the polling criteria alone, but that’s true of a good number of other candidates, so in the early stage of the primary he’s faced challenges but they haven’t been insurmountable. The problem that looms is how to get from fewer than 65,000 donors today to more than 130,000 donors by the end of August. That, plus lackluster polling, means he has a truly slim chance of making the September debates unless something turns around for him right away.

According to the report, Delaney initially seemed open to the idea of dropping out, but ultimately rejected it. Delaney disputed the report entirely, issuing a statement to Politico saying that his staff suggested no such thing, and he has no plans to drop out. He also pointed out apparent discrepancies in the math related to how Politico read SEC filings. As a non-expert in campaign finance, I’m not sure who’s right there, but the point is Delaney says he’s still in this race for the long term.

Regardless of whether this meeting between Delaney and his staffers actually happened, it’s an example of what so many candidates are currently up against. Delaney’s situation is a bummer given how much of his own money and time he’s poured into the campaign, but there are many candidates in this race right now who don’t have a path to the September debates. Right now, the realistic path is:

  1. ONE. Attend the July debates and make a giant splash. Even if it’s a belly-flop, that’s better than nothing. Expect to see candidates trying to drive home quotable lines, going on the attack, and essentially doing whatever they can to get media coverage the next day. They’re gonna need it. And,
  2. TWO. Spend the remainder of July and August drumming up the donor base and attending events on the ground. Delaney has already visited every single county in Iowa (there are 99 of them, by the way), but a good debate performance might energize even more in-person events like that.

Booker’s plan to close immigration detention centers using only executive orders

One of the themes of the upcoming 2020 election has been the possibility that Democrats might win the Presidency but leave the Senate under Republican control. In that case, it would be hard or impossible to pass much in the way of legislation, as we’ve seen the McConnell-led Senate very effectively block all kinds of things Democratic presidents have tried to do.

Okay, so let’s say you’re running for president and you realize that this possibility is real. What can you do that wouldn’t require the Senate to vote? Well, Senator Cory Booker has found an issue he can do a lot with, solely using executive orders: immigration.

In a plan release on July 2nd, Booker started by pointing out that much of what’s happening now at the border is the result of executive orders by the current president. Booker would reverse those, and would, “virtually eliminate immigration detention.” This means closing down almost all the detention centers. He would also eliminate the for-profit contracts that allows many of these centers to be run by corporations—though that would take three years to wind down.

Booker would stop the construction of a wall on the US/Mexico border and even remove some portions that have already been built.

He would also reform the bond system for immigrants awaiting court hearings. Reading from the proposal:

“Cory would shift federal enforcement priorities from a presumption of detention to a presumption of liberty. Under existing practices, many immigrants are arrested without warrants, left in detention for days or weeks without charging documents, denied the opportunity to request release on bond, and, when they are eligible for bond, charge bond that is unattainable, leaving them in detention. Cory would restore fairness and due process to the detention system by directing DHS to require probable cause within 48 hours of detention, ensure fair bond hearings for detained immigrants, require that immigrants are released into the least restrictive setting unless DHS provides evidence of a flight risk or danger to the community, and for immigration judges to take into account an immigrant’s ability to pay when setting bond.”

In addition to removing various orders put in place by the current administration, Booker would revisit past orders from the Obama administration and seek to expand them. Booker would bring back the Central American Minors Program, which gave children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras a more straightforward path to refugee status in the US.

In his proposal, Booker suggested that this was all stuff that he intended to do on Day 1 of his presidency. That might not be super-practical, though. In an article for the New York Times, Nick Corasaniti laid out a more realistic timeline.

“While the proposed executive actions from the Booker campaign would start the reform process, some immigration activists and experts note that these are not necessarily “Day 1” issues; there is, for example, no mechanism to release tens of thousands of immigration detainees overnight, and much of the processes and platforms set out by Mr. Booker could take months to enact.
The campaign is taking a long-term approach in their proposed actions, as Mr. Booker pledged to seek to address some of the root causes of the surge in immigration, promising to appoint a special envoy at the State Department to lead his administration’s efforts and focus on corruption, violence, poverty and climate change.”

Booker also suggested that, yes, he would work with Congress on a longer-term comprehensive immigration plan, including an attempt to reinstate the DACA program. But what’s most notable here is that he highlights the precise mechanism and specific things he can and will do, given the opportunity. While many of these are likely things that the other candidates would do too, it’s nice to see him enumerate them.

As with all policy, I ask how much this will cost and how the candidate proposes to pay for it. Booker does not address either in his proposal. However, a Politico analysis by Ted Hesson points out that closing detention centers, “could reduce costs to the federal government in the short-term.” The logic there is that housing someone in a detention center is far more expensive than releasing that person into the general population and either tracking them using something like an ankle bracelet—which, yes, is something that ICE does do today—or checking in with them over time, much like the current probation system. Those are practical, inexpensive options, though there is also a cost associated with trying to find people who fail to return for their hearings.

Going even further, Politico cited the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, which claimed that closing detention centers would be, “far cheaper, more humanitarian, and less of a political disaster for [the Trump] administration.”

Bennet posts a nice nature video

Next up, something that caught my eye and struck me as a real human moment, which is sometimes rare on the campaign trail.

On Sunday afternoon, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet posted a 29-second video on Twitter. It shows him standing by a sun-dappled river in New Hampshire. He wrote:

“It’s easy to get distracted in this hyper-connected world. Thanks, Carroll County, for the thoughtful questions and the moment of reflection.”

And here’s the sound from the video he posted. Note that at the end, the audio is cut off in the original, so it does end just a tad abruptly. Listen in:

[BENNET CLIP: “I just had a great town hall in Carroll County on the banks of this beautiful river, and I think it’d be nice to take ten seconds and just have absolute silence. [LONG PAUSE WITH SOUNDS OF RIVER, BIRDS, ETC.] Hope you’re having a great day.”]

Warren reflects on 8 years of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

And last up, yesterday, Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB. She wrote:

“Today the @CFPB turns 8! I helped President Obama create an agency that would protect consumers—and that’s exactly what happened. The CFPB has forced financial companies to return an estimated $12 billion [dollars] to the people.
After the big banks crashed our economy, the @CFPB was the big, structural change our country needed. Now, the Trump administration is on a mission to destroy it. I’ll keep fighting for consumers—today, and as president of the United States.”

She also posted a video, walking outside CFPB headquarters with CNN’s David Axelrod and reflecting on what the CFPB is and its eight-year history. If you’re not familiar with it, Warren herself came up with the idea for the agency, officially proposed it, and helped establish it. Here’s the audio from that short walk, and Axelrod speaks first:



Well, that is it for one more episode of the Election Ride Home. I have been your host, Chris Higgins. You can always find me on Twitter @chrishiggins. Well, I’m home again, and yeah, wow, I missed that. I had a nice six-hour flight from Boston to Portland, super-fun, spent it mostly watching movies about the Apollo missions—more on that later this week, by the way. Not the movies, the actual Apollo stuff. And I’ll leave you with this thought. In the last two months, I’ve been to two weddings. For one wedding, I brought my old film camera, a Nikon F5. Great camera, but from the mid-90s. And I shot a total of 180 images, which was five rolls of film. And honestly, I got great stuff, it was fun, and people were really curious about how you can still use film today. But I brought my digital camera, a Nikon Z6, to the OTHER wedding and, predictably, I shot a little over 3,000 photos. This is kind of why digital is both good and bad. So…I’ve got a few hours ahead of me trying to sort through all that stuff. It’s good to have a hobby, right? As always, thanks for listening, stay hydrated, and I will talk to y’all tomorrow.