Beto O’Rourke and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) (Photo of O’Rourke by Anthony Crider via Wikimedia Commons; photo of Harris public domain)
Last week was a good one for two of the more than 21 Democratic candidates for president — Robert Francis ‘Beto’ O’Rourke and Sen. Kamala Harris. Over the next nearly nine months or 36 weeks before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3, 2020 many of the candidates will have both good and bad weeks.
Beto released his Climate Change policy while touring beautiful Yosemite National Park in California. According to Politico he labeled climate change “the greatest threat we face” as he called for $5 trillion to be spent over the next decade with the goal of neutralizing carbon emissions in the U.S. by mid-century.” Beto’s campaign said it was vetted by a wide variety of experts in the environmental field. Politico went on to report, “Environmentalists were generally pleased with O’Rourke’s plan, which drew praise from groups ranging from Greenpeace to the League of Conservation Voters.” This comprehensive policy proposal from his campaign served as a response to some doubters about his willingness to get into the weeds on policy. It appears we will see more detailed policy papers from him as the campaign moves forward. On the purely political side he and his supporters had to be excited by the CNN/SSRS poll showing him with a double digit lead in a hypothetical match-up against Trump 52%-42%. His lead was more than any other Democrat against Trump. Then to top off his week he got great PR for defending Mayor Pete and chastising Texans who protested and attacked him for being gay during an appearance in Texas.
Kamala Harris’s week was made great by the really positive response to her questioning of Attorney General Barr during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Barr was lying through his teeth and avoiding all difficult questions thrown at him by Democrats but Harris really had him squirming. She again proved what a tough prosecutor she is. As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, Harris opened by asking how Barr had concluded there was not enough evidence to establish that the president had obstructed justice. Rather than debate the merits of his decision, Harris zeroed in on whether the attorney general or his staff had actually read the underlying evidence in the report before making his decision. When Barr said no, Harris ended the line of questioning by saying, “I think you’ve made it clear, sir, that you’ve not looked at the evidence and we can move on.” All-in-all it made for great TV and a good week for Harris.
Not having quite such a good week was Mayor Pete. During his town hall with Anderson Cooper he was challenged about not having any detailed positions or policy statements. According to CNN, “South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg defended his campaign website not having a policy section, arguing that he believes policy is important, but Democrats need to do a better job of not drowning voters in “minutia.” The mayor also said his campaign will roll out a tool “shortly that will make it possible to just enter a key word and see, visualize, pull all the video on what I’ve said about that particular issue. He then added “We’ll continue to roll out specific policy proposals, too,” he said. “But I also think it’s important we don’t drown people in minutia before we’ve vindicated the values that animate our policies. We go right to the policy proposals and we expect people to be able to figure out what our values must be from that.” I guess you need to be a Rhodes Scholar to decipher that statement.
Again there are many weeks between now and that first caucus in Iowa for many of the candidates to shine or in some cases disappear from the news. Some will take to saying outrageous things trying to generate a headline for themselves. It will be difficult for the media to cover the race with so many candidates in it and many members of the media will take the easy route and only cover a few of them. It will get easier after Iowa when I predict there will be only about eight still in the race with a chance to be the nominee.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.