Rising Newsletter: Debate Wrap Up, Holiday Edition!

Teflon Joe Biden and the decline of Mayor Pete

Hello #Risers! Welcome to our newsletter. If you haven’t already, tell your friends to sign up by sharing the link to this post!

As promised every Friday we’ll tell you what our favorite segments of the week are, give you a written and expanded version of #RisingQs, and give you our weekly takeaways. If there’s anything you love, like, dislike, or hate don’t hesitate to reply to this email with your thoughts!


Favorite Segments Of The Week

1) LIVE Post-Debate Coverage

Why: Our third try at live coverage post-debate was a great success. We had fan favorite Ryan Grim, surrogates from Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg’s campaign, and an amazing power panel to break things down. The audience response was especially positive to our surrogate debate where a raucous but respectful debate over wine caves and money broke out.

2) Tulsi Gabbard:

Why: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard joined us the morning after her present vote on impeachment to describe her decision making process. She explained that her vote was the only way to repudiate Trump’s actions and express belief in the Democratic process.

3) Wendell Potter

Why: Saagar and I both have a lot of respect for what Andrew Yang has brought to the race and he had a particularly strong and moving performance at this week’s debate. His healthcare plan was a far cry though from the Medicare for All plan he had initially embraced in the race and which is touted in some of his ads. Wendell Potter is a former healthcare exec turned whistleblower. He explained the nuances of Andrew’s plan and why he believes that more systemic change is necessary.

Expanded #RisingQs


Answer (from Krystal): I think that this impeachment is much more like the Republican impeachment of Clinton in the 90s, a purely partisan affair that was poorly conceived from the start and in which those prosecuting the case were themselves deeply compromised. In the 90s it was Newt Gingrich with his moral outrage over Bill’s Oval Office blow job while having his own affair. Now its Dem leadership pretending to be deeply disturbed by Trump’s corruption while protecting Biden and defending wine caves. I do not think history will look at all kindly at Trump and his shameless enablers, nor do I believe it will look Kindly at the feckless Democrats who preferred to fixate on elite driven dramas rather than the real harm he caused and promises he broke to working people. Their lack of seriousness is utterly exposed by the fact that the very next day after voting to impeach Trump, they handed him a massive legislative victory with his new trade deal.


Answer from Krystal: Rising ;-)


Answer (from Saagar): Apple Moonshine (yes, seriously)

Answer (from Krystal): Anything that’s not Eggnog which is utterly revolting.

Weekly Takeaways

Krystal’s Takeaway:

Another week, another chance for Joe Biden to be exposed as a looming disaster frittered away. As we head towards the end of the year and into the homestretch of the primary campaign the race is shaking out to be a real contest between two men, Bernie and Biden. Both have consolidated their bases of support. Both have weathered various storms and the rise and fall of different PMC candidates of choice. The New Year will likely bring some Amymentum and I’d also keep my eye on Bloomberg but ultimately I believe the race to be shaping up as a contest between these two ideological and philosophical polls, the revolutionary versus the keeper of the status quo. Today we have to be honest, if the contest were to be held right now, we would be staring down a Joe Biden nomination. This week I decided to spend some extra time on the Former VP. I do believe him to be vulnerable, his veneer of electability capable of being punctured. But it won’t be easy. 

Here are the obstacles, he’s popular having in most polls the second highest favorability rating after Bernie Sanders. The overwhelming majority of Democratic voters do not question his good intentions. It’s also been profoundly discouraging to watch the attacks that have been launched against him by Swalwell, Castro, and now Warren fall flat. And perhaps even more discouraging is how his own daily or weekly own goals haven’t made a dent in his popularity either. That doesn’t mean though that he couldn’t be undone by the right attack. After all, Kamala’s blow against him did land initially before she screwed it up through her own equivocating. 

On Monday I argued that for any political attack to land it’s got to have three essential components. First, it can’t appear too premediated, planned or inorganic. Voters will see right through any obviously preplanned one-liners (think Cory, attacking Biden for his weed stance: “I thought you might have been high when you said it.”) Second it’s got to be an area of core concern (think Chris Christie utterly exposing Marco Rubio as the hollow pretty boy ego candidate that voters feared he was.) And finally your opponent has to fail to respond (think Pete in this week’s debate after Bernie mocked him for having fewer billionaire donors than Joe.)   

So what might be an area of core concern for Biden? With his decades in office, there’s certainly a lot of material to work with. After all he carried water for the credit card companies memorably clashing actually with Elizabeth Warren. Although insanely when teed up by Rolling Stone to take a whack at him for this recently she weakly refused. He was a champion of the corporate pro-free trade agenda that decimated much of the working class he claims to have such affinity for. He helped bush build the case for a war that was perhaps the biggest and most devastating blunder of modern American history. Those are all arguments that move me, but let’s be honest, I’m not exactly your typical Biden voter. 

For Biden voters, currently on the fence, which is about 40% of them according to the polls, I think what could land is a somewhat more gentle approach. More “bless his heart” and less unvarnished outrage. Biden voters fundamentally trust he is well-intentioned, but I believe they may harbor concerns about his judgment. Biden voters may be quite receptive to the argument that he’s bumbled his way from bad idea to bad idea, Uncle Joe style and would therefore not only make a cartoonishly bad president but would be chum for a hungry Trump. 

Time is getting short though and Biden’s voters are only becoming more set in their choice as day after day ticks by. No one really laid a glove on him this week where he had his most effective debate of the cycle. Much as we all enjoy watching Pete getting owned and destroyed, ultimately if any of these candidates actually want to win, they’re going to have to come for the king.  

Saagar’s Takeaway:

This week we saw what could be the beginning of the end of Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaign. As I said during our Hill TV live post-debate coverage, the Mayor asked that we all take him seriously and he did not the like the results.

Senator Amy Klobuchar in particular revealed Buttgieg’s core conceit when she revealed that the Mayor lost his only state wide race for office in Indiana while herself and every other candidate on the stage has won state-wide elections.

Bernie Sanders infantilization of Buttigieg was particularly delicious in which he called him an “energetic” young guy and challenged him to catch up to Joe Biden in number of billionaire donations. The problem with Buttigieg’s donations is that it demonstrates clearly that he is selling a fake message of generational change without the change part.

Buttigieg’s entire rise in the early states was a media creation from the very beginning. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Andrew Yang’s attacks on him force the media to cover his corporate coziness and contributions. This inherently turns the media cycle against Pete Buttigieg and means that upper middle class white liberals in the early states will begin to flee him.

Emerson polling recently indicated that only 28% of Pete Buttigieg voters are firmly committed to him. His coalition will likely begin to splinter between Michael Bloomberg, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar meaning that the race will only further begin to narrow to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.