2020 Vision: Democratic candidates raise funds off 'Send her back' chant at Trump rally

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Welcome to 2020 Vision, the Yahoo News column covering the presidential race. Reminder: There are 206 days until the Iowa caucuses and 479 days until the 2020 presidential election.

When President Trump's supporters broke into a “Send her back” chant aimed at Rep. Ilhan Omar at his rally in North Carolina, the Somali-born Minnesota Democrat was having dinner with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and a small group of other progressive members of Congress at a Washington, D.C., Chinese restaurant.

The next day, amid bipartisan outrage over the chant and Trump’s strategy of stoking the country’s racial division, Sanders, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, and other Democratic groups used the episode in their fundraising pitches.

"To my surprise, Ilhan was pretty unfazed," Sanders wrote in an email to supporters. "Sadly, as she told me, she has been dealing with this kind of hatred and racism for a long time. And she knows, as we do, that Trump is a demagogue doing what he does best: dividing and conquering through hate.

"Can you split a $2.70 contribution between Ilhan Omar’s re-election campaign and our campaign for president?" Sanders asked. "Send a message that we will fight back against Trump’s racism."

O'Rourke's campaign made a similar plea.

"Last night was a new low for this president," Team Beto said in its email. "Ilhan Omar is a public servant who has shown us what leadership looks like in the face of some truly hateful words and actions. Right now, it’s important for us to stand with her and show we’ve got her back. That’s why we’re asking you to split a donation between our campaigns today.

"Can you chip in $3 today to show Ilhan Omar that we stand with her? Every contribution sends a powerful message to Donald Trump that we will not allow him to divide us up."

Other Democratic groups followed suit.

"As a Veteran, it sends chills down my spine to watch a stadium of Americans shouting ‘send her back’ about anyone — but especially a duly-elected Member of Congress," Jerry Green, coordinator for the VoteVets PAC, wrote in a fundraising email. "We need to stand up to it and we need to stop it — right now. One way to do that is to show Rep. Omar that we have her back. So, I’m asking: Can you split a $3 donation between VoteVets PAC and Rep. Ilhan Omar’s campaign for re-election? As Americans we all belong, and it's up to us to stand together."

Earlier this week, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., was among the chorus of candidates condemning Trump's tweet suggesting Omar and three other congresswomen of color — all of them U.S. citizens — "go back" to their home countries. And Harris turned the message around on Trump.

"He needs to go back to where he came from," she said.

CNN's 'Draw'

CNN unveiled the lineups for the two-night Democratic debate it is hosting in Detroit later this month. And the cable network turned Thursday's drawing of names for it into a primetime show hosted by Anderson Cooper and featuring a seven-person panel.

James Poniewozik, chief television critic for the New York Times, called it a "farcical combo of the N.B.A. draft and a Lotto drawing."

"CNN’s hourlong debate-lineup revelation had the appearance of a Powerball drawing and just as much depth," he wrote in his review.

The ratings for "The Draw" have yet to be released, but it's safe to assume they won't draw as many viewers as the actual debates. The first pair, which were hosted by NBC last month, had the largest television audience for a Democratic primary debate ever: 18.1 million viewers.

As for the actual lineups: Night one, July 30, will feature progressive firebrands Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on the same stage, while night two will see the "rematch" of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Go figure

The deadline for presidential campaigns to report their quarterly fundraising data was this week, and Yahoo News' Brittany Shepherd breaks down the barrage of FEC reports:

Bernie Sanders topped his rivals with $25.7 million in the second quarter, fairly consistent with his $20.7 million haul in the first. And Sanders isn’t afraid to spend it — according to reports, Bernie's team ran burned through 41 percent of his fundraising, which, with $27.3 million current cash on hand, isn’t disastrous right now. But a high spending pace could end up costing his team — whether that’s in staffing, ad buys or any other big-ticket costs — in the long run.

Still, Team Sanders is not the most spend-happy in the slightest; data shows that former Vice President Joe Biden burned through 51 percent of his cash, which pales in comparison to what two lower-tier candidates — entrepreneur Andrew Yang and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee — spent (84 percent and 78 percent, respectively).

One of the more impressive fundraising hauls came from South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who raked in an eye-popping $24.9 million in the second quarter — a $17.5 million increase from the first. And Buttigieg did so despite being embroiled in criticism for the murder of a black citizen by a white police officer back home in South Bend.

Still, not every underdog is bursting past fundraising thresholds — or even meeting them. Beto O’Rourke, who was considered by some an early wunderkind, raised only $3.6 million this quarter — spending over $1 million more than his team raised. It’s not an inspiring picture. Beto’s team agrees, sending out an email blast Wednesday evening with the subject line: “Falling behind on fundraising.” In the email, his team told supporters that the campaign has been outraised by a “handful of candidates” and will likely be “heavily outspent” in the upcoming months. Rough fundraising numbers are now coupled with the outcry that Beto should return to his home state and run.

This stumble raises a new question: Is Beto still “born to be in it”?

Programming note: O'Rourke and his wife, Amy, will be guests on ABC's "The View" next Tuesday in what is being billed as their "first national joint interview."

Exit watch

Earlier this month, the Democratic primary race lost its first semi-major candidate, as California Rep. Eric Swalwell dropped out to focus on his congressional reelection. (West Virginia state Sen. Richard Ojeda was technically the first Democrat to drop out, doing so in January after a two-month campaign and resigning his seat.) With the qualifying standards higher for future debates, candidates are going to have to consider whether it’s possible or practical to continue on as exposure and the funding that comes with it dwindle. A few candidates to keep an eye on:

  • Axios reported this week that the staff of former Maryland Rep. John Delaney asked him to drop out of the race by the end of summer. Delaney has been on the trail for nearly two years and has spent millions of his own dollars, visiting all 99 counties in Iowa, but his positioning as a moderate option isn’t earning him any traction in the polls. Sources told Axios that if he’s unable to gain momentum coming out of the second debate, “he’d be better positioned to run for governor or get a Cabinet position if he drops out before September.” Delaney denies he’s planning to drop out of the race.

  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper raised $1.1 million in the second quarter, while Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan brought in $865,000. All three totals were less than the haul of New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who brought in $1.2 million in the second quarter for her congressional campaign.

  • The campaign of former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel run by teens who wanted to get the 89-year-old’s progressive antiwar message onto the debate stage — is coming to an end, as earlier this month the campaign announced it was looking for a deserving charity to send the donations it had accumulated.


“We just bought a new campaign RV which we’re having wrapped to roll out in Iowa. What would I do with that if I was going to drop out?”

— John Delaney, to CNN, denying a report his staff is urging him to end his campaign

“It’s always a good way to clear your head and work off any junk food you’ve been eating while on the road.”

— Beto O’Rourke, noted running enthusiast, on running while on the campaign trail

“I am delighted. Bernie and I have been friends for a long, long time.”

— Elizabeth Warren to reporters after learning she will share the stage with Bernie Sanders at CNN's upcoming debates

“No, you know what I'm unhappy with — the fact that a congresswoman can hate our country.”

— President Trump, on Friday, when asked about his unhappiness with the “Send her back” chant that broke out at his rally earlier this week

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