Things continue to go awry for Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris. In early November, the California senator's campaign announced a round of layoffs and pay cuts. Now state operations director Kelly Mehlenbacher has resigned—and her farewell letter offers a scathing glimpse inside Harris' operation.
"This is my third presidential campaign and I have never seen an organization treat its staff so poorly," Mehlenbacher wrote in the letter obtained by The New York Times. "With less than 90 days until Iowa we still do not have a real plan to win."
"We have refused to confront our mistakes, foster an environment of critical thinking and honest feedback, or trust the expertise of talented staff," Mehlenbacher's letter continued.
The Times interviewed "50 current and former campaign staff members and allies, most of whom spoke on condition of anonymity." Their takeway? Harris' swift drop—which the campaign and its allies have blamed on racism and sexism—was both predictable and largely divorced from larger cultural or political forces:
Many of her own advisers are now pointing a finger directly at Ms. Harris. In interviews several of them criticized her for going on the offensive against rivals, only to retreat, and for not firmly choosing a side in the party's ideological feud between liberals and moderates. She also created an organization with a campaign chairwoman, Maya Harris, who goes unchallenged in part because she is Ms. Harris's sister, and a manager, Mr. [Juan] Rodriguez, who could not be replaced without likely triggering the resignations of the candidate's consulting team. Even at this late date, aides said it's unclear who's in charge of the campaign.
In the July debate, Ms. Harris did not respond sharply to an attack on her prosecutorial record from Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, even after Ms. Harris had been prepped for the topic.
On a conference call after the debate, several of Ms. Harris's donors were alarmed and urged the campaign to strike back at Ms. Gabbard more aggressively, two people on the call said.
Ms. Harris also knew her response had been insufficient, a view quickly reinforced by her advisers. In interviews, many of them point to that debate moment as accelerating Ms. Harris's decline and are so exasperated that they bluntly acknowledge in private that Ms. Harris struggles to carry a message beyond the initial script.
What she does seem more comfortable with, on the campaign trail and at the November debate, is making the case against Mr. Trump, which is now her core campaign message. After months of uncertainty, she's back to embracing her role as a prosecutor.
The Mehlenbacher resignation letter and the Times article are only the latest bad publicity for Harris. Last week The Washington Post profiled a Harris candidacy "now teetering, weighed down by indecision within her campaign, her limits as a candidate and dwindling funds that have forced her to retreat in some places at a moment she expected to be surging."
Democratic pollster Paul Maslin told the Post that Harris has "been the biggest, I think, negative surprise of the campaign."
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Trump wants to expand his trade wars. This morning, the president tweeted:
…..Reserve should likewise act so that countries, of which there are many, no longer take advantage of our strong dollar by further devaluing their currencies. This makes it very hard for our manufactures & farmers to fairly export their goods. Lower Rates & Loosen - Fed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2019
It's unclear whether the president actually has the authority to do this unilaterally without the Department of Commerce finding a sufficient "national security" risks posed by the targeted Brazilian and Argentinian goods.
Some potentially interesting new research on sexual harassment:
Among both men and women, unsolicited sexual advances were considered more disturbing and more discomforting when perpetrated by an unattractive opposite sex colleague than when perpetrated by an attractive opposite sex colleague: https://t.co/WFSXH0OU2X pic.twitter.com/V5Qt5VZalX
— Cory Clark (@ImHardcory) November 30, 2019
Make American Corny Again:
Tomorrow, we're kicking off our eight-day, 18 county "No Malarkey" barnstorm across Iowa! I'd love to see you there. Head to https://t.co/qm53SbH51r to find an event in your community. pic.twitter.com/YngzAn9vKZ
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) November 29, 2019
- The House Judiciary Committee's impeachment report is expected this week.
- The Guardian explores how U.S. prosecutors use gang enhancements to get lengthier prison sentences in a way that winds up being both ineffective and racially biased.
- Senator and flailing Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar says she probably wouldn't vote to acquit Trump if things come to a Senate vote.
- Republicans are back at trying to issue death certificates for fertilized eggs that don't implant.
- Protecting and serving:
Shawnda Brookshire was grieving the death of her 4-year-old daughter, Nia, the day before, when Arkansas police confronted her outside the motel where she and her family were staying, demanded ID, pinned her to the ground, handcuffed & arrested her.pic.twitter.com/DSSJiAZN8K
— Rebecca Kavanagh (@DrRJKavanagh) November 30, 2019
- New Yorkers came together over the weekend to remember migrant sex worker Yang Song and protest police raids on Asian massage parlors:
Remember #SongYang, a migrant sex worker who was isolated as both a victim & criminal, who died being chased in a NYPD Vice Squad raid. Consenting adults who trade sex SHOULDN'T be criminalized. We demand #JusticeForSongYang & will keep fighting for sex workers' rights in Albany. pic.twitter.com/d5yzJ7Qkog
— Jessica Ramos (@jessicaramos) November 30, 2019
We are still decompressing from this powerful vigil today held in memory of Yang Song. We come together in our commitment to justice and combating state violence. #justiceforyangsong@RedCanarySong @ButterflyCSW @MaketheRoadNY @DecrimNY pic.twitter.com/nJRNnlF4Oz
— Red Light Reader (@redlightreader) December 1, 2019
- Dismantling Section 230 would "threaten America's global Internet and innovation leadership, cripple Internet small businesses, hurt investment in many Internet start-ups and trample our principle of free speech."
- Dean Foods, the largest dairy producer in the U.S., is filing for bankruptcy "despite relentless government intervention" on its behalf.
- No, sex traffickers are not marking victims' cars with zip ties.
The state of science and science journalism right nowhttps://t.co/hIexviRhgV
— Jesse Singal (@jessesingal) December 2, 2019