Power Up: 2020 hopeful Seth Moulton scaling back campaign staff

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The Campaign

2020 WATCH: Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) is shedding staff from his long shot presidential campaign, four sources close to the campaign tell Power Up and our colleague Paul Kane.

Moulton recently informed his staff that he planned on laying off at least half his team, two of those sources told us.

  • It’s unclear whether the staff has already departed. Campaign spokesman Matt Corridoni pointed to Moulton’s July Federal Election Commission report, which said the campaign was paying 30 staffers, saying: “Have nothing to add beyond that.” 
  • “Some folks have moved on to other opportunities,” Corridoni said, but added that the campaign has “also brought on new staff as well. Campaigns are constantly going through transitions.” 
  • Some top people jumping ship: Politico reported last month that Adnan Mohamed, Moulton’s deputy national political director, was named as former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s national political director.

The exodus comes as the historically large Democratic field of White House hopefuls has started to winnow — and Moulton’s challenges are illustrative of the difficulties facing candidates trying to stand out.

Oof: A Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll released Tuesday surveyed 500 New Hampshire voters who said there were either “somewhat likely” or “very likely” to vote in the 2020 Democratic primary. Not a single respondent said they were backing Moulton, per The Boston Globe’s James Pindell.

  • Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) last month became the first candidate to drop out after appearing on a primary debate stage, after weak fundraising and polling numbers.
  • Moulton, who has yet to qualify for a primary debate, has barely registered in the polls and garnered an estimated 13,000 small dollar donors.
  • Looking ahead: Moulton has yet to qualify for the third Democratic debate in September. 

Based on his previous fundraising haul, it’s unlikely that Moulton will qualify for it. He’s raised roughly $2 million and is already trailing well behind the front-runners. But a deeper look shows just meager his fundraising has been: 

  • About one-third of that total comes as a transfer from leftover funds from his previous congressional races — money that was raised in previous years for prior House campaigns. 
  • And another $300,000 is from donors who gave extra contributions that can only be used if Moulton wins the 2020 nomination and goes on to challenge Trump in the general election. 
  • In terms of funds actually raised this year for the 2020 primary, Moulton barely cleared $1 million. 

The Harvard-educated Marine veteran’s bid for the White House comes after a leading an unsuccessful campaign to challenge Nancy Pelosi’s bid for House speaker after the November elections. Moulton, who served four tours of duty in Iraq, has billed himself as a fresh-faced moderate outsider with a focus on foreign policy, veterans issues and public service.

  • Making the case: “I’m not going around doing crazy things just looking for a viral moment,” Moulton told our colleague Bob Costa ahead of the first round of primary debates in June. “The case I’m making to the American people is that I’m not a crazy leader. I’m someone that you can trust, and you’re not going to agree with me on everything.”
  • On whether his bid to challenge Pelosi hurt his 2020 chances: “Nothing could be further from the truth,” Moulton told Bob. “It makes me a much stronger nominee that I was willing to take on our leadership here in Washington, not a weaker nominee.”

Eyes on Iowa: Corridoni tells Power Up the congressman plans to be at his Marine Platoon Reunion this weekend — instead of Iowa’s Democratic Wing Ding grass roots fundraiser, where 22 candidates will be speaking — but will spend the following weekend at the Iowa State fair.

At The White House

TRUMP VISITS EL PASO AND DAYTON TODAY. But he won’t be welcomed by all. “People are signing petitions, planning protests and, in Dayton, organizing a demonstration featuring an inflated ‘Baby Trump’ to express their discontent with a president whose anti-immigrant rhetoric was echoed by a gunman who killed 22 people in El Paso,” our colleagues Toluse Olorunnipa, Arelis R. Hernández, John Wagner and Tim Craig write of Trump’s visits today.

Here’s the latest on the mass investigations:

  • The Gilroy, Calif., shooting being investigated as domestic terrorism: “The FBI said Tuesday it had launched a domestic terrorism investigation into the shooting at a California festival on July 28 that left three dead and more than a dozen others injured,” our colleague Mark Berman reports. “Investigators say they found that the 19-year-old gunman had delved into ‘violent ideologies’ and held a list of possible targets across the country, including religious institutions, political organizations linked to both major parties, federal buildings and courthouses.” 
  • Dayton shooter is being investigated for a possible motive: “On Tuesday, the FBI and local police said they had learned that [Connor] Betts was interested in ‘violent ideologies …,” Mark writes of bureau’s expanding probe into Connor Betts, 24, who targeted a night life area.​​​​​​
  • Latino leaders weigh in on authorities’ decision to treat El Paso as domestic terrorism: “Hispanics in this country are under attack. Black and brown people in this country are under attack. Immigrants in this country are under attack. And President Trump is fanning the flames of hate, division and bigotry directed at us all — immigrants and U.S. citizens alike,” 39 Latino leaders write in an op-ed for The Post
  • An ask for Trump: “The administration should also publicly announce that it is suspending deportation and enforcement actions in areas affected by this violence so that victims can seek medical care and the support they need to recover regardless of immigration status.” 
  • The signers include: Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.), former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Maria Archila, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy; Cristina Jiménez, executive director of United We Dream; Luis Miranda, a former aide to President Barack Obama; and Luis Miranda Jr., board chair of the Latino Victory Fund.
  • Counterpoint: Trump’s Latino supporters say they are sticking with him, though.

Outside the Beltway

RNC, TRUMP SUE CALIFORNIA TO PROTECT HIS TAX RETURNS: “Trump and the Republican National Committee filed two lawsuits Tuesday against California officials challenging a new law that would bar Trump from appearing on the state’s primary ballot next year if he declines to disclose his tax returns,” our colleague John Wagner reports.

  • No love lost: “The RNC suit, which includes the California Republican Party as a plaintiff, alleges a ‘naked political attack against the sitting president of the United States.’”
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) responds: “There’s an easy fix Mr. President — release your tax returns as you promised during the campaign and follow the precedent of every president since 1973.” 

The People

MANY SMALL-DONOR DEM DONORS LIKE MULTIPLE CANDIDATES: “About one-fifth of Democratic donors have given to multiple candidates, suggesting many haven’t settled on a favorite in a crowded field of presidential contenders,” our colleagues Kate Rabinowitz and Shelly Tan report. “More than 2.3 million people made “small-dollar” donations – $200 or less – to Democratic presidential candidates in the first half of the year.”

  • All about that base: “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) had the most-loyal donors, with over 80 percent giving exclusively to him. Andrew Yang, a former tech entrepreneur, followed close behind,” Kate and Shelly write.
  • Sharing the wealth: “Former housing and urban development secretary Julian Castro and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) had the least-loyal donors. For each, about 60 percent of their donors also gave to other candidates.”

Out of top-polling candidates, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) seems to be in a prime position in terms of crossover appeal. Sanders leads the field with small dollar donors (a total of more than 747,000) with Warren next in line (with close to 411,000). Good news for Warren, though, as she trends upwards in the polls: She shares 60,000 donors with Sanders (37% of which gave more money to her) and also shares another 61,000 donors with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).

  • Sanders and Harris are two candidates that sandwich Warren in national and early state polling averages, usually with Sanders in second behind Joe Biden. (The former vice president, by comparison, had just 248,000 small dollar donors.) 

Here’s how the rest of the field fares:

Viral

R.I.P. TONI MORRISON: The outpouring of love and admiration in the wake of the Toni Morrison’s passing speaks to the indelible stamp she made on American literature — and our lives. 

  • Words are forever: “That a black woman should write the greatest novel of the 20th century is a glorious rebuke to our long history that denigrated women and African Americans,” Ron Charles wrote for The Post of Morrison’s novel, ‘Beloved’. “We had the blessing of reading Morrison as she was writing. Others will have the blessing of rediscovering her.” 
  • Glass ceilings shattered: “The first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, Ms. Morrison was the author of 11 novels as well as children’s books and essay collections. Among them were celebrated works like ‘Song of Solomon,’ which received the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1977, and ‘Beloved,’ which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988,” per the New York Times’s Margalit Fox. “In awarding her the Nobel, the Swedish Academy cited her ‘novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import,’ through which she ‘gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.'”

Remembering Morrison: Authors, editors, and artists paid tribute to the iconic writer who inspired a generation of creatives (ourselves included). The New York Times’s Lauren Christensen spoke to luminaries including Jesmyn Ward, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Fran Leibowitz, Margaret Atwood on Morrison’s impact. 

  • From novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: “She was a lucid thinker in her nonfiction, curious and knowledgeable and reasonable, and in her fiction she showed a compassionate and moving familiarity with the contradictions of human beings. She was Black and she didn’t apologize for her Blackness, and she didn’t pander and she didn’t temper the painful reality of Black American history, in a country that often seemed keen to minimize it. She stared pain in the face, unblinking. She wrote about what was difficult and what was necessary and in doing so she unearthed for a generation of people a kind of redemption, a kind of relief. I loved her fiction and her essays. I adored her honesty. I admired the way she occupied her space in the world.” 

We’ll leave you with words from Morrison herself, in her Nobel Prize acceptance speech in 1993: “The vitality of language lies in its ability to limn the actual, imagined and possible lives of its speakers, readers, writers. Although its poise is sometimes in displacing experience it is not a substitute for it. It arcs toward the place where meaning may lie.”

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