Few have put in as much time and effort to become the Democratic nominee for president as businessman and former Maryland congressman John Delaney.
Delaney announced his run way back in July 2017 — two years ago, and 1 1/2 years before Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts threw her hat in the ring in February. He’s been grinding out events and making connections in the key states of Iowa and New Hampshire. He got the donors necessary to qualify for the first round of presidential debates.
And after all that, it’s entirely likely that Delaney’s greatest moment of prominence in the 2020 campaign came and went Tuesday night, as the progressive Warren turned Delaney into a punching bag in some of the night’s most talked-about moments.
“I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for,” Warren told Delaney, drawing a delighted cheer from the crowd, after the former representative cast Warren’s position on healthcare as too extreme.
Warren turned in another one of the night’s most meme-able moments when the camera caught her wryly rubbing her hands together when a moderator pointed out that her proposed wealth tax would apply to Delaney. (Afterward, someone jokingly vandalized Delaney’s Wikipedia page to say that he died Tuesday night — from being murdered by Warren.)
Delaney wasn’t pleased with that — as he decided to make known on Fox News, not exactly Democratic primary voters’ top source of political news.
“When I point out that the things she’s proposing are either impossible promises or fairy-tale economics, she says, ‘Oh, you’re not being ambitious enough,’” he said. “I think it’s just kind of lazy and a dishonest response.”
Speaking of economics, the proverbial winner-take-all market of primary voters and donors are about to decide Delaney’s fate. If last night’s debate wasn’t enough to push Delaney up to 130,000 individual donors and 2% in the polls, he won’t qualify to make it back onto the debate stage in September, which would almost certainly spell doom for his long-running campaign.
Fellow debater and moderate Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio was in a similar position Wednesday, after tussling with democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who scored another viral moment at a moderate’s expense when he roared, “I wrote the damn bill!” after Ryan questioned Sanders’ knowledge of what would and wouldn’t be covered under a “Medicare for all” plan.
Except Ryan was dealing with an entirely separate problem Wednesday morning that was entirely of his own making, and had nothing to do with policy: He didn’t put his hand over his heart during the national anthem as a color guard of military veterans presented the flag.
In the age of athletes kneeling during the anthem as a demonstration against police shootings, abuse and racism, Ryan’s campaign rushed to clarify that he “wasn’t protesting and didn’t mean to make any statement.”
“It was a moment of absentmindedness while on a debate stage that won’t happen again,” his campaign said in a statement, adding that, “Congressman Ryan loves our country.”