Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris had a solid enough start to her 2020 presidential campaign and received a significant boost in the polls following her opening debate attacks on the front-running candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, but has seen things go steadily downhill since then.
Harris now stands accused of having utilized dozens of her own supporters to artificially boost the enthusiastic response of the crowd during her speech at the Democratic National Committee’s summer meeting in San Francisco, a group that abruptly and loudly left the room when another candidate began to deliver the next speech.
Kamala Harris’ personal “cheering section”
Reports suggest that the throng of Harris supporters loudly cheered at all of the senator’s big applause lines in her speech, then promptly exited the room while chanting loudly in her support while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders took the stage to deliver a speech of his own.
That act was viewed with sincere skepticism by The Atlantic‘s Edward-Issac Dovere, who tweeted, “Kamala Harris’s speech at the DNC was boosted by a cheering section of about 40 people that her campaign brought in, erupting every time she hit a big line — and then that group got up and walked out as soon as she finished.”
Several commenters pointed out that the “cheering section” was not just a group of random Harris supporters pressed into service for this particular purpose, but instead were actually campaign volunteers.
However, that seems to be something of a distinction without a difference that doesn’t justify the inauthentic and arguably dishonest nature of their response.
Matching shirts, coordinated chants
Indeed, another attendee at the DNC summer meeting — who goes by the Twitter handle “Plain Ol’ Johnny Graz” — posted a video clip of the group being disruptive on their way out of the room, and also noted that the group continued to chant loudly in support of Harris both as they walked out and while they congregated in the hallway outside, even as Sanders began to address the crowded room.
Graz, as evidenced by his Twitter profile, is certainly no conservative, but his apparent disdain for the Harris crowd was unmistakble when he posted video from the event.
— Plain Ol’ Johnny Graz (@jvgraz) August 23, 2019
As can be clearly seen in the clip, the supporters/staffers/volunteers all appeared to be wearing matching shirts in support of Harris as they repeatedly chanted, “She’s smart! She’s strong! With Kamala, you can’t go wrong!”
Trouble in her own backyard
Harris may have started strong and enjoyed the boost she received following the first debate, but the RealClearPolitics average of polls shows that Harris essentially plateaued in terms of her support at about 15% in early July.
She has seen that support steadily decline since then — particularly after she was caught flat-footed by sharp criticisms from Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in the second debate — to now come in at a very distant fourth place among the candidates with about 7.5% support.
Considering San Francisco is, for all intents and purposes, Harris’ hometown, one would readily assume that there would be plenty of organic support among the crowd for the California senator, and she would not need a group of artificially boisterous volunteers to create an inflated sense of enthusiasm for her speech.