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The amazing awfulness of the failed Eric Swalwell campaign

A look back at the Russia-crazy congressman’s greatest hits

July 8, 2019

3:17 PM

8 July 2019

3:17 PM

Eric Swalwell, who was apparently running for president, has dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination.

The California congressman and star of various shrill cable news broadcasts is set to focus on retaining his seat in the House.

Though roundly ignored in favor of candidates who actually matter, Swalwell’s campaign did offer a number of highlights to the impartial observer…and anyone with a strong sense of schadenfreude. Let Cockburn walk you through his best bits.

Anyone for coffee?

Back in February, Eric was eager to lay out his anti-Trump bona fides. Presumably between one of his innumerable television appearances, the congressman popped out to get some coffee and bravely refused to patronize Trump Tower, claiming it was his nearest location.

One problem: you can work out which corner Swalwell is standing on, and see that there are several other cafés closer to him than those in Trump Tower. This attempted dunk on the president looked a lot more like an air ball.

A rapt audience

The early signs were there that perhaps Rep. Swalwell wasn’t the right man to seal the nomination. Winning a general election often requires a movement, a sense that the candidate has their finger on the national pulse and draw voters to them. Before announcing, Swalwell hosted a Facebook livestream from New Hampshire…which failed to reach 30 viewers. Eventually a CNN correspondent was the only man watching. Way to get the message out Eric!

When the chips are down

Once the laughter that followed his announcement had subsided, Swalwell’s first objective was making the Miami debates. He had to secure 1 percent support in three reputable polls, or reach 65,000 individual donors. Begging for money is always desperate, but Eric made it even stranger. One memorable request gave his followers an ultimatum: you could spend $1 on half a bag of chips, or send it to the Swalwell campaign.

The people spoke. They wanted chips. Obviously.

The woke go broke

In a field of 20-plus candidates, standing out is tough, and branding yourself in a memorable way is crucial. Swalwell attempted to portray himself as the ‘young dad’, bringing the energy it takes to keep up with toddlers to the fight for the White House. He managed to come across as ‘the guy least afraid to deploy his kids as political props’. As a straight white guy, the congressman bent over backwards to demonstrate your wokeness to the Twitterati, as this picture of his son shows:

The kid is two! Can he even spell ‘feminism’?

Taking care of business

Another odd bid for cash saw the congressman changing the diaper of his infant daughter and declaring himself ‘ready to clean s#*% up!’


Cockburn can’t help but feel this video will have a greater impact when his daughter starts high school than it did as a fundraising effort.

A torch-uous debate

Against all odds, the California congressman did make the Miami debates, finding himself on the Thursday night stage alongside heavyweights Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Marianne Williamson. His stand-out moment came when he called for Biden, the favorite, to ‘pass the torch’ to the next generation.

He was trying to look dynamic and energetic. But after Joe’s brush-off, he seemed more like a petulant schoolboy trying to get out of detention.

Fire in the opera house

Asking the older generation of Democrats to ‘pass the torch’ prompts an immediate follow-up: why would they hand it to Rep. Swalwell and not the much more likable, much higher polling, slightly younger Pete Buttigieg? Team Eric had thought of this, and so decided to go after Mayor Pete in the second half of the debate over his handling of a shooting in South Bend.

‘But you’re the mayor, you should fire the chief, if that’s the policy and someone died,’ Swalwell lectured Buttigieg, before being cut off and overshadowed by author and spiritual leader Marianne Williamson. Says it all…

Bust a rhyme

One last moment from the debate, when the candidates were asked what their first act of foreign policy would be on day one of their presidency.

‘We’re breakin’ up with Russia, and makin’ up with Nato,’ intoned Swalwell.

Goodnight sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

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