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What it's like to cover candidates who are trailing in the polls

There's an increasingly visible gap between Democratic primary candidates who are front-runners and those who are not. After promising starts to their candidacies, California Senator Kamala Harris has been falling behind, and two weeks ago, former Congressman Beto O'Rourke ended his campaign

On this week's episode of the "Where Did You Get This Number?" podcast, host Anthony Salvanto sits down with CBS News 2020 campaign reporter Tim Perry to talk about covering those two campaigns.

Listen to this episode on Stitcher

Prior to ending his campaign, O'Rourke was polling at 4% as a first-choice candidate for voters in early states, according to the September CBS News Battleground Tracker poll.

His low poll numbers meant he needed even more media coverage, making him more accessible to reporters like Perry. 

"And so, I could ask him three questions if I wanted to," Perry said. Eventually, O'Rourke even began calling on him by name for questions because he knew the reporters that followed him around.

Senator Kamala Harris has also struggled on the campaign trail despite a strong performance at the first Democratic debate.  

One major issue for Harris is her past record as a former prosecutor, especially with younger black voters, according to Perry.

"[They] say, you know, you were a prosecutor. Historically, prosecutors have not been good for people who look like me, young black or brown people. So why should I trust you?" Perry said.

Another Democratic presidential candidate, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, also went after Harris for her record as a prosecutor during the second debate. Perry cited Harris' debate response as another possible stumbling block in her campaign.

"If you're not showing that [strength] early on in the primary against a Tulsi Gabbard, why would you be able to show that against President Trump, who's a great showman and who loves to put on a good show?" Perry asked.

Subscribe to "Where Did You Get This Number?" and listen to the latest episode to learn more about how low fundraising affects presidential campaigns, how Harris is going all-in on Iowa, diversity among the top-tier candidates, and more! 

The podcast is available on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherSpotifyArt19, or wherever you get your podcasts. Full transcript is available here.

Host: Anthony Salvanto, Director of Elections and Surveys at CBS News  

Guest: CBS News 2020 Campaign Reporter Tim Perry

Production Team: Rachel Armany, Maeve Burke, Jake Rosen, Allen Peng

Twitter: @WDYGTN

Instagram: @getthisnumber 

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