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John Delaney speaks at an Iowa event. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

On July 9, John Delaney's senior team sat him down and told him to drop out of the presidential race by mid-August, according to three sources close to the campaign.

Why it matters: He's been running for president for 721 days. He's spent nearly $19 million as a 2020 candidate since 2017. He's loaned over $11 million of his own money to his campaign this year. He's visited all of Iowa's 99 counties already, including at least 14 stops in Carroll Country alone. And it's all been for nothing.

“I think a lot of people who did leave thought, 'You gotta eat. You need a paycheck.' So that was a big part of it,” said a former staffer.

The backdrop: Those close to him think there's no chance he makes the September debates, which have a harder qualification threshold than the first two.

  • They thought he flopped at the first debate in Miami. "There was no real breakout moment, which is what everyone in leadership had been hoping for," said one former staffer.
  • “Every other day he would have a different position,” whether on economic policies or racial issues. That's a common refrain that came up in my conversations with these sources close to the campaign, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.
  • Some said he's not spending enough money to run a competitive race, and that all the money he's spent so far hasn't moved the needle for them.
  • One source close to the campaign argued he'd be better positioned to run for governor or get a Cabinet position if he drops out before September.
  • And others, who made sure to tell me they "genuinely" like the guy, painted Delaney to be the most Republican-Democrat who's just "not made for the moment."

One source familiar with the meeting said Delaney seemed open to the idea of dropping out later this summer, but that he'd still attend the next debates in Detroit July 30-31.

  • Two sources said that Delaney's wife, April, was in the room, too, as she often is during official campaign meetings — even though she doesn't work for the campaign.
  • All three sources described the unusual role April played in Delaney's presidential campaign. "She’s basically running the thing," said one former staffer.

Between the lines: The tension between Delaney and his staff comes from a larger feeling that he's been easily influenced by "outside" forces, like his wife or his friends, rather than his own staff.

Yes, but: Not all was bad. Ahmed El-Sayed who worked with Delaney's campaign in various capacities through the end of May, said "he’d make a really good president. ... He’s probably one of the smartest people I’ve met."

FWIW: Delaney has been polling between 0% and 1% since the beginning of 2017.

Delaney's campaign sent out the following statement on July 19:

"Alexi McCammond’s report on our campaign this morning is incorrect.  No one on my team asked me to drop out of the race and I have no plans to drop out of the race. In addition, anyone who spent any time actually reading the FEC reports would see clearly that we did not spend $19 million on the campaign - we spent $9 million since we launched my Presidential campaign. Ms. McCammond is including a large interparty transfer in her calculations. This easy to confirm error puts the accuracy of the whole story in perspective.”

  • It's unclear what "large interparty transfer" Delaney is referencing here, but a source close to the campaign said that Delaney put an unspecified amount of his own money into the campaign right before the Q2 deadline and then took it out the next day.
  • According to FEC filings, he repaid a $9 million loan that he had previously made to his own campaign, so roughly half of his total spending was just repaying that loan.
  • He's spent over $9.7M on things like travel, day-to-day operations, media, personnel, etc., per those same filings.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect Delaney's latest statement and address the money discrepancy.

Go deeper

At least 3 dead after Amtrak train derails in Montana

Photo: Jacob Cordeiro/Twitter

An Amtrak train derailed near Joplin, Montana, resulting in at least three deaths and multiple injuries to passengers and crew on Saturday, per a company statement.

The big picture: Some 147 passengers and 13 crew were aboard the Empire Builder train, which runs from Seattle to Chicago, when seven cars derailed about 4p.m., Amtrak spokesperson Kimberly Woods said in an emailed statement.

Updated 45 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Federal judge blocks vaccine mandate for NYC teachers

Students are dismissed from the first day of school at PS 133 in Brooklyn on Sept. 13. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

A federal appeals court is set to hear a challenge Wednesday to a vaccine mandate planned for New York City school employees.

Why it matters The vaccine mandate was set to begin on Monday, prompting concerns over staffing shortages in schools across the nation's largest school system. But a judge on Friday temporarily blocked the measure, per AP.

New York prepares for staff shortages from health vaccine mandate

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul during a news conference Tuesday in New York City.. Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced Saturday she would declare a state of emergency if there were health worker shortages due to New York's upcoming COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Why it matters: Hochul moved to reassure concerns of staffing shortages in the health care sector in a statement that also outlined plans to call in medically trained National Guard members, workers from outside New York and retirees if necessary when the mandate takes effect Monday.