Photo: Getty Images

This week, the New York Times released a sprawling video series in which it asked 21 Democratic 2020 presidential candidates the same set of 18 questions on-camera (Joe Biden declined to participate). The questions spanned a variety of topics, from handguns, to single-payer health care, to the last time the candidates were embarrassed (Bill de Blasio said it was the time he wore cargo shorts to the gym, not the time he killed a groundhog). But surprisingly, the question that prompted some of the most haunting, unsettling answers was “What is your comfort food on the campaign trail?

Below, their answers, ranked from least-to-most likely to cause me to wake up in the middle of the night, covered in a cold sweat, and screaming. [Note: this ranking is not related to any of their other policies, or whether I have any idea who they are (there is a “Tim Ryan” running for president?).]

21. Michael Bennet

“The Italian sausage sandwich made at Pass Key in Pueblo, Colorado.”

Comforting? Yes. I like the specificity of this, and it sounds delicious.

20. Bernie Sanders

“There’s too much comfort food.”

Comforting? Yes. Bernie did not name a specific dish, but instead shared that on a recent trip to the West Coast, he gained three pounds in four days. It’s nice imagining him enjoying himself in the sunshine, surrounded by too many good snacks.

19. Tim Ryan (?)

“I’m an ice cream guy.”

Comforting? Yes. I do not know who this man is, and if, in a month’s time, they swapped out this Tim Ryan for another, completely different Tim Ryan, I would never notice. But ice cream is a nice, comforting snack.

18. Elizabeth Warren

“Probably chips and guacamole.”

Comforting? Yes.

17. Steve Bullock

“A hamburger.”

Comforting? Yes. I also don’t know who this man is. Is this Tim Ryan?

16. Kamala Harris

“French fries. I love a good French fry. Or a few, or many.”

Comforting? Yes.

15. Bill de Blasio

“Pulled pork.”

Comforting? Yes. This might be ranked higher if de Blasio hadn’t killed that groundhog.

14. Tulsi Gabbard

“Vegan cupcakes is probably a real threat on the trail.”

Comforting? Mostly. Until she called them a “threat.”

13. Pete Buttigieg

“Beef jerky.”

Comforting? Kind of. Aged meat is not especially comforting to me, personally, but I can see how it might bring to mind fond memories of old road trips. Can you believe we’re not even halfway through?

12. Jay Inslee


Comforting? Usually, I would say yes, but then he talked about laying off of them in order to “maintain belt security,” which I found unsettling.

11. Eric Swalwell

“It’s really comfort coffee. My favorite coffee is a mocha.”

Comforting? Eh … I generally find solid food more comforting than liquids, but a coffee bump is nice, and at least a mocha is a little sweet. This man might also be Tim Ryan, I don’t know.

10. Kirsten Gillibrand

“A glass of whiskey at the end of the night.”

Comforting? I guess. More comforting to me would be a glass of wine, or an entire sheet cake.

9. Andrew Yang

“KIND bars.”

Comforting? Not really. KIND bars aren’t really comforting as much as they are something you eat when it’s 4 p.m. and what you really want is a candy bar but you won’t let yourself have one.

8. Julián Castro

“I don’t have a comfort food, I have a comfort drink, which is iced tea.”

Comforting? No. Iced tea is just cold leaf water. This makes me sad for him.

7. John Hickenlooper

“I will look for those little bowls of M&Ms or mints.”

Comforting? Normally, I would say M&Ms and/mints is a solid choice for comfort food, but imagining Hickenlooper desperately prowling around campaign stops for chocolate instead of just buying some for himself at a CVS is upsetting.

6. Beto O’Rourke

“Any kind of fast food.”

Comforting? This one time, in elementary school, someone asked me what my favorite color was, and I became so overwhelmed with wanting to choose the “right” answer that would make everyone like me, that I said, “I don’t know,” and started to cry. This feels like that, and it’s not comforting.

5. Cory Booker

“Veggies on-the-go.”

Comforting? This answer has the energy of the kid in class who would ask you loudly and earnestly in front of the teacher why you didn’t do the homework, and say there was plenty of time. Not comforting.

4. Seth Moulton

“You can’t beat a burger for a quick, classic American meal.”

Comforting? A burger, as previously mentioned, is indeed comforting, but this answer sounds too much like it was generated by an AI bot that is only a couple of years from turning on us. This man may also be Tim Ryan.

3. Marianne Williamson

“I have no comfort food.”

Comforting? Chilling.

2. John Delaney

“Grilled chicken sandwiches from McDonald’s. No sauce. Two of those.”

Comforting? I guess, but why is he shouting at me?!

1. Amy Klobuchar


Comforting? Years from now, ravaged by the horrors of a life online, I will be about to drift off to sleep, when suddenly, out of the bowels of my conscience, a sound will emerge … Amy Klobuchar shouting “A BAKED POTATO” into the camera. Exhausted, I will cry, and pray for rest.

Enjoy the full video here!