Thursday, October 29, 2020


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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

US election: Biden hits new battleground, Trump blitzes Midwest

Democratic White House challenger Joe Biden blasted President Donald Trump as a conman during a campaign foray into traditionally Republican territory. In Georgia, Mr Biden said that Mr Trump's handling of coronavirus amounted to a "capitulation". Mr Trump kept blitzing the swing states that he won in 2016, warning in Michigan that its "economic survival" was on the line if Mr Biden won. According to opinion polls, Mr Trump lags behind with a week to go. But the race is tighter in critical battleground states such as Arizona, Florida and North Carolina. More than 69 million people have already voted early by post or in person in a record-breaking surge driven mainly by the coronavirus pandemic. What did Trump say? On Tuesday, Mr Trump held rallies in Nebraska and two states he snatched from Democrats in 2016: Michigan and Wisconsin. In Lansing, Michigan's capital, he warned: "This election is a matter of economic survival for Michigan." And he told suburban women, a demographic that many opinion polls suggest he is struggling to win over: "Your husbands, they want to get back to work, right? We're getting your husbands back to work." Before leaving the White House, the president renewed his criticism of postal ballots - more than 46 million of which have been cast so far. The huge volume of mail-in votes, which could take days or weeks to tally, means a winner is not certain to be known on election night next week. "It would be very, very proper and very nice if a winner were declared on November 3, instead of counting ballots for two weeks, which is totally inappropriate," Mr Trump told reporters before heading to the Midwest.
In the critical election state of Pennsylvania, Mrs Trump cast doubt on Mr Biden's claims that he could do a better job as president. "Well, the American people can look at Joe Biden's 36 years in Congress and eight years in the vice-presidency and determine whether they think he'll finally be able to get something done for the American people." If Donald Trump loses the White House next week, it won't be for a lack of effort on the campaign trail down the stretch. On Tuesday, he kicked off a three-day, multi-state swing across the country with a stop in Lansing, Michigan. Despite a temperature hovering just above freezing as light rain mixed with ice pelted the airfield, a crowd of several thousand waited for hours to see the president. "I'm working my ass off," Mr Trump told the cheering throngs of people, who at one point responded with chants of "We love you". The president went on to speak for more than an hour, mixing in his normal stump-speech attacks on his opponent, Joe Biden, with some more focused riffs on immigration and trade in the car-industry-dominated state. He once again attacked the state's Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, for aggressive attempts to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, to which the crowd responded with the now-familiar "lock her up" chant. Michigan was perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2016 election, as Mr Trump narrowly carried it over Hillary Clinton despite opinion polls before the election showing him behind by sometimes large margins. The polls aren't encouraging for the president this time around either, although after the rally the campaign gave printouts to the press suggesting that Republicans have a slight advantage in returned ballots in the state so far. Another Michigan surprise would go a long way toward unlocking a path for the president to re-election. What did Biden say? In a trip to Warm Springs, Georgia, on Tuesday, Mr Biden vowed to be "a president who doesn't divide us, but unites us" and someone who could "heal this nation". Georgia has not voted for a Democrat for president since 1992, but opinion polls suggest the Democrat is statistically tied with Mr Trump in the southern state. Even as he presented himself as a president for all Americans regardless of party, Mr Biden targeted his rival. "Time and again throughout our history, we have seen the charlatans, the conmen, the phony populists - who have sought to play to our fears, appeal to our worst appetites, and pick at the oldest scabs we have for their own political gain. "They appear when the nation has been hit the hardest and we're at our most vulnerable. Never to solve anything. Always to benefit themselves." Mr Biden kept hammering away at his opponent's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 225,000 Americans. He said Mr Trump had "shrugged. He's swaggered. And he's surrendered." In a sign of the Biden campaign's confidence that it can expand the electoral map, he will travel later this week to Iowa, a state that Mr Trump won by 10 points four years ago. Mr Biden's running mate, Kamala Harris, will head to Arizona and Texas, where no Democrat has been elected to statewide office since 1994. No doubt mindful that 2016 Democratic White House nominee Hillary Clinton also tried to make in-roads in Republican states, only to lose critical Democratic strongholds, Mr Biden is also scheduled to visit Wisconsin, Michigan and Florida in the coming days.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Poll Watch from On Politics

Welcome to Poll Watch from On Politics. Every Friday, we’ll bring you the latest data and analysis to track the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Current state of the race

Arrows show recent changes in value or rank. See more detailed data here.


Who’s up? Who’s down? Here’s the latest.

Author Headshot
National Political Correspondent
There are less than three weeks to go in the Iowa caucus campaign, but we may already have seen its climactic moment: the debate-stage confrontation between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren over gender, sexism and personal honesty. The two progressives have been leading candidates for months, but neither has been able to sideline the other. As a result, our polling average continues to show Joe Biden with a relatively modest but stable lead among Democratic voters nationally.
It may be difficult for another campaign-trail moment to break through because of the impeachment trial that began on Thursday in Washington. The proceedings against President Trump started to overshadow the primary contest last fall, and the start of the actual trial will only intensify that dynamic. For several candidates — including Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren and Amy Klobuchar — the trial will also disrupt campaign travel, since they will have to attend to their duties in the Senate.
But the race may not be quite as flat as our polling average suggests. If it appears that no candidates have moved in more than a month, that may be because we have had so little data to work with. There has been only one reliable national poll since the start of the year; it found Mr. Biden holding a six-point lead over Mr. Sanders, with Ms. Warren a few points behind him. Pete Buttigieg and Michael Bloomberg were in single digits.
The picture in the early states is somewhat more defined, and yet, perhaps even less conclusive. The top four candidates have been bunched up in Iowa and New Hampshire, while Mr. Biden has been leading in Nevada (by a modest margin) and South Carolina (by a convincing one.) Two different Iowa polls over the last week tipped different men as slight favorites, with a Des Moines Register/CNN survey favoring Mr. Sanders and a Monmouth University poll favoring Mr. Biden.


The closeness of the early-state race is, in part, why the Sanders-Warren friction this week seems so important. In order for a progressive to win the nomination, one of the two will most likely have to establish a clear advantage over the other in Iowa and New Hampshire, and then rally liberals into a unified coalition in later states. The events of this week may have made both tasks harder.

Impeachment Briefing: Trump's Team

Welcome back to the Impeachment Briefing. Today the White House announced its legal team, and some names might sound familiar.

What happened today

Webers News

Webers News
  • President Trump’s impeachment team is taking final shapeWebers NewsToday he tapped the former independent counsel Ken Starr, the celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz and several other prominent attorneys to join the group, which will be led by Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, and Jay Sekulow, one of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers.
  • Mr. Trump initially wanted some of his favorite House Republicans, such as Jim Jordan, to be on the defense team, but Senator Mitch McConnell rejected the idea. Other advisers to Mr. Trump also expressed concerns about having members of the House involved.

Meet the Trump Team

Mr. Trump’s defense team will be a collection of some of his favorite television personalities, several of his personal lawyers and the top White House lawyer. Here’s a look at who they are.
Pat Cipollone: As White House counsel, Mr. Cipollone has been the legal brain behind Mr. Trump’s responses to the impeachment battle. In October he signed a blistering eight-page letter to top House Democrats arguing against cooperating with the impeachment inquiry. Viewed as a calmer version of his predecessor, Don McGahn, he is said to be more temperamentally agreeable to the president. [Read more.]
Jay Sekulow: A frequent presence on Fox News and on Christian television, Mr. Sekulow is one of Mr. Trump’s longest-serving personal lawyers, and he coordinates a group of attorneys from a cooperative working space a few blocks from the White House. Mr. Sekulow also defended the president in Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. [Read more.]Webers News
Ken Starr: Mr. Starr was a household name in the ’90s, after he led the investigation into President Bill Clinton that resulted in his impeachment for perjury and obstruction of justice. He and the president haven’t always been close: Mr. Trump told interviewers in 1999 that Mr. Starr was a “wacko” and a “lunatic.” But recently the president is said to have enjoyed watching him on television, where Mr. Starr has frequently defended and praised him. [Read more.]Webers News
Robert Ray: Mr. Ray succeeded Mr. Starr as the independent counsel on the Clinton case, and reportedly negotiated a final settlement with Mr. Clinton that included a fine and law license suspension, according to people briefed on the plan. He has lately been a constant on Fox News, arguing that there was not enough evidence to convict Mr. Trump of a crime. [Read more.]Webers News
Alan Dershowitz: Yes, that Alan Dershowitz. The longtime defense lawyer, cable news staple and professor emeritus at Harvard prides himself on being a contrarian who isn’t afraid to defend the seemingly indefensible: His past clients include O.J. Simpson, Mike Tyson and Jeffrey Epstein. [Read more.]Webers News
Pam Bondi: A lawyer and lobbyist, Ms. Bondi has been working at the White House as a spokeswoman on impeachment issues. She and the president have a controversial past: The now-dissolved Trump Foundation once donated $25,000 to a group supporting Ms. Bondi when she was Florida’s attorney general, potentially in order to sway her office’s review of fraud allegations against Trump University.
Jane Raskin: Ms. Raskin, a Florida-based lawyer, worked behind the scenes to defend Mr. Trump during the Mueller investigation. Since then, as the impeachment inquiry has taken shape, she has quietly advised Mr. Sekulow, according to people familiar with the discussions. [Read more.]

What do Mr. Trump’s choices mean?

Mr. Trump chose names familiar to cable news viewers, but his decision still surprised political observers. What is the president thinking in organizing this team? I asked my colleagues Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, who wrote today about the defense team.
Peter, Ken Starr! What is this move about?
PETER: Two words: Fox News. He sees Ken Starr defending him on TV. He also thinks, here’s a guy whose investigation led to the impeachment of the last president but thinks this impeachment is illegitimate. In Mr. Trump’s mind, who would have better credibility than him?
Do the two have a relationship?
PETER: Mr. Starr is not close to Mr. Trump in any way. He’s very different from Mr. Trump. And here’s the interesting thing: There are a lot of things in Mr. Trump that he didn’t like in Mr. Clinton — this raffish, undisciplined, morally suspect figure who in his view disgraced the Oval Office. Mr. Trump in some ways would touch off some of the same concerns, given his history with women and marriage and honesty.
Do you think there’s any power in the symmetry of Mr. Starr going up against Democrats then and now?
PETER: What his hiring reinforces is how so many people have simply flipped sides, depending on which political party is in which position, whether it be the Democrats who decried the witch hunt against their president 20 years ago and today talk very soberly about the rule of law, or the Republicans who 20 years ago talked about the rule of law and today talk about witch hunts.
Maggie, how much of this is about television?
MAGGIE: That’s a big part of it. He wants people he thinks are going to fight and be aggressive and “perform” well in a TV context. He wants them to look commanding. He wants people who he thinks can notch political victories, even if they’re incremental.
How much is Mr. Trump himself organizing this effort?
MAGGIE: I think Mr. Sekulow and Mr. Cipollone are the ones thinking about what roles people actually play. And they’re thinking about this in a pretty comprehensive way — for example, Mr. Dershowitz is coming in for a pretty narrow part, and just for next week. But they’re in consultation with Mr. Trump on these choices. He’s very involved in all of this.

What else we’re reading

  • Twenty-one years ago, Capitol Hill carpenters designed a pair of curved tables to serve as work space during the Clinton impeachment trial. Those tables are being dusted off and moved to the Senate floor. Read more about the Senate’s makeover, which features cubbies for senators’ phones and an office for Chief Justice John Roberts.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said today that he “never heard” that Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, might have been under surveillance before she was recalled to Washington. He also said that he had “never met” Lev Parnas, the associate of Rudy Giuliani.
  • “We’ll take pictures behind the Resolute Desk,” Mr. Trump told the Louisiana State University football team at the White House today when he celebrated their recent national championship. “It’s been there a long time. A lot of presidents. Some good, some not so good. But you’ve got a good one now, even though they’re trying to impeach the son of a bitch. Can you believe that? Can you believe that?”
  • A certain former impeachment figure had thoughts about Mr. Trump’s legal team.

Life after death