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Clyburn’s endorsement of Biden ‘a factor’ for a majority of South Carolina voters: poll

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Voters in South Carolina’s Democratic primary on Saturday appeared to be more moderate than those who took part in earlier presidential nominating contests, and a majority said a senior black congressman’s endorsement of Joe Biden influenced their vote, according to exit polling by Edison Research.

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visits a polling site in Greenville, South Carolina, U.S., February 29, 2020. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

Edison – which compiles voter polls and live election results for media organizations including ABC News, CBS News, CNN, NBC News and Reuters – found that six out of 10 state primary voters said U.S. Representative Jim Clyburn’s endorsement of Biden, who was vice president under Democratic President Barack Obama, was a factor in their decision.

Clyburn, who is majority whip in the House of Representatives and the third-ranking Democrat in the chamber, has represented South Carolina in Congress since 1993.

In addition, only about half of South Carolina’s Democratic primary voters described themselves as liberal. By comparison, a majority of caucus-goers in Iowa and Nevada and primary voters in New Hampshire described themselves as liberal.

Here are some highlights from the Edison poll, which was based on interviews with 1,526 people who voted on Saturday at 35 locations around South Carolina. The proportions may change as more polling is conducted and the votes are tallied:

** Eight out of 10 South Carolina voters in the Democratic primary said they will vote for the party’s nominee regardless of who it is.

** Two out of 10 say they are participating in the Democratic primary for the first time.

** Five out of 10 want a candidate who “can beat Donald Trump” more than a candidate who agrees with them on major issues.

** Four out of 10 say healthcare is their top issue, while two of 10 cite race relations, two of 10 cite income inequality and one of 10 cite climate change.

** Five out of 10 say they support replacing private health insurance with a government-run plan: an initiative commonly known as Medicare For All.

** Four out of 10 said they made up their minds about how to vote in the last few days before the primary.

** Five out of 10 want the next president to return to Obama’s policies; three of 10 want more liberal policies; two of 10 more conservative ones.

** Five out of 10 say the U.S. economic system needs a complete overhaul.

** Five out of 10 say they are angry about the Trump administration; 4 of 10 are dissatisfied but not angry.

** Seven out of 10 say they have an unfavorable view of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

**Nearly eight out of 10 say they have a favorable view of Biden.

**Five out of 10 say they have a favorable view of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Reporting by Chris Kahn; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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Sanders, Biden Grow in Super Tuesday States

While we all await the results of the South Carolina primary, let’s take an early peek at the polling in the states that vote on March 3.

Overall, Sanders has gained materially in almost all states. Biden has his good spots — he’s on track to win North Carolina — but is likely to do very poorly in California and Texas, which account for half of the Super Tuesday states — and 16 percent of the convention delegates.

The real casualties have been among the second tier candidates. Buttigieg and Klobuchar have left their heydays in Iowa and New Hampshire far behind as they sink down in the polls.

Bloomberg has used his massive advertising to remain competitive, but he isn’t blowing anyone out anywhere.

Here it is state by state based on the polls reported by RealClearPolitics.

TRENDING: Sanders Mocks Pence & Millions of Americans’ Christian Faith with Offensive Coronavirus Comment

(Speaking of which, President Donald Trump has continued to post historic highs in job approval, today averaging 45.9 percent. His vault from the low-40s to the upper-mid-40s sustained during impeachment and good economic news appears to be real).

California (415 delegates)
Sanders 35
Warren 17
Biden 11
Bloomberg 10
Buttigieg 10

In California, on Feb. 20, Bernie broke out of the high-20s into the mid-30s on the strength of his debate performance. His gains came largely at Biden’s expense as he widened his lead over him from single digits to the high teens.

Do you think Bernie Sanders will eventually emerge as the Democratic nominee?

Warren has run a consistent second place as Biden dropped to third. Despite his massive spending, Michael Bloomberg has never caught on in California and is mired at about 10 percent. Ditto for Buttigieg. Klobuchar is well below 10 and always has been.

California, by itself, accounts for 10 percent of the convention vote. Sanders’ dominating performance here will be very hard to overcome. Warren, who is not doing very well anyplace else, can count on California to keep her alive (even if she loses her home state of Massachusetts).

Even if Biden surges in SC today, his poor performance in California will be an anchor on his candidacy.

Texas (228 delegates)
Sanders 28
Biden  20
Bloomberg 19
Warren 13

Sanders has steadily increased his margin over Biden. At the end of January, he replaced the former VP in first place in Texas and on Feb. 20 began to lengthen his lead.

With 6 percent of the delegates coming from Texas, Sanders’ performance — coupled with that in California — makes his lead insurmountable.

RELATED: Dick Morris: A Big Biden Win in SC Could Actually Help Sanders

After falling from the 30s to 20 percent in mid-February, Biden has never recovered. Unless South Carolina gives him a tremendous boost, he could finish third in Texas.

That’s partially because Bloomberg is coming on strong. Texas is the second most expensive state in which to buy television (after California) and his money talks loudly here. Nobody else can compete with his airtime. In Texas, Bloomberg soared rapidly into the high teens and low 20s, but has stalled out there.

Warren is in the mid teens, Buttigieg at about 10, and Klobuchar at 5, and they have always been at about those levels.

Between California and Texas, Dems should stop taking Buttigieg or Klobuchar seriously.

North Carolina (110 delegates)
Biden   25
Sanders 33
Bloomberg 17
Warren 11

Perhaps impelled by his momentum in South Carolina, Biden has just wrestled the lead here away from Sanders, a key win for Joe if it stands.

Virginia (99 delegates)
Sanders 25
Biden 20
Bloomberg 20
Buttigieg 11
Warren 10

Sanders has moved up smartly here.

Minnesota (75 delegates)
Klobuchar 29
Sanders 23
Warren 11

The media says Amy Klobuchar will have to drop out if she loses her home state. She’ll probably win Minnesota but have to pull out anyway.

Massachusetts (91 delegates)
Sanders 25
Warren 20
Buttigieg 14
Bloomberg 11
Biden 11

By the same logic as Klobuchar faces in Minnesota, the media wants Elizabeth Warren to pull to if she loses Massachusetts, as appears likely. But her showing in California, where she is running second, should keep her in.

So Sanders should emerge as the clear Super Tuesday winner. But while he is increasingly assured of a strong plurality, he is still short of a majority.

California will help equip Warren with enough votes to deal with Sanders exchanging a majority for the VP slot, although they both have a ways to go.

Biden’s dismal performance in California should sap whatever momentum he’ll get from South Carolina.

Bloomberg is not sweeping all before him as he spends enormous sums of money, but he is buying himself a solid third place behind Sanders and Biden.

Buttigieg and Klobuchar should pull out entirely.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website.

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

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Trump mocks Bloomberg’s height by crouching behind podium at CPAC

President Trump on Saturday delighted supporters at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) by crouching behind a podium as he mocked billionaire Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg’s performance at a recent debate.

“He didn’t know what hit him, he’s going: ‘Oh get me off this stage, get me off,'” he said, imitating Bloomberg, whom he has nicknamed “mini Mike” in reference to the presidential hopeful’s diminutive stature.


Trump then shrunk behind the podium, leading to sustained laughter and applause from the conservative audience.

“We hit a nerve there, huh?” he added as the laughs continued.

Trump has long mocked Bloomberg’s height, and alleged that he stands on a box behind podiums when speaking — something Bloomberg’s team has denied.

Bloomberg had struggled at the debate this month in Las Vegas, where Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., ripped into him for treatment of women and his controversial policing practice of “stop and frisk” during his tenure as New York City’s mayor.


Trump apparently enjoyed Bloomberg’s performance, as the candidate spends record amounts of his own money ahead of Super Tuesday.


“We got mini Mike but I think he’s out of it,” Trump said earlier. “How’d you like to spend $700 million and end up with nothing? Mini Mike. I know him well, that was probably the worst debate performance in the history of presidential debates.” Trump went on to muse about the fellow New Yorker’s chances going forward, but predicting it won’t work out for him.

“But he’s going to keep spending the money, I hear his ads stop on Tuesday,” he said. “It just shows you can’t buy an election, there’s a point at which people say ‘you gotta bring the goods a little bit too, you gotta bring the goods.’”

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Seattle-area coronavirus patient is first in U.S. to die of COVID-19

A Seattle-area patient infected with coronavirus has died, marking the first reported death from COVID-19 in the United States, Washington state health officials said Saturday.

A news release issued by state officials gave no details. A spokesperson for EvergreenHealth Medical Center, Kayse Dahl, said the person died in the facility in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland, the Associated Press reported. She gave no other details.

Amy Reynolds of the Washington state health department said in a brief telephone interview: “We are dealing with an emergency evolving situation.”

The announcement followed news Friday night of two new cases in the Seattle area. The patients had tested positive for the virus locally, but the results had not been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

State and King County health officials said, “new people (have been) identified with the infection, one of whom died.” They did not say how many new cases there are.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said the person who died was a man from his state.

“It is a sad day in our state as we learn that a Washingtonian has died from COVID-19. Our hearts go out to his family and friends,” Inslee said. “We will continue to work toward a day where no one dies from this virus.

Washington State Department of Health and Seattle and King County health officials said they would offer more details at a 1 p.m. news conference.

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Appeals Court Won’t Force Ex-Trump Aide McGahn To Testify Before Congress

In a serious blow to the oversight efforts of House Democrats, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled Friday that former White House counsel Don McGahn can defy a subpoena to testify before Congress.

Judge Thomas Griffith wrote the opinion for a three-judge panel that divided two to one. Griffith said the case presented a political conflict between two branches of government that the judiciary has no power to resolve.

“If we throw ourselves into ‘a power contest nearly at the height of its political tension,’ we risk seeming less like neutral magistrates and more like pawns on politicians’ chess boards,” the decision reads. “In this case, the dangers of judicial involvement are particularly stark. Few cases could so concretely present a direct clash between the political branches.”

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The House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena for McGahn’s testimony in April 2019. The panel sought his testimony in connection with former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, saying McGahn was a critical witness to alleged instances of obstruction of justice on Trump’s part. The White House instructed McGahn not to cooperate with the subpoena, precipitating the legal battle with House Democrats.

U.S. District Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson ordered McGahn to comply with the subpoena in November 2019, rejecting administration arguments that the president’s senior aides are absolutely immune from congressionally compelled testimony.

In Friday’s decision, Griffith said the lower court ruling would force judges to supervise co-equal branches of government and set rules governing congressional investigations, thereby turning the courts into an “ombudsman for interbranch information disputes.”

“The committee’s suit asks us to settle a dispute that we have no authority to resolve,” the decision reads. “The Constitution does not vest federal courts with some ‘amorphous general supervision of the operations of government.’”

The Department of Justice applauded the D.C. Circuit for dismissing the House’s “unprecedented” lawsuit.

“We are extremely pleased with today’s historic ruling from the D.C. Circuit recognizing that the House of Representatives cannot invoke the power of the courts in its political disputes with the executive branch,” a DOJ spokeswoman said. “Suits like this one are without precedent in our nation’s history and are inconsistent with the Constitution’s design. The D.C. Circuit’s cogent opinion affirms this fundamental principle.”

Elsewhere in the decision, Griffith said House Democrats repeatedly undermined their own legal arguments.

For example, Griffith noted that House Democrats cited the administration’s litigating position in the McGahn case in support of the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress. That’s more evidence that Friday’s dispute is “a bitter political showdown” unfit for the courts, Griffith wrote.

Griffith also observed that the House issued subpoenas to Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross just one day after Jackson found the House could compel McGahn’s testimony. Griffith said those actions showed that a decision for the House could ensnare the courts in future disputes between the president and Congress over enforcement of subpoenas.

“The walk from the Capitol to our courthouse is a short one, and if we resolve this case today, we can expect Congress’s lawyers to make the trip often,” the decision reads.

The court distinguished Friday’s decision from related cases involving subpoenas and the separation of powers. Griffith said the decision does not disturb a 2019 decision finding Congress can enforce a subpoena for Trump’s financial records, since those records are held by a private third party. Nor does the ruling dispute that courts can weigh subpoenas against the president arising out of criminal prosecutions, as occurred during the Watergate era.

In dissent, Judge Judith Rogers stressed that the McGahn subpoena was relevant to Congress’s since-concluded impeachment inquiry. Rogers said Friday’s decision “assures future presidential stonewalling of Congress.”

“In the context of impeachment, when the accuracy and thoroughness of the investigation may well determine whether the president remains in office, the House’s need for information is at its zenith,” Rogers wrote.

Friday’s decision comes one month before the Supreme Court will decide whether Congress can enforce subpoenas for President Donald Trump’s financial records.

The decision can be appealed to the full D.C. Circuit or to the Supreme Court. The case is No. 19-5331 House Judiciary Committee v. Donald McGahn.

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Here’s Tom Steyer Twerking With Juvenile Because 2020 Hasn’t Been Weird Enough

COLUMBIA, South Carolina — With Andrew Yang out of the presidential race, there’s been a dire shortage of chaotic energy on the campaign trail, but Friday night Tom Steyer might have backed his ass right into that role — and into history.

I’ve seen Yang staff throw fake $1,000 bills to the crowd as the candidate joined Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo for a rendition of “Say It Ain’t So.” I’ve seen the Strokes’ Julian Casablancas sing “New York City cops, but they ain’t too smart,” directly into the face of a police officer at a rally for Sen. Bernie Sanders. But nothing could prepare me for this.

By now you’ve probably seen the video of the billionaire businessman, who’s polling in third place in Saturday’s South Carolina primary, twerking next to his wife and daughter with rapper Juvenile on stage in front of a historically black university crowd. In case you haven’t: Thank me later.

What you don’t know is that this was just the cathartic climax of the most bonkers political rally of the 2020 cycle, if not ever — outdone only by the fact that minutes later Steyer’s staff corralled the press to watch Juvenile deliver his first ever presidential endorsement.

“I just want to give a big shout-out to my dawg Tom Steyer.”

“I just want to give a big shout-out to my dawg Tom Steyer,” Juvenile told reporters after the event. “He’s been representing my people from Day One. I’ve been watching him and his philanthropy.”

“I’m with you on your journey. Whatever you need from me, I’m there for you,” the “Back That Azz Up” rapper said. “Tom Steyer for president! Go out there and vote! Back that thing up and vote!”

Steyer’s rally was just one of several campaign events candidates have been holding across the Palmetto State with high-profile African American surrogates to bring visibility to their campaigns in a state where more than 60% of all Democratic voters are black.

John Legend performed two gigs for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, for instance. Actress Vivica A. Fox stumped for Joe Biden.e Sanders had rapper Killer Mike of Run the Jewels and actor Danny Glover at a rally that was opened by the Austin-based hip-hop duo Blackillac. Miss Black America 2018 Ryann Richardson spoke on behalf of former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Rapper Juvenile performs at an election-eve rally for Democrat Tom Steyer the night before the South Carolina presidential primary on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

The difference is, all of the above people have been longtime supporters of their candidate. Only Steyer pulled the unconventional move of hiring the hype.

Just to be clear: Yes, Steyer paid Juvenile to perform. But a campaign spokesman says the endorsement was unplanned — up until the moment before it happened when, as press crowded around, a woman whispered in Juvenile’s ear the points he should hit in endorsing Steyer: his philanthropy, his environmental work, etc.

“It’s time for a big old change,” Steyer responded. “Coming here, what I’ve found is there’s the heart and the spirit to change South Carolina and the entire United States.”

READ: Democrats are freaking out Bernie Sanders could cost them the House

In retrospect, it was probably a sign that things would be weird when two guys walking up to the rally were talking about how they could get 1,000 Twitter followers so they could get paid to promote former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign online.

If Bloomberg is buying clout with memes, Steyer is doing it the old-fashioned way: by throwing music festivals. In Las Vegas ahead of the Nevada caucuses, he had TLC and Iconapop. But the roughly 200 people who showed up to the rally at Columbia’s Allen University were really treated to something special.

The rally had everything: A twerking billionaire, a Cash Money Millionaires rapper, gospel singer Yolanda Adams, brisket, crippling technical problems, an America’s Next Top Model contestant, the Obama-era “Fired Up, Ready to Go” lady, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and a singing first lady hopeful.

Kicking off the night, Greenwood County councilwoman Edith S. Childs, better known as President Barack Obama’s “Fired Up, Ready to Go” lady, led the crowd in a minutes-long song/chant. She’s endorsed Steyer now, and reprised her famous 2008 chant that came to define the Obama campaign to, “Steyered Up, Trump’s Gotta Go.”

Then former America’s Next Top Model contestant Bianca Chardei, who was MCing the evening, introduced Juvenile. But the sound was way off, so after plodding through a few songs and yelling at the increasingly frustrated sound guy a lot, Juvenile did an a cappella version of his 1998 hit “HA” and left the stage, promising to come back later when the sound issues were worked out.

Following him, Yolanda Adams performed. The crowd was imploring her to play some of the hits, but she said she’d only sing the two songs she was asked to sing: “The Star Spangled Banner” & 2001’s “Never Give Up.” Gospel, a Steyer staffer relayed, is pretty much all the candidate listens to.

Next up, on a stage across the room, Steyer’s daughter Evi introduced her mother, Kat Taylor, who has moved to South Carolina to promote the campaign. Taylor regaled the crowd with what she called a “small act of bravery, vulnerability, and joy:” a little ditty read from her iPhone about how, “oooh oooh, oooh oooh, you deserve a guy like this.”

Steyer spoke next, which was pretty uneventful except for the time the flustered sound guy cut him off by randomly playing his walk on music a few seconds into his speech. As Steyer finished up and took selfies with concert-goers on one side of the room, DJ Jazzy Jeff performed a scorching set, including everything from Cardi B’s “I Like It” to his own “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

Finally, Juvenile triumphantly returned and Steyer performed the twerk heard round the world.

“Was that fun or what?” Steyer yelled to the crowd before leaving the stage.

Yes, Tom Steyer. It was. It sure was.

Cover: Billionaire Tom Steyer confirming his bro status with rapper Juvenile before a paid performance (and endorsement!) in Columbia, South Carolina, Feb. 28, 2020. (Photo: Daniel Newhauser/VICE News)

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Is Coronavirus a Hoax? | Power Line

Democratic Party media are claiming that last night in South Carolina, President Trump said that the coronavirus epidemic is a hoax. Politico headlines:

The Telegraph, by no means Britain’s most left-wing newspaper, headlines:

The talking point has been taken up by numerous other Democrats:

Did Trump actually say the corona virus is a hoax? Of course not. The claim is idiotic. If the president thought the virus is a hoax, why did he do a press conference on it last week, along with various medical personnel? And why did he ban travel to China at the beginning of the outbreak?

This is what Trump actually said in South Carolina, according to the New York Post:

President Trump jeered Democrats Friday night for criticizing his response to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, saying that it was a “new hoax” after a failed attempt to remove him from office over Ukraine.

“They tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia — that didn’t work out too well,” Trump told a cheering crowd in South Carolina. “They tried the impeachment hoax. That was a perfect conversation.”

“And this is the new hoax,” Trump declared.
“Let’s get this right: A virus starts in China, makes its way into various countries all around the world, doesn’t spread widely at all in the United States because of the early actions that myself and my administration took against a lot of other wishes. And the Democrats’ single talking point and you see it is that it’s Donald Trump’s fault,” he said.

The hoax, obviously, is the Democrats’ unfounded criticism of the Trump administration. Never in American history have we seen such nakedly dishonest criticism of anyone in public life.

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Empty stadiums and no more selfie lines? Coronavirus becomes 2020 X-factor.

If the coronavirus spreads throughout the United States, he said, “We’re going to go through a period, obviously, where public health officials and experts are going to say no shaking hands, no public contact … We may be witnessing an era where television, or more so, social media, becomes the means to campaign in a coronavirus world.”

To most campaign observers, the likelihood of any widespread disruption of the primary remains dim. But if the virus does spread, the mechanical implications for campaigns could be profound.

In the case of an outbreak, said Boyd Brown, a former South Carolina lawmaker and former Democratic National Committee member, “It’s going to be tough. I’m watching [TV] right now and they’re stoking fears, they’re coming live from face mask manufacturing facilities.”

Reaching for an image, Brown, who helped Beto O’Rourke before he abandoned his presidential run, compared the prospect of a coronavirus-afflicted primary to a barren landscape, “very much like the last couple of weeks of the Beto campaign.”

For now, the coronavirus has been felt most severely in the United States in the financial markets and as a point of political positioning, with Democrats criticizing President Donald Trump for his handling of the crisis in recent days.

In South Carolina this week, Mike Bloomberg said the “stock market’s falling apart because people are really worried, and they should be.” Joe Biden pointed to his experience helping respond to the Ebola epidemic, while Elizabeth Warren accused the White House of “absolutely bungling” its response to the disease.

Amy Klobuchar urged Americans to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website “because many doctors are saying it’s just a matter of time before we’re going to start seeing this here.” At a breakfast in South Carolina on Friday, Bernie Sanders ripped into Trump, saying that instead of campaigning in the state, he should “worry about the coronavirus rather than disrupting the Democratic primary right here in South Carolina.”

The Trump administration’s response to the emergency has been uneven. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, told lawmakers that the risk to Americans of coronavirus remains low. But CDC officials have also urged Americans to “prepare for the expectation that this might be bad,” including the possibility of child care centers or schools closing.

On Friday, the World Health Organization raised its global risk assessment of coronavirus to its highest level, “very high.”

“There are a whole lot of questions about whether this is going to be enduring or not,” said Bill Carrick, a Democratic strategist who managed Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt’s 1988 presidential campaign. “If it is enduring,” he added, “It could affect rallies. It also could affect travel.”

If the coronavirus does spread during the primary season, its logistical effects could be more painful for some candidates than others. The inability to hold rallies could hurt candidates with less money, such as Biden, who rely more on free media.

That might not hurt a candidate such as Bloomberg, “whose campaign rallies can be a 30-second campaign ad,” said Bob Shrum, a longtime political strategist who served on multiple Democratic presidential campaigns.

Trump could rise or fall on his handling of the crisis, too. In addition to the political calculations — a Morning Consult survey this week found 56 percent of voters approve of his handling of the outbreak, down 5 percentage points from earlier this month — there are his rallies to consider. They are massive and form the identity of his campaign.

Doug Herman, who was a lead mail strategist for Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, suggested the Democratic candidates’ response to the coronavirus so far has been a missed opportunity. Trump, he said, left a wide opening with his handling of the outbreak, requiring the Democratic candidates to be more assertive on the issue.

So far, he said, they haven’t “cracked much beyond a paragraph of thought on it.”

“There’s a thread here with Trump’s cuts and destroying the credibility of the institutions and the media and the scientists in our government — and now all of a sudden we’re supposed to believe Trump, the government advocate, on this?” Herman said.

Functionally, he said the effects of the coronavirus will not materialize in the campaign unless the outbreak impacts “our gatherings, and our day-to-day lives. Only until that happens — when they won’t go to a restaurant, they won’t go to a mall, they won’t send their kids to school — of course it will have an impact.”

Short of that, said Antjuan Seawright, a South Carolina-based Democratic strategist, a spreading virus would “put a limit on the types of public interaction that people have at events and rallies and people showing up.”

And he said there is little that campaigns can do. “Think about it. I mean, they can’t test people as they come into the rally,” he said.

Still, Seawright is taking one measure himself. When he boards his next flight, he said, “I’m definitely going to put on a mask.”

Holly Otterbein contributed to this report.

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South Carolina primary live results 2020

The South Carolina primary will reveal which candidates can cut it with a key Democratic constituency — right before the race for delegates kicks into overdrive.

The state, which votes on Saturday, February 29, is the fourth of the early contests and marks the first major test of black voters’ support. It’s the place former Vice President Joe Biden is betting on to save his flailing campaign, and the one where Sen. Bernie Sanders could further establish his strength as a frontrunner.

It’s also a key inflection point. The field is still crowded — only three lower-tier candidates have dropped out since Iowa, when voters first started weighing in on the Democratic primary.

Just three days before Super Tuesday, when more than a third of delegates will be awarded, South Carolina will hint at which candidates have long-term staying power. For some, like former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who have struggled to build support with black voters, it will signal whether they’ve been able to make any inroads with a more diverse electorate. For others, like billionaire activist Tom Steyer, it will indicate if his massive investments in the state will actually translate to votes.

Polls close at 7 pm ET, and given the closeness of the race, results aren’t expected until later in the evening. Vox has live results, powered by our friends at Decision Desk:

South Carolina’s importance, much like that of its other early counterparts, isn’t really about the delegates the winner will earn. There are 54 pledged delegates at stake Saturday, comprising just over 1 percent of the national delegate haul. Its impact, instead, is about the momentum it bestows.

Since it became an early state in 2008, South Carolina has been an important bellwether. Not only does it set the tone for Super Tuesday, it also typically foreshadows how a series of Southern states — with similar demographics — could go.

Biden is banking on this dynamic in order to revive his campaign: He has a strong base among older black voters and has long been the favorite in South Carolina. In recent weeks, however, as Sanders has established himself nationally and Steyer has cut into Biden’s black support, the former vice president’s margins have narrowed significantly.

While Biden is still expected to win the state, he’s not poised for the landslide that was once expected, an outcome that could prove concerning for his attempts to secure the nomination. A substantive victory by Biden, however, could allow him to more directly take on Sanders going into Super Tuesday.

“One of the hard resets will happen after South Carolina. I think it will be a very defining moment and a game-change moment,” Democratic strategist Antjuan Seawright recently told Vox.

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House panel seeks to interview the four career prosecutors who quit Roger Stone case

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee on Friday said it is seeking interviews with current and former federal prosecutors who may have knowledge of political meddling in criminal cases, including the four career officials who earlier this month quit the Roger Stone case.

FILE PHOTO – House Judiciary Committee Charman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., votes to approve the second article of impeachment against President Donald Trump during a House Judiciary Committee meeting on Capitol Hill, in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2019. Patrick Semansky/Pool via REUTERS

In a letter to Attorney General William Barr, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said he was worried about repeated attempts by President Donald Trump to influence the outcome of criminal prosecutions or to advance his personal interests through anti-trust enforcement matters.

“These circumstances are deeply troubling,” Nadler wrote.

The Justice Department earlier this month came under scrutiny after Barr intervened in the Stone case by scaling back the original sentencing recommendation submitted to the court by four career prosecutors that called for a sentence within the U.S. guidelines of seven to nine years.

The decision to soften the sentencing recommendation came after Trump issued tweets that were critical of the proposed sentence, raising questions about Barr’s motivations.

Barr tried to beat back critics’ concerns that he was doing the president’s political bidding by urging the president to stop tweeting about criminal cases because his comments were undercutting his ability to do his job.

In the same week, Trump abruptly withdrew the nomination of Jessie Liu, the former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, who oversaw the Stone case, for a new top post at the Treasury Department overseeing economic sanctions.

Nadler, in his letter to Barr, said he also wants to interview Liu, as well as Tim Shea, the current interim U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia whom Barr appointed to replace Liu.

Despite Barr’s pleas, Trump has nevertheless continued tweeting and has attacked the judge, jurors and prosecutors involved in the Stone case.

Stone was ultimately sentenced to serve more than three years in prison for lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering. He is seeking a new trial, saying the jury forewoman’s anti-Trump tweets show she was biased against him.

At the sentencing, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson took aim at Trump’s tweets, saying they were inappropriate and would have no bearing on her decision-making.

A Justice Department spokeswoman could not be immediately reached for comment on the committee’s request.

Barr is due to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on March 31.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Dan Grebler