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Politicians who attended the funeral for congressman John Lewis in Georgia won’t have to worry about Washington’s new quarantine rules as they return to the city because they’re deemed too essential to lock down.
A Who’s Who of Democrat politicians attended Thursday’s funeral in Atlanta, despite a state ban on gatherings of more than 50 people. Fifty members of Congress attended, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Kamala Harris, a leading candidate to be Joe Biden’s vice presidential running mate.
Georgia is among 27 states that Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser deemed coronavirus hotspots and therefore subject to her July 24 order requiring anyone traveling from high-risk areas to self-quarantine for 14 days when they arrive in the nation’s capital. Georgia has seen a rise in new Covid-19 infections, including 32,000 confirmed cases on July 28 alone, and some hospitals reportedly have run out of intensive care unit beds.
CNN blamed two funerals for causing Albany, Georgia, to be “overrun by coronavirus cases” in March.
There are no such worries over returning funeral goers in Washington. “Government activity is essential, and the Capitol of the United States is exempt from the mayor’s order,” Bowser’s press secretary, Susana Castillo, told Justthenews.com.
Pelosi on July 29 ordered that all House members must wear a mask while voting on the House floor. She issued the mandate after Representative Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican, tested positive for the virus. Representative Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat, said Saturday that he, too, had contracted the virus and blamed Republicans for not wearing masks. At least seven House members and two senators have tested positive for coronavirus.
The Washington Nationals baseball team also has been ruled essential by Washington’s mayor and therefore is not subject to the quarantine rule.
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Donald Trump and William Barr’s apparent concerns about mail-in voting being more susceptible to fraud are totally unfounded, former Attorney General Eric Holder tells host Jonathan Caphart, adding, ‘What it does do is increase turnout.’
The new warning came after a flurry of Democratic meddling has scrambled the closing weeks of a primary race that had otherwise gotten back on track. Senate Republicans have opposed Kobach for a year, fretting that he can’t win a Senate contest after losing the 2018 gubernatorial race, and have warned about him consistently in public and in private.
After failing to woo Secretary of State Mike Pompeo into the race, Republicans had mostly rallied behind Rep. Roger Marshall, who was leading Kobach comfortably in internal polling earlier in the summer. But after nearly $5 million was dumped in by a super PAC with ties to Democrats to elevate Kobach and bash Marshall’s image, Republicans acknowledge that the primary is a dead heat.
A Kobach victory would upend the battle for control of the Senate. Democrats haven’t won a Senate race in Kansas since the 1930s, but with Kobach on the ballot, Republicans would be forced to sink millions into trying to defend a seat party officials believe should have stayed safely in their column.
Republicans are already stretched thin on a Senate map that features more than a half-dozen GOP incumbents in competitive races. GOP leaders concede the fight to keep the Senate has gotten harder in recent months but believe the party still can maintain control if it isn’t dumping money into places like Kansas.
Democrat Barbara Bollier, a state senator and former Republican, faces only nominal opposition in her primary and has outraised all of her potential GOP foes.
Trump has remained on the sidelines in the race, frustrating some Republicans who believe a late endorsement could deliver a victory to Marshall, whom they view as much more electable.
Republican officials, including Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), the NRSC chairman, have spoken with the president as recently as last week about making an endorsement in the race, believing that he could single-handedly alter the current trajectory, according to multiple people familiar with the conversations. Internal Republican polling has shown a Trump endorsement would shift potential Kobach supporters towards the president’s pick, according to a Republican familiar with the data.
The president discussed the race with his political advisers on Air Force One last week returning from an event in Texas. Trump indicated he was unlikely to intervene, according to people familiar with the discussion.
During the in-flight conversation, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) pointed out Marshall’s previous support for John Kasich in the 2016 presidential primary, according to two sources briefed on the discussion. CNN first reported on the conversation. A person familiar with the White House’s thinking disputed the idea that Cruz’s comment swayed the president but acknowledged that it made it harder for Marshall to earn the endorsement.
All of the candidates have relied on Trump’s name and his supporters, even without his backing. An ad from Senate Leadership Fund, the GOP super PAC aligned with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, featured a photo of Trump and Marshall, with a narrator saying Trump has called Marshall a “great friend.” A recent Kobach ad featured heavy use of footage from an October 2018 rally Trump held boosting Kobach’s gubernatorial campaign, with a small insignia in the corner making the date clear.
Two years ago, Trump endorsed Kobach the day before the 2018 gubernatorial primary, and Kobach defeated then-Gov. Jeff Colyer by 343 votes. Kobach then lost to now-Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, by five percentage points. Trump has expressed frustration with expending political capital for Kobach only to see him lose, according to Republicans familiar with the discussions.
Recent polling has shown this year’s primary coming down to the wire. One recent GOP survey showed Marshall with 33 percent support compared to 30 percent for Kobach, with busienssman Bob Hamilton and former NFL player Dave Lindstrom trailing, according to multiple officials who described the poll.
Additionally, an internal survey conducted for the NRSC last week showed that in a general election matchup, only 54 percent of Republican primary voters would back Kobach, while 29 percent would instead to vote for Democrat Barbara Bollier, according to three people familiar with the data, which has been presented to the White House. That much potential crossover support for Bollier, who has the backing of major Kansas and national Democrats, could doom Republicans’ chances in the race.
In addition to private entreaties, Republicans opposed to Kobach have sounded the alarm consistently and publicly. The NRSC blasted Kobach on the day he announced last year. Sen. Pat Roberts, who is retiring from the seat, endorsed Marshall last month despite previously pledging to stay neutral, and Senate Leadership Fund is spending nearly $2 million on positive ads boosting Marshall, according to recent FEC filings. Additionally, a GOP-linked super PAC that won’t have to disclose its funding until after the primary, has spent more than $3 million to run TV ads attacking Kobach.
Possible Joe Biden running mate Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., addressed her differences with Biden on “Medicare-for-all” and expressed regret over a controversial comment she made about Fidel Castro. Meanwhile, another potential Biden pick, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., issued a challenge for President Trump in light of recent violent protests.
Bass and Duckworth are among several women rumored to be up for the position of Biden’s running mate, and in an interview with “Fox News Sunday” Bass explained why she would be right for the job.
“I think anybody that is willing to become vice president, if they’re invited, should be ready and I think that I am,” Bass said.
Bass has a different position on health care from Biden. She is in favor of “Medicare-for-all,” while Biden supports having a public option without doing away with private insurance. Bass denied saying that Biden has the wrong idea, while still maintaining that the country should move toward having health care as a right for all.
“No, I don’t think that the vice president is wrong at all,” Bass said. “What I do believe in is that health care should be a right. I think that we should be like the rest of the industrial nations and provide health care. But what I believe specifically is that we need to repair the damage that was done and has been done over the last ten years to the Affordable Care Act. We need to repair the damage, we need to expand that, and then over time we need to figure as a nation, how do we make health care as a right for everyone.”
Bass was at the center of a recent controversy over flattering words that she offered for Fidel Castro upon the former Cuban leader’s passing in 2016.
“The passing of the Comandante en Jefe is a great loss to the people of Cuba,” Bass said in a statement at the time. Now, however, she regrets those words, and said that she learned from speaking to Floridians who have a closer connection to Cuba.
“I absolutely would have not put that statement out and I will tell you that, after talking to my colleagues who represent the state of Florida [and] raised those concerns with me, lesson learned; would not do that again for sure.
Earlier in the program, Duckworth said she would be happy to serve any role in a Biden administration, and said all of the women up for vice presidential consideration would be up to the task.
“I think any one of the women whose names have been mentioned being considered are fabulous women and well prepared to step up and do the job of vice president or step up and take over as president if needed,” she said.
Duckworth went on to take shots at Trump and Republicans in general over their response to coronavirus, saying that the president “has failed to respond to this pandemic.” She defended her party’s rejection of an offer to extend the weekly $600 unemployment benefits for another week as lawmakers negotiate new legislation, claiming one week is not enough.
Duckworth, a combat veteran who lost both legs while serving her country, then addressed ongoing violent demonstrations in cities like Portland. She said she condemns violent protesters, but when asked why she is not supporting the Trump administration’s response to this, Duckworth said if Trump really cared about violence, he should push for increased gun control.
“If President Trump truly wants to go after violence in our country, he should call Mitch McConnell right now and ask for a sensible vote on uniform background checks,” she said. “That is, let’s get rid of those gun show loopholes.”
With coronavirus cases soaring across the United States, the debate in Washington over a new relief package to help people and businesses weather the crisis is set to take center stage in the coming week, and negotiators were meeting over the weekend in hopes of making progress on a deal.
Trump administration officials and top congressional Democrats met on Capitol Hill on Saturday amid an impasse over new aid, hours after unemployment benefits lapsed for tens of millions of people.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who hosted the meeting with Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, said that staff members would meet on Sunday and that the main negotiators would convene again on Monday. They called the discussion on Saturday productive but said that the sides remained far apart on several matters.
At issue is the gap between the latest relief packages put forward by Democrats and Republicans.
A $1 trillion proposal issued by Senate Republicans and administration officials last week includes cutting by two-thirds the $600-per-week unemployment payments that workers had received since April and providing tax cuts and liability protections for businesses.
A $3 trillion relief package approved by House Democrats in May includes an extension of the jobless aid, nearly $200 billion for rental assistance and mortgage relief, $3.6 billion to bolster election security and additional aid for food assistance.
Ms. Pelosi has said that she plans to fight for more funding, particularly for schools. But Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has warned against letting the cost go above $1 trillion.
Sunday’s talk shows may offer a preview of how the negotiations might unfold.
The chief negotiators on the aid deal — Ms. Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — are to discuss the proposed measures on the ABC program “This Week.” The White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, is set to appear on the CBS program “Face the Nation.” And Adm. Brett P. Giroir, the health official leading the Trump administration’s testing strategy, is scheduled to appear on the NBC program “Meet the Press.”
The crowded grocery stores, empty shelves and barren streets of South Florida in the dawning days of the pandemic resembled the rush of preparations and then the tense silence preceding a hurricane.
Maybe a state used to dealing with unpredictable forces of nature would have an edge in handling the coronavirus.
Oh, the naïveté.
The virus has entrenched itself in communities from Pensacola to Key West, killing more than 7,000 Floridians. Florida’s 257 deaths on Friday accounted for nearly one-fifth of all of the deaths attributed to Covid-19 that day in the United States.
With the scourge of virus death came Tropical Storm Isaias — even as the calendar had barely turned to August, usually too early to worry much about storms.
“It’s just kind of been the way 2020s gone so far,” said Howard Tipton, the administrator for St. Lucie County, on Florida’s Treasure Coast. “But we roll with it, right? We don’t get to determine the cards that we’re dealt.”
Tropical Storm Isaias threatens the entire East Coast, but it is the South that has seen a recent spike in new coronavirus cases. Health officials in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina have warned that hospitals could be strained beyond capacity.
To avoid virus exposure in shelters, the first choice is for coastal residents in homes vulnerable to flooding to stay with relatives or friends farther inland, being careful to wear masks and remain socially distant.
“Because of Covid, we feel that you are safer at home,” said Bill Johnson, the emergency management director for Palm Beach County. “Shelters should be considered your last resort.”
Officials in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, announced stricter measures on Sunday in an effort to stem a coronavirus outbreak that is raging despite a lockdown that began four weeks ago.
For six weeks starting on Sunday, residents of metropolitan Melbourne will be under curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. except for purposes of work or giving and receiving care.
As under the current lockdown, permitted reasons for leaving the house include shopping for essential goods and services, medical care and caregiving, and necessary exercise, work and study. Food shopping is limited to one person per household per day, and outdoor exercise is limited to one hour per person per day, both within about three miles of home. Public gatherings are limited to two people, including household members.
In explaining the new measures, Premier Daniel Andrews said the high rate of community transmission, including 671 new cases reported in the state of Victoria on Sunday, suggested that the virus was more widespread than known.
“You’ve got to err on the side of caution and go further and go harder,” he said.
Less stringent restrictions are being introduced in the rest of the state starting at midnight on Wednesday, and further measures regarding businesses will be announced on Monday.
Victoria has had a total of 11,557 confirmed cases, almost all of them in metropolitan Melbourne, and 123 deaths.
The United States recorded more than 1.9 million new infections in July, nearly 42 percent of the more than 4.5 million cases reported nationwide since the pandemic began and more than double the number documented in any other month, according to data compiled by The New York Times. The previous monthly high came in April, when more than 880,000 new cases were recorded.
The virus is picking up dangerous speed in much of the Midwest — and in states from Mississippi to Florida to California that thought they had already seen the worst of it.
Gone is any sense that the country may soon get ahold of the pandemic. In many states, distressed government officials are re-tightening restrictions on residents and businesses, and sounding warnings about a rise in virus-related hospitalizations.
The Northeast, once the virus’s biggest hot spot, has improved considerably since its peak in April. Yet cases are increasing slightly in New Jersey, Rhode Island and Massachusetts as residents move around more freely and gather more frequently in groups.
The picture is similarly distressing overseas, where even governments that would seem well suited to combating the virus are seeing surges.
New daily infections in Japan, a country with a long tradition of wearing face masks, rose more than 50 percent in July. Australia, which can cut itself off from the rest of the world more easily than most, is battling a wave of infections in and around Melbourne. Hong Kong, Israel and Spain are also fighting second waves.
As the pandemic ravages nations around the world, many Ethiopians who found work in other parts of Africa or in the Persian Gulf before the coronavirus arrived are heading home unemployed.
The wave of migrant workers returning by the thousands, some of whom may have been infected on the way, now represents a major strain on Ethiopia’s fragile health system.
More than 30,000 laborers have re-entered Ethiopia since mid-March. Of those, at least 927 had the virus when they returned, according to the government, though that figure has not been updated in over a month and is almost certainly an undercount.
Workers in many gulf countries have been confined to crowded jails before being expelled, and faced harrowing conditions on the journey home. Some said they were chased out and shot at on the way, or paid smugglers to help them cross waterways en route back to Africa.
Health officials in Ethiopia are reporting spikes in the number of migrant workers seeking treatment for the coronavirus. And many fear that workers who already faced stigmatization and oppression abroad are slipping into the country unseen, possibly infecting others, and suffering all the more at the hands of the virus.
Even upon return, many are met with poor job prospects, and those who have contracted the virus face severely limited treatment options in medical facilities already short on equipment and staff.
Five months after the coronavirus engulfed New York City, subway ridership is 20 percent of pre-pandemic levels, even as the city has largely contained the virus and reopened some businesses.
But a picture emerging in major cities across the world suggests that public transportation may not be as risky as New Yorkers believe.
In countries where the pandemic has ebbed, ridership has rebounded in far greater numbers than in New York City — yet there has been no notable superspreader event linked to mass transit, according to a survey of transportation agencies conducted by The New York Times.
In Paris, public health authorities conducting contact tracing found that none of the 386 infection clusters identified from early May to mid-July were linked to the city’s public transportation.
A study of coronavirus clusters in April and May in Austria did not tie any to public transit. And in Tokyo, where public health authorities have aggressively traced virus clusters, none have been linked to the city’s famously crowded rail lines.
Still, public health experts warn that the evidence should be considered with caution. They note that ridership in other major cities is still well below pre-pandemic levels, that tracing clusters directly to public transit is difficult and that the level of threat largely depends on how well a city has reduced its overall infection rate.
Among the range of urban activities, some of the experts say, riding in a subway car is probably riskier than walking outdoors but safer than indoor dining — as long as the car is not packed with people and most riders wear face coverings.
Could humans pass the coronavirus to wildlife, specifically North American bats?
It may seem like a minor worry — far down the list from concerns like getting sick, losing a loved one or staying employed. But as the pandemic has made clear, the more careful people are about viruses passing among species, the better.
The scientific consensus is that the coronavirus originated in bats in China or neighboring countries. A recent paper tracing the genetic lineage of the virus found evidence that it probably evolved in bats into its current form. The researchers also concluded that either this coronavirus or others that could make the jump to humans may be present in bat populations.
So why worry about infecting more bats with the current virus?
The U.S. government considers it a legitimate concern both for bat populations, which have been devastated by a fungal disease called white-nose syndrome, and for humans, given potential problems down the road. If the virus can pass easily between species, it could potentially spill back over to humans.
Another concern is how readily the coronavirus might spread from bats to other kinds of wildlife or domestic animals, including pets. A small number of infected pets has gotten a good deal of publicity. But public health authorities like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said that, although information is limited, the risk of pets spreading the virus to people is low.
They do recommend that any person who has Covid-19 take the same precautions with their pets that they would with human family members.
In Russia’s capital, anxieties over the pandemic appear to have slipped away, at least judging from the unmasked crowds flocking to restaurants and bars.
Despite laws requiring gloves and masks in public spaces, many people appear to have grown blasé about the dangers of the coronavirus, packing into small spaces to eat and drink. Yet casual attitudes about personal protection do not appear to have led to a public health crisis so far, according to official statistics.
According to government data, Russia has not had a surge of infections, and the daily infection rate nationwide has hovered around 5,000 to 6,000 cases ever since President Vladimir V. Putin last month declared victory over the pandemic.
Some amount of data manipulation may be responsible. The mayor of Norilsk, an industrial city in the Arctic, resigned recently after accusing regional officials of underreporting coronavirus figures. He said the real number of cases was more than twice the official count.
But while masks have not become as politicized as they have in the United States, they have quickly fallen out of favor with older men, and younger people who have labeled them unfashionable. Some hip restaurants popular with youth have even started banning them.
“It is better to get out and live normally and perhaps even get sick than to stay at home forever doing nothing,” said Polina Fedotova, 27, a patron at a cocktail bar in Moscow.
“We are people, not robots, and want to have a life,” said her companion, a 28-year-old doctor who works at a large Moscow hospital and who previously contracted the virus.
Travel looks very different in 2020. Here are some questions to help you decide whether you would feel comfortable taking a trip during the pandemic.
Reporting was contributed by Emily Cochrane, Tess Felder, Christina Goldbaum, James Gorman, Andrew Higgins, Jennifer Jett, Simon Marks and Patricia Mazzei.
Joe Biden has an overall early lead in the state of 6 percentage points, according to RealClearPolitics’ polling average, and has led Trump in all 12 public polls released since the beginning of June.
“Joe Biden — his party is not in power — so just by definition, he’s the candidate of change. That’s a huge advantage,” said Democratic Sen. Bob Casey. “No matter what Hillary Clinton did with her campaign schedule, she was running after eight years of a Democratic president. So when you’re running after eight years of your party, you are not the change candidate.”
Democratic elected officials, party leaders and strategists in Pennsylvania said that Biden is ahead because of Trump’s mishandling of Covid-19 — which is particularly risky to seniors — as well as his broken campaign promises to workers about spending big on infrastructure and rewriting trade deals to benefit them. They believe voters like Biden because he is known as someone who can work across the aisle to solve the nation’s problems.
They argued Biden is also being buoyed by the fact that he is a Scranton native and former Delaware senator who was covered by the Philadelphia media network for years. And they said that Biden doesn’t anger GOP or swing voters like Clinton — instead, he’s a moderate white man who rarely makes waves in a state that has elected more than its fair share of milquetoast white male politicians.
“Hating Joe Biden doesn’t juice up their base and their Fox News viewers the way going after Hillary and Nancy Pelosi and AOC do,” said Rep. Brendan Boyle, who endorsed Biden the day he launched his 2020 campaign. “You can make certain assumptions and wonder why that is. Is gender a factor? Is race a factor? I don’t know. I have certain suspicions.”
Trump’s nickname for Biden, “Sleepy Joe,” closely resembles his moniker for Casey during the senator’s 2018 reelection campaign: “Sleeping Bob.” Casey, who defeated his opponent Lou Barletta by 13 percentage points, said “there is something to that” idea that Pennsylvania voters like un-flashy politicians. He added that a local columnist once “compared me to oatmeal.”
But to some Democrats, still stung by Trump’s upset in 2016, it’s political malpractice to count Trump out.
“I don’t know how what happened in 2016 wouldn’t have cured any Pennsylvania Democrat of their swagger,” said John Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s Democratic lieutenant governor. “At the end of the day, it’s not unlike the confidence that set in with Clinton.”
In 2016, Trump won Pennsylvania by 44,000 votes by taking a path that defied expectations: He won blue-collar, often traditionally Democratic areas in northeastern and northwestern Pennsylvania, surged in rural regions, and performed poorly in the moderate Philadelphia suburbs. Overall, he carried suburban voters by 8 points and seniors by 10 points in the state, according to exit polls.
A July FOX poll of Pennsylvania found Biden leading Trump by 26 points among suburban voters and 7 points among seniors. Other surveys show a closer race, such as a CNBC/Change Research poll that had Biden ahead in the state by 2 points.
Many of Trump’s campaign aides and allies said the polls — which in 2016 undercounted white voters without college degrees, a voting bloc that Trump did significantly better among than Mitt Romney — are off again.
“They’re dead wrong,” said Barletta, who was one of Trump’s earliest supporters in Congress. “I had told then-candidate Trump two weeks before the election, ‘Don’t believe the polls in Pennsylvania. They’re wrong.’”
Some Republicans said the polls may be accurate, especially when it comes to Trump’s sagging support among suburban voters, but that there’s still time for Trump to recover in large part because he still has the upper hand on the economy. Trump is leading or polling even with Biden on the issue.
“I believe that it’s eventually going to come down to the economy. Even if you take into account the pandemic, the implications of the pandemic ultimately come down to the economy,” said Charlie Gerow, a Harrisburg-based GOP strategist. “I’ve always been bullish about President Trump’s prospects.”
Some Democratic officials said they are wary of Trump’s strength on the economy. In an attempt to shore up one of his clear weak spots, Biden has spent the last several months outlining his economic recovery plans, including reviving the country’s manufacturing industry and boosting federal spending on American-made goods.
“I think that the big challenge for our party is continuing to just have an economic message and I’ve been urging the vice president’s team to do that,” said Casey. “They were already there, but I keep reminding them.”
To drive down Biden’s support among suburban and older voters, Trump’s campaign has spent at least $4.5 million on misleading campaign ads across Pennsylvania that claim police will be defunded by a Biden administration. Biden has said repeatedly he opposes the idea.
Rep. Dwight Evans, a Philadelphia Democrat who represents a majority-Black district, said he worries about the spots, as well as Trump’s attempts to stoke fear about recent civil unrest and crime in the largest city in the state.
“When he talks about these beautiful suburbs and then says Democratic cities are not run right, he’s throwing codes out the window. He’s just blatant,” he said. “I will not deny that does concern me.”
The Trump team’s Pennsylvania ads have also attacked Biden’s past support of tough-on-crime bills and free trade deals, strategies he used against Clinton in 2016 to reduce her support among voters of color and the white working class.
With an eye on western Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry, America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC, has aired spots accusing Biden of wanting to eliminate fracking. Though he supports barring new leases on federal land, Biden has not proposed banning fracking.
Ads by Biden’s campaign and a pro-Biden super PAC in the state have centered on Trump’s mismanagement of the coronavirus. The pro-Biden American Bridge 21st Century super PAC also countered Trump spots accusing Biden of being soft on China with its own ad charging Trump of the same.
Trump’s team believes its ground game in Pennsylvania is a key strength: It has been working in the state for months, whereas Biden’s team only announced that it had hired a state director in July.
“We’re confident about where we are in the state right now. We’ve made an unprecedented effort here on the ground with staff hirings and offices,” said Ted Christian, a senior adviser to Trump’s campaign in Pennsylvania. “We’re up to 120 staff in the state now. We’ve got 29 offices. We’ve made almost 4.4 million voter contacts. And I can tell you that the energy exists that was here four years ago — and we have better infrastructure than we did.”
Biden’s campaign declined to share the number of employees it has hired in the state. Sinceré Harris, a senior adviser to Biden’s campaign in Pennsylvania, said the state party set up a successful ground game here before Biden’s campaign set up its operations so that it could build upon it.
If the former vice president holds onto his lead in Pennsylvania despite getting off to a later start, it would somewhat mirror the primary, when Biden won states in which he hadn’t even campaigned. Comparatively, candidates with rumored superior field operations such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were unsuccessful.
In a call with reporters last month, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien touted the fact that Republicans have registered more voters than Democrats in Pennsylvania — about five times as many — since 2016. The team said it is working to identify first-time or infrequent voters who support Trump, something it successfully did in 2016.
“The RNC made a $350 million investment to revamp our data program, and as a result of us getting staff on the ground sooner, we’re able to identify these pockets and these specific voters,” said Christian. “And we do believe there are still votes out there to be had.”
Many Democrats in Pennsylvania don’t buy it — and remain cautiously optimistic.
“Come mid-November, after Joe Biden wins, after Democrats win a substantial number of House seats and quite possibly win back the Senate, I think we’ll look at a year’s worth of polling and we’ll look back at the 2020 race and we’ll say, actually, in an unbelievably tumultuous year, things didn’t move much in terms of public opinion,” said Boyle.
Amy Holditch isn’t the kind of woman to let fear dictate her life.
“No, she’s not,” says her mom, 73-year-old Sandra Gillis. “She pretty much gets her mind on something, then it’s probably going to happen.”
So when the coronavirus cancelled her family trip to Hawaii, she didn’t postpone the trip with her mom and 12-year-old son for another year.
“I just kind of jumped off the cliff and did it.”
She found a recreational vehicle, or RV, to rent even though she had never driven anything larger than an SUV — not even a van or U-Haul. And she set about mapping a route from Madison, Ala. to Cape Cod, Mass.
The summer vacation, an annual rite for so many, is not an easy thing to give up, even during a pandemic.
Families long-accustomed to getting out of their houses each summer yearn to get away, but not if it means being exposed to the coronavirus in an airplane, restaurant, or even the elevator in a hotel. Cruises are definitely out, but cruising the highway in what is essentially a land boat?
There will be a lot of new RV drivers pulling-in to campgrounds this summer. The peer-to-peer renting web site RVshare says it is seeing three times the amount of bookings this summer compared to last summer. CEO Jon Gray says people wanting to avoid shared spaces are giving it a go.
“People can bring the bathroom with them. They can bring their kitchen with them. And that premium of control that has always existed in RV travel is even more of a premium this year.”
Plus, with gas prices down, it’s more affordable than it’s been in years. Gray says the cost of renting an RV runs from around $50 a night for a popup camper to $1,000 a night, depending on size and level of luxury. But he says for most, he says the cost averages $1,000 a week.
A skin care specialist who sets her own hours, she’s conquering more and more things on her own since she and her husband separated a couple years ago.
“And so there was a little bit of uncertainty, of doing it myself, but I’ve always been able to do it myself before,” Holditch says. “For the most part. And, you know, I struggle sometimes. But, I think I can do it. I feel confident in my driving skills. I’m a good driver.”
Though, she admits, she is a bit nervous about driving the 32-foot house on wheels on the New Jersey Turnpike.
The first hurdle to overcome is learning everything she needs to know about how the RV works, which she does before setting off on the journey.
First, there’s all the indoor stuff: how the benches turn into beds, when to hook up to electricity, when to use the generator, how to turn on the generator. Not to mention all the outside stuff, like power and water hookup, and the all-important sewage dumping protocol.
It’s a lot to remember, and it takes the RV owner two hours to show her everything. Duncan and her mom have maxed out by this point and it’s up to Holditch to remember how to use the blocks and pads to level the vehicle when they park in the campgrounds at night.
For anyone interested in renting an RV, there is one additional level of difficulty this summer: making sure the place you’re going is actually open.
“It’s even more important that you’re doing your research,” says Jeanette Casellano, a spokesperson for the American Automobile Association.
“You want to plan your trip from point A to point B, not just to know how you’re going to get there, but where and when you’re going to make stops. You want to know that when you get off at the next exit, things are open.”
It’s also important to know if you’re travelling to any state that will require you to quarantine once you get there.
“Do as much research as you possibly can, so that you can enjoy your trip and relieve any anxiety you have before you get there,” Casellano says.
If things go well, the thousands of people trying out the RV life this summer, might decide to stretch it out into the fall. With more people working from home, and schools deciding to offer virtual learning for students, life on the road could become regular life.
Sean Hannity joined “Life, Liberty & Levin” this week to discuss what he described as the dire situation facing the United States should former Vice President Joe Biden defeat President Trump in November’s election.
“I have a five-alarm fire in my heart, my mind and my soul right now for this country,” Hannity, the host of “Hannity” on Fox News Channel and the author of the forthcoming book “Live Free Or Die: America on the Brink,” told host Mark Levin.
“The … stated policies in this election of this very feeble, very confused, seemingly very weak Joe Biden, if they are ever implemented — Mark Levin, you know [what they mean] because you’ve written the books on statism and you have written the books on liberty and tyranny,” Hannity continued.
“Whenever you have socialism, radicalism, statism, that [tyranny] is usually what follows thereafter. I think everything that has made this country great, everything that has made us the shining city on the hill, is riding on this election.”
Focusing on Biden and the Democrats’ campaign platform, Hannity said the party’s presumptive nominee had “adopted Bolshevik Bernie [Sanders]’s entire economic agenda. He’s actually plagiarized it … He’s pledging trillions, not billions, but trillions of dollars to AOC’s [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s] Green New Deal.”
Hannity then raised the specter of Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., holding the levers of power in Washington if Republicans are soundly beaten in November.
“Schumer, Pelosi, Biden. What have they done?” he asked rhetorically. “I’ll ask every American watching ‘Live, Liberty & Levin’, what has Schumer, Pelosi, and Joe Biden accomplished? Because combined, they’ve been in the swamp in Washington, Mark, for 125 years.”
Hannity warned that if the Democratic party platform is implemented following a Biden victory, “that is socialism [with] a history of failure.”
“Wherever it has been implemented … the results have been catastrophic,” he said.
Hannity theorized that socialist policies hold a “psychological appeal” to voters by implicitly promising to “remove all the natural stress in one’s life.”
“[Socialists say], ‘We’ll be taking care of a guaranteed government job, guaranteed government wage. We’re going to guarantee a government vacation. We’re going to guarantee government healthy food. We’re going to guarantee government health care. We’re going to guarantee government retirement,'” he said.
“Well, OK, let’s look at the history of how government in this country alone is now working,” he added. “You know, we see the anarchy. We see the violence. New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles. It’s unfolding right before our very eyes. What do all of those cities have in common? They’ve all been run by liberal Democrats now for decades.”
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The Department of Homeland Security has reassigned its top intelligence official, according to media outlets, following news that his office compiled intelligence reports on journalists and protesters in Portland, Ore.
Brian Murphy, who has been the acting undersecretary for the department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis, was removed from the position, according to the Washington Post, which was first to report the news.
In the days leading up to Murphy’s removal, The Post broke news that the DHS had circulated three “Open Source Intelligence Reports” to federal law enforcement agencies. The publication says the reports describe tweets from two journalists — a reporter for The New York Times and the top editor of the blog Lawfare — “noting they had published leaked, unclassified documents about DHS operations in Portland.”
Murphy has reportedly been moved to an administrative support role within the department’s management directorate.
The call for Murphy’s removal was made by acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf on Friday, who, following the Post‘s revelations, instructed the office to stop collecting information on the press and ordered an investigation into its proceedings.
In another intelligence report, according to the newspaper, the DHS had tracked and documented exchanges between protestors found on the Telegram messaging app.
Murphy had previously denied his office had access to protesters’ devices and messages, according to the Post.
House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff issued a statement Saturday saying the committee had been conducting an investigation into Murphy and the Office of Intelligence and Analysis for more than two weeks before the reassignment.
“In light of recent public reports, we are concerned that Murphy may have provided incomplete and potentially misleading information to Committee staff during our recent oversight engagement, and that the Department of Homeland Security and I&A are now delaying or withholding underlying intelligence products, legal memoranda, and other records requested by the Committee that could shed light on these actions,” Schiff said.
He added that his committee would be “expanding” its oversight in the coming days.
Murphy’s removal fuels criticism around the DHS, which has been under heavy scrutiny in recent weeks for its use of federal officers at Portland protests. Agents from various departments within Homeland Security were deployed to the city to protect federal property during the ongoing protests for racial justice sparked by the police killing of George Floyd.
The federal agents have clashed with protesters. Earlier in July, Homeland Security Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli acknowledged that federal agents had used unmarked vehicles to pick up people in Portland. He said the action was meant to keep officers safe and away from crowds. He later said in a letter to Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee that his office would be investigating allegations that law enforcement officers from his agency “improperly detained and transported protesters.”
On July 23, U.S. District Judge Michael Simon issued a restraining order Thursday preventing federal agents from “arresting, threatening to arrest, or using physical force” directed at anyone they know to be a journalist or legal observer, unless they have probable cause to believe they have committed a crime.